On The dignity Of Man: The Idea Of The Good And Knowledge Of Essences. Part II.

Causality, Necessity And Permanence

Existence at some point in material entities is both endowed with an originated character (i.e., the character of finding its origin somewhere—whether the entity is created rather than uncreated); and with the character of being either permanent (i.e., doomed to continue) or provisory (i.e., doomed to end). Also, material entities (such as the human intellect represents them to itself in its impressions or in its conjectures, if not from sensible experience, at least from what it thinks to be sensible experience taken as such, i.e., naked, mere sensible experience) are engaged in causal relations; what is tantamount to saying that they’re endowed with causal relational properties. Though some men are able to have suprasensible access (to the ideational realm), their access is irremediably made, strictly, of “impressions” (i.e., illusions produced by suprasensible experience), which are approximately true at best.

As for the human intellect’s contact with sensible experience, it is (strictly) made of observations and of impressions (i.e., illusions produced by sensible experience, which look like sensible experience but are instead deformed echoes of what is actually observed). Yet Hume’s assertion, in essence, that the concept of (efficient) cause in the human intellect is the strict account of the impression of a sequence necessarily repeated identically that is only produced in it by the regular sensible experience of a chain repeating itself identically (under identical circumstances) is false on at least two levels.

On the one hand, that affirmation confuses the concept of (efficient) cause and the concept of an efficient cause whose effect is not only necessary at time t but necessarily identical to itself over the course of time. On the other hand, it is mistaken about the relation of the human intellect to sensible experience, which it wrongly conceives of as a strict relation of observation and impression by habit. One thing is to say that the impact of the ball with the pool cue is the efficient cause of the movement of the ball at time t, but another is to say that the impact in question necessarily causes the movement in question at the concerned time.

Yet another is to say that, if, in the future, the shock is repeated strictly identically under strictly identical circumstances, then the effect itself will necessarily repeat itself each time (and, each time, will necessarily repeat identically); regardless of the time the shock identically repeats under identical circumstances.

As for the relation of the ontological concepts of the human intellect (including the efficient cause—and the efficient cause jointly necessary and necessarily identical to itself under identical circumstances over time) to sensible experience, it is most likely that each ontological concept taken in isolation, whatever it may be, finds its complete origin, either in one or more human instincts, or in conjectures of the human intellect in contact with (naked) sensible experience, or in one or more sensible impressions (i.e., one or more impressions produced by the sensible experience on the human intellect), or in conjectures of the human intellect in contact with one or more sensible impressions, or in a legacy of the acquired culture, or in one or more suprasensible impressions, or in a mixture between all or part of those things.

Whatever its origin, the human intellect opts for trusting an ontological concept in its possession if (and only if) it judges the latter as being confirmed by the sensible (and hypothetically suprasensible) experience or judges it as being (highly) corroborated by the sensible (and hypothetically suprasensible) experience or judges it as being (highly) corroborated in the panoramic sense.

Even if the concept of (efficient) cause were actually the strict fruit of the account of a certain (sensible) impression made on the human mind, the presence of that concept in the human intellect cannot have as a necessary condition the account of the (sensible) impression made on the human intellect by the specific mode of chaining that is a chain of events repeating itself identically under identical circumstances; because any observed sequence making an impression on the human intellect, whether the sequence in question is repeated (and whether it is identically repeated under identical circumstances), would then be capable of producing the impression of the action of an efficient cause. But, although sensible experience is only able to corroborate our ontological concepts and the suprasensible is only made of impressions, the relation of the human mind to the latter is actually active (and not only passive, i.e., not only made of observations and impressions).

Our intellect is active towards them in that it assesses them and relies on them. Whether the human intellect confuses sensible impression with sensible experience when thinking some ontological concept (for instance, the concept of efficient cause) to be (highly) corroborated by sensible experience changes nothing to the fact that it then thinks the ontological concept in question to be (highly) corroborated by sensible experience; just like the fact that it confuses sensible impression with sensible experience when thinking some ontological concept (for instance, the concept of efficient cause) to be confirmed by sensible experience changes nothing to the fact that it then thinks the ontological concept in question to be confirmed by sensible experience.

Yet the human intellect doesn’t only endorse this or that ontological concept according to whether it thinks or not the latter to be empirically confirmed or (either empirically or panoramically) corroborated; it also tries to articulate them with each other in the way that makes most sense in view of each other, in view of sensible experience, and in view of corroboration in a panoramic sense. I intend to show (a few lines later) that those causal relational properties that are identically repeated when identical circumstances are repeated make most sense when understood as constitutive properties that are, besides, correspondent to intrinsically necessary dispositions that—in addition to their presence at the “substantial” level in the entity—apply to any moment witnessing the presence of some circumstances. I cannot say more about it for now.

Just like those causal relational properties identically repeated (when identical circumstances are repeated) are part of the constitutive properties of a (singular) material entity endowed with such properties, they’re part of the constitutive properties of a generic material entity endowed with such properties. Therefore they as much belong, so to speak, to the adequate definition for the concept whose object is the singular entity in question as they belong, so to speak, to the concept whose object is the generic entity in question.

The “eye of the world” that is the human (not in the sense that he is a way for the universe of seeing, knowing, the universe—either correctly or approximately—but in the sense that he is able, mandated, to approach exact knowledge of the universe without ever reaching it) is notably able (and mandated) to approach exact knowledge of the material essences in material entities without ever reaching said knowledge. (Approximative) knowledge of the “laws of nature” is, precisely, part of the (approximative) wider knowledge of “material essences.”

What “material essence” exactly means in the article is the set of the constitutive properties in a material entity (which—as I intend to develop a few lines later—are not all “natural” properties and are not all “substantial” properties). Grasping perfectly (or almost perfectly) a material essence in a material entity amounts to obtaining a perfect (or almost perfect) definition of the concept for the material entity in question.

When a material entity is rendered the object of a concept, the concept in question always means, indeed, the entity in question strictly taken from the angle of its constitutive properties, i.e., strictly taken from the angle of its material essence. As for the definition socially correspondent (in some language) to a concept whose object is a material entity, it exposes what the language in question thinks are the constitutive properties of the material entity in question. Hence the concept in question and its socially correspondent definition are held as synonyms in the language in question.

Part of the cognitive process leading to move closer to perfect knowledge of a material essence consists of selecting some socially admitted definitions and questioning their validity. It is worth specifying that pseudo-definitions must be distinguished from actual definitions. While the latter only deal with constitutive properties (and with the totality of the constitutive properties), the former deal with any kind of property.

Also, while the latter notably include ones socially admitted, which, in some language, are attached to correspondent concepts and accordingly held to be synonymous with the concepts in question, the former are of strictly private use. Just like the fact that some language deems some definition to be true (i.e., to expose adequately the totality of the constitutive properties in the correspondent concept’s object) doesn’t render the definition in question true, the fact that some language deems two terms or a term and a sequence of terms (when taken in a certain conceptual acceptation) to be synonymous (i.e., endowed with equivalent senses) doesn’t render them true synonyms. While a concept (strictly) means its object taken from the angle of its constitutive properties (setting aside for now the case of those concepts with meaning-modalities), its definition (strictly) exposes what the definition in question claims are the constitutive properties in the concept’s object.

Whether a concept deals with a singular entity (either material or ideational), a genre (either material or ideational), or a property (either material or ideational), its socially admitted definition (in some language) is socially deemed to be synonymous with its meaning, i.e., with its object taken from the angle of its constitutive properties.

For instance, if some language defines the genre duck as “a waterbird with a broad blunt bill, short legs, webbed feet, and a waddling gait,” then the term “duck” (when taken in the right conceptual acceptation) and sequence “a waterbird with a broad blunt bill, short legs, webbed feet, and a waddling gait” will be held as synonymous in the language in question. In other words, the concept duck’s meaning (i.e., the object referred to as duck taken from the angle of its constitutive properties) will be deemed to be synonymous with the meaning of the above-evoked sequence.

Just like any concept for a genre (whether it deals with a genre of ideational singular entities or a genre of material singular entities) deals with some of the generic properties of some singular entity, any concept for a singular entity (whether it deals with an ideational singular entity or a material singular entity) deals with the whole of the constitutive properties in its object.

The set of those generic properties in a singular entity (whether it is material or ideational) that are constitutive is only part of the constitutive properties; but, while the constitutive properties are only part of the properties in a material singular entity, all properties in an ideational singular entity are constitutive properties.

Just like any material entity is a singular (rather than generic) entity, any ideational entity is a singular (rather than generic) entity. Also, just like any entity (whether it is material or ideational) falls within some genres, the expression “generic entity” is only a convenient way of designating a genre to which some entity (either material or ideational) happens to belong. For instance, the singular material entity that is a singular duck belongs to the “generic material entity” that is the genre duck; and the singular ideational entity that is the singular Idea for some singular duck belongs to the “generic ideational entity” that is the generic Idea for the genre duck.

In both cases, the genre in question—instead of being an entity strictly speaking—is only a set of constitutive properties. Also, in both cases, those generic properties that are constitutive are only part of the constitutive properties; but, while the constitutive properties of a singular material duck are themselves only part of the duck’s properties, all properties in the singular ideational model for the singular material duck in question are constitutive properties.

A concept for an alleged singular entity (whether it is material or ideational) always deals (only) with the set of the constitutive properties in its object; but, while a concept for an ideational singular entity deals with all properties in its object (as all properties in its object are constitutive), a concept for a material singular entity deals with only some part of the properties in its object. The hypothetical entity modeled in an ideational entity must be distinguished from the ideational entity. Here I won’t deal with what are the properties in an ideational singular entity apart from those related to how it designs the hypothetically materialized entity modeled within it.

All properties in a genre or in a property are constitutive, not all properties in a singular entity; but here I will leave aside the case of those concepts dealing with a property (apart from noting that those concepts also deal with their respective object taken from the angle of its constitutive properties). Just like a same word can subsume several concepts (for instance, the word “duck”), a same concept can subsume several meanings—namely a general meaning and its several modalities (paradoxically including the general meaning itself taken in isolation).

For instance, the concept of color includes a general meaning for which the socially admitted correspondent definition is “a visual characteristic distinct from those visual characteristics that are the size, the shape, the thickness, and the transparency;” and subaltern, specific meanings—including one for which the socially admitted correspondent definition is “a visual characteristic that, besides being distinct from those other visual characteristics that are the size, the shape, the thickness, and the transparency, finds itself associated with a wavelength.”

If correctly constructed (what is tantamount to saying: if correctly defined), a concept for some material entity (or for some generic material entity) endowed with only one meaning is then perfectly mirroring the modeled constitutive properties inscribed in the ideational essence of its object (without the ideational essence containing only those properties in the modeled entity that are constitutive); just like, if correctly constructed (what is tantamount to saying: if correctly defined), a same concept for several material entities (or several generic material entities) endowed with a general meaning and some modalities for the latter is then perfectly mirroring the modeled constitutive properties inscribed in the respective ideational essence for the respective object of each of its meaning-modalities (without the respective ideational essences containing only those properties in the respective modeled entities that are constitutive).

Just like a good definition generally speaking (i.e., a good definition as much in the case of ideational as in the one of material objects, as much in the case of generic objects as in the one of singular objects, as much in the case of entities-objects as in the case of properties-objects, and as much in the case of real objects as in the case of unreal objects) strictly deals with the correspondent concept’s object taken from the angle of its constitutive properties (or with the constitutive properties of one of the correspondent concept’s objects), the set of the constitutive properties in a (singular) material entity form what may be called its material essence.

Yet a proper presentation of the way the essence in any material entity is subdivided into four distinct essences (namely the ideational essence, the material essence, the natural essence, and the substantial essence) requires preliminary partial presentation of the subdivision between the several kinds of property totally or partly present in any entity (whether ideational or material)—and of the subdivision between the several kinds of origin and of permanence (or provisority) for existence in an existent entity (whether ideational or material).

The properties in an individual entity (at some point) are notably classified as follows:

  1. Constitutive properties vs. accessory properties.
  2. Intrinsically necessary properties vs. intrinsically or extrinsically contingent properties.
  3. Extrinsically necessary properties vs. intrinsically necessary or extrinsically contingent properties.
  4. Unique properties vs. generic properties.
  5. Relational properties vs. non-relational properties.
  6. Existential properties vs. non-existential properties (i.e., qualities).
  7. Fundamental properties vs. secondary properties.
  8. Innate properties vs. emergent properties (whether in the general sense of posteriorly appearing properties—or in the precise sense of posteriorly appearing properties bringing about novelty in the world in terms of non-existential characteristics, i.e., in terms of qualities).
  9. Permanent properties in an intrinsically necessary mode vs. properties with an extrinsically necessary permanent character or an intrinsically necessary provisory character.
  10. Provisory properties in an intrinsically necessary mode vs. properties permanent in an extrinsically or intrinsically necessary mode.
  11. Compositional properties (i.e., about what the entity is made of) vs. formal properties (i.e., about how the entity is shaped from its matter).
  12. Dispositional properties (i.e., about what the entity would do if put in presence in some circumstances at some moment) vs. concrete properties.

As for the modes of origin and permanence (or provisority) for an entity, they’re notably classified as follows. 1) Intrinsically necessary entities versus intrinsically or extrinsically contingent entities. 2) Permanent entities in an intrinsically necessary mode versus entities provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode—or permanent in an extrinsically necessary mode.

An intrinsically necessary property of the strong kind is one that an entity (whether it is material), at some point, cannot but possess independently of what are the entity’s relations at any point of its existence (and independently of whether the entity has relations at any point of its existence); except the entity in question needs to be presently existent (if it is to possess the property in question), what requires some relations at some point before in the case of any entity different from God.

An intrinsically necessary property of the weak kind is one that an entity, at some point, cannot but possess independently of what are the entity’s relations at any point of its existence (and independently of whether the entity has relations at any point of its existence); except the entity in question needs to be presently existent and intact (if it is to possess the property in question), what requires some relations at some point before in the case of any entity different from God.

Just like the entity’s existence at the present time is a necessary, sufficient cause for any intrinsically necessary property of the strong kind that is then present in the entity, the entity’s existence and integrity at the present time is a necessary, sufficient cause for any intrinsically necessary property of the weak kind that is then present in the entity. An intrinsically necessary property (whether it is of the strong kind) that is dispositional is a modality of an intrinsically necessary property; but not any dispositional property is an intrinsically necessary property.

An extrinsically necessary property is one that an entity, at some point, cannot but possess due to the entity’s existence and to the combination, at some point before, between the entity’s existence, an intrinsically necessary property (for instance, a dispositional intrinsically necessary property) in the entity, and one or more relations in which the entity finds itself engaged at that anterior moment.

For instance, the property for a point mass, at some point, of exerting an attraction force towards another one that is “proportional to the product of the two masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them” is a relational extrinsically necessary property that is a forced product of the entity’s existence at that point and of the combination (at some point before) between the entity’s existence, another relational property (namely the presence of another point mass somewhere), and a dispositional intrinsically necessary property (namely the property of exerting an attraction force such as described above when another point mass is present somewhere).

An intrinsically contingent property is one whose existence, at some point, in an entity finds a necessary, sufficient cause in the fact that the entity’s existence at that point is added to the occurrence, at some point before, of a combination between the entity’s existence, an intrinsically necessary property in the entity, and one or more relations on its part at that anterior moment.

Just like any intrinsically contingent property is one extrinsically necessary, any extrinsically necessary property is one intrinsically contingent. An extrinsically contingent property is one that is present at some point in an entity as a random product of the fact that the entity’s existence at that point is added to the occurrence, at some point before, of a combination between the entity’s existence, an intrinsically necessary property, and one or more relations; but which finds in that fact whose random product it is a necessary (though not-sufficient) cause.

No relational property (except in the case of God) is one intrinsically necessary; but any relational property (except in the case of God) is either extrinsically contingent or extrinsically necessary. A property that an entity, at some point, possesses because of its present existence and of the combination (at some point before) between a free volition on its part, its existence, one ore more relations on its part, and an intrinsically necessary property in it is a modality of an extrinsically contingent property.

Just like a property that is, at some point, permanent is a property that is, at the considered moment, doomed to continue to exist in the entity without any interruption (so long as the entity will keep up being existent), a property that is, at some point, provisory is a property that is, at the considered moment, doomed to cease to exist in the entity, either in a determinate (or more or less determinate) future moment in which the entity will be still existent, or in an indeterminate (or more or less indeterminate) future moment in which the entity will be still existent.

An intrinsically necessary property (whether it is of the strong kind) is either permanent or provisory; just like an extrinsically necessary property is either permanent of provisory—and just like an extrinsically contingent property is either permanent or provisory.

A permanent property is either permanent in an intrinsically necessary mode or permanent in an extrinsically necessary mode; just like a provisory property is always provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode.

A property that, at some point, is permanent in a strong intrinsically necessary mode is a property that, at the moment in question, is doomed to continue to exist in the entity (so long as the latter will keep up existing) independently of what are the entity’s relations at any point of its existence (and independently of whether the entity has relations at any point of its existence); except the entity in question needs to be presently existent (if the property in question is to be presently permanent), what requires some relations at some point before in the case of any entity different from God.

A property that, at some point, is permanent in a weak intrinsically necessary mode is a property that, at the moment in question, is doomed to continue to exist in the entity (so long as the latter will keep up existing) independently of what are the entity’s relations at any point of its existence (and independently of whether the entity has relations at any point of its existence); except the entity in question needs to be presently existent and intact (if the property in question is to be presently permanent), what requires some relations at some point before in the case of any entity different from God.

Just like the entity’s existence at the present time is a necessary, sufficient cause for the permanence of any property that is presently permanent in a strong intrinsically necessary mode in the entity, the entity’s existence and integrity at the present time is a necessary, sufficient cause for the permanence of any property that is presently permanent in a weak intrinsically necessary mode in the entity.

A property that, at some point, is provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode is a property that, at the moment in question, is doomed to cease to exist in the entity (at a future moment—either determinate (or more or less determinate) or indeterminate (or more or less indeterminate)—in which the entity will be still existent) independently of what are the entity’s relations at any point of its existence (and independently of whether the entity has relations at any point of its existence); except the entity in question needs to be presently existent (if the property in question is to be presently provisory), what requires some relations at some point before in the case of any entity different from God.

The entity’s existence at the present time is a necessary, sufficient cause for the provisory character of any property that is presently provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode in the entity. A property that, at some point, is permanent in an extrinsically necessary mode is a property that, at the considered moment, is permanent because of the entity’s present existence and because of the combination (at some point before) between the entity’s existence, an intrinsically necessary property in the entity, and one or more relations on its part. Any property permanent in an extrinsically necessary mode is also permanent in an intrinsically contingent mode—namely that those things form a necessary, sufficient set of causes for its permanence.

An intrinsically necessary entity is one that, at some point, cannot but exist independently of what are the other entities in the universe (and in the ideational realm) at any point (and independently of whether other entities are existent at any point in the universe and in the ideational realm).

As for an extrinsically necessary entity, it is one that, at some point, cannot but exist due to the combination, at some point before, between another entity’s existence, an intrinsically necessary property in that other entity, and one or more relations in which that other entity finds itself engaged (at that anterior moment).

Just like an entity that cannot but exist in an eternal mode (i.e., in a mode devoid of any beginning in time and any ending in time) is a modality of an entity that is intrinsically necessary, an entity that is self-created but cannot escape its self-creation is another modality of an entity that is intrinsically necessary.

An intrinsically contingent entity is an entity whose existence at some point finds a necessary, sufficient condition in the fact that a combination occurs, at some point before, between another entity’s existence, an intrinsically necessary property in that other entity, and one or more relations in which that other entity finds itself engaged (at that anterior moment).

Just like any intrinsically contingent entity is one extrinsically necessary, any extrinsically necessary entity is one intrinsically contingent.

An extrinsically contingent entity is an entity that, at some point, finds itself, either existent because of the entity’s random self-creation from nothing at some point before, or existent because of the entity’s random apparition, at some point before, from a combination happening even earlier between another entity’s existence, an intrinsically necessary property in the latter, and one or more relations on the latter’s part; and whose present existence finds a necessary, sufficient cause in the fact of having been engendered in one or the other of those ways.

Just like God is an intrinsically necessary entity in an inescapable eternal mode, the universe is both an extrinsically necessary entity with regard to God—and an extrinsically contingent entity in a randomly self-created mode with regard to the nothingness preceding the universe.

No entity apart from the universe can be one, at some point, both extrinsically necessary (from some respect) and extrinsically contingent (from some respect). Just like an entity permanent in an intrinsically necessary mode at some point is an entity that, at the considered moment, is doomed to continue to exist independently of what are the entity’s relations (and independently of whether the entity has relations), an entity provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode at some point is an entity that, at the considered moment, is doomed to cease to exist at a future moment—either determinate (or more or less determinate) or indeterminate (or more or less indeterminate—independently of what are the entity’s relations at any point of its existence (and independently of whether the entity has relations at any point of its existence).

As for an entity permanent in an extrinsically necessary (but intrinsically contingent) mode at some point, it is an entity that, at the considered, is doomed to continue to exist because of the entity’s present existence and because of the combination (at some point before) between the entity’s existence, an intrinsically necessary property in the entity, and one or more relations on its part; and which finds in the set of those causes a necessary, sufficient set of causes for its permanence.

Just as an existent entity that is permanent at a certain moment is an entity that, at the concerned moment, is doomed to continue to exist without any interruption, an existent property that is permanent in a certain entity at a certain moment is a property that, at the concerned moment, is doomed to continue to exist without any interruption in the entity (so long as said entity will exist).

Just as an existent entity that is provisory at a certain moment is an entity that, at the concerned moment, is doomed to cease to exist either at a determinate (or more or less determinate) moment or at an indeterminate (or more or less indeterminate) moment, an existent property that is provisory at a certain moment is a property that, at the concerned moment, is doomed to cease to exist in the entity either at a determinate (or more or less indeterminate) moment in which the entity will still be existent, either at an indeterminate (or more or less indeterminate) moment in which the entity will still be existent.

Just as an existent entity, at a certain moment, is, at the considered moment, either existent in an intrinsically necessary mode, or existent in an extrinsically necessary (but intrinsically contingent) mode, or existent in an extrinsically contingent mode, an existent property in a certain entity, at a certain moment, is, at the considered moment, either existent in an intrinsically necessary mode, or existent in an extrinsically necessary (but intrinsically contingent) mode, or existent in an extrinsically contingent mode.

Just as an existent entity, at a certain moment, is, at the considered moment, either permanent in an intrinsically necessary mode, or provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode, or permanent in an extrinsically necessary (but intrinsically contingent) mode, an existent property in a certain entity, at a certain moment, is, at the considered moment, either permanent in an intrinsically necessary mode, or provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode, or permanent in an extrinsically necessary (but intrinsically contingent) mode.

Rings that, at any time, would render anyone who wears them immortal would provide an extrinsically necessary permanence to the human wearing them on his wrists at a given time; but a machine that provisorily keeps someone alive provides neither any extrinsically necessary permanence nor any permanence at all. The universe is permanent in an extrinsically necessary mode with regard to God; but permanent in an intrinsically necessary mode with respect to the nothingness preceding the universe. No entity other than the universe can be permanent in an extrinsically necessary mode.

In its general sense, “the mode of existence” for an entity here means the set of its existential properties over the course of its existence; but, in its stronger sense, here means the set of those existential properties over the course of its existence that are about the origin for an entity’s existence—plus those about whether and how it is permanent or provisory. Unless specified otherwise, the article will resort to that concept in that stronger sense exclusively.

The mode of existence (in the above-evoked strong sense), at some point, for an entity that is, at that point, existent is an existential innate property with strong intrinsic necessity and with strong intrinsically necessary permanence. Yet a material entity is endowed with four essences.

Firstly, the ideational essence—namely the sum of all the properties of an entity over the course of its existence.

Secondly, the material essence—namely the sum of all the constitutive properties of an entity over the course of its existence.

Thirdly, the natural material essence—namely the sum of all those constitutive properties of an entity over the course of its existence that are intrinsically necessary properties, whether of the weak kind or of the strong kind.

Fourthly, the substantial natural material essence—namely the sum of all those intrinsically necessary constitutive properties of the strong kind that are both innate and endowed with intrinsically necessary permanence of the strong kind.

The mode of existence (i.e., those existential properties about whether and how a material entity is necessary or contingent—and about whether and how it is permanent or provisory) is part of the substantial natural material essence. Just like not any existential property in a material entity is part of the substantial natural material essence, not any substantial natural material property is an existential property; but when a material entity loses all or part of its substantial natural material properties, it always loses its property of existing on that occasion—and reciprocally.

In other words, a material entity ceases to exist when (and only when) it loses all or part of its substantial natural material properties. Any substantial property is a constitutive property; but not any constitutive property is a substantial property. Any intrinsically necessary property is a constitutive property; but not any constitutive property is an intrinsically necessary property. Some generic properties are constitutive properties; but not any generic property is a constitutive property.

Some generic properties are intrinsically necessary; but not any generic property is intrinsically necessary. The natural material essence in a material entity is the sum of all the intrinsically necessary constitutive properties (whether intrinsically necessary of the strong kind) in the entity—including (but not only) those intrinsically necessary constitutive properties in the entity that are generic.

My quadripartite approach to the essence in a material entity allows solving a number of ontological problems—including (but not only) the problem of how and when an entity ceases to exist, namely, that a material entity ceases to exist when (and only when) it loses all or part of its substantial natural material properties, a loss that always brings about the one of the property of existing (though the latter is no more part of the substantial essence in a perishable—and, accordingly, provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode—entity than is the property of dying).

What is more, my approach to the essence in a material entity allows solving the ontological problem of the universe’s jump from nothingness. If someone has voluntarily put a hat on his head at some point and wears it right now, the property in him of wearing a hat is an extrinsically contingent property that is the random product of his present existence and of an earlier combination between an intrinsically necessary dispositional property (namely the ability to put and wear a hat in the ongoing context), existence, and several relations (including the relational property of finding himself in a place where the wind doesn’t prevent him from wearing a hat).

More precisely, it is a modality of an extrinsically contingent property that is an extrinsically contingent property associated with free will—namely the considered human’s free decision to wear a hat. So long as the hat remains pulled down on his head, the hat is then permanent in an extrinsically necessary mode.

As for the universe’s birth from nothingness, just like the toothpaste’s gush from the tube at some point is a non-existential extrinsically necessary property in the toothpaste, the universe’s gush from nothingness at some point (namely at the initial instant in our universe) is, with regard to the nothingness chronologically preceding the universe, an extrinsically contingent mode of origin for the universe that is an existential property intrinsically necessary of the strong kind in the universe.

More precisely, it is a modality of an extrinsically contingent existence that consists of existing in a randomly self-created mode. Yet the universe is (at any point) endowed with intrinsically necessary permanence of the strong kind with regard to the nothingness preceding it. The universe, when considered with respect to the nothingness chronologically anterior to the universe, is therefore a material entity endowed with the innate, intrinsically necessary (of the strong kind) property of being extrinsically contingent—and of being permanent in a strong intrinsically necessary mode.

A third ontological problem that my approach to the essence in a material entity allows solving is the problem of the ontological origin for what is commonly called the “laws of nature”—namely the inescapable regularities (when identical circumstances are repeated over the course of time) in causation from a material entity. I explain those regularities as follows.

Among those relational extrinsically necessary properties that are causal and correspondent to a dispositional innate property with intrinsic necessity (of the strong kind) and intrinsically necessary permanence (of the strong kind), some are unique to a number of times in which the circumstances are identically repeated; but the others apply to any moment in which said circumstances are identically repeated. While the latter are of what may be called a strong type, the former are of what may be called a weak type. While the latter are correspondent to a dispositional innate property with strong intrinsic necessity and strong intrinsically necessary permanence that is, in turn, of the strong type, the former are correspondent to a dispositional innate property with strong intrinsic necessity and strong intrinsically necessary permanence that is, in turn, of the weak type.

For instance, when the ball’s shock with the pool cue causes the ball’s movement, a relational property then present in the pool cue is a causal relational property that consists of causing the ball’s movement; and which is not only a causal relational extrinsically necessary property correspondent to a dispositional innate property with strong intrinsic necessity and with strong intrinsically necessary permanence—but one of the strong type.

In other words, it is a causal relational property that occurs as the forced product of the pool cue’s present existence and of the earlier combination between the pool cue’s existence, a number of relations on its part (including the shock with the ball), and a dispositional innate property (as much with strong intrinsic necessity as with strong intrinsically necessary permanence) that consists of causing the ball’s movement whenever some circumstances are present. Among the substantial natural material properties in an entity, those dispositional innate properties with strong intrinsic necessity and with strong intrinsically necessary permanence that are of the strong type precisely serve as the ontological foundation for the “laws of nature.”

The problem of knowing whether “existence precedes essence” in a material entity is a fourth ontological problem that my approach to the essence in a material entity allows solving. The problem is best understood when put as follows: does a material entity (whether it is endowed with a temporal beginning—and whether it is endowed with intrinsically necessary permanence) have its essence already predefined, preprogrammed, at all stages of its existence?

My take on that issue is the following one. Namely that, in a material entity, the ideational essence indeed precedes material existence (i.e., is indeed predefined, preprogrammed, at all stages of its existence); and that, in a material entity, the substantial natural material essence—and only the latter in the material essence—is also predefined, preprogrammed, at all stages of the entity’s existence.

In other words, while the ideational essence integrally “precedes” material essence, only that component in the material essence that is the substantial natural material essence indeed “precedes” material existence. All other components in the material essence—including the existential property about when the material entity in question ceases to exist in the case where the latter’s mode of existence includes the existential substantial natural material property of being provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode—find themselves “preceded” by material existence for their part. Since the properties covered by the natural material essence are dependent, if not on the entity’s material integrity, at least on the entity’s material existence, they are predefined at no stage of the material entity’s existence—though its existence is a necessary, sufficient condition for those natural properties in the material entity that are intrinsically necessary in a strong mode.

Correctly defining the concept to which some material entity is correspondent consists of correctly presenting those properties in the material entity in question over the course of its material existence that are constitutive—including (but not only) those constitutive properties in the entity that are intrinsically necessary (and therefore natural), whether the latter are intrinsically necessary in a strong mode.

As for correctly defining the concept to which some genre of material entity is correspondent, it consists of correctly presenting those properties in the genre in question that are constitutive; what amounts to (correctly) presenting the whole of the properties present in the genre in question (in that all are constitutive properties), whether they’re intrinsically necessary properties. I will address the respective issues of how a singular man and the generic man should be respectively defined at a later occasion.


Grégoire Canlorbe is an independent scholar, based in Paris. Besides conducting a series of academic interviews with social scientists, physicists, and cultural figures, he has authored a number of metapolitical and philosophical articles. He also worked on a (currently finalized) conversation book with the philosopher, Howard Bloom. See his website: gregoirecanlorbe.com.


The featured image shows, “The Tribute Money,” by Masaccio; painted in 1425.

On The dignity Of Man: The Idea Of The Good And Knowledge Of Essences. Part I.

Here I intend not only to return to topics such as essence, apodicticity, and the impossibility to deduce material existence from concept—but to address and (positively) evaluate Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s take on the “dignity of man.” Let us start with reminding the reader that, in my approach to God, the latter is an infinite field of ideational singular models (with generic and unique properties) for singular entities (with generic and unique properties), which finds itself in presence of a (strictly) vertical time (i.e., in which past, present, and future are (strictly) simultaneous); and which finds itself unified, encompassed, traversed, and driven by a sorting, actualizing pulse that is itself ideational and which (in a strictly atemporal mode, i.e., in presence of a strictly vertical time) selects which ideational singular models are to see their correspondent hypothetical material entities being materialized at which point of the universe.

While the operation of that pulse is strictly ideational and strictly atemporal, the universe in which the ideational field incarnates itself is strictly material and strictly temporal (i.e., in presence of a strictly horizontal time, in which past, present, and future are successive rather than simultaneous). While incarnating itself wholly into the material, temporal realm, the one of the universe, God remains wholly ideational, atemporal—and wholly external to the material, temporal realm. While endeavoring to engender increasingly higher order and complexity in the universe, God is capable of mistakes in that task—mistakes which man is expected to repair in complete submission to the order that God established within the universe. Also, the atemporal operation of the sorting, actualizing pulse is completely improvisational, what leaves the universe without any predecided, prefixed direction.

The Dignity Of Man

The Mirandolian affirmation that the “dignity of man,” in essence, consists of his finding himself constrained and able to become what he freely decides to become, “like a statuary who receives the charge and the honor of sculpting [his] own person,” is not to be taken in the sense that the human being is a strictly formless, quality-less, matter who can become absolutely whatever pleases him. It is not to be understood either as the negation of the objectively beneficial or harmful character (for the accomplishment of the human being as a human) of certain things and actions.

In the Mirandolian conception of the human, the latter, instead of being completely formless, quality-less, is so only to the extent that he finds himself torn between the beast and the divine. Instead of his freedom being that of becoming absolutely whatever he wishes to become, it boils down to the one to “regress towards lower beings in becoming a brute, or to rise in accessing higher, divine things.” Instead of nothing being objectively good or bad for the fulfillment of the human as a human, certain things and actions—including temperance, the golden mean, free mind, obedience to the divine law, knowledge of the cosmic order, white magic, or literary, artistic creation—elevate him towards humanity (and thus towards a so-called “divine” character in the sense of the character of being like-divine, of being made in the image of the divine); others are degrading and change (or maintain) him into a beast, separating him altogether from his virtual humanity.

One cannot but notice the similitude with what is part of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche’s message when he says of the human being that he is “a rope stretched between the beast and the superman;” and that such is what makes him “great.” The conception of the human according to Pico della Mirandola, that of a tightrope walker between the beast and the human-as-divine, is not less similar to what will be the one according to Konrad Zacharias Lorenz and Robert Ardrey when they say of the human, in essence, that he is free to give in to the chaotic, suffocating voice of his instincts or to impose a creative discipline on himself with the help of civilization and of knowledge.

The Mirandolian approach to the human, in which the human’s “nature” lies in its “intermediate position” between the beast and the human-as-divine, and in which the human accomplishes himself, notably, through exerting, developing his ability to think in an independent, critical mode, has nothing to do with Sartrian “existentialism,” in which the human’s “nature” lies in its absence of the slightest “nature;” and in which, nonetheless, the human accomplishes himself, notably, through complete servitude (including intellectual) in an economically communist society. It has nothing to do either with Heideggerian “existentialism,” in which the human’s “nature” notably lies in a virtual role as “shepherd of the Being” that is (according to Heidegger) as much foreign to the crowning of the cosmos through knowledge or through technique as incompatible with any high level of technical development; and in which the human is called to accomplish himself, not as the “lord of the beings” (either in a cognitive sense or in the sense of technical mastery), but as the one who muses over the mystery of the presence of those things that are.

The human’s self-accomplishment does not occur through technique stricto sensu in the Mirandolian approach to the human (which, indeed, doesn’t really address the topic of technique—to my knowledge); but it genuinely occurs, for instance, through mastery over nature in a cognitive sense (i.e., through that kind of mastery over nature that is the knowledge of nature), while said mastery is thought in Martin Heidegger to bring absolutely nothing to the human’s self-accomplishment.

In the Heideggerian approach to the human, the latter indeed occurs, notably, through meditating over the mystery that there is “something rather than nothing;” but neither through crowning the beings with knowledge nor through crowning them with high technique, which Heidegger even envisions as indissociable from the “forgetfulness of the Being.” The Being is here not to be taken in the sense of an uncreated entity that can neither escape existence (in the general sense of being) nor escape existence in an eternal mode; but in the sense of what allows for existence in existent entities (whether they’re material entities, i.e., materially existent entities) without being itself an entity. The essay will resort itself to that definition when speaking of the “Being.”

How the Being is actually articulated with the sorting, actualizing ideational pulse is a topic I intend to address elsewhere; but, in that the ideational realm incarnates itself into the material realm (to which it however remains external), the presence of the Being as a background for the ideational realm incarnates itself into the presence of the Being as a background for the material realm (while remaining external to its presence as a background for the material realm). While a property is what is characteristic of an existent or hypothetical entity at some point (whether time is horizontal or vertical), a quality is a property of a non-existential kind, i.e., a property unrelated to the entity’s existence.

A certain modality of the theory of evolution has this negative characteristic (for the spiritual elevation of the human) that it reduces the challenges of the human existence, either individual or collective, to sexual reproduction (and the transmission of genes), thus evacuating the challenge for the individual that is the preparation of oneself for the life of the soul after the death of the body.

Another negative characteristic at the level of spiritual elevation is that the modality in question reduces nature to an axiologically neutral battlefield: a land that confronts us with fierce, ruthless physical struggle for the transmission of genes (either individual or collective); but which, remaining rigorously indifferent to human existence and suffering, no more assigns to humans some end to pursue, some model of life to endorse, than it mourns their earthly misfortunes or rejoices in it. The classic axiological ideal of the pursuit is accordingly evacuated—both at the group and individual level—of a life of moderation in accordance with what is allegedly nature’s expectations: the ideal of the pursuit of the golden mean both in the individual exercise of the mental and bodily faculties—and in the group’s organization and conduct.

A golden mean that nature allegedly assigns to us, the transgression of which is allegedly at the origin of most of our earthly ills. The ideal offered in return is that of savagery and excessiveness in the “struggle for survival” and for reproduction, whether it is those of the individual or of the group: Arthur Keith noting in that regard that the “German Führer” was actually an “evolutionist,” who strove to render “the practices of Germany conform to the theory of evolution.”

That said, not any modality of the theory of evolution is actually incompatible with the classic ethics of the golden mean—in that a modality (rightly) envisioning the group’s axiological valorization, expectation, of the pursuit of the golden mean both on the individual’s part (in his individual life) and on the group’s part (in its conduct and organization) as an inescapable ingredient to the group’s success in intergroup competition for survival is actually at work, to some extent, in the considerations of “eminent evolutionists” such as Ardrey and Lorenz.

The obvious failure of Nazi Germany in the collective struggle for survival is a testimony to the degree to which a group’s imperilment expands as the group deviates from the golden mean. As for the issue of knowing whether the idea of the universe as an axiologically positioned place, i.e., one ascribing us some duties (and some proscriptions), is incompatible with any possible modality of the theory of evolution, I believe my approach to God allows to think of the universe as a place both completely positioned axiologically and—as claimed in the theory of evolution—completely neutral axiologically.

In my approach, indeed, the universe is, on the one hand, completely neutral axiologically in its existence considered independently of the spiritual realm incarnating itself completely into the universe; on the other hand, completely positioned axiologically in its existence considered as an incarnation of the spiritual realm remaining completely external to the universe. What the universe (when considered as a divine incarnation) is axiologically about is, notably, creation; and the fulfillment of creation through the human being, notably, as the latter is made “in the image of God.”

It is worth specifying that human creation (in an intellective, mental sense) occurs as much, for instance, at the level of cognition (in a broad sense covering as much art and literature as physics, mathematics, philosophy, magic, etc.) as at the level of technique; just like it is worth specifying that human creation is never so great as when it occurs in the mode of an exploit. What is here called “exploit” is a successful deed that is both exceptionally original, creative, and exceptionally risky, jeopardizing (for one’s individual material subsistence), and which is intended to bring eternal individual glory to its individual perpetrator, whether the exploit occurs on the properly military battlefield or on the battlefield between poets, the one between entrepreneurs, the one between magicians, etc.

Properly understood heroism is not about readiness to die anonymously for something “greater than oneself;” but about readiness, instead, to self-singularize and self-immortalize oneself through holding an eternally remembered life of exploit despising comfort and the fear of death. Though Pico della Mirandola rightly conceives of cognitive creation (and independence) and of the golden mean as both constitutive of the human kind’s elevation, thus reminding his reader of those ancient aphorisms that are “Nothing too much,” which “duly prescribes a measure and rule for all the virtues through the concept of the “Mean” of which moral philosophy treats,” and “Know thyself,” which “invites and exhorts us to the [independent, creative] study of the whole nature of which the nature of man is the connecting link and the “mixed potion”,” he didn’t make it clear, sadly, that the human life is never so creative, independent mentally, never so held in accordance with the golden mean, as when it is a life of exploit.

It should be added that, when it comes to the pursuit of exploit (especially in the warlike, political fields), a man’s mental creativeness, independence, his inner equilibrium, self-discipline, are never so great as in the one who, quoting Macchiavelli, knows “how to avail himself of the beast and the man” depending on the circumstances, something that “has been figuratively taught to princes by ancient writers, who describe how Achilles and many other princes of old were given to the Centaur Chiron to nurse, who brought them up in his discipline.”

To put it in another way, when it comes to war and political fight, a man is never so distanced from the beast that stands at the other end of the rope towards the superhuman as when he finds himself oscillating between the beast and the man with complete flexibility and self-mastery; a point that is regrettably absent in the Mirandolian Oration on the Dignity of Man (but, fortunately, explicit in Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli’s The Prince).

Again, Nietzsche’s message doesn’t fail to present some similitude with Florentine thinking when (in his Posthumous Fragments) he says that “at each growth of man in greatness and in elevation, he does not fail to grow downwards and towards the monster.” Whether one speaks of “transhumanism” in the notion’s general sense (i.e., in the sense of the promotion of the human being’s “overcoming” through genetic, bio-robotic engineerings), the one I will refer to in the present article (unless specified otherwise), or in the specific sense of an “overcoming” through genetic, bio-robotic engineerings that is specifically intended to emasculate the human being instinctually and mentally, the transhumanist project is obviously incompatible with the Mirandolian, Machiavellian approaches to the human (just like it is with the Nietzschean approach—on another note).

Both Pico della Mirandola and Machiavelli (but also Nietzsche) were fully attached to an ethics of exploit with which transhumanism is fully incompatible (a fortiori in the case of the above-evoked specific modality of transhumanism, which I especially addressed in a previous article); just like both (though not Nietzsche) were fully aware that the human was God-established as a worthy master of the cosmos himself put under God’s aegis, an intermediary rank that transhumanism fiercely rejects in its rebellion against the cosmic order.

Though the human is God-mandated to crown the beings with knowledge and technique, he is also God-mandated to perform his creativity in the respect of the God-implemented order and laws in the cosmos; in other words, God-mandated to accept himself as being “made in the image of God” (rather than made divine stricto sensu) and to act accordingly. None of the God-implemented laws in the cosmos can be actually transgressed; but attempt to transgress them is, for its part, not only possible but an actual cause of many misfortunes for the human.

A plane or bird can no more afford to disdain gravity (if it is to fly) than a human society (if it is to be functional) can afford to dismiss, for instance, the law of the inescapability of genetic inequality in any sexually reproducing species; the law of the instrumental necessity in any vertebrate species of “equal opportunity” for the purpose of the group’s success (in intergroup competition for survival); the law of the impossibility of (rational) central economic-planning; the law of the impossibility of (rational) central eugenics-planning; the law that what can be measured in intelligence is only part of intelligence; the law of the impossibility for the human mind to progress in knowledge (or in any field) without making use of an independent, creative mode of thinking (which is neither measured by the “QI” nor measurable); the law of the impossibility for the human mind (as it has been made by—and positioned within—the cosmos) to do any correct, precise prediction on the consequences of genome-editing; the law of the impossibility for the human mind to gather all the information required for the purpose of eugenics planning (or semi-planning) or economic planning (or semi-planning); the law of the unavoidable perverse-effects of any state-eugenics measure of a coercive, negative, or engineering kind; the law of the impossibility for the human being to master nature (to the extent possible) without submitting himself to nature; the law of the impossibility for the human being’s suprasensible grasp not to be approximative at best; or the law of the impossibility for the human being to reach some knowledge of the cosmos (or of the ideational realm) other than conjectural.

It cannot be denied that transhumanism and the afore-addressed modality of the “theory of evolution”—along with other memetic edifices of the so-called Modernity such as Marxism, Keynesianism, Heideggerianism, or Auguste Comte’s “positivism”—are part of the spiteful ideological mutations that got involved in the human’s corruption over the course of the three last centuries. Almost no longer any “positivist” dares, admittedly, to support or take seriously the notion dear to the earliest positivists, from the time of Auguste Comte, that “science,” far from requesting the slightest imagination, boils down to conducting observations (of regular causal relations) and to inducing them within theories constructed in accordance with “the” laws of formal logic; and that science provides objective certainties instead of being actually conjectural and corroborated.

The other articles of the original positivist creed—just as illusory—nevertheless remain deeply engraved in contemporary “neo-positivists.” Just as the so-called positivist spirit represents to itself that nothing exists but what is knowable (under the guise of claiming to restrict itself to knowing what is within the reach of human knowledge), it represents to itself that nothing is knowable but what is completely observable and completely quantifiable, entirely subject to a perfect and necessary regularity (at least, when identical circumstances are repeated over time) and to the identity, non-contradiction, and exclusion of the third middle (at least, in a certain respect at a certain moment). In that, “positivism” is not only unsuited to the (irremediably conjectural) knowledge of the human being, a creature subject (to a certain point) to free will, in whom everything by far is not quantifiable (or completely quantifiable); it is just as much to the (not less irremediably conjectural) knowledge of atomic and subatomic creatures, which, while behaving in a completely quantifiable mode, nonetheless remain free from the exclusion of the third middle (as highlighted by Stéphane Lupasco), perhaps even subject to their own free will to some extent (if one believes Freeman Dyson, Stuart Kauffman, John Conway, Simon Kochen, or Howard Bloom).

Positivism is equally mistaken in its conception of science as an undertaking systemically distinct from metaphysics—and in its conception of science as the key to a total human mastery with regard to nature and to an infinite liberation of his creative and exploitative powers. Just as those theories in astrophysics which relate to the beginning of the universe (including the theory of the “Big Bang”) actually tackle, in that, the issue of the “first causes,” the interest that “science” has in the allegedly necessary regularities in the causal relations between material entities (in a broad sense including atoms), what is commonly called “laws of nature,” is never more than a modality of the interest in “essences” which occupies a part of ontology.

To say of material entities that they follow a perfectly necessary regularity in all or part of their causal relations which is inherent in what they are actually falls within the discourse on “essences.” As for the mastery over the universe that science is able to bring to man, it is no more total than science is able to provide objectively certain theories. Far from science being able to render the human a god, it can only render him “as master and possessor” of nature: render him as-divine within the limits assigned to science and to the human by the order inherent in the cosmos, an order to which human submission is necessary condition for the liberation (to the extent possible) of his own creative and exploitative powers.

A scientific statement is never objectively certain nor a strict description of the sensible datum; but is instead a conjectured, corroborated statement. Precisely, what defines a scientific statement is not its object—but the fact it is conjectured, corroborated, and the way it is conjectured, corroborated (namely that is panoramically conjectured, corroborated). A claim or concept is conjectured when it is guessed from something which objectively doesn’t prove it.

A claim or concept conjectured at an empirical level (what is tantamount to saying: a claim or concept conjectured in an empirical sense) means a claim or concept conjectured from sensible experience; just like a claim or concept conjectured in a panoramic sense (what is tantamount to saying: a claim or concept conjectured at a panoramic level) means a claim or concept conjectured as much from sensible experience as from some logical laws as from hypothetical sensible impression (i.e., from sensible impression perhaps) as from hypothetical suprasensible impression (i.e., from suprasensible impression perhaps) as from hypothetical conjectures from sensible experience as from hypothetical ones from sensible impression (i.e., from ones perhaps from sensible impression) as from hypothetical ones from suprasensible impression as from hypothetical ones from hypothetical other conjectures from sensible experience, hypothetical other ones from some logical laws, hypothetical other ones from suprasensible impression, and hypothetical other ones from sensible impression, whether those hypothetical other conjectures are one’s conjectures or borrowed to someone else.

A claim or concept is corroborated when it is backed in a way that (objectively) doesn’t confirm it nonetheless. Corroboration at an empirical level (what is tantamount to saying: corroboration in an empirical sense) for a concept or claim means its corroboration through sensible experience; just like corroboration in a panoramic sense (what is tantamount to saying: corroboration at a panoramic level) for a concept or claim means its corroboration as much through sensible experience as through some logical laws as through hypothetical sensible impression (i.e., through sensible impression perhaps) as through hypothetical suprasensible impression (i.e., through suprasensible impression perhaps) as through hypothetical conjectures from sensible experience as through hypothetical ones from sensible impression (i.e., through ones perhaps from sensible impression) as through hypothetical ones from suprasensible impression as through hypothetical ones from hypothetical other conjectures from sensible experience, hypothetical other ones from some logical laws, hypothetical other ones from suprasensible impression, and hypothetical other ones from sensible impression, whether those hypothetical other conjectures are one’s conjectures or borrowed to someone else.

The logical laws used, trusted, in one’s mind are completely interdependent with the universe such as empirically conjectured in one’s mind or represented in one’s sensible impression, such as represented in one’s hypothetical suprasensible impression, such as conjectured from one’s logical laws, and such as represented in one’s hypothetical conjecturing from one’s sensible experience, in one’s hypothetical conjecturing from one’s (hypothetical) sensible impressions, in one’s hypothetical conjecturing from one’s (hypothetical) suprasensible impressions, and in one’s hypothetical conjecturing from hypothetical other conjectures from sensible experience and from hypothetical other ones from suprasensible impression and from hypothetical other ones from sensible impression (whether those hypothetical other conjectures are one’s conjectures or borrowed to someone else).

The scientific claims and concepts (what is tantamount to saying: the scientific theories and concepts) sometimes think of themselves as being conjectured only from the sensible datum and corroborated only from the latter; but they’re actually claims and concepts panoramically conjectured (including from the sensible datum) and panoramically corroborated (including from the sensible datum). As for the metaphysical claims and concepts, they’re neither systemically conjectured in a panoramic mode nor systemically corroborated in a panoramic mode; but, when they’re empirically corroborated, they’re also panoramically corroborated (and panoramically conjectured).

Any scientific claim or concept is panoramically conjectured, corroborated; but not any panoramically conjectured, corroborated, claim or concept is scientific. A scientific claim or concept is a modality of a panoramically conjectured, corroborated, claim or concept that not only allows for not-trivial quantitative positive predictions expected to be repeatedly verified under the repetition of some specific circumstances; but sees itself doomed to get empirically disproved in the hypothetical case where all or part of those predictions would be empirically refuted at some point.

From White And Black Magic To White And Black Technique

Technique is here taken in the sense of any apparatus intended to increase the human’s transformative or exploitive powers—whether it is through extending, sophisticating the social division of labor or through devising, deploying new technologies or through organizing society in a certain way aimed at increasing said powers. Most opponents to technique claim that they have something only against preferring technique over meditation on the Being, i.e., meditation on the mystery of the existence of things; or that they have something only against after preferring technique over the moderation of sensitive, material appetites, or over “heroism” understood as the capacity to die for one’s community or for something greater than oneself. Precisely, an error on their part lies in their more or less implicit assertion that a high level of technical development (i.e., a high level of development in all or part of the aforementioned modalities of technique) is necessarily incompatible with the meditation on the Being, the mastery of the sensitive, material appetites, or the sense of self-sacrifice—as if there were a choice to do between high technique (i.e., high technical development) and one or the other of those things.

Another error on their part lies in their more or less explicit approach to Being, the glade of existence, as a closed, complete glade, which only asks the human to meditate on the fact that there is something rather than nothing, that there is a glade rather than the night. Actually, the Being is open, incomplete, waiting for the human to pursue what exists prior to the human and to make himself the brush-cutter and arranger of the glade. Technique is no more external to the opening of the human to the Being than a high level of technical development necessarily breaks said opening. Heidegger simply failed to notice that the technique opens us as much to the Being as does meditation of the fact of existence; and that the human fulfills his role of “shepherd of the Being” as much in the astonished consideration of the presence of things as in the cognitive, technical completion of the present things. Meditative astonishment at the mystery of existence is not doomed to disappear as knowledge and technique are boarding (and prolonging) what exists; but its vocation in “the history of the Being” is to stand at the side of technical development as asked by the Being itself.

Two things, at least, should be clarified. Namely that, on the one hand, the axiological, organizational hegemony of the market (which can only be majorly at work, not completely) doesn’t lead to the axiological, organizational promotion (either complete or major) of intemperance in society; and that, on the other hand, not all technique is good technic from the joint angle of the Being, of the divine order, and of the “human dignity.” (What is bad technique from the angle of the Being is also bad technique from those two other angles. Ditto for what is bad technique from the angle of the divine order—and bad technique from the angle of the “human dignity.”)

A society that is strictly industrious in its foundations, i.e., where the industrious activity (instead of the military one) is the dominant activity in the organization and the foundational code of expectations, is not systemically a society that notably values, expects, intemperance and which articulates its industrious activity around it notably. Such society is instead a modality of the industrious society. With regard to the modality where the market is largely liberated and largely hegemonic at the organizational and axiological levels, that hegemony of a largely liberated market not only does not imply that a complete or high intemperance is valued in the foundational expectations or put at the core of social organization; but, besides, is simply incompatible with such an organizational or axiological hegemony of intemperance.

A largely liberated market notably requires (as would be the case of a perfectly liberated market) for its proper functioning the presence of (quantitatively) numerous and profitable outlets, what notably requires the presence of a virtuous circle where high levels of savings obtained notably through high or perfect temperance create—notably through a correct entrepreneurial anticipation of the respective consumption and investment demands—high levels of entrepreneurial and capital income, themselves reinjected in part into savings and in part into consumption. The modality of an industrious society where the market is largely hegemonic at organizational and axiological levels (in other words, the modality of an industrious society that is the majorly bourgeois society) is therefore a modality whose code of expectations condemns the slightest intemperance (instead of encouraging or tolerating it) and whose organization is based on high or full temperance (rather than high or moderate intemperance).

What one may call the Keynesian modality of an industrious society, where the economic system is largely based on economic policy measures whose interference with the market intentionally encourages high levels of consumption (to the detriment of levels of savings which be high or moderate), is actually a modality that axiologically praises high intemperance notably and which notably relies on it in the organization; but that modality, precisely, is neither one where the market is majorly (or completely) liberated nor one where it is majorly (or completely) hegemonic in values.

It is true that a society where the market is majorly hegemonic (both organizationally and axiologically) is a society where the valued, expected code of conduct in the foundations of said society includes—apart from self-sacrifice on the battlefield in intergroup warfare—concern for pursuing as a priority, placing above all else, a perfectly temperate and perfectly responsible subsistence, which be so long as possible and which avoid danger as much as possible; but intemperance, whether high, complete, low, or moderate, is just as incompatible with such code of conduct as (strictly) high or complete temperance is indispensable to the organization of a society where a largely liberated market is largely hegemonic.

Just as the bourgeois code of conduct and indulgence with regard to such-or-such level of intemperance (were it the lowest) are wholly distinct (and even wholly incompatible) things, a (completely) Keynesian market and a widely liberated market are wholly distinct (and even wholly incompatible) things. Just as a largely liberated and largely hegemonic (axiologically and organizationally) market requires quantitatively numerous and profitable outlets for its proper functioning, it requires qualitatively numerous and profitable outlets: in other words, profitable outlets that are “diverse and varied” (rather than homogeneous). It is not only false that a largely liberated and largely hegemonic (axiologically and organizationally) market requires for its proper functioning a (strictly) complete or high intemperance; it is just as much false that a largely liberated and largely hegemonic (axiologically and organizationally) market requires standardized outlets for its proper functioning.

Whatever the level of liberalization of the national or global market, a double cause-and-effect relationship that is at work both in the national and global market is effectively the following. Namely that the more the profitable outlets are qualitatively numerous (i.e., diversified at the level of their respective attributes), the more they are quantitatively numerous; the less they are qualitatively numerous, the less they are quantitatively numerous. The highly standardized character of goods and services in the contemporary global market is precisely a dysfunctional pattern in the globalized market; and that dysfunctional motive is itself the consequence of the fact that, however globalized it may be, the globalized market is largely hampered juridically—and hampered for the benefit of a narrow number of companies and banks enjoying fiscal and legal advantages that are such that those companies and banks are largely sheltered from competition. Both at the national-market level and at the global-market level: the more competition is juridically locked, the less the profitable outlets are qualitatively, quantitatively numerous; the less it is, the more they are.

Just like a society that majorly prefers technique over exploit, i.e., which majorly disdains exploit for the benefit of technique, is majorly detrimental to the human’s elevation towards the superhuman, a society that completely prefers technique over exploit (as is the case of a majorly bourgeois society—and as would be the case of a completely bourgeois chimerical society) is completely detrimental to the human’s elevation towards the superhuman. Technique is not more to be preferred (completely or majorly) over exploit than the latter is to be preferred (completely or majorly) over the former. Both are compatible and should go hand in hand (as is the case in some modalities of a society completely warlike foundationally). Yet the opponents to technique err not only in their amalgamating disdain for heroism with disdain for temperance; but in their understanding heroism as a conduct incompatible with (high) technique—and as a conduct turned towards self-erasure and self-sacrifice through anonymous death (even while heroism is really about self-singularization and self-immortalization through exploit such as defined above).

What’s more, they fail to notice that the problem with technique is not only to be aware not to prefer technique over that to which it should remain not-preferred; but to be aware not to indulge into what can be called black technique or bad technique (in comparison with that kind of magic that can be called black or bad). Precisely, the distinction that Pico della Mirandola takes up (and clarifies) between two kinds of magic, the one which “entirely falls within the action and authority of demons” and the one which instead consists of “the perfect fulfillment of natural philosophy,” must extend to technique. Namely that, while the good, white technique is the one which is only the crowning of the natural order, the completion of the Being, the bad, black technique is the one which (were it unwittingly) works to transgress the natural order, subvert the Being. The former contributes to fulfilling the human as a being-as-divine, but the latter, working (were it unwittingly) to render the human divine, contributes to corrupting him and handing him over to the demons. The former really institutes the human as a fortunate co-creator alongside the divine, but the latter, indulging in the chimerical project of escaping the cosmic order and equaling the divine, only makes to condemn the human and his work to misfortune.

Just as bad magic, to quote Pico, is, rightly, “condemned and cursed not only by the Christian religion [of the type of Catholicism of Pico’s time], but by all laws, by every well ordered state,” the bad technique must be legally, politically, religiously condemned unambiguously. The transhumanist, so to speak, must be led to the stake just like the Keynesian. From engineering on the genome of embryos to those neuro-robotic implants undermining free will, from genetic planning to any coercive, negative, or engineering state-eugenics measure, from economic planning to any economic-policy measure undermining such things as inheritance, free competition, saving, or the freedom itself to do saving, demonic-type technique must be banned in its entirety; but good technique, the one which elevates us towards God and the superhuman, must be authorized.


Grégoire Canlorbe is an independent scholar, based in Paris. Besides conducting a series of academic interviews with social scientists, physicists, and cultural figures, he has authored a number of metapolitical and philosophical articles. He also worked on a (currently finalized) conversation book with the philosopher, Howard Bloom. See his website: gregoirecanlorbe.com.


The featured image shows, “Herod’s Banquet,” by Filippo Lippi; painted ca. 1452 and 1465.

The Natural Law, Impossibility Of Planned Eugenics, And The Chaos Of Transhumanism

We intend to develop here two reasons why a genetically or economically planned human society, which ignores both social inequality and intragroup competition, whether peaceful or coercive, is, in fact, intensely disadvantaged in its self-preservation, even doomed to failure. On the one hand, the projected success of a future sexuated individual in reproducing (and living long enough, and well enough, to become a mature, vigorous sexual reproducer), in the framework of a decentralized struggle for survival and reproduction, can neither be measured nor be existing in the absence of decentralized sexual reproductive opportunities. And that, just as the rentability of a future allocation of capital goods can be neither measured nor even projected, in the absence of capital goods subject to the market price and to the right of private property.

To put it in another way, the calculation of the “fitness” of a future sexuated individual is not more possible to a eugenics planning body than the calculation of the economic rentability of a future allocation of capital is possible to an economic planning body. The implementation of a functional order in human society necessarily passes through the acceptance of these two cosmic laws that are the respective impossibilities of a (centrally) planned eugenics and of a (centrally) planned economy. On the other hand, there are at least two other cosmic laws whose acceptance is necessarily required for a functional social order in the human species: namely the fact that physical-mental inequality necessarily characterizes a sexually reproducing species; and the fact that decentralized intragroup competition for preeminence, survival, and reproduction is indispensable for the success of a group of vertebrates in intergroup competition for survival and preeminence.

A Word On State Eugenics

Before we get to the heart of the matter, it is useful that we proceed with some conceptual clarifications on state eugenics, which admits a positive modality (i.e., dedicated to promoting, or requiring the transmission of, traits considered positive) and a negative modality (i.e., dedicated to disadvantaging or prohibiting the transmission of traits considered negative).

The goal of state eugenics, either positive or negative, is not only to reach a population carrying exclusively the traits that it considers positive (or to come as close as possible to it); but to ensure that the members of the population in question are virtually capable of winning individually in a decentralized struggle for survival and reproduction (that nevertheless corresponds to the socio-natural environment of said population), or of compromising their own individual survival and reproduction in the reproductive interest of the population (taken as a whole).

By “planner-type state eugenics” or “planning-type state eugenics,” we mean state eugenics that enjoys ownership of individual genetic capital, and which decides who has the right to reproduce and who should reproduce with whom. We will call “state eugenics of the semi-planner type” (or “state eugenics of the semi-planning type”) state eugenics that shows itself to be planning, either in the sole field of positive eugenics, or in the sole field of negative eugenics, but not in both fields. To our knowledge, whereas planner-type (rather than semi-planner type) state eugenics has been found only in fiction, semi-planner (rather than planner) state eugenics has genuinely existed: in England, America, Germany, and elsewhere. It continues to exist at least in China, where the communist administration, notably, renders the authorization for those couples deemed dysgenic to marry conditional on permanent contraception.

By “incentive-type state eugenics,” we mean state eugenics that uses incentives (fiscal, for example), but leaves mating decisions to be carried out in a decentralized mode, thus recognizing the authority of the family’s patriarch (over the mating of his offspring) or the freedom of individuals in the choice of their mating partners. To our knowledge, the actually implemented state eugenics of the semi-planner type have classically been (and, as in contemporary China, continue to be classically) state eugenics that, while showing themselves to be notably planning (and not only inciting) in the field of negative eugenics, prove to be only inciting (rather than planning) in the field of positive eugenics.

Without establishing the state as the owner of individual genetic capital, a semi-planner-type state eugenics exercises a planning confined, either to the positive field of eugenics, or to the negative field. A state eugenics of the semi-planner type allows that, as far as strictly concerns a given field of eugenics, either the positive or the negative field, decentralized decisions are taken in the allocation of individual genetic capital towards reproductive sexual unions, decisions that he will potentially undertakes to influence (via non-coercive incentives).

When it comes to following a criterion in its planning of reproductions, a planning-type eugenist state has no other possible choice than to take as the criterion of its decision to order or prohibit a certain reproductive union the reproductive success that the offspring that would result from that reproductive union under the planning eugenist state (if the latter were actually ordered by the planning eugenist state and carried out) would reach in a decentralized competition for survival and reproduction (if the offspring in question were founding itself participating in such a competition instead of finding itself under the supervision of a planning eugenist state).

For the reason that a (centralized) planning of reproductions is necessarily deprived of a criterion for centralized planning (i.e., a criterion for the centralized selection of those reproductions required, and therefore, authorized) that it can find in itself, which is therefore not borrowed from its representation of the individual planning of an organism meeting decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction and wanting the best “fitness” for its offspring, a planning eugenist state (what amounts to speaking of a genetically planning state) is necessarily incapable of taking a criterion for selecting ordered (and therefore, authorized) reproductions other than the representation of the reproductive success that the offspring of a hypothetical ordered reproductive union would achieve in the presence of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction.

By “entrepreneurial economy” or “decentralized entrepreneurial economy,” we mean an economy where the allocation of capital takes place in the context of capital goods subject to private property rights (and to free entrepreneurial competition for monetary profit) rather than in the context of the absence of property rights over capital goods or in the context of central planning by a state that owns capital goods.

By “decentralized competition for survival and reproduction,” we mean an (individual) competition for survival and reproduction in the presence of the formal possibility of everyone to take part in said competition and in the context of decentralized sexual reproductive opportunities (rather than centralized due to central planning by a state that owns the genetic capital replacing any sexual opportunity for decentralized reproduction).

Just as a planning eugenist state aspires to do as well (or aspires to do better) in terms of “fitness” as decentralized competition for survival and reproduction would, so a state planning the economy aspires to do as well (or aspires to do better) in terms of economic rentability as decentralized entrepreneurial competition would do. Because those two types of central planning are both incapable of planning action, both are doomed to failure in their respective ambitions.

The “fitness” of an individual designates his success in generating an offspring qualitative (i.e., itself happy in said reproductive success) and numerous in the context of a decentralized struggle for survival and reproduction, therefore in the presence of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction (what nevertheless includes the scenario where there is only one fertile sexual partner for all individuals of the opposite sex, a scenario comparable to the “natural monopoly” in an economy). Just as the market prices of capital goods can no more exist outside a market for capital goods than the rentability of a certain allocation of capital can be calculated in the absence of market prices, decentralized sexual reproductive opportunities can no more exist outside a decentralized struggle for survival and reproduction than an individual’s “fitness” can exist (and can be calculated) in the absence of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction.

Just as a state planning the economy intends to dispense with the existence of a market for capital goods in its projection or verification of the rentability of the allocated capital, a state planning eugenics intends to dispense with the existence of a decentralized struggle for survival and reproduction in its projection or verification of the “fitness” of an individual, i.e., the success an individual, if he were in a context of decentralized struggle (for survival and reproduction), would reach in the begetting of a numerous and qualitative descent. Whereas the “fitness” of the individual to be born of the allocation of a certain genetic capital (towards a certain reproductive union) is irremediably prevented (and not only rendered non-measurable and non-plannable) by the absence of decentralized reproductive sexual opportunities under a state planning eugenics, the economic capital allocated by a state planning economy remains allocated profitably or not; but the rentability in question is irremediably rendered non-measurable (and, in that regard, rendered non-plannable) by the absence of market prices for capital goods.

The fact that a state planning eugenics is necessarily incapable of forming an idea of “fitness” (since the decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction are necessarily absent under a state planning eugenics) will not be without incidence on the genetic quality of the engendered population in terms of the ability to live long enough (and healthy enough) to become a mature (and vigorous) reproductive breeder. As the central planning of the allocation of genetic capital to reproductive sexual unions, because of its necessarily erratic character, will generate individuals who would be less and less able to prevail in a decentralized competition for survival and reproduction (corresponding to the socio-natural environment of the concerned population), it will engender individuals who—in the concrete context of planned eugenics—will be less and less able to become vigorous and attractive sexual reproducers or to live long enough to reach sexual maturity.

From Gnosticism To Transhumanism

In the weak sense, transhumanism covers any doctrine that promotes the “overcoming” of homo sapiens via genetic engineering and bio-robotic engineering (including the implantation of electronic devices in the human brain, what one may call “neuro-robotic engineering” or “the neuro-robotic compartment of bio-robotic engineering”). In the strong sense, transhumanism covers any doctrine that promotes the instinctual, mental emasculation of homo sapiens, and its genetic homogenization (in terms of IQ and physical aptitude), via eugenics and the aforementioned genetic and bio-robotic engineerings—and that, for the purpose of obtaining an allegedly pain-free human existence. By the project of homo sapiens’s instinctual emasculation, we mean the project (dear to transhumanists in the strong sense) of reconfiguring human instincts in such a way that the virile mind (i.e., independent and capable of criticism and dissent) and the virile instincts of territoriality, independent thought, war, selfishness, the enjoyment of luxury and of sexual pleasure, the taste for power and for competition, or the desire to distinguish oneself, are eradicated from the psyche human.

To do that, transhumanists advocate, if not planning-type state eugenics, at least eugenics and genetic and bio-robotics engineerings. A transhumanist ideal in the strong sense is not necessarily an ideal in favor of planning state eugenics or even an ideal in favor of state eugenics as such: in other words, the transhumanism in the strong sense adopting state eugenics (either of the planning type or not) is only a modality of transhumanism in the strong sense. But whether it adopts state eugenics or not, transhumanism in the strong sense is doomed to engender a dysfunctional society for the reason that such a society would collide with the cosmic order. Strong transhumanism, and even weak transhumanism, is nothing else than a revolt against the cosmic order: a revolt all the more pronounced in the case of strong transhumanism. In the following lines, we will above deal with transhumanism in the strong sense and use the term “transhumanism” in its strong sense exclusively.

The project of “overcoming” homo sapiens via both genetic and bio-robotic (including neuro-robotic) engineering necessarily succumbs to what Friedrich A. von Hayek called the “fatal conceit” of omniscience, i.e., the conceit that genetic and neuro-robotic engineering is able to understand and predict a phenomenon that, in reality, is irremediably beyond human understanding as it is made (and positioned) in the cosmic order. As for the modality of neuro-robotic engineering that consists of implanting behavior-regulating chips in the human brain, it is needless to specify that it falls within the “road to serfdom.”

To that cognitive hybris with regard to the cosmos is necessarily added a conceit of omnipotence when the “overcoming” of homo sapiens in question consists more precisely of replacing the human being as he stems from decentralized and spontaneous biological evolution with a “new man” as much emasculated in his instincts and behavior as undifferentiated genetically, socially, and physically-mentally. Here, the cosmos is definitely seen both as totally disorganized and as infinitely shapeable: a clay that is both chaotic and malleable at will.

To put it in another way, transhumanism, while denying that there is a certain order in the universe (and a harmony within which humans must find their place), affirms that homo sapiens is able to provide the universe with the order which it supposedly lacks; and, while denying that human existence has any meaning within the universe, asserts that homo sapiens is able (and has) to “overcome” himself—via eugenics and via genetic and bio-robotic engineering—and to become a being no less omnipotent (and omniscient) with regard to the cosmos than “freed” from his virile instincts and from genetic inequality. In that regard, transhumanism comes as a secularized outgrowth of Gnosticism, an outgrowth where rebellion against an evil demiurge turns into rebellion against a vain and chaotic universe; and where the “liberation” from the divine sparks that are human souls with regard to the prison of material bodies, accomplished through knowledge, magic, and the rejection of Yahweh’s commandments, turns into “liberation” (via knowledge, technology, and eugenics) both of human biological nature with regard to the instincts, aptitudes, and inequalities of homo sapiens and of the creative powers of the human with regard to the limits assigned to them by his biological condition.

It is worth specifying that Gnosticism is only a part of the larger current of Judeo-Hellenic esotericism that fermented in Alexandria before continuing notably in the Kabbalah, a current that a certain literature hostile to Judaism believes it can amalgamate in its entirety, wrongly, with the only Gnostic modality. Contrary to what some of those studying the distant esoteric roots of contemporary transhumanism claim, Gnosticism and transhumanism stand in stark contrast to the Old Testament’s (and by extension, Talmudic and Kabbalistic) conception of the human being and the role that he is in a position to play in the cosmos.

In the mindset of the Old Testament, it is true that the human is seen as commissioned by God to co-create the cosmos; but precisely, the mandate of creation that is in question here consists, not of destroying and replacing the work of God (including human nature as God designed it), but of completing and sustaining the cosmos that God has created and delivered to humans. Hence the metaphor of the Garden of Eden that expresses the role of gardener of the cosmos devolved to humans: the role of preserving and crowning divine creation. Here, the human is certainly made in the image of God, or even directly linked to God; but precisely, far from the human being divine or called to render himself divine, he finds himself only in a relationship of (virtual) resemblance to God, a resemblance that he is called to concretize through submitting nature to himself (in the understanding nevertheless of the divine wisdom inherent in the arrangement of creation) and through submitting to the commandments of God: commandments which aim to enable man to discipline his instincts and, in that regard, to accomplish what renders him virtually made in the image of God and virtually capable of co-creating and exploiting the cosmos.

That conception of the way in which humans can and must behave with regard to nature contrasts just as much with the sacralization of nature (prohibiting its lesser exploitation by humans) constitutive of certain paganisms as with the condemnation of nature (and its perception as an enemy to be eradicated) constitutive of transhumanism. It is notably perpetuated into well-understood traditional Catholicism, namely the Catholicism of the papal reform of the 11th century, and into American-Protestantism. A secularized echo of that is the notion that man, if he intends to submit to nature to the extent possible, is forced himself to submit to nature and to the knowledge of nature. That echo does not only suggest what is possibly the symbolic meaning of the biblical text; it expresses what is a completely “scientific” appreciation both of the way in which the human is inscribed in the cosmos and of the degree to which the human can render himself creator and dominator and of the conditions under which that is possible to him.

Far from order being unknown to cosmic and biological evolution (such as conjectured the “theory of evolution” in a corroborated mode), a certain order governs inter-particle relations just as much as, to quote Robert Ardrey, “the movement of stars within galaxies, galaxies in their relations with others,” “the orbits of planets about their sun, moons about their planet,” and the “transactions of animals.” Neither the random nature of genetic mutations, nor the undesigned character of evolution, change anything to the facts “that animal treaties are honored; that baboons do not commit suicide in wars of troop against troop; that kittiwakes successfully defend their cliff-hung properties and raise their young; that lions and elephants restrict their numbers so that a habitat will not be exhausted by too numerous offspring,” or, finally, “that when species can no longer meet the challenge of environment, they must quietly expire.”

It is true that there are some doctrinal defenses of transhumanism that, instead of denying the order present in the nature, fully recognize the existence of said order, and even conceive of evolution as a designed process and the cosmos as organized on purpose. But precisely, those are inconsistent theoretical devices that, instead of drawing from the existence of the natural order the necessary implication, namely that the submission to the natural order limits and conditions the liberation of the creative and exploiting powers of humans, see homo sapiens as a virtually omnipotent being who will be able (with technical progress) to substitute for the natural order and the present version of the human species a new cosmos and a “new man.”

In that regard, the expectation of the “Singularity” (i.e., the day when artificial intelligence will allegedly overtake human intelligence and will henceforth be able to self-maintain and self-improve) in certain modalities of transhumanist faith comes as a twisted and secularized millennialist pattern, the expectation of the biological homogenization of humans and of their instinctual cyborgization and reprogramming when the era of the Singularity comes superseding the expectation of communist equality and of the mental regeneration of humans in the abundance of “grace” when the millennial era preceding the “last judgment” comes.

The natural impossibility of planning in eugenics is nevertheless a disappointment for the hopes of the type of transhumanism that favors planned eugenics. The natural impossibility of genetic equality (in a sexually reproducing species) and the natural indispensability (to the functionality of a vertebrate-society) of decentralized intragroup competition for survival, reproduction, and preeminence are so many disappointments for the hopes of transhumanism generally speaking, which falls within what Ardrey, without thinking of transhumanism (to our knowledge), called the “philosophy of the impossible.” Namely that, in defiance of properly understood science, “we have pursued the mastery of nature as if we ourselves were not a portion of that nature;” as if nature were not our “partner” (rather than our “slave”) and the “laws applying to us” were not “applying to all.”

An ambiguous notion, “natural law” can designate, among other things, an allegedly objective categorical injunction (such as the injunction “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife nor his servant”); a necessary regularity in the cosmic order; a categorical injunction allegedly objective and allegedly inferred from human nature (as the principle of non-aggression allegedly is); a functional and universal human rule of law; or a functional human rule of law rendered functional by its formulation and implementation of all or part of the implications of a certain cosmic regularity for the functionality of human society.

In the present article, we will call “natural law” a certain necessary regularity of the cosmic order that, on the one hand, renders functional a certain rule of human law formulating and implementing all or part of what that factual regularity implies in order for human society to be functional; which, on the other hand, renders dysfunctional any rule of law undertaking to transgress all or part of the implications of that factual regularity for a properly functional human society.

Any functional human rule of law is functional in that it contributes, if not to the preeminence of the group, at least to its survival (in specifying that preeminence is an asset for survival). Any functional human rule of law does not derive its functionality from the fact it formulates and implements an implication of a cosmic regularity; but any human rule of law that (like the collective ownership of economic or genetic capital) undertakes to get rid of a certain implication by a certain cosmic regularity is ipso facto rendered dysfunctional.

Precisely, the necessity of the calculation (of monetary profit or of profit in terms of “fitness”) for planning action in economy or in eugenics is one of the “natural laws” (in the aforementioned sense) that jointly render dysfunctional the legal basis of decentralized entrepreneurial competition and the legal basis of decentralized organismic competition for survival and reproduction; and jointly render dysfunctional the collective ownership of capital goods and the collective ownership of genetic capital.

Just as economic planning is in rebellion against the natural law of the need for anticipated market prices in the elaboration of economic plans (what may also be called “the law of the impossibility of planning (centrally) an economy”), planning in eugenics—and, in that regard, transhumanism of the type turned towards planned eugenics—are in rebellion against the natural law of the need for anticipated sexual reproductive opportunities in the elaboration of anticipations on the “fitness” of a projected newborn (what may also be called “the law of the impossibility of planning (centrally) eugenics”). Whether or not it is of a type supporting planned eugenics, transhumanism is also in rebellion against at least two other natural laws.

Although Robert Ardrey sometimes lacked clarity as to the meaning in which he spoke of “natural law,” and although he did not tackle (to our knowledge) the theme of transhumanism, we owe him in The Social Contract the identification of those two other natural laws against which transhumanism rebels (in vain): namely “the law of inequality” in species with sexual reproduction; and “the law of equal opportunity” in vertebrate species. The law of inequality is the law that genetic inequality, and therefore physical-mental inequality, is inevitable in a sexually reproducing species. For its part, the law of equal opportunity is the law that the equal opportunity of the members of a vertebrate society to take part in the “disorder” of the decentralized intragroup competition to survive, reproduce, and occupy a high position in the “pecking order” is an indispensable instrument for sorting out and making good use of individual aptitudes for the success of a group of vertebrates to perpetuate itself.

By “decentralized intragroup competition for survival, reproduction, and preeminence,” we mean an intragroup competition (peaceful or coercive) for survival, reproduction, and preeminence that is formally open to everyone in society; and which operates in the company of unhindered social inequalities (including innate ones), in the context of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction, and in the presence of a hierarchical order formally open to social mobility and to the recomposition of elites. In view of those two natural laws that are the law of inequality and the law of equal opportunity, a human social order that hinders or ignores any social inequality (including hierarchical) will be rendered not less dysfunctional than a human social order that hinders or ignores any formal system of intragroup decentralized competition (including decentralized competition for preeminence).

A transhumanist social order, i.e., repressing just as well any genetic inequality (in addition to any social inequality) as any genetic existence of a virile instinct (in addition to any social existence of decentralized intragroup competition), will be rendered all the more dysfunctional. Besides, whether the planning of reproductions consists of planning acts of carnal mating between individuals or of planning in vitro fertilization, a transhumanist social order of the planning type (i.e., of the type in favor of planned eugenics) will be rendered dysfunctional as much by its attempt to transgress the natural laws of identity and equal opportunity as by its attempt to transgress the natural law of the impossibility of planned eugenics.

On that subject, the society depicted in Brave New World comes as a borderline case of a transhumanist society of the planning type, in which genetic inequality is accepted (albeit planned) and in which instinctual emasculation remains incomplete (albeit largely advanced), with notably the quest for sexual pleasure persisting in society. The fact remains that, precisely, genetic reproductions and inequalities are planned there (and that, without the novel portraying the nonetheless erratic character of genetic planning, which is necessarily incapable of planning); and that intellective emasculation (i.e., the suppression of any mental capacity to think in a virile, therefore independent and critical, mode) is complete there, with no human stemming from planned eugenics in the depicted society proving able to think for himself.

What dismays the transhumanist with genetic inequality (and, by extension, social inequality) and intragroup or intergroup competition (and the instincts associated with it) is fundamentally that those things create “suffering,” “wickedness,” “violence,” and “tearing” in the world. When it comes more precisely to intergroup warfare or the decentralized intragroup competition for survival, reproduction, and preeminence, another reason for dismay in the transhumanist, not less fundamental, is that the disorder associated with it is thought to be an outright aberration, a horror that should be replaced with a total order.

To the indispensability of economic and juridico-political inequalities (including those attached to birth) for a functional human society responds, however, the not less indispensable character of the disorder linked to an “equal opportunity” offered to all members of society. But “the equal opportunity” whose implementation is in question here (if one wants human society to be functional) does not reside in the equality of formal or material starting conditions, what would contravene the aforementioned principle to allow all inequalities to flourish, including those associated with birth. “The equal opportunity” that is in question here consists of a formal equal opportunity to take part in a decentralized intragroup competition for survival and reproduction, as well as for the escalation of the group’s hierarchical order and the occupation of a high position within said hierarchical order.

That struggle for preeminence takes the form of what biologist Vero Copner Wynne-Edwards described as a “struggle for conventional prices by conventional means.” A fact which (to our knowledge) was not raised more in Mises than in Ardrey or Wynne-Edwards, the entrepreneurial competition for monetary profit only makes to deploy (in the economic field) the competition for “conventional prices” (in that case, monetary profit) by “conventional means” (in that case, the allocation of economic capital) that is at work in any functional vertebrates society, the losers in entrepreneurial competition (i.e., those entrepreneurs who are most mistaken or are the latest in the allocation of capital in anticipation of changes in investment or consumption demand) seeing themselves constrained to a low or negative income (and, in that regard, a inferior social position) just as the losers in the struggle for preeminence are relegated to a lower social rung generally speaking.

Ultimately, what renders free entrepreneurship functional (in terms of the group’s success in sustaining itself and in facing the challenges met by its survival, including the challenge of preeminence) is notably that such social institution accords with the three natural laws that are the law of inequality (in the sense that entrepreneurial income inequalities germinate from genetic inequalities without paralleling them), the law of equal opportunity (in the sense that entrepreneurial freedom offers everyone an equal formal opportunity to take a chance as an entrepreneur), and the law of the impossible central planning in economy (in the sense that entrepreneurial plans are exercised in place of a central planning body, which would be precisely incapable of planning). To put it in another way, what renders entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial freedom beneficial to the group is notably the fact that they fit into harmony with the cosmic order.

The Impossibility Of Planned Eugenics: A Neo-Misesian Argument

Ludwig von Mises defended freedom (including entrepreneurial) at a time when the academic consensus was that the central planning of an economy works, as well as a semi-planning state eugenics of the sterilizing type and of the transhumanist type (although the term “transhumanism” would only be forged in the 1950s, by a Julien Huxley approving the totalitarian world prophesied and denounced by his own brother Aldous). The officials of the Communist Party of China, as well as the men of the superclass, are both counting on the renewal of such consensus. In addition to his convincing demonstration of the impossibility of economic calculation for a planning committee, Mises had some very appropriate remarks on state eugenics of the planning or semi-planning type: namely that the latter, as Mises writes in his epilogue to Socialism, “aims at placing some men, backed by the police power, in complete control of human reproduction;” and that “as every supporter of economic planning aims at the execution of his own plan only, so every advocate of eugenic planning [or semi-planning] aims at the execution of his own plan and wants himself to act as the breeder of human stock,” the criteria retained to judge the physical or psychological traits that deserve to be preserved varying from one eugenics plan to another.

It is nevertheless regrettable that Mises did not distinguish between state eugenics of the planning (or semi-planning) type and state eugenics of the inciting type, implicitly reducing any state eugenics measure to a eugenics of the planned or semi-planned type in his references to “eugenics.” It is not less regrettable that he did not point out that the variance of the criteria retained in state eugenics devices to judge the traits worthy of being transmitted was, in part, due to the own variance of the criteria for social selection of surviving individuals (as opposed to those of selection criteria for individual survivals that relate to the natural and climatic environment), which vary according to society (as the natural selection criteria of those who will survive long enough to achieve sexual maturity vary depending on the natural environment).

Also and above all, Mises did not notice (or did not come across as noticing) that his argument in favor of the impossibility of economic planning (i.e., the central planning of the allocation of economic capital to the branches of activity, within the framework of the collective ownership of said economic capital) was transposable to genetic planning (i.e., the central planning of the allocation of genetic capital to reproductive sexual unions, within the framework of the collective ownership of genetic capital ). A planning eugenic state is certainly able to get an idea of the success of a hypothetical future newborn in reaching sexual maturity and vigor in the joint framework of its social selective environment and of its natural selective environment. It remains incapable as much of giving oneself a criterion for selecting the required (and therefore, authorized) reproductions other than the “fitness” of the offspring associated with them (i.e., the degree to which the offspring associated with them would be able to engender numerous and qualitative offspring if it were placed in the context of a decentralized struggle for survival and reproduction) as of getting an idea of said “fitness” in the absence of anticipated sexual opportunities of reproduction.

Under a state planning eugenics, when an individual organism was just born and would be (in all the probable life scenarios) incapable of encountering a decentralized sexual opportunity of reproduction (within the framework of a decentralized competition for survival and reproduction corresponding to the socio-natural environment of said individual organism), seized or not, it is probable that the same organism will fail (even if the planning eugenist state leaves it in peace) to reach sexual maturity or to become a vigorous, attractive sexual reproducer. A state “planning” eugenics is, in fact, necessarily incapable of planning (and, in that regard, necessarily erratic), from which it follows that it will obtain organisms whose “fitness” would be weaker and weaker—and, in that regard, a population who, in the concrete context of planned eugenics, will be less and less qualified for sexual attractiveness and vigor or less and less likely to reach sexual maturity.

One easily imagines a defender of planned eugenics retorting that a planning eugenist state may well be incapable of planning, but that all that matters is the success of said state in ensuring that all or part of its population reproduce and that the physical-mental traits that it values are thus transmitted. Yet, the fact is that the only objective criterion for establishing the biological success of an individual organism is that said organism, if it were confronted with a decentralized competition for survival and reproduction corresponding to its own socio-natural environment, would achieve individual reproductive success in at least one probable life scenario (or, in at least one probable life scenario, would contribute to the group’s reproductive success through spontaneous sacrifice). Because over time, the probability necessarily increases that the majority of the individual organisms to be derived from planned eugenics are objective biological failure (due to the fact that the calculation of the “fitness” of a future individual organism is irremediably impossible for the planner), the planning eugenist state is doomed to reach less and less success in producing individual organisms which, in the concrete context of planned eugenics, live long enough to transmit the physical-mental traits that the planning eugenist state values. At least, the ones of those valued traits that are the rarest and most sophisticated. That fatality is comparable to that of shortages and waste in a planned economy, where collective ownership of capital renders economic calculation impossible.

Although Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich A. von Hayek agree to consider the existence of a market for capital goods as a very useful assistant (and in the strict case of Mises: even a necessary condition) of the calculation of the rentability of decisions in the allocation of capital, their respective arguments in favor of such conclusion diverge significantly. Whereas Hayek asserts that in the absence of present market prices for capital goods, the information present on the economic conditions (i.e., demographics, technology, consumer and investor priorities, etc.) of the moment find themselves difficultly communicable to a planning committee trying to calculate the rentability of a certain allocation decision, Mises argues that in the absence of a capital market, a planning committee—regardless of the accuracy of its knowledge of present economic conditions or the accuracy of its anticipation of future economic conditions—finds itself necessarily deprived of an indispensable tool for economic calculation.

In the Misesian approach to economic calculation, those of the market prices that are properly required for economic calculation constitute future market prices (rather than present market prices); and economic calculation is based on the uncertain anticipation of said future market prices (rather than on the certainty of current market prices). But even in the case where a planning committee would enjoy complete omniscience as to present economic conditions and perfect accuracy in its anticipation of future economic conditions, he would remain incapable of calculating the rentability of an allocation decision. In the Hayekian approach to economic calculation, a planning committee would be quite able to practice economic calculation in the presence of perfect omniscience as to the current economic conditions (and that, despite the uncertainty weighing on future economic conditions).

Mises’ argument against the possibility of economic calculation under a central planning regime goes even further and affirms the praxeological rather than cognitive origin of the impossibility of economic calculation for a planning committee—namely that the latter, even in the presence of perfect omniscience about the present and of a perfectly correct anticipation about the future, would remain deprived of an instrument indispensable to the type of action that is economic calculation. In other words, market prices as Mises sees them, present or future, do much more than communicate a certain information: they render said information usable for economic calculation, while a planning committee is necessarily incapable of integrating into an economic calculation the information he has about the present or the forecasts he makes about the future (however perfect they are). Besides, those of market prices that are important for the economic calculation as conceived by Mises are the future market prices, the entrepreneurial task including the anticipation of the latter and the allocation of capital on the basis of said anticipation.

For our part, we are of the opinion that in the presence of perfect omniscience about the present economic conditions, the economic calculation would certainly be dispensable to a planning committee in the strict case of a static economy, where the committee’s blind “groping” would allow it in the long run to determine the correct allocation of capital; but that economic calculation, even in that scenario of a static, perfectly known economy, would still remain impossible. When it comes to planning in a dynamic economy, economic calculation is indeed indispensable for the committee—even in the case where the committee has perfect information about the present conditions and an exact anticipation of future conditions.

In the absence of a capital market, economic calculation is not less impossible in the context of a static economy (and that, regardless of the accuracy of the information in the hands of the committee) than in the context of a dynamic economy, and that, regardless of the accuracy of the committee’s knowledge of the present and the accuracy of its anticipation of the future. On the question of economic calculation under a regime of collective ownership of capital, we therefore subscribe to Mises’s argument rather than to Hayek’s one. In the presence of moving economic conditions, a task incumbent on the one who allocates a capital good is to anticipate future changes in economic conditions, changes that are irremediably uncertain. In the absence of ex ante anticipation of future market prices and of ex post verification of those expectations (via the profit experience: positive or negative), it is respectively impossible to adapt ex ante the allocation of capital to the idea that one has of future changes in economic conditions–and impossible to adapt ex post the allocation previously carried out to the actual changes encountered.

The problem for the one who allocates some capital good is not only to be able to (correctly) anticipate the future; it is also to be able to proceed with economic calculation in view of the elaborated expectations (and that, whether the calculation is correct or incorrect), the impossibility of economic calculation applying as much to a planning committee with incorrect forecasts as to a committee with correct forecasts. It is not fortuitous that the joint perception of time as cyclical—and of any technical or economic innovation as a transgression of the cosmic order—has been characteristic of some of the historical societies ignoring, if not the private ownership of capital, at least the use of money. Such “cosmological” beliefs are quite consistent with a static (or relatively frozen) economy.

Through Western Christianity, especially the Catholicism of the papal reform and American-Protestantism, individualist economic law (inherited from Rome) and the Old Testament’s conceptions of time as linear—and of the human as mandated to bring to the world as much technical and economic as cognitive progress (and, in that sense, to co-create divine creation)—played a decisive role in the cultural awareness process through which the West started encouraging and judging possible, even inevitable, economic and technical progress in a capitalist framework. Precisely, a chimaera of the USSR—in congruence with its “cosmological” beliefs of the Marxist-Leninist type, a secularized outgrowth of Christian millenarianism—was to expect to conciliate the establishment of collective ownership of capital with the perpetuation of the economic progress associated with prior capitalist economies.

Like Nazi Germany in its day, there is little doubt that Xi Jinping’s China would like to conciliate, in due time, the central planning of genetic capital with the perpetuation of the biological progress previously associated with the decentralized process of mutation and selection. The implementation of such an enterprise of eugenics planning, under the aegis of a Beijing committee, would be no less erratic than the economic planning of Mao Zedong’s time. Whether it pursues the establishment of a perfect physical-mental homogeneity or remains attached to a certain inequality in that area, whether it is concerned with engendering exclusively servile individuals or intends to engender (also or only) geniuses, therefore independent and creative minds, genetic planning, i.e., the planning of reproductive unions and births, is simply unable to anticipate with certainty the future of genetic conditions. Besides, it is rigorously impossible for its expectations, true or false, to translate into a calculation of “fitness.”

Mises, who in Human Action correctly noted that “men cannot improve the natural and social conditions which bring about the creator and his creation,” but that it is both “impossible to rear geniuses by eugenics, to train them by schooling, or to organize their activities” and possible to “organize society in such a way that no room is left for pioneers and their path-breaking,” nevertheless refrained from investigating the reason why (central) planning in the genetic domain—in other words, state eugenics of the planning type—cannot be able to plan the genetic occurrence of geniuses. At the very least, the genetic occurrence of geniuses who are not objective failures of biological evolution, i.e., are not organisms who, if they were placed under the circumstances of a decentralized struggle (for survival and reproduction) corresponding to their socio-natural environment, would not be up (to survive and reproduce) in any probable life scenario.

The absence of a Misesian argument against the possibility for planning eugenics to plan the genetic occurrence of geniuses who would be up to the task in a decentralized struggle for survival and reproduction (or would be so in at least one probable life scenario in the context of said struggle) is all the more regrettable as Mises only had to point out that the impossibility of economic calculation for the economic planner was transposable to the calculation of “fitness” for the eugenics planner.

The anticipation of a profitable market price in monetary terms is to the entrepreneurial allocation of economic capital to a branch of activity what the anticipation of a sexual opportunity reproductive (i.e., engendering offspring), decentralized (i.e., whose establishment is not a matter of central planning, but of the spontaneous interaction between individuals: whether peaceful or coercive), and eugenic (i.e., optimal in terms of the offspring’s genetic quality) is to the organismic allocation of genetic capital towards a sexual union. It is no more possible to calculate the rentability of the projected decisions in allocating the capital in the absence of anticipated market prices than it is to calculate “fitness” (i.e., the rentability in terms of the number of qualitative descendants engendered in a decentralized struggle for survival and reproduction) of a projected newborn in the absence of the anticipation of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction.

The evolution of economic conditions (in the context of a dynamic economy) is no less uncertain than the evolution of genetic conditions. Besides, a planning committee, whether it is responsible for planning the allocation of economic capital (to various branches of activity) or the allocation of genetic capital (to various reproductive unions), is doomed to wander in the dark—for lack of being able to take into account anticipated market prices in the calculation of the projected rentability of an economic capital soon allocated to a branch of industry or anticipated decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction in the calculation of the projected “fitness” of the individual who will be born hypothetically from the forthcoming allocation of a genetic capital towards a mating.

Anticipation of future costs and benefits (in terms of rentability) in a programmed allocation of economic capital based on the uncertain present anticipation of future economic data is no less impossible outside of a decentralized, peaceful competition between owners (or borrowers) of productive goods anticipating in monetary terms the expected costs and benefits than the anticipation of future costs and benefits (in terms of reproductive success in a decentralized struggle for life and reproduction) in a programmed allocation of individual genetic capital grounded on the present uncertain anticipation of future genetic data (including future mutations) outside of a decentralized competition—whether peaceful or coercive—between individual organisms anticipating the number of descendants resulting from the seizure of an anticipated sexual opportunity, whether coercive or voluntary.

In society, individual planning in the presence of a peaceful, decentralized economic competition between entrepreneurs anticipating (in a climate of uncertainty) the future monetary prices attached to capital goods subject to private property rights is no less necessary for the establishment of a superior economic scaffolding (in terms of viability and complexity) than individual planning in the presence of a decentralized biological competition (for survival and reproduction), whether peaceful or coercive, between individual organisms anticipating the uncertain future of genetic data (including future genetic mutations) is necessary for the establishment of a superior genetic scaffolding (in terms of viability and complexity).

In genetics as in economics, the decentralized order is more viable and more complex than the planned order, which is doomed to remain rudimentary (at best) by reason of the fact that the action of planning is impossible for a planning central body. What renders economic or genetic planning impossible is not the volume (and the dispersion) of information about the present genetic or economic data: in other words, it is not the fact that said information is too large and too much dispersed in order for it to be communicable to a human brain, or even to a computer, responsible for economic or genetic planning. Nor is it the uncertainty weighing on the future.

Whatever the information (about the present genetic or economic data) in the hands of the planner or of the planning committee; whatever the accuracy of the anticipation (about future genetic or economic data) on the part of the planner or of the committee, planning is irremediably incapable of a planning action (i.e., incapable of determining and handling means for planning purposes)—and that, by reason of the fact that, outside of anticipations of future profits and losses (in monetary terms or in terms of the qualitative descent linked to the seizure of a decentralized sexual opportunity), it is impossible for anyone, even a computer, to calculate “fitness” or economic rentability.

The changes to come in economic conditions are just as uncertain and unpredictable as the genetic mutations in a future newborn. Neither the planning of reproductions, nor intervention on the genome of the embryos, can allow a central planning committee to remedy such uncertainty. But, besides, in order to calculate the “fitness” of a future newborn, the committee would have to come to terms with anticipating the decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction in the future existence of said newborn, which is for it structurally impossible for the reason that central planning supersedes the possibility of such opportunities. Just as a man and a woman who have just mated cannot anticipate with certainty the genetic condition of the offspring hypothetically resulting from their carnal relationship (and that, whether their mating is unplanned or falls within the decision of a reproductions-planning committee), a biologist working on the genome of an embryo cannot anticipate with certainty the genetic mutations that his intervention will cause (and that, whether the biologist in question carries out his intervention in the context of a central planning of births or in the presence of decentralized sexual reproductive opportunities).

Besides, if the intervention or mating is carried out under a regime of central planning of reproductions (i.e., a regime of collective ownership of genetic capital), a biologist-interventionist or a duo of future parents cannot calculate the “fitness” of the future newborn on the basis of their anticipations about said newborn. What renders central planning in economy or in genetics impossible is a “praxeological” rather than cognitive problem: a central body of economic planning is no less deprived of the possibility of planning action (i.e., the action consisting of determining and using means in view of a pursued planning) than is a central body of genetic planning.

Outside of the ex ante anticipation of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction (in the future life of the future newborn) and the ex post verification of that anticipation, it is respectively impossible to have an ex ante idea of what would be the reproductive success of said newborn (in a situation of decentralized struggle for survival and reproduction) and to verify ex post the idea that one had of the “fitness” of said newborn. In that regard, it is respectively impossible to adapt ex ante the allocation of genetic capital to the forecast of the future offspring’s “fitness” and to adapt ex post the allocation of genetic capital to the actual “fitness” of said offspring.

Likewise, outside of the ex ante anticipation of the monetary profit associated with future market prices and the ex post observation of the monetary profit (positive or negative) finally encountered, it is respectively impossible to form an ex ante idea of the rentability of a certain planned allocation of economic capital and to verify ex post the idea that one had of the rentability of that allocation. In that regard, it is respectively impossible to adapt ex ante the allocation of economic capital to the expected rentability and to adapt ex post the new decisions in the allocation of capital to the actual rentability of the previous allocation.

As pointed out by Ludwig von Mises in Human Action, even in the scenario (which Mises seems to find conceivable but improbable) where an economic planner, in solving the differential equations of a general equilibrium model, would manage to “solve” without economic calculation “all problems concerning the most advantageous arrangement of all production activities,” and where “the precise image of the final goal he must aim at [would be] present to his mind,” it would nevertheless “remain essential problems which cannot be dealt with without economic calculation.”

These problems are the ones that relate to the identification and implementation of the “successive steps” through which the planned economy should pass so that “the given economic system” be transformed “in the most appropriate and expedient way” and, ultimately, replaced with “the system aimed at.” Contrary to what Vilfredo Pareto and Enrico Barone affirmed, the calculation (via the resolution of differential equations) of an optimum in the distribution and use of the factors of production cannot allow a central planning body to bypass the absence of a market for capital goods. For want of being able to count on anticipated market prices, a central planning body having a perfect knowledge of the optimum to be reached cannot more practice the calculation indispensable to the discovery and adoption of the path leading to the optimum than a mountaineer deprived of his equipment, but knowing perfectly the coveted mountain, can reach the top of said mountain.

It is not only false that in the absence of a market for capital goods, it is only difficult (rather than impossible stricto sensu) to know in their entirety the data that the differential equations of the general equilibrium must take into account. Even though knowing said data in their entirety were indeed possible for a central planning body, the Hayekian assertion that economic planning is only arduous (rather than impossible stricto sensu) would still remain refuted by the fact that, in the absence of anticipated market prices, it is quite simply impossible for the planner to channel a planned economy towards the state of optimum, regardless of the information the planner has about the optimum.

It is regrettable that Mises did not consider extending to planned eugenics his remark on the impossibility (in the absence of anticipated market prices) of optimizing a planned economy. In the absence of decentralized sexual reproductive opportunities, it is impossible for a eugenics planning body to practice the calculation (of “fitness”) indispensable to the roaming the path leading to an optimum (in terms of the group’s survival and reproduction) in the genetics of a given population.

The optimum itself, whether genetic or economic, cannot be discovered outside of the organismic or entrepreneurial experience of profit and loss (in terms of “fitness” or in monetary terms). Just like, from the preferences of the “demanding” people to the most satisfactory and economical use of the technology in force, a part of the economic data from which the differential equations of the “general equilibrium” of a given economy can be constructed—and therefore the economic optimum itself—are not discoverable outside of the entrepreneurial experience of monetary profits and losses, a part of the genetic data (i.e., a part of the data that characterize the nature and function of genes) in a given population (in that case, those genetic data which directly contribute to individual reproductive success in a decentralized competition for reproduction or to individual success in a derived form of said competition, and those which directly contribute to the reproduction of the group to the detriment of individual reproductive success) and therefore the genetic optimum itself cannot be discovered outside of the organismic experience of profits and losses in terms of “fitness” (i.e., in terms of the success in seizing decentralized and reproductive sexual opportunities that allow a large, qualitative offspring) or outside of the account of said organismic experience.

In defense of the possibility of economic planning, Oskar Lange proposed a solution to the problem of economic calculation consisting for a communist state in simulating market prices, in calculating the respective supply and demand for the latter, and in determining forward the price adjusting supply and demand. In the opinion of Ludwig von Mises, responding to Lange, his solution wrongly reduced economic calculation to the one practiced by simple managers, thus ignoring the own economic calculation on the part of entrepreneurs and speculators, which is nevertheless indispensable for the allocation of capitals.

The activities of entrepreneurs and speculators, added Mises, cannot be simulated since in the absence of individual responsibility in that area, i.e., the fact of putting their own money at stake, no one would be motivated to behave as an entrepreneur or as a speculator. While Mises’ response to Lange’s solution consisted in pointing out that his model of a communist economy, in addition to ignoring the need for entrepreneurship and speculation, would nonetheless remain unrealistic if, taking into account said necessity, he would ask disinterested and disempowered actors to “play” the entrepreneurs and investors, Hayek’s response was that Lange’s model proposed an impracticable approach due to lack of the required information.

For our part, we go further than the respective counter-arguments of Mises and Hayek. Even in the presence of perfect information about the present and perfectly correct anticipation of the future, even in the presence of disinterested and nonetheless involved actors, equilibrium prices cannot be simulated—and that, for the reason that one can no more simulate entrepreneurship or speculation than one can simulate, generally speaking, the things of life. It is simply impossible to know the preferences of the demanding people in the absence of the observation of concrete purchasing activities (and the associated profit, whether positive or negative), and therefore, to simulate the entrepreneurial experience of demonstrated preferences.

The impossibility of simulation applies as much to the decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction as it does to market prices. Surreptitiously, Lange recognized that only a capitalist economy is functional; and that for that reason, a communist economy has no choice but to simulate a capitalist in order to render itself functional. But precisely, one cannot more simulate the entrepreneurial discovery of equilibrium prices than one can simulate the organismic discovery of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction. Simulating an entrepreneurial competition in order to discover its result is not less absurd than simulating a military battle or a decentralized competition for reproduction in order to discover its result. Whether you are an entrepreneur, a general, or an organism, there is no other choice than “going to the front lines” in order to be in the picture.

Transhumanism: A Revolt Against The Crowned Cosmos

The impossibility for the external observer of a current individual organism (at the stage of childhood or embryo) or the external anticipator of a future individual organism to calculate the “fitness” of the observed or projected organism in the absence of the anticipation of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction in the future existence of said organism founds the impossibility of planning genetic evolution, said impossibility in turn founding the two “natural laws” stated by Robert Ardrey. Namely “the law of inequality” (in the strict case of species with sexual reproduction) and (in the strict case of vertebrate species) “the law of equal opportunity.”

Unbeknownst to Ardrey (who approached the grasp of this law without ever conceiving it clearly), the impossibility of planning genetic evolution is truly the first of natural laws, the one from which follows the two Robert Ardrey rightly formulated. Whereas transhumanism, in default of necessarily rebelling against the law of the impossible genetic planning, necessarily rebels against “the law of inequality” (i.e., the necessary counterpart of sexual unions, decentralized or not, that is physical-mental inequality), as well as against “the law of equal opportunity” (i.e., the instrument necessary for the exercise of individual physical and mental aptitudes in a way contributing to the collective functionality that is decentralized intragroup competition for preeminence, survival, and reproduction), genetic planning necessarily rebels not less against the law of equal opportunity than against the law of the impossibility of planning genetic evolution.

When it strictly comes to genetic planning of the transhumanist type (what amounts to speaking of transhumanism of the planning type), it is necessarily in rebellion against each of the aforementioned three laws. Planned eugenics necessarily joins transhumanism in hostility to “the law of equal opportunity;” and that, in that planned eugenics—without it being necessarily in favor of genetic equality—necessarily aspires to ensure that the social (including hierarchical) destiny of any newborn to come is pre-known and pre-decided from its conception instead of being revealed and engendered by the result of a decentralized competition for survival, reproduction, and preeminence.

Since decentralized sexual reproduction opportunities are necessarily absent in the context of collective ownership of genetic capital substituted for decentralized competition for reproduction, it is not more possible to escape the impossibility of planning genetic evolution in intending to planning for a negative “fitness” (in the reproductive interest of the group) than in intending to planning for one that is positive (if not in the group’s reproductive interest, at least in the individual’s reproductive interest); and that, just as it is not more possible to escape the impossibility of planning genetic evolution in resigning oneself to proceeding without the anticipation of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction than in resigning oneself to simulating decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction.

The decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction that an organismic allocator experiences cannot be simulated alongside a planning committee replacing decentralized competition for reproduction, no more than the profitable prices (in monetary terms) that an entrepreneurial allocator experience can be simulated alongside a planning committee replacing decentralized competition for monetary profit. Genetic planning is not less in rebellion against a natural law (in that case, the law of the impossibility of planning genetics) than is economic planning: in that case, the law of the impossibility of planning economy.

Genetic or economic planning shares with transhumanism a spirit of rebellion against the natural order, and therefore the order created by God from an Abrahamic perspective. Whoever rebels against all or part of the natural order intends to replace it (in whole or in part) with a new, allegedly better order, thus rebelling against God himself or adhering to the idea that God, if it existed, would deserve one rebels against Him. The Bible can either be taken literally or taken symbolically (as the sages of Alexandria began to do).

The mandate of divine origin assigned to humans, according to the Old Testament, to crown creation while respecting the law of divine origin can either be taken literally; either taken symbolically in the sense that the human has a capacity of creation which complements cosmic creativity, but that his own capacity of creation will turn against himself if it comes to believe to be able to transgress the natural laws of this world. Likewise, the transhumanist, communist, anarcho-capitalist, or plannist rebellion against the natural order can present literal gnosticist motives—as is the case, for example, in Karl Marx’s poem titled “Human Pride,” where the poet praises the “demonic confusion” of his own speech and promises to work for the joint fall of the world and of God, “that pygmy giant,” and for the building of a new era on “the ruins of the [elder] world” in “giving to [his] words power of action.” Just like it can present secularized gnosticist motives, in which case said rebellion will start from the idea that God, in default of existing, would deserve to be fought if he did exist.

Whether one takes into account the followers of a properly secularized modality of transhumanism or those of a modality that retains “religious” motives, the human feelings that govern adherence to the transhumanist discourse (beyond its various modalities) remain strictly the same: the rejection of the natural order, therefore the order created by God from a literal gnosticist (or semi-gnosticist) perspective; and a misguided mode of compassion for the weak and the degenerate here below, therefore the failures of evolution from a transhumanist perspective, either secularized or not. Not the compassion that aims to alleviate the fate of those who do not keep up with the decentralized struggle for life, reproduction, and preeminence (more precisely, the specific form that said struggle takes in view of their socio-natural environment); but the compassion that, abhorring selection and the struggles associated with it, represents (and intends to achieve) a society of late times where (both physical and mental) inequalities would be eliminated, where war, power, and sexual pleasure would cease to be pursued things pursued.

A dream that inspires the transhumanist program of a final era of humanity in which an emasculated, peaceful, and egalitarian way of life would be established via genetic manipulation and via cyborgization. The idea of a chaotic, cruel nature, from which man must and can emancipate himself (in rendering himself divine and in replacing nature with an order that is exclusively of his own doing), delights the transhumanist, who comes as an intramundane, technophile variant of the gnosticist in that he believes that instead of spiritually detaching himself from the allegedly chaotic nature, the human must—via genetic and bio-robotic engineering—subvert and replace the material world.

Yet, far from nature being chaotic, it is subject to an order that—however cruel and selective it is—nonetheless remains an order. An order that, despite the disorder that accompanies it, is nevertheless accomplished through said disorder notably; and as Robert Ardrey has described it, “what contemporary evolutionary thought can bring to social philosophy is [notably] the demonstrable need for structured disorder within the larger structures of [social] order” so that “without that degree of disorder tolerating and promoting to fullest development the diversity of its members, society must wither and vanish in the competitions of group selection.”

The idea that we would continue our promethean gesture of domination of nature in emancipating ourselves from said nature (and the associated selection procedures) is not less deceptive. Dominating our natural environment through technology and economy establishes us, not as deniers, but as continuators of nature, what differs substantially from the transhumanist project of escaping from the selection process (and therefore, of denying, escaping nature). In Abrahamic terms, while the first perspective extends and honors divine creation, the second is of satanic obedience.

Transhumanists are not less mystified by the idea that, in view of the contradictory nature of human instincts, a morality concerned with being based on evolution would only end up erecting mutually contradictory instincts as mutually contradictory norms; and that because of the fact our instincts contradict each other, they are simply dysfunctional and should be eliminated by genetic engineering. That opinion, which stems from yet another misunderstanding of evolution by transhumanists, is wrong as to the sense of an evolutionary morality, i.e., a morality that takes into account evolution and human instincts as they have been produced by evolution.

Homo sapiens being a species with instincts not less incomplete (in terms of ensuring the viability of social organization and, more broadly, success in group selection) and weakened (in terms of being the only influence to weigh on human behavior: instead of acquired culture or reason) than chaotic, i.e., in contradiction with each other (and that, despite a certain hierarchy operating itself instinctively, which remains too much relative), “evolutionary” morality will not consist of establishing a certain instinct as a norm: in the mode of the inference “It is natural, therefore it is good.” Said morality instead consists in identifying those behaviors, partly instinctual, partly associated with reason or acquired culture, which will render a group functional (and increase its chances of winning in group selection).

Such a functionality, while it is operated in a rigorously instinctual mode in the case of animal societies (other than human), is not assured in the case of human societies, which are jointly constrained to complete the work of nature in this area and susceptible to fail in that area. In other words, “evolutionary” morality is not about morally justifying an instinct on the grounds that it is the product of evolution; but about fulfilling the wisdom towards which the instincts of homo sapiens, “suspended,” according to Robert Ardrey’s wording, “between dicta three billion years old and a foresight nouveau riche, swinging between [instinctual] wisdoms of most ancient origin and a power of both learning and ignorance,” tend imperfectly—due to the weakened, incomplete, and chaotic character of said instincts of homo sapiens, “animal of doubtful future.”

Genetic or neuro-robotic engineering, the planning of births, physical-mental equalization, or instinctual emasculation are so many horizons coming as a technophile, intramundane variation of gnosticism and bathing in the illusion that the cosmos is simply chaotic and stochastic; and that human beings, although they are a haphazard product of the evolution that takes place in this random, disordered world, are nevertheless able to render themselves the gods of this universe through technology and knowledge, i.e., able to substitute for the allegedly vain and disorderly nature an effective and senseful order.

For those hearts misled by gnosticism or its derivatives, it is worth remembering that the cosmos is at the same time evolving and organized, random and senseful, achievable and intransgressible. We human beings, who are made, if not in the image of God, at least in the image of the cosmos, are certainly bound to pursue cosmic creativity (through knowledge, technique, art, or social change); but also to keep in mind that we neither are nor will be gods: that the human pursuit of cosmic creativity must be accomplished with respect for a certain natural order, the transgression of which necessarily results into an immanent punishment.

Crowning divine creation, but not subverting it, that is the way for us who, symbolically (if not literally), are both made in His image and made for His law. Subverting divine creation and claiming to render oneself divine in place of God, that is the ill-fated path of hearts misled by a rebellion of satanic obedience, from transhumanists to economic or genetic planers. God wanted for us neither servility towards the universe nor disobedience towards universal wisdom; but the humble crowning of divine creation, the bringing of the final touch, by the creature who remains in its place, i.e., who accepts that it is irremediably like divine instead of claiming that it can render itself divine. From Silicon Valley engineers to superclass men and to the officials of the Chinese Communist Party, transhumanists are in rebellion against the divine creation. An elected nation, America must fight against the “destructionist” forces of transhumanism as it has long fought against those of communism.

The project on the part of the most radical of transhumanists to suppress all violence and all domination of the world stage could only achieve its ends through suppressing or “reprogramming” the atoms and the stars themselves. For, as highlighted by Howard Bloom (without him, to our knowledge, addressing transhumanism from this angle), the very first hierarchical orders, far preceding the pecking orders of chicken, manifested in the assembly of atoms or galaxies. While the proton dominates the electron, of which it determines the central point of the orbit, the black hole or the gravitational center dominates and controls a galaxy. As for the sun, he is metaphorically the king in the feudal order of the solar system: the monarch before whom the planets bow, which see the moons bow before the planets. It is true that, since it seems that it is not felt or conscious (but what do we actually know of it, as it stands?), the violence of stars or atoms as such does not concern transhumanism.

But given that violence in the physical sense constitutes a fractal pattern declining at each emergent level of the universe, which sentient or conscious beings have only inherited, the fact remains that transhumanism can reach its goal only in drying up the source of that fractal pattern and reprogramming or replacing the elementary particles. If it turned out that they could not do it, it is likely that they would then opt for a return to nothingness in due form. They would come to terms with setting out to destroy the universe itself—in default of being able to prove to God that they could replace His creation with a morbid and dried up universe.

Ardrey did not believe that he was saying so well when he warned us against the “dreary” morning that, “knowing or not,” many of our contemporaries are putting in place, the one “when you and I awake and leopards are gone; when starlings in hordes no longer chatter in the plane trees gossiping about the adventures of the day to come; when the lone tomcat fails to return from his night’s excesses; when robins cease to cry out their belligerent challenges to the bushes beyond the lawn; when the skies lack larks and the shrubbery lacks sex-obsessed rabbits hopping after each other; when hawks cease their eternal, circling searching and the gullery by the rocks falls silent; when the diversity of species no longer illuminates the morning hour and the diversity of men has vanished like the last dawn-afflicted star.” Ardrey expressed himself there in metaphorical terms; but the future he envisioned is literally the future that the most radical of transhumanists want for all of us… humans, leopards, bears, bees, flowers, or dachshunds.

Conclusion

The attitude of the transhumanists towards the cosmos is that of a capricious, angry three-year-old child towards a tower a few centimeters high built with kaplas (namely blocks made of Landes pines), that the adults have constructed with the idea that the kid continues their construction through building the roof of the tower with additional kaplas. Because he will refuse to take into account gravity, the weight of the boards, the need to balance the kaplas so that they hold together, the little capricious will fail to build the roof, or even cause the collapse of a part of the tower.

Deploring the impossibility of manipulating the kaplas as he pleases, he will get angry with the boards and the tower. With a kick (for example), he will break the tower or what is left of it—unless the adults themselves take charge of destroying the tower (or what is left of it) to give a “good lesson” to the kid, the one that the cosmos has its laws and that they limit and allow the constructive and dominating powers of the human being, and that he must therefore learn (and learn to respect) the cosmic laws if he intends to render himself “as master and owner” of the boards.

Just as Mises (rightly) called “[Charles] Fourier complex” the psychological state of fleeing economic reality into an imaginary world that ignores the laws of ours in the economic field, therefore ignores the scarcity of resources, the unpleasantness of work, and the indispensability of market prices for economic calculation, one may call “Julian Huxley complex” the psychological state of fleeing biological reality into an imaginary world that ignores the laws of ours in the field of biological evolution, therefore ignores as much the genetic inequality between the members of a sexual species and the need (for a functional order) of the relative disorder of the decentralized intragroup competition for survival, reproduction, and preeminence among the members of a vertebrate species as the indispensability of decentralized sexual opportunities of reproduction for the calculation of “fitness.”

About the mental immaturity of the transhumanist, who got stuck or regressed to the mental level of the aforementioned brat, one can say what Mises wrote (rightly) about the socialists’ own neurosis. Namely that, “This being the character of the socialist dream, it is understandable that every one of the partisans of socialism expects from it precisely what has so far been denied to him. Socialist [or transhumanist] authors promise not only wealth for all, but also happiness in love for everybody, the full physical and spiritual development of each individual, the unfolding of great artistic and scientific talents in all men, etc.

Only latterly did Trotsky state in one of his writings that in the socialist society “the average human type will rise to the heights of an Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx. And above this ridge new peaks will rise.” The socialist paradise [just like the transhumanist paradise] will be the kingdom of perfection, populated by completely happy supermen. All socialist [or transhumanist] literature is full of such nonsense.

But it is just this nonsense that wins it the most supporters. One cannot send every person suffering from a Fourier complex [or from a Julian Huxley complex] to the doctor for psychoanalytic treatment; the number of those afflicted with it is far too great. No other remedy is possible in this case than the treatment of the illness by the patient himself. Through self-knowledge he must learn to endure his lot in life without looking for a scapegoat on which he can lay all the blame, and he must endeavor to grasp the fundamental laws of social cooperation [or of biological evolution].


Grégoire Canlorbe is an independent scholar, based in Paris. Besides conducting a series of academic interviews with social scientists, physicists, and cultural figures, he has authored a number of metapolitical and philosophical articles. He also worked on a (currently finalized) conversation book with the philosopher, Howard Bloom. See his website: gregoirecanlorbe.com.


The featured image shows, “L’antigrazioso (The Anti-graceful),” by Umberto Boccioni, painted in 1912.

God And The World: Renovating Philosophy

I intend here to return to my renovation of Platonism—and to confront some classical arguments in favor of God’s existence, then present how my claims on God and on the supraworldly realm are corroborated by cosmic evolution. I will also deal with the issue of apodicticity in mathematical knowledge—and in the knowledge of essences.

The Identity Argument

A classical argument for the existence of God goes like this. At a given moment, in a certain respect, any existing entity is necessarily what it is, rather than what it is not. It follows that any existing entity is necessarily an entity which has always existed, or an entity which was engendered by another entity; and that an entity that changes is necessarily an entity that owes its change to the action of another entity. In other words, no existing entity is an entity born out of nothing, nor an entity that changes spontaneously.

It is thought one can deduce the existence of God from this argument. Some of the entities in that world change or appear seemingly in a spontaneous manner (i.e., change or appear without finding the origin of their change in another entity existing in that world) and the universe itself has not always existed. The apparently spontaneous change and appearances, and the appearance of the universe itself, are therefore, it is said, the result of an entity eternal and external to the universe. And that entity would be God (conceived of as supramundane).

This argument is refuted as follows. The alleged fact that any entity is necessarily what it is rather than what it is not in some respect, at a given time, does not imply that any entity necessarily remains identical to itself (unless an external action to make it other than what it is at a given moment, in a given respect); nor does it imply that any entity is either uncreated or created by another entity. In other words, if one proved that our world is indeed subject to the law of identity, the fact that it is subject to the law of identity would not result in the impossibility for the entities within it—or for our world taken as a whole—to change spontaneously or to create itself spontaneously.

The aforementioned argument in favor of the existence of God—which concludes the existence of God on the grounds that entities in that world change in an apparently spontaneous mode and that new entities appear spontaneously (and that the world itself was created), and that the law of identity allegedly makes spontaneous change or creation impossible—is therefore false. The existence of God (conceived of as supramundane) would not be implied by the law of identity if it existed. The apparition of the universe from nothing would not be rendered impossible by the existence of the law of identity.

The Movement Argument

Another classic argument in favor of the existence of God, which for its part was proposed by Aristotle and taken up by Saint Thomas Aquinas, goes like this. Any existing entity that happens to be moving (in the broad sense of displacement, action, or change) necessarily finds the origin of its movement in another entity that, temporally, precedes it or is simultaneous with it. Yet an infinite regression of movers is inconceivable, whether on the worldly or supraworldly level. It follows, it is said, that the existence of a prime and supramundane mover, itself immobile, is necessarily supposed by the existence of movement in the world.

The premise of the impossibility of spontaneous movement is ambiguous from several points of view. It strictly admits two interpretations with regard to the question of the supramundane extent of said impossibility. The first interpretation is that any existing and moving entity, whether on the plane of that world or on the supramundane plane, finds the origin of its movement in another entity. The second interpretation is that in that world, and only in that world (rather than on the supramundane plane), any existing and moving entity necessarily owes its movement to another entity. To those two distinct interpretations of the premise of the impossibility of movement correspond two distinct interpretations of the argument. Either way, the argument does not hold up.

As for the first interpretation, the argument is thus refuted. The alleged facts that, on the worldly and supramundane planes, every movement (in the broad sense, therefore beyond the sole fact of moving in space) is (strictly) the fruit of another mover, and that, on the mundane and supramundane planes, every mover is necessarily either a first engine or a non-prime engine (otherwise there would be an infinite regression in the number of movers, which is allegedly inconceivable), are false. Moreover, they exclude each other, i.e., cannot coexist; and, for that, their necessary implication is self-contradictory. The force of attraction exerted in that world by quarks, stars, or apples, which falls within movement in the broad sense, is not the result of an external mover.

As for an infinite regression (in any domain), it is quite conceivable that it is possible in that world as much on the supramundane plane—and possible in that world as in other possible worlds. Besides, the allegation that movement, in that world as well as on the supramundane plane, is inconceivable in the absence of a prime mover contradicts the allegation that an external mover, in that world as much as on the supramundane plane, is necessary to generate the movement of a given entity. And that to affirm simultaneously those two premises necessarily amounts to affirming, notably, that the movement of a certain mundane or supramundane entity requires the movement consisting for a primary and supramundane mover to provoke (directly or indirectly) the movement of the above-mentioned entity, but that the movement of the first and supramundane agency will itself necessitate the movement of another agency prior to that first mover. Which is a self-contradictory, and therefore absurd, assertion.

Instead of these two premises implying that the existence of a first and supramundane agency, itself immobile, is a necessary condition for the movement of entities in that world—they imply that the movement of entities in that world has, as a necessary condition, a prime and supramundane agency, and that the latter is itself a non-immobile agency which has as a necessary condition for its movement a mover prior to that prime mover. In other words, the necessary implication of those two premises is that there is a prime and supramundane mover, itself mobile, which is both prime and non-prime, which is absurd. It is, admittedly, quite conceivable that there exists a supramundane and mobile agency which—instead of being prime—is itself moved by another supramundane and mobile agency preceding it, and that that other supramundane and mobile agency is itself moved by another supramundane and mobile agency preceding it; and so on.

But that speculation is neither the conclusion that effectively flows from the premises mentioned above (namely that any intramundane or supramundane movement is the result of an external agency, and that an infinite regression is possible neither on a worldly plane nor on a supramundane plane); nor the conclusion that the movement argument (thus interpreted) believes, wrongly, to be able to infer from said premises. The concept of an immobile mover is itself contradictory: every mover exerts a movement in so far as it exerts an agenting activity.

When it comes to concluding that there is a primary and supramundane agency, the argument from movement, if we now interpret it in these terms, is more coherent. In such a world, but not on the supramundane plane, any moving entity (in the broad sense) is necessarily moved by another entity. Yet an infinite regression of the movers is inconceivable, whether on the worldly or supraworldly plane. It follows, says the argument of movement thus interpreted, that the movement in such a world necessarily presupposes a primary and supramundane mover, itself immobile, whose agential activity is not due to another mover preceding it.

Here, the premises are now compatible, but are again wrong. Endless regression is not more inconceivable on the mundane level than on the supramundane level. Moreover, it is wrong that any moving entity in that world (as it is reasonably conjectured) finds the origin of its movement in another entity. As for the suggested inference, it is almost consistent. What the above-mentioned premises necessarily imply is in fact that movement in such a world necessarily presupposes a primary and supramundane mover itself mobile, whose agential activity finds its origin in itself. They do not imply what the argument from movement (thus interpreted) claims to be able to infer from it—namely, that they do not imply that movement in such a world necessarily presupposes a primary and supramundane driver, itself immobile. They even imply that it is wrong (and absurd) that the prime and supramundane mover be itself immobile.

As correct as the inference is that intramundane movement necessarily presupposes a primary and supramundane mover, which is at the origin of its own movement—the premise of the necessary impossibility of spontaneous movement in such a world, and the one of the inconceivability of an infinite regression of the agents on the worldly or supraworldly plane, are both false. Therefore, that alleged proof of the existence of God is not valid. Here, I will leave aside Saint Thomas Aquinas’s four other arguments for the existence of God.

The Perfection Argument

The argument of perfection, most often known as the “ontological argument,” goes like this. It is in God’s concept to be perfect. If God lacked the property of existing, something would be lacking in him; he would therefore not be perfect. It follows, it is said, that it is in the essence of God (i.e., among the constitutive properties of God) to exist. That classic argument, which dates back at least to Anselm of Canterbury, was the subject of a refutation attempt by Immanuel Kant. For my part, I claim that the Kantian critique is not more valid than is the argument from perfection itself.

The Kantian criticism goes like this. The term “is” is not a “real predicate,” i.e., a logical predicate corresponding to an alleged attribute of the object contained in the concept of the logical subject. In Kant’s terms, it is not “a concept of something which can be added to the concept of a thing.” The term “is” is either “the copula of a judgment,” i.e., a word which establishes a link between the logical subject and the logical predicate, without itself being a logical predicate; or a logical predicate which poses the object of the concept of the logical subject without itself, being a real predicate. In other words, the fact that an existing entity exists is not an attribute of said entity; and the fact that the logical predicate “exists” to be used does not add anything to the concept of the logical subject, nor does it make explicit what the concept of the logical subject contains.

The concept of perfection is certainly contained in the concept of God; but the judgment “God is” is a synthetic judgment (in the Kantian sense, i.e., in the sense of a judgment which associates with the logical subject a logical predicate, not included in the concept of said subject), which does not associate a “real predicate” to the concept of God.

Therefore, if God existed, it would not add any attribute to God that was not already formulated in his concept. Just as “a hundred real thalers contain nothing more than a hundred possible thalers,” the perfection of God, if he existed, would contain nothing more than the perfection constitutive of God according to his concept. In other words, the fact for God to exist (instead of being only possible through the concept of God) would not increase the perfection of God; but would only make it happen with all the properties which are attributed to him according to his concept, without adding or subtracting anything from his properties.

In Kant’s words, “even if I were to think in a thing, all of reality, except one; that one missing reality would not be supplied by my saying that so defective a thing exists, but it would exist with the same defect with which I thought it; or what exists would be different from what I thought. If, then, I try to conceive a being, as the highest reality (without any defect), the question still remains, whether it exists or not.” Therefore, it is impossible to infer the existence of God from the concept of perfection, included in the concept of God, just as it is impossible to infer the existence of one hundred real thalers from the concept of one hundred thalers. “Whatever, therefore, our concept of an object may contain, we must always step outside it, in order to attribute to it existence.”

Kant’s critique of the ontological argument (as Kant calls it) comes to a correct conclusion, but infers it (correctly) from a false premise. It is quite true that the existence of God would not make him more perfect than he already is according to his concept; and that the fact the concept of perfection is included in the concept of God does not render his existence necessary. Nonetheless, it remains false that existence is not a property of existing entities; and that the logical predicates “is” or “are” are not “real predicates.” Existence and the mode of existence are genuinely properties of existing entities: just as the fact of not existing and the mode of non-existence are genuinely properties of non-existent entities.

To say that Donald Duck is a fictional character genuinely consists of attributing “a real predicate” (namely “fictional character”) to the logical subject, “Donald Duck.” In other words, it genuinely consists of attributing to the logical subject, “Donald Duck,” the “real predicate” of inexistence; and, more precisely, the “real predicate” of the mode of non-existence consisting of being a fictional character (rather than a real person).

To say of a human who really existed that he was born in this or that year and died in this or that year genuinely consists of attributing to the logical subject the “real predicate” of a certain mode of existence (namely, the fact of coming into existence through birth and of existing for the duration of a human lifetime); and the “real predicate” of a certain mode of non-existence (namely the fact of having ceased to exist after death).

The flaw in the perfection argument is the following one. An existing entity that would be perfect in every way would not need to exist to be perfect. In other words, the perfection constitutive of a perfect existing entity would not render its existence necessary: the attribute of existence existence and the attribute of perfection would be in said entity independent of each other. Therefore, the fact that perfection is included in the concept of God does not imply that the existence of God is necessary. Just as Botticelli’s Venus does not need to exist to be perfectly beautiful, so God does not need to exist to be perfect. The existence of Botticelli’s Venus would not render her more beautiful than she already is according to her painting; the existence of God would not render him more perfect than he already is according to his concept.

So, what is going on with these concepts, including the attribute of existence – for example, the concept of substance, which includes the attribute of existence in an eternal and uncreated mode. In a certain existing entity, the attribute of existence is not implied by those attributes distinct from the attribute of existence. Therefore, the non-existential attributes of an entity, alleged by a certain concept, including, and thus alleging, existential attributes imply neither the allegation of the alleged existential attributes, nor the existence of the alleged existential or non-existential attributes. It follows that in a certain concept whose object corresponds to a certain existing entity, and whose object is defined by an attribute of existence, the inclusion of the attribute of existence does not render the object real; i.e., that the existence of the object is not implied by the inclusion of the attribute of existence. In other words, it follows that a certain concept will be true or false, depending on whether its object exists or not—and not depending on whether the attribute of existence is included or not. Jesus existed depending on whether he existed or not—and not whether or not the concept of Jesus says of Jesus that he was born in Bethlehem on December 25 shortly before the year one. Venus existed depending on whether or not she existed—and not on whether or not Botticelli’s painting shows the birth of Venus in a seashell. Substance exists according to whether it exists or not—and not whether or not its concept describes it as an uncreated, eternal entity.

The World As Incarnation

I intend now to return to my conception of God—and to argue in its defense. My conception of God, which I already introduced elsewhere, can be put as follows. Let us imagine that someone starts to write a book in an improvised mode. His story begins with a character rolling a six-sided dice, which lands on the face with three dots. On the one hand, the fact that the dice lands on that face is due to chance in the world of the story considered independently of the writer. On the other hand, in the world of the story, considered in relation to the writer, that fictional event is rendered necessary by the fact that the writer decides to land on the face with three dots.

Then the writer wonders what the possibilities are for the rest of the story, i.e., wonders what such a beginning for his story renders possible and impossible for the rest of the story. One possibility is that the character, having thrown the dice, finds himself in a casino; another one is that the character does not find himself in a casino, but in a bedroom with the dice on a bedside table. The number of possibilities is tremendous, but the writer cannot identify each of them. He finally decides that the character finds himself in a field of daisies and has thrown the dice on a wooden table. Then he continues to expand the created fictional universe by identifying possible implications and by actualizing some of them. The situation of God in relation to His creation is to some extent similar to the situation of that writer in relation to his story.

The notion of reality has a strong sense and a weak one. In the weak one, reality is the totality of what exists—whether supramundane or intramundane, and whether material or spiritual. I claim there are two levels of reality in the weak sense. One is like the letters written in a novel; the other is like the fictional world created by those letters. In the strong sense, reality is the material, worldly plane. For the sake of semantic clarity, the rest of the article will make use of the notion of reality only in the strong sense. I claim reality (understood in the strong sense) to be the incarnation of a supraworldly, spiritual plane that is like a book whose letters produce a fictional world.

Two things must be specified when doing that comparison. On the one hand, the letters of a novel do not incarnate themselves into the occasioned fictional world. But the supramundane plane, for its part, incarnates itself into the real world it occasions (while remaining virtual and external to the world). On the other hand, the letters in a novel are placed one after the other. But the supramundane plane is, for its part, atemporal—in the sense that its past, its present, and its future are simultaneous rather than successive. The supramundane plane is composed of an infinity of ideational entities—and endowed with a pulse to select some of those ideational entities and to turn the selected ones into material entities.

In selecting and materializing some ideational entities, the supramundane plane proceeds like the aforementioned writer. It starts with materializing some ideational entities (what occasions the apparition of the world from nothingness); then deciphers the possible implications from those very first materialized ideational entities. It selects some of those implications and actualizes them, what is tantamount to materializing some other ideational entities; then it actualizes some of the new offered possibilities, and so on. The world is the material, temporal incarnation of the virtual, atemporal pulse through which the supramundane plane sorts and actualizes its own content.

The pulse through which the supramundane plane sorts and actualizes its own content is also the pulse through which the supramundane plane is united. That virtual and atemporal supramundane plane united by its own sorting, actualizing pulse—and selectively incarnated into a material, temporal world to which it however remains external—is what I deem to be God. Like the aforementioned writer, God improvises His creation; and like the aforementioned writer, God plans and renders necessary those events in our world that happen in a random, unplanned manner.

As random and unplanned as are genetic mutations in our world considered independently of the supramundane plane, they are decided and forced in the supramundane plane and incarnated into our world. In improvising the course of unplanned, random events, God tries to generate ever-higher levels of order and complexity in the world; that is how an undirected, random cosmos is persistently, but fallibly, evolving towards order and complexity. Just like mistakes happen in some improvised fictional narratives, mistakes happen in the march of the improvised universe; it is not a perfect universe, nor a universe with a predefined arrival line. It is an irremediably imperfect universe, partly random (and irremediably random); but relentlessly, surprisingly evolving towards order and complexity, without the final stage of cosmic history being preset.

Again, the cosmos is a temporal, material improvised incarnation of an atemporal, virtual improvised pulse; a pulse whose past, present, and future stages happen simultaneously. The operation of that pulse does not exclude the operation of some intermediate demiurges between God and the humans; but every pulse in the world happens as an incarnation of a single pulse. Whether it comes from a demiurge, a human, a bacterium, or a dog—every pulse in the mundane realm comes as a temporal, material, singular illustration of the divine pulse, incarnating itself into the whole cosmos and remaining however external to the cosmos.

I will not venture to try to prove the existence of God (such as described here); but I believe I can show that my approach to God is highly corroborated (in default of being proven) by two things, at least. On the one hand, cosmic evolution, as conjectured nowadays in Western science, is an undirected, largely random process that however leads, more or less, to ever-higher levels of order and complexity. By itself, such a process is highly unlikely to result in such high levels of organization as those conjectured.

My approach to God proposes a solution to that paradox and transcends the opposition between the thesis of the “intelligent design” and those theoretical conceptions known as “Neo-Darwinism.” Cosmic evolution (including biological) is indeed undirected and largely random, as so-called Neo-Darwinists claim; but it is also the shadow, so to speak, of a directed, spiritual process. The latter is not present in the world, in which evolution is really undirected and (partly) random—unlike what the proponents of the “intelligent design” thesis believe. Instead, the divine process, which is purposeful and nonetheless fallible, is incarnated into the cosmos, which remains undirected and largely random for its part.

On the other hand, my approach to God takes into account the existence of suprasensible intuition, i.e., the experience of the supraworldly, ideational realm through unempirical perception. Suprasensible intuition is especially practiced in the knowledge area known as mathematics—as Pythagoras and Plato claim. For the sake of semantic clarity, the rest of the article will call “entities” only those distinct beings that are material and intramundane.

The distinct beings within the supraworldly, ideational realm will not be called entities. The distinct ideational beings include numbers and figures; but, also, the ideational models for the entities within the worldly realm—as much those that used to exist as those presently existing and as those existing in the future. The ideational models within the supraworldly realm also include models for those entities corresponding to possible worlds that the sorting, actualizing pulse chooses not to actualize. The issue of knowing whether some truths in that world remain true in all the possible worlds is an old one. Mathematical truths are often thought to be such truths—and, more precisely, thought to remain true in all the possible worlds through being apodictic statements. I intend now to turn to that issue.

Mathematics As Suprasensible Intuition

An allegedly apodictic statement is a statement allegedly true by its sole terms—and therefore true by right and true whatever may be. An allegedly analytical statement is a statement that, allegedly, is true or wrong depending (and depending only) on the (correct) laws of formal logic. In Kant’s approach to analyticity, an analytical statement is, more precisely, a statement in which the predicate is included in the concept of the subject. In the approach of logical empiricism, an analytical statement is, more precisely, a statement that is either tautological (i.e., true for any distribution of the truth-values in the calculation of predicates), or reducible to a tautology (i.e., a statement true for any distribution of the truth-values in the calculation of predicates). In Leibniz’s approach, an analytical statement is, more precisely, a statement whose opposite is self-contradictory.

An allegedly synthetic statement is a statement that, allegedly, is true or wrong depending (and depending only) on whether it is congruent with reality. In Kant’s approach to syntheticity, a synthetic statement is, more precisely, a statement in which the predicate is not included in the concept of the subject. In the approach of logical empiricism, a synthetic statement is, more precisely, a statement that is neither tautological nor reducible to a tautology. In Leibniz’s approach, a synthetic statement is, more precisely, a statement whose opposite is not self-contradictory.

The problem with the notion of apodicticity is dual. Firstly, the problem is to know whether an apodictic statement is possible. Secondly, it is to know whether an apodictic statement (if it is possible) is necessarily an analytical statement. Kant is commonly thought of as claiming the mathematical statements to be apodictic ones that are nonetheless synthetic in the Kantian sense, i.e., endowed with a predicate that is not included in the concept of the subject.

According to my understanding of Kant’s approach to mathematics, he really conceives of mathematical statements as synthetic statements that are not apodictic; but which can nonetheless be proven true or false independently of sensible experience. And that by reason of the fact their concepts are constructed exclusively within the “pure forms of sensible intuition” that are, according to Kant, space and time, i.e., the fact that their concepts are constructed not on the basis of sensible experience, but only within the a priori spatial, temporal framework that the human mind, according to Kant, confers onto sensible experience. What Kant has in mind when speaking of an “a priori synthetic judgment” is not an apodictic synthetic judgment, but a synthetic judgment that, while being a priori (i.e., independent of sensible intuition) and while being not apodictic, can be proven true or false when—and only when—constructed within the human mind’s “pure forms of sensible intuition.”

Kant’s thesis (that mathematical judgments exclusively deal with concepts the human mind spontaneously constructs within the spatial, temporal framework of the human mind) is notably opposed by the one—notably shared by Pythagoras and Plato—that mathematical statements are exclusively the fruit of suprasensible experience. I will leave aside the issue of knowing whether Pythagoras and Plato also think of mathematical statements as apodictic ones.

In my opinion, Kant’s thesis suffers two flaws, at least: on the one hand, a logical flaw (i.e., a flaw in terms of internal coherence); on the other hand, an analytical error, i.e., a mistaken appreciation of reality. On the one hand, it claims the (true) mathematical synthetic judgments to fall both within unapodictic statements (i.e., those statements that are not true by the sole reason of their terms) and a priori, objective knowledge (i.e., objectively true knowledge logically anterior to sensible experience); but is really unable to account for the alleged ability of the human mind to determine in an a priori mode (i.e., independently of sensible experience) whether its mathematical synthetic judgments are true or wrong.

If mathematical judgments were, indeed, both unapodictic and (exclusively) constructed within the alleged spatio-temporal framework of the human mind (as Kant claims), the fact would still remain that such origin for mathematical judgments would not allow the human mind to determine in an a priori mode whether those unapodictic judgments are true or wrong. Thus, Kant’s thesis leaves unexplained an alleged fact it proposes to explain: the alleged character of (true) mathematic judgments as a priori, unapodictic, objectively true knowledge.

On the other hand, Kant’s thesis is partly mistaken about the origin of mathematical synthetic judgments. Those are really the fruit of suprasensible perception to some extent; and the fruit of the human mind to some extent. Here I will leave aside the issue of knowing whether the mathematical statements the human mind is able to conceive (and able to conceive of as true) are necessarily an extension of statements the human mind is able to conceive of as true by the sole operation of certain admitted logical laws. Or the issue of knowing whether any true mathematical statement, i.e., any mathematical statement congruent with reality, is necessarily an extension of certain admitted logical laws congruent with what may be called the ontological structure of reality. My only points here are the two. First, the truth of a mathematical statement—such as “7 + 5 = 12”—is not apodictic. Second, our mathematical concepts and statements are to some extent the product of the suprasensible perception which Plato and Pythagoras refer to; and to some extent the product of the human mind itself.

At least in that world, perhaps also in all the possible worlds (which remains to be determined—and I will leave aside that issue here), an apodictic statement (i.e., a statement true by its sole terms—and therefore true whatever may be, and true by right) cannot exist. At least in our world, a true statement can be true only by virtue of its conformity to reality. Hence, there can be no statement true by reason of its sole terms. A certain statement that holds true, whatever may be, is true by virtue of a certain fact that remains whatever may be, i.e., a certain fact that remains in all the possible worlds; but it is not true in an apodictic mode.

The same applies to logical laws and to definitions. An objectively valuable logical law, i.e., a logical law that objectively allows for coherent lines of reasoning, is objectively valuable because it is in line with the ontological structure of (our) reality; but it is not rendered objectively valuable by its sole terms. The law of identity, the law of non-contradiction, the law of the excluded middle, the modus ponens, the modus tollens, etc., cannot be logically valuable unless the corresponding alleged ontological facts (i.e., the alleged fact that any existing entity is necessarily what it is, rather than what is not, etc.) are real. Likewise, an objectively valuable definition is necessarily a true definition, i.e., a definition that is congruent with reality; it cannot be rendered objectively valuable by its sole terms.

An allegedly analytical statement is an allegedly apodictic statement that allegedly owes its apodicticity to being true by the sole operation of some (allegedly correct) logical laws. An admitted logical law is not analytical, i.e., is not rendered true or false by its own operation; but it is true or false, depending on whether it is congruent with the ontological structure of our world. A tautological statement is a statement that certain admitted logical laws (whatever they may be) deem to be true (or deem to be false) for any distribution of truth values. A tautological statement necessarily expresses what it claims to be—a certain illustration (in our world) of the ontological structure common to all the possible worlds. For instance, “a cat is cat” expresses a certain illustration of the ontological law of identity—and implicitly claims such law to be common to the ontological structure of all the possible worlds.

A tautological statement is not analytical, i.e., is not rendered true or wrong by the sole operation of certain admitted logical laws; but it is true or false, depending on whether it is congruent with an actual illustration (in our world) of a certain ontological law of our reality—and on whether that ontological law is common to our world and to all the possible worlds. “A cat is a cat” is true depending on whether the alleged fact that a cat is a cat is an actual illustration (in our world) of an actual ontological law in our world—and on whether that ontological law is common to the ontological structure of all the possible worlds.

A definition is a statement of some alleged properties in the object of a certain concept. An admitted definition in a certain language is contentless and conventional from the angle of that language, considered independently of reality; but it is informational and speculative from the aspect of that language considered in relation to reality. An admitted definition is not analytical, i.e., is not rendered true or false by the sole operation of certain admitted logical laws; but it is true or false depending on whether it is congruent with the object of the definition. A mathematical statement is not analytical either; but it is true or false depending on whether it is in line with what may be called the mathematical field of reality.

Here I will leave aside the issue of knowing whether a mathematical statement and a definition can be reduced to a tautology; but let us admit they can be reduced to a tautology, i.e., a statement that certain admitted logical laws deem to be true for any distribution of truth values. Their reducibility would not render them analytical—since they would be reducible to a (tautological) statement that is not analytical. Saying that a statement is true for any distribution of truth values, in regards to certain admitted logical laws, is tantamount to saying that the latter is true in all the possible worlds in regards to those laws. Yet a statement is not rendered effectively true in all the possible worlds by the fact of being tautological in regards to certain admitted logical laws.

The only way for a statement to be true in all the possible worlds (i.e., true whatever may be) is to be congruent with a fact that remains in all the possible worlds. A tautological statement is not contentless (as Ludwig Wittgenstein and others claim). If it were a contentless statement, it would be neither true nor wrong; but a tautological statement is true or false depending on whether it is congruent with an actual illustration (in our world) of an ontological law common to all possible worlds.

Wittgenstein’s claim that a tautological statement exhibits (but does not tell) the ontological structure of our world (and only that of our world) is doubly wrong. Instead, a tautological statement tells (instead of showing) what it claims to be—the ontological structure common to our world and to all possible worlds. If any possible mathematical statement is reducible to a tautology, then any possible mathematical statement speaks of the ontological structure allegedly common to our world and to all possible worlds. Any possible mathematical statement is true or false, depending on whether it is congruent with an actual illustration (in our world) of an ontological law common to all the possible worlds.

Going back to Kant’s claim about the origin of mathematical judgments, I suspect that the human mind is indeed endowed with a spatio-temporal framework which it uses to structure the sensible content; and that such framework is innate or acquired through experience or culture. But the human mind is not the only originator of its mathematical statements and concepts; they are to some extent the fruit of suprasensible intuition (in people highly gifted with suprasensible perception). On the one hand, the human mind’s spatio-temporal framework hosts within it the fruit of suprasensible intuition; on the other hand, the human mind works from the fruit of suprasensible intuition and generates its own mathematical concepts and statements.

The necessarily flawed character (to a varying degree) of a suprasensible intuition is one of the reasons why our mathematical knowledge is necessarily perfectible—and why revolutions can happen in mathematics. The fact the human mind, when it does not host the necessarily flawed fruit of a suprasensible intuition, only deals with its own invented concepts and statements, is another reason for the perfectibility of our mathematical knowledge. It is true that our mathematical concepts and statements, whether they stem from suprasensible intuition or from the human hind itself, can be corroborated by reality, such as it is observed or conjectured; but our observations of reality and our conjectures about reality can only corroborate our groping mathematical knowledge. They cannot confirm it. Such affirmation deserves further clarification, which I intend to deal with elsewhere.

The Issue Of Essences And Definitions

Besides containing ideational numbers and figures, the ideational domain also contains ideational models for existing entities (as well as for those that used to exist and for those that will exist). The essence of a (material) entity is what a (material) entity is. More precisely, it is both what an entity is—and what makes said entity be what it is, rather than be what it is not.

The essence of an entity is dual: it has an ideational component on the one hand; and a material one on the other hand. The ideational essence, i.e., the ideational component of an essence, contains the sum of all the properties of the considered (material) entity. The material essence, i.e., the material component of an essence, only contains the sum of all the constitutive properties of the considered (material) entity. I intend now to deal more extensively with the subject of ideational and material essences.

A mistake by Plato was to conceive of essence as only ideational—and to conceive of ideational essence as only containing the constitutive properties. More precisely, those constitutive properties that are general in the strong sense, i.e., attached to the genre under which a considered entity falls. An ideational essence instead contains the sum of all the properties of the considered entity—and not only those properties that are both constitutive and general in the strong sense.

As for the material essence, it only contains those properties that are constitutive—but as much those constitutive properties that are general in the strong sense as the rest of those properties that are constitutive. Another mistake by Plato was to conceive of the material entity as partaking of its ideational model. Any material entity is instead the incarnation of its ideational model, which incarnates itself into the corresponding material entity while remaining ideational and external to the corresponding material entity.

The definition of a material entity can be unique to some individuals, or can be generally admitted, i.e., admitted in a certain language and common to all the people participating in that language. Any definition deals with some properties of the defined material entity; more precisely, those properties whose inclusion into the considered definition allows the latter to make the considered entity easily distinguished (and recognized) when referred to in a certain statement. The properties evoked in a certain definition do not necessarily coincide with the constitutive properties of the defined entity. But the definition of a certain entity is true or false, depending on its conformity to the properties of the entity. Here, I will leave aside the issue of defining properties rather than entities—and the issue of defining ideational models rather than material entities.

A property is what is characteristic of a certain (material) entity at a given moment of the entity’s existence. Among the properties of an entity, some are constitutive of said entity, i.e., part of what makes that entity what it is (rather than what it is not); others are accessory, i.e., external to what makes that entity what it is (rather than what it is not).

Among the constitutive properties, some are innate to an entity, i.e., are attached permanently to said entity over the course of its existence (unless its integrity is broken); others are emergent in the weak sense, i.e., become attached (whether permanently or temporarily) to said entity over the course of its existence. Among the emergent properties in the weak sense, some are constitutive; others are accessory. Among the emergent properties in the weak sense, some are emergent also in the strong sense, i.e., they introduce qualitative novelty into the world; others are emergent only in the weak sense, i.e., are properties that become attached (instead of being permanently attached to the considered entity over the course of its existence), but which are not novel qualitatively.

Among the properties of an entity, some are necessary, i.e., are forced to be attached permanently to the entity, or are forced to become attached to the entity; others are contingent, i.e., are attached permanently to the entity, or become attached, but without being forced to be attached permanently or forced to become attached. Among the necessary properties, some are constitutive, permanent properties; others are constitutive, emergent (in the weak sense) properties. Among the constitutive properties, some are general in the strong sense, i.e., are attached to the genre within which the considered entity falls; others are unique, i.e., are attached to the considered entity but are not attached to its genre.

While any constitutive, permanent property is also a necessary property, any necessary property is not a constitutive, permanent property. While any general property in the strong sense is also a constitutive, necessary property, any constitutive, necessary property is not a general property in the strong sense. Among the properties of an entity, some are fundamental; others are secondary. Among the constitutive properties of an entity (whether they are permanent or emergent in the weak sense, and whether they are general in the strong sense or unique), some are fundamental; others are secondary.

The ideational model of a certain entity contains the sum of all the properties of said entity over the course of its existence—as much those constitutive, as those accessory; as much those permanent, as those emergent in the weak sense; as much those emergent only in the weak sense, as those emergent also in the strong sense; as much those necessary, as those contingent; as much those general in the strong sense, as those unique; as much those fundamental, as those secondary. Any admitted definition in a given language is true or false depending on the quality of the reality—whether or not that definition only deals with all or part of the constitutive properties of the defined entity. Any admitted definition is both a contentless statement from the aspect of language considered independently of reality—and an informational statement from the aspect of the confrontation of language with reality.

What is more, any admitted definition is both conventional from the aspect of language considered independently of reality—and conjectural from the aspect of the confrontation of language with reality. No definition (whether it is generally admitted or not) is analytical, i.e., true or false by the sole operation of certain admitted logical laws. But any admitted definition in a given language is thought (by that language) to be synthetic, i.e., to be true by being congruent with reality. No definition (whether it is generally admitted or not) is rendered true by the fact that the involved language deems that definition to be true; but any definition is true or false depending on reality.

Any definition is likely to get updated when progress is made in the knowledge of reality—whether such progress is made through (sensible) observation, through corroborated conjecturing, or through suprasensible perception (i.e., through the suprasensible grasp of ideational models). As for those (impracticable) definitions dealing with all the properties of a certain entity—a perfectly true definition of that kind is a definition perfectly mirroring the whole ideational model of the defined entity. And as for those definitions only dealing with all or part of the constitutive properties of the defined entity—a perfectly true definition of that kind is a definition perfectly mirroring all or part of the constitutive properties formulated within the ideational model of the defined entity. The ideational entities within the ideational domain are too much complex with respect to what a human mind is really able to understand (no matter how powerful a human mind is). Hence, the suprasensible grasping of a certain ideational model by a certain human mind is necessarily imperfect. In other words, only a more or less misrepresentative portrait of a grasped ideational model can be obtained through suprasensible intuition.

Conclusion—And A Few Words On The Kabbalah

The problem of knowing whether the world emerges from God is different from the problem of knowing whether God necessarily occasions the existence of the world. Besides, the latter arises differently, depending on the answer given to the former. If God, conceived of as substance (in the sense of an uncreated, necessarily existing entity), creates the world, the question of the necessary or contingent character of the world’s causation then applies to a world distinct from God. If God, conceived of as substance (in the sense of an uncreated, necessarily existing entity), sees the world emerging from God, the question of the contingent or necessary character of the world’s causation then applies to a world that constitutes a constitutive emergent property in the strong sense, i.e., a property that, while being constitutive of God and introducing novelty, is not co-eternal with God.

For my part, I claim that the world is neither created nor emergent, but that it incarnates God (conceived of as uncreated and as necessarily existing), who nevertheless remains distinct from said world (as the Father remains distinct from the Son, who is nevertheless His incarnation). That relation of incarnation is necessarily occurring. Hence, the world is necessarily occasioned. Besides, that relation of incarnation is co-eternal with God—although the world has a temporal beginning.

The cosmos is neither an emergent property of God (as in the medieval Kabbalah), nor a product of God (as in the modern Kabbalah). The cosmos is an incarnation of God— more precisely, an incarnation of the book, that is—both in a simultaneous and improvised mode—written in God’s mind. The Kabbalah’s idea that the cosmos is created through letters is thus deepened in this way: the cosmos is created through an improvised, atemporal writing process, incarnating itself into the temporal, (partly) random cosmos.

As for the Kabbalah’s idea that man is made in the image of God and is mandated both to repair the world and to respect God’s law, is deepened in this way: the writing process incarnating itself into the world aims to accomplish ever-higher levels of order and of complexity, but is likely to commit mistakes. It is up to man to repair those mistakes to the extent possible—and to respect at the same time the cosmic order, which is part of God’s law to humans.

When some men are trying to repair the creation, they are really the incarnation of God trying to repair His own work through them. Yet some men are more linked to God than others—and therefore, more able than others to grasp the writing process through suprasensible intuition. Those men are as such because they have a more yechidah soul.


Grégoire Canlorbe is an independent scholar, based in Paris. Besides conducting a series of academic interviews with social scientists, physicists, and cultural figures, he has authored a number of metapolitical and philosophical articles. His work and interviews often appear in the Postil.


The featured image shows, “Young Man Holding a Roundel,” by Sandro Botticelli, painted ca. 1475.

Libertarian Errors: A Critique Of Hoppe And von Mises

A fundamental belief of libertarianism/liberalism [from “classical liberals” to anarcho-capitalists] is that there exists a certain human nature, the observation of which allows one to draw a certain objective conception of the “good life,” with that conception being seen as the only objective one possible, and the only possible, valid one. Also, the observation of human nature allegedly allows one to draw an objective categorical norm with regard to the right model for the positive law (with that categorical norm being seen as the only possible objective categorical norm, and the only valid categorical standard, as concerns the right model for the positive law); and objective instrumental standards for the purpose of the “good life.” Namely, moral ownership of oneself and of what one acquires non-violently as concerns the alleged objective categorical norm for the model of the positive law; rational and peaceful subsistence as concerns the content of the “good life;” and prioritized, peaceful pursuit of (material) subsistence, property, non-violence, responsibility, savings, mutual charity within the social division of labor as concerns the alleged objective instrumental standards for the purpose of the “good life.”

Another fundamental belief of libertarianism is that human conduct, while being not subject to any law as to its content (by reason of the alleged free will of humans), is nevertheless characterized by a number of laws as to its structure. Those laws are allegedly the object of what Ludwig von Mises called “praxeology;” and are allegedly apodictic. Thus completing—with an apologetic goal—praxeology with an investigation of the content of human action, Hans Hermann Hoppe endeavored to show that the experience of the type of human action that is argumentative action is necessarily the occasion for any human individual engaged in a given argumentative action to notice the existence of apodictic truths (i.e., that their terms are sufficient to render true, and which are therefore true by right and true whatever may be) in the domain of the knowledge of good and evil; and not only in the field of formal logic with the allegedly apodictic laws that are notably identity, non-contradiction, and the excluded third.

The Claim Of The Non-Aggression Principle’s Apodicticity

In addition to coming as an outgrowth of praxeology, Hoppe’s thesis intends to complete, or even replace, the jusnaturalist libertarian defense of the categorical principle of non-aggression, i.e., the defense of the categorical principle of non-aggression as a law that allegedly lets itself be deduced from human nature. While a loophole of libertarian jusnaturalism lies in its violation of the logical impossibility of deducing a categorical imperative (for instance, the principle of non-aggression) from an alleged state of affairs (for instance, human nature such as libertarianism represents it to itself), Hoppe’s thesis intends to fill that gap. And to prove the purported objectivity of the principle of non-aggression despite the impossibility of deducing an ought (in a categorical sense) from an is, i.e., without trying to deduce a categorical ought from an is.

According to Hoppe, in substance, the moral law non-aggression (i.e., the categorical principle that every man is the sole moral possessor of himself and of the goods which he acquires peacefully, and that no one is therefore morally entitled to showing violence towards someone, his integrity or his property acquired without violence) takes on the character of an apodictic truth just like the logical laws in the first-order logic (i.e., identity, non- contradiction, excluded third party, etc.). The performative contradiction that Hoppe judges to be necessarily associated with the contestation of the principle of non-aggression is alleged to endow the principle of non-aggression with a character of apodictic truth, i.e., to render the principle of non-aggression true by its sole terms, true whatever may be, true by right.

It is worth specifying that in first-order formal logic, the criterion necessarily retained to judge the apodicticity of a proposition consists of knowing whether it is tautological (i.e., true for any distribution of the values of truth), the laws of first-order logic serving as laws followed and assumed by the calculation of truth values. The incremental criterion contingently retained consists of knowing whether a proposition is reducible to a tautology via relations of synonymy, that second criterion being contingent in that it is conditioned on the recognition of those propositions, reducible (to tautologies) as being propositions themselves tautological.

Likewise, it is worth specifying that at least two modes of performative contradiction are conceivable. On the one hand, the act of acting in such a way that one proves in spite of oneself that one considers to be false some statements one however makes at the moment of the concerned action. On the other hand, the act of acting in such a way that one proves in spite of oneself the falseness of statements which one however makes at the same time. At last, it is worth specifying that the categorical form in a categorical statement—whether it is a moral law (for instance, the non-aggression principle) or a logical law (for instance, the identity principle)—does not endow such statement with an objective or apodictic character.

The Hoppean Fallacy

Hoppe’s argument in favor of the alleged apodicticity of the categorical principle of non-aggression, an argument known as “the ethics of argumentation,” does not consist of undertaking to prove the tautological character of the non-aggression principle or its reducibility to a tautology. Instead, it consists of affirming that the fact of displaying an argumentation for (or against) a given thesis necessarily supposes subscribing to the principle of non-aggression; and that the performative contradiction in the first above-evoked sense (i.e., in the sense of the saying of words that contradict the beliefs that the conduct accompanying those same words supposes and manifests) associated with any argumentation against the non-aggression principle proves, in spite of itself, the aforesaid principle’s apodicticity.

Those two assertions are false. On the one hand, far from the fact of displaying an argumentation necessarily supposing that one adheres to the principle of non-aggression, such an activity can very well suppose (for example) that one agrees as an Arian to listen to (and dismantle) the pro-Trinitarian arguments of his slave; but that one does not recognize him as having the right to express himself again on that subject (once the conversation is over), let alone quietly leave the palace to which his servitude attaches him. On the other hand, a performative contradiction (in the above-evoked sense), whatever it is, never proves that the belief one reveals in spite of oneself through the conduct consisting of contradicting that belief (or accompanying the fact of contradicting it) is true, even less apodictic. It only proves that there is an adherence to the aforesaid belief (whose true or false character remains to be determined).

Even if, indeed, the fact of engaging in some argumentation necessarily implied adhering to the principle of non-aggression, that assumption would only amount to believing (in spite of oneself) in the truth of the principle of non-aggression, not to proving (in spite of oneself) the aforesaid principle’s apodicticity. To put it in another way: even if the principle of non-aggression were necessarily a belief underlying any argumentative activity (and therefore, were necessarily be a premise, secret or avowed, of the statements held within the framework of some argumentative activity), the fact of arguing against the principle of non-aggression would only amount to inferring conclusions, contradicting the premises that one reveals in spite of oneself when drawing those conclusions. That would not render apodictic (i.e., true by their sole terms, true whatever the reality, true by right) the aforesaid premises.

A Variation Of The Hoppean Argument—And How It Is Fallacious As Well

Another attempt to prove the non-aggression principle, inspired by the “ethics of argumentation,” consists of invoking the second mode of performative contradiction: namely the fact of adopting a behavior such as to prove the falsity of statements one makes at the very moment of the aforesaid conduct. While it is no longer a question here of proving the alleged apodicticity of the non-aggression principle, the offered argument is nevertheless not less unsatisfactory than is the attempt to demonstrate the aforesaid apodicticity. The argument in question consists of asserting that the fact of arguing against the non-aggression principle, therefore the property of oneself, is an action that mobilizes, if not the voice or a pen, at least the mental abilities; and which, like any action, proves that one is in possession of one’s own body (including one’s brain). That relation of possession allegedly proving, in turn, that any suffered aggression is immoral—given it undermines the aforesaid possession of oneself.

Here again, each of these two statements is false. The fact of acting only shows that an order is given to the body (and executed), and not that the aforesaid body finds itself to belong to the aforesaid order’s author. (We will leave aside whether the author in question merges with the brain, the nervous system, or the soul). As for moral possession, i.e., the entitlement to be the possessor of a given good, therefore to hold it (and use it) without suffering any coercion, does not derive from factual possession as such (i.e., the actual possession of a good regardless of whether or not one is entitled to possess it), nor from the earliest factual possession (i.e., the fact not only of owning a given good, but of being the first to own the good in question). Even if a human (or another animal) were actually the factual possessor—and a fortiori the first factual possessor—of his own body, the aforesaid factual possession would in no way imply moral possession; therefore an entitlement not to be subjected to violence nor to a deprivation of liberty.

The act of arguing against the principle of non-aggression does not reveal the alleged moral possession (or even the alleged factual possession) of oneself any more than it does reveal the aforesaid principle’s alleged apodicticity. More generally, the moral possession of oneself is not more ascertainable or provable than the principle of non-aggression is apodictic. The fact of observing human nature, taken or not from the point of argumentative action, does not more allow us to notice the alleged moral (or even factual) possession of oneself any more than the principle of non-aggression is reducible to a tautology, or than the contingent presupposition of the principle of non-aggression in any argumentation attacking the truth of the aforesaid principle confers on the aforesaid principle an apodictic character.

That is just as true for the laws of first-order logic: the fact of observing reality does not more allow us to notice the ontological counterpart of the aforesaid logical laws (including the alleged necessity for any entity considered in a given respect at a given moment to be what it is rather than what it is not) than their contingent presupposition in any argument attacking the truth of the aforesaid logical laws does confer on the aforesaid logical laws an apodictic character. They are only assumed—rather than true by their terms alone or demonstrated.

Two Expected Objections

An objection from a proponent of “the ethics of argumentation” may be that the laws of first-order logic—just like tautologies (i.e., propositions remaining true for any distribution of truth values) or propositions reducible to tautologies—are indeed apodictic; nevertheless, insofar as the aforementioned laws are objectively evident by themselves (and only insofar as they are objectively evident by themselves). Whereas tautologies and propositions reducible to tautologies are apodictic insofar as they are demonstrable as true for any distribution of truth values (and only insofar as they are demonstrable as true for any distribution of truth values). And whereas the reducibility of propositions effectively reducible to tautologies may consist, for those propositions, of being reducible insofar as their terms are synonymous, but also of being so insofar as they are likely to be revealed via a performative contradiction, i.e., likely to be the object of an adhesion likely to get revealed in spite of oneself via a performative contradiction.

Another objection may be that the laws of first-order logic—identity, non-contradiction, excluded third, etc.—are certainly assumed (rather than demonstrated or true by their sole terms), and that they are assumed, if not by any argumentative activity, at least any senseful argumentative activity; but that denying the apodicticity of the aforesaid laws, or one of the propositions which those laws suffice to render true, is precisely senseless for our reason, insofar as those laws are a necessary condition of any senseful argumentative activity. Just like it is allegedly senseless for the reason to deny the apodicticity of the principle of non-aggression, insofar as the prior supposition of that principle is a supposedly necessary condition, if not of any argumentative activity, at least any senseful argumentative activity.

That ultimate argument in favor of holding the non-aggression principle and the laws of the calculus of predicates as apodictic does not pretend to prove their alleged apodicticity. It proposes that we act as if they were apodictic, i.e., proposes that one conventionally holds them as apodictic; and that, on the grounds that they are allegedly necessary conditions for any senseful argumentative activity. (In other words, that argument proposes that the first-order logical laws and the moral law of non-aggression be held to be apodictic conventionally rather than sincerely, i.e., by convention rather than conviction. It happens, nevertheless, that the same argument, which can be qualified as performative, is mobilized in favor of sincerely holding as apodictic the first-order logical laws and the moral law of non-aggression. In that case, the fact that those logical and moral laws allegedly come as necessary conditions of any objectively senseful argument allegedly proves that those laws are objectively apodictic).

How Performative Contradiction Is Not Tantamount To Tautology

Regarding the previous argument, the fact of adhering conventionally or sincerely to the laws of first-order logic (also called the calculation of predicates), i.e., the fact of holding them to be true by convention or by conviction, does not imply one adheres sincerely or conventionally to the idea that performative contradiction is a criterion of reducibility to a tautology.

Whereas the propositions that first-order logic is necessarily led to consider as true propositions by the operation of laws alone are the sole tautological propositions (i.e., true for any distribution of truth values), the propositions that first-order logic is contingently led to consider also as true propositions by the only operation of the logical laws include only those propositions reducible to tautologies via synonymy. Those propositions which are revealable via a performative contradiction, but which are neither tautological nor reducible to a tautology, are necessarily excluded outside the propositions that the calculation of predicates is necessarily or contingently likely to consider as true propositions by the sole operation of the logical laws.

To put it in another way, the revealability of a given proposition via a performative contradiction (i.e., via an action which proves that one implicitly adheres to that proposition even though one is in the process of denying it at the time of said action) does not render that proposition reducible (to a tautology) any more than it renders it tautological. Given that only a proposition reducible to a tautology is contingently conceivable as tautological (within the framework of first-order logic), and given that a proposition revealable via performative contradiction is not necessarily a proposition reducible to a tautology, performative contradiction cannot be a criterion of apodicticity in first-order logic: neither necessarily nor contingently.

Or again, adhering to the laws of first-order formal logic necessarily implies adhering to the idea that the tautological character of a proposition is a criterion of its apodictic character, and contingently implies (i.e., implies in the case where we admit that a proposition reducible by synonymy to a tautology is also render tautological by the sole fact of its reducibility) of adhering to the idea that the characteristic of a proposition to be reducible to a tautology is an additional criterion for apodicticity. Nevertheless, it does not imply adhering to the idea that performative contradiction is a criterion for apodicticity—and that, given that a proposition revealable through performative contradiction is not rendered reducible to a tautology by the sole fact of being revealable through performative contradiction.

Or again, in the eyes of the first-order logical laws, the fact of articulating a given statement (for instance, the negation of the non-aggression principle) while acting in a way that reveals one subscribes to the opposite of such statement only amounts to, simultaneously, expressing (verbally) a thing and (behaviorally) its contrary. It does not amount to proving the apodictically true character of the statement behaviorally expressed. The joint fact of expressing verbally the negation of the non-aggression principle and subscribing behaviorally to the non-aggression principle does not more render the non-aggression principle apodictically true than it proves the wrongness or the truth of the non-aggression principle. Expressing (verbally) p and (behaviorally) non-p does not more prove the wrongness or the truth of non-p than it renders p apodictically true. It only amounts to expressing two things excluding each other.

(As for the idea that the laws of first-order logic are self-evident: introspection allows us to see that those laws are not self-evident nor seem to be self-evident. The fact of being seemingly self-evident is, instead, a characteristic of what can be called the alleged ontological counterpart of said laws, i.e., a characteristic of the alleged ontological facts that are, for example, the impossibility for a given entity not to be what it is in a given respect and at a given time).

The Conventional Character Of Logic Laws

Regarding the argument that the moral law of non-aggression and the logical laws of first-order logic (i.e., identity, non-contradiction, excluded third, etc.) are both necessary conditions for an argumentative discourse which be genuinely senseful, and that it is therefore senseless to deny their apodicticity (despite the fact that said apodicticity is neither provable nor self-evident), the laws of first-order logic and the principle of non-aggression admittedly have in common that they claim to be the necessary conditions for an argument that makes sense. But precisely, the fact that an argument makes sense in the opinion of the laws of first-order logic only proves that it makes sense in the opinion of said laws: just as the fact that an argument makes sense in the opinion of the principle of non-aggression (in that it supposes and respects the categorical imperative to refrain from the slightest coercion towards the interlocutors and towards anyone) only proves that it makes sense in the opinion of said principle.

The fact that the laws of first-order logic or the principle of non-aggression serve as necessary conditions for arguments which are meaningful in their opinion does not imply that they serve as necessary conditions for argumentations which be objectively senseful. An argument which supposes a formal logic refusing all or part of the aforementioned laws will make sense in the opinion of the own laws of its own formal logic, which will not prove that it is objectively senseful: just like the fact that an argumentation assuming other categorical imperatives than the principle of non-aggression makes sense in the opinion of its own moral presuppositions does not prove that it is objectively meaningful.

It is worth pointing out that (convinced or conventional) adherence to the idea of the apodictically true character of the laws of first-order logic does not imply adhering (sincerely or conventionally) to the idea of the apodictically true character of the principle of non-aggression (and vice versa); and that the sincere (rather than conventional) adherence to the idea of the objectively true character of the laws of first-order logic is, sometimes, both motivated by the two reasons Aristotle proposes for sincerely adhering to the (idea of the) objective truth of the logical laws of identity, non-contradiction, and excluded third. Reasons that are performative (i.e., the laws in question are, in Aristotle’s opinion, necessary conditions for a senseful argumentation, what allegedly renders them apodictic) and ontological (i.e., the laws in question are, in Aristotle’s opinion, also founded by their ontological counterpart: for example, any entity, according to the respect considered and the moment considered, is necessarily what it is rather than what it is not).

Finally, one cannot but notice the failure of the performative argument in favor of the idea of the insane character of rejecting (by convention or conviction) the apodicticity of the laws of the first-order logic, or the law of the non-aggression principle, i.e., the argument consisting of pointing out the alleged necessity to assume (by convention or by conviction) both the laws of first-order logic and the principle of non-aggression so that an argument be objectively senseful.

It makes perfect sense to believe that the conformity of a given argument to the principle of non-aggression does not render the aforesaid conformity objectively senseful. Just like it makes perfect sense to believe that the conformity of a given argument with the laws of first-order logic does not render the aforesaid conformity objectively senseful; or to believe that the objectively senseful character of conformity to the laws of first-order logic—if it were attested—would not prove the objectively senseful character of conformity to the principle of non-aggression.

Beyond Aristotle And Rudolf Carnap

In practice, the performative argument in favor of holding conventionally or sincerely as apodictic the laws of first-order logic is sometimes accompanied by an ontological argument in favor of holding them (sincerely, and only in a sincere mode) for apodictic, which consists of pointing out the alleged ontological counterpart of the laws of identity, non-contradiction, and excluded third middle; and of justifying on the basis of said ontological counterpart the fact of sincerely holding them as apodictic. It also happens that, quite simply, one takes for the alleged apodictic character of the aforementioned laws what is actually the apparent self-obviousness of the ontological counterpart of said laws.

In both cases, the alleged ontological counterpart of the aforesaid laws would render said laws true by their conformity with reality (rather than true by their terms alone). It would not justify considering the aforesaid laws to be apodictic truths: whether by conviction or by convention. The alleged ontological counterpart is itself unfounded: given it is quite simply induced from a certain characteristic common in things and people in the field of reality which is offered to our senses (more precisely, the field immediately offered within what, in reality, is available to our senses). Namely, the characteristic of being necessarily what one is (i.e., the ontological counterpart of the principle of identity); of being necessarily incapable of being both what one is and what one is not at a given moment and in a given respect (i.e., the ontological counterpart of the principle of non-contradiction); and of being necessarily constrained to be either something or something else, but not both simultaneously, in a given respect and at a given moment (i.e., the ontological counterpart of the principle of the excluded third).

Since an induction is not a valid inference, it is wrong to generalize such characteristic to all the entities that inhabit reality on its various stages. Given the human mind is capable of conceiving the Trinity (which necessarily violates the laws of non-contradiction and of the excluded third), or the included third in quantum mechanics (with the fact for a photon of being simultaneously a wave and a particle, or for an electron of occupying two distinct positions simultaneously); it is nevertheless able (to a certain point and only in some people) to extract itself from those logical laws in order to try to apprehend the nature of the entities inhabiting other floors of reality.

To the Aristotelian thesis that the logical laws of identity, non-contradiction, and the excluded third have a not less performative foundation (i.e., they are allegedly the necessary conditions for a senseful discourse, from what it supposedly follows that they are apodictic) than ontological (i.e., they are allegedly based on the impossibility for a given entity to be both what it is and what it is not in a given respect and in a given moment, etc.), incidentally respond the following Carnapian remarks. Namely, that it is “a sure sign of a mistake if logic has need of metaphysics and psychology—sciences that require their own logical first principles;” and that in logic, “it is not our business to set up prohibitions, but to arrive at conventions,” Rudolf Carnap explaining, in this regard, that “prohibitions can be replaced by a definitional differentiation” and that “in many cases, this is brought about by the simultaneous investigation (analogous to that of Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometries) of language-forms of different kinds—for instance, a definite and an indefinite language, or a language admitting and one not admitting the Law of Excluded Middle.”

For our part, we defend a synthetic position. Namely that the principles of formal logic are admittedly conventional and that they, admittedly, cannot be proven ontologically; but that while coming as strict convention (instead of serving as objective criteria of what is objectively senseful or insane among the conceivable modes of argumentation), they are nevertheless confrontable with the noticed or soundly conjectured reality, which corroborates them (in default of confirming them objectively) and allows their gradual improvement as they are objectively refuted.

We believe the same applies to moral principles: at least those instrumental (rather than the categorical moral principles), including those designed for the purpose of a “good, viable” life in society. Whereas the categorical moral principles cannot be put to the test (since what is can neither confirm nor invalidate what must be categorically), the instrumental moral principles are confrontable with the reality observed or reasonably conjectured, which is able to refute them and help their enhancement (and even, perhaps, able to confirm them for some of them).

As regards more particularly the rules of law (among the instrumental moral principles effectively contributing to the “good life” in society), we believe that the Aristotelian jusnaturalist approach—ignoring the muddy, chimerical conceptions of a reason folded in on itself and endeavoring to identify, more modestly, the normal rules of law, functional with regard to the natural order (as a scrupulous observation reveals it and as a solidly corroborated imagination guesses it), and those which transgress the order of nature—is transposable and adaptable to a cosmos subject to intra-species biocultural evolution and inter-species biological evolution. It is true that liberalism lays claim to the observation of human nature to prove the alleged objectivity of its categorical ethical principle for the shaping of law (i.e., the categorical moral law of non-aggression), as well as of his conception of the “good life” and of the instrumental ethical principles associated with it. But the idea that it has of human nature is a fantasy and owes nothing to observation or to solidly corroborated imagination. We will come back to that subject elsewhere.

The Fallaciousness Of The Hoppean Criticism Of Logical Empiricism

In addition to his vain pretension to demonstrate the objectivity and the apodicticity of the categorical principle of non-aggression, and his most complete hermetism with regard to a jusnaturalist approach which be properly of Aristotelian obedience, Hoppe is mistaken on logical empiricism. And makes unjustified accusations against the Vienna Circle, the idea he has of the latter coming as a straw man.

The Hoppean argument against logical empiricism (presented in his article “Austrian rationalism in the age of the decline of positivism”) consists of presenting as self-contradictory the claim that any proposition is either a contentless, analytically true proposition, or a synthetic, empirically true proposition, or a normative proposition—so that the knowledge of the world can have no apodictic basis. And the claim that knowledge is always hypothetical to the point that experience can never have any value when it comes to assessing our theories. It turns out that each of two claims is neither self-contradictory nor attributable to the Vienna Circle’s logical empiricists. The first claim implicitly conceives of itself as a synthetic proposition, what is fully coherent with the tripartition it proposes. As for the second claim, it implicitly supposes that it comes as an exception to the rule it formulates: hence it escapes self-contradiction as well.

While the notion that analytical truths are contentless is, indeed, characteristic of the Vienna Circle, the latter nonetheless believed that logical laws served as an apodictic foundation for science. While Wittgenstein (who was not intellectually, institutionally affiliated to the Circle) conceived of the analytical truths as exhibiting the structure of the universe, in default of being endowed with signification, it seems to us that neither Rudolf Carnap nor any other member of the Circle came to endorse the view that analytically true propositions (such as “a bachelor is unmarried” or “two plus two makes four”) served as factual statements. The fact still remains that they did not reject the idea of an apodictic, a priori foundation for science as Hoppe claims. As for the idea that experience is wholly impotent regarding the confirmation of knowledge, it is not more characteristic of the Viennese empiricism—whose research agenda was precisely to show how experience could assess in probabilistic or instrumentalist terms the truth of a scientific statement.

That said, Carnap would come to conceive of formal logic in conventionalist terms. While Karl Popper would come to dismiss induction and to conceive of experience as able only to weaken our theories—and Willard Van Orman would come to dismiss the distinction between analytical and synthetic truths and to conceive of experience as unable to confront our propositions taken in isolation. The Vienna Circle’s project, i.e., the project of establishing the reducibility of meaningful statements to science and the reducibility of any scientific proposition to an empirically testable proposition, was admittedly a failure. But that project had nothing to do with the Hoppean description of the aforesaid project.

Praxeology In The Misesian Sense

Along with jusnaturalism in the Rothbardian or Randian sense, evolutionism in the Hayekian sense, or the Hoppean claim of the non-aggression principle’s apodicticity, praxeology in the Misesian sense constitutes one of the mirages of contemporary liberalism—about which one can say that one of its wrongs is to prefer the illusions of Ludwig von Mises to the clairvoyance of Vilfredo Pareto. Unwittingly, sociology in the Paretian sense addresses and demystifies each of the major axes of Mises’s theoretical edifice.

Praxeology in the Misesian sense, not content with claiming to elaborate propositions a priori true (in the sense of being true by reason of their sole terms), intends to focus exclusively on the structure of human action—and to deduce, progressively, its theoretical corpus from the sole proposition that humans act (in the sense of giving oneself ends and of choosing and using means with regard to the aforesaid ends). Besides, it denies the existence of human instincts and therefore their interference with human action (be it the determination of ends or the choice and handling of means), apart from an alleged instinctual effort of the part of every man to achieve the idea he has of greater happiness.

While denying, in that regard, that the field of the “sociology of instincts” (what, nowadays, would rather be called “sociobiology” or “evolutionary psychology”) can have any relevance, Mises envisages what he calls the “categories” of human action (i.e., the structures inherent in any particular human action) as the fruit of biological evolution in a context of selection by the natural environment. Thus, he paradoxically anticipates what is the fundamental credo of evolutionary psychology as it stands: namely the computational theory of the human mind, i.e., the theory that the human mind is fundamentally composed of “modules” dedicated to information processing, anchored into the human brain, and selected over the course of our species’ genetic evolution.

When it comes to the constitution of human civilizations, Misesian praxeology considers the division of labor as the most fundamental of social bonds: the very cement of society (what does not mean that it denies the rest of social ties, but that it recognizes a secondary place for them). As for the idea that Misesian praxeology has of progress, it notably sees in it the enhancement of the social division of labor (and of the human mutual aid operated within it) via the development of economic institutions (including money)—and via the substitution of “cooperation through contractual bonds” to “cooperation through hegemonic bonds.”

Misesian Praxeology’s Epistemological Claims—And Their Fallaciousness

Since none of the methodological claims of praxeology in Mises’s sense are realistic, none can prove compliant with the actual approach of Mises or his followers. Admittedly, it seems, the facts pertaining to the structure of human action—for instance, the successive assignment of a subjectively homogenous good’s acquired units to less and less priority objectives—are self-evident by reason of the nature of those very facts. But that apparent self-obviousness is precisely an attribute of those discovered facts (which, nonetheless, become self-evident only once they have been discovered and described); not a property of the proposition describing them. If one subscribes to first-order formal logic, the latter is not an apodictic proposition either—given it cannot be reduced to a tautology in the sense of first-order logic, i.e., a proposition which remains true whatever the distribution of truth values.

As for the discovery of the structural facts pertaining to human action, introspection allows us to notice that the discovery process admittedly requires deduction (notably from the proposition that men act); but that deduction is far from being sufficient for the aforesaid process and that a supplement of observation and intuition is both possible and indispensable for it. Most often, the Misesian praxeologist’s inquisitive mind only gives, a posteriori, a hierarchized, axiomatic-deductive presentation to the theories it previously acquired (via inculcation, intuition, or observation), what amounts to assembling the previously discovered pieces of a dispersed puzzle.

The methodological principle that praxeology (and therefore economics as a branch of the latter) only deals with the structure of human action is just as disproven via the examination of the theoretical propositions subsumed by praxeology (at least, in its Misesian version). Outside the praxeological edifice’s most fundamental propositions (such as the assertion that any engaged action tries to select the most suited means and endeavors to substitute a more satisfactory state of affairs to a less satisfactory one), praxeology and economics actually deal with the content of (the different types of) human action: especially the content of the type of human action known as entrepreneurship.

Why Pareto (And Not Mises)?

Sociology in the Paretian sense sets itself the implicit goal of covering both the structure of human action (with Pareto’s distinction between actions that are logically structured and those with an illogical structure) and its content, Pareto endeavoring notably to identify the nature of the instinctual “residues” which dictate—often surreptitiously—human ends, as well as the means mobilized for those ends; and that very often generate “illogical actions.”

While Mises conceives of praxeology as a strictly deductive approach whose starting point merges with the sole affirmation that man acts (in the sense of pursuing ends and mobilizing means), Pareto conceives of the study of human action as “logico-experimental,” that is to say, it is focused exclusively on observation and induction. Both converge as concerns the idea that human actions are not necessarily logical and that they sometimes—especially as a result of reasoning processes disoriented by emotion—adapt improperly the choice (and use) of means to the pursued ends.

Mises nevertheless limits himself to identifying rationality’s instrumental function (i.e., the function of determining the respective content of ends and means), while Pareto proposes a more extended analysis of rationality which identifies—in addition to the instrumental function of rationality—a concealment function, which consists of developing fictitious justifications for our illogical acts with the idea of passing off them as coherent. Besides, Mises, quoting Ludwig Feuerbach on that occasion, denies human instincts (and their incidence in human action) apart from a general “instinct of happiness,” while Pareto, thus anticipating sociobiology, imputes human emotions—and the illogicality they do not fail to introduce into our actions—to a web of instincts that we share very widely with animals.

Apart from the methodological pretensions, Pareto is quite superior to Mises on each of the above-mentioned points: Pareto’s only naivety is to believe that the effective methodology of his “sociology” is strictly “logical-experimental,” while the involved process mobilizes intuition and deduction as much as induction. As we have noted above, Mises’ pretension to resorting exclusively to deduction (from the sole assertion that man acts) is not less chimerical—himself coupling actually deduction with induction, as well as with intuition.

Let us add that, unlike Mises, in whose eyes the effect of any economic law is strictly independent of the social context of economic actions, Pareto rightly points out that economic laws—while remaining absolute—see the interdependence between economy and (the rest of) society countering the effect of those very laws. Protectionism thus causing a recomposition of political and industrial elites for the benefit of those individuals the most gifted to encourage the nation’s industrial development, what potentially compensates for the loss income linked to protectionism. Besides, Mises mistakenly imagines the social division of labor, and therefore economic facts, to be the only cement of society, and therefore the most fundamental social fact of all; while Pareto not less lucidly remarks that in addition to the social division of labor, the cement of society also includes, at least, the juridical hierarchical order within which the struggle for political preeminence is constantly being played out.

Yet another cleavage relates to the possibility for human action to create a world leaving behind it the interindividual (or interstate) struggle for physical power and the associated expropriation. Pareto admittedly recognizes a slow progress in the direction of a greater rationality of human actions—in the senses of greater objectivity in knowledge of the world, and greater skill in the choice and the use of means. An impression which emerges from his work is nonetheless that the “cycle of elites” capturing physical power and expropriating the good of others constitutes in his eyes a timeless trait of human societies.

For his part, Mises has the naivety to believe possible, if not inevitable, the entry of humanity into an era in which men will have abandoned the quest for physical power (including political) and in which the violence of states will subsist only to protect persons and their goods (and to chastise assassins and thugs). Thus, he stands at the midpoint of the millennialist hopes of his anarchist heirs (including Murray Rothbard), who believe to be feasible and even inevitable the coming entry of humanity into an era in which states themselves will have disappeared, the protection of persons and goods finding itself henceforth taken charge of by organizations without a coercive monopoly.

Conclusion—And Clarifying Natural Law And Quantum Physics

The revealability of a proposition via a performative contradiction (in the sense of the saying of statements that contradict a proposition whose endorsement is both supposed and manifested by the action accompanying the saying of those statements) is not equivalent to a tautological character nor equivalent to the reducibility to a tautology, i.e., a proposition true for any distribution of truth values in first-order logic. Just like the fact of conforming to certain logic laws or certain moral laws in a given argumentation intended to debunk those very laws does not render them apodictic. Hoppe’s case for the apodicticity of the non-aggression principle, i.e., the principle that no one is entitled to exert coercion toward someone or his non-violently acquired property, is not less fallacious than is his pretension to align the positive legal rules with a categorical, objective norm.

Basically, Hoppe does not better understand natural law (i.e., law based on nature) than do liberal jusnaturalists—even though he avoids the fallacious deducing of an ought from an is. Natural law should not be understood as apodictic, nor should it be understood as an objective categorical principle serving as a universal model for positive law. Natural law is admittedly objective; but it is neither categorical, nor distinct from positive law, nor applicable to the individual (taken independently of society), nor totally universal, nor discoverable a priori. Instead, it comes as a certain modality of positive law: namely those of positive legal rules which effectively contribute to the survival and functionality of a given society in view of the biocultural specificities of that society; but also in view of human nature (as it has been made by biological evolution) and in view of the cosmic order in which any human society takes place.

In other words, natural law is a hypothetical rather than categorical norm. It serves as an imperative required for the survival and functionality of a given society (in intergroup competition). Far from being external to positive law or applicable to the individual taken independently of society, it is only applicable to society and serves as positive rules of law effective for the success of a given society in intergroup competition. Besides, it is partly universal, partly circumstantial. It is universal when it comes to those positive rules of law which, to contribute to the success of society (in terms of survival and functionality), take into account human nature or the cosmic order. It is circumstantial when it comes to those positive legal rules which, in order to contribute to the success of society (in terms of survival and functionality), take into account the biological specificities of a given society or the cultural traditions of said society. Those same traditions finding themselves constrained to take into account human nature, cosmic order, and the biological specificities to ensure the success of said society (in terms of survival and functionality).

Natural law is not discovered via conjectures independent of experience. Instead, reason discovers it—imperfectly—via careful and comparative observation of the different human societies; as well as via the identification of the functional societies and those dysfunctional (as concerns their rules of law) and via the connection of functionality (and dysfunctionality) to cosmic order and to human nature such as observation and solidly corroborated imagination allow us to conceive them. In a sense, the same applies to logical laws—namely that they are not discovered via a priori, independent conjectures (i.e., conjectures which are both independent of experience and independent of science), but via conjectures both confronted to the experienced reality and to the scientifically, solidly conjectured reality. In that sense, Quine’s epistemological holism, i.e., the claim that experience only confronts a theoretical edifice (from its logical laws to its protocol sentences) taken as a full-fledged unit, is true.

As for praxeology such as devised and bequeathed by Mises, it is inept for many reasons: including its apodictic pretension; its rejection of the interference of instincts with human action; its frivolous treatment of the difference between rational and irrational actions (which ignores Pareto’s residues and derivations); its ignorance of the interdependence between economic and social facts; or its laicized millennialism. But also, its restriction of the field of action (i.e., the field of behaviours defining and deciding to reach some goals, and determining and using some means for those goals) to human beings alone.

Instead of action being unique to conscious beings (and a fortiori humans), quarks, atoms, bacteria, and the cosmos itself (taken as a whole) have made decisions and acted long before the onset of consciousness—as our friend Howard Bloom says in essence. A particle takes decision about the selection and the realization (via quantum decoherence) of one of the different states it simultaneously maintains—just like a homo sapiens when acting selects and realizes one of the possible futures of his action. And just like the cosmos itself has been deciding at each incremental level of emergence—starting with the emergence (known as inflation) which saw the cosmos going from nothingness to immensity and accomplishing a primordial decoherence, i.e., a primordial decision as to the one of the simultaneous states which would be retained.

Grégoire Canlorbe is an independent scholar, based in Paris. Besides conducting a series of academic interviews with social scientists, physicists, and cultural figures, he has authored a number of metapolitical and philosophical articles. His work and interviews often appear in the Postil.


The featured image shows, “La récolte des pommes à Éragny (Apple harvest at Eragny),” by Camille Pissarro, painted in 1888.

Archeofuturist Liberalism: A Manifesto

The following was published a few years ago – but in a very different version. We are publishing a significantly updated version, which the author has fully elaborated with the benefit of hindsight.


The obsession of liberals [libertarians, either “classical liberals” or “anarcho-capitalists”] to condemn only economic or “cultural” Marxism is a dead end. Saving Western civilization requires the wisdom to identify, and the courage to name, the other contemporary enemy of the West: namely cosmopolitanism. Cultural Marxism – in the sense of Antonio Gramsci’s doctrine that Marxists must reach cultural hegemony before attempting the Revolution – is certainly influential in the West; but not more than is cosmopolitanism itself – in the sense of the doctrine that political and moral boundaries must be dissolved for the benefit of the individual’s “emancipation.”

Economic Marxism – in the sense of communism (or semi-communism) and planning within a national framework – is certainly on the rise again in China; but China itself is an ally to the global superclass promoting cosmopolitanism. The “global superclass,” according to the expression popularized by Samuel Huntington, consists of a transnational network of uprooted and denationalized people, whose gestation dates back at least to the beginning of the 20th century and whose constitution accelerated with the fall of the Soviet bloc. Here, we will seek to elucidate the conceptual relations between liberalism [libertarianism] and cosmopolitanism; and will outline the contours of a new variety of liberalism – namely a liberalism simultaneously directed against bourgeois nationalism and against cosmopolitanism.

Definition Of Cosmopolitanism

By cosmopolitan ideology, one must understand here an ideology that rejects humanity divided into nations. As such, cosmopolitanism condemns the particular mode of organization that characterizes a nation as a nation, i.e., which confers on a group of individuals the identity and the unity of a nation. This unity consists of the following: a relative genetic homogeneity, as well as cultural one; a chain of social and juridical tiers that goes back to a sovereign political authority (i.e., the supreme authority within the government); and a territory that is covered by, and which limits, that hierarchical and homogeneous organization.

Cosmopolitanism attacks national territory, and therefore borders, by forbidding governments to defend nations against indiscriminate free trade or free immigration. It also attacks the juridico-political hierarchy of a nation, either by calling for inequalities reduced to income, merit, and occupation inequalities, or in advocating the substitution of nations with a world government. Finally, cosmopolitanism condemns as much the admitted moral frontiers (between good and evil, beauty and ugliness, honor and dishonor) as the genetic and cultural differences between nations. Not content with advocating the relativism of values (i.e., the abolition of moral boundaries), it praises the leveling of races and cultures.

It is a mistake to believe that the cosmopolitan elite would subscribe to the ideal of a humanity reduced to its animality, i.e., a humanity in which only the spontaneous (rather than diverted) aspirations of those instincts we inherited (from our primate ancestors) are expressed in human behavior – and expressed only in an unleashed (rather than rationalized) manner.

In effect, the ideology of the world superclass abhors the spontaneous aspirations of those human instincts that are expressed as territory and domination, identity and adventure – or even abhors those instincts as such, which come as distinct modalities of the aggressiveness coded in our genome.

The ideal inspiring cosmopolitanism is actually that of a humanity in which the spontaneous aspirations of our instincts for territory and identity – and therefore the attachment to frontiers – are no longer expressed. And of a humanity in which the spontaneous aspirations of our instincts for adventure and domination – and therefore the taste for military, economic, or intellectual competition – are no longer expressed. A humanity deprived of its national and cultural rooting, but also, more fundamentally, of its biological rooting – that is the horizon of the cosmopolitan ideology.

In the area of values and moral boundaries, let us point out that the version of cosmopolitanism advocated by the world superclass diverges from pur et dur cosmopolitanism. The ideology of the world superclass indeed counterbalances the call to get rid of any moral boundary (on behalf of individual emancipation) with the concern for preserving some of the typically bourgeois values – as much as with the concern for promoting ecologism and worldwide communism.

The wording “cosmopolitanism” was brandished for the first time by the Cynic philosopher Diogenes of Sinope. Nonetheless, we will leave aside the question of knowing whether Diogenes understood “cosmopolitanism” in its current sense of an ideology which preaches the relativism of values and the leveling of races and nations; or rather, for instance, in the sense that everyone – at a moral and biocultural level – belongs (and must belong) to a given nation, while belonging to the entire humanity at a “spiritual” level.

The Stoic philosophers and the Alexandrine Jewish philosophers were certainly partisans of the federation of nations under the aegis of a certain universal law. Nonetheless, they were not cosmopolitan in the current sense, i.e., they were not proponents of the dissolution of nations under the aegis of moral relativism.

What will concern us here will be cosmopolitanism as it is currently understood – and as it adapted and set up by the world superclass. Also, we will examine liberalism envisaged in its relation to the world superclass’s cosmopolitanism, i.e., the world superclass’s ideology advocating biocultural leveling and a certain moral relativism, but remaining attached to those bourgeois values that are the priority pursuit of material subsistence and the materialist approach to reality.

The Three Heads Of The Equalitarian Hydra

The overwhelming majority of liberals (be they academics or simply followers of the liberal philosophy) refrain from denouncing cosmopolitanism and envision Marxism as the only enemy to fight. What is more, they indulge in cosmopolitanism at various levels, whether or not they use the term cosmopolitanism – and whether that ideological leaning is conscious on their part or is so natural that it goes unnoticed in their own eyes. Does this mean then that liberalism conceptually ends up as cosmopolitanism? In other words, that cosmopolitanism comes as the logical outcome of liberalism, and that the endorsement of cosmopolitanism among liberals is – conceptually – necessary rather than contingent?

Before we answer these questions, it is important to highlight the kinship of liberalism, socialism, and cosmopolitanism. Those three ideologies (or philosophies) are ultimately the three distinct manifestations of the same egalitarian ideal.

Liberals, socialists, and cosmopolitans are indeed “in-fighting relatives,” animated by a common passion for (arithmetical) equality. And that, even though it is a faith, an ideal, which they proclaim in three distinct ways (universality of law for liberals; equality of incomes, or, at least, equal subjection to central planning, for socialists; the leveling of races and nations for cosmopolitans – let us add that liberalism, socialism, and cosmopolitanism – as they have unfolded since the French Revolution – also converge in their common adherence to the hegemony of economy in the scale of values. Such hegemony is not wishful thinking on the part of egalitarian ideals.

Concomitantly, with the dissipation of intermediate juridical inequalities (in accordance with the liberal ideal of equality in law), economy has lifted itself – in the wake of the Revolution of 1789 – at the summit of Western values. On the same token, the welfare state has gained ground (in accordance with the socialist ideal of economic equality); and concomitantly with the rise of the world superclass, cosmopolitanism itself has finally contaminated the intranational mores and the relations between nations. The world superclass also promotes ecologism, transhumanism, and communism – but here we will leave aside those aspects of the world superclass’s ideology.

Let us be clear about what makes the singularity of each of the three faces of the equalitarian ideology. The universality of law – or the equality of human beings with regard to the rules of law that must apply to them – serves as the fundamental categorical value of liberalism. In other words, liberalism fundamentally promotes the value of equality taken in a legal sense, i.e., taken in the sense of the equal freedom of all, the equal right of all not to suffer coercion (towards their life or their peacefully acquired goods).

For socialism, it is equality in an economic sense, i.e., income equality and central planning, which serves as a fundamental categorical value.

And for cosmopolitanism, it is equality taken in a biocultural and “communitarian” sense: the equality of men in the sense of their biological and cultural indifferentiation – and in the sense of their non-belonging to another collective than Humanity. That everyone be culturally and racially identical, and that no one be a member of a nation within Humanity; that everyone be a member of Humanity considered as a collective in its own right (and that he be a member of that collective only), and that the individual be released from the moral boundaries that his affiliation to one or other nation assigns to him; and finally that everything which “thwarts” and separates individuals be removed., That is the egalitarian creed of cosmopolitanism.

From Classical Liberalism To Anarcho-Capitalist Cosmopolitanism

In its purest form, so to speak, liberalism merges with an anarchism that respects private property – including the private ownership of the means of production. That said, it is an insoluble problem of knowing whether the “true” manifestation of a political movement lies in the “extremist,” fully coherent (doctrinally speaking) branch of that movement, or lies instead in a moderate, “pragmatic” branch of the latter. Determining whether the “true” implementation of a doctrine lies with the radical branch of its proponents (or lies instead with a moderate branch) falls within arbitrary consideration, “subjective preference.”

Therefore, it would be futile to ask whether the movements promoting anarcho-capitalism are “truer” than those promoting classical liberalism. But it is not futile to try to determine whether integral liberalism, in addition to being wholly anarchist, is wholly cosmopolitan (out of conceptual necessity). We shall see that anarcho-capitalism only exacerbates the amount of cosmopolitanism already present in classical liberalism – but that both anarcho-capitalism and classical liberalism remain distinct from integral cosmopolitanism.

Classical liberalism (that of John Locke, Adam Smith, J-B. Say, Mill, father and son, Robert Torrens, Frederic Bastiat, Yves Guyot, Ludwig von Mises, or Friedrich A. von Hayek) does not only affirm its attachment to equality in law, i.e., universality of the rules of law, universal freedom of all – but it promotes an extended division of labor and praises the entrepreneur as the one who coordinates the division of labor (on the basis of his anticipation of the fluctuations in demand), and who spurs the allocation of factors in anticipation, and in the direction of, the long-term equilibrium – that is, the type of equilibrium where capital is used and allocated in such a way that, besides the equilibrium market prices corresponding perfectly to the entrepreneurial anticipations, each factor is used and allocated in the most satisfying manner in view of current expectations on the part of consumers and investors.

Anarcho-capitalism inhabits the same terrain as classical liberalism, except that it rejects the “minimal state” promoted by classical liberals – and instead calls for privatizing (and opening up to competition) the “regalian” functions, i.e., putting an end to the state’s legal monopoly on the use of force to sanction attacks against physical integrity and against property rights.

The greatness of classical liberalism (which culminates in anarcho-capitalism) lies in its double demonstration of the superior productivity of an extended division of labor and of the need for the free market – a fortiori the free market for capital goods, in the absence of which there can be no anticipation and no calculation on the profitability of allocation decisions – to extend the division of labor and to coordinate it in the direction of the optimal satisfaction of consumption and investment needs.

The mediocrity of classical liberalism notably lies in its contempt for the practice of war – and in its pacifist ideal that degrades human nature, for it is true, as Hegel knew so well, that “the movement of the winds preserves the waters of the lakes from the danger of putrefaction, which would plunge them into a lasting calm, as would do for the peoples a lasting peace and a fortiori a perpetual peace.”

As for the relations between Western nations, the pacifism of classical liberalism eventually triumphed after the end of the Second World War. But the disappearance of war among Western nations only completed the preliminary disappearance of what may be called the individualist conception of war – or the Indo-European ethos in the practice of war. We will turn to that issue a bit later.

Anarcho-capitalists, like classical liberals, by the very necessity of their doctrine, indulge, to some extent, in cosmopolitanism, which, let us recall, is defined (in its complete form) by its call to abolish moral boundaries, to dissipate political boundaries, and to level races and cultures. While classical liberalism merges with a relative cosmopolitanism, anarcho-capitalism merges with a more pronounced cosmopolitanism (which remains incomplete).

Classical liberalism accepts, to some extent, the existence of nations. It accepts them except it promotes the indiscriminate opening of borders to goods and to migrants (in the name jointly of freedom and of the ideal of a division of labor whose scope transcends political boundaries) – all the while prohibiting (on behalf of freedom) any coercive measure intended to preserve biocultural identity.

For its part, anarcho-capitalism accepts biocultural homogeneity in a group of people; but it refuses the existence of nations as political edifices (if not as biocultural entities). The reason for this refusal lies in the fact that anarcho-capitalism finds all the implications of equality in law, which is tantamount to saying that it aspires to an equality in law that it be perfect, or “die-hard.”

As for moral boundaries, both anarcho-capitalism and classical liberalism promote bourgeois values – although they do not necessarily call them “bourgeois,” and although they claim such values to be universally adapted to human beings (rather than adapted to the sole bourgeois type of man). These values include the categorical (equality before the law), and the instrumental or conditioned ones, which are intended to set up the (bourgeois idea of) “good life.” Ayn Rand rightly summed up the bourgeois conception of the good life as the peaceful “survival of man as a rational being.” We will at this concept, and the instrumental values it implies, a little later. For now, let us simply note that classical liberalism, like anarcho-capitalism, are cosmopolitan to some extent with respect to political boundaries – and that anarcho-capitalism and classical liberalism are axiologically engaged with cosmopolitanism, rather than being morally cosmopolitan.

Classical liberalism, as it accepts the state, accepts a first infringement of equality in law. Officials and taxpayers, indeed, do not see themselves judged by the same rules of law in the sense that the former are exceptionally empowered to live on coercion and to enjoy privileges, such as, the more extended right to strike, very advantageous pensions and health care benefits, or guaranteed employment.

However, classical liberalism does not only accept the state; it accepts the state within a national framework. In other words, it accepts the state as territory of a given nation, federated by a relative cultural and genetic homogeneity. With notable exceptions, like Mises, classical liberalism does not promote the disappearance of national states for the benefit of a world state. As such, in addition of accepting the inequality in law between civil servants and taxpayers, classical liberalism accepts the inequality in law between domestic residents and foreigners. Yet anarcho-capitalism does not even want those two infringements of equality in law. The only inequalities that it deems legitimate are the inequalities of income, diploma, and profession. And that, because it regards any inequality in law as a fault, including the distinction between the official and the taxpayer and the one between the national citizen and the foreigner.

The relative cosmopolitanism that characterizes classical liberalism, and the adherence to a world government are both perfectly clarified by Ludwig von Mises, his treatise, Liberalism: “The metaphysical theory of the state declares – approaching, in this respect, the vanity and presumption of the absolute monarchs – that each individual state is sovereign, i.e., that it represents the last and highest court of appeals. But, for the liberal, the world does not end at the borders of the state. In his eyes, whatever significance national boundaries have is only incidental and subordinate. His political thinking encompasses the whole of mankind. The starting-point of his entire political philosophy is the conviction that the division of labor is international and not merely national. He realizes from the very first that it is not sufficient to establish peace within each country, that it is much more important that all nations live at peace with one another. The liberal therefore demands that the political organization of society be extended until it reaches its culmination in a world state that unites all nations on an equal basis. For this reason he sees the law of each nation as subordinate to international law, and that is why he demands supranational tribunals and administrative authorities to assure peace among nations in the same way that the judicial and executive organs of each country are charged with the maintenance of peace within its own territory.”

Anarcho-capitalism condemns the official and the taxpayer, along with the national citizen and the foreigner. Although anarcho-capitalism is necessarily cosmopolitan only in part (and necessarily condemns moral relativism), anarcho-capitalist cosmopolitanism is however a much more asserted, much more radical cosmopolitanism than classical-liberal cosmopolitanism.

As for biocultural identity, both anarcho-capitalism and classical liberalism necessarily oppose coercive measures intended to preserve the latter – for instance, a ban on miscegenation, which is not tantamount to morally approbating miscegenation (or the loss of biocultural identity generally speaking).

That said, one cannot but notice – in addition to those cosmopolitan tendencies that flow from a conceptual necessity – the following propensity on the part of anarcho-capitalists in practice – namely, their propensity to deny the existence of the aggressive instincts (i.e., identity and territory, adventure and domination), as well as the existence of races and cultures – and to morally condone, or even encourage, cultural leveling and miscegenation. And that, on the grounds that there should only exist “individuals” – that is, individuals who are not only born tabula rasa and undifferentiated, but who have no other social link than the division of labor and trade, the genetic and cultural links of the nation being denied in particular.

Such an approach deserves, in our opinion, the qualifier of “liberal Lysenkoism.” It is found among anarcho-capitalist but also among hybrid liberals, i.e., those liberals who are allied to the minimal state (or minarchy) of classical liberalism and who are nevertheless seduced – like are anarcho-capitalists – by the ideal of racial, cultural leveling.

From The National-Liberalism Of 1789 To Pseudo-Nationalist Anarcho-Capitalism

Pure radical liberalism can be defined as egalitarianism which – on behalf of the equal freedom of all – recognizes as legitimate sole economic and academic inequalities, i.e., income, diploma, and occupation inequalities.

Among anarcho-capitalists, some however care (more or less openly) for the coercive preservation of biocultural identities – and endeavor to develop a system that reconciles the coercive preservation of biocultural identities with the universality of law. Such is the case of Hans Hermann Hoppe especially.

Such version of anarcho-capitalism remains a modality of cosmopolitanism – and therefore, a modality of liberal cosmopolitanism, i.e., a cosmopolitan modality of libertarianism. Nevertheless, there is indeed a liberalism that reconciles the ideal of the nation, the rejection of all sorts of cosmopolitanism, with equality in law, i.e., the equal, universal freedom of all – and that liberalism is none other than the one which inspired the Revolution of 1789 and the posterior European nationalisms.

We have seen that classical liberalism affirms the existence of nations and advocates that they cultivate pacifism and free trade – and that they reject warmongering for the benefit, not only of peace, but of a social division of labor that limits nothing and which extends beyond frontiers. In other words, one in which men and capital circulate without the slightest restriction.

The national-liberalism of 1789, which serves as the matrix of the various European nationalisms of the 19th century, differs from classical liberalism on the question of free trade and free immigration. Unlike classical liberalism, it does not intend, indeed, to open borders to goods and people indiscriminately. It is also parts company with classical liberalism on the question of pacifism. Napoleonic imperialism and the conflict of 1914-1918 came as grand manifestations of the warmongering inherent in bourgeois nationalism. The disagreement between classical liberalism and national-liberalism over pacifism reflects one more fundamental of bourgeois values. The latter include, on the one hand, a categorical principle, namely, the equal freedom of all, and on the other hand, a series of instrumental principles (i.e., social division of labor, non-violence, responsibility, frugality, etc.) that allow for the bourgeois conception of the “good life,” i.e., peaceful and rational material subsistence.

While classical liberalism and anarcho-capitalism wholly subscribe to these principles, the national-liberalism of 1789 counterbalances its subscription to these principles with its endorsement of what may be called a gynecocratic cult of the nation, i.e., a veneration of the nation as a motherly deity, all of whose children are equal – and equally expected to die anonymously for the nation on the occasion of wars. Thus, the national-liberalism of 1789 – while enshrining bourgeois values within the nation – adheres to the infringement of the bourgeois prioritization of material subsistence, when it comes to the relations between the nations.

Besides, the national-liberalism of 1789 combines the ideal of free enterprise with that of a perfectly unified nation, i.e., one deprived of its intermediary bodies and its intermediary rank inequalities. It intends to exacerbate national sentiment so that the feeling of belonging to some nation henceforth arouse a greater pride than that of belonging to some caste or some class within that nation. It also seeks to erode the traditional intermediate inequalities of status, so that the nation only knows inequalities in income and in profession – and thus reducing individuals to mere cogs in the division of labor.

The national-liberalism of 1789 also promotes a policy of cultural homogenization. For example, by combating regional dialects and imposing the use of a single “national language.” It can even promote the unification (into a single nation) of a geographical area, and being composed of culturally and genetically related nations. Italy and Germany offer us two eminent examples of such unification. In line with its attachment to political measures intended to increase cultural homogeneity, the national-liberalism of 1789 can also promote political measures intended to preserve biocultural homogeneity.

Apart from the forced unification of a region (into a single nation), the forced cultural homogenization, and the forced preservation of biocultural identity; as well as apart from the counterbalancing free enterprise (and the extended social division of labor) with restrictions to free trade and free immigration, and apart from the counterbalancing the bourgeois ethos of prioritizing material subsistence with the principle of forced self-sacrifice for the sake of the motherly nation – the national-liberalism of 1789 converges with classical liberalism as to the promotion of bourgeois values. As Vilfredo Pareto invites us to do, it is always worthwhile to distinguish between the “residue” and the “derivation,” i.e., the (sometimes instinctual) feelings that any ideology serves and the rhetorical tricks it hypothetically uses to conceal those feelings – or to conceal the compromises with reality that the ideology in question is hypothetically obliged to make.

In fact, the national-liberalism of 1789, which claims its strict attachment to bourgeois values and equality in law, endeavors to legitimize (and enshrine) a society that does not ignore inequality in law, but only intermediate bodies and intermediate castes (between the government and the individual), in which juridical, economic, and academic inequality is such that the ruling class is henceforth the bourgeoisie. What is more, such a society is not fully absorbed by the priority pursuit of mutual, peaceful subsistence between formally equal proprietors, but which counterbalances that bourgeois ethos with the principle of compromising one’s material subsistence (and the smooth running of the social division of labor) for the sake of the national gynecocratic cult. The national-liberalism of 1789 endeavors to defend the bourgeois juridico-political edifice – and the gynecocratic, sacrificial wars of bourgeois nations – under the guise of a mysticism of peace and equality.

A certain version of anarcho-capitalism, which may be called pseudo-nationalist anarcho-capitalism, takes into account biocultural identities – and paradoxically intends to preserve them coercively. The anarcho-capitalism à la Hoppe indeed conceives of the anarcho-capitalist order as a “covenant,” jointly based on property right and on the contractual obligation to verbally, behaviorally adhere to a certain set of “conservative” values. Therefore, anyone formulating ideas contrary to those values, or behaving in contradiction with them. is likely to get expelled from the “covenant,” though the latter is established in a wholly peaceful, voluntary manner.

Hoppe (to the best of our knowledge) does not raise the following implication openly – that such an anarcho-capitalist “covenant” – besides allowing the rallying around some shared values (which are, in fact, the bourgeois values) – also allows for the coercive preservation of biocultural identity. For instance, through the conceivable contractual obligation not to miscegenate oneself – or the one not to convert to Islam. As for immigration (whose political channeling is part of the coercive measures to protect the nation’s biocultural identity), Hoppe makes the case that a policy authorizing indiscriminate free immigration is necessarily incompatible with the enforcement of property rights. On the grounds that such policy violates the right of proprietors to decide who is entitled or not to cross the limits of their respective properties.

At first sight, the Hoppean covenant may look like an honorable, though chimerical, attempt to reconstruct the nation in an anarcho-capitalist framework. Actually, such is not Hoppe’s intent. And rightly so – for one cannot overestimate the inanity of that conceivable intent. National boundaries are, indeed, not enshrined by the owners themselves (as is the case in the Hoppean covenant), but by the governments. Nonetheless, the nation is not a fantasy used by governments (to legitimize their authority over a given territory) no more than it is created by a voluntary association of coowners. What necessarily characterizes a nation (as a nation) is that it comes as a certain space, federated by a given pecking order, a certain juridico-political order, and by a territorial instinct which is expressed as much among those “at the bottom of the social ladder” as among those who compose the ruling class and the state administration. A certain space which is, besides, occupied by people who are genetically homogeneous – as well as culturally homogenous – to some extent, and who share a common worldview, a certain canvas of memes. Claiming to rebuild nations on the sole basis of property right (and the contractual adherence to some values) simply becomes a modality of cosmopolitanism.

For an introduction to the theory of pecking orders, one may consult Robert Ardrey’s The Social Contract:

“In 1920 the British amateur ornithologist Eliot Howard presented the natural sciences with the concept of territory in animal affairs. In 1922, just two years later, a Norwegian scientist, T. Schjelderup-Ebbe, published in Germany his study of the social psychology of the chicken yard. It centered on his discovery of the pecking order in a flock of hens. From alpha to omega there is a rank order of dominance within the flock, and each hen has the right to peck those below it in the order, while none has the right to peck back. Thus alpha has the right to peck all, whereas none can peck her. And omega, of course, the last in line, gets pecked by everybody and can peck back at none. In just two years the twin principles of territory and dominance, the concepts at present most absorbing for students of animal behavior, came into being. Howard, despite his study of innumerable bird species, was conservative in confining his conclusions to bird life, the world he knew. Like Howard, Schjelderup-Ebbe went on to study sparrows, pheasants, ducks and geese, cockatoos, parrots, canaries. He was anything, however, but conservative. ‘Despotism,’ he wrote, ‘is the basic idea of the world, indissolubly bound up with all life and existence.’ He went beyond life: ‘There is nothing that does not have a despot… The storm is despot over the water; the lightning over the rock; water over the stone it dissolves.’ He even recalled a proverb that God is despot over the Devil.”

For an introduction to meme theory, it is worth quoting our friend Howard Bloom:

“As genes are to the individual organism, so memes are to the social organism, or superorganism, pulling together millions of individu¬als into a collective creature of awesome size. Memes stretch their tendrils through the fabric of each human brain, driving us to coagulate in the cooperative masses of family, tribe and nation… History, either natural or human, has never been the sole province of the selfish individual, essentially preoccupied with preserving his genes. For history is the playfield of the superorganism – and of its recent step-child, the meme.”

Although it is concerned with the coercive preservation of biocultural identity (and the coercive discrimination of immigration), the Hoppean version of anarcho-capitalism remains a modality of cosmopolitanism. The Hoppean covenant (which, anyway, is wholly chimerical, unrealistic) is nothing other than an intended substitute for the nation.

As for the argument that free immigration is incompatible as much with an anarcho-capitalist “covenant” as with the state’s respect for intranational property rights, that argument comes more as a rhetorical trick, a “derivation,” than as a rigorous, factual reflection. It implicitly assumes, indeed, that a nation and an anarcho-capitalist order both constitute – necessarily – a coownership (or a club), in which the decision to authorize (or refuse) the entry of someone is made by the coalesced owners (or the gathered members of the club). Yet that is a false conception as much of the anarcho-capitalist order as of the national edifice. The former is not more necessarily a club than it is necessarily a coownership. In other words, an anarcho-capitalist order organized as a coownership (or as a club) only comes as a certain kind of organization for an anarcho-capitalist order.

As for the nation, it can in no way be a club or a coownership – in view of the juridical hierarchy necessarily present within it and the necessarily coercive character of the state (even democratic). On the basis of such a premise (i.e., that a nation or an anarcho-capitalist order necessarily comes as a coownership), one could just as easily argue that free trade necessarily violates property rights as much in a nation as in an anarcho-capitalist order – and that a policy opening up the nation’s frontiers to goods necessarily denies the right of the owners to decree which goods are allowed or not to cross the boundaries of their respective properties.

Free immigration and free trade must be limited – not in the name of a properly understood anarcho-capitalism, but in the name of the rejection of the relative cosmopolitanism that is inherent in classical liberalism and exacerbated in all varieties of anarcho-capitalism. Liberalism must be counterbalanced, limited by civilizational and geopolitical considerations.

In this respect, it is worthwhile recalling that the expansion of cosmopolitanism into Western nations only comes as the culmination of a process of subversion of Western civilization which began with the abandonment of the Indo-European order, i.e., the warlike and sacerdotal order – and with the advent of the bourgeois industrious society. Classical liberalism is engaged in the march of cosmopolitanism, in the sense that it has been leading the march towards free trade and free immigration. For its part, the national-liberalism of 1789 has been involved in the march of the bourgeois industrious society – with neither classical liberalism nor anarcho-capitalism coming to oppose intellectually the bourgeois society and to take up the defense of Indo-European tradition. Quite the contrary.

The National-Liberalism Of 1789 In The Face Of Indo-European Tradition

The Indo-European tradition is one that is both organizational and axiological. Organizationally, it comes as the tradition of a tripartite and hierarchical organization of society, in which the sacerdotal caste (for instance, the druids in Celtic society, the brahmins in Vedic society, and the magi in Persian society) takes precedence – spiritually – over the warlike caste; and in which both the warlike and sacerdotal castes take precedence – juridically – over the productive caste. The authority to decide on spiritual and otherworldly issues is up to the priests (and only up to them), who notably serve as magicians and esotericists.

As for political power (i.e., the power of command and decision, as well as the authority to decide on secular issues), it always lies with the warlike caste (which can share it, more or less, with the sacerdotal caste, depending on the considered society). For their part, merchants, peasants, and workers find themselves subservient – through their inferior position in the tiering of juridical ranks – to the warlike and sacerdotal castes.

Axiologically, the Indo-European tradition comes as that of an ethos which may be called individualist-warlike (or aristocratic-warlike, or quite simply aristocratic). That ethos consists (for a given aristocrat, i.e., a given member of the hegemonic warlike caste) of undertaking to singularize oneself through the exercise of military domination (with regard to the productive caste’s members); and through the pursuit of eternal glory on the battlefield, i.e., the pursuit of military exploits, occasioning eternal remembrance of one’s name and one’s fame.

The juridical enfeoffment of the productive, industrious caste to the magus and the warrior is traditionally accompanied with a twin primacy of sacerdotal and aristocratic values, i.e., magic (including esotericism) and warlike individualism (as defined above).

The national liberalism of 1789 set up a reversal of the Indo-European tradition by placing the productive function at the top – both from an axiological and organizational point of view. Thus followed the marginalization of sacerdotal and individualist-warlike values (but not of war itself); the disappearance of intermediate juridical inequalities (but not of the state as such); and the triumph of what may be called the bourgeois materialist spirit. As concerns war, the overthrow of the Indo-European triad (for the benefit of economy) meant, not the decrease of war itself, but actually the necessary marginalization of the warlike-individualist ethos, which is by necessity the contempt of the warlike-aristocratic ethos (and therefore for the aristocrat himself).

While a bourgeois nation does not necessarily ignore the practice of war, it is necessarily prey to the replacement of the Indo-European warlike-individualist ethos (i.e., the ethos of rendering oneself glorious and immortal through military exploit) with what may be called the warlike-sacrificial ethos, i.e., the ethos of anonymizing oneself within the mass of soldiers, dead for the Motherland.

Besides, far from encouraging the global outburst of human instincts, the hegemony of economy thwarts the spontaneous, natural aspirations of those instincts that are territory and identity, domination and adventure – and requires the forced hypertrophy of the economic instinct, i.e., the instinct which leads us to seize peaceful opportunities of trade and production. Such hypertrophy goes against the spontaneous, natural hierarchy of man’s instinctual needs. To humans, identity and territory, adventure and domination, matter – naturally – more than material enjoyment and economic cooperation.

Nowadays, the defense of “warlike heroism” is most often accompanied by a sacrificial conception of the heroic ideal. The “hero” is indeed perceived as the one who is ready to die for society (the nation, the fatherland, the Republic) and who forgets, or denies his individuality, standing aloof from any selfishness in his conduct. This conception, which is celebrated as much in bourgeois democracies as in totalitarian regimes, diverges completely from the idea that pagans had of heroism in the ancient world. Far from sacrificing himself for society, the hero, the aristocrat, established the ruling caste (which could be interpenetrated with the sacerdotal caste). In a sense, the society was sacrificed for the benefit of the hero, in that social organization was designed for the benefit of the warlike and sacerdotal castes, the latter living off the work of slaves and the productive caste’s efforts.

Besides, war was valued, and perceived, not as a way of self-denial but quite the contrary, as a way of supernatural fulfillment of an individual. In other words, a way for him to render himself divine (or to reveal, confirm his divinity), and to have his exploits sung forever by other people. The clairvoyance (i.e., ability for divination) and sorcery of the priest were regarded as another modality of the supernatural fulfillment, i.e., another mode of deification for an individual.

But, what may be called bourgeois materialism, won the spirits, as bourgeois nationalism was extending its grip over the Western world. The bourgeois materialist state of mind can be negatively defined as a state of mind mocking and refusing the warlike-individualist spirit, and denying the reality of magic and that of clairvoyance – as well as the reality of supernatural fulfillment. It can be positively defined as a state of mind reducing the world to its material aspects and putting above everything else – including above the pursuit of (military, intellectual, artistic, technological, or even economic) exploits – the pursuit of material subsistence – more precisely, the pursuit of reciprocal material subsistence among peaceful, formally equal proprietors.

Not content with rejecting (intermediate) inequalities of law, and advocating the reduction of inequalities to the income, diploma, and occupation inequalities under the aegis of the state, the national-liberalism of 1789 advocates a materialist and sacrificial conception of human existence, in that the individual must renounce an heroic life (i.e., a life primarily dedicated to the pursuit of singularizing, immortalizing exploit – even at the expense of his subsistence), and devote himself only to enrichment, as much his own as that of the nation, while proving ready to sacrifice his life for the nation from time to time. More precisely, the individual is, on the one hand, allowed (and even encouraged) to satisfy peacefully his “personal interest” at the economic level – with the well-understood economic interest of individuals coinciding allegedly with “the interest of the nation” – but on the other hand, expected to be ready to set his life at stake at a military level – and to sacrifice himself for his motherland.

While war in a traditional Indo-European society is either the work of the warlike nobility and its mercenaries, or the work of a conscript army that respects and incorporates within it the status divisions, conscription comes as a necessary trait of the bourgeois nation. As the bourgeoisie dethrones the sacerdotal and warlike castes, and rank inequalities dissipate (for the benefit of the sole economic inequalities), war becomes the business of all.

On the same token, the heroic ideal, i.e., the ideal of supernatural self-affirmation through war or through the practice of magic, is dismissed (or marginalized); and it is expected from war that it will be henceforth a path exclusively (or semi-exclusively) of self-denial – the path of self-sacrifice “in the interest of the nation.” It is worth noting that the bourgeois nationalism of 1789 thus counterbalances the materialist bourgeois mindset (which is perfectly hostile to the compromising of one’s material subsistence, whether it be compromised for warlike-individualist motives or for sacrificial motives) with a spirit of self-sacrifice for the national deity – the latter being admittedly an earthly, gynecocratic deity.

The mediocrity of classical liberalism, as seen above, notably lies in its pacifism. The mediocrity of the national-liberalism of 1789, which has nothing to do with pacifism, notably lies in its sacrificial conception of heroism. The transition from a warlike and sacerdotal order, such as the France of the Old Regime, to a bourgeois order does not mean that bellicosity necessarily dissipates; but that the warlike and sacerdotal castes are necessarily dissolved and the state necessarily falls into the hands of the bourgeoisie.

It also means that the warlike function – if it does not disappear – is necessarily and only put at the service of the productive function, i.e., used to keep the economy operating – or put at the service of the promotion of the nation’s founding ideals, i.e., used to impose those ideals upon the world. In other words, war ceases to be practiced for the purpose of the individual’s supernatural fulfillment, so that “warlike heroism” is henceforth understood and praised in sacrificial terms; and so that the chivalrous, warlike-individualist spirit of the warlike aristocracy is jointly abandoned for the benefit of the bourgeoisie’s materialistic spirit and for the benefit of the motherland’s sacrificial cult.

In the framework of the transition from warlike-sacerdotal France to bourgeois France, the Napoleonic wars were prey to contrary forces. On the one hand, they occasioned an ultimate resurgence of the warlike-individualist culture of traditional France – as noted and praised by Nietzsche while on the other hand, they enshrined the bourgeois industrious order and the abandonment of the warlike-individualist ethos, for the benefit of an all-encompassing pursuit of material subsistence, counterbalanced by occasional self-sacrifice for the Nation.

In The Nomos of the Earth, Carl Schmitt rightly noticed that the Jacobins “decried the classic interstate war, purely military, of the 18th century as a cabinet war of the Old Regime and… rejected as a matter of tyrants and despots the liquidation of the civil war and the limitation of the external war accomplished by the state. They replaced the purely state war with the people’s war and the democratic mass uprising.”

The national-liberalism of 1789 is therefore a nationalism which breaks with the Indo-European tradition; and that subverts the traditional hierarchy in values and in juridical ranks. More precisely, it combines the ideal of free enterprise and of an extended division of labor with the ideal of a bourgeois nation. In other words, a nation in which juridical, professional, economical, and academic inequalities have such nature that the bourgeois class (i.e., the “merchants” in the broad sense: entrepreneurs, capitalists, executives, consultants, bankers) is henceforth the politically dominant class; and in which the bourgeoisie’s materialist state of mind and the moralism (i.e., the contempt for the cultivation of supernatural, virile values), constitutive of such a mind, henceforth serve as reference values. Here, Vilfredo Pareto proposed the phrase “virtuism.”

talian Futurism, which culminated in Fascism, was certainly revolted against bourgeois society and its materialist, virtuist spirit: “We want to demolish museums and libraries, fight moralism, feminism, and all opportunist and utilitarian cowardice,” wrote Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. To the extent that Soviet nationalism strictly subordinates the warlike function to the productive function, i.e., reduces war to a sacrificial instrument for keeping the economy operating (in addition to serving the territorial expansion of the memes of Marxism-Leninism), nationalist socialism lies in the lineage of the nationalist liberalism of 1789. It combines the ideal of the collective ownership of the means of production, and of central planning, with the ideal of a proletarian nation, i.e., a nation in which it is the proletarian’s materialist state of mind which axiologically prevails, and in which the ruling class is exclusively composed, if not of proletarians, at least of intellectuals, claiming to rule in the name of proletarians. (It is worth noting that, in practice, the Stalinian regime believed in magic and solicited the gifts of magicians – in contradiction to the materialism of its foundational Marxist-Leninist ideology).

As for Hitlerian nationalism and Fascist nationalism, they were certainly socialist nationalisms linked to proletarian nations; but their socialist nationalism was traversed by contrary forces with regard to the warlike function. On the one hand, they witnessed resurgence of the Indo-European warlike-individualist spirit – as exemplified in the following lines of Mario Carli’s Fascismo Intransigente. “The warlike spirit [warlike-individualist spirit] is the fundamental character of the Italians; it is not a fascist invention nor a post-bellum attitude. Find me a single moment in history in which we have not fought – it doesn’t matter for whom or for what… It took a century of democratic dysentery to drown the individual worth of Italians in egalitarian and humanitarian soup. But today, it is making its return… Mussolini, Minister of War! That is what seems to me the supreme and most splendid embodiment of the Mussolinian spirit!”
On the other hand, that resurgence of the Indo-European warlike-individualist spirit was counterbalanced with the implementation of a sacrificial, gynecocratic approach to war – expecting the individual to be ready to anonymize himself within a mass of faceless soldiers, compromising their subsistence for the sake of the nation’s economic interests, or for the sake of its ideological interests (i.e., the expansionist pretensions of the nation’s foundational memes).

As such the socialism of Nazi Germany as the socialism of Mussolinian Italy were therefore, in part, a socialism of the rupture with the Indo-European tradition. In the case of Nazi Germany, the subordination of the warlike function to the productive function was described in these terms by Ernst Jünger, in The Worker. “The armed defense of the country is no longer the obligation and the privilege of the sole professional soldiers; it becomes the task of all those who are likely to bear arms… On the same token, the image of the war, which represents it as an armed action, is blurred more and more in favor of the much broader representation which conceives of it as a gigantic process of work. In addition to the armies fighting on the battlefield, new kinds of armies are emerging: the army in charge of communications, the one responsible for the supply, the one that supports the equipment industry – the army of labor in general.”

Further Qualifications Of Heroism And Bourgeois Society

With regard to the precise symptoms of the productive function’s hegemony in contemporary Western society, it has been commonly argued that such hegemony implied the predominance of the “utilitarian” lifestyle associated with the merchant; and the dissipation of the “heroic” way of life associated with the warrior.

To begin, the distinction between the hero (seen as the one who is ready to die for others) and the merchant (seen as selfish and calculating), developed by Werner Sombart, does not stand up to scrutiny. The hero in the traditional sense is the one who performs military exploits, i.e., exceptional deeds on the battlefield, singling him out and endowing himself with eternal fame, and who manages – through self-mastery and inner harmony – to properly, intensively satisfy his territorial and adventurous, identity-minded and domineering instinctual drives.

Only the hero in the modern sense, the hero as defined in bourgeois nations, is the one who dies for others. Achilles is ready to die, but for the singularization of his existence and the immortalization of his name. Whether in fiction or in History, many Indo-European heroes have been merchants, the emblematic example remaining to this day, being Cosmo de Medici – the noble who rose to the top of Florence by virtue of his skill in finance and founded a dynasty of Tuscan rulers. (It goes without saying that when we defend heroism in the traditional, pagan sense, we do not intend, nonetheless, to castigate the sacrificial acts of generosity in society – including the devotion of the saint and that of the mother. We only intend to distinguish between what is specifically heroic and what is sacrificial).

At first sight, it may seem paradoxical to denounce the virtuism of the bourgeoisie, while celebrating the warlike-individualist spirit of the great captains of industry. In fact, the “bourgeois” who applies a chivalrous code (i.e., a warlike-individualist code) in business is bourgeois only at an economic level. Morally and psychologically, he is instead a warrior, a kshatriya, a knight. The soap opera, The Young and The Restless, very popular in France, features a businessman, Victor Newman, cultivating a warlike-individualist, Nietzschean morality, in the puritanical and sententious environment of Protestant America. It cannot be denied that the “will to power,” when understood as the simple fact of aspiring to hegemony in society, is common to bourgeois, proletarians, warriors, and magicians. Friedrich Nietzsche points to that when he – rightly – writes that “the oppressed, the lowly, the great masses of slaves and semi-slaves desire power.”

On the other hand, the “will to power,” when understood as the fact of aspiring (and being able) to harmonize the inner chaos of instincts and to display courage (before the risk of death) and high, flexible intelligence (in military tactic and in seduction) is unique to aristocrats and magicians – and to those of “bourgeois” who have an individualist-warlike soul. Not less rightly, Nietzsche deplores that “one stigmatizes with the most insulting names the great virtuoso of life (whose sovereignty of oneself constitutes the most marked contrast with the vicious and the debauchee). Even today it is thought necessary to disapprove a Caesar Borgia – that is laughable. The Church excommunicated German emperors because of their vices, as if any monk or priest could afford to discuss all that a Frederick II has the right to demand of himself. A Don Juan is sent to hell – it is naive. Has one noticed that all the interesting men are missing in Heaven?”

The hegemony of merchants in contemporary Western society necessarily means the hegemony of a class whose will to power cannot be denied when taken in its first sense; but who lack manliness, courage, temperance, and a creative, independent mindset – in short, the will to power taken in its second sense.

In a fundamentally industrious society, the primacy of economy over war (what is constitutive of such type of society) does not necessarily imply that a strictly utilitarian way of life (i.e., unconcerned as much with the concern for meditating on the mystery of existence as with the idea of dying for someone or something) predominates. That primacy does not necessarily imply, either, that the instincts of homo sapiens are unleashed – and that man regresses to the “animal stage.”

When the productive function becomes predominant, it necessarily follows that a way of life impervious to the warlike-individualist ethos (i.e., the ethos of rendering oneself glorious and eternal through the execution of exploits – and compromising one’s material subsistence in the name of immortality) becomes predominant. It does not necessary follow that a way of life strictly utilitarian becomes predominant – and that the practice of war or meditation on Heideggerian Being disappears (or gets marginalized).

Besides, the economic instinct (i.e., the instinct that leads us to seize peaceful opportunities of trade and of production) is, indeed, necessarily solicited as the productive function, and which becomes hegemonic; but it is then solicited against the natural prevalence of our aggressive (i.e., territorial and domineering, adventurous and identity-minded) instincts. Hence it is a properly counter-instinctual way of life which is finally solicited – the human animal privileging spontaneously, instinctually, naturally the satisfaction of his aggressive instinctual inclinations (for dominance and territory, identity and adventure) rather than the satisfaction of his instinctual inclination for economic cooperation. Those are the true necessary symptoms of the hegemony necessarily acquired by the productive function in a fundamentally industrious society.

It is to the anthropologist and philosopher Robert Ardrey that we owe the remarkable elucidation of man’s priority, his instinctual needs: territory and domination, but also identity (i.e., knowing and proving who we are, experimenting with, and seeing recognized, the uniqueness of our personality) and adventure (i.e., leading an exhilarating, meaningful life). It is true that those aggressive instincts very largely dictate our consumption choices – for the good reason that in the enjoyment of material goods itself, aggressiveness (i.e., the concern for identity, territory, domination, and adventure) naturally matters more than material subsistence (i.e., housing, clothing, food, health, financial security).

It is true that Promethean growth (i.e., based on the domestication of nature through coal and nuclear industries) and modern capitalism (i.e., capitalism of the entrepreneurial, financialized, digitized, and globalized type) have allowed consumer goods to satisfy the aggressiveness of the masses as never before. Let us think of the social status afforded by the possession of an iPhone alone, or of a luxury watch; or the adventure offered by an opus of the video-game saga, The Legend of Zelda. The fact still remains that as such, economic life – and a fortiori consumption – can only, in an imperfect, diverted manner, satisfy the aggressive instincts of man; and that those instincts (i.e., territory and domination, adventure and identity) actually are thwarted, not fulfilled, as economy becomes ascendant in the scale of values.

Besides, the hegemony of the productive function with regard to war does not only imply that on the battlefield, the warlike-individualist ethos (which does not fail to surface occasionally among soldiers) is scorned. The primacy of economy implies that the warlike-individualist ethos is despised in the realm of war, literally; but also in the field of economics, and in these softened and derivative forms of war that are entrepreneurial or financial competition (not to mention intellectual, cognitive competition).

A society that has become completely hostile to heroism does not praise more the business kshatriya than it admires and protects the John Rambo-style soldier, i.e., those of soldier who lives according to a warlike-individualist ethos. From the soldier, such society expects that he be ready to die for the homeland (instead of pursuing immortalizing exploit and looking for the thrill of blood and adventure); and from the entrepreneur, that he simply make profits (instead of “dreaming” himself as heir to Alexander the Great).

The social contempt for military, economic, and intellectual heroism necessarily characterizes the productive function’s hegemony; and that contempt culminates in the importance taken by diplomas in contemporary Western society. The culture of the diploma indeed ensures the access of devirilized individuals to key positions in companies, governments, universities, and armies. Basically, the culture of the diploma has enshrined the spiritual and moral hegemony of the vaishya over the kshatriya and the brahmin.

Some people welcome the decline in violence that – despite the Terror and the Great War – accompanied the rise of the bourgeoisie and the break with the Indo-European tradition. The pacification of Western society would be a marvelous gift of the bourgeoisie to the world. Yet the consubstantial violence of traditional Indo-European societies was a sign of their virility – the sign that the circulation of warlike elites was ongoing and that the military struggle for social, juridical preeminence was doing well. The gradual pacification of the white world after coming out of the Renaissance should not be interpreted as progress in every respect. The decline in intra-Western violence necessarily implies the decline in the virility of the world’s elites – as it necessarily implies the pullback of those traditional ways of ascent that are war and the Florentine virtù. It necessarily implies the prevalence of the diploma and entrepreneurship among the processes of selection of elites. As the circulation of elites is pacified, the selected elites emerge more and more emasculated and less and less heroic – to our greatest misfortune before the invaders from Africa and the Middle East. When it is not simply humanitarian cowardice that motivates the elites of Western nations to let terrorists and non-indigenous settlers prosper with impunity on Western soil, they behave as emissaries of the world superclass: for which the “great replacement” of the Western man is a clearly established goal.

Towards A New National-Liberalism: Territorial-Aristocratic Liberalism

But can one conceive a nationalism that combines the ideal of free enterprise and of an extended division of labor with the warlike-sacerdotal order on which Tradition is built? We will try to show that, yes, such a nationalism is conceivable; and we will outline the contours of that radically new doctrine.

But first, we must specify that we must use the distinction of Julius Evola, that of between an aristocratic nationalism (based on the warlike-sacerdotal aristocracy and on a heroic, supernatural conception of existence) and a plebeian nationalism (based on equality and materialism). Within national-liberalism, we believe that the same distinction shows itself, between a national-liberalism of the plebeian kind (that of the French Revolution), and a national-liberalism of the aristocratic kind – the one we defend and which is biding its time. The common category of national-socialism allows subsuming Stalinian and Maoist nationalisms as well as Hitlerian and Mussolinian nationalisms – and national-socialism itself only comes as a modality of plebeian nationalism.

In its new, aristocratic version, national-liberalism approves the prosperity and the “recognition” of merchants, while rejecting their juridico-political and moral hegemony. It rejects the enfeoffment of the warlike function to the productive and reproductive function; and intends to restore the twin primacy of warlike and sacerdotal values in society, as well as the juridical hegemony of magicians and warriors. In addition, it defends property right and modern capitalism, i.e., capitalism of the entrepreneurial, globalized, financialized, and “digitized” kind. It intends to preserve the organizational and axiological features of Indo-European tradition in the context of modern capitalism.

Such nationalism rejects any type of egalitarianism – including the universality of law, which serves, let us recall, as the fundamental value of liberalism. To the extent that such nationalism affirms its attachment to free enterprise and the extended division of labor, and recognizes the true value of the coordinating role of the entrepreneur (who adjusts the division of labor in an optimal direction in view of people’s expectations, in terms of consumption and investment), it is all the same allowed to regard that doctrine as a modality of liberalism – a borderline case of liberalism.

Since this version of liberalism defends the nation, therefore the natural, spontaneous aspiration of our territorial instinct, and defends the juridical, moral hierarchy constitutive of Indo-European tradition, therefore the warrior-sacerdotal aristocracy and the spontaneous, natural aspirations of our domineering, adventurous, and identity-minded instincts, it is permissible to baptize that doctrine, as “territorial-aristocratic liberalism.” It may also be called a “territorial, aristocratic monarchy,” embracing some of the liberal values – those retained values, i.e., private property, free enterprise, and the extended division of labor, finding themselves counterbalanced with the twin primacy of vales that are sacerdotal (i.e., magic and esotericism) and warlike-individualist (i.e., the pursuit of eternal, individual glory on the battlefield at the expense of material subsistence).

While the national-liberalism of 1789 combines the ideal of free enterprise with the rejection of intermediate castes (between the state and the individual), and with a materialistic, egalitarian conception of human existence (i.e., a conception which rejects the supernatural ends and that jointly devalues the magus and the warrior for the benefit of the merchant), territorial-aristocratic liberalism simultaneously preaches free enterprise and the return to Indo-European intermediate castes and to the Indo-European system of values. Far from denying race, the national-liberalism of 1789 recognizes the bonds of blood on which the nation is built.

More precisely, it rejects the distinctions of rank within the nation – and thus rejects caste consciousness for the benefit of mere race consciousness. That state of mind culminates into the “racism” of 1789 towards warlike nobility, who sees itself conveniently likened to a foreign race. For its part, territorial-aristocratic liberalism advocates race consciousness, but also caste consciousness and the restoration of sacerdotal, warlike nobility. Nevertheless, it remains attached – like the national-liberalism of 1789 – to free enterprise and the extended division of labor. Besides, it denounces hard ecologism and promotes Promethean growth, i.e., the kind of growth that does not rest on the extension of the division of labor, but on the emancipation of human productive powers (through the exploitation of fossil, nuclear energies) with respect to the cycles of nature.

Man, as territorial-aristocratic liberalism envisions him, is not that puppet of the theory of a David Hume, a John Locke, or a Murray Rothbard, who strictly pursues his private interest (what, in their theoretical framework, insidiously boils down to the requirements of material subsistence), while deliberately and calmly cooperating with others in the framework of an extended social division of labor, protected by universal rules of law.

But man, as territorial-aristocratic liberalism envisions him, is fundamentally aggressive. First and foremost, he is territorial and domineering, adventurous and identity-minded, rather than concerned with his comfort and his material subsistence. Besides, this new liberalism sees man, not as a rational agent whose determination of goals – and whose choice (and use) of means – are deliberate at every moment, but as an agent most often acting (i.e., determining goals and choosing and using means) under the effect of uncontrolled impulsions with an emotional, “residual” origin – and only giving a deceptive appearance of rationality to his actions through “derivations.”

Territorial-aristocratic liberalism nonetheless envisions (and praises) the magician, the aristocrat, and the warlike-individualist entrepreneurial type as those minority anthropological types actually capable of rationality and self-mastery. It accordingly subscribes to Éliphas Lévi’s statement that “free men are to rule the slaves, and the slaves are called to liberate themselves; not of the government of free men, but of that servitude of brutal passions, which condemns them not to exist without masters.”

Therefore, territorial-aristocratic liberalism cannot hold society for that “spontaneous order” dear to Friedrich A. von Hayek. That murky expression actually refers to a materialist, juridically egalitarian order, in which the struggle for the juridical rank is eclipsed for the benefit of sole economic, academic competition, and in which the aristocratic cultivation of a warlike-individualist ethos is eclipsed for the benefit of the bourgeois prioritizing of material subsistence – and the bourgeois mocking of supernatural values.

Society, as envisaged by the new liberalism, is necessarily organized around a pecking order, a hierarchy of castes (be it a hierarchy which ignores the intermediate ranks), and never around universal rules of law. But while rejecting formal egalitarianism, i.e., the universality of the rules of law, territorial-aristocratic liberalism does not accept castes without social mobility, i.e., without a system of competition for status. Besides, it intends to preserve the identity of the peoples, as it does not forget that a relative genetic and cultural homogeneity, as well as a common territory, are an integral part of the social link, and that one cannot boil down everything to the division of labor and commerce.

If so many anarcho-capitalists indulge in “multiculturalism,” it seems that it is due to the fact that conversely, they represent to themselves the division of labor as the cement of society – and that they consider that genetic and cultural proximity plays a secondary, or even insignificant, role in socialization processes. Besides, they deny the territorial instinct. They therefore imagine that all sorts of heterogeneous races and cultures can cohabit peacefully within the division of labor established on a given space.

Let us talk about the state. Its vocation in territorial-aristocratic liberalism is not to guarantee an egalitarian right (i.e., universal freedom), nor is it to administer economy or to redistribute incomes. The state, as territorial-aristocratic liberalism deems it, comes as the guardian of a hierarchy of castes nonetheless opened to social mobility. That hierarchy subordinates (on a juridico-political level) merchants to warriors and magi, while warriors and the political sovereign (unless he himself stems from the sacerdotal caste) are spiritually subordinated to the magi.

Thus, the state brings form and harmony, “a differentiated and hierarchical order of dignities” (according to the formula of Julius Evola), to a preexisting multitude, who proves relatively homogeneous at a genetic and cultural level. Thus, too, the state puts into practice the two laws (dear to Robert Ardrey) that life in society renders necessary in all vertebrate species, namely, the inequality of socio-juridical statuses (for the benefit of the juridico-political domination of the “alphas” that are warriors and magicians), and the opened competition for status – instead of an automatically hereditary perpetuation of socio-juridical ranks.

Further, territorial-aristocratic liberalism is fully open to consumerism and technological innovations. It envisions the cosmos as an active entity, striving relentlessly towards order and complexity – and the human being as a catalyst for cosmic creation. It believes that the cosmos mandates man to perpetuate and multiply the creative gesture of nature – notably through the accumulation of capital and through the cheap provision of qualitatively new goods and services for the masses. (On that point, it is worth specifying that territorial-aristocratic liberalism positively assesses the influence of Judaism on the Indo-European mind. More precisely, the influence of the Judaic conceptions of time as linear; the state authority as profane; and man as jointly expected to prolong the divine creation and to subdue to the legal, natural order that Yahweh established. We will come back to that subject elsewhere).

Territorial-aristocratic liberalism considers that a nation can prove both “consumerist” (in the sense that it pursues the enjoyment of consumer goods) and faithful to Indo-European tradition – i.e., as cultivator of virile, supernatural values, while maintaining the connection with the spiritual realm. As it defends traditional, pagan heroism (against the parody that is sacrificial “heroism”), it also envisions heroism as a contingent attribute of the productive function – and not only as a necessary attribute of the warlike function. It believes that it may from time to time bring forth an entrepreneur who possesses a warrior-individualist spirit. Not content with praising the men who build a commercial or financial empire, it promotes the enthronement of the great samurais of finance and the great captains of industry among the ranks of the warlike ruling caste.

Further Qualifications Of Territorial-Aristocratic Liberalism

In the end, our liberalism is archeofuturist, in the sense that it conciliates warlike society and consumer society, with hegemony of the magus and prosperity of the merchant. With the overthrow of the Indo-European triad, the magus has lost his spiritual authority for the benefit of the bourgeois. The moral authority henceforth lies with the bourgeoisie, who seek professional advice from the magus, i.e., solicits his gifts of clairvoyance for the smooth running of business.

Our liberalism, which re-engages with the spiritual, suprasensible order and breaks with bourgeois materialism, is a liberalism of the Indo-European tradition. It intends to restore the traditional juridico-political order, which enshrines the spiritual primacy of the magus over the warrior and the producer – and sets up the juridical primacy of the magus and the warrior over the producer.

Our liberalism also prohibits itself from intervening in the choices of individuals with regard to pensions and health care, with the sole exception of exceptional prophylactic measures to be taken in the case of a serious pandemic. Besides, it believes that education must respond to warlike and aristocratic values.

Some additional clarifications deserve to be brought out about globalization. The inequalities of law associated with society prior to 1789 amounted to exceptional laws for the benefit of the warlike and sacerdotal nobility, which existed within nations and sustained links of solidarity beyond nations. The contemporary inequalities of law amount to exceptional laws for the benefit of the bourgeoisie (who has taken control of governments through the dissipation of intermediate rank inequalities); but also, for the benefit of a small number of companies and banks, whose executives compose what has been judiciously called a world superclass, i.e., a class that sits above the nations.

It would be wrong, however, to conceive of those inequalities of law (for the benefit of the world superclass) as consubstantial with the phenomenon of globalization. The grip of the world superclass comes as an accidental feature of the globalization as we live it – and not its necessary visage. Territorial-aristocratic liberalism intends to restore the traditional inequalities of law and to couple them to globalization. It is not a question of restoring those inequalities against globalization.

Quite often, the denunciation of “globalism” and of the “reign of merchants” proceeds from the vilest petit-bourgeois resentment. Behind the moralizing speeches against Starbucks, KFC, Volkswagen, Sony, Amazon, or Apple, one can guess the second-class entrepreneur, jealous of the power of multinationals. Multinationals actually do represent a danger – for the nation’s biocultural preservation – so long as they behave as agents of influence for cosmopolitanism. But they are by no means harmful (from that angle) in the cold pursuit of their economic interests. It is sound, and even imperative, to counter the cosmopolitan lobbying of multinationals. It is insane to denounce the strategy of multinationals to apportion activities on a global scale.

Specializing the regions of the world according to the comparative advantages does not harm, but benefits, the prosperity of nations. Far from deploring the power of multinationals, territorial-aristocratic liberalism knows that the power of a nation implies a hegemony that is economic not less than military and cultural. It is hardy outrageous that the firms, an ambitious nation gives birth to, conquer an international market, implement subsidiaries around the world, and grant favors from foreign governments.

Concerning protectionism, territorial-aristocratic liberalism recognizes that the facilitation of trade between nations, which amounts to facilitating the extension of the division of labor (across borders), as well as the coordination of the division of labor (via the entrepreneurial reallocation of capital across borders), necessarily benefits consumers. It recognizes that the advantaged situation of the consumer means the mutual enrichment of nations engaged in free trade. Nevertheless, it knows that it is not true that such mutual enrichment implies that the gains of free trade are also mutual on a geopolitical level.

If openness to free trade allows the enterprises of a foreign nation to gain the upper hand over the enterprises of the nation adopting free trade, or the foreign labor force to replace the labor force of that same nation, then there is actually a balance of power which is established. Free trade is always a positive-sum game from the point of view of consumer enrichment; it is very often a zero-sum game from the point of view of the hegemony of the nation.

A wise government must seek the right balance between free trade and protectionism. It must ensure the enrichment of the consumer without losing sight of economic hegemony. It is quite legitimate to quote the wording of Voltaire. “To be a good patriot is to wish that one’s own community should enrich itself by trade and acquire power by arms; it is obvious that a country cannot profit but at the expense of another and that it cannot conquer without inflicting harm on other people.”

A word on currency. Applying the teachings of the Austrian School of Economics, territorial-aristocratic liberalism abstains from entrusting the monopoly of the issuance of money to a single organ, such as, the central bank in its present sense. It ensures the free competition and circulation of currencies in a strict concern for respect for property right. It can nonetheless entitle the state to ban the currencies disrespectful of private property, which unveil purchasing power, distort the production structure, and generate shortsighted behaviors. It can also entitle the state to approve the currencies allowed to circulate, without the state being entitled to intervene in the process of production, exchange, and circulation.

Territorial-aristocratic liberalism favors any currency likely to clarify in the mind of the nation that money – by reason of its character as a means of exchange and as a store of value – coordinates production, exchange, and the temporal preferences of individuals; and that it must obey, accordingly, a principle of relative rarity and of very high quality. The practice of the fractional reserve by the banking institutions will be prohibited. Banking regulations will be abolished to return to commercial law and to private law in the strictest respect for private property. Counterfeiting will be severely punished by law.

Finally, it is worth noting that our reform of liberalism joins a dual affirmation towards which the conception of socialism in Édouard Berth and Georges Sorel tended imperfectly – namely, the affirmation that the class struggle between bourgeois and proletarians, within the framework of entrepreneurial capitalism, instead of being overcome, must be preserved indefinitely (and ensure the regular sanitation of the bourgeois elite); and that the degree of kinship of the virtues required in economy and war, while it reaches a certain height in a certain relation to the labor of workers, is nevertheless brought to its pinnacle within the strict framework of a certain entrepreneurial practice. That in which, according to Sorel’s statement, come together “the indomitable energy, the audacity based upon an accurate appreciation of its strength, the cold calculation of interests, which are the qualities of great generals and great capitalists.”

As such, to borrow Berth’s wording, our liberalism comes as a “philosophy of producers” rather than as a salon culture dear to Marxist or anarcho-capitalist bourgeois. Both material and formal equality, both central planning (and the removal of capital goods from the market) and the abolition of “violence” come as mirages that only intellectuals, disconnected from production or from war, can take seriously.

Our wish for the working class is not the advent of a classless society (as though it were based on the right to property as the Proudhonists dream of), but rather the workers’ conquest of economic hegemony in the capitalist entrepreneurial order. And that, either through the construction of self-managed companies, taking the upper hand in catallactic competition, or through the interference of former workers in the ranks of the bourgeoisie, thus seizing power of the fin de race elements and expelling them from a healthily regenerated bourgeois class.

Conclusion

The enterprise of subversion of the city, which began with the overthrow of the Indo-European tradition (for the benefit of the advent of the bourgeois industrious society), finds its apogee in contemporary cosmopolitanism. Classical liberalism has genuinely encouraged that cosmopolitanism, while the bourgeois takeover has accompanied the implementation of the ideals of 1789. Saving the Indo-European identity of the West is through edifying a new national-liberalism, one which is not limited to defending the nation against cosmopolitanism – but that, besides, reconciles free enterprise and the extended division of labor, as well as “Promethean growth,” with the defense of the traditional nation, its warlike and sacerdotal order, against bourgeois society and against the modern nation. The work ahead is heroic.

Grégoire Canlorbe is an independent scholar, based in Paris. Besides conducting a series of academic interviews with social scientists, physicists, and cultural figures, he has authored a number of metapolitical and philosophical articles. He also worked on a (currently finalized) conversation book with the philosopher, Howard Bloom. See his website: gregoirecanlorbe.com.

The featured image shows, “Battle between the Scythians and the Slavs,” by Viktor Vasnetsov, painted in 1881.

Fatal Flaws In Marxism

Marxian thought has at least an economic component and an ontological one. I would like to address the topic of exploitation in Marxian economics, and in Marxian ontology I will examine the driving role of contradiction in human cultural evolution, the emerging forms of matter, and the reification within commodities.

The Marxian Theory Of Exploitation: An Assessment Of The Austrian Response

The Marxian conception of exploitation in capitalism conceives of the latter as the appropriation – within entrepreneurial profit – of a non-remunerated portion of the wage-earner’s daily working time.

The Austrian response to the Marxian conception notably consisted of highlighting the complementarity of the respective temporal preferences on the part of workers (preferring a smaller but quicker remuneration over a more tardy but greater one) and entrepreneurial capitalists (preferring the latter over the former). It also consisted of underlining the role of adjustment which operates freely determined equilibrium prices (via occasioned losses and profits). Friedrich A. von Hayek points to this when he speaks of Karl Marx’s alleged inability to apprehend “the signal-function of prices through which people [including entrepreneurs] are informed what they ought to do” by reason of “his labor theory of value” – namely, Marx’s theory that selling prices, at least in the long run, are fixed by production costs – and the alleged objective value of goods by the incorporated quantity of abstract labor.

It turns out that neither the complementarity of temporal preferences nor the adjustment role of equilibrium prices (in the direction of the long-run equilibrium, in which each factor finds itself to be optimally allocated) are actually inconsistent with the Marxian conception of exploitation.

The Marxian argument can be put as follows. Like any commodity, labor power is sold (at least in the context of the long-term equilibrium, i.e., the equilibrium in the presence of a completed, henceforth optimal allocation of capital) at its cost of production – therefore the employee’s living cost. In the long-run equilibrium, the entrepreneurial profit strictly appropriates the remuneration of the margin between the employee’s total working time and the working time strictly required to cover the employee’s living costs.

That said, when the economy, in the long run, does not find equilibrium, then salary and entrepreneurial profit will both oscillate around a level strictly equal to the production cost. Hans Hermann Hoppe’s answer (inspired by Eugen Richter von Böhm-Bawerk) can be put as follows. According to Hoppe, Marx’s analysis does note that the selling price of any produced good is (at least when demand is properly anticipated) greater than the wages paid to the workers involved in the production of that good. Therefore, the paid wages only cover the purchase of goods requiring fewer hours of work than those goods the wage-earners help to manufacture. Yet there is a complementarity of time preferences between the employee (who prefers a lower and faster remuneration to one more delayed and higher) and the entrepreneur (who prefers the latter to the former). It follows the selling price’s superiority, besides allowing for entrepreneurial remuneration higher than the wage bill, and supposes convergent interests in the wage earner and the entrepreneur.

Actually, Marx’s argument turns out to be misunderstood by Hoppe – and rigorously unaffected by the complementary of time he invokes. The exploitation phenomenon Marx describes does not lie in the difference between immediate salaries and postponed entrepreneurial remunerations, which is only a symptom of the aforesaid exploitation. Instead, exploitation lies in the furnishing of a salary which, instead of covering the whole daily working time (as it formally seems to do), strictly remunerates the working hours needed to cover the workforce’s subsistence costs. Marx believes incomplete remuneration to be at the origin of the subsistence – in the long-run equilibrium – of the margin between the selling price of goods and the remuneration of production factors, said margin allowing entrepreneurs to grant themselves a remuneration greater than the distributed wages.

As for the coordination of production factors, Marx fully recognizes adjustment spurred by short-run fluctuations in the rate of entrepreneurial profit (above and below its long-run level, strictly corresponding to unpaid, surplus labor time), and by the concomitant gradual equalization between production costs and the selling price of commodities – including labor power, whose remuneration is thus rendered equal to its subsistence costs in the long run. Not only does the labor theory of value (such as understood by Marx and before him David Ricardo) claim the fixation of selling prices by production costs to occur only in the context of long-run equilibrium, but the labor theory of value itself does not occupy the center of Marx’s political economy. The latter is in fact articulated around the notion of commodity fetishism, as pointed out by Soviet Marxian economist Isaak Illich Rubin.

The Flaws Of The Marxian Theory Of Exploitation

Despite the flaws of the Austrian criticism, Marx’s approach to exploitation remains wrong. Let us start with recalling the notion of “abstract working time” in Marxian economics – abstract working time boils down to working time conceived independently of the physical or mental effort associated with the considered task. Even assuming the alleged correspondence between abstract working time and (the long-term level of) exchange value, i.e., selling price, the Marxian elucidation of entrepreneurial profit as the margin (between the exchange value of a given good and the remuneration of the involved production factors) allowed by the payment to the workforce of a wage limited to strictly covering the aforesaid workforce’s subsistence costs is quite unsatisfactory.

The argument Marx invokes is that the exchange value of all goods (including manpower) revolves around a long-term level, strictly equivalent to the exchange value of the incorporated abstract working time – and therefore strictly equivalent to the production costs of the aforesaid goods, which in turn means the workforce’s subsistence costs in the case of manpower.

Hence – according to Marx – wages granted in the long-run equilibrium actually leave unpaid an entire section of the daily work-time of wage-earners. The equalization (in the long-run equilibrium) between the workforce’s subsistence costs and the workforce’s remuneration does not imply that the actual work-time on the part of a wage earner is partially remunerated.

Rather, it implies that in the long-term equilibrium, the one established once the allocation of capital in the various branches of industry – given a certain state of economic conditions, from preferences on the part of consumers and investors to technology and demography – has reached its completion, the correct, total remuneration for a wage earner’s complete performance is then fixed at a subsistence level.

It also implies entrepreneurial income is nullified at the long-term equilibrium, in which there is nothing left for the entrepreneur, once the factors of production have been wholly remunerated. Therefore, entrepreneurial profit can only exist within the framework of the process of capital allocation – with the aforesaid profit remunerating the speed (and the accuracy) of the allocation of production factors in anticipation of jointly mobile and uncertain demand. Austrian economics, especially Mises and Kirzner, extensively deals with the process through which the entrepreneur – when earning profit – adjusts the daily-generated equilibrium prices in the direction of the long-run equilibrium, in which the allocation of production factors is henceforth achieved and optimized, and in which each selling price is henceforth equal to the production costs.

The Austrian approach to equilibrium prices (and therefore the law of supply and demand) and their gradual entrepreneurial adjustment is sometimes praised for its purported realism. Yet the law of supply and demand, such as understood in Austrian economics (but also in neoclassicism), is hardly realistic. It claims, indeed, that any subjectively homogeneous product is sold at a unique price that happens to coincide with the intersection of supply and demand curves. But such claims make sense only in the framework of an auction market in which, indeed, an auctioneer may gather the different supply and demand propositions and determine the equilibrium price.

Besides, the Austrian conception of entrepreneurship applies only in the case of those of profit opportunities which are preexisting (and more or less manifested), while a number of entrepreneurs in the real world do not earn a profit through adjusting (towards the long-run equilibrium) the allocation of capital on the basis of preexistent profit opportunities, but through inventing new profit opportunities. In other words – that which results in the apparition of a new long-run direction for the economy, i.e., the breaking of the previously scheduled long-run equilibrium for the benefit of the economy’s re-direction towards a new long-run equilibrium.

A Word About The Partnership Of Opposites In Cosmic Evolution

Marxian thought is also ontological (besides its economic, political considerations). Marxian ontology stresses the driving role of contradiction in human cultural evolution – more precisely, the evolution of the emergent forms of matter in successive human cultures. Before looking more closely at the Marxian approach to contradiction in human evolution, let us turn to an example of the partnership between opposites in the cosmos. In addition to his unfortunate exclusively determinist view of human history, Marx precisely failed to notice the harmonious, collaborative character of opposites in the course of human cultural evolution – a harmonious character that at times accompanies conflictual character.

The concept of communication, generally defined in terms of consciousness, is an eminent example of a notion whose definition must be updated in view of a sharper distinction between those qualities of its object – the particular genre of things it subsumes – which are necessary, and those which are contingent. Conscious communication only comes as a modality of communication, so that the conscious character of a given conscious communication in the cosmos comes as a contingent (rather than necessary and constitutive) character of the genre of things called communication.

Communication should be redefined, consequently, as the interaction between two signals: the first acting as a stimulus; and the second providing a response which depends on its interpretation of the aforesaid stimulus. It is really the prerogative neither of humans nor even of animals endowed with consciousness. Like war, love, hierarchy, and sociability, communication preceded consciousness and a fortiori homo sapiens in the order of the universe. It was even prior to the point where the behavior of the Big Bang’s progeny, the elementary particles, was already (and has remained to this day) the behavior of communication.

Throughout the cosmos, individual and collective entities are communicating with each other by means of words, chemical signals, or gravitational force – and communicating according to patterns of opposition (integration and differentiation, fusion and fission, or attraction and repulsion), whose iteration pursues itself at each level of emergence. Let us take the very first entrepreneurs of the cosmos – namely the quarks (of which there happens to be six varieties) – communication – via the phenomenon known as “strong force” or “strong interaction” – between two quarks-entrepreneurs, which are of the same variety, will be a communication of their mutual repulsion.

Nevertheless, the communication between two quarks which are exactly different in the right way will be one of mutual attraction – and one of their attraction towards an additional quark which is of the type suitable for mounting the proton start-up (composed of two quarks “up” and one quark “down”), or the neutron start-up (composed of two quarks “down” and one quark “up”).

The Flaws Of Marxian Ontology – The Approach To Contradiction And Matter

Heraclitus understood the collaborative character of opposites. He nonetheless failed to grasp the perpetually declined (as well as complexified) character of their partnership – and the evolving character of the cosmos (including human societies).

Marxian ontology certainly has the merit of stressing the role of contradiction in the becoming of the forms which matter acquires in the world of humans – especially the industrial organization of the mineral or human material, as well as the ideology and the law structuring a human society. Nevertheless, it erroneously deals with the evolutionary process in question – and with the driving role of contradiction in the latter.

First, there is its denial of the informing action (and the existence) of the archetypal, supra-sensible forms. Second is its retention of only the passive ideological and legal “superstructures” of the sort of matter which happens to reside in the “relations of production,” which themselves serve as the passive organization that emerges from other sorts of matter that are the technological resources available at a given time.

What is more, Marxian ontology, thus delivering an incomplete understanding of the material foundations for law and ideology, reduces the aforesaid foundations to technology and to the “relations of production.” This renders Marxism entirely ignorant of the truly biological component of the material backing of ideologies and legal systems – that is, the set of genetic dispositions shaped and selected over the course of human biological evolution in groups and individuals.

As for contradiction in the process of human evolution, Marxian ontology exclusively conceives of it as a tearing apart whose particular version (characteristic of a particular time of human history) calls for its resolution through the “leap” (to quote Lenin) to a superior bearing of human history, the course of which is, besides, seen as rigorously determined – and thus seen as being spurred – through the successive resolution of the different encountered cases of contradiction – towards a prefixed final stage of human history.

Instead, contradiction should be envisioned as a harmonious (though sometimes it can be simultaneously tearing) partnership, between opposites, which perpetually manifests itself in various modes over the course of the wholly improvised process of human (and even cosmic) evolution.

Such misunderstanding in Marxian ontology is all the more devastating as the aforesaid ontology envisages the interindividual or intergroup conflict as rooted in economic life alone – and as fated to disappear through a purportedly inevitable return to primitive communism, while, nonetheless, conserving advanced technology.

Interclass struggle can no longer simply be reduced to a struggle that involves properly economic classes, technology; and the relations of production cannot be envisioned as the sole and necessary origin of ideologies. Thus, a given ideology does not necessarily accompany a given economic system – so that, for instance, capitalism of the globalized and digitized type is not necessarily accompanied by a cosmopolitan ideology (in the sense of moral relativism and universal leveling).

What is more, their perceived economic interests – instead of idealistic considerations or their perceived ethnic interests – do not serve as the only and necessary motives on the part of the dominant economic classes, for promoting the particular ideologies whose standard bearers they pretend to be. The fact is class struggle does not necessarily occur between economic classes and for economic motives – instead it comes as a derived form of the “struggle for life,” and likely to engage all kinds of classes and motives.

This point was remarkably raised in Vilfredo Pareto’s The Socialist Systems: “The class struggle is only one form of the struggle for life, and what is called ‘the conflict between labor and capital’ is only one form of the class struggle. In the middle ages, one could have thought that if religious conflicts disappeared, society would have been pacified. Those religious conflicts were only one form of the class struggle; they have disappeared, at least in part, and have been replaced by socialist conflicts.

Suppose that collectivism is established, suppose that “capitalism” no longer exists, it is clear that then it will no longer be in conflict with labor; but it will be only one form of the class struggle which will have disappeared, others will replace them. Conflicts will arise between the different kinds of workers in the socialist state, between “intellectuals” and “non-intellectuals,” between different kinds of politicians, between them and their citizens, between innovators and conservatives.”

The Flaws Of Marxian Ontology – The Approach To Commodity

In addition to excessive Marxian emphasis on economy when it comes to the backing of superstructures and the background of conflict, a word deserves to be said about the Marxian definition of merchandise. The latter retains (as necessary, constitutive characteristics of the merchandise genre) use-value and exchange-value, as well as the above-mentioned “fetish” character. This amounts to retaining the outlet for the purpose of offering goods for sale, where matter is the aforesaid merchandise – which, in the Marxian approach, sees itself notably assimilated to the “concrete” and “abstract” work incorporated in the manufacture of the aforesaid merchandise. Finally, its form, which is exclusively perceived as the reification of the relations of production.

Such conception notably commits the error of omitting the commodity’s efficient, external cause – namely the entrepreneurial expectations on the course of the demand for consumption or investment. Those expectations then become the only effective, rational aspect of economic calculation, which means that economic calculation is simply impracticable in the absence of the private ownership of capital – and the central planning Marx praises and prophesizes is necessarily dysfunctional and irrational.

Marxism also commits the error of developing a simplistic approach to the form of merchandise, which really consists of a reification above all of the immaterial capital of fantasy – the stock of dreams and legends which inspires the economic not less than cognitive development in humans.

Conclusion – And A Word On Herbert Spencer

The Marxian approach to exploitation in capitalism is flawed in that it misunderstands the alleged equalization (in long-term equilibrium) between subsistence cost and earned wage, as leaving unpaid a whole portion of the work-time. Instead, such equalization implies the work-time’s properly correct and total remuneration strictly equates a subsistence level in the long-run equilibrium. Thus, entrepreneurial profit does not exist outside the allocation of capital goods; it is not rooted in exploitation – but into the speed (and the accuracy) of anticipations before an uncertain, mobile demand.

As for the Marxian approach to the emerging forms of matter in human evolution, it neglects, for instance, the biological compartment of the involved matter – and restricts the material foundations of ideology and the law to the economic, technological component. Thus, Marxism believes ideologies come only and necessarily as the “superstructure” of the “relations of production,” themselves the superstructure only and necessarily of technology.

The truth is that a certain ideology or legal system is not necessarily indissociable from a certain economic system (just like a certain economic system is not necessarily indissociable from a certain ideology or legal system). By the way, Marxian ontology fails to notice – among merchandise’s reified components – the presence of the infrastructure of fantasy, thus neglecting the reification of human dreams and restricting itself to just one of the relations of production.

As for the Marxian approach to contradiction in human evolution, it commits the double mistake of restricting intergroup conflict to the struggle between economic classes for economic motives – and restricting contradiction to disharmony and tearing. It also commits the mistake of believing human evolution to be rigorously predetermined – and scheduled to gradually reach its predefined finish line through gradually solving and dissipating the different successive encountered cases of contradiction.

The Spencerian vision of cosmic and human history is materialist (in the sense of denying the ideational, archetypal field) like the Marxian vision of human history. It also has this characteristic in common with its great rival that it underlines the driving role of contradiction – although it conceives of the aforesaid contradiction as a harmonious tension manifesting itself perpetually. Nonetheless, the Spencerian also approach remains flawed.

Herbert Spencer rightly believed that the partnership between differentiation and integration, discerned by Karl Ernst von Baer in the growth of the embryo, to be transposable to the evolution of the cosmos and of humanity. Nevertheless, he made the mistake of considering that collaboration exclusively in the mode of the increase in the division of labor. As if, as the division of labor progressed on the scale of the world, individuals became more and more differentiated in their professions; but also more and more integrated in a humanitarian embryo leveling the nations and dissipating the borders. That faith in the advent of a division of labor. supplanting the nations (and thus war between the nations) to let subsist sole individuals producing and exchanging on the scale of the world, fits very well with Spencer’s anarcho-capitalism.

It fits less well with anthropological and historical reality – namely that, as the economic and military interaction between nations increases, those, far from disappearing (for the benefit of a humanity integrating increasingly uprooted, denationalized individuals), only further differentiate – and only further oppose each other.

Thus, the executed integration comes down to an intensification of the intergroup “struggle for life;” and applies as much to the individuals engaged in the global division of labor, as nations engaged in increasingly integrated military and economic competition.

Grégoire Canlorbe is an independent scholar, based in Paris. Besides conducting a series of academic interviews with social scientists, physicists, and cultural figures, he has authored a number of metapolitical and philosophical articles. His work and interviews often appear in the Postil.

The image shows “Iron and Coal,” by William Bell Scott, painted can 1855-1860.

A Conversation With Pierre Bergé

Pierre Bergé (PB) was born on November 14, 1930, and he passed away on September 8, 2017. He was a French award-winning industrialist and patron. He co-founded the fashion label Yves Saint Laurent, and was a longtime business partner of the designer.

A supporter and personal friend of François Mitterrand, Bergé was often described as a social liberal. Bergé participated in all the campaign rallies of François Mitterrand (except in 1981, when he did not vote for Mitterrand). Bergé later served as President of the Association of the Friends of the Institut François-Mitterrand.

A longtime fan and patron of opera, Mitterrand appointed Bergé president of Opéra Bastille on 31 August 1988. He retired from the post in 1994, becoming honorary president of the Paris National Opera. Bergé was also president of the Comité Jean Cocteau, and the exclusive owner of all the moral rights of all of Jean Cocteau’s works. In 2010, he bought a stake in Le Monde newspaper, along with investors Matthieu Pigasse and Xavier Niel.

Bergé was also the author of several essays devoted to Yves Saint Laurent, as well as to freedom and republican values. He published a book in 2010, Lettres à Yves, which was translated into English as Yves Saint Laurent: A Moroccan Passion, in 2014.

The following conversation with independent scholar Grégoire Canlorbe (GC) was conducted in January 2017, in Paris. It was initially published in French in the March 2017 issue of the French journal, Revue Arguments. The Postil is very pleased to release the first English version of this interview.

GC: “A woman,” writes Yukio Mishima in Forbidden Colors, “is never as exhilarated with happiness as when she discovers desire in the eyes of a man.” As a fine connoisseur of the feminine soul, do you hold this remark as insightful?

PB: This Mishima’s quotation echoes what Yves Saint Laurent said about the beauty of a woman in love. “The most beautiful clothes that can dress a woman are the arms of the man she loves.” Do not think I am bringing everything back to Saint Laurent, I am not so candid! But you will agree that the resemblance of his intuition with that of Mishima is striking. What Saint Laurent had in mind, with this statement, is that a woman does not need clothes to be happy, because the essential lies elsewhere.

You describe me as a fine connoisseur of the feminine soul. This may be true, but I nonetheless think I am more aware of the male soul. As to whether I agree with Mishima, it seems to me that he is somewhat reductive in his statement. I believe that it is every human being who is never so happy as when he discovers sexual attraction or admiration in the eyes of another human being, whether the latter is a man or a woman.

GC: It is not uncommon, among conservative circles, to deplore what they perceive as a pronounced disdain for the military and religious functions – the warrior and the priest – in post-1789 society, while “merchants,” i.e., entrepreneurs and capitalists, are excessively valued in the nation. Would you say that the captains of industry are precisely the warriors of the capitalist era, the samurai of modern times, by virtue of their conquering character, their sense of abnegation, and their competitive spirit?

PB: Georges Clémenceau said, of the French Revolution, it is to take “en bloc.” In other words, if one adheres to the values of the Revolution, one must also accept the bloodbaths that accompanied the promotion of the ideals of 1789; and what the Revolution has brought to the world is too great and too decisive for us to be entitled to deny it in the name of the atrocities committed during the Terror. I regret it obviously, but the Revolution is to be taken in its entirety, with its good and its bad sides.

Your question is interesting. Unfortunately, your idealist portrait of businessmen is far from reality. I am often taken aback when I hear a politician, such as those who present themselves during this campaign period, claiming to be concerned exclusively with the fate of France. The truth is that a politician cares, in the first place, for his own interests – and only secondly for France. But those you call captains of industry, for their part, have no ounce of patriotic consideration. They care so little about the interests of France that they do not hesitate to relocate their production sites or to settle in tax havens.

I may surprise you, but I am not admiring the business company. I remember talking about it with President Mitterrand, who had somewhat let himself be distracted at the end of his first seven-year term. “You would make a mistake,” I told him in essence, “if you thought the company was there to create jobs.” He was visibly intrigued by my remark. “In reality,” I continued, “the company is there to create profits; and the day it can make a profit without creating a job, it does it.” This is all the more true at the moment. Like the assembly line a century ago, the robotization is about to allow the companies to do without a considerable part of manpower; and this is what the company is there for.

The company is there to produce, sell, negotiate, and optimize; and all the rest, I tell you straight away, is bullshit. If you ask big business leaders, you will certainly hear them claiming great principles, such as, the fight against unemployment, the economic influence of France, or its leadership in technological innovation. No doubt they will agree that they are the samurai of modern times. But let them perpetuate the custom of seppuku, if they really want to walk in the footsteps of the samurai of old! I fear very much that you will not find many who have the courage to give themselves a “beautiful death,” or even to renounce some juicy profit, to do honor to France.

GC: Feminist sociologists are generally inclined to denounce all kinds of voluntary female behavior, particularly with regard to sexual preferences or dress habits, on the grounds that these behaviors reflect “symbolic violence” from males. Yet the veil often escapes their warnings, and they even see in it a mark of feminine dignity and resistance to the diktats of male lust. How do you explain this apparent complacency on the part of feminists towards Islam?

PB: Your ascertainment surprises me. It seems to me that it is a minority of feminists, not the majority of them, who make this complacent speech vis-à-vis Islam. You do well, however, to draw attention to the possible straying of today’s feminism. Our society, imbued with gender theory, wants to make women and men equal. But equality is a dreadful word. Men and women are certainly equal before the law; they are not equal in anything else.

We evoked above the Revolution of 1789. As beautiful as the triptych on the pediment of the French Republic is, the choice of the term equality was a regrettable error. The word justice would have suited our motto “freedom, equality, fraternity” better. No human being, male or female, is equal to another, except that everyone has the right to freedom and to the pursuit of happiness. Men and women are certainly unequal; it does not follow that women are inferior to men in dignity and freedom; they are simply different.

My friend Louise de Vilmorin used to say, in essence, that if men and women were not there to perpetuate the human race, if they had no sexual attraction, a woman would walk next to a man like a rabbit next to a hat. Women and men belong to two different worlds. I have many female friends, whom I respect; and I spent my life defending women. But in wanting to make women absolutely equal to men, one ends up preaching total nonsense. The search for parity is one such nonsense. Hiring a woman on the pretext that she is a woman cancels the exercise of judgment on her objective skills, and prevents a sincere appreciation of her work and her talents.

That said, that women are rarely at the level of men in working life, and there are persistent inequalities in treatment. I will not dispute it. After centuries of female oppression by religion and the law, society is marked by old power struggles; and one cannot seriously expect the gap between men and women in business, and elsewhere, to be leveled overnight. There is no denying injustice. But denouncing this state of affairs is not an alibi to promote the egalitarian feminism on which I have just expressed myself.

As concerns, more particularly, the Islamic veil, there is undoubtedly an attempt to standardize the hijab, even the full veil, in our Western lands. I obviously denounce this trend, because I see the Islamic veil for what it is: a perfect instrument of legal and religious oppression, which is out of place in a lawful society. No coherent defender of the freedom and dignity of women can rejoice at the trivialization of this dress custom in public space and in homes.

The contemporary complacency with regard to the Islamic veil takes on a paradoxical allure, when we know to what extent the emancipatory ideals of feminism, indisputably incompatible with traditional Islam, have moreover conquered our era, not without some excesses which I have spoken of above. In your question, you do well to suggest this tension. But it is much less the feminist intellectuals and activists, rather the previously mentioned “merchants,” who advocate a spirit of misguided tolerance. I recently spoke in the media to denounce the “Islamic fashion” that several major clothing brands adopted.

When the sense of priorities is reversed to the point that the spirit of profit prevails over the values of the Republic, one can effectively claim that the City is corrupted by an excessive valuation of the market function. I told you that I do not admire, personally, the business company. I admire art and creation; that’s true. But I hate commerce and marketing. In addition, I have always felt that a fashion designer was there to embellish women, to encourage them on their path of freedom, and not to be the accomplice of misogynistic manners that are hostile to the liberal principles which are theoretically those of Westerners and, in particular, of the French since the Revolution.

GC: “A very common error… consists in believing,” Konrad Lorenz tell us in his 1972 essay, Behind the Mirror, “that feelings of love and respect cannot be associated together… I have the absolute certainty to have never loved and respected a friend more deeply than the undisputed leader of our group of children of Altenberg, four years my elder… Even those of my age whom I would classify… as inferior to me, always had some something in themselves that impressed me and in what I felt them to be superior to me… I don’t think that one can truly love someone whom one looks down on, from all point of view.” In regard to your own experience, do you subscribe to this analysis of love?

PB: All those I have loved in my life were also people I admired. I endorse Konrad Lorenz’s wording: I do not believe either that one can truly love someone that one looks down on, from all points of view. It is true that one can have a very strong sexual attraction towards someone whom one despises. One can even get on remarkably well with him in the bedroom. But if one does not admire him, one may well be subject to his animal charm, sensitive to his dangerous side, but it will not be love – even if this means deluding oneself about the tenor of feelings that one experiences towards him.

I would add that one can love and admire someone who is self-destructing before one’s eyes. It happened to me; and it was with a heavy heart that I had to bring myself to leave Yves Saint Laurent in the 1970s. Addiction is a disease just like cancer or depression. Would you stop admiring and cherishing someone because he has a tumor?

GC: It is not uncommon to hear that a “deregulated” market economy necessarily leads to growing income inequalities which state intervention is fortunately able to correct. Opposed to this first approach is notably that which estimates that, whatever the economic system considered, communism or capitalism, the market economy left to its own devices or accompanied by a redistributive system, the state of affairs is such that 20% of the population holds 80% of the national income. Which of these two opinions do you prefer?

PB: The second option that you evoke seems to me to present what has actually happened so far. All economic systems have experienced a highly unequal distribution of wealth. I do not know whether one should see in it the manifestation of an eternal law of human affairs, inscribed in the natural order of things. But as a man of the Left, I would prefer, of course, that it be possible to correct this tenacious tendency for the majority of national income to be concentrated in the hands of a minority of the population. That said, I am no longer fifteen; and I am no longer under the spell of communist or Proudhonian ideals. I will not tell you, like a François Hollande, that finance is my “enemy.” But I keep being shocked, in the age of globalization, by the indecent distribution of wealth and the dubious practices of certain companies.

GC: Which one, between Putin’s Russia, religiously Orthodox, and militant Islam, do you currently see as the greatest threat to the freedom of women and minorities?

PB: Both seem to me to be dangerous, beyond the shadow of a doubt; but the greatest danger assuredly comes from militant Islam. I am aware that the Orthodox Church is close to power and that the Patriarch of Moscow is making an authoritarian speech on social issues. Even though homosexuality was decriminalized in the aftermath of the fall of the USSR, the government expressly talks about fighting “homosexual propaganda,” in other words, the political and social demands by the LGBT community.

The fact remains that the terrorist acts which strike France and other countries in the world are concretely coming from the Muslim community. It is easy to notice that it is not the Orthodox who provoke a crash, besiege an embassy, assassinate journalists and caricaturists, take hostages in a supermarket, commit assaults in a performance hall, the street or a Christmas market, and enslave men and women.

GC: A fashionable assertion is that Western societies have secularized to the point of giving rise to a spiritual void unprecedented in human history. In the opinion of Vilfredo Pareto, in his 1917 treatise. The Mind and Society, the Christian religion has only given way to the democratic religion.

“The acts of worship of the Christian religion,” he writes, “have diminished among modern civilized peoples, but have been partially replaced by acts of the worship of socialist saints, humanitarian saints, and especially of the worship of the State and of the god, People… The Catholic processions have almost disappeared, but have been replaced by ‘processions’ and by political and social ‘demonstrations’… For many of those who deviate from the Christian religion, Christian enthusiasm has changed to ‘social,’ or ‘humanitarian,’ or ‘patriotic,’ or ‘nationalist’ enthusiasm; there is something for every taste.”

Do you subscribe to Vilfredo Pareto’s iconoclastic thesis, or to the common opinion that we have indeed come out of religion in the West?

PB: This analysis that you cite is perhaps iconoclastic, but it does not hold water. To begin with, it is wrong that the Christian religion is on the decline in the world. We mentioned earlier the Orthodoxy that is rising from the ashes. Furthermore, it is excessive to present democracy as a substitute for the Christian religion. In fact, democracy is simply not a religion. But it is quite true that the leftists regrettably tend to classify all Catholics as reactionary rightists.

I like to say that leftists, to whom the Republic very much owes its existence, have emptied the churches to fill the museums. I totally agree with it. But we certainly have not replaced Catholic worship with socialist worship. It is foolishness to pretend that we would worship a “State god” or a “People god.” The state does have a significant weight in society; and the ambient discourse is indeed articulated around the values of assistantship, secularism and the nation. But none of this has ever taken on nor could have ever taken on a religious character.

I fail to see how Christian practices and beliefs would have diminished on the grounds that democratic institutions were gaining ground. They have certainly decreased, at least in France, but if they have done so, it is certainly not in the context of a competition with the values and customs of the Republic. The reason for this relative decline of Christianity, more particularly Catholicism, is to be found in the obsolete side of its beliefs and practices. After having been in the spotlight for two thousand years, not without the support of force, to the extent that the Church burned heretics, they are simply going out of fashion.

In the end, what has changed with the secular Republic is not that a new official cult has tried to supplant Catholic worship, but that religious affairs have been relegated to the private sphere. This was not the case before. Let us not forget that the Catholic Church has persecuted the Protestant community from which I come. Even if religion now belongs to the intimate sphere, and no longer to the political sphere, the religious beliefs of Catholic citizens have of course an impact on their electoral preferences and on their positions about a given subject in society or a given draft law.

As evidenced by a recent survey, relayed last week by an article in Le Monde, it is however a biased perception that every Catholic is opposed to marriage for all or to surrogacy. In reality, there are multiple scenarios among Catholic voters. A number of them are politically right-wing, when it comes to the economy, and yet sensitive to left-wing concerns about so-called social issues. I think, therefore, that we have to take a step back from the overly obvious prejudices that we leftwing men commonly share about Catholics.

GC: Thank you for your time. Would you like to add a few words?

PB: You did well to request this interview. Now I would like it if you tell me about yourself.

A Conversation with Philippe Fabry

This month we are very pleased to present this conversation with Philippe Fabry, a lawyer and a theorist of history. His approach, which he calls “historionomy,” endeavors to identify the cyclical patterns of history. He is the author of Rome, From Libertarianism to Socialism, A History of the Century to Come, and The Structure of History. His personal website is: https://www.historionomie.net. This interview was conducted by Grégoire Canlorbe.

Grégoire Canlorbe (GC): You have never hesitated to challenge the usual discourse, which liberals (libertarians, classical-liberals, anarcho-capitalists, free-marketists) have never shunned, even the most conservative among them, by claiming France to be an artificial construction, from its establishment to becoming a unifying state – it is a political work, whose foundation is no more geography than ethnicity or blood. Far from having formed differently from other European nations, France has, according to you, been built around an ethnic and territorial reality, and globally follows the same trajectory in its history. Could you elaborate on that subject?

Philippe Fabry (PF): Yes, it is indeed a common place in the commentary on the history of France to say that it was the state which made the nation; while among our neighbors it would be the nation which made the state. I cannot say if historians believe it, because it is just not the kind of questions that they ask themselves these days. But it is the kind of ready-made thinking that is prized by journalists and politicians who pride themselves on diagnosing the “French trouble.” But, in truth, that dichotomy opposing France to the rest of Europe, if not the world, is fallacious, in two respects. First, all nation-states are constituted according to a standard model (in reality two models, with France using the most frequent one; I will come back to this), where the state does not have a more determinant role than territorial and ethnic factors.

There are two models for the emergence of nation-states. The most common model, the most immediate, primary one, is that of the long-term gathering – around six centuries – of territories and people under one single state authority. The other model is the one that I would call, “secondary,” with the nation-states born by secession, during an independence revolution: That is the case of Rome vis-à-vis the Etruscans; the separated United Provinces, formerly Spanish possessions; and the United States of America. These are formed when a population, geographically and culturally too distant from the state base of a “primary” nation-state, is yet under its control for various reasons.

France belongs, like all major European states, to the first category. The model is as follows. In a populated territorial area, more or less ethnically and linguistically homogeneous, but where there is no state, either because none has ever emerged (for example, Germania of the early Middle Ages), or because it is a former imperial state that has withdrawn (such as, Gaul during Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, or Britain after the ebb of the Danes in the 10th-century). The primitive regime is feudalism and therefore extreme political fragmentation.

In the absence of a large-scale exogenous event, generally the invasion by an imperial power, a feudal lord more powerful than the others appears over time, who is logically the one who controls the economic dynamics of the territorial area. This economic dynamic, say, a fertile agricultural region, is very easily identified by looking at a relief map: It is a large plain, the largest in the territorial area.

For example, the Paris Basin in France, the North German Plain for Germany, the Guadalquivir Plain for Spain, the London Basin for Britain. The seigniorial power which relies on this economic dynamic has a decisive advantage in resources and can extend over all the space that is naturally peripheral to it; that is to say, both culturally close, and belonging to a geographically well-defined territorial area: The whole of Gaul for the Paris Basin, including the Breton peninsula; the Massif Central and the smaller plains of Aquitaine and Languedoc; the entire island of Britain for the London Basin, winning over Cornwall, and hilly Wales and Scotland; all of southern Germany for the northern plain, including mountainous Bavaria.

Of course, these centers of power do not stop at sharp boundaries, which for centuries have engendered conflicts over the exact boundaries of the areas of influence. Such conflict zones are generally distinguished by a hybrid character, allowing them to be associated with several groups. Thus, from an ethnic point of view, Britain may be linked to France by way of England, language linked Alsace to Germany, while the largest geographic area of the Paris Basin made it lean towards France, and so on. It is rare that a border so clearly separates two territorial areas that it is never challenged; but we can say that this was the case of the Pyrenees between France and Spain – thus, Roussillon, close to Catalan culture, did not become French until the 18th-century.

In effect, dominant seigniorial power then builds the state, first by going beyond the feudal system and creating an assembly, representative of the orders: Urban bourgeoisie, nobility, clergy, to which the peasantry is added in the Nordic countries. Such assembly allows the dominant seigniorial power to give itself a higher stature than that of the rest of the nobility and to embody the first national representation.

This new paradigm leads to the construction of an administration, which exercises regalian functions, more and more uniformly throughout the controlled territory. The population gathered under said authority gradually becomes a political community, becomes culturally uniform, and develops a national feeling. And it is when this national feeling is sufficiently present, and when some event occurs – say, a lost war which discredits the regime, that is, the “administrative monarchy” – then, what I call a movement of national revolution comes about, which is the final stage in the constitution of a nation-state, thus making the nation the true holder of sovereignty, and therefore of the power of the state, through a parliamentary regime. That revolutionary movement lasts about forty years and goes through various systematic stages: Collapse of the regime, radicalization of the revolutionary phenomenon, military dictatorship, partial restoration of the old regime, and final parliamentary change.

So it is always the state which makes the nation; but at the same time the nation which arouses the state. The geographic expansion of the state is constrained by cultural, demographic, linguistic and obviously purely geographic factors, but its emergence and consolidation are themselves the product of an ethno-geographic reality. It is a kind of feedback loop, and it is rare that a state absolutely corresponds to its natural ethnico-geographical zone: The competition of large states creates disputed zones, which are often resolved, either through an arbitrary delimitation, or through fragmentation and the appearance of multi-ethnic, multicultural, plurilingual buffer states like Belgium or Switzerland – which may end up developing their own identity, certainly, but one more accidental.

This determinism is not absolute and leaves the possibility of several combinations; but it is clear that it is the most “obvious” one which generally triumphs. Thus, in France, two nations could have been born, because there are two basins: The Parisian and the Aquitanian. For a long time, Bordeaux was the capital of that Aquitaine Basin, and Aquitaine dominated the country of Oc; while the country of Oïl depended more naturally on Paris.

The distinction between the two countries could have endured, since each had a certain linguistic and cultural unity: The language of Oc against the language of Oïl, a country of written law against a country of customary law. But first the Parisian Basin is much larger than the Bordeaux Basin, and second the “natural” territorial area was rather on the scale of the whole of the former territory of Gaul, whose settlement base had largely remained the same as during antiquity (the Great Migrations did not constitute a real demographic break). The Paris Basin therefore succeeded in its calling to dominate the whole, which has created France.

Another example. Germany saw the development of two centers capable of unifying the German nation: Austria and Prussia. Prussia controlled the plain of North Germany, and Austria dominated the plain of Pannonia (Hungary). That resulted in a division of the Germanic space between the two centers until the Great War, and ultimately the impossibility of keeping them lastingly unified after the failure of the Third Reich – even though the Germany of the seven electors, appointed by the Golden Bull of 1356, covered all of those German-speaking territories.

I think political debate would gain a lot, if these invariants of the state and national construction are better known, because they say a lot about what can or cannot be a nation-state, and about the deleterious effects that, for example, a constituted mass immigration can have on a nation-state.

And as for liberals (libertarians, from classical-liberals to anarcho-capitalists), there is a remark that I like to make to them, and that they generally take badly, and it is this – that if the nation-state is built in such a systematic way, it is because it is the most efficient product on the public security market, so that if we were to recreate an anarchic society, in the long term, it would be towards the re-emergence of nation-states that the political and social order would tend.

GC: While Greco-Roman paganism (on that point, in phase with Judaism) breaks away from the veneration of Mother Nature (the pre-Indo-European gynecocratic spirit), the biblical conception of time as linear (and of cosmic and human history as endowed with a beginning, an end, and a progression) contrasts with the pagan motif of the eternal return of the same. You assert both your Catholic heritage and your cyclical conception of history. How is that duality reconciled within your intellectual life?

PF: It always seemed natural to me, faced with that kind of conceptual opposition, to think that the truth was more likely to be a mixture of the two. Cyclicity and linearity are not necessarily contradictory, if we consider that there are several scales to consider, several temporalities. And it seems obvious to me that the story is both cyclical and linear, which is not only proper to human history, but also to natural history.

Take the evolution of species: It is linear; there is no turning back. But it is based on a cyclical phenomenon, which is the life of living individuals: Their conception, their birth, their maturation, their reproduction, their death. It is through that recurrence that nature, through mutations, which are then selected naturally, makes species evolve.

The same goes for humanity: It is subject to certain recurrences; but those recurrences end up drawing a linear pattern and a general progression – in the demographic mass of the species, the size of its political communities, its scientific and technical power, its artistic sophistication. Its destiny is linear; but its embodiment is recursive – which led me to suggest, and my work always leads me further in that direction, that human history can be modeled in the mathematical form of a cellular automaton, which is also a tool for modeling the appearance and development of life.

And I must also note that this double cyclical and linear conception places me in a situation which is a sort of mise en abîme: I thus notice, within the framework of the parallel that I draw between the history of modern Europe and that of ancient Greece, that the study of history itself goes through three great stages, more and more intellectually sophisticated.

First, there are the chroniclers, who are interested in events and great characters and who produce fairly simple narratives. That is the case of the Greeks before Herodotus, with the poems of Homer, in particular, and medieval chroniclers like Einhard or Gregory of Tours.

Second, there are the historians more curious about fundamental movements, like Thucydides or Voltaire, who analyze the economic and social foundations of history.

And, third, there are those who seek in history the recurrences, the laws, like Polybius (with his theory of anacyclosis), or Plutarch (with his Parallel Lives) in antiquity; and in modern times, Marx, Spengler, Braudel, Toynbee. It is in that last vein that my work falls; and I find it amusing, working on historical cyclicity, to note that those works themselves obey that cyclicity, that I am the logical product of my time. Feeling oneself to be the product of a certain determinism, when one studies precisely the role of determinism, is both very stimulating and the cause of a certain perplexity.

And it also makes you humble, which is precisely one of the fundamental values of the Christian faith. And since the cyclicity of life is not incompatible with that faith, the Church having besides recognized that evolution is “more than a theory;” there is no reason to think that it must be different for the evolution of human societies. On the contrary, it reinforces the idea of the cosmic order, which, assuredly, is a concept as much prized by the ancient Greeks in their cyclical vision as by Christians in their linear vision.

GC: Applying the historionomic approach to the dynamism of political ideas, you present the Right and the Left, not as categories of an alternative, which dates back to the French Revolution, but as a pair of opposites, which crosses all societies and all ages. In that context, you make your own that distinction by historian Fabrice Bouthillon between two forms of centrism: Centrism through the addition of extremes on the chessboard of opinion, versus centrism through the exclusion of those extremes. What does historionomy, armed with such a framework, teach us?

PF: My work on this divide, which I am, in fact, taking up and systematizing into a book, allows me to deepen certain questions dealt with in The Structure of History, which was mainly devoted to the research of the underlying laws of history, likely to explain in particular the models of the nation-state’s construction of which I spoke earlier.

One of the most interesting observations about those models is that not only is the same pattern observable in all major countries, but it takes place over an almost identical duration and at a similar rate – that is to say that within that overall duration, the major phases also always have a similar duration. So, it has something to do with the passing of generations and the circulation of ideas. However, it is precisely this aspect that the study of the issue of the divide provides some clarification: The ideas slide from Left to Right because these two camps bring together the population respectively favorable to change or conservation of an established order.

Since the established order slowly evolves, after a generation the one that the conservatives of the previous generation defended has largely disappeared, while the progressives of the previous generation have become for the most part conservative because the order now established is the one they wanted. The former conservatives are now becoming reactionary, that is to say supporters of the old order, and we are seeing new, more extreme ideas of change appear on the far Left, in the revolutionary fringe.

But reactionaries and revolutionaries have this in common – they are anti-conformists, that is to say, they consider the established order as illegitimate, while the conservatives and the progressives, that is to say the Right and the moderate Left, are conformists, and consider the established order as legitimate.

Most of the time, it is the Right-Left divide which governs political life: Conservatives join forces with reactionaries, and progressives with revolutionaries, to obtain majorities and govern. But in times of crises, there is often a conformist/anti-conformist tension, where those most moderate among the two sides join forces to defend the system in place, while those extreme among both sides find themselves together in the opposition to that order.

There are multiple examples of this: The banking crisis of the 1880s, but also the French referendum on the European Constitution in 2005, or the crisis of the Yellow Vests, for whom the power in place very quickly spoke of “red-browns.” One can also cite the Lega and Five Stars Movement coalition in Italy, which temporarily succeeded in seizing power from moderates, without ever really being able to get along in the exercise of power, since the two groups had opposite views on numerous topics.

Usually, centrism through the addition of extremes only succeeds in taking power, if a charismatic or skillful figure embodies it and is able to arbitrate between the two sides. That is the case with many great dictators in recent history: Napoleon, Stalin, Hitler. Often, moreover, the analysis of their policy reveals numerous about-faces and a certain ideological flexibility, without which they would not be able to maintain themselves.

Such an analytical grid allows, in particular, to better understand the way things happen during revolutionary periods, which quickly see the two divides alternate – but also to apprehend political developments over time, to understand by example that royalty in France was “on the Left” roughly until Henry IV, and was conservative during the last two centuries of its existence. It makes it possible to understand that there is in reality a great historical continuity, that the French Revolution did not at all make a Right-Left divide suddenly “appear,” which would not have existed before. And it also makes it possible to better model, as I said, the construction of the nation-state, since it is through such circulation of ideas, the effects on society, of the reforms it initiates that the political integration of the nation is brought about.

Indeed, the national construction largely consists of the progressive extension of the political body to the whole of the population. First, the political body of feudal society is composed only of the barons. Then it integrates the bourgeoisie of cities, then the peasantry, then the religious minorities (Protestants, Jews), then the workers, then the women – and today the immigrants. And, at all times, the main objective of the Left bloc is to integrate into the political body the class which is the most powerful among those who are still excluded from it. It is often said, too quickly, that the Left is the camp of equality.

This is both true and false. It is true because, indeed, the heart of the discourse on the Left is always to want to grant equality to a category of population which is excluded from the game. But it is also false, because at the moment, only the ambition of one category counts and the others only serve as foils – yesterday, women only served as foils for the workers’ movement; today sexual minorities, transgenders, and so on, alone serve as foils for the only truly powerful minority, that of non-European immigrants. And that is why the far Left never says a word about the persecution of sexual minorities by those very populations.

As long as the “priority” category is not integrated into the political body, the claims of other minorities are heard only if they are compatible with its own. And once that category is effectively integrated, it in turn becomes conservative and opposes extending rights to the next. To use a famous phrase, “the last to enter closes the door.” And the next must force it open, in turn.

But in nation-states which categorically refuse immigration, for example, that phenomenon cannot continue, since there is no new class of population to integrate. That is the case, I think, with Japan, which is a country very hostile to any immigration and that, in fact, has practically had no far Left for fifty years, because there is no longer anyone to integrate into the political body.

In Europe, on the contrary, we have been for fifty years bringing to light a new class of the excluded – by importing it: This is the non-European, African and/or Muslim immigration. As such, it will become, and is already in the process of doing so, the class whose claims will be hegemonic on the Left. In the next twenty years, we will probably have an Indigenist/Islamist party which will win 20% of the vote. And the order in place should progressively integrate a certain number of values and realize a certain number of demands of those populations, as one did for working-class populations throughout the 20th-century, by establishing not exactly what they demanded at the beginning of the century, communism, but a compromise with the old order, which is our current order: Social democracy.

GC: Presenting Rome and America as twin civilizations, separated by an ocean of centuries, you foresee for the latter a trajectory similar to the fate of the first. Could you elaborate what justifies the establishment of such a comparison – instead of a parallel, for example, between multi-ethnic America and the fragmented Hellenistic empire of Alexander the Great? As concerns the equivalent of Carthage among the enemies of America, do you rather think of Russia, Turkey, or China to play that role?

PF: The comparison between America and Ptolemaic Egypt is actually made by David Cosandey, in his remarkable book, Le Secret de l’Occident (The Secret of the West), where he develops fundamental concepts that I am currently taking up in ongoing works, as they provide practically turnkey explanations that I only groped at before reading this book.

These are the concepts of articulated thalassography, that is to say, the relationship between a geographical area and the length of its coasts – the lower it is, the more the coasts are important compared to the geographical surface, the more that area will be favorable to the development of an intense maritime trade. And, on the other hand, the concept of mereuporia, which designates the stable and lasting political division, which is indirectly linked to the thalassography articulated in the sense that an area with very long coasts often goes hand-in-hand with a multitude of peninsulas and a quite jagged coastline, which form many natural borders and thus favor the emergence of national isolates.

Cosandey thus explains, by geography, the parallel that I have detailed elsewhere between ancient Greece and modern Europe. In the context of the contemporary world, one notices that it is the place with the most articulated thalassography, which has favored, more than elsewhere, both the emergence of nation-states (among the Greeks, city-states) thanks to borders relatively stable over time (as per the model that I outlined above), and on the other hand, a strong development of trade between those bordered communities. And that all of Asia, while devastated for long periods by Mongol invasions that considerably hampered the political development of this region, also had less access to maritime trade and its decisive advantages in terms of transport costs.

As well, one notes that the Mongol invasions of Europe, then the Turkish ones, stopped precisely at the border of Europe with a jagged geography, that is to say, between Vienna and the Carpathians – beyond, are the great plains, open to the four winds, the steppes, where it is very difficult to establish sustainable borders.

Yet Cosandey, who already mentioned the parallel between ancient Greece and modern Europe, noted that after the domination of both, power had passed to larger entities, and on that occasion compares the Seleucid Empire, Eastern and Continental, with Russia, and the Egypt of the Ptolemies with the United States of America. But if the parallel holds for the change of scale, the analogy does not hold in my opinion.

Indeed, what brings the United States of America and Rome together, besides the role of a maritime power dominating the known world, is the internal political order and its history. These are two nations born of an independence revolution: In Rome, it was the Latins who hunted Etruscan kings (even Greco-Etruscans, since one of the ancestors of the kings of Rome was Demaratus, a nobleman from Corinth who immigrated to Italy), while the United States broke away from the British crown due to distance, and the length of time since the first waves of immigration, as well as the mix with populations of Dutch origin, who did not feel much attachment to English kings.

The nations which are the product of an independentist revolution always have a legal-political system that emphasizes the political community and the rights of the citizen; and this is particularly marked in Rome, as in the United States which, once independent, quickly set up a political system whose main concern was the control of power, the rejection of the monarchy, and the guarantee of the rights of the people. In both cases this produced a constitutional system that tended to be more rough-hewn than a highly intellectualized system, but one that was extremely solid and durable.

And it was this political system which allowed progressive growth over a large area, through federation – the Roman domination over Italy was of such a nature – and the development of an imperial republican culture, which is of something other than the search for power of a dynasty. Rome, like the United States, was a liberal [libertarian] superpower, which could go to war when it encountered resistance, but after victory sought a lasting and profitable organization – for example, during the liberation of Greece from the Macedonian occupation. And above all, Rome also exported a model of society, which was precisely that of its law, of municipal organization, all things likely to seduce the elites, even the middle classes of the allied or defeated countries – and which one also finds in the American mode of domination.

All these things, the product of the internal political evolution in Rome, as in the United States, did not exist in the Hellenistic kingdoms, which resembled rather the autocracy of the Tsars of Russia until the beginning of the 20th-century. And besides, in fact, the good ancient parallel for Russia is Macedonia, that state on the borders of Greece, not really Greek but not really barbaric either, which established its domination over a large number of Greek cities after they had bled themselves in internal conflicts, in particular the Peloponnesian War, and whose government was despotic, unlike the Greek cities in which the oligarcho-democratic model had spread widely.

The multiethnic aspect, in Rome as in the United States, is a late phenomenon, the consequence of the constitution of a world empire which then drains a population coming from the four corners of the world, and which brings about a cosmopolitan evolution of the imperial core. That has little to do, conversely, with the Hellenistic kingdoms which, in fact, were actually Greek colonies, where the elites descended from the Greek and Macedonian invaders, and spoke Greek, but where the background of the population was indigenous: Persian, Egyptian, and so on.

As for Carthage, everything depends exactly on the role attributed to it. There is not necessarily an exact parallel. One might be tempted to see Russia there, in its Soviet and then current form. But, as I said, Russia corresponds much more literally to Macedonia. Certainly, Macedonia was Carthage’s ally against Rome during the Second Punic War, and Rome definitively got rid of those two enemies in two simultaneous wars in 146 BC, but Russia never exactly had the same role as Carthage, which was rather the western enemy of Rome, the one which it faced far away from the ancient world, the world that counted, the Hellenistic world – the one which it seized control of, before turning to the most important half of that world, so to speak.

On that level, it is rather at the American wars in the Pacific that we must look, and in particular those against Japan, and against which the war was intense but brief. Since then, the enemy has been China, which is the only real threat to the American domination of the Pacific, and has been so since the defeat of Japan: China and America have clashed directly in Korea. So, for the geopolitical role of Carthage, perhaps, one should rather speak of Japan and China. But perhaps one should add above all that the Spanish-American War of 1898, which allowed the United States to get hold of Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines, and which constitutes an important stage insofar as this is the first time that the United States undertook imperialist behavior, annexing territories overseas.

As for Turkey, no parallel is possible with Carthage. But, depending on how it might develop in the coming years, it could find a role similar to that of the Parthian Empire, that power in the inland, in the heart of the Eurasian island world, which was an enduring source of skirmishes for the Imperial Republic. In particular, I think that this could be the case following a collapse of Russia, which would allow Turkey to extend its hegemony over the whole of the Turkish world, up to Xinjiang, by way of all the former Soviet republics with names ending in “-stan.”

It is also a classic scheme: Prussia achieved the unity of Germany only after the diminishing of France, which had, since Richelieu, worked for the fragmentation of the Holy Empire and for French hegemony in those regions. Russia brought about the unity of the Slavic world only after the collapse of the German and Austrian empires. Thus, Turkey will not be able to bring about the unity of the Turkish world as long as the essential part of the latter is under Russian influence. A sort of pan-Turkish empire would make for a precise repetition of the Parthian Empire. And that is probably what will happen, if there is a military confrontation with Russia, because Turkey would be on the side of the victors, alongside NATO, and in the same position as Stalin in 1945.

GC: A common apprehension is that the Trump era is only a parenthesis in the sinking of contemporary America; and that with the return of Democrats, deemed inevitable in the decade to come, the march towards socialism and the geopolitical abdication will only resume in an amplified manner. You are rather confident as regards the fate of America in the 21st-century, projecting the evolution of its regime towards an authoritarian Right – and the instrumentalization of the United Nations for the purpose of establishing an American world state. Could you tell us more?

PF: In reality, my opinion is rather that America is indeed moving towards socialism, but that the latter will not be accompanied by a geopolitical abdication, quite the contrary. The first thing I see looming internally is a new American Civil War. Over the course of the year, I had been invited to the monthly luncheon of a major Parisian review, on the occasion of the release of my book, Rome, From Libertarianism to Socialism. At one point the director of the review had gone around the table asking each guest (there were about thirty of us, economists, journalists, a European deputy) to talk a bit about what seemed to him most interesting in the news. Most of my counterparts mentioned Ukraine, since we were at the start of tensions with Russia after the Maidan affair.

I was the only one to tackle a story that seemed, I think, anecdotal to most of my guests since, we quickly passed over it, without comment. This was the case of the Bundy ranch, in the United States. It was an armed rebellion around the legal dispute opposing a local farmer, Cliven Bundy, to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over land on which he was forbidden to graze his cattle, while he claimed he had been grazing his herds there for generations. The BLM had then tried to capture the cattle while they were grazing on the disputed ground, and, faced with the opposition of local militias rallied by Bundy, who were over-armed, as can only happen in American campaigns, they brought in federal troops, equally equipped, to fight Bundy and the militias.

My opinion at the time was that this matter was significant of what would eventually happen to the whole of Middle America when the gap between it and coastal, urban America only widened further. When I observed the hysterical reactions to the election of Donald Trump, and today when I see armed militias enter the Capitol of Michigan to protest against the confinement due to the coronavirus, I think my intuition has not deceived me.

The fact is that the United States is made up of one part that is the rural, continental America and which represents three-quarters of the mand-mass, and another part that is coastal (the Eastern and Western coastal strips). The first generally votes Republican; the second generally votes Democrat. The first has slow population growth and is generally poorer, and remains essentially white, little penetrated by immigration. The coastal states are more dynamic, and where immigration is also massing.

The gap between the two Americas has been widening for fifty years, while it hardly existed during the middle of the 20th-century. It seems less and less possible to reconcile those two mentalities politically. And this gap risks ending up causing a rupture of the American constitution. Let us remember that the election of the President of the United States, through the system of the greater voters, is a territorial as much as a demographic election: The vote by state balances the result in favor of the sparsely populated states, which mainly constitute white, rural and continental America.

In the election of Donald Trump, the “popular” vote, that is to say in number of votes, was won fairly widely by Hillary Clinton, with an advance of some three million votes. It is an argument that has been repeated many times by those who said – and still say – of Trump as, “Not my President.” Those in favor of Trump, or even simply objective, nuance that position by recalling that the voting system induces a different campaign strategy, and that if the election had been through a direct suffrage, Donald Trump would undoubtedly have led a different campaign, in which case he might have won the popular vote. So that we cannot “invalidate,” even in theory, the election of Trump, according to a democratic principle.

However, that discussion still says a lot about the growing fragility of the system, because it is in the political demagogic logic to focus on the simple mass, and the rapid demographic growth of coastal states, in particular through foreign immigration, mainly from Latin America, will increasingly benefit the Democrat camp in the number of votes.

But if Trump is re-elected and still does not win the popular vote, and in ten years, let us say after a Democratic alternation, a new elected Republican wins the presidency by lacking five, or ten million votes in the country, will that advance be concentrated in three or four very densely populated democratic states? One might think, of course, that there will be a risk of secession from those states.

But I do not think it would be the most likely scenario. Because the reality is that all the high places of power in the United States are in states that vote mainly Democrat. Rather than secession, the debate will therefore focus on the abrogation of the electoral college and the election of the President of the United States by direct universal suffrage, which also goes in the direction of the growing integration of the USA, by the magnification of the federal state, in the sense of a unitary state – which is a classic mode of development of a federation.

Of course, the political system will never result in a situation in which only the Democrats win and the Republicans never win an election again. Such a situation cannot exist for more than a few elections, for the ever-losing side adapts and adopts a line which brings the chances of success back to 50/50. It is the functioning of the political market. But this will also mean that the Republican Party should strongly converge on Democrat positions, and abandon a large part of the population of rural whites who love arms and the freedom to ignore the federal state.

I think that is where the political tipping point in the United States will be, perhaps with a hundred, a thousand insurrections like Bundy’s, and probably more violent, which will serve to justify the ban on weapons. The direct election of the President of the United States will make the presidential election a plebiscite election, which will go in the direction of an imperial mutation. And that will probably go hand in hand with socialist development, the appearance of universal income in one form or another, and so on.

As for the international situation, my idea is indeed that the United States has been working, since the beginning of the 20th-century to build a world state, something that the British Empire, for example, had never done, for the latter always perceived itself as a nation among others, elevated in strategic rivalry within the European game, and saw its world empire as a necessary strategic depth, while confining itself in Europe to maintaining a balance.

But the United States has a vision of itself very close to that of Rome: It sees itself as the free nation, which should not depend on anyone. They first tried to do that by being isolated – which was the meaning of the Monroe doctrine – and after a century, having noticed that they could not just cut themselves off from the world, they realized that the only way to be free was to be the world’s master, the universal suzerain. The United States, like Rome, does not accept equals. European countries have been accustomed, by a thousand years of history, to negotiate peer to peer, to make peace, to accept compromises. Americans at war are only looking for total victory – this was also the case with Rome.

This is part of the psychological paraphernalia of such nations. And in order to install their suzerainty, they end up developing institutions at the center of which are they, and which allow them to regulate the actions of other nations, including in peacetime. And the main institution they have set up for all this is the United Nations, which in fact has the role that representative assemblies have had in the building of nation-states – they serve, everywhere, to give superior legitimacy to the most powerful of feudal lords, and to go beyond that feudal order.

The UN, de facto, transforms the nation-states into subjects, and the United States, which has its seat, into the “Prince of the Nations.” The Security Council resembles all of those councils of the Greats who continued to assemble around the monarch in the early days of the monarchy, before absolutism. The great feudal lords can make their voices heard, but deep down, the institution serves the prestige of the prince.

As for the assembly, it serves to bring to the power of the prince an additional legitimacy for certain actions, mainly actions of authority against powerful recalcitrant lords. When we speak of the reaction of the “international community,” it is exactly that – it is about explaining that the action of the prince is in the common interest and for the ends of justice, and that it is not simply a coup de force of the strongest.

But we must be careful, here. I am not saying that the United States behaves like a bully. If the monarchy was chosen in preference to the feudal system everywhere, it is because most people found an advantage in it – pacification of relations, end of private wars (that is, interstate wars. This provided increased security and general enrichment, at first. But, in a second step, it also means centralization, uniformization. The multicultural model, the idea of a village-world, is both the cause and the effect of the progressive construction of a world state, which is only the repetition, on another scale, of the same process as the national scale. And the United States behaves vis-à-vis the United Nations as kings did vis-à-vis the Estates General – if the assembly supports the king, it is very good and that strengthens it; but if it opposes him, he reserves the right to override it, since it is he who holds true sovereignty.

But for the time being, there remain large powerful lords still capable of defying the king, such as the Montmorency or the Guise in France at the end of the 16th-century. Such are China and Russia. Their weakening is logically the last step before the imperial transformation of the American government – which is already underway, when one sees the increase in the use of American laws extraterritorially to exert pressures on foreign companies and governments. That makes you irrepressibly think of how kings used their power of justice as the first instrument to impose their power on all of their provinces. Sometimes, the judiciary power was even enough to bring down great rivals of the King of France – such was the case of Charles III of Bourbon.

GC: A contemporary line of research consists in exploring the genetic foundations of the cycle of ascension and decline of civilizations, envisioned as biocultural systems (within which genes and the acquired culture permanently interact). Here, the ascent allegedly coincides with the exercise of selection pressures (from the social or natural environment) which increase “general intelligence” or lengthen “life history.” The decline looms as the dysgenic trends linked to the attenuation of the aforesaid selection pressures erodes the “biological capital.” Does such an approach shed clear and satisfactory light on the structure of the necessary events (as opposed to the contingent and random aspect of history)?

PF: That is a question that I have only known about for a few years, and I admit that I did not have time to study that subject in detail. Until about five years ago, I was ignorant of all the literature and research on that question of genetics, intelligence, modification of average intelligence, etc. Those are things that are very much ignored in France, almost clandestine. If I have learned a lot about those subjects in recent years, it is because I have had the chance to meet a friend who is well trained in this field, who knows the bibliography and the state of knowledge well. It quite quickly became evident to me, indeed, that those factors must have a very important role in the cyclical nature of history, and the mechanisms already described previously for the constitution of nation-states – that to certain stages of economic, social and political development also probably correspond the fluctuations of average intelligence.

For example, it is quite striking to note that the scientific peak in a country always occurs at the same time as its movement of national revolution. With England, it is in the second half of the 17th-century, at the time of Newton. With France, it is at the end of the 18th-century, with Lavoisier, Sadi Carnot, Condorcet. With Germany, at the start of the 20th-century, with Planck, Einstein, Haber. Of course, this does not exclude, in each of those countries, that there are also some big names before and after – but at that time they are clearly above the rest; they are the heart of the great scientific revolutions of their time.

At first glance, I therefore think that biocultural evolution, the feedback loop between social and economic construction and the genetic selection of individuals, must indeed have a considerable place in the deterministic part of history. But before I can better measure whether it is preponderant and that I may better explain what are its driving forces, I will have to take the time to really study the literature on that subject, which I have not yet been able to do.

GC: Among the great tales that have structured European (and, by extension, Western) thought, there is the Hebrew perspective, according to which humanity is walking towards an era of peace and love, in which the people of Israel, not content with having put an end to their dispersion by gathering together on the soil of the Holy Land, will see their law and their god to be recognized among all the nations of the world.

We also should mention New Testament thought, where the final day of cosmic and human history will be that of the Last Judgment, during which Jesus, back in the earthly world, will judge all the deceased, resurrected on that occasion, and also the traditionalist thought that humanity has known since ancient times, of a “caste regression, ” of sacred leaders losing power to the warrior nobility; the nobility to merchants and serfs – which then ushers in its spiritual and moral degeneration, a degeneration whose final act is our egalitarian and utilitarian world (pending the start of the next cycle of degeneration).

With the hindsight that provides an overview of universal history, what do you think of those three narratives?

PF: Indeed, the traditionalist vision is seen, precisely, as a cyclical component, since, in fact, it is a movement that has already been accomplished several times: The ancients knew it; then the castes made their great return in the Middle Ages, and the regression of the castes started again, eventually resulting in social democracy. It is probable that after the fall of the American Empire, we will again enter a kind of Middle Ages, starting with the first stage.

As for the Jewish and Christian monotheistic narratives, it is difficult to adjudicate, since they have a linear vision in the very long term and are irrefutable: As long as there are human beings and thus history continues, one can always understand that there will be a coming/return of the Messiah. It is therefore a thought which is by nature outside of science.

On the other hand, what I can say as a historian is that monotheisms have a tendency to wear out, to get tired, in about a millennium and a half. They are very conquering in their first centuries, and bring about a kind of universal empire, which gradually falls apart. Then there is a millennialist revival, and finally religion falters and shrivels up.

One saw it with Judaism, with the kingdom of David and Solomon, its division, the dispersion of the Jews, the great impulse of conversion in the Roman Empire and of fanaticism going as far as terrorism (the Zealots), the messianist uprisings, and finally the advent of rabbinic Judaism, turned in on the community, and no longer proselytic.

Likewise, with Christianity from Constantine on – the Christian Empire, its disintegration, the advent of the Reformation, and associated with a lot of fanatical outbursts, like Savonarola, the Hussites, the Anabaptists of Munster, and then a slow numbness in Europe.

The same thing is happening to Islam, which is currently in its millennialist phase: Salafism is Muslim Protestantism. One wrongly speaks of “Islamoconservatism;” even while Salafism extols the step backwards, it is in the same mode as Luther and Calvin in the 16th-century. It is not conservatism, on the contrary. And so, I think that within a century or two, Islam will have become as harmless as Judaism and Christianity. But suddenly, there will be a void to fill and one will probably see something else appear.

GC: Insisting both on the internationalist doctrine of Islamic terrorist organizations and on the anti-capitalist nature of their discourse, you see contemporary militant Islam as the equivalent – within the Arab-Islamic world – of the Marxist-Leninist ideology. Should the nationalist and revolutionary Iran of the mullahs be envisaged as the equivalent of Stalinist Russia, which vilified “cosmopolitanism?” Regarding Xi Jinping’s China, engaged in a standoff with Uighur and Kazakh Muslims, does its opening to a semi-planned capitalist model lie within the same structural pattern as the “new economic policy” of Lenin?

PF: Yes, Iran can be seen like that, but I do not believe in its ability to be effectively for the Muslim world what Stalin’s USSR was for the communist world, because the fact that Iran is Shiite is a real hindrance to the penetration of Iranian power into the Arab world, which is Sunni. The Iranians tried to overcome that obstacle by making hatred of Israel the heart of their international propaganda, but it did not work very well.

I see Erdogan’s Turkey much more capable of assuming the role of the Islamist USSR. Erdogan enormously plays the card of pan-Islamism, even more so than that of pan-Turkism, and with a fluency all the greater than Ottoman history, which seems to give a form of legitimacy to Turkish ambitions. It has, in addition, very superior means: Turkish GDP is 50% higher than that of Iran; Turkey is better integrated in international trade; and the Turkish armed forces are much better equipped. Iran has likely reached the limits of its influence by somehow bringing together all of the Shiites under its control in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. It collides with a glass ceiling and is maintained only by way of Russian and Chinese support. And Iran’s regime is starting to age, more than forty years after its establishment, while Erdogan’s Islamism is, I think, more dynamic.

Regarding China, it has only a few Muslims in its Eastern markets, and the problem for it is thus less acute. One can effectively compare the ideological concessions made from Deng Xiaoping to the NEP of Lenin, but I must say that, in general and except for fanatic exceptions like the Khmer Rouge, I am very reluctant when it comes to the determining aspect of ideology in the history of communism. I think that Marxism-Leninism had only very briefly a decisive role, and that the rest of the time it was mainly a rationalization for much deeper political evolutions. For example, I think that there was a real communist will in Russia, precisely and only before the NEP. I think that the mass collectivization resumed under the leadership of Stalin in the late 1920s because he needed to accumulate capital to create an industry, but above all an army, in order to conquer Europe.

That was the underlying determinism that guided his action, since Stalin was a revolutionary nationalist leader like Napoleon and Hitler. He was not overwhelmingly driven by communism, rather by the Russian expansionist drive, like French Jacobinism and German National Socialism. In China, Mao’s communism is the form taken by the Chinese equivalent of the Meiji imperial restoration in Japan – a very strong collective reaction to Western penetration, a nationalist will to rebuild and regain lost status. Structurally, is the Chinese Communist Party regime very far from the imperial regime and the administration of the Mandarins? I do not think so. In the end, the real change between the imperial regime before 1911 and that established under Mao, is that the earlier Mandarins were mainly Manchu, while the Chinese are mainly Hans, and that today the Chinese elites are mainly Han.

That is one of my main concerns throughout my works. I think that, for a century, we have given a causal role, which is also highly decisive, to ideologies, whereas they often only and ultimately embody much more primitive impulses. I should clarify. I do not believe, like Marxists, that the displayed motives are always untrue or hypocritical and that history is materialistic, and that the real causes of historical movements are economic. No, there are real fundamental reasons which are purely psychological, and nationalism is one of them; it is a real collective impulse. But when we see that Napoleon, Hitler and Stalin did pretty much the same things and pursued the same goals, even though their overt ideologies were very different, we must methodically deduce that those ideologies had no determining role and only served as window-dressing to the real underlying motive, which is similar in all cases.

GC: Let us allow ourselves a bit of alternative history after historionomy. It is well known that 8th-century Europe almost fell under the yoke of the Umayyad Caliphate, and that Christianity then owed its triumph over the Islamic invader by way of various military victories, including the battle of Poitiers which stayed famous for Christian Europe.

A more overlooked fact is that the Hellenized Judaism of the time of Jesus had constituted itself as a universal religion, which was turned towards a peaceful and philosophical proselytism, notwithstanding the Zealot revolts, intended to precipitate the universal reign of peace and of the mosaic law by liberating Judea. And that Christianity and Judaism during the first centuries of the common era would be veritably in competition for the conquest of Pagan minds, most of the inhabitants of the empire (in default to actually converting) were “judaizing,” in that they were assimilating Jewish practices such as Shabbat. From the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem to the abolition of the Jewish Patriarchate of Palestine, through the conversion of Constantine, Judaism would obviously be marginalized and discredited for the benefit of its own offspring.

Had it not been for the victory of Christianity under the Roman Empire. or the backflow of Islam in the 8th-century, would the fate of Europe have been significantly different today?

PF: Very precisely historionomy allows for the sorting of the possible and impossible alternative history scenarios; and I can therefore tell you the following things. First, Judaism could not compete with Christianity, for reasons that I have already mentioned on the fatigue of monotheisms. In the middle of the Second Century, Judaism had greatly exceeded the populations of the Roman Empire, by the excesses of its Zealots who nourished the same dreams as today the partisans of the Islamic State dream; and its rabbinical reform was not made to make it a religion very easy to disseminate – whereas, to the contrary, Christianity, from the Council of Jerusalem, had evacuated a whole lot of Mosaic prohibitions, in particular on circumcision and food, which made the Christian faith much easier to diffuse.

Concerning the Islamic threat, I am not convinced that Europe was really threatened with conquest – past the Pyrenees, the Umayyads were immediately stopped in Toulouse in 721; and the expeditions which led the Muslims to Tours were not conquest operations, but rather raids. Furthermore, if Islam relatively easily progressed to the Pyrenees, it is because Spain and part of the Maghreb were of Arian faith, much more compatible with the idea of a further revelation of Muhammad than was the Orthodox Christianity which prevailed in the land under Frankish domination. Let us recall that it was under the impetus of Charlemagne that the Filioque would be integrated into the creed. And, as well, this was already a century after the first impulse of Muslim conquest; and it is rare that serial conquests spread without petering out over more than a century.

The Mongol conquests extended between 1206 and 1279, the date when they reached their most distant Western point with penetration into the plains of Hungary. The essential part of the Ottoman conquests was made between 1430 and 1530. Even the entire empire of Rome outside Italy was conquered in one century and a half. So, even if the Umayyads had taken Toulouse or even Tours, it is unlikely that they would have managed to go further; and not long after their arrival they would have first needed to confront Frankish reconquest efforts, since the heart of Frankish power was in Austrasia, between Metz, Tournai and Cologne.

It is hard to believe that those who built Charlemagne’s empire in our understanding would not have been able to shake up Arab-Berbers enemies of Christ. And even if that had not been the case, it is the Vikings whom those Muslim invaders would have had to suffer under. In summary, progress beyond Aquitaine would have been very difficult, and installation in Aquitaine itself would have been complicated. So, I can accept a range of possibilities that went as far as taking Aquitaine, but not beyond that. Even less so since, when the Muslims were arrested in Aquitaine, the Reconquista had already started in Asturias.

But for the exercise, let us assume that by a remarkable accident the Muslims arrived in Saxony, seized all of Italy and converted all of Western Europe to Islam, all the way to Scotland. What would have happened?

Some events of relative magnitude would not have taken place – the Crusades against the Muslim world, in particular. But the crusades against the pagan world in the East would no doubt have taken place, and with even more vigor, under the banner of Islam.

The fact remains that Europe would have always benefited from its geographic advantages – the articulated thalassography, a geography favoring the emergence of states with stable borders. When the Muslim Empire disintegrated into a multitude of political entities during the 9th-century, this would also have been the case in Europe, as it was the case with the disintegration of the Carolingian Empire. No caliph would have succeeded in imposing his authority on Europe, given the distance of the Abbasids; and especially when one bears in mind the stormy relations between the Papacy and the Empire. It is even likely that Europe would have given itself a competing caliph.

The construction of European nation-states would therefore have been primed, as in our own time, with simply a practice of Islam – and still probably it would have been an altered practice, because it is difficult to conceive the prohibition of pork in countries where that meat has been part of the staple food since earliest antiquity. So, no, the fate of Europe would likely not have been very different. The Muslim world, if extended to Europe, would still have known a divide between the world to the north of the Pyrenees dominated by the German mentality since the Great Invasions, and the Mediterranean world – for we must not be mistaken, if Islam did not succeed in going North of the Pyrenees it is also because it was then entering another geographical, cultural, mental area, and those differences would not have been erased by religious conversion.

GC: Thank you for your time. Would you like to add a thing or two?

PF: We did not have time to talk about it, but Phoenicia was an aborted Greece, precisely because it did not benefit from a well-articulated thalassography and solid natural borders and was easily absorbed by Assyria. It is enough to look at a map of the colonization of the ancient Mediterranean to see that there was exactly the same movement of migration (Greek or Phoenician) on both sides. It is worth remembering that Phoenician culture was not less complex than Greek culture. But the Greeks benefited from being a very mountainous peninsula difficult to reach by the Persians for centuries, and therefore they were not absorbed.

The image shows the wheel of fortune (rota fortunae), from a leaf of Josephus’s Judaean War, Book VII, ca. 13th-century.

A Conversation With Kamel Krifa

The Postil is very pleased to publish this conversation with Kamel Krifa, an actor, film producer, and trainer of Hollywood stars – including Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michelle Rodriguez, Eddie Griffin, Steven Seagal, and so many others. Krifa is Van Damme’s longest collaborator and personal friend, acting alongside him in various movies. This conversation with Grégoire Canlorbe began in Paris, in July of 2017; it was resumed and completed in April of 2020.

Grégoire Canlorbe (GC): In Kickboxer IV, you gave flesh and soul to iconic villain Tong Po. Do you intend to return to the saga?

Kamel Krifa (KK): At the time I was offered a contract for five films to interpret the character of Tong Po. It was an interesting challenge, for my acting was essentially limited to the expression of my eyes and to contorting my mouth. In fact, I was asked to wear a mask, so I would have oriental features.

As for the fight-scenes, I didn’t have the opportunity to really prepare for them well, because I had to keep from sweating and spoiling, the three hours of make-up that I had to undergo each day. (Plus, an extra hour needed to remove the make-up after filming).

In the end, I could give my interpretation of the deceitful and cruel Tong Po (actually my strength and my agility) only once. But in way, I did return to the Kickboxer franchise, when I appeared in Kickboxer: Retaliation, alongside Mike Tyson, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, Christophe Lambert, and none other than Jean-Claude Van Damme. The movie was released in January of 2018. It’s the sequel to Kickboxer:Vengeance, a remake of Kickboxer which came out twenty-seven years after the original.

GC: Jean-Claude Van Damme has directed a single film, The Quest, in which he plays alongside the late Roger Moore. According to you, why did JCVD not want to repeat the experience again?

KK: Jean-Claude has an undeniable talent as a director and he does not hesitate to advise the directors who work with him. They benefit from his experience, acquired both in front of the camera and behind it. In turn, he offers them the best of himself in his acting.

Since The Quest, he now prefers to delegate the task to the director so he can focus on his interpretation. This allows him to let his mind float easily, instead of confining his attention with a host of technical considerations that can never leave his mind in peace. In this way, he can become fully invested, relaxed, and reactive in front of the camera; he can put himself in the skin of his character with a heightened ability to concentrate.

Also, entrusting the filmmaking to someone else, who he knows is qualified, and to whom he can give directions, gives him time for himself, time to commune with himself, and to read and meditate on subjects that are dear to his heart. Jean-Claude is not only a man of great culture; he is authentic and gifted, with a superior intelligence, who possesses unique insights into people, the things of life, and the universe.

GC: Whether as his coach, his producer, or his on-screen partner, you have been working steadily and consistently with JCVD. Would you care to say a few words about this experience?

KK: I have known Jean-Claude since he was thirteen. When I met him, I was twenty years old; and from simple sports room colleagues, we quickly became best friends and spiritual brothers.

In 1989, Jean-Claude, who had just acted in his career-launching Bloodsport (and was about to become an international star with the tremendous successes of the early 1990s), suggested to me that I become his exclusive trainer. Very honored, I accepted his offer. I then had the opportunity to act alongside him in Death Warrant and Lionheart, and that is how I became a Hollywood actor.

During the 1990s, I continued to appear alongside Jean-Claude in various action movies; and at the same time, I ventured into production. That is how I was an associate producer for Double Impact, featuring Bolo Yeung. I also co-produced Legionnaire, for which I did location-scouting in Morocco for two years. I must confess that I have a special affection for this period film, which deals with the Rif War and which features Abdelkrim Khattabi, whom I had the good fortune to play. Most recently, I collaborated with Jean-Claude on the pilot of the TV series Jean-Claude Van Johnson, sponsored by Amazon, and, of course, on the last installment of the saga, Kickboxer.

GC: Let’s talk about how you got your journey into films all began. Is there a connection between your Tunisian childhood and your early discovery of martial arts?

KK: At the age of seven I had stars in my eyes, as I watched sword-and-sandal and spy films in the 1960s. And it is to a large extent inside the popular movie theaters of Tunis, where action movies had me mesmerized, that my vocation as an actor was born. But it was also at home, from a very early age, where I’d have fun and shoot amateur films, imitating my role-models, like Tarzan or Maciste, that my attraction for cinema took shape. The martial arts, which I have been practicing since childhood, seemed to me early on to be the best way to make my entry into the Hollywood milieu. As an adult, my experiences in the army, the police, and as a bodyguard allowed me to perfect my combat skills.

My childhood was very beautiful, bathed in a diverse yet uniform environment, which was shared by Jews, Christians, and Muslims, living in a fraternal understanding. I could not say if the fact of having spent my childhood in Tunisia, rather than in India or in Australia, made me more predisposed to those life choices. But Tunisia was most certainly a country with no future for me – while Europe was my springboard.

At the age of 15, an internship in the hotel industry allowed me to leave my native land and settle in Germany. One year later I moved to Belgium, still in the hotel industry. After having worked in major, internationally renowned hotels and taken over the management of food and beverage, I had the opportunity to take over a French gastronomy restaurant in Brussels, which specialized in seafood.

While learning English (the mastery of which was indispensable to me, if I wanted to break through in Hollywood), and traveling regularly to America, I also kept up my martial arts training assiduously. At the age of 36, I made the decision to move definitively to the United States. Around the same period, Jean-Claude, then crowned with the halo of success for Kickboxer, introduced me to producer Mark DiSalle, who insisted that I be in the casting of their next movie, Death Warrant—and the rest, as they say, is history.

Finally, I’ve spent more time in my country of adoption, America, than in the country of my origins: the Tunisia where I was born and where I took my first steps, and where I discovered the martial arts and action movies, and from where I set out to conquer Hollywood. Naturally, the fact of having had that Tunisian childhood sensitizes me to the social and economic development of my native country. As such, I have many projects in mind to give back to Tunisia, such as, its first place for open-air studios for foreign films – the place it has lost to Morocco.

GC: Your life is also rather iconoclastic. Do you believe that the law of attraction has something to do with your success?

KK:  I am a very thankful person. I believe in the law of attraction, of course! I believe what we have the ardent desire to obtain, if we work hard to have it, and if sincere and regular prayers accompany our efforts, then we end up getting it – because then events miraculously work in our favor. Since my earliest childhood, I saw myself in Hollywood, and I have been pious and laborious. What my mind dreamed of, the universe brought about.

What are the ingredients of the law of attraction? Having faith in oneself and in one’s destiny; working hard every day that God gives; expressing gratitude towards the Almighty for the favorable news that reaches us, the rewards that our efforts reap; and also, respecting others, showing generosity, helpfulness, and compassion. Be a good and charitable person, and what you have offered, the universe will give back a hundredfold!

There is a precept in Islam, zakat, which asks the wealthy Muslim to give 10% of his wealth. The Good Lord rewards everyone according to his beneficence. He who gives little will be recompensed little by life; he who offers much will see his desires fulfilled.

I am now over 65 years old; and yet people think I am in my fifties. Why? I take care of the body that God has given me: it is the sanctuary of my faith. I train every day. I drink only occasionally, and never to excess. And now I don’t drink at all. I watch what I eat. I avoid soda-pop, and also polluted fish and meats poisoned by added sugar.

But that is not all. I look after the health of my soul and strive to be a good man. I pray—and I train—in my own way, each day that God creates, and I always respect His laws. I pray on all occasions, whether I’m in training like on my bike or in a meditation session.

My physical health is not only the result of the care I take of my body; it is the reflection of the cleanliness of my soul. Martial arts have given me that integral discipline – the discipline of both body and soul – that Islam expects of the good Muslim. Ditto for a Catholic, a Jew, or a Buddhist – all religions converge in their teaching.

GC: It is not uncommon to point out – without condoning the bestial wars carried out on behalf of God or Allah – the allegedly heroic and ascetic ideal of Islam, which would contrast with the “consumerist apathy” of the allegedly atheist West. What are your thoughts on that subject?

KK: I am a spiritual believer, open to the world. When I am in Los Angeles, I go to the church with Jean-Claude Van Damme; when I am in Asia, I pray in a Buddhist temple. I pray as much in the mosque as in the synagogue. To me the word “Islam” means peace and respect. And whatever the religion envisaged, one obviously must be careful not to paint everyone with the same brush. Not all Muslims are terrorists or fanatics. For my part, I respect all religions, but I reject all fanaticisms, in that I reject the fanaticism which can be found in all religions.

As for the true ascetic, the true warrior, he is not the one who shoots at an innocent crowd or who beats his wife. He is the one who has the spirit of competition, the taste for armed struggle or with bare hands, the rage of the conqueror; but who can restrain himself at the same time. He is the one who offsets his assertiveness and his passionate temperament with his generosity, his greatness of soul, and his sense of duty; the one who protects and avenges the weakest, and who devotes himself to work, to prayer, and to self-purification.

A warrior makes war on all that can corrupt and disfigure his soul, be it debauchery, drunkenness, laziness, superficiality, or egoism. Islam properly understood does not call for perpetrating barbarous acts; it calls for putting into practice self-discipline and self-purification, in which lies the key to personal fulfillment. It also calls us to watch over our neighbor, whatever his religion may be.

Right now, the coronavirus epidemic reminds us of the importance of discipline: Being able to stay away from each other, and being able to wash your hands, your face. We wish our future to be good; we pray for a happy future for the world, which is going through a difficult period with this virus, without medication to treat it.

Islam insists on the duty of cleanliness: Routine and meticulous cleanliness. It also stresses the importance of praying, not only for oneself, but also and above all, for the whole world; the duty to pray (and to act) so that everyone may be healthy and eat his fill. As such, I am currently dedicated to the distribution of protective masks, through an association that I have just created and which works closely with companies specializing in medical equipment. Your readers are welcome to write to me for more information.

GC: Do you see a universal message common to Islam and to all other religions?

KK: Yes, this one: We are all human and we all have the same God, the same Creator. We all live under the same sun and in the same universe, the same house, and we are all passers-by here below. The Prophet Muhammad enjoins us to watch over our neighbor, not to brutalize or enslave him. He enjoins us to respect him, to lend him assistance, and to consider him as our brother. He calls us to lead a virtuous, charitable, and fulfilled life; and to be at peace with ourselves, and to care as much for our souls as for our bodies.

What the Prophet Muhammad, in his own way and in his own language, states, all religions affirm so. Muslims respect all Prophets: Ibrahim, Moses, Jesus. They follow only the last of them, Muhammad, for he is the one who was announced to close and clarify their teachings. Muslims believe the Koran because it contains things that are unexplainable by reason alone; it surprisingly predicts the future.

The good Lord gave me good health (hence my gratitude), which in turn gave me the power to persevere, and then to know the joy of finding an opening, a loophole, for each obstacle in my way. For this reason, I want to give humans and animals what life has offered me. I want to take care of my companions out of gratitude for Allah and out of love for others.

The concern for watching over others pushed me, throughout my life, to work seriously and to devote myself to the cinema and coaching. I am a soldier. Today it is that same state of mind that has led me to launch my charitable foundation, the Kamel Krifa Association, to take care of humanity and all the creatures that inhabit this world. You surely know that Jean-Claude has animal welfare very much at heart. When I told him about the association I was setting up, he made sure to tell me, “Don’t forget the dogs!”

GC: According to Mike Tyson, who plays alongside you in Kickboxer:Retaliation, a great man is not the one guarding himself from the people, but the one being accepted by the people. According to you, to which of those two categories of men does the current US President, Donald Trump, belong?

KK: Both Mike Tyson and Jean-Claude Van Damme have declared themselves publicly in favor of Donald Trump. For my part, I do not meddle in politics. Since we are talking about Mike Tyson, I would like to say that he is a person I admire: An authentic warrior. When one gets acquainted with the videos of his youthful fights, easily found on YouTube, there is only one possible reaction – you’re blown away. And also, Mike Tyson came to find solace, a guide in the Muslim religion.

Again, the asceticism preached by the Koran does not consist in mortifying oneself, or making oneself small. On the contrary, it is a discipline that allows you to give the best of oneself; to achieve the objectives that you give yourself; to live up to one’s ambition – be it as a boxer, a practitioner of martial arts, an actor, a writer, a politician, a physician, an engineer, or even a businessman.

GC: A quick glance at contemporary film production allows us to notice that a white hero imbibing Asian values is often portrayed in American films and series. That form of soft power, which allows the Asian culture to bleed into the modern myths of the West, is manifestly unfamiliar to Russia. To my knowledge, at least, there is no movie where an American hero cottons onto Orthodox-Slavic values. How do you explain it?

KK: Your question is interesting. The attraction of the American action movie for Asia seems to me to be, to a large extent, linked to the mystical aura surrounding the Asian martial arts. Indeed, Russians may well have Systema and Israelis may well have Krav Maga, but Asia is clearly the unassailable homeland of martial arts.

For Asians, the martial arts are much more than a discipline; they are a religion and a philosophy in themselves. For the adepts of martial arts, all nationalities and all confessions considered, Asia means the equivalent of Mecca. Russia simply cannot compete with the appeal of Asian culture in that area.

GC: Thank you for your time. Would you like to add a last thing or two?

KK: Whether it’s from trips and outings of all kinds, to the previews of the movies of Jean-Claude, Paris is a city where I have many memories. You know, when I started helping Jean-Claude, he was not an international star at all. I fought non-stop for him – by getting on-board financiers, advertisers, and journalists who would propel him forward. I did it for a brother, never asking for anything in return; and without ever letting myself judge him for his excesses with drugs or alcohol. Because who am I to judge my neighbor? God alone is in a position to judge what we do with our existence on this planet. But I am very happy that Jean-Claude, whom I tried to rescue in that long fight also, ended up overcoming his addictions. I prayed to the good Lord that he cast off his demons; and today Jean-Claude is perfectly clean.

The most important thing in the life of an actor – Van Damme, Schwarzenegger, Stallone – is not his image, his roles on the screen; it is what he does with his life, it is the good he manages to do around him in his life. I always told Jean-Claude that in my eyes, the ultimate goal of our success in cinema, the ultimate dream, was to assist the weakest and the most disadvantaged. I find myself in the perfect moment of my life to remember that.

More than ever, I wish to do for my neighbor what I have done for Jean-Claude over all those years: Helping people in all areas in which I have expertise – more than ever, because I believe in the brotherhood of all men (without distinction as to color or religion). I wish to take action in the fight against poverty, mistreatment, pollution, and war. In a word, to work towards the unity of the world.

That is the goal of my association, which will include an academy for martial arts and a production house for films from all over the world, as much the United States, as well as, Africa, Europe, or China. More than ever, I wish to work in positivity, generosity, love, and the awareness of all those things. “To be aware,” as Jean-Claude puts it so well.

You can reach Kamel at his email address: krifaster@gmail.com

You can follow him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kamel.krifa

Or on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/therealkamelkrifa/

The image shows a bubishi illustration from the 19th-century.