Which Philosophers Matter? The Case For Leszek Kolakowski

Few contemporary philosophers have works considered important by non-academics. Their intellectual pursuits, important as they are, have little impact outside academia, let alone are they deemed politically dangerous. Leszek Kolakowski is just such a philosopher. In 2003, he was awarded the first Kluge Prize created by the Library of Congress as the American counterpart to the Nobel Prize for lifelong achievements in the human sciences, a distinction that was both timely and well deserved.

Kolakowski is the author of more than thirty books on topics as varied as Marxism, seventeenth-century thought, philosophy of religion, Bergson, and Pascal. He is also the translator of seventeenth-century philosophical writings and author of several collections of essays, the genre of writing for which he received the European Prize for the Essay. Among the most distinguished American awards that form part of Kolakowski’s collection are the Jefferson Award, the MacArthur Prize, and the Kluge Prize. The list of prestigious European awards is no less impressive: the Erasmus Prize, Prix Européen d’Essai, and Die Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels.

Born in 1927 in Radom, Poland, Kolakowski joined the Polish Communist party after World War II. His youthful fascination with Marxism did not, however, last long. Disillusioned with the primitivism of the official state ideology and the practice of real socialism, Kolakowski began drifting away from communism after the 1956 “October thaw.” Many of his writings from 1956 to 1966, including the influential essay “Karl Marx and the Classical Definition of Truth,” drew the attention of the state authorities and led to his expulsion from the editorship of Studia Filozoficzne.

The Revisionist movement in which Kolakowski became the most original voice made Khrushchev, the first secretary of the Soviet Communist party, insist that communist leaders from the “satellite republics” organize an international trial of the “revisionists”—Kolakowski being the main culprit among them. Luckily for the revisionists, Wladyslaw Gomulka, the communist leader of Poland, did not succumb to Khrushchev’s demand. He did, however, join the ranks of Kolakowski’s critics, attacking him publicly as “the main ideologue of the so-called revisionist movement.” In 1968 Kolakowski delivered a famous speech on the state of Polish culture; after this he found himself out of a job, removed from the editorial boards of a number of publishing houses, and stripped of all his scholarly titles “for forming the views of the youth in a position glaringly contrary to the dominant tendency of the country.” His writings were put on the index of forbidden authors, and none of his publications could be cited or even referred to in Poland during the entire pre-Solidarity period (1968-1980).

The Western Left subscribed to Kolakowski’s revisionist ideas, seeing in them the hope for “socialism with a human face,” of which the political practice in the countries of real socialism was believed to be merely a distortion. However, the October thaw did not last long. Ten years later, it became all too obvious to the revisionists that the promises made by the party leaders in 1956 were empty. Young Polish Marxists woke up from their revisionist dream in 1968 jobless. Several of them – Bronislaw Baczko, Zygmunt Bauman, Wlodzimierz Brus — were expelled from their posts and had to seek employment in the West. Kolakowski became probably the best known of them. He was professor of philosophy at McGill, then Berkeley, and eventually found his permanent post at All Souls College, Oxford (1971), and at the University of Chicago (1981), where he taught until his retirement.

Leszek Kolakowski and Zbigniew Janowski, Oxford, 1998.

If, as a revisionist Marxist, Kolakowski was dangerous for the communist authorities, after his arrival in the West in 1968 he became troublesome for his leftist admirers. The German philosopher Jurgen Habermas remarked: “Kolakowski is a catastrophe for the Western European Left.” Having little or no knowledge of his personal peregrinations in 1966 and 1968, they were unaware of Kolakowski’s departure from Marxism. Kolakowski laid out his reasons in his famous work, “My Correct Views on Everything” (1973), a rejoinder to the distinguished English historian E.P. Thompson’s hundred-page “An Open Letter to Leszek Kolakowski,” published a year earlier in the Socialist Register.

Far from having politically correct views on everything, an intellectual trait displayed by Thompson in his letter, who still in 1972 believed socialism to be a panacea for the ills of capitalism, Kolakowski explained to Thompson that he no longer cherished any hope for socialism. Stalinism, he argued in “Marxist Roots of Stalinism” is not a distortion of Marx’s thought; it is a legitimate offshoot of it. The socialist idea was dead for Kolakowski, and no “socialism with a human face” could be hoped for. Paraphrasing Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Kolakowski ended his sarcastic rejoinder by saying: “Alas, poor idea. I knew it, Edward. This skull will never smile again.”

If Habermas perceived Kolakowski’s activities of the early 1970s as a reason to see a coming catastrophe, the publication of Kolakowski’s Main Currents of Marxism in 1976 must have presented itself as a vision of Doomsday. Main Currents of Marxism is an intellectual “death certificate” of Marxist thought written thirteen years before the actual burial of communism in 1989. In this elegantly written work, Kolakowski traces the roots of Marxism to the tradition of European dialectics that goes back to Neoplatonism. He describes Marxism as twentieth-century man’s greatest fantasy: it promised utopia, a classless society without greed. What it brought about instead was the most oppressive political system ever known, based on total state ownership of all its citizens.

Despite the Left’s fears that Kolakowski’s anti-communism provided ammunition for the Right, Kolakowski never truly became a conservative. His later attitude is probably best expressed in two articles published in his collection of essays, My Correct Views on Everything. In “What Is Left of Socialism,” Kolakowski defines socialism as a set of slogans that “were supposed to justify and glorify communism and the slavery that inevitably goes with it.” However, insofar as socialism was the utopian expression of solidarity with the “underdogs,” it stood for “social justice.”

The notion of social justice has been criticized by economists, such as F. A. Hayek. Kolakowski does not deny the economic validity of such criticism but rejects Hayek’s conclusion that social justice is a useless notion. In his typically contrarian style, Kolakowski writes: “In its vagueness, social justice resembles the concept of human dignity. It is difficult to define what human dignity is. It is not an organ to be discovered in our body, it is not an empirical notion, but without it we would be unable to answer the simple question: what is wrong with slavery?” In “Where Are Children in Liberal Philosophy?” he argues that the consistent notion of the minimum liberal state is in danger of not being able to sustain the liberal state. Perfect neutrality of the state, which liberal ideology requires, is incapable of generating values that could foster public virtues to sustain the res publica. Those virtues must be inculcated, a position inconsistent with the liberal mindset.

The political turmoil in the 1960s helped Kolakowski’s international reputation, first, as a revisionist Marxist philosopher from behind the Iron Curtain, and later as a leading critic of communism. Yet Kolakowski has never been solely a scholar of Marxism. He launched his academic career with a work on Spinoza, The Individual and Infinity: Freedom and the Antinomies of Freedom in the Philosophy of Spinoza (1958), in which he aimed to extract “humanistic content” from the European religious tradition and see the whole of it, minus the Greeks, as hiding the same message under different religious garments.

The book on Spinoza was followed by the publication of a massive study of non-confessional Christianity in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe, Religious Consciousness and Confessional Link (1962). The book, translated into French under the telling title, Chrétiens sans église (Christians Without a Church), is concerned with the post-Reformation period in European religiosity and philosophy. Despite its length (824 dense pages in French translation) and heavyweight scholarship, the book has become a classic among French, Dutch, and Italian scholars of seventeenth-century thought.

Kolakowski’s critics were often puzzled by his interest in religion, but the book is more than a work in a neglected field of the history of religious ideas (most of the sources Kolakowski analyzes were available only in Dutch and Latin in their original seventeenth-century editions). Christians Without a Church was perceived as a model for revisionist Marxism like non-confessional Christianity. No single party, just like no single Church, could claim to be in possession of the orthodox creed. Accordingly, one could claim to be a Marxist without supporting the communist state, just as one could claim to be a Christian without belonging to the Church. Not without reason was Kolakowski once described as “Ein Christl ohne Kirche, ein Kommunist ohne Partei” (a Christian without a church, a Marxist without a party).

The young Kolakowski might have believed that revisionist Marxism could save the true Marxist message from its distortions at the hands of the official state apparatchiks and, by analogy, that non-confessional Christianity offered a model of an intellectual position one could assume for the communist state. Yet the validity of the parallel between denominational Christianity and Marxism was false and naive: False, because Stalinism, as Kolakowski himself argues in “Marxist Roots of Stalinism,” was not a distortion of Marxism but a legitimate version of it; and naive because “individual revelations,” be they mystical or “revisionist,” prove perilous to earthly organizations. As Kolakowski’s own example shows, his revisionist ideas became corrosive for the states behind the Iron Curtain. Their influence in the countries of the former Soviet empire, where his writings circulated in countless editions in a samizdat form, cannot be overestimated when calculating the loss of faith in Marxism.

Leszek Kolakowski and Zbigniew Janowski, Oxford, 1998.

Although Kolakowski devoted his most scholarly writings to Protestant Christianity, and he himself may forever remain a “Christian without a church,” his cultural background and religious sympathies are Roman Catholic. The subject of his book on Pascal, God Owes Us Nothing (1992), is the theological battle between the Jansenists and the Jesuits in the seventeenth-century Catholic Church. He rejoices in the fact that the semi-Pelagian (Jesuit) form of Christianity won against the rigidity of Jansenist theology, not because the Jansenists were wrong but because only the Jesuits could save the Catholic Church from being reduced, as he claims it would inevitably have happened with the Jansenists, to a small sect.

Kolakowski’s writings on religion are much more personal than the writings of most philosophy professors. For this very reason, however, they are also more exciting to read. In Religion: If There Is No God (1980), he takes his reader on a personal trip through most of the “pro and con” arguments for the existence of God to show that the act of faith is a moral, not a logical, commitment and that therefore there are no compelling logical reasons to abandon belief in God in the face of evil. For Kolakowski, who spent his teenage years in German-occupied Poland and who witnessed the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto, the existence of evil was no theoretical construct. In following a French theologian, he says, “I can understand people who do not believe in God, but the fact that there are people who do not believe in the devil is beyond my comprehension.” It should therefore not be surprising to see on the list of Kolakowski’s publications titles, such as The Key to Heaven, Conversations with the Devil, “Can the Devil be Saved?” “The Devil and Politics,” or “A Stenographic Report of the Devil’s Metaphysical Press Conference in Warsaw, on the 20th of December, 1963.”

Kolakowski has often been described as the most perceptive critic of totalitarianism. One needs to note, however, that his criticism goes beyond the anatomy of communist totalitarianism. He has also written on totalitarian Nazism (in “Genocide and Ideology” and in “A Short Comment on Heidegger’s Comment on Nietzsche’s Comment on the Power of Negativity”); and on several occasions he has expressed concerns about the dangers of democratic totalitarianism. The Nazi and Marxist forms of totalitarianism may be gone for good, but its watered-down incarnations, such as political correctness, are very much alive. It would be naive to believe that liberal democracy may not become totalitarian.

In his “Where Are Children in Liberal Philosophy,” Kolakowski is very clear that liberal principles may be turned against themselves. “Liberal states display an obsessive tendency to legislate, in minute detail, about every aspect and variety of human relations…. The more laws and regulations are needed… the more and more repressive” the liberal state becomes. This tendency is the result of the weakening of the common culture and the agreement on what common religious, traditional, and historical values should obtain to regulate human behavior.

No one who has experienced the ideological indoctrination that took place under communism can fail to be horrified at the extent to which life in present-day America (intrusion of the state into the private realm, the use of language, the ideologization of education) is reminiscent of life under communism. However, everyone who experienced it must conclude that intellectual devastation at North American universities has far surpassed what we know from history of education under communism. In most respects, the ideological brainwashing has achieved more than the communists could ever hope for.

As Kolakowski put it, “Should the ‘ideologization’ of universities in that spirit prevail, we might find ourselves longing for the good old days of universities ruled by the obligatory Marxist ideology, with its formal rules of historical correctness and truth.” Yet there does not seem to be any democratic “revisionist” movement under way. I do not mean there are no critics of political correctness; they do exist. But insofar as the criticism of communism by former believers was fundamental in bringing it down, there are no signs of it here. No sound of breast-beating can be heard from the former heralds of political correctness, who, even if they realize the extent of the damage they have done, display no signs of remorse.

On a few occasions, with true humility and frankness, Kolakowski does explain his own past commitments. “My strong impression is that in the early postwar years, committed communists… in Poland were intellectually less corrupt but more cynical than was the case in other countries. By ‘cynical’… [I mean] they knew that what the Party wanted to convey to the ‘masses’ was a pure lie, but they accepted and sanctioned it for the sake of the future blessings of the socialist community.” This is an admirable intellectual and moral trait in someone who gave intellectual support to Marxism as a young man. It appears to me that today’s intellectuals and academics lack not only the moral courage but also the intellectual caliber characteristic of the former Marxists. They lack what Leszek Kolakowski could teach them.


Zbigniew Janowski is the author of Homo Americanus: The Rise of Totalitarian Democracy in America. He is also editor of two volumes of John Stuart Mill’s writings. This article originally appeared in First Things, October 2006. It is reprinted here with small changes. We want to thank the Editors of First Things for permission to republish it with small changes.

Come, Light

Something extraordinary happened one morning in December 2020.

When he got up the night was still lingering in the sky. London plane trees, so doleful in the rain, were still dripping. The ground below was piled thick with soggy leaves, and a dull foreboding hung in the air.

Shards of streetlights shone on the wet asphalt. It looked as though the rain was about to end.

The day before Christmas in London in the year of the pandemic, Shifa thought to himself. The year of sorrow and dejection. The preceding few days things had gotten even gloomier. Every now and then an ambulance would dart through the deserted streets with sirens wailing. Hospitals were over-stretched, the news said, and the city cemeteries were just about full.

He had been reading Daniel Defoe’s account of the bubonic plague that scourged the city in 1665. About cartloads of dead being dumped into mass graves and about some, still alive, screaming and clawing out of the shallow pits. A brutal record of the fright, the deaths, the stench, the greed, and of the evil lurking in men as the pestilence ravaged the city.

A gnawing awareness of a similar agony—of having seen the horror and of a solemnity of being still alive—rippled through’s Shifa’s mind. The old plague lay mingled with the spectre of the present.

The weather too had been miserable. For weeks torrents of rain whipped up by gusty winds had been blighting the country, causing severe flooding in places. The lockdown had made everyone forget that a year consisted of four seasons. That there were nights and days of varying lengths and temperatures. That the once familiar outdoor still displayed facets of beauty and changing vistas.

Sickness, convalescence, separation across continents. Misery had struck his family too as it had so many others. There would be no Christmas celebration this year.

It was Thursday, the day of luminous mysteries. Shifa took out his rosary and sat down facing the charcoal sky. Slowly his eyelids closed.

By the time he finished the third decade Shifa had sunk into a rhythm of repetition. Praying the rosary for him sometimes turned into an unconscious and vague ritual. This morning, however, he was curiously alert as he came to the fourth decade. The mystery of the transfiguration. With blinkered eyes he tried to imagine how the illumined face of the teacher might have looked like to the apostles assembled on the bald mountain that night.

It was then that he was shaken by the irony. To meditate on a body made up of blood, flesh, and bones transforming itself into light—on a day like this? How could one contemplate light when the earth was awash in blinding darkness?

With eyes shut he whispered all this to himself. Drowned earth. Denuded trees, barren gardens, empty streets. Overhead a pouring sky. Wake up. Shed off your stupor.

Fingers still clasping the beads Shifa opened his eyes, and an unearthly beauty greeted him. The sun had pierced through the clouds, and a pale golden hue lay diffuse in the glistening air. Bewitched, he watched a curtain of liquid, diaphanous gold silently settling on grey, red, and beige buildings.

The leafless skeleton of the majestic tree of paradise across the window stood sheathed in a preternatural luster.

This was transfiguration, it occurred to him. Light had entered the darkness, gently spreading its silken luminosity. As it increased in brightness, the glow turned the earth itself into its glory. It appeared as though the world was being consecrated by an act of benediction promising the return of hope to a saddened world.

Ezekiel had once encountered the glory of God. “As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day,” said the prophet, “so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance.” And he continued, “Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face.” (Ezekiel 1:28).

What a mystery light is!

“It is a universal, firmly-held opinion, the very voice of nature,” wrote Marsilio Ficino in 1493, “that nothing is more beautiful to behold, nothing more lovable, nothing more astonishing than light.”

Scientists say about 80% of our experiences are visual. The eye’s response to light constitutes our external reality and thus determines our interactions with the world. Yet “What is light?” never elicits a simple answer, writes Glenn Stark in the Encyclopedia Britannica, because light is “experienced, explored, and exploited” in so many contexts that its literal meaning is inextricable from the metaphorical.

The English language is especially rich with its nuances. The sun lets us see the world and helps us know it. The mind enlightens us with understanding. Visions and inspiration help us gain insight.

Even a scientist, while observing light’s nature (its impacts and interactions with objects), must walk a tightrope between the opposite properties of light: particles and waves. Others – theologians, poets, philosophers – often imagine light in paradoxes.

In art, two painters rarely approach it from similar angles, even though what they paint mostly is light. Renaissance master Vincenzo Catena (“Saint Jerome in his study”) painted it coming directly from its source, the sun, illuminating the world as it did the saint in his study. For both the saint and the painter, the direct trajectory of light, increasing in brightness until it attained the perfect brilliance and clarity, emanated from God, its true origin. For George Seurat, on the other hand, the interplay of tiny contrasting strokes of colours (or particles) nearly invisible to the naked eye, made up the lustrous domain of light that enwrapped objects and things. The source of light for him was in the environs.

So, what is light?

The illumination we encounter as visible light is the effect on our environment of the sun’s radiation, or electromagnetic spectrum, as science calls it. This spectrum is made up of waves of energy the star dissipates over the universe continuously. On one end of the spectrum pulsate immensely destructive gamma rays with less than an atom of space between waves; on the other undulate radio waves that have thousands of miles of distance between crests.

All this radiation is hostile to life. Yet somewhere near the middle of its length is a tiny portion (less than 1%) of the spectrum that becomes supremely benign.

It is bizarre why this minuscule segment of deadly radiation should soften itself, but it does. As it enters the earth’s atmosphere the electromagnetic spectrum attains the wavelength of the extremely narrow range of 0.3 to 14 microns (a micron is a millionth of a meter). This range, writes author and scientist James Le Fanu in “Here comes the all-powerful sun,” is so narrow within the entire spectrum that, by analogy, it takes up just “a few seconds” in a timespan 100 million times longer than the 4.6 billion years since the Big Bang, or the beginning of our solar system.

As our planet wakes up to greet the sun in the morning, an incredibly small amount of radiation is extracted, as if by some invisible hands, from the massive body of deadly destruction and turned gently into life-generating munificence.

Michelangelo’s “Separation of Light from Darkness” in the Sistine Chapel celebrates this drama as narrated in Genesis 1:2-3. We see a colossal God separating swirling white gases from surrounding darkness with his enormous, sinewy hands, thus initiating creation. It brings to memory Isaiah’s words: it is God who “forms the light and creates darkness” (45:7).

From this moment on, a new story more breathtaking than an Arabian tale begins to take shape.

During those few seconds that it touches the sleepy earth, the radiation turns itself into visible light and its companion heat, setting off the cycle of life. Working in tandem with the earth’s orbit, its daily turning on the axis, and the planet’s tilt towards the sun, light creates a unique orchestra by arranging time’s endless permutations of varying lengths of night and day.

Fecundity follows. Light translates time into seasons of tilling, growing, and harvesting. Into seasons of courtship, nesting, and raising fledglings. Light makes life possible and ensures that the mystery continues. For the sake of the princess Scheherazade and the king inside the palace as well as for the ladybug in the garden.

The farmer casts the seed in the ground, the gospel tells us, but “knows not how the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” (Mark 4:28). It is the benevolent hand of light that waves the magic wand.

The spectacle carries on. The beam that descends on treetops, mountain peaks, oceans and rivers also lights up fireworks in our brains. Electrical nerve impulses generated by the reflected light tell our brains how to detect objects, colours, shapes, dimensions, and textures. We acknowledge, differentiate, classify, and interpret images by comparing them with old images stored in our memories.

As the light creates sparkles and ripples on a stream or paints the wings of a butterfly it is only the human eye that can capture this panorama. Through the lenses of our eyes, only we can witness the rainbow of the seven hues.

There is more.

Light keeps time and measures distance in the universe. Whether fathoming the vastness of space or reading the faces of our digital devices, we return to light to get our bearing. Scientists measure the distance of galaxies, from us and among themselves, by the speed of light. And when an object acquires the speed of light, they say, it becomes infinite.

There is an instructive episode in the Venerable Bede’s history of English kings and churches.

A courtier in the Anglo-Saxon king Edwin’s castle compares the life of a man to the swift flight of a sparrow through the king’s banquet hall on a winter night. The king sits at supper with friends and family while the fire blazes and the storms rage abroad. The sparrow flies in at one door and immediately out at another. While the bird is within the warm hall, he is safe from the wintry tempest, but then he vanishes out of everybody’s sight, passing from winter to winter again.

“Such is the life of man,” says the courtier to the king, “appearing for a little while in the well-lit and warm banquet hall, but what follows or what went before we know nothing at all.”

Like Bede’s sparrow flitting through the warm hall on a wintry night, light, traveling at a speed of 300,000 km a second takes a little over eight minutes to traverse ninety-two million miles before reaching the earth, the banquet hall of life.

Unlike the sparrow, however, this radiant visitor quickens life, clothes nature, replenishes granaries and then leaves everything behind. Back into the vast endlessness. Whence it comes we know but where it goes in the end, we do not.

The first act of God narrated in the Bible was the creation of light. “Let there be light’ said God, ‘and there was light” (Genesis 1:3).

This light, created “when the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while the Spirit of God swept over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2), became the icon of divinity in human imagination. This surreal picture of the beginning has been the enduring anchor for our physical and moral understanding of the world as well as of our relationships with it.

Following the gospels, apostolic narratives and patristic traditions, Christian theology has from its inception understood the transfiguration of Jesus to be the revelation of the glory of God. The accounts appearing in Matthew, Mark and Luke are remarkable: “There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” “There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them,” and “As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” Later, Peter spoke of having been an eyewitness of Christ’s “magnificence” (2 Peter 1: 16-18). In his gospel as well as in the first epistle, John described God as light.

The significance of these accounts lies primarily in the transcendental impact of light. The apostles do not merely refer to their visual susceptibility; they allude to the event’s transformative impact. St Paul articulates this transformation most eloquently in his letter to the Ephesians: “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light” (5:13).

One of the earliest Church fathers, Saint Irenaeus, also described the transfiguration by establishing a correspondence between the glory of God, the vision of God and the life of man. “[T]he glory of God is a live human being, and a truly human life is the vision of God.”

Light perceived in this way can lead to a sea-change in the heart of a man. It may rekindle a novel awareness of God; it may even lead to an experience comparable to Saul’s on the road to Damascus. After all, he was blinded by intense light.

Life transcendent. Is that not what transfiguration is? What else can turn an inert possibility into a living luminescence, if not light?


Pius Manutius is a husband, father, and traveler.


Featured image , “The Penitent Magdalen,” by Georges de La Tour, painted ca. 1640.

The Left-Right Hacks Of The Legacy Media

Readers may have seen the heated argument between Laure Adler and Franz Olivier Giesbert on TV. The lady journalist, a peroxide blonde with sausage lips and tightened skin, reproached FOG for having written in his latest book, Histoire intime de la Vème République (Intimate History of the Fifth Republic) that on his way to the Saint-Charles train station via the Cannebière, he could no longer hear French spoken. And then… My God! What drama! Horresco referens! The cries of outrage by the lady journalist rendered Giesbert immobile. FOG, cornered, defended himself for being a white man and for being, on the contrary, cosmopolitan. “You are white and proud of it. There are not enough white people around you,” concluded Mrs. Adler, who then came to the conclusion that her colleague’s remarks were racist, which left him speechless.

Now I’m not one to comment on the skits flashing on cathode-ray screens, but the head-on clash of these two journalists was to me a hilarious episode with a calamitous moral and laughable conclusions, revealing what is wrong in France for both of them: the disconnect of the elites and the consequences of the real world finally made visible.

Being familiar with Christophe Guilluy, I could only think back to his analyses in Fractures françaises (French Fractures), where he notes the irreparable and final separation of the cities where the darling children of globalism live and those who live in the peripheries. The former despise the latter politically and culturally and loathe and reject their electoral options and political opinions. They are the “In” and “bottom up” people; and on the other hand, there are the penniless, the sweaty, the “down.” The first ones are rootless, post-national, from everywhere and nowhere; while the other ones, rooted and religious, represent the moldy, Petainist, reactive, eternally anti-Semitic France. We know how it goes. In this story, very nearly a farce, these two hacks of the left and center-right journalism are retailers who buy from the same wholesaler, the other side of the same coin. Have a look.

Let’s start with Franz Olivier Giesbert, a Marseille native at heart, who feels at home in this cosmopolitan city and who says so loud and clear. To be a cosmopolitan like Paul Morand, to stay at the Ritz and the Danieli in Venice, to travel the length and breadth of Europe, to be a great performer at Savile Row and Times Square, I can understand that. To be a great European like Ernst Jünger, handling French as well as German, conscious of a concert of nations, I am can go along with that—but a cosmopolitanism which is the prerogative of an elite, sure of being heir to its own civilization, like Valéry, Nietzsche, Zweig, Fumaroli.

The current cosmopolitans, thus modern and not inhabited by the old world, make the mistake of applying as a universal principle their own bourgeois life to the whole world, of maintaining that there is no nation, of subscribing to miscegenation and diversity for the people below, while never living within the diversity they cherish, still feeling protected by their areas of residence and having renounced civilization in favor of a living-together, based on human rights, relativism and consumerism.

Giesbert does not understand that the problem lies in the shift from quality to quantity. There is strength in numbers. One goes from a conversation of literates who speak French in Vienna to a suburban RER station in Clichy la Garenne. What is seen as the diplomacy of the spirit now becomes, by its application in general law, a mixing of cultures stupidly qualified as wealth. Living together does not work because people from different countries, coming in too large numbers, poor, concentrated in certain places, no longer seek to assimilate into France, into the French, into French work. Everything has been done to prevent them from doing so.

One must read Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities to see that the American situation is not so far from what FOG is experiencing in Marseille. Diasporas live together, speak their dialect, their language, and end up hating each other. Giesbert is Sherman MacCoy who discovers reality: multiculturalism is cosmopolitanism from below, for the masses and for the poor, which does not produce anything happy. The Lebaneseization of our country is the symptom of an archipelago which, when these islands come together, will, alas, set off fireworks.

Giesbert’s reaction reminds me of Bossuet’s cult phrase “God laughs at men who deplore the consequences while they cherish the causes.” Giesbert, the defender of liberalism, of laissez-faire, supporter of Maastrichtian Europeanism, sometimes Mitterrandian, sometimes Chiracian, sometimes Sarkozist, is caught in the contradictions of his own ideology. No, France is not McDonald’s; people do not come as they are. No, it is not enough to work and respect the laws to make a nation. This is already the vice of liberalism, which prefers belonging to labor capital over and above cultural belonging. The great replacement is a fact, but it needs a genitive, as we say in Latin, to be the great replacement of France from below by the immigration of work that has become that of settlement. In the logic of liberalism, a lawyer does not have to be replaced by a Kosovar or Congolese lawyer, but a plasterer, a sushi delivery man, and yes, a security guard. Perhaps, Mr. Giesbert realizes in his old age what is happening, like the sad sire, Onfray, supporter of Zemmour, like our dear Jean-Marie Rouart, former Freemason turned Catholic, in a successful book, Ce pays des hommes sans Dieu (This Land of Men without God).

It is precisely because Franz-Olivier Giesbert is beginning to understand that Laure Adler, judge and jury, felt obliged to point out his curious, tendentious and dangerous remarks. She is the illustration of what has become of the sixty-eight year-old Left. I can’t help but think of that acidic book by Tom Wolfe, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, in which he describes Leonard Bernstein, cashmere sweater over his shoulders, raising his fist in the air when he meets a Black Panther activist. This bourgeois Left has taken power through a cultural coup d’état (just as it did in 1789), by taking over the subsidized positions in culture, radio, newspapers, universities, national education, and the European Parliament. Mrs. Adler, fifty years of political and intellectual journalism on France culture, has been the red carpet of all the intellectualism of the last decades, selling us autistic feminism, hysterical anti-racism, blissful Europeanism, the culture of the margins, and deconstruction by those crazy people from Derrida, Althusser and Co.

For Ms. Adler, being offended by the fact that French is no longer spoken in France is racist. What!? Any country that wants to survive can only do so through a people, a land, a language. The self-righteousness of a bourgeoisie so outdated, outraged in front of reality, speaks volumes about the state of the disconnect. Mrs. Adler reproaches Giesbert for being white and for wanting to surround himself with white people. But does she herself really surround herself with people of diversity? In her milieu, is she not surrounded by people of her own class? Like over at Mediapart, where there is not a single French person of foreign origin but only an assembly of granivores. The only blacks or Arabs that Laure Adler sees are her cleaning lady, her Uber delivery man, the guy who checks her Hermès bag at the entrance to BHV or her looks at her Covid passport. The cynicism of ideas has a face. Tolerance, no-frontierism, crazy anti-racism all have accompanied liberalism’s own desire to see Mohamed Charkaoui’s grandson, a plasterer who arrived in 1975, become a parcel deliveryman. A drift of the capitalism of connivance.

Since the revolution eats its children and an abundance of rulers is detrimental, Mrs. Adler understands that it was necessary, at her age, to reinvent herself. One would almost have thought that Mitterrand had come back. But here she is, subscribing to Wokism to stay in the game and to survive on TV, where everything is understood in terms of skin color, oppression and minorities.

On the Left, she adheres to the most ridiculous anti-racism, but she also subscribes to the long speech of the neoliberal candidate Macron in Marseille in 2017, who saw in the Phocaean city Ghanaians, Moroccans, Algerians, Congolese, Italians, Portuguese, Turks, Brazilians and tutti quanti, but not a single French person of foreign origin. The irony is that this Marxist Left, fifty years on, like a Dumas novel, has gone from the Mao scarf to the Rotary Club. It is Goupil that loathes the Yellow Vests, the con Bandit, agent of the Americans in the European Union, old Glucksmann who supported the war in Iraq.

That the media hacks of power tear each other apart is self-evident; that they do so in public can be embarrassing. But it reveals a certainty: fools ever glory in what should shame them—it is the height of foolishness.


Nicolas Kinosky is at the Centres des Analyses des Rhétoriques Religieuses de l’Antiquité. This articles appears through the very kind courtesy La Nef.


Featured image: “The Pig-faced Woman and the Spanish Mule” Caricature by George Cruikshank, published 21 March 1815.

Against the West: Exiting The Liberal-Libertarian Empire

We are so very pleased to provide this translation of the Prologue to the recent book by Jesús Sebastián-Lorente, entitled, Contra Occidente. Salir del imperio liberal-libertario (Against the West: Exiting The Liberal-Libertarian Empire). The Prologue is by Alain de Benoist, the well-known thinker and philosopher of what is known as the New Right.

The subject of the book itself is an intriguing one in that it calls into question the commonly used terms, “the West” and “Europe.” This excerpt comes through the generous courtesy of El Manifesto.


The title of this book, Contra Occidente (Against the West), published by EAS, will undoubtedly surprise some readers, accustomed to thinking that the terms “Europe” and “the West” are more or less synonymous. However, one of this book’s great merits is precisely to demonstrate that these terms, far from being synonyms, refer today to totally opposite realities.

Raymond Abellio observed that “Europe is fixed in space, that is, in geography,” while the West is “mobile.” In fact, “the West” has not stopped traveling and changing direction. Initially, the term referred only to the land of the setting sun (Abendland), as opposed to the land of the rising sun (Morgenland).

From the reign of Diocletian, at the end of the 3rd century AD, the opposition between East and West was reduced to the distinction between the Western Roman Empire (whose capital was Milan, later Ravenna) and the Eastern Roman Empire established in Constantinople. The West and Europe then became permanently and lastingly confused. However, from the 18th century onwards, the adjective “Western” was also used in maritime cartography to refer to the New World, also called the “American system,” as opposed to the “European system” or the “Eastern Hemisphere” (which then included Europe as well as Africa and Asia).

In the interwar period, the West, always assimilated to Europe (e.g., Spengler), was globally opposed to the East, which became, at the same time, an object of fascination (René Guénon) or a counterpoint (Henri Massis). During the Cold War, the West regrouped Western Europe and its Anglo-Saxon allies, England and the United States, to oppose, in this case, the “Eastern bloc” dominated by Soviet Russia. This understanding, which allowed the United States to legitimize its hegemony, survived the fall of the Soviet system, as can be seen in those who always try to mobilize the “Western bloc” against Russia (and also against China).

Today, the West has changed direction once again. Sometimes, it is given a purely economic definition: all developed, modernized, industrialized countries are called “Western,” including Japan and South Korea, as well as Australia, former countries of the East, North America and a part of Latin America. “Ex Oriente lux, ex Occidente luxus,” as the Polish writer Stanislaw Jerzy Lec jocularly put it. The West thus loses all its spatial content to become confused with the notion of modernity. At other times, it is globally opposed to the latest incarnation to date of the furor orientalis in the eyes of Westerners: Islamism. In this vision, an essential fracture opposes the “Judeo-Christian West” to the “Arab-Muslim East.” Since there is no longer a unitary “West,” just as there is no homogeneous “East.” This is a new source of misunderstanding.

But more importantly, above all, the notion of the “West,” as it is understood today, is a geopolitical aberration. Europe belongs to the “land power,” while the United States represents the “sea power.” History, said Carl Schmitt, is first and foremost a history of the struggle between continental powers and maritime powers. Despite all that is repeated in Brussels and Washington, the interests of Europeans and Americans are not convergent, but opposed. As for the notion of the “Christian West,” which for too long has made us forget the universal (and universalist) dimension of the Christian religion, it has lost all meaning since religion has become a private affair and, above all, since the majority of believers are located in the Third World. Europe and the West are, today, totally separated—to the point that defending Europe means, quite often, fighting the West. As it no longer relates to any particular geographical or even cultural area, the word “West” should be abandoned.

Since its conversion to universalism, the West has always considered its specific values as “universal” values, and has since then been legitimized to impose them on the whole world. In the Third World, attempts were first made to make people worship the “true God” (the only one, of course), then to bring “civilization,” “progress,” “democracy,” and, finally, “development” to the Third World. The ideology of human rights does not escape the rule. Although it is historically and geographically perfectly situated, it seeks to reshape the planet in the name of an “abstract man,” a man from everywhere and nowhere. The United States is, naturally, the first champion of this ideology, because, for them, Africans are nothing more than black-skinned Westerners, and Europeans are “Americanizable” populations speaking (provisionally) a foreign language. This explains their disappointments in international politics. The world will only be comprehensible to them when it has been totally Americanized.

It is because of their universalism that Westerners find it so difficult to understand (and admit) otherness. Their deep conviction is that differences between cultures and peoples are transitory, secondary, soluble in folklore, even downright harmful. In other words, they admit the Other only to the extent that they believe they can demonstrate that the Other is “like everyone else;” that is, the Same. The ideal of the society of individuals is a society where all men are interchangeable, substitutable for one another, all equally committed to the compulsive model of happiness through consumption. A certain egalitarianism, which makes equality a synonym for “sameness,” pushes in this same direction. It is another form of racism: in the absence of being able to make those who are different disappear, differences (between peoples and between the sexes) are devalued as illusory or insignificant. Political universalism, the demand for a “right to indifference” and gender ideology converge in this same aspiration to indifferentization, which is, at bottom, nothing more than a “death wish.”


So far, slightly more than 200 books and academic works have been published, in various languages, entirely devoted to the French New Right and to my writings. Their quality is obviously uneven. Favorable or hostile, some are quite serious, or at least scientific in appearance; some are even quite good. However, the truth demands to say that the vast majority are properly miserable.

Reading this infra-literature, one finds that the procedures employed are always the same. The most common method consists of coldly copying what other authors have previously written, without bothering for a moment to investigate whether or not it corresponds to reality. Ten previous books are taken and summarized to make the eleventh. This is how the same factually false information, invented quotations of all kinds, the same amalgamations, the same judgments of intention, travel from one writing to another, as if the indefinitely repeated lies became many truths.

Another common procedure is that of selective reading: the conclusion to be reached is already established beforehand, everything that can serve to prove the thesis is retained, discarding everything that could contradict it. There is also the “anti-historical” or anachronistic method, which does not understand the need to periodize the history of a school of thought that is already more than half a century old: quotations are never dated, which makes it possible to unearth phrases that are forty or fifty years old, while pretending to keep them as contemporary or as representative of what the same author is writing today, as if in half a century his thought had never evolved. In other cases, phrases are cut, mutilated, extracted from their context, or even sent back, not to what this or that author may have said, but to a comment made by a hostile author.

Speculations on the “unsaid” are equally fruitful. Failing to find in an author’s writings what we would like to find there, we try to “decode” his discourse, to “read between the lines.” Rather than being interested in what is actually written, the main concern is to know “from where it is inspired,” in the hope of establishing imaginary connections, fantastic organizational charts that allow us to conclude what the Anglo-Saxons call “guilt by association,” the eternal resource of low-level conspiracy theorists.

In all cases, the underlying idea is that what is written does not correspond to what is really thought, and may even mean the opposite. The idea that an intellectual or theorist would immediately discredit himself by saying something different from what he thinks (in which precisely he differs from the politician) is not even taken into account. The practice of suspicion is widespread. If something is written it is done only for “strategy,” to “make believe that,” to “play into the hands of” this or that. Those who engage in these contortions are, of course, in a better position than anyone else to know what everyone really thinks. And, of course, any denial is taken as confirmation! One can immediately see the policing nature of this way of doing things. The policing of the (supposed) ulterior motives of thought is added to the policing of thought, for whatever one does, one is always guilty. The work of thought is simply ignored.

Another thing that has always struck me is that many foreign authors who have written on the French New Right are obviously incapable of reading French, which at first sight is surprising. At best, they have only been able to have access to a few books published in their language, which is completely insufficient to acquire an overview of the issue. Rather than a major book that has not been translated, they will cite a minor book that has. Otherwise, they are reduced to relying on more or less trusted secondary sources.

Of course, they could try to verify some claims, but apparently that does not seem to suit them. One revealing fact: I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of authors who have written books about my work and who have taken the trouble to contact me, in one way or another, to ask me some questions, to try to clarify some problematic points, etc. The rest obviously had no need, or even any desire, to meet in vivo with the supposed subject of their studies. It is a way of “working” that says a lot about such authors.

This is not how Jesús Sebastián-Lorente works. He works with method, with honesty, with passion. We will see this by reading this book, in which his multiple references to the works of the New Right do not prevent him from expressing personal thought. In general, I agree with everything he writes, with a few exceptions perhaps, but this is just a detail! I am convinced that his book will be a landmark in Spain.


Featured image: “Leaving the Studio,” by William McGregor Paxton, painted in 1912.

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

Ayn Rand And Willard V.O. Quine On Analyticity

At that stage, I will develop my understanding of the issue of knowing whether definitions are true or wrong independently of reality (i.e., true or wrong in an apodictic mode); then on the issue of knowing whether material existence can be deduced from ideational essence. In this regard, I will compare and evaluate Ayn Rand’s and Willard V.O. Quine’s respective criticisms against the notion of analyticity (i.e., the notion of truth independent of reality by the sole operation of the logical laws admitted in some system of formal logic). Then I shall return to my assessment of Plato’s approach to the Idea of Good. Just as a statement allegedly true in an apodictic mode is a statement allegedly true in a mode independent of reality; a statement allegedly true in an analytic mode is a certain variety of an allegedly apodictic statement: namely a statement that the laws of formal logic are sufficient to make it true and to make it apodictically true.

In Viennese empiricism, two kinds of purported analytical truth are recognized: on the one hand, tautologies, i.e., statements which, in the eyes of a certain system of formal logic, are true by the sole operation of the accepted logical laws in the system in question. On the other hand, statements that are allegedly reducible—independently of reality—to a tautology via the play of the synonymy between two terms or between a term and a sequence of terms. Whereas the former are allegedly analytical by the sole reason of their tautological character, the latter are allegedly analytical by the sole reason of their alleged reducibility independent of reality to an analytical truth of the tautological type.

Faced with the notion of the existence of these two varieties of analytical truth, at least two questions arise: on the one hand, would a statement that, via the play of synonyms, would be effectively reducible (independently or not of reality) to a tautology have a meaning equivalent to the one of a tautology? On the other hand, are the laws of any mode of formal logic actually sufficient to make a tautology analytically true—and is the play of synonyms effectively sufficient to make a statement reducible (independently of reality) to a tautology? Whoever investigates the relation of definitions to reality cannot refrain from seeking the answer to those two questions: the former because, if a definition were indeed of a meaning equivalent to the one of a certain tautological statement, then a definition would be of no interest with regard to what the tautology in question already says; the latter because, if a definition were effectively reducible independently of reality to a tautological analytical truth (via the play of the synonyms recognized in the language), then reality would be of no interest in judging the truth of a definition.

A fault in the Randian critique against the notion of apodicticity (which it amalgamates with the notion of analyticity) is that said critique distorts the theses and arguments in favor of said existence to the point where it attacks ghosts. Here I will leave aside the tasks of listing and dissecting the many scarecrows of Ayn Rand on that subject. Another fault in the Randian critique against the idea of apodicticity is that it lacks a clear distinction between the generic entity and the singular entity; but the inclusion of a clearer (or completely clear) distinction on that subject does not require the Randian argument against the idea of apodicticity to be significantly overhauled.

The argument in question (especially developed in Leonard Peikoff’s article “The Analytic-Synthetic Distinction”) is, in essence, the following. A concept encompasses all the characteristics of its object and not only those that have to be included in its (true) definition; a concept and its true definition are therefore not true synonyms (any more than terms considered to be synonymous in a certain language are really synonymous—although neither Rand nor Peikoff, to my knowledge, say so openly). Accordingly, a statement associating a concept with a true definition is neither reducible to a tautology via the play of synonyms nor endowed with a meaning equivalent to a tautology. Yet the definitions are true or false depending on whether they are in agreement with the entities exhibited in the sensible experience—and in agreement with the logical laws objectively deduced from the ontological laws objectively exhibited in the sensible experience.

According to Rand, all human knowledge (including that of the ontological laws underlying the valid logical laws) is an account of sensible experience articulated according to logical laws deduced from ontological laws themselves known through sensible experience. A definition in agreement with the concerned entity is a definition that subsumes those characteristics of the entity that are best able to distinguish the entity in question in view of what is currently known about it through the sensible experience. Because a definition that correctly subsumes those characteristics (from sensible experience) is therefore in (perfect) agreement with reality, it cannot be refuted by progress in knowledge; it can certainly be complemented, not be refuted. Conclusion: there is no truth independent of facts; but any definition that correctly subsumes the characteristics best capable of distinguishing the object in view of the present state of knowledge about the universe is true—and true in an objectively undoubtable mode.

The Randian answer to the two questions mentioned above is therefore the following. On the one hand, there is no true synonymy because the meaning of a concept is its object taken from the angle of all of its properties. A statement that would be reducible to a tautology via the play of synonyms is absurd; but the meaning of a statement associating a concept with its true definition is actually irreducible to the meaning of a tautology. On the other hand, tautologies are not analytical (nor apodictic) but remain objectively certain when constructed from logical laws objectively grasped in sensible experience; just as definitions and those statements which are limited to associating terms deemed synonymous (for example, “no single person is engaged”) are not analytical (nor apodictic), but remain objectively certain when faithfully descriptive of the sensible experience.

The Randian criticism arrives to a partially true conclusion; but its argument is wrong on two levels, at least. On the one hand, a concept encompasses only those characteristics of its object that have to be included in the definition; but it does not only encompass them, it identifies them as constitutive of its object. Accordingly, a statement reducible to a tautology does have a meaning that is not equivalent to that of a tautology; but not for the reasons given by Ayn Rand.

On the other hand, a definition admittedly subsumes the characteristics that it considers best able to distinguish the correspondent concept’s object in view of what one currently knows or believes to know about the universe; but, in addition to the fact that it precisely amounts to subsuming those characteristics which seem to be constitutive, it does not render true nor objectively certain a hypothetical definition correctly subsuming the characteristics in question. To complement a definition always amounts to refuting it, just as to relativize it always amounts to refuting it.

For example, replacing a definition of the swan as “a large web-footed bird, with white plumage, long flexible neck” with a new definition of the latter as “a large web-footed bird, with white or black plumage, long flexible neck” amounts to relativizing the first definition; but to substitute for a definition of the swan as “a large web-footed bird, with white or black plumage,” a definition of the latter such as, this time, “a large web-footed bird, with white or black plumage, with a long flexible neck” amounts to complementing the first definition. In both cases, the second definition comes to refute the first.

Finally, I think the following answer is the correct one to the two questions mentioned above. On the one hand, if certain statements were effectively reducible to a tautology via synonymy, that reducibility would be no more independent of reality than it would make the statements in question equivalent in their sense to a tautology. A statement reducible to a tautology via synonymy is not impossible stricto sensu (as Rand wrongly asserts); but neither its reducibility nor its truth would be independent of reality. On the other hand, a tautological statement can neither be analytical nor true independently of the facts (since the logical laws themselves cannot be valid independently of the facts); just as no statement can be reduced to a tautology independently of the facts.

A mistake by Rand is to represent to herself that synonymy does not exist between a concept and its true definition (because a concept allegedly means its object taken from the angle of all its properties—and not only from the angle of all those properties that are to be related in its definition if true). But the fact is that such synonymy does exist (because the meaning of a concept is strictly confused with its object taken from the angle of its constitutive properties, those which are to be related in a true definition). As we will see more closely a few lines later, another mistake on her part is to represent to herself that sensible experience allows us to objectively grasp ontological laws that objectively establish valid logical laws; and that there are indeed statements that are true by the operation of those laws alone, but that those statements, though objectively certain, are not apodictic.

Quine’s criticism against the analytic-synthetic distinction, which is (quite in a convoluted, fuliginous mode typical of the so-called analytical philosophers) presented in his article, “Two dogmas of empiricism,” is carried out at two levels. Quine, who amalgamates the notions of analyticity (i.e., truth by the sole operation of logical laws independently of reality) and apodicticity (i.e., truth independent of reality), does not deal with the first above-evoked question but only the second one. On the one hand, Quine addresses the case of those statements that are claimed to be—independently of reality—reducible via a synonymy relation to a tautology (i.e., a statement that some system of formal logic holds to be true by the sole operation of the admitted logical laws in the system in question); and which are claimed to be thus inheriting the purported analytical character of the tautology in question.

Quine rightly points out that the notion that some statements are, independently of reality, reducible to tautological analytical statements via synonymy relations actually supposes the notion that synonymous terms are synonymous independently of reality—and that the notion that synonymous terms are synonymous independently of reality actually supposes the notion of a truth independent of reality. Hence a logical circle when it comes to elucidating, characterizing, the way a statement allegedly reducible to a tautological analytical statement would be indeed reducible to a tautological analytical statement. (Quine then rightly shows that any other conceivable way of alleging some statement to be reducible to a tautology results into a logical circle as well).

On the other hand, Quine addresses the case itself of tautologies and logical laws. He points out that the logical laws one resorts to at some point in the pursuit of knowledge are actually interdependent (and totally interdependent) with the whole of the ongoing scientific theories—and that the former are completely and only dependent on the latter and the latter, in turn, completely (but not only) dependent on the former. The logical laws are accordingly susceptible to be themselves revised when a new scientific theory with a better empirical corroboration comes to replace a former one. Hence the tautologies are neither analytical (i.e., true by the sole operation of the logical laws) nor objectively certain; but instead faced with the tribunal of experience themselves and objectively uncertain. Just like that criticism on Quine’s part is actually exaggerated on the issue of logical laws and tautologies, it unfortunately stops along the way on the issue of synonymies.

To be completely dependent (qualitatively speaking) on something is one thing; to be only dependent (either completely or partly) on it is another thing. The fact for some house under construction of being completely dependent on those specific bricks specifically available in some building-supply store is one thing; the fact for the house in question of being dependent (or partly dependent) on nothing else than those bricks—for instance, cement—is another thing. When two things are interdependent only to some extent, the dependence is either partial on both sides or complete only in one side; when they are dependent only of each other, the dependence is exclusive on both sides.

It is true that, if a statement were actually reducible to a tautology via the play of synonyms independently of reality, its analyticity couldn’t but be supposed by its reducibility; but Quine does not identify what is the reason for such impossibility. Namely that, when two terms (or a term and a sequence of terms) are in some language claimed to be synonymous with each other, the latter are actually synonymous depending on whether reality confirms (instead of refuting) what the considered language claims to be their synonymy.

As for the issue of tautologies (i.e., the issue of those statements that the logical laws one follows claim to be true by the sole operation of those laws), Quine’s claim that the logical laws (i.e., the rules one follows in the construction of reasonings in order to reason in a coherent mode) as they stand at some point are (completely) interdependent with the whole of the ongoing scientific theories—and dependent only on them (though not reciprocally)—is actually exaggerated.

Instead, the logical laws one makes use of at some point are obtained strictly as much through one’s empirical impression or empirical conjecturing as, besides, through one’s hypothetical suprasensible impression, through one’s hypothetical conjecturing from one’s hypothetical suprasensible impression, and through one’s hypothetical conjecturing from other hypothetical conjectures (whether they are borrowed—and whether they are scientific claims) from sensible experience, other hypothetical conjectures (whether they are borrowed—and whether they are also empirically conjectured) from suprasensible impression, and other hypothetical conjectures (whether they are borrowed—and whether they are also empirically conjectured) from sensible impression—and are therefore dependent to some extent (and only to some extent) on the ongoing scientific theories, but not only dependent on the ongoing scientific theories. While the latter are obtained strictly as much through one’s conjectures from one’s logical laws, as through one’s hypothetical sensible impression as through one’s hypothetical suprasensible impression, as through one’s conjectures from sensible experience as through one’s hypothetical conjectures from (hypothetical) sensible impression, as through one’s hypothetical conjectures from (hypothetical) suprasensible impression, as through one’s hypothetical conjectures from hypothetical other conjectures from (hypothetical) sensible experience, hypothetical other ones from some logical laws, hypothetical other ones from (hypothetical) suprasensible impression, and hypothetical other ones from (hypothetical) sensible impression (whether those hypothetical other conjectures are one’s conjectures or borrowed to someone else)—and are therefore dependent (in a complete mode) on one’s logical laws, but not only dependent on one’s logical laws. Hence the logical laws are interdependent to some extent (and only to some extent) with the scientific theories—and notably (but not only) dependent on them, and reciprocally.

Other problems with “Quine’s epistemological holism” should be addressed, which I’ll leave aside here. Regarding the question of whether a logical law can be objectively certain, O.W. Quine is right against Ayn Rand that no logical law can be objectively certain. The Randian ontology (which Quine, to my knowledge, does not address) is notably flawed in that it believes the traditionally admitted logical laws in formal logic (namely the laws of identity, non-contradiction, excluded-middle, etc.) to be deduced from ontological laws objectively grasped through sensible experience.

The fact is that sensible experience allows us to notice that those entities inhabiting our fragment of the universe are characterized with identity (i.e., the fact of being what they are—and only what they are—at some point in some respect), non-contradiction (i.e., the fact of not being both what they are and what they are not at some point in some respect), excluded-middle (i.e., the fact of being either something or something else, but not both, at some point in some respect), etc.; but allows us to notice neither that those characteristics are (either intrinsically or extrinsically) necessary in that moment of the universe nor that they are (either intrinsically or extrinsically) necessary in any moment of the universe nor that they are necessary in any entity inhabiting the universe at any moment of the universe.

Though the human mind can conjecture (from sensible experience) or have the impression (from sensible experience) that those characteristics are present in all entities at any moment and intrinsically necessary (in a strong mode), or come to the belief that they are present in all entities at any moment and intrinsically necessary (in a strong mode) following suprasensible experience (which is, at best, approximative), it cannot grasp those alleged omnipresence in time and space and intrinsic necessity through sensible experience. Just as both Quine and Rand are right that no logical law one makes use of at some point can be true independently of reality, both unfortunately miss the fact that is suprasensible experience (in some humans) and the fact that a logical law used, trusted, at some point in someone’s mind (whether it is one universally admitted in the community of scientists and scholars at the considered moment) is sometimes the fruit, notably, of suprasensible experience (or notably its fruit to some extent).

Another flaw in Randian ontology is that it conceives of the claim that the world is eternal (i.e., endowed with no temporal beginning and with no temporal ending) and intrinsically necessary as a claim merely describing an objective component of sensible experience. Yet sensible intelligence allows us to notice that there is existence around us, but not that “existence exists” in an eternal, intrinsically necessary mode; such claim is really a conjecture from sensible experience or an account of a sensible impression, not a description of all or part of sensible experience. Sensible experience does not even allow us to notice whether those entities around us are existent outside of the sensible experience we have of them, i.e., are existent as external rather than simulated entities.

Just like a concept correspondent with reality is one whose object with its constitutive properties such as posited in the concept’s attached definition exists in reality (whether one speaks of the material realm of reality), a concept not-correspondent with reality is one whose object with its constitutive properties such as posited in the concept’s attached definition lacks in reality (whether one speaks of the material realm of reality). (Since a concept’s meaning, i.e., its object taken from the angle of its constitutive properties, is socially held as synonymous with the concept’s socially attached definition, saying that a concept’s object is correctly or incorrectly posited, defined, in the concept in question is a convenient way of saying that it is correctly or incorrectly posited, defined, in the concept’s socially attached definition).

In contradiction with its own claim that no statement can be true or wrong independently of reality, the Randian ontology surreptitiously conceives of some kind of statement as being one wrong (and proven wrong) independently of reality. What the Randian ontology calls a “stolen concept” is a concept that, in some statement, finds itself used in such a way that the statement in question finds itself both asserting the validity of that concept (i.e., its correspondence with reality) and denying the validity (i.e., the correspondence with reality) of another concept on which “it logically and genetically depends.” According to the Randian ontology, the self-contradiction present in any statement stealing a concept B from a concept A is not only independent of reality; it proves (despite itself) the validity of the concept A (i.e., the correspondence of the concept A with reality).

Further, according to the Randian ontology, the Proudhonian statement that “property is theft,” as well as, for instance, the statement that “the laws of logic are arbitrary,” are such cases of a statement stealing a concept B from a concept A. While the allegedly self-contradictory character of the statement that “property is theft” allegedly proves the legitimate, not-stolen character of peacefully acquired private property, the allegedly self-contradictory character of the statement that “the laws of logic are arbitrary” allegedly proves the existence of objectively certain laws in logic. A fact worth recalling as a prelude to identifying the flaws of the Randian ontology on the issue of the “stolen concept” is that most concepts are endowed with a general meaning and sub-meanings, i.e., modalities of the general meaning, such as the general meaning itself taken in isolation. (The several sub-meanings contained in a same concept are not to be confused with the several concepts a same word subsumes).

Thus the concept of color includes a sub-meaning for which the correspondent definition in language is a “visual characteristic distinct from the size, the thickness, the transparency, and the shape”—as well as a sub-meaning for which the socially correspondent definition is a “visual characteristic associated with a wavelength.” (Since a meaning or sub-meaning is socially deemed to be synonymous with the socially attached definition, saying that the concept of color includes the sub-meaning, for instance, of a “visual characteristic distinct from the size, the thickness, the transparency, and the shape” is a convenient way of saying that the definition socially attached to one of its sub-meanings is as put above).

The statement that “the red is not a color” is one that the Randian ontology would qualify as a theft of concept. Said ontology would have us believe that, in “the red is not a color,” the concept of color is a necessary condition for the concept of red; and that the statement in question is thus rendered self-contradictory and that the contradiction in question proves the existence of “color” in the world.

The statement that “the white and the black are not colors” is also one that the Randian ontology would qualify as a theft of concept. It would have us believe that, in such statement, the concepts of white and black are “stolen;” and that their allegedly stolen character proves the correspondence of the concept of color with reality. Yet the statement that “the red is not a color” is admittedly self-contradictory (in that the concept of color—regardless of which sub-meaning for the concept of color is retained in the statement in question—serves as a necessary condition for the concept of red); but that self-contradictory character does not prove the concept of color to be correspondent with reality.

A statement saying two things that contradict each other does not prove the existence of one or other of those things—including when it comes to a statement both denying the correspondence (with reality) of a concept A and claiming the correspondence (with reality) of a concept B for which the concept A serves as a necessary condition. The self-contradictory character of such statement proves no more the correspondence of the concept A than it proves the correspondence of the concept B.

As for the statement that “the white and the black are not colors,” instead of such statement being necessarily self-contradictory, it is actually self-contradictory when taking the concept of color in the general meaning of “a visual characteristic distinct from the size, the thickness, the transparency, and the shape;” but not when taking that concept in the more precise meaning of a visual characteristic that—besides being distinct from the size, the thickness, the transparency, and the shape—finds itself associated with a wavelength. In such statement, the concepts of white and black find themselves “stolen” when it comes to the concept of color taken in the above-evoked general meaning, not when it comes to the above-evoked more precise meaning. Even when the concept of color finds itself taken in the above-evoked general meaning, the statement that “the white and the black are not colors” does not prove the concept of color to be correspondent with reality.

The Randian claim that a statement stealing a concept B from a concept A proves (despite itself) the correspondence of the concept A—and that those statements that are “property is theft” or “the laws of logic are arbitrary” accordingly prove the respective correspondence of the concepts of (legitimate) property and of (objectively certain) logic laws—is flawed at two levels. On the one hand, it misses the fact that a statement stealing a concept B from a concept A does not prove the concept A to be correspondent with reality; on the other hand, it misses the fact that a same statement can be both a statement stealing a concept B from a concept A when A or B is taken in a certain sub-meaning—and a statement making use of the concept B coherently with the concept A when A or B is taken in another sub-meaning. Thus if, in the statement “property is theft,” one takes the concept of property in the sub-meaning of “private property,” and the concept of theft in the sub-meaning of “the private property of what is given to everyone without any distinction,” then the use made of the concept of theft is actually coherent with the concept of property.

The statement “property is theft” is indeed to be taken then in the sense that “private property is the private property of what is given to everyone without any distinction, what allows to speak of private property as a theft of what is everyone’s property.” Likewise, if one, in the statement “the laws of logic are arbitrary,” takes the concept of laws of logic in the sub-meaning of “the laws one expects oneself and others to follow in the construction of reasonings,” and the concept of arbitrary in the sub-meaning of “the fact of not being objectively corroborated or, at least, of not being objectively certain,” then the use made of the concept of arbitrary is actually coherent with the concept of laws of logic. The statement “the laws of logic are arbitrary” is indeed to be taken then in the sense that “the laws one expects oneself and others to follow in the construction of reasonings are, if not deprived of an objectively corroborated character, at least deprived of an objectively certain character, what allows to speak of them as arbitrary.”

The Idea Of The Good And The Jump From Ideational Essence To Material Existence

In its investigation of the relationship of concepts (whether they are “stolen” or coherently used) to reality, the Randian ontology systemically misses the fact that concepts are corroborated rather than confirmed by reality; and the fact that definitions when updated are not left intact on that occasion but instead dismissed then rectified—whether the update consists of extending or relativizing them.

If we were to discover an animal that, without being a bird, would be endowed with a beak, then the definition associated with the (generic) concept of beak would be rectified from such discovery (rather than updated in a paradoxical mode leaving intact the definition). The concept in question would define, henceforth, its object no more as “a horny, teeth-less mouth only found in birds;” but instead as “a horny, teeth-less mouth like the one, for instance, of a bird.”

On that occasion, the concept of beak would evolve with its definition and, accordingly, the sequence of terms “a horny, teeth-less mouth only found in birds” would be no more claimed in the language to be synonymous with the term “beak.” Yet the Randian ontology would have us believe that, in the statement “I saw a kind of animal which looked like a bear except it was endowed with a beak like a bird,” the concept of beak is “stolen” from the concept of bird. The fact is that, in such statement, the concept of beak is implicitly updated in such a way that the use made of said concept in said statement is one coherent with the concept of bird (rather than one stealing the concept of beak from the concept of bird). Holding such statement does not prove that a beak is indeed a horny, teeth-less mouth that is notably (but not only) constitutive of a bird, which is also constitutive of a certain genre of animal that (except it is endowed with a beak like a bird) looks like a bear.

Yet the human knowledge of an individual material entity’s material essence (i.e., the sum of an individual entity’s constitutive properties over the course of its existence—whether those are generic or unique, and whether those are intrinsically necessary or extrinsically contingent or extrinsically necessary) only occurs through conjecturing from the sensible datum (or from sensible impression)—and through suprasensible intuition. It cannot occur through mere sensible intuition as the latter, while allowing us to touch, see, etc., some individual entities, gives us empirical access neither to the material essences of those empirically accessed individual entities—nor to their ideational essences.

While the material essence of an individual material entity is the sum of all the entity’s constitutive properties over the course of its existence, the ideational essence of an individual material entity, which finds itself inscribed in an ideational model, is the sum of all the entity’s properties over the course of its existence (including those properties that are accessory rather than constitutive). Humans could deduce the material essences from empirical intuition if—and only if—empirical intuition of the universe’s whole infinite content and whole past, present, and future history were possible to humans; but such mode of empirical intuition is impossible to them.

What they are left with if they are to grasp the material essences is the following two options. On the one hand, conjecturing what are those material essences from our sensible intuition of a certain portion of the universe—namely that portion of the universe that is empirically offered to us at a certain point of its history. (Induction is part—and only part—of such conjecturing process). On the other hand, grasping suprasensibly the ideational essences of the individual material entities—more precisely, the modeled constitutive properties inscribed within those ideational essences contained in ideational models. Both processes are doomed to be endless ones which can only obtain results that are, at best, approximative. Just like suprasensible experience can only grasp a deformed, mutilated echo of the ideational realm taken as a whole or of an ideational entity within it, sensible experience can only grasp a singular entity as it stands at some point, not its material essence nor the universe taken as a whole at some point nor the universe taken as whole in its whole past, present, and future history.

As for the (material) existence of some entity at some point of the universe, it is no more a product of the fact that the correspondent ideational essence includes the property of existing than it can be deduced from the fact that the concept for the singular material entity in question includes (if correctly constructed) the property of existing. The existence itself of God, whom I perhaps should clarify is not to be confused with what, following Plato’s wording, can be called “the Idea of Good,” cannot be deduced from the fact that the concept of God (if correctly constructed) includes the impossibility for God not to exist in an eternal mode.

In essence, Plato correctly referred to the Idea of Good as being itself not an ideational model for some hypothetical singular entity—but instead the ideational entity allowing for several ideational models to exist, to be what they are, and to be an object of knowledge. It should be added that the Idea of Good is, more precisely, a sorting, actualizing pulse that, while encompassing (and expressing itself through) the whole realm of the ideational models (both generic and singular), chooses in an atemporal, virtual mode which of the hypothetical material singular entities are to be concretized at some point in the material, temporal realm.

Also, it should be added that the universe taken as a whole—and perhaps each parallel universe taken as a whole—are a material, temporal incarnation of the Idea of Good (which thus serves as an ideational model for the universe taken as whole—and perhaps for other universes parallel to ours); and that the Idea of Good nonetheless remains completely external to the universe while incarnating itself into the universe. The same applies to those ideational models for possible singular material entities which are concretized—namely that they incarnate themselves into the correspondent material singular entities while remaining completely external to them and completely virtual.

While our universe is temporal and endowed with a temporal beginning from the nothingness, the Idea of Good whose incarnation it is is both atemporal (i.e., subject to a time in which past, present, and future are simultaneous) and eternal (i.e., subject to a time with no beginning and no end); but neither the Idea of Good nor the universe nor any material singular entity can have its existence deduced from its concept. The existence of a hypothetical material entity (within the universe) modeled in some correctly posited, defined, concept could be deduced from the inclusion of the property of existing in the concept in question if—and only if—the property of existing inscribed in an ideational essence were implied by all or part of the non-existential properties inscribed in an ideational essence. Just like the same applies to the universe, the same applies to the Idea of Good and to God himself: namely, that the (ideational) existence of the Idea of Good could be deduced from the fact its (correctly defined) concept includes its existence (in an eternal, intrinsically necessary mode with an eternal, intrinsically necessary permanence) if—and only if—its property of existing were implied by all or part of its non-existential properties; but an existential property has something to do with all or part of the non-existential properties neither in the Idea of Good nor in God nor in any hypothetical singular material entity modeled in an Idea nor in any material singular entity present at some point within our universe.

Our universe is not only made of the presence of those material singular entities inhabiting it at different stages of its history; it is also made of the absence of those material singular entities which, in an other scenario for the universe, would have been perhaps present but that, in the actual universe, are lacking at any stage of its history. Any (purely) fictional entity in our universe is an entity whose absence is a component for our universe; but not any absent entity is a fictional entity, i.e., an entity present in the fictional realm imagined in our universe. Whether an absent entity is fictional, its absence is an ingredient of our universe; whether it is fictional, its absence cannot be deduced from the fact its concept (if correctly posited, defined) includes its property not of (materially) existing.

Each ideational model in the virtual, atemporal plane includes a set of existential properties, i.e., a set of properties about whether the concerned modeled entity is modeled as an existing entity (and about the modeled mode of existence in the general sense for the concerned modeled entity—if the latter happens to be modeled as an existing entity); but the fact for a certain ideational model of including the property that the concerned modeled entity is endowed with existence does not render said entity an actually existing entity in our universe. Reciprocally, the fact for a certain ideational model, of including the property that the concerned modeled entity is deprived of existence, does not render said entity an actually inexistent entity in our universe. Just like, in an existent singular material entity, the property of existing is not implied by all or part of the non-existential properties, the presence of the property of existing in a modeled hypothetical entity is not implied by all or part of the included non-existential properties.

The fact that the presence of the property of existing in some ideational essence has nothing to do with what are the non-existential properties present within the ideational essence in question serves as a necessary, sufficient condition for the fact that the fact for an existent singular material entity of being has nothing to do with the fact for said entity of being what it is (in addition to its existential properties).

The only way for material existence of being deduced from the presence of the property of existing within the ideational essence would be that the property of existing included in the ideational essence is implied by all or part of the included non-existential properties; but none of the existential properties included in the ideational essence has something to do with the non-existential properties included in the ideational essence. If the fact for the ideational model of some hypothetical singular entity of including the modeled property of existing were a product of all or part of the non-existential properties modeled in the ideational model in question, then the hypothetical singular entity in question would be rendered materially existent by the sole presence of the property of existing within its ideational essence, then its material existence could be deduced from the sole fact its ideational essence includes the property of existing.

Conversely, if the fact for the ideational model of some hypothetical singular entity of including the modeled property of existing has nothing to do with all or part of the modeled non-existential properties inscribed in the ideational model in question, then the hypothetical singular entity in question is not rendered existent by the sole presence of the property of existing within its ideational essence, then its existence cannot be deduced from the sole fact its ideational essence includes the property of existing. The sorting, actualizing pulse that is the Idea of Good is instead what renders actually existent some modeled hypothetical singular entity endowed with the property of existing; just like it is what renders actually inexistent some modeled hypothetical singular entity endowed with the property of not existing—and some modeled hypothetical singular entity nonetheless endowed with the property of existing.

When selecting which immaterial, atemporal Ideas are concretized in our material, temporal universe, it is quite conceivable that the Idea of Good does not only get incarnated into our universe, but also into other universes parallel to ours. Thus it is quite conceivable that, in some universe parallel to ours, there can be found some singular entities that instead belong to fiction in ours and some fictional characters that are instead real in ours: for instance, there may be some parallel universe in which Tong Po and Attila are real, but Mohamed Qissi and Abdel Qissi fictional characters…

Conclusion—And The Idea Of The World’s Contingency

The “dignity of man” lies in his intermediate position between a beast (but one with chaotic instincts) and a being-like-divine (but who is only like-divine rather than divine strictly speaking). Whether when it comes to combatting bad magic in the name of good magic, or bad technique in the name of good technique, “the former is the most deceptive practice,” but “the latter is the deepest and the holiest philosophy.” “The former is sterile and vain,” but “the latter firm, trustworthy and unshakeable.” God does not only expect the human to hunt the material essences, the knowledge of which in humans can be approximative, but can never be achieved; he also expects the humans to co-create the universe alongside God himself, what is an endless task which asks to be carried out through knowledge, technique, and magic—and in complete submission to the laws that God established in its work and faces Himself.

The universe is neither meaningless nor God-forsaken; but the cosmic march proceeding under an ideational sun whose materialized light it is proceeds through mistakes which man as the bearer of a torch imitating the sun is expected to repair in complete humility to the sun. The question of whether the universe is contingent is, precisely, to be asked, on the one hand, from the angle of meaning: is the universe meaningful—rather than gratuitous, vain? On the other hand, it must be asked from the angle of factuality: is the universe’s existence intrinsically necessary, i.e., self-sufficient and inescapable? Yet the universe—in that it is God’s incarnation—is driven by God’s persistent, fallible attempt to engender increasingly higher order and complexity within the universe, an attempt that is carried out in turn for what is the tendency towards entropy in the universe’s isolated systems. Thus the universe is endowed with meaning—the meaning that is purposeful creation of order and complexity, in which the human is invited to take part. Also, the universe’s existence is endowed with a temporal beginning—and therefore devoid of that mode of intrinsic necessity that is the one consisting of existing in an uncreated, inescapable mode.

If the universe had created itself from nothingness without its existence being inescapable, then its existence would be neither intrinsically nor extrinsically necessary; instead it would be extrinsically contingent. If the universe had created itself from nothingness without its existence being escapable, then the universe’s existence would be intrinsically necessary (rather than extrinsically necessary, intrinsically contingent, or extrinsically contingent); but the involved mode here of an intrinsically necessary existence would be the one consisting of existing in a self-created (rather than uncreated), inescapable (rather than avoidable) mode. If the universe was a product by God, then the universe would be extrinsically necessary (rather than intrinsically necessary or extrinsically contingent); whether it was created by God as permanent in an intrinsically necessary mode—or instead as provisory in an intrinsically necessary mode or even as permanent in an extrinsically necessary mode.

For my part, I claim the universe was created by God—but created neither as an emergent property of God nor as a product of God, but instead as an incarnation of God. Though God’s self-incarnation is a relational intrinsically necessary property co-eternal with God, the universe’s existence is not eternal—but instead endowed with a temporal beginning. Though the relational, innate property that is God’s self-incarnation finds itself occurring in a strong intrinsically necessary mode, the universe’s existence is both intrinsically contingent (and therefore extrinsically necessary)—and permanent in an extrinsically necessary mode—with regard to God; and extrinsically contingent—and permanent in an intrinsically necessary mode—with regard to the nothingness chronologically prior to the universe’s chronological start.


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.


Featured image: “Earthbound,” by Evelyn De Morgan, painted 1897.

On Democracy: A Conversation With Pierre Manent

This month, through the kind courtesy of La Nef magazine, we are so very honored to present this discussion with Pierre Manent, the well-known French political philosopher who of course hardly needs an introduction. Suffice to say that he is the author of very many influential books and articles on the condition and direction of modernity.

Here, Professor Manent speaks with Christophe Geffroy, the editor and publisher of La Nef, on the topic of democracy and Tocqueville, for is was Tocqueville who bets observed democracy and corollary, equality. Tocqueville figures prominently in several of Professor Manent’s books, including, Tocqueville and the Nature of Democracy, An Intellectual History of Liberalism, and Democracy Without Nations.


Christophe Geffroy (CG): How can we best summarize Tocqueville’s political analysis of democracy? What definition does he give? What is his contribution, his originality?

Pierre Manent (PM): French political thought in the first half of the 19th century is exceptionally rich. The French Revolution had signified an unprecedented break in the history of Europe. The upheaval suffered, the immense task of reconstruction to be accomplished, all this stirred the hearts and sharpened the minds of all parties. However, it was in the liberal school, taken in the broadest sense, that political reflection was most acute and relevant. Its members accepted the new society as a fact—a fact to be understood and organized politically by founding a representative regime.

Three figures successively dominated the field of political reflection: Benjamin Constant, François Guizot, Alexis de Tocqueville. The first is the most explicit and—I would say—the most naively liberal. He wanted above all to defend, as he says, that “part of human existence which, of necessity, remains individual and independent, and which is by right outside any social competence.” His liberalism is of opposition. Guizot is, in short, the one who opposes. He looks at things from the point of view of the one who governs; he is concerned first of all with the “means of government,” so that the new power, he explains, must know how to discern and draw from the new society.

Pierre Manent. © Benjamin de Diesbach.

And Tocqueville? He perceives, with an acuity that belongs only to him, a new phenomenon that had not escaped his predecessors, but of which he is the first to perceive to what extent it modifies the conditions of human life in all its dimensions. This phenomenon is democracy. An old word, an old notion, an old reality. But now a brand-new reality: Equality, as an idea and as a feeling, and even as a passion, has acquired an unprecedented power over minds and hearts. Once we have understood that this fact is irreversible, we must learn to organize social and political life in such a way as to realize the human vocation in this new social and moral element.

(CG): In what way is Tocqueville a liberal author, who fits into this precise philosophical tradition?

PM: Tocqueville is a liberal. But in his case, the qualifier is not very illuminating. Certainly, he values freedom; he even celebrates it in grandiose terms. Certainly, he accepts the main doctrinal elements of modern liberalism, and first of all what he calls “the just notion of liberty” according to which each man “is born with an equal and imprescriptible right to live independent of his fellow men in all that relates only to himself.” But, at the same time, he vigorously denounces the “individualism” which “draws [each one] unceasingly towards himself alone and threatens to enclose him at last entirely in the solitude of his own heart.”

We can formulate the tension that runs through his thought and his soul in this way: On the one hand, liberalism is just because it places a principle of justice at the basis of the new society, whereas all previous human orders necessarily rested, in one way or another, on force. But on the other hand, it is imperative for him to combat the most serious tendency of a society founded on these principles, which is to divert the members of the society from the concern for the common good and thus to leave the highest faculties of man lying fallow. In terms of the contemporary French debate, one could say that Tocqueville is frankly liberal, but also more republican than liberal.

(CG): Today, Tocqueville is mostly remembered for his book Democracy in America and less for Ancien Regime and the Revolution. What is the contribution of the latter and how can we situate it in relation to the former?

PM: It is a book on the political history of France, very thorough, carefully and admirably written. He prepared and wrote it in the early years of the Second Empire, which was not yet “liberal.” Tocqueville’s outlook is very dark. The coup d’état of Louis-Napoleon, and the regime that was then installed, humiliated Tocqueville and discouraged him. Was France condemned to fail unceasingly at the doors of political freedom? How is it that after a Revolution that brought down the monarchical State, that even made a clean sweep of the society of old orders, and then, this new society found itself to be like the old one, and even more than the old one, under the hand of a State that was still “vertical,” as we would say today?

Tocqueville is very harsh on our Old Regime, but his indictment has little to do with revolutionary diatribes. In some respects, his book is even a “tomb,” in the poetic sense of the word, of the Ancien Régime and its “greatness.” One can read for example: “It will always be regretted that instead of bending this nobility under the empire of laws, [the Revolution] has cut it down and uprooted it. By doing so, it has taken away from the nation a necessary part of its substance and made a wound to liberty that will never heal.” But here is the indictment: “Class division was the crime of the old royalty, and later became its excuse.”

By devitalizing the old institutions that ensured the collaboration of the classes without replacing them with the institutions of political liberty, the monarchy locked everyone into their own condition, thus nourishing the individualism that was the condition of the Revolution and was found, even more virulent, among its major consequences.

CG: For Tocqueville, was the French Revolution part of a movement towards democracy? And what links are there between the revolutionary spirit and the democratic spirit?

PM: This is an essential point. Tocqueville is especially concerned to distinguish the two, which the French are inclined to confuse because of their historical experience: Democracy came for them with the Revolution. This confusion is particularly harmful in France because democrats believe they are obliged to be revolutionaries and anti-revolutionaries to be against democracy. Thus, good citizens who should share the same affection for a regime that knows how to combine equality and liberty become irreconcilable political adversaries.

To show that the democratic spirit is essentially distinct from the revolutionary spirit is one of Tocqueville’s principal objects. American democracy provides him with the crucial experience that proves the thesis: The Americans live under an entirely democratic regime—if we except, of course, the institution of slavery in certain southern states—and they know a social and political life that is clearly better regulated than the French. This is because they were “born equal instead of becoming equal.” By a cruel irony that would not, I believe, have surprised Tocqueville too much, the American Democrats of today are inclined to reverse his thesis, and to see in slavery not the anomaly, but the ineradicable root of the American regime.

CG: Why was Tocqueville long forgotten in France, which was not the case in the United States, only to be rediscovered fairly recently and to have become an “indispensable” thinker of any analysis of democracy?

PM: It is undoubtedly because the social and political movement has led the French in the direction from which Tocqueville wished to turn them away. On the one hand, the revolutionary spirit found new motives in the extension of industry, which, in the eyes of socialists, especially Marxists, made a new and more radical revolution inevitable. On the other hand, opposition to democracy became independent of nostalgia for the Old Regime, and found in the new France a powerful resource in the form of nationalism.

One fact strikes me—after 1848, and more and more as we approached the new century, the generous and finely discriminating intelligence that characterized the political thought of the first nineteenth century gave way more and more to a fierce polemic that granted nothing to the adversary. Socialists and nationalists competed, if I may say so, in certainty and implacability. There are always great minds, or at least great talents, but imaginations are narrowed and hearts often shriveled.

Tocqueville returned to the public debate in France, first thanks to Raymond Aron who placed him in the history of social sciences, as one of the great interpreters of modern society alongside Marx, Comte or Weber. Then his star shone at the same time as that of Marx waned—the experience of communist totalitarianism made the idea of the despotic potentialities of equality strikingly relevant.

CG: Our democracies are in crisis, as the record abstention of the last elections confirms. Is Tocqueville a help in understanding this crisis and getting out of it?

PM: The current crisis brings to a climax the tendencies described by Tocqueville. As I said, democracy, as he understands it, is not so much a political regime as a spiritual regime; it is based on an extraordinarily powerful and pervasive affect, namely, the “passion for equality,” combined with the “feeling of similarity.” It is not only proclaimed that all citizens are equal before the law, or that a judge does not take into account the class, the race or the education of the accused when he judges. One wants to remove any mark of inequality or simply of difference in the social body.

The feeling of the similar, the compassion for the “suffering other,” are not only a constitutive part of the feelings of the social man, they form the very atmosphere of the collective life; they give it the tone; they are ordered by the social authority and more and more by the law of politics itself. This social religion certainly has its orthodoxy and its heretics—who would dare contest that men are equal and similar, if not perverse minds, or hearts closed to all humanity?

The consequence of this empire of the similar is that all the differences, natural or acquired, which structure human life—differences of the sexes, of generations, of the contents of life, of the forms of life, of human virtues and vices—all these differences which give human life its form and its meaning, its taste too—well, social religion commands us to refuse to take them into account in our words or our actions, and first of all forbids us to even see them.

Indeed, the real life, ordered by a complex mixture of equality and inequality, of resemblance and difference, is so to speak overlaid by an unreal but obligatory life, where the law commands that we ignore the difference of the sexes, erases the mention of the father, and continuously reforms the language so that this one cannot designate another subject of attribution of what it is to be human in general. They even want to erase the difference between the human species and the animal species. Thus, the democratic religion commands us to live in a humanity without anything human of its own, without form or order, without any other task than to erase any trace of form or order, and finally any trace of meaning.

CG: The pandemic and the often liberticidal measures taken to contain it have shown that our fellow citizens are more attached to their well-being than to their freedom. Is this in line with Tocqueville’s analysis of the nature of democracy?

PM: Compassion is primarily concerned with physical suffering. It is the “pity” of which Rousseau speaks, in which the “animal spectator” identifies with the “suffering animal.” In the absence of a moral education, we limit ourselves to “feeling with” the “sensitive” animal. Together with the progress of medicine, the feeling of the fellow man and compassion have encouraged the construction of these extraordinary “health systems” which are one of the most admirable achievements of modern civilization. Let’s not kid ourselves—we all want to be well cared for!

But the more collective resources and attention are focused on a particular area, the more unbalanced our common life is likely to be. If we only know how to see suffering bodies, and if the only commandment that makes sense to us is to remove or alleviate physical suffering, then we are handing over not only our bodies but our souls to the machinery of prevention and cure. If our societies have become so organized around the concern for health, it is first of all of course that this concern is universally shared, but it is also because other human concerns have withered away. The desire to control everything, which is natural to governments, finds a docile subject among members of society whose imagination and ambition are increasingly narrowed, and who no longer know how to attach themselves to something greater than their “naked lives.”

CG: What role does Tocqueville see for religion in the balance and viability of a democratic society? Does the decline of Christianity in the West threaten democratic vitality?

PM: In a humanity sucked in by the vortex of sameness, transcendent religion, and primarily the Christian religion, introduces difference par excellence. One can think that, at the beginning, it is the desire to bring the transcendent back to us, to domesticate the Most High, that has engaged us in the movement of democratization and homogenization that is reaching its extreme phase today in the West.

If this is the case, the vital prognosis of our civilization is threatened, because how can we revive the concern for transcendence when we are caught in a social and moral movement motivated by the refusal of transcendence? In fact, Christianity itself is today profoundly affected, if not transformed by this rejection. Current Christian preaching tends to be confused with the religion of human likeness. There is a reluctance to take seriously the object of faith. Christianity is deliberately confused with “other religions.”

CG: Do we find in Tocqueville a link between nation and democracy? In other words, for him, can democracy be envisaged anywhere, on any scale and independently of a specific history anchored in a culture and a religion?

PM: Tocqueville’s analyses presuppose the national framework; he speaks of “European nations” or “democratic nations,” but he does not thematize the question of the nation. Tocqueville elaborated his thought before the national question became central to European life. His general approach can, however, enlighten us.

As the progress of democratic equality made European societies more similar, they experienced more keenly their national character, which came to the fore both in their mutual relations and in the relationship of each nation to itself. The internal homogenization was, so to speak, counterbalanced by the ever-increasing value placed on national specificity.

While the different nations were coming closer together in their social form and seemed to be moving towards the same future, each one turned with predilection to its original past. National history became constitutive of the self-consciousness of each to a degree that Europe had never known. The institutions that were directly linked to the national past, the pre-democratic institutions, such as the army or the Church, were able to acquire an unprecedented prestige or role—that of embodying the nation, and possibly providing a point of reference for the rejection of democracy.

Modern democracy has developed within the national framework, and in this sense democracy and national form are closely related. On the other hand, in the nationalist impulse, the nation appears as the synthesis and protector of all those differences that democracy tends to erase, at the risk that these differences serve above all as fuel and pretext for anti-democratic passion.

Today, in North America and in Europe, the democratic movement wants to “do away” with the nation that has nourished and protected it for so long. That is why it is turning with particular aggression against national histories. While an imaginary similarity is imposed on all elements of present life, the past becomes that reserve of differences from which our memory and imagination must be purged.

The nation as it developed in Europe combined the past, the present and the future; it synthesized the three dimensions of time in a way that no political form had been able to do before. Today, the passion for similarity and indistinction between men has reached such a degree of virulence that the present devours both the past and the future: The past because it was so different; the future because it might be very different.


The featured image shows a portrait of Alexis de Tocqueville by Théodore Chassériau, painted in 1850.

The Brutal Record Of Marxist Socialism, And The Connivance Of Fellow-Travelers And Other Useful Idiots

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, socialist-communist historiography is no longer popular. The old Lenino-Trotsko-Marxist manichaeism, inherited from the Enlightenment, has gradually withdrawn from the Western political and cultural scene, leaving room for deconstructionist progressivism, an immanent religion just as deleterious, a mixture of contradictory neo-puritan, communitarian and ethnicist beliefs, such as ultra-feminism, multiculturalism, decolonialism, indigenism, immigrationism, the celebration of sexual minorities, Islamo-leftism and the blissful worship of nature.

This new version of humanitarian morality is defended by large multinationals and powerful lobbies or NGOs, with the complacency, even the blessing, of the majority of the political-economical-media elites. The “new righteous,” modern inquisitors, guardians of political correctness, claim, as in the past, to monopolize the interpretation of the meaning of history, to embody goodness, reason, progress, science, humanitarian and democratic values.

The earlier marginalized, excluded, declared reactionary, obscurantist and obstacles to the establishment of the socialist society (in the name of the radiant future and the communist paradise), independent historians and nonconformists, opposed to the unilateral reading of history and to the utopia of the anthropological transformation, which is the prelude to the enslavement of the people, are again subjected to sectarianism, intolerance, contempt and hate. Intellectual terrorism does not vary much in its methods and arguments – in yesteryear, to criticize communism was to play into the hands of the bourgeoisie and fascism. Today, to criticize the deconstructionism of the globalist doxa is to play into the hands of populism, racism and fascism.

Nazi Crimes And Communist Crimes: Double Standards

“Those who cannot remember the past,” said George Santayana, “are condemned to repeat it” (Life and Reason, 1905). The crimes of the National Socialist regime have been quantified and unreservedly condemned, both morally and legally. But there is still a great deal of work to be done to make people aware of the crimes committed in the name of communism; to assess their number and to condemn them in the strongest terms. The terrible human toll of socialism and Marxism is said to belong to history, but it is still astonishingly underestimated, passed over in silence, or even excused or absolved.

Communist sympathizers, and their former comrades-in-arms, whether camouflaged or out in the open, are in the habit of claiming that the criminal practice of Hitler’s National Socialism stems from the perversity of his ideology, whereas that of communism would only have originated from the deviation, the denaturation, the deviation of a generous and humanist inspiration. No one denies the appalling Nazi genocide except a few small groups without influence, or deranged minds.

But on the other hand, communists and their fellow travelers can deny the exterminationist character of the Marxist theoretical-practical apparatus, can express themselves freely on major media, can be heard and even considered sincere and idealist, as long as they solemnly declare, “I do not recognize myself in the crimes of certain communist countries.” Recognized as a crime in the case of Nazism (5 to 12 million dead victims), communist negationism (50 to 100 million dead victims) is tolerated, accepted, even justified. While there should be no difference between the victims of violence, there is a macabre hierarchy for them – and despite everything.

When on September 19, 2019, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on “the importance of historical memory for the future of Europe,” condemning the crimes committed by the Nazi and Communist regimes, the Communist, and more broadly socialist-Marxist, press was indignant and denounced the “manipulation of history.” The text of the Resolution was described as “confusing,” “contradictory,” “unacceptable,” a “monument to relativism,” a “gross simplification of reality,” a “falsification” and “revisionism.”

According to these negationists, self-proclaimed “progressives,” there are good and bad victims: The amalgam between socialism-Marxism and national socialism must be censured and denounced – but the equivalence must be accepted and even recommended when it concerns Nazism and fascism. According to them, there is uniqueness in the case of fascism, but not in the case of communism. The facts do not matter. The Italian fascists caused between 600 and 700 casualties among the social-communist militants and suffered the same number of casualties in their own ranks.

The Mussolini regime executed 9 Slovenian terrorists from 1922 to 1940 and 17 more in 1943, when the civil war started. The number of political prisoners in fascist Italy never exceeded two thousand. The deadly record of Italian fascism is obviously light years different than that of Nazism. But the degree of bad faith, Manicheism, sectarianism and hatred by the communists and their socialist-Marxist fellow travelers is limitless.

Why should the obsession with leveling equality be any less morbid and mortifying than the mania for hierarchizing races? Why should class (or even religious) genocide be less condemnable when in fact it has been even more devastating and deadly than race genocide? These questions remain unanswered; and the pseudo-arguments and pretexts of the communists (“one cannot compare what is not comparable;” “one cannot put on the same level, in full equivalence, Nazism which is destructive, and communism which is regenerative;” “one cannot confuse Stalin, Lenin, Trotsky, Castro, Mao and Pol Pot”) only fool those who want to be fooled.

The Cultural Hegemony Of The PCF And Its Fellow Travelers: 1945-1968

The intellectual and academic circles of Western Europe have always been more or less under the sway of politics. But there is a gap between the usual partial and fragmentary influence and the vast enterprise of nucleation and cultural quasi-domination of Marxism during the years 1945-1989. In the case of France, the hold on cultural life of orthodox communist militants and sympathizers (themselves often manipulated by Soviet agents), and then of the various post-Soviet leftists, was (and let’s not mince our words) – major if not exceptional until the fall of the Berlin Wall. Moscow communism was only brought to coexist with Maoist, Trotskyite, Castro and libertarian communisms from 1965-1968. There were of course, from the aftermath of the Second World War, brilliant anti-communist or anti-Marxist figures, such as Raymond Aron, Thierry Maulnier, Bertrand de Jouvenel or Albert Camus; but for more than forty years the pluralism of French cultural life was, to use two euphemisms, “framed and limited.”

The Marxist or crypto-Marxist inquisitors watched over and locked down the debate. Whoever wanted to make a career in the world of letters or academia had to give pledges to Marxist thought, and above all to avoid clashing head-on with the powerful guardians of the camp of the good.

Examples abound of victims of Marxist and leftist censorship, who saw their intellectual or academic careers compromised, hindered and sometimes broken – the sociologist, Jules Monnerot, for having dissected the Marxist revolution and revealed its character as a secular religion (Sociologie du communisme, 1963); the political scientist, Julien Freund, for his defense of realism in politics (L’essence du politique, 1965): the sinologist, Simon Leys, for his unmasking of Maoism (Les habits neufs du président Mao, 1971); the political scientist, Gaston Bouthoul, for his study of the recurrence of the belligerent phenomenon and his criticism of traditional pacifism, which has become the worst enemy of peace (Lettre ouverte aux pacifistes, 1972); the writer, Jean Raspail, for having prophesied the wild and mass immigration (Le camp des saints, 1973); the historian, Pierre Chaunu, and the journalist, Georges Suffert, for having denounced, very early, the right to abortion and the demographic collapse of Europe (La peste blanche. Comment éviter le suicide de l’Occident, 1976); the historian, Reynald Sécher, for having published La Vendée-Vengé. Le génocide franco-français (1986)… and many others.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, censorship and control took on other forms; but the same deleterious intellectual mores were perpetuated by one-thought and political correctness. We cannot ignore the troubles and career difficulties of a host of academics, such as, the sociologist, Paul Yonnet, for having meticulously analyzed the causes of the French malaise (Voyage au centre du malaise français. L’antiracisme et le roman national, 1993); the specialist in slavery, Olivier Petré Grenouilleau, for having revealed the extent of the Eastern and intra-African slave trade, and not only the Western one (Les Traites négrières. Essai d’histoire globale, 2004); the medievalist Sylvain Gouguenheim, for destroying the myth of a West that would never have existed without Islam (Aristote au Mont-Saint-Michel, 2008), etc. The list of pariahs, banished and marginalized, intellectuals, academics or journalists, is long, very long.

The benevolence, indulgence, connivance and complicity of a large part of the Western cultural and media circles towards Marxist socialism and communist abominations are part of a tradition that is already more than a century old. “There are none so blind as those who do not want to see.” In the 1920s, the edifying testimonies of numerous exiles were known, especially of the hundreds of cultural and scientific personalities, banished, expelled and threatened with being shot, if they returned to the USSR at Lenin’s personal instigation.

These intellectuals, many of them among the most prominent of the Russian intelligentsia, such as Sergei Bulgakov, Nikolai Berdyaev, Nikolay Lossky, Ivan Ilyin, Georges Florovsky, Semyon Frank or Pitirim Sorokin, were not hostile to the revolution as the GPU claimed, but opposed Lenin’s extreme and violent approach. In particular, they reproached Lenin, and this was especially true of the members of the Committee for Aid to the Hungry, for not taking the necessary measures to curb the terrible famine of 1921-1922. Slander, defamation, silence or oblivion were the lot of these first victims of the Leninist purges who, no doubt because of their notoriety, escaped death in the concentration and forced labor camps, created by Trotsky and Lenin, as early as June and August 1918, to lock up “kulaks, priests, White Guards and other dubious elements.”

In 1935, Boris Souvarine published his biography of Stalin (Stalin, A Critical Survey of Bolshevism), which dismantled “in the name of socialism and communism” the lies of Soviet “pseudo-communism.” In 1936, Gide denounced, in his book, Return From the USSR, the vices and defects of a system that he had defended until then. The result – les Amis de l’Union soviétique (the Friends of the Soviet Union) declared him a traitor and an agent of the Gestapo.

Then, in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), there were the instructive testimonies of former communist political commissars, such as, Arthur Koestler, or former members of POUM (anti-Stalinist Marxist Unification Workers’ Party), such as, George Orwell; (the members of the POUM were anti-Stalinist Marxists and not “Trotskyists” according to the accusation of Stalinist propaganda), who had been persecuted and murdered by the torturers of “orthodox communism,” during the Spanish war, as had been anarchist leaders. Among these official Stalinists, the political commissar, Artur London (the future author of the book, The Confession, which Costa-Gavras would bring to the screen) had shown an unquestionable zeal in the persecution of “deviationists.” Ironically, he was also accused of being an “internal enemy” and “a Trotskyite” during the Prague trial (1952).

One of the main heads of Soviet military intelligence in Western Europe, Walter G. Krivitsky, who moved to the West in October 1937, also provided a particularly valuable testimony on the democratic fiction of the various Popular Fronts, the action of the Comintern in the West and its relationship with the GPU. He was violently attacked by the American and European left in 1939, when he published two books on Stalin’s methods (In Stalin’s Secret Service and I was Stalin’s Agent, 1940), and finally was reported to have committed a suicide, in a Washington hotel in 1941 (though most likely killed by soviet agents). The testimonies of communists, who had fled to the West, and those of ex-international brigadists, who had survived the Spanish War, followed one another at a rapid pace, but the reaction of the socialist-Marxist left was always the same – insults, shrugs, skepticism and visceral hostility. As for the intellectuals of the non-communist left, they were conspicuous by their absence.

The manipulation of history by the PCF and its fellow travelers was almost total for decades. The PCF had collaborated for almost two years with the German National Socialist regime (from August 23, 1939 to June 22, 1941) under the German-Soviet Pact (of August 23, 1939), which was finally broken only by the will of Germany.

The PCF mandated Denise Ginollin and Maurice Tréand (between June and August 1940), to negotiate with the German authorities the re-publication of the newspaper, L’Humanité and the legalization of the party. The secretary general of the PCF, Maurice Thorez (head of the party from 1930 to 1964), was condemned for desertion; he was exiled to Moscow on November 8, 1939, and was not to return to France until November 27, 1944, six months after the D-Day landings, and after having been amnestied by De Gaulle. But of this dark truth, nothing was said, nothing was known. Thorez was even presented by the PCF as a proven Resistance fighter, an authentic maverick. The PCF claimed to have called for resistance as early as July 10, 1940, and proclaimed itself the party of the “75,000 shot,” when in fact only 4,500 were shot, and not all of them were communists. The same PCF praised for years ad nauseam the alleged managerial qualities of communist mayors.

The Kravchenko affair broke out at the end of the 1940s, when this Soviet diplomat, who had taken refuge in the United States, published in France, J’ai choisi la liberté (1947) – I Chose Freedom: The Personal and Political Life of a Soviet Official, a book in which he made startling revelations about the collectivization of agriculture, the size of the Soviet Gulag camps, and the exploitation of prisoners as slaves. Described as a defector and deserter, Kravchenko was immediately denounced as a spy by the USSR, by the sister communist parties and by their numerous fellow travelers. The weekly Les lettres françaises, a newspaper close to the PCF, accused him of being a disinformer and an agent of the United States. This was followed by a defamation trial in which the Communists put so-called “character witnesses” on the stand, former Resistance fighters, such as, Frédéric Joliot-Curie and Emmanuel d’Astier de la Vigerie. Kravchenko finally won his case in 1949… but died of a bullet to the head in 1966.

Sartre And Beauvoir: Two Famous Fellow Travelers

After the Liberation, Jean-Paul Sartre, who had become a fellow traveler of the PCF and an intellectual icon of the Marxist left, managed to make people believe that he had escaped from a stalag. The reality, however, was far less glowing – he had been released, most likely through the personal intervention of Pierre Drieu la Rochelle. After his release, Sartre once again became a quiet teacher in Parisian high schools (Pasteur and then Condorcet). But neither he nor his companion, Simone de Beauvoir, were ever members of the Resistance. On the contrary, Sartre wrote at least two articles in the collaborationist magazine, Comoedia (in 1941 and 1944); and Beauvoir, who was dismissed by National Education for a sinister case of lesbianism whose victim was a young teenager, got a job at Radio-Vichy, where she delivered twelve broadcasts, in early 1944, shortly before the D-Day landings. But this secret was well kept. (See Jean-Pierre Besse and Claude Pennetier, La négociation secrète, 2006; Jean-Marc Berlière and Franck Liaigre, L’affaire Guy Môquet. Enquête sur une mystification officielle, 2009 and Liquider les traîtres. La face cachée du PCF (1941-1943), 2007; and Gilbert Joseph, Une si douce Occupation… Simone de Beauvoir et Jean-Paul Sartre (1940-1944), 1991 and Michel Onfray, Les consciences réfractaires, 2013).

At Sartre’s request, the manager of the magazine Les Temps modernes, Francis Jeanson, wrote a spiteful review of The Rebel by Albert Camus in 1952. Camus made the unforgivable mistake of attacking Marxist mythology by claiming to be a member of the anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist tradition. A servile opportunist, Sartre explained at that time: “Communism must be judged on its intentions and not on its acts.” On his return from the USSR in 1954, he asserted: “The Soviet citizen has…complete freedom of criticism.” He went even further, not hesitating to say during an interview for Les Temps modernes (1965): “Every anti-communist is a dog.” Admirer of the dictatorship of Fidel Castro at the beginning of the 1960s, he deviated from the Soviet line only to endorse the Maoist cause, after May 1968.

“Last but not least,” as the English say, this friend of the “suitcase carriers” [left-wing intellectuals and artists supporting and channeling funds to the FLN activists], and agents of the Algerian FLN, was among the “progressive” Parisian intellectuals who defended pedophilia in 1970. The libertarian, Michel Onfray, one of the few honest and courageous intellectuals of his generation, has listed the most prominent members of this group. In addition to the names of Jean-Paul Sartre and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, there were Louis Althusser, Louis Aragon, Roland Barthes, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Louis Bory, Pascal Bruckner, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, Françoise Dolto, Jean-Pierre Faye, Alain Finkielkraut, André Glucksmann, Félix Guattari, Daniel Guérin, Guy Hocquenghem, Bernard Kouchner, Jack Lang, Jean-François Lyotard, Gabriel Maztneff, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Philippe Sollers, etc. (See Michel Onfray, La nef des fous. Des nouvelles du Bas-Empire, 2021).

Twenty years later (March 1990), invited to Bernard Pivot‘s program, Apostrophes, broadcast live on Antenne 2, Gabriel Matzneff presented, in front of a complaisant program director, one of his books relating his pedophile loves. The Canadian novelist Denise Bombardier was the only one to speak out on the set. She had to endure that day the sarcasm and mockery, and later the slander and conspiracy of silence of the cream of the Parisian intelligentsia. The pedophile epidemic, or fad, was then affecting the most unexpected circles on both the left and the right. The Church, which “promised eternal damnation to pedophiles,” was mocked and castigated. It had not yet made its complete aggiornamento. The “literary talent” and the “existential freedom” of “L’Ange Gabriel” (sic) (Maztneff), a worthy disciple of the Marquis de Sade and Gilles de Rais, was surprisingly appreciated and even admired by some of the principal theorists of the New Right.

Even a veiled criticism earned an impudent person the title of backward puritan, old-fashioned and frustrated. Fortunately, pedophilia was not “democratized” like drugs, but it would be no less than thirty years before the first cases of pedo-criminality, involving the French National Education system, the sports world and the Church, broke out. The Sauvé report on sexual abuse in the Church of France was not be published until October 2021. Olivier Duhamel, advisor to the presidents of the Constitutional Council, former member of the European Parliament of the PS, president of the National Foundation of Political Sciences and model hierarch of the French Republic, was only forced to resign in April 2021, after an investigation for rape and sexual assault on his minor stepson.

Sartre was accustomed to legitimizing ultra-violence – faithful in this to Vladimir Ilitch Lenin – but his companion, Simone de Beauvoir, was not to be outdone. Michel Onfray gives these few edifying words of the philosopher, in an anthology which deserve to be quoted in its entirety, these few edifying words of the philosopher: “Any revolution requires from those who undertake it the sacrifice of a generation, of a community.” And again: “One will sacrifice the men of today to those of tomorrow, because the present appears as the factor which it is necessary to transcend towards freedom.” (See Michel Onfray, Les consciences réfractaires. Contre-histoire de la philosophie t.9, 2013, p.374).

This is an era already long gone that could be considered as dead and buried, if a number of rabid and unyielding people did not still gloss over, not without explicit or implicit approval, the most vomitory remarks of the “Thénardier of philosophy.” To quote only one example, the communist, Alain Badiou, professor emeritus at the École normale supérieure, wrote not so long ago, thanks to the complacency of the newspaper, Le Monde, these words that one could believe to have come out of the pen of Fouquier-Tinville or Dzerzhinsky, but which are part of the pure Marxist rhetoric of characterization of the adversary: “And why on earth, if they are real enemies, would I be forbidden to insult them? To compare them to vultures, jackals, bitches, headless linnets, and even to rats, vipers, lecherous or not, even hyenas, typists or not?” (Le Monde, July 24, 2008).

Sartre did not fail, of course, to visit the leader of the German terrorist organization, the Red Army Faction, Andreas Baader (in 1972), nor to support the Khmer Rouge until their victory in 1975. Weakened and ill, he seemed to have finally become aware of the need to save all threatened lives, including those of his adversaries (the boat people) – but not long before he died.

Communists, Leftists And Other Useful Idiots: A Shared Hegemony

In the period following the events of May 1968, and despite the decline of the PCF, the hold of socialism-Marxism on people’s minds remained impressive. For the Catholic Church, since the early 1960s, it was no longer a question of anathema or condemnation of “real socialism” or communism, but only of dialogue and peace. The role of Pope John Paul II (and Lech Walesa’s Polish trade union Solidarnosc) was important if not decisive in the collapse of the communist system, but this should not hide the fact that a significant number of Catholic intellectuals eagerly accepted, and some even as early as 1936, the “helping hand” policy of the PCF. At the Liberation, the Resistance fighter, André Mandouze, (who later became actively involved with the Algerian FLN), called for “taking the outstretched hand of the Communists.” Emmanuel Mounier, founder of the monthly personalistic magazine Esprit, said in a July 1947 issue that he had agreed “to graft Christian hope onto the living areas of communist hope.”

A good number of Catholic fellow travelers found affinities in the humanitarianism of the PCF and the values of the Gospel. Liberation theology, which was very popular in South America, developed from 1968 onwards and withered away in the 1970s and 1980s, after the official warnings of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1984). But it has nevertheless formed or influenced many clerics and lay people in Europe, many of whom hold important positions in the Church today. From 1972 to 1989, the YCW (Young Catholic Workers) invited to its gatherings only “class” organizations (CGT and CFDT on the trade union level, PCF and PS on the political level). The membership of former YCW members in the PCF was massive. In November 1998, a former YCW activist was even elected head of the Jeunesses Communistes.

Thanks to the strong personality of John Paul II and the firm theological convictions of Benedict XVI, Rome condemned collaboration with the Communists to the end, thus giving the illusion of the Catholic Church’s capacity to resist any form of neo-paganism or immanent morality. But the degradation of Catholicism, which began in the late 1960s, has not been halted, nor has the agony of Christianity as a whole. In 2013, the pontificate of Francis most likely confirmed the marginalization of Catholicism and Christianity as a religion and most likely the end of Christianity as a civilization.

For more than 70 years, until the fall of the Berlin Wall, the testimonies about the political vices and the concentration camp universe of the communist countries did not stop accumulating. After Kravchenko, Souvarine, Koestler and Orwell, there were the clandestine notebooks of the Samizdat, Milovan Djilas with The New Class: An Analysis of the Communist System (1957), Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn with The Gulag Archipelago (1973), and then Sakharov, Bukovsky, Kovalev, Zinoviev, Voinovich, Grossman, etc., and the criticism of totalitarianism by the French “new philosophers” (authors mostly from the Maoist left, such as, Alain Finkielkraut, André Glucksmann, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Pascal Bruckner, Christian Jambet, Guy Lardreau, Jean-Paul Dollé, Gilles Susong, etc.).

From 1975 onwards, the reports of Vietnamese, Chinese, Cambodian and Laotian victims unreservedly denounced the terror, the crimes, the concentration camps, the forced labor and re-education camps. So many irrefutable testimonies, invariably considered suspect, worthless or false by so many pseudo “virtuous consciences,” the supposed guarantors of democracy and “human rights.” To tell the truth about the communist system was seen as playing into the hands of the right, to be an accomplice of fascism. The true or disguised fellow travelers sometimes admitted, in due lip-service, that communism had killed “tens or hundreds of thousands of people, even millions.” But this was not so serious, since it was in the name of “democratic values” and “the happiness of humanity.” After all, the inspiration was generous; and in any case, death of counter-revolutionaries or fascists was a legitimate sacrifice.

In the 1990s, after the dismantling of the USSR, the Soviet archives made available to researchers did not fail to meet serious resistance. According to the Trotskyite historian, Jean-Jacques Marie, long proclaimed “specialist on the USSR,” these Moscow archives had to be “taken with a grain of salt;” they contained only “imaginary revelations,” and could “be used for anything.” Another example is Stephen Koch’s book, Double Lives: Stalin, Willi Münzenberg, and the Seduction of the Intellectuals, published in 1993.(Its French title is, La fin de l’innocence. Les intellectuels d’Occident et la tentation stalinienne. 30 ans de guerre secrète, 1994). This book was significantly reviewed in Le Monde by the journalist Michel Tatu (“Le prétexte Münzenberg”, 20 October 1995). Koch highlighted the major role of the Soviet spy, Willi Münzenberg, and that of his illustrious recruits, in the unprecedented and formidably effective campaign of Communist manipulation that affected all Western intellectual circles until the end of the 1960s. But his book had a crippling flaw – it insisted on the degree of dependence and submission of the various Popular Fronts to Moscow, particularly in the case of the mythical Spanish Popular Front.

From 1981 to 1995, the two presidential terms of François Mitterrand were marked by various economic-financial scandals, but also by several political-cultural polemics that deserve to be recalled here because of their ideological background. The four communist ministers of Mitterrand obviously had only a symbolic place and role, but the cultural ascendancy exercised by Marxist socialism was of a completely different magnitude. A very large number of Socialist Party cadres had been trained in extreme left-wing parties (PCF, PSU or leftist movements). The lack of police zeal under the various socialist governments to put an end to Action Direct terrorism (1979-1987) cannot be explained otherwise.

The beginning of the 1990s was marked by two political-judicial cases – that of the communist Georges Bourdarel and that of the leftist Cesare Battisti. During the Indochina War, Bourdarel had joined the ranks of Ho Chi Minh’s Vietminh and had become a political commissar in Prison Camp No. 113.

According to the numerous testimonies of survivors of this concentration camp reserved for soldiers, he was guilty of torturing French soldiers. The historian Bruno Riondel, recalls in an edifying work, L’effroyable vérité. Communisme, un siècle de tragédies et de complicités (2020), that 278 of the 320 prisoners in the camp, that this French communist directed, died as a result of the treatment they were subjected to.

Bourdarel lived in the USSR and finally returned to France in 1966, under General de Gaulle’s amnesty law of June 18, 1966. Bourdarel was appointed assistant professor at the University of Paris VII, then promoted to senior lecturer and researcher at the CNRS. Several of his former victims (including a former Secretary of State for Veterans) recognized Bourdarel and filed a complaint in court. This was followed by a media-political campaign in his favor, with the support of some forty academics. Not surprisingly, the complaint against him was rejected, including by the European Court of Justice, because of the amnesty law. The Court of Appeals also ruled that the concept of crimes against humanity, as defined by the International Tribunal of Nuremberg, can only be applied to the events of the Second World War.

At the same time (under Mitterrand and Chirac), Cesare Battisti, ex-member of the group, “Prolétaires armés pour le communisme” (“Armed Proletarians for Communism”), and about 300 other Italian far-left terrorists, were given protection by the French government. Battisti was wanted by the Italian judiciary for committing several assassinations, but extradition was periodically denied, despite the fact that Italy is an EU country. Battisti was complacently portrayed by the mainstream media as a “man of letters,” and was supported, among others, personally by Mrs. Mitterrand, who did not hide her fondness for Fidel Castro’s dictatorship.

This wide political and journalistic network asked for Cesare Battisti “the indulgence due to the purity of his cause.” Thus, for fourteen years (1990-2004), he was able to enjoy, for ideological reasons, the protection of the authorities. His escape to Mexico was even facilitated by the French secret services. Protected in Brazil by President Lula, he was extradited to Italy after Bolsonaro came to power. On March 25, 2019, after admitting his responsibility in four assassinations, he declared before the Italian justice “to have deceived the intellectuals and politicians of the left who supported him.” No comment!

Another highly significant fact: under the impetus of two right-wing men, the president of the Republic Jacques Chirac and the president of the National Assembly Philippe Séguin, on December 5, 1996, on the occasion of the vote for an amendment to a finance law, the French deputies voted unanimously, minus one abstention, for an amendment granting “combatant status” to “Frenchmen who took an effective part in fighting alongside the Spanish Republican Army between July 17, 1936 and February 27, 1939.” One detail does not seem to have troubled them: the International Brigades, to which these Frenchmen belonged, had been created on Stalin’s express orders. The so-called “volunteers of freedom” or “of democracy” were in fact a real army of Stalin in Spain. The vast majority were members of the Communist Party, and the minority were “fellow travelers” belonging to left-wing parties.

From 1994, the new masters of the daily, Le Monde, a “progressive” newspaper called “the leading newspaper,” were Alain Minc, Jean-Marie Colombani and Edwy Plenel. Minc had the reputation of being an opportunist, a businessman and a globalist (he supported, in turn, Mitterrand, Balladur, Jospin, Bayrou, Sarkozy, Juppé and Macron). Jean-Marie Colombani, a socialist, supported Lionel Jospin and Ségolène Royale in the presidential elections. As for Plenel, former editor of the Trotskyite militant magazine Rouge, who became a journalist at Le Monde, he was known and well-regarded for his investigations and his methods similar to those used by a police informant. This journalist “with deep Trotskyist roots” (according to Colombani), was editorial director of Le Monde from 1996 to 2004.

In 2003, the accusations made by Pierre Péan and Philippe Cohen in their book La face cachée du Monde: du contrepouvoir aux abus de pouvoir (2003), led to a crisis for the daily newspaper and the end of this Troika. At the turn of the 21st century, the drift of the French left finally led to a real ideological fracture. In the years 2005-2010, the Islamo-leftism of Plenel and his friends – a strange combination of anti-capitalist radicalism, rejection of traditional secularism, praise for the dominant-dominated/exploited logic, hatred of French identity, Islamophilia and anti-Semitism (anti-Zionism being here only its cover) – constituted the main bridge between the Trotskyists and the political supporters of Islam.

The Polemics Around The Black Book Of Communism

In 1997, nine years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and three years after the new editorial board of Le Monde, Le livre noire du communisme. Crimes, terreur, repression (The Black Book of Communism) was published. This book, brought out by a group of academics, most of them from the extreme left, intended to take stock of the crimes of communism.

In his introduction, the author, Stéphane Courtois, gives a figure approaching 100 million deaths; and, in a direct attack on all conventionalism, makes a “polemical” comparison between the macabre counts of communism and Nazism.

The press of the left and the extreme left was indignant and protested. The Quinzaine littéraire of the former Trotskyite, Maurice Nadeau, L’Humanité of the PCF and Rouge of the Trotskyite theoretician, Daniel Bensaïd, were at the forefront. But they were also backed up by Le Monde and its subsidiary Le Monde diplomatique, where the pen of the communist, Gilles Perrault, was furious.

The historians who went to war against Le livre noir were all Marxist militants or ex-militants, such as, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, ex-member of the PSU, Annette Wieviorka, ex-Maoist, Annie Lacroix Riz, Jean-Jacques Becker, as well as, Madeleine Rebérioux, Marxist-Leninists, Jean-Jacques Marie, Pierre Broué, Alain Brossat, Denis Berger, Trotskyists or Trotskytizers, along with the American, Arch Getty, a pro-Stalinist revisionist (an avowed admirer of the works of the advocate of restalinization, Iuri Zhuykov, who is in the tradition of Western apologists for Stalin, such as, E. H. Carr, Joseph E. Davies, Grover Furr, Domenico Losurdo, Michael Parenti or Paul Robeson). The abnormal reactions of these negationist authors have been faithfully and usefully reproduced by Pierre Rigoulot and Ilios Yannakakis in their book, Un pavé dans l’Histoire. Le débat français dur Le livre noir du communisme (1998).

Unusually, Lionel Jospin, then Mitterrand’s socialist prime minister, with a well-known Trotskyist past, felt obliged to intervene personally in this debate in the National Assembly, thus flying to the aid of the communists, attacked by the right. On November 12, 1997, Jospin did not hesitate to proclaim “the” official version of history: “For me, communism is part of the Cartel of the Left, of the Popular Front, of the struggles of the Resistance… It has never infringed on freedoms… It is represented in my government and I am proud of it.”

Jospin was thus quick to bury the debate. The fault was to be found exclusively with Stalin, nor with Marxist socialism, nor with communism, and certainly not with French communists. It doesn’t matter what the reality is, what the objective facts are. The negationist reflex is always the same – to discredit the adversary; one can then blather on about intentions to make people dream.

Pierre Daix, a member of the Resistance, who was deported to Mauthausen, former editor-in-chief of Les lettres françaises and former deputy director of the Communist daily Ce soir, showed uncommon honesty and courage in his preface, written for the French-speaking public in 1963, to Solzhenitsyn’s book A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch. “Let me say it right away,” he wrote, “there is no difference in nature for me between the camp of Ivan Denisovich and an average Nazi camp…” Horror is horror!

Taking the measure of the hostility evoked by Le livre noir, frozen and stunned by the virulence of the polemics, nearly half of the authors tried to distance themselves more or less from the main author of the work, Stéphane Courtois. One of them, Nicolas Werth, declared in Le Monde in 2000: “The more one compares communism and Nazism, the more the differences jump out.” Rather, let us paraphrase him: the more we compare them, the more obvious their analogies become.

But despite the socialist-Marxist fury and slander, the success of Le livre noir has not waned. It was enormous, having been translated into twenty-six languages and sold more than a million copies. The communists and their fellow travelers tried in vain to light counterfires, successively publishing two improvised works, the first of which was a botched job, Le livre noir du capitalisme (1998) and Le siècle des communismes (2000). The sales of both books were marginal, if not negligible, compared to those of Le livre noir. Finally, in 2002, a new collective work, entitled, Du Passé, faisons table rase! Histoire et mémoire du communisme en Europe (Let’s Wipe the Slate Clean: History and Memory of Communism in Europe), published under the direction of Stéphane Courtois, completed and extended the analyses of Le livre noir. In the preface to this book, Stéphane Courtois recalled the controversies that arose when Le livre noir was published and responded at length to its detractors.

Revolutionary Europe At The Beginning Of The 20th Century

The twentieth century is undoubtedly the time of the bloodiest international wars in modern history. An era of world wars, but also, for Europe, of the greatest internal or intrastate conflict; that of an overwhelming series of revolutions, riots, insurrections and civil wars. (See, Stanley Payne, Civil War in Europe (1905-1949), 2011). This succession of dramatic events began, between 1905 and 1911, with the Russian revolution of 1905, the Romanian peasant revolution of 1907, the Greek military coup of 1909 (a sort of counterpart to the Young Turks’ revolution of 1908), the Portuguese revolution of 1910, and the two Mexican and Chinese revolutions (from 1910 to 1911).

Many other insurrections or revolutionary civil wars occurred afterwards – in Russia in 1917 and in Finland in 1918; but also in many other countries, such as, Hungary (1919), Poland (1919-1921), Latvia (1917), Portugal (1919), Estonia (with a coup attempt led by the Comintern, in 1924), and Germany, where communist and revolutionary socialist riots and insurrections broke out from 1918 to 1923, and were severely repressed by Friedrich Ebert, a moderate social democrat, Chancellor and later President of the Weimar Republic. Again, Mexico (in 1922) and China (in 1927) must be mentioned, and of course Spain (with the socialist insurrection of 1934 and the military coup of 1936 followed by three years of civil war).

During World War II and immediately after the end of the conflict, three other countries experienced bloody civil wars: Yugoslavia (with the struggle between Tito’s Partisans and Mihailovic’s Chetniks, from 1941 to 1944), Italy (1943-1945) and Greece (1944-1949). Adopting a broader perspective, authors as diverse as Eric Hobsbawn, François Furet, Ernst Nolte and Enzo Traverso have come to use the concept of European civil war to refer to the entire 1914-1945 era.

Finally, during the Cold War (1945-1989), insurrections broke out in many Third World countries, including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Angola, Mozambique, Biafra, Uganda, Rwanda, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Yemen, Chad, etc. Of all these “developing” countries, Castro’s revolution and dictatorship were among the least bloody, with approximately 10,000 victims for a population of 7 million (although this is only true if we exclude the number of deaths during military interventions in Africa and the number of exiles and refugees who disappeared at sea, which, according to the specialist Rudolph J. Rummel, could be over 77,000).

In Europe, the deadliest civil wars of the first half of the 20th century were in Finland and Greece, at least in proportion to the population. The Finnish socialists were the first socialists in Europe to launch a revolutionary insurrection against a democratically elected government, in 1918. The Spanish socialists were the second to do so, in 1934. In Finland, a country of 3.7 million people with a parliamentary and democratic regime, 36,000 people died in three and a half months of civil war (9,700 leftists were executed and 13,400 died in prison camps). In Greece, a country of 7.5 million inhabitants, in five years of civil war (1946-1949) 120,000 people died. In Spain, a country of 25 million inhabitants, in three years of civil war, there were approximately 300,000 deaths (150,000 died in combat or were murdered in the rear guard, in each of the two camps), to which must be added approximately 20,000 judicial and extrajudicial executions of left-wing militants between 1939 and 1942 (Socialist-Marxist historians put the number of executions carried out by Franco’s regime at 114,000 to 130,000, while their opponents estimate the figure at 25,000 to 33,000.

According to the most recent rigorous study by Miguel Platón, between 1939 and 1960, there were 24,949 death sentences, of which 12,851 were commuted and 12,100 were executed, a figure from which it is necessary to subtract the executions of common criminals and add the extrajudicial executions of the spring and summer of 1939, for a total of approximately 14,000. This frightening figure does not need to be exaggerated to reflect the scale of the repression that followed the victory of the national camp. Nevertheless, it remains light years away from the massacres committed by the National Socialist and Socialist-Marxist regimes).

The Soviet “Model” And Its Grim Record

Of all these revolutions and civil wars, the case of Russia remains the most emblematic. The bibliography on the events of 1917 is immense, but it is much more limited on the civil war. Two of the best works on the subject are those of Vladimir Brovkin, Behind the Front Lines of the Civil War: Political Parties and Social Movements in Russia (1918-1922), published in 1994, and Orlando Figes, A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891-1924. We should also mention the book by the American Stanley Payne, Civil War in Europe (2010), and the works of four other historians: the socialist Marc Ferro (October 1917: A Social History of the Russian Revolution), the liberal, ex-communist Alain Besançon (Les Origines intellectuelles du léninisme, 1977), the conservative Richard Pipes (The Russian Revolution, 1905-1917), and the European nationalist, Dominique Venner (Les Blancs et les Rouges, Histoire de la guerre civile russe 1917-1921, 1997).

In 1917, the Russian autocracy was a dying regime even before it was attacked. The terrible mistakes of the Tsarina and Tsar Nicholas II, the sulphureous reputation of Rasputin, the dithering of the ministers, the incompetence of the various governments, the deterioration of the social and economic situation, the crisis of supplies and the terrible losses of the army (2,500,000 dead in two and a half years of war against Germany) were all skillfully exploited by the reformist and revolutionary opposition. On the eve of the revolution, everyone conspired against the regime – the revolutionary movements, of course, the Social Revolutionary Party (S.R.), advocating the populist and peasant uprising, and the Social Democratic Party, representing the Marxist tendency; but, also, the liberal monarchists, the republicans and the moderate socialists. As for the army, it was singularly divided.

The February Revolution of 1917 was a military uprising, grafted onto proletarian movements of limited importance, but skillfully exploited by the revolutionary minority. The day after the abdication of the Tsar, on March 15, 1917, the liberals and moderate socialists formed a provisional government, most of whose members were Freemasons. These men had no idea of the tide that was about to sweep them away. At their head, the revolutionary socialist, Alexander Kerensky, played a pitiful role. The majority of the army cadres welcomed the abdication of the Tsar, if not favorably, at least passively, as if it were a weight off their shoulders. Almost all the future leaders of the white armies, Kornilov, Alexeiev, Denikin, Kolchak, Kaledin, etc. were hostile to monarchic restoration. Totally discredited by the last years of the reign of Nicholas II, the monarchy had no really determined and unreserved defender.

The Bolsheviks (the majority and extremist faction of the social-democratic party), were able to set up an efficient and well-branched-out clandestine organization in the army and in the main industrial centers. In February 1917, they had only 24,000 members; but between April and October 1917, they recruited a considerable number of militants (300,000) and became masters of the country. However, this figure is only relatively significant when compared to the 170 million inhabitants. In fact, it is even proportionally smaller than that of the Spanish CP in July 1936 and that of many other communist parties in later periods.

On October 25, 1917, Lenin, Trotsky and their supporters launched a putsch or armed uprising in Petrograd against Kerensky’s provisional government, which they officially declared dissolved the next day. In the November 1917 elections, which had been planned before the October coup and which Lenin did not dare to suspend, the Bolsheviks obtained only 24% of the votes and were largely defeated. Lenin then decided to dissolve the democratically elected Assembly. On January 19, the Red Guards expelled the deputies manu militari and forbade them to enter the building.

The Bolshevik coup d’état and war-communism, whose foundations were laid by Lenin in the spring of 1918, were the two direct causes of the Russian civil war. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, signed in March 1918, between Germany and revolutionary Russia, was by far the most decisive “foreign intervention” insofar as it gave a second wind to the Bolshevik regime, enabling it to mobilize troops for the civil war. Unlike the Reds, the Whites had no political unity. They included all the opponents of Bolshevism, from the extreme monarchist right, which was in a very small minority, to the socialist-revolutionaries, as well as the republican conservatives, the Great Russian nationalists and the Cossack autonomists.

Unlike the Bolsheviks, the Whites had no worldview, no system of ideas, no powerful project, no mobilizing myth. They are very divided about the future of Russia. Two examples. First, the agrarian problem; while it conditioned the support of the peasantry (85% of the population), the Whites did not provide any solution. They should have supported the mass of small farmers to the detriment of the big landowners; but they do not do so. Second, the Whites should have supported nationalisms. But, blind, they sank into the reactionary defense of “Great Russia, one and indivisible.” Facing them, Trotsky and Stalin, undoubtedly the most important Bolshevik leaders, knew how to mobilize and put military specialists at the service of the revolution, and especially in much greater numbers than the counter-revolutionaries.

The human cost of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia is known today. Scientific estimates of the death toll caused by the dictatorship of the Communist Party since 1917, excluding the enormous losses of the Second World War, leave no room for doubt. The death toll from the first phase of collectivism alone, implemented by Lenin, assisted by Trotsky, from September to October 2018, is 10-15,000. In two months, the Cheka and the Bolsheviks executed three to four times as many people as the Spanish Inquisition did in three and a half centuries (2,500 to 5,000 deaths between 1478 and 1834), and two to three times as many as the Tsarist regime did in ninety-two years (four to six thousand deaths between 1825 and 1917). For the pre-Stalin period alone (1917-1921), the death toll is between 500,000 to 3,000,000.

The Communists and their fellow travelers maintain that there were at most one to three million deaths and only under Stalin. But according to the Soviet demographer Maksudov, the regime-change in Russia led to 27.5 million victims from 1918 to 1958.

In light of the archives of the former USSR, the Russian historian Volkogonov gives a total death toll of 35 million. Robert Conquest speaks of 40 million; Zbigniev Brzezinski of 50 million; Rudolph Rummel of 62 million. The demographer Kouganov and the president of the Commission for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression, Alexander Yakovlev, put forward an even more terrifying overall figure: 66 million dead. According to the most modest estimate, used by most Western historians, there were no less than 15 to 20 million deaths, a figure far exceeded by Mao’s China (40 to 68 million deaths according to Jean-Louis Margolin).

The World Balance-Sheet Of Socialism-Marxism

Stéphane Courtois summarizes the voluminous work that is Le livre noir in a particularly striking introductory chapter. He gives a first result which is nothing more than “a minimal approximation.” The death toll of communism is staggering: USSR 20 million, China 65 million, Vietnam 1 million, North Korea 2 million, Cambodia 2 million, Eastern Europe 1 million, Latin America 150,000, Africa 1.7 million, Afghanistan 1.5 million; the total approaches 100 million.

We knew almost everything about communism or Marxist socialism from the beginning, since the October Revolution of 1917, everything about the crimes, repression and horrors unleashed by the socialist-Marxist ideology. We knew that the criminal practices, that the “class genocide” was the consequence of the perversity of its ideology, of the morbidity of its leveling obsession. It was known that the Soviet concentration camps were an invention of Trotsky’s, and it was known that Stalin, and later Mao, had only taken up and continued the work where Lenin had left it. It was known that the essence of “real socialism,” of Marxist socialism, was cold terror, applied in a meticulous, almost scientific way. It was known, in short, that crime was at the heart of the theory and practice of “scientific socialism.”

But there still remains a need to be informed and to admit the horror. The most terrible criminal enterprise in history was aided and abetted to the end by a large part of the Western political and cultural elite. The responsibility and guilt of the latter are undeniable.

Unsurprisingly, the European people most immune to the socialist-Marxist ideology and system are those who have suffered from it for so many years, such as Hungary, Poland, the Baltic States, etc. But their leaders are, after all, no more critical than Russian President Vladimir Putin. During the Plenary Session of the 18th Annual Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club (22.10.2021), Putin said unambiguously:

“The advocates of so-called ‘social progress’ believe they are introducing humanity to some kind of a new and better consciousness. Godspeed, hoist the flags as we say, go right ahead. The only thing that I want to say now is that their prescriptions are not new at all. It may come as a surprise to some people, but Russia has been there already. After the 1917 revolution, the Bolsheviks, relying on the dogmas of Marx and Engels, also said that they would change existing ways and customs and not just political and economic ones, but the very notion of human morality and the foundations of a healthy society. The destruction of age-old values, religion and relations between people, up to and including the total rejection of family (we had that, too), encouragement to inform on loved ones – all this was proclaimed progress and, by the way, was widely supported around the world back then and was quite fashionable, same as today. By the way, the Bolsheviks were absolutely intolerant of opinions other than theirs. This, I believe, should call to mind some of what we are witnessing now. Looking at what is happening in a number of Western countries, we are amazed to see the domestic practices, which we, fortunately, have left, I hope, in the distant past. The fight for equality and against discrimination has turned into aggressive dogmatism bordering on absurdity, when the works of the great authors of the past – such as Shakespeare – are no longer taught at schools or universities, because their ideas are believed to be backward. The classics are declared backward and ignorant of the importance of gender or race. In Hollywood memos are distributed about proper storytelling and how many characters of what colour or gender should be in a movie. This is even worse than the agitprop department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.”

We would like to hear sometime a Western leader express himself in this way on this subject.

Such cruelty, inhumanity and sectarian blindness – despite a century of irrefutable testimony and the atrocious record of historical research – is truly appalling. It is said that there are places of memory. But there are also privileged places of lies, manipulation and hate. “What serves the revolution is moral,” Lenin used to say. The historian, journalist and former trade union leader at the CFDT, Jacques Julliard, once declared: “To see the last Marxists in this country taking refuge in a morality of intention will remain, for those who like to laugh, one of the jokes of this end of the century.”

For my part, in the face of the denials of the communists, their social-marxist fellow travelers and other “useful idiots,” and in the face of their offenses against the memory of so many millions of victims, I am reminded of two funny lines from the film, Shawshank Redemption. Banker Andy Dufresne, sentenced to twenty years in prison for murder, meets his future friend Red for the first time in the yard of Shawshank prison. When Red asks him, “Why did you do it? Andy replies, “I didn’t do it, if you must know,” and Red jokingly replies, “You’ll like it here, everyone is innocent.”


Arnaud Imatz, a Basque-French political scientist and historian, holds a State Doctorate (DrE) in political science and is a correspondent-member of the Royal Academy of History (Spain), and a former international civil servant at OECDHe is a specialist in the Spanish Civil War, European populism, and the political struggles of the Right and the Left – all subjects on which he has written several books. He has also published numerous articles on the political thought of the founder and theoretician of the Falange, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, as well as the Liberal philosopher, José Ortega y Gasset, and the Catholic traditionalist, Juan Donoso Cortés. This article is translated from the French by N. Dass.


The featured image shows the Khmer Rouge killing babies at the infamous “killing tree.” A painting by Vann Nath, ca. 1990s.

Europe Is Not A Nation. The Union Is Not A State: An Interview With Ryszard Legutko

Should the European Parliament exist? What is the ultimate purpose of the supranational structure known as the “European Union?” The philosopher and statesman, Ryszard Legutko tackles these questions with elegant clarity and razor-sharp wit.

Ryszard Legutko is a member of the European Parliament. He is the author of The Demon in Democracy, Society as a Department Store: Critical Reflections on the Liberal State, and, most recently, The Cunning of Freedom.

The conversation that follows, with the journalist Karol Gac, first appeared in the Polish weekly, Dorzeczy (November 7, 2021). We are so very pleased to present this first English translation.


Karol Gac (KG): In which direction, in your opinion, is the European Union heading?

Ryszard Legutko (RL): It’s heading toward oligarchy that is being created by European institutions and the strongest West European countries. And since Europe is dominated by the Left, this oligarchy is united by leftist ideology, aiming at radical restructuring of European societies. While it is true that the powerful states do not necessarily want to dissolve into this European mass, nevertheless they strengthen European structures because through them they pursue their interests. For example, those structures are used by Germany, which for historical reasons cannot impose itself too much with its political power; or by France, which dreams of French leadership in Europe; or smaller countries, such as, the Netherlands and Belgium, which want to strengthen their position in this way. The oligarchy that is emerging is therefore particularly dangerous – it is ruled by the powerful group of a few countries, which use institutions to seize powers not conferred upon them by treaties, and impose an extremely harmful ideology.

KG: Are we witnessing a Hamiltonian moment and an attempt to build a European superstate?

RL: For the European Union, any opportunity is good to advance centralization. It seemed that the poor response to the pandemic would discredit the EU institutions; yet these institutions took advantage of the pandemic by creating programs for a reconstruction fund and a common debt, which is, of course, another step towards centralization. They immediately claimed for themselves jurisdiction over who gets the funds and who does not. This may be a Hamiltonian moment, but it is important to remember that this trend has been going on for a long time.

Ryszard Legutko in the European Parliament.

KG: Given this, isn’t the dispute over the primacy of law fundamental?

RL: Of course, it is. In Polish history we have repeatedly stood up for freedom. It is no different now, when we oppose the new despotism that the European oligarchy is trying to impose on the rest. The primacy of European law is a relatively new invention. In the past, this concept appeared in rulings of the CJEU [Court of Justice of European Union], but it was just the judges’ hypercreativity. We know the judges cannot make law. The law is enshrined in the treaties; and there is not a word in them about the primacy of European law. Pulling the general principle of the primacy of European law out of the hat now is the most ordinary political sleight of hand and proof that violating the Treaties with impunity has already become an everyday practice in the European Union.

It is characteristic that in the European Parliament, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, did not even try to justify her position, when she responded to the speech of Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki. And she did not use any arguments, because no such arguments exist. If they did exist, we would be constantly reminded of them. So, what von der Leyen was left with were threats! That is why Poland can’t back down on this issue. If we give in, in the face of obvious lawlessness, it will be tantamount to surrendering power over Poland to Brussels and its superiors.

KG: However, observing the recent disputes with Brussels, one can come to a conclusion that the EU institutions are acting according to the principle, “What can you really do to us?” We seem to be pointing out that there is no basis for this in the treaties, but these things happen. The law of the stronger?

RL: Definitely. The European Commission, supported by Parliament and unopposed by the major political players, has introduced an unmitigated heavy-headedness into European politics. Actually, the signs of it had been visible before, but the official signal was given by Jean-Claude Juncker when he described the Commission as a “political” institution – if political, then engaging in political conflicts and power struggles. Previously, the Commission was something like a secretariat that prepared projects for implementation. It seemed that von der Leyen would break away from the Juncker model; but she did not. Another institution that does a lot of bad things is the European Parliament, previously derided as decorative. Well, that has changed. It is now a politically rampant institution, controlled by the Left and, as the Left does, it wants to build a brave new world. The despicable role is played by the European People’s Party – the largest group in the European Parliament – which has long since abandoned its Christian-democratic identity. Its leader, Manfred Weber, has made it into a lickspittle dragoon of the left, directing all its energy to fighting the remnants of the political Right.

KG: It seems that the European Union has been at a crossroads for several years. Perhaps the main reason for the Union’s crisis is simply a crisis of its institutions?

RL: The main source of the EU crisis is the European Union itself. Its rulers do not draw conclusions from what is happening. The reaction after Brexit was characteristic; when instead of decreasing the intrusiveness of interference in the affairs of member states, they increased it. Why is this so? The Union contains fundamental structural errors. The most detrimental to the Union is the principle of an ever-closer union. This slogan means that the regulations and laws that have been written down are actually provisional and that their violation and stretching can be tolerated, provided that it serves the purpose of greater federalization and integration. This of course results in contempt for the law, as we see in the Court of Justice of the EU. It is a political institution where government appointees use the law to deepen the centralization of the union. The judges of the CJEU behave politically and their rulings are sometimes completely bizarre and expose their political agenda.

Here is an example. Hungary sued the European Parliament over the activation of Article 7. The issue was that twelve hours before the vote, we received instructions from the Bureau of the European Parliament that abstentions would not be counted, which was a clear violation of the Treaty. The Treaty explicitly stipulates that in the case of votes on Article 7, all votes cast count. So, it seemed that the Hungarians had to win. However, the CJEU ruled that the abstentions could be considered as votes not cast. This is sophistry of the most shameless kind. With such an attitude to the law, it is difficult to gain respect for the European judges and treat the CJEU as a bastion of the rule of law.

Another structural error of the Union is that its institutions are not accountable to the electorate. Who are the commissioners? They are people parachuted in by governments and approved not individually, but as the European Commission in its entirety by the European Parliament. They have no responsibility because they are not accountable to any electorate. Being not accountable to their voters, they can ignore; but they are rather soft-spoken when it comes to confronting the powers that be. Who is Vera Jourova, a Czech commissioner, a figure who emerged out of nowhere, and what legitimacy does she have to threaten and bully the Polish government? An institution acting in this way must sooner or later degenerate, and this is happening before our very eyes. As for the European Parliament, it should not exist at all. The Union is not a state and Europe is not a nation.

KG: All the more so since the European Parliament was created on the assumption that there is a European demos. Meanwhile, we know perfectly well that it does not exist, because there are many nations in Europe.

RL: We have a completely bizarre situation in which 650 MEPs (out of about 700) are deciding on Polish affairs, but they are not accountable to the Polish electorate. The whole idea of parliamentarianism is that the representatives are accountable to the voters; and here we have zero accountability. That is why the European Parliament has degenerated the fastest and the most spectacularly. It is an unbalanced chamber with no respect for rules, including those of decency. The creators of the Union, if they acted in good faith, assumed that the European institutions would self-limit; but they did not create any effective mechanisms that would force those institutions to do so. The art of system building lies, among other things, in creating means to inhibit the natural tendency of institutions to grow, to increase their power, to create pathologies. To cure the Union of its ills, a fundamental reform is needed.

KG: We have the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council. What is the point of having so many EU institutions if, at the end of the day, it turns out that decisions are taken either in Berlin or within a narrow circle, in a rather non-transparent procedure?

RL: This is another of the structural flaws of the European Union. There are at least three power structures in the EU. The first is what is enshrined in the treaties. The second is the real power structure. Germany is the dominant power because it is the strongest country; and no matter what we write into the treaties, that power is not invalidated. It is simply a fact. The system enshrined in the treaties cannot therefore operate in isolation from the real system of power; and this makes the decision-making process unclear and arbitrary. And then there is a third power structure that goes beyond the EU but is very much embedded in it, namely, ideological power.

The Euro-enthusiasts like to repeat the slogan that the EU is unity in diversity. Nothing can be further from the truth. There is no diversity in the Union. There is one ideological model established by the Left; its consequence being the growing despotism. Consequently, the people who are thriving in the Union are former communists. For them, it is like their second youth. Look, for example, at the former communists, once Poland’s prime ministers, who are now MPs. The EU probably brings to their minds the memories of the good old days of proletarian internationalism and the alliance of brotherly parties. In addition to the old communists, there is, of course, the new left with their gender ideology. All this makes the EU a somber place. Unfortunately, Poland and Europe are dominated by a mystified image of the EU, where its dark side is ignored. We won’t learn about this side from professors of European studies, because they either don’t know or don’t want to know how the EU works – and what they do is not far from ordinary propaganda.

KG: Assuming that the EU will continue in the current direction, is this project tenable?

RL: Everything is tenable for a while. The question is, for how long? Many people want the EU to continue its existence, not least because of its demoralizing nature. We can imagine a person entering – forever, as he hopes – into this large, complex system, receiving a very good salary, being fed with the ideology that he is working for a better Europe, or pretends cynically that that he is doing it. But such a person is not quite representative of the current mood. There is growing discontent among citizens, mainly in Western Europe. No wonder that a lot of us expect that the political forces that criticize the EU will come to power and stop the current trend. Until there is a political counterweight to the ruling oligarchy in the EU, the process will unfortunately continue. If a few relatively conservative and sovereign governments were to be formed, the situation could improve. If not, the dissatisfaction will grow and take various forms, also more violent than now.

KG: And maybe this counterbalance will be created by Poland? Some time ago the Law and Justice Party gave an impetus to create an international alliance of right-wing forces.

RL: Those who want more oligarchy in the EU (including the European Parliament and the European Commission) launched a big project called the “Conference on the Future of Europe,” which is a preparation for the next federation leap. There must be a response from those who oppose it. In the West European countries, a large part of the citizens, who look critically at the EU, do not have sufficiently influential political representation, and their voice is eliminated from the public sphere. That is why East European countries, like Poland, have a role to play.

KG: When joining the EU, many people thought it was a gentlemen’s club, where there was a community of values, and decisions were made together. Maybe Poland perceived and still sometimes perceives certain things too naively, and we have just received lessons in realpolitik?

RL: That is indeed how we thought about the EU, although the EU was never such a club. But previously, in the ECC, there was a relative political balance, which today has been replaced by monopoly, and there was also a partial ideological balance, which has been replaced by mono-ideology. Let us not forget that as a result of the educational collapse, European elites today represent a very low intellectual level and are effectively grouped together. The old Europe that we longed for under communism is as alien to the European Union as vegetarianism is to cannibals. The experience of the Union has also given us the opportunity to get to know ourselves better. The emergence of a group of compatriots who do not want the sovereignty of Poland must be shocking. Not many years have passed since the fall of communism, and still 1/3 of Poland prefers to be governed by someone from outside. It is a very dangerous signal. If these proportions were different, it would be easier for Poland to take a leading role and act more boldly in Europe and create a broader sovereignist and reformist front in the EU.


Should The Founding Principles Of The U.S. Be Retained?

Would it be useful or realistic to re-name Manhattan and call it Transhattan in respect of gender fluidity? Would that new name not also reveal that not only is gender fluid, but New York City is fluid in the sense of being a crossroads of the world? Millions emigrated into the USA through Ellis Island in Manhattan. If Manhattan is renamed Transhattan, would not the past migration of people be seen for what it is — a dramatic change in demographics revealing the inherent changeableness of the world, and that radical change is progress? Would not the re-naming help us see that deviation from the norm is normal. Our norms of today would have been considered deviations from the norm a couple of centuries ago. The philosopher Heraclitus said “all is change,” so if we accept his slogan as truth, “change” is the stable reality.

Yet, such a change does not sit well with most of us. We see that there are many radical changes in social composition, creation of new societies and even new civilizations throughout history. Yet, aspects of life, especially the biological compatibility and union of male and female seem to be an ongoing and ahistorical desideratum. Although this writer is a creationist, even evolutionists like Jean-Baptiste Lamarck believed that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” This means that the development of the individual organism mirrors the evolutionary development of the human race. If this statement were to be taken seriously, even the atheistic gender fluidity crowd would have to accept gender bifurcation as nature’s final say in the matter. Gender bifurcation into male and female is a phylogenetic reality for all times, cultures, places, societies, governmental systems, etc. Therefore, it trumps our individual “choices.”

How can we resolve this tension between ongoing changes and desire to maintain the status quo which seems to have consolidated radical “changes” that occurred in the past?

We saw a tremendous influx of people into the USA from 1890-1920 but in the short run it led to massive poverty, and especially brought socialistic and communistic ideas into the USA that were less popular at that time than they are today. There was no USSR, no PRC, no commie Vietnam, no Venezuela, and no Cuba. There was no welfare system at that time, and unlike today the USA was not a place where 39% pay income tax and 60% do not (2020). There were no violent, unemployed punks in the street chanting for the overthrow of the USA for extensive periods of time or occupying Wall Street or setting fires or defacing buildings or looting millions of dollars worth of Levi’s, headsets, and panties from stores. Fluidity seen as historical change, as movement of people, as innovations in our everyday lifestyles and in our mores is thus the norm. Yet, we desire to control, to resist change, to harbor grievances against “change agents.” Both trends are historical realities.

This tension has in the past given rise to dialectic thinking whereby the German philosopher Friedrich Hegel took the “transcendental categories” of another German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, in a new direction. For Kant, those categories of the mind gave order and direction to our choices and understanding, but the Hegelian dialectic found an inherent tension in those categories which Kant failed to describe or analyze. Thus, for Hegel, there is in all historical experience a Thesis which is opposed by an Antithesis. The Antithesis negates the Thesis, and the Thesis is then replaced by a Synthesis. The Synthesis is not merely a mixture of Thesis and Antithesis, but a historical condition that is different from Thesis and Antithesis, and this “condition” could not have emerged had there not been a conflict between Thesis and Antithesis. The Synthesis becomes the new Thesis, and the march of time and history continues. The path taken is one of continuous progress towards the Absolute. The perfectibility of mankind is implied.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engel said that this dialectic was more specifically grounded in economics than in Hegel’s philosophy as seen historically by looking at the “class struggles” throughout the ages. This dialectic they believed would and should culminate in the classless society called “communism.”

The most valid alternative to the dialectical reasoning arising out of Germanic culture is the one found in the English/Protestant tradition. Although Marxists would disparage this tradition as being bourgeois and proposing values opposed both to dialectic and to the proletariat, the English/Protestant tradition allows for progress without contaminating that progress with an ideal of a perfectly just social order and governance. Rather, it is a progress that is mediated and limited by purity of our motives, the requirements of conscience, the moral law as revealed in the Old Testament, and through faith in both the reason and revelation of the Messiah through the New Testament.

Faith is the linchpin of this progress since it is a progress supported by Almighty God through His Providential will. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson as well as Protestant colonial leaders who preceded them purposely cultivated their spiritual lives through Biblical study and prayer. Further, John Locke, Jonathan Edwards, and William Penn provided the philosophical and theological momentum for the ideal of the USA as a city on a hill. Although it may not be obvious on its face, the struggle we are seeing about human sexuality, economic and political justice, and health and happiness are at bottom a profound philosophical and theological struggle between German culture and English culture; and the English tradition is by far more vibrant and hopeful.


Jeffrey Ludwig teaches philosophy in New York City and preaches regularly at pulpits in Queens, a borough of New York City.


The featured image shows, “Declaration of Independence,” by John Trumbull; painted in 1819.

Wokism – Or Capitalism?

Some speak of Black Lives Matter and of LGBT,
of Cancel Culture, Wokism and such great games as these.
But of all the world’s great challenges, none can compare
With banks, stocks, and production – the Real Capitalism.

All the Western World is engaged in great changes under the guise of “Wokism,” whose most extreme aspects occur in English-speaking countries and are exported and then mirrored in various non-English-speaking countries. But what is being “woke?” I do not pretend to have the answer, and yet there are some possible interpretations that inform us as to what lies before us.

As I see it, the real problem is not Wokism, BLM, or the LGBT et similia movements, but what is behind them, and what silently exploits such movements, the honesty of whose members I do not object to at all. I regard them attack columns – but they are not the headquarters. And if we just focus on the “foot-soldiers” and disregard the HQ and its objectives, we will be misled because we will not have the panoramic view, which alone can give us the much-needed insights.

So, what is the HQ? In the USA, many people are certain that they know for sure: Communists, or former Communists; Soviet Zombies who have come back to life to destroy the USA. To be fair, there are certain aspects of Cancel Culture which suggest a link with what took place in the past. In Stalin’s day, books were modified, in order to cancel those parts related to the “enemies of the people;” or entire books were canceled. Paintings too were modified. In Stalin’s time, the famous painting showing Lenin’s 1917 speech at the Smolny changed very many times – each time cancelling (deleting) a recently liquidated prominent Bolshevik who had fallen out of favor – so that at the end, in its definitive version, only Lenin and Stalin appeared to have been there.

Whilst Mussolini never played this game, Hitler indulged in the same Stalinist tricks, along with book-burning. And the sport of destroying statues is as old as the statues themselves, being an integral part of any given riot or revolution, since the ancient Egypt – think of Akhenaton.

We could suppose that the root of this phenomenon lies in Hegel’s philosophy, and the evolution of left and right Hegelianism (hence, Nazism and Communism). But I do not think so. Not at all.

Rather, capitalism is the answer. I know that such an answer will sound quite misleading, odd, amazing, especially in capitalistic countries – what has capitalism to do with Wokism and the various movements derive from it?

An explanation is very much needed; but it will involve a broader and greater context. So, bear with me, even if what I am going to say may seem off-topic. But it will all make sense once we reach a conclusion.

Let us go back a couple of centuries. In the early days of the 19t century, when Britannia ruled the waves, when Wellington had just defeated Napoleon, and the London stock exchange ruled the world of finance. The incipient Industrial Revolution was triggering a deep change of British, and then European and American, society – for the new entrepreneurs had to resolve a remarkable problem: How to balance supply and demand?
Anyone who has studied at least some economics knows what a problem this is. But for those who are not aware of this problem, let me provide an explanation.

Let us take the example of a hypothetical early 19th century tissue producer, Mr Tissue, whose factory works well, is powered by coal, and its production is shipped by horse-towed wagons.

Let us say that this Mr. Tissue created a new cotton tissue, which becomes a fashion hit; and is so successful that suddenly everybody wants it, and ready to pay – let’s say – $1.00 per piece. Mr. Tissue’s factory is flooded with orders. What does Mr. Tissue do? Seeing the success, he decides to exploit the situation and to at once fulfill all the orders. He immediately improves production. His factory now operates longer hours and Mr. Tissue buys all the cotton that he can find.

Then, he encounters his first problem. The cotton producer he normally relies on, just does not have as much cotton Mr. Tissue needs, who now has to look for additional cotton producers he has never dealt with. The new cotton producers that he contacts say, “OK, we have cotton, but you must pay it 10 cents per pound, instead of 9 cents as you previously did.” Well, Mr. Tissue knows that he will sell a lot of his products, so, if he pays 10 cents of 9 cents, he will earn a bit less than he hoped, but his loss is not so great either. So, Mr. Tissue accepts. But shortly after, even these new producers are not enough, and Mr. Tissue has to find additional producers, and he now accepts paying 11 cents per pound for the cotton that he greatly needs.

At the same time, Mr. Tissue realizes that he does not have as many specialized workers as needed to increase production. So, he looks for additional specialized workers. But, unfortunately, there are none available, as all are already working in other factories and all are paid the same wages as his own workers – $1.00 a day. What does he do? He offers to pay $1.10 per day to new specialized workers. But gets his old specialized workers upset. And so, to keep production moving along, Mr. Tissue has to pay his old specialized workers $1.10 per day as well.

Of course, given such a remarkable 10 percent wage increase, he gets all the workers he needs – but he now has all his fellow entrepreneurs very upset, who must also increase the wages of their specialized workers’ wage – to keep them from all moving to Tissue’s factory.

Then Mr. Tissue realizes that he needs much more coal than in the past, because his factory is working twice as much as before. This means that he also needs more wagons (and horses and fodder) as well as more carriages to bring in the additional cotton and to ship out the finished goods (the tissues). And in all these cases too, given what is available on the market, he can’t get the needed additional coal, horses, wagons and fodder unless he pays more than the price he usually paid in the past. Costs rise; but Mr. Tissue doesn’t care, because he has plenty of orders still coming in.

Then, orders start to decrease, because almost everybody has the new cotton tissue, and suddenly, in a month, Tissue’s production must be reduced by one-third. What does he do? To limit his losses, he reduces the price of his tissue to 90 cents, lays off many workers, stops purchasing cotton and sells some horses and wagons, perhaps at a loss.

Finally, Mr. Tissue also is stuck with a lot of cotton, coal and fodder. He could use it in production, but the problem nobody needs Mr. Tissue’s products as much, since most people have bought lots. So, it is possible that Mr. Tissue will have to further reduce production, or stop it altogether. Hence, many more workers will lose their jobs, and their wages.

This brings about a small financial crisis will start, because without a wage the laid-off workers won’t buy as much as they used to. This leads to a domino effect, affecting other producers whose products will also not be sold in the same quantities as before. On the other hand, it is also possible that, when looking at his budget, Mr. Tissue’s business proves less convenient than he thought – he may have spent much more than he anticipated in wages, and in the purchase of horses, wagons, cotton, and coal. Tissue may end up losing everything; or, he might lose a percentage when business got bad. How does Mr. Tissue avoid these problems in the future? What does he do next time?

The early 19th century economists faced this problem. It was a new one, because never in the past did so a massive production occurred, which also meant that a massive amount of money could be lost or earned in a matter of weeks, or even days.

The main problem affecting economy was clearly the economical crisis. You can have a crisis because of overproduction – Mr. Tissue’s case at the end of the story – and underproduction – Mr. Tissue’s case at the beginning of the story.

Bear in mind that the final price is made up of the cost of the raw material, the cost of manpower, the cost of power, the cost of logistics, the cost of the infrastructure maintenance, the savings to invest in new machinery, and, last, by the entrepreneur’s profit.

In case the market suddenly asks you for more items than you are producing, or can produce, you must find the raw materials and do the handiwork as fast as you can, practically on the spot, no matter how expensive that can all be. And this means that you can earn less than usual – because if you sell your products always at the same price – and you must do that, otherwise you lose market shares – the expenditure rate composed of the prices of raw materials, wages and all the other items, will be higher than usual. Thus, your net income will be lower.

On the other hand, when the market suddenly stops purchasing your products, you may find yourself with a lot of unsold products. And, no matter if you hang onto unsold inventory or sell it at a lower price – you lose money.

Boring? Very boring? How does all this useless economics stuff pertain to the topic at hand? Wait a bit more and you’ll start matching the dots.

How to avoid this crisis in the first place was the question. The answer provided by some economists in the first half of 19th century was – “planning.” But planning what?
The crisis occurred depending on how many goods were sold, or not sold – thus, it depended on the buyer. Hence the analysis of economist focused on the consumer, and they soon realized how unpredictable the single consumer really is. Therefore, would it not be better if, somehow, one could predict which kind of goods and assets the consumer could want over a lifetime?

But soon economists also realized another cause of this crises – the unpredictable number of consumers. If a single consumer was a “mad variable,” whose needs more or less could be somehow predicted, thus allowing for production synchronized to consumer demand – what if the number of global consumers changed suddenly? A consumer plus another consumer meant a family; and in nine months one could expect the consumers to become three. But what if the consumers – especially in Catholic countries – did not stop and kept increasing like rabbits? The family could hardly enhance its income as much as needed to keep their initial life standard, and this would cause a reduced in purchasing power, and thus a reduction in the goods they bought, which on a general level would be mirrored by a reduction of industrial production. So what?

The smart answer was “social planning,” because a planned society was supposed to have planned behaviors and thus planned and predictable needs, to be fulfilled through predictable and planned consumption – and hence by a long-term planned economy.

Are you connecting dots? What renders consumption unpredictable? Families. Why? Because families have children, and often they do not care how many they have. So, what does it all mean?

Such behavior has two bad consequences: Families can’t spend so much on other expensive goods, because they must eat, and dress, first. Plus, the unpredictable number of children renders consumption by families, and thus family behavior and expenditure, absolutely unpredictable. And this is bad for a planned economy – and economy in general.

In other words, traditional, unplanned families cause an economic crisis. Additionally, an economic crisis is the nightmare, the doom of capitalism. It must be avoided at any cost. Consequently, traditional, unplanned families are the enemies of capitalism because they are the origin of the economic crisis.

On the other hand, as it has more or less been explicitly said over the 60 years ago, whoever has fewer or no children, has much more money to spend. Thus, whoever has no children is welcomed; well, not completely welcomed, otherwise in a generation the market would be over, due to the death of all the consumers – and then who would capitalism sell to? Think what a bad business proposal that would it be. Now what? Well, the best thing is to have planned families – two parents and two children. Don’t forget the UN supported Family planning campaigns, mostly in the 1960’s, in places as different as India and the USA. If at that time it was said everywhere that India was overcrowded in comparison to her food production, and this such a campaign could be understood as reasonable – what about the USA? Were they short of food? Not at all. Let’s keep this in mind and let’s go move forward.

If a family plans to have two children, there is an additional unpredictable factor – how many males and females? One and one? Two and zero? Zero and two? This is troublesome, for how can you have a long-termed plan for shaving blades, or for make-up production in the next twenty years? It’s annoying. What to do? Well, for instance one could introduce a planned system but… but that would mean planning in advance what you want to have – not how many children, but how many children of which sex? It is scientifically doable, but how do you introduce the concept?

If you destroy the standard traditional family – as the Nazis did, and as the Soviets before Stalin did too – and if you introduce a “new” family, relying on birth-assistance, that is to say, on birth-planning, you can do it.

Are the dots connecting yet? The “new” family can be exploited as a tool to let the capitalistic enterprises gain much more through a planned economy based on planned life. Thus, if the capitalist system supports such a family, it is in its own monetary interests – not in the interests of families and the people.

One step more. And it will be a nasty one, but we’ve already taken quite a few nasty steps that one more is not such a tragedy.

There is another group of “bad consumers” – the old and ill. What do they live for? Only to be a burden on the public health system, if any, or on their families. Thus, aside from the expenditures welcomed only by some of the Big Pharma, what do they live for?

Moreover, they don’t have that many needs (except for medicines and assistance), and most of them can’t pay for it, either. So, what to do? How can they live without assistance, if they can’t pay for it? It would be a life without dignity… so, let’s kill them off, because no life deprived of dignity is worth living, is it? And this is what is currently done – officially in half a dozen countries of the world, and unofficially probably in many more. In fact, these people are killed simply because they are a financial burden and no longer an active portion of the consumer-world.

And, and what about those affected by mental illness? They too can’t have a life with dignity (and are unable to spend their money, if they have any). So, what do they live for?
OK, there would be small problem, that is to say – who defines this “standard of dignity?” And who determines whether these “standards” are being “enjoyed” or not the people to be killed? But this is a small and negligible problem. It’s not worth discussing, as every is on agrees that life without “dignity” is not worth living.

Next point – how do you achieve all these goals? By destroying mankind as it is now and by modeling, by shaping a new one.

If you want to build something, the first thing you must do is to clear the ground. Now, this is exactly what Liberals, Wokists, Cancel Culture and so on are doing. They are cleaning the ground to “build back better” – which means a new society, a new society they claim that will be more equal, more democratic, and so on. But this new society in fact will be shaped as I described above.

As things are, they are sweeping away whatever that is linked to identity – identity in general. They are sweeping out existing culture, removing statues, modifying books, and they are sweeping away personal identity – because what kind of family can here ever be, if gender is a choice and does not depend on how the body is, and identity is no longer something determined by nature and self-existing but is something determined by…? What? Whom?
By the rulers. And the rulers will determine it using an indirect approach – there will not be a law telling the people how to be. There will be a system of laws allowing this or that and causing a pre-emptive self-censorship – as already happens – and an instinctive conforming to the general behavior.

Once personal identity and identity in general is cancelled, people will simply be a mass of units, whose behavior will be directed from outside in an indirect and effective way by, and according to, indirect pressures. The more time will pass, the more rigid and apparent the pressures and conditioning will be.

Additional point. How to prevent insurgency? Simply by depriving the people of its own money. How? By paying low wages to all who are not embedded, or enrolled into the system. And how can you keep wages low? By the same system used at the eve of the Industrial Revolution – by relying on a wide offer of manpower, because there will always be the poor – who are poorer than the workers working for you – and who will therefore accept that same job for a lot less wage. Thus, you can blackmail your worker; and, if that worker does not accept your terms, you can say “goodbye.”

Really? Yes, really. Otherwise, what are we importing illegal immigrants for? For the sake of human solidarity? If that were true, we would be investing and developing instead in their countries (with lesser and longer-termed profit). What a terrible idea! No, no! We need them to keep the price of tomatoes low in the supermarket! Were the tomatoes to be picked by regular workers, they would cost four times their current price! Would you like that? And what about the onions? Would you really like to spend that much for your salad?

And what can we do with all this manpower? Well, the not-specialized manpower can die when exploited, just like a squeezed lemon. Specialized manpower will get something more, because, by the way, they are also the consumers. But they will get a low wage, big enough to purchase what the planned economy allows them to get, but not a cent more.
Think of how expensive and time-consuming it is simply to buy a new car, not to say a home. But in the happy planned future, the vast majority will have long-termed rented cars (as it is usual and cheaper in the USA and not at all in Europe) and will live in rented homes, because only the happy very few will be able to purchase a home, because of their wages, and because of the high prices.

If the majority of the people have to depend on a small wage, just allowing them to have all they think they need for their daily life (and “daily-life” will be precisely planned), the big corporations will earn a lot more money, a lot longer, given the combined effect of planned production to fulfill planned consumption, all feeding the planned life of each human being. And when the human being can no longer afford to pay for what he/she needs, how can he/she still live with dignity? Thus, euthanasia, and requiescat in pace, and let’s make use of the body for transplants, for beauty farms and, last but not least, ash for the ground (never waste anything – don’t forget – that is an economic moral duty).

Is it all clear now?

So, as you see, Wokism, LGBTQ, Black Lives Matter, Cancel Culture they all appear as tools used and exploited by something different. And they are effective because they do not know how, and which way, they are being exploited, and to which aims. They are genuinely certain that they are fighting for rights and liberty, for a better new society. But in fact they can be compared to a smoke screen – and behind that screen you have the worst and most greedy capitalism.


Ciro Paoletti, a prominent Italian historian of military history, is the Secretary General of the Italian Commission of Military History. He is the author of 25 books, and more than 400 other smaller works\, published in Italy and abroad, and mostly dealing with modern and contemporary Italian military history and policy.


The featured image shows, “The Tower of Babel,” by Lucas van Valckenborch; painted in 1594.