Catholicism’s Vital Forces: Finally Seeing Reality!

On May 5, La Croix published a survey on the subject of “Why Catholic families have difficulty passing on their religion,” pointing out that in France 91% of Muslims, 84% of Jews and only 67% of Catholics retain their religion from one generation to the next. Admittedly, the minority phenomenon no doubt goes a long way to explaining the high rate of transmission in Muslim and Jewish families, whereas disaffection is more likely to affect a “majority” religion in a socio-political context where Christianity is marginalized.

That said, this “majority” status of Christians is now outdated, with only 25% of 18-59 year-olds declaring themselves to be Catholic, compared with 43% twelve years earlier. The situation is therefore worrying. La Croix notes, however, that some of the faithful pass on the faith far better than others:

“These observant and rather conservative Catholic families successfully steer their spiritual reproduction, carefully selecting the religious socialization of their children (Catholic schools, youth movements, friendship circles).”

And the fact that Catholicism is becoming a minority religion accentuates this phenomenon, notes Yann Raison du Cleuziou, interviewed in the La Croix article:

“In a minority landscape, a religion tends to restructure itself in order not to disappear. This reconfiguration leads to an intensification of the “familiar” around distinctive practices.”

Drawing Conclusions

What’s extraordinary is the incredible contrast between the fairly unanimous agreement on the observation, relayed even by La Croix, a newspaper hardly known for its “conservative” positions, and the total absence of conclusions drawn from this observation! What more will it take for our Catholic elites to understand that what attracts and remains fruitful in the Church is in no way akin to the hackneyed assumptions of progressivism?

These assumptions—ordinations of married men and women, blessing of same-sex couples, acceptance of contraception, softening of Christian morality, etc.—have solved nothing wherever they have been used. Wherever they have been implemented (as in Protestantism), they have solved nothing, if not simply worsened the situation. So why do these demands occupy such a disproportionate place in the concerns of the media and religious bodies? Why do we remain with an overly horizontal vision of the Church, where grace no longer seems to count, where the priest is desacralized to ward off any form of “clericalism?” And why is it that those who, on the contrary, advocate a return to a certain verticality by placing the Eucharist, properly celebrated, at the center of Christian life, the regular practice of confession, the promotion of adoration and popular piety, are given too little encouragement and support by the authorities, when they are not simply persecuted?

“Progressive” Christians are our brothers and sisters, and have the right to express their positions—which should nevertheless be circumscribed by the Magisterium. But is it normal, when they are a minority and far from representing the Church’s vital forces, for there to be such a gap between the power they still wield and the reality of the grassroots of French Catholicism, which is poorly represented at all levels and sometimes even suspected of being too conservative?

Is Vatican II Really Under Threat?

In an interview with the Jesuits of Hungary published on May 9, Pope Francis expressed his concern: “the resistance [to the Vatican II Council] is terrible;” “there is an incredible restorationism;” the fruit of a “nostalgic illness;” “the danger today is the return to the past, the reaction against modernity.” This is how he justifies his motu proprio Traditiones custodes (2021).

Apart from the Society of St. Pius X, whose canonical position means it is not affected by this motu proprio, and a few easily identifiable traditionalist figures, it’s hard to understand who the Pope is talking about! And yet, the Pope’s remarks are unusually violent, targeting a small part of his flock—he castigates his own sons, without ever naming them precisely or demonstrating the validity of his accusations, as if “modernity” were in itself unassailable. He discredits an entire movement which is not homogeneous, and most of whom no more question Vatican II (which they have not read) than ordinary Catholics.

In the present context of the “collapse” of Catholicism (G. Cuchet), is the priority really to punish indiscriminately the faithful who don’t recognize themselves in the description given of them? And thus marginalize a part of the Church that is bearing much fruit, fervently practicing a beautiful liturgy, transmitting the faith better than elsewhere, inspiring vocations? The “tradiyionalists” are not the only ones to have stood firm on these issues—they are part of the much broader conservative orbit evoked by the La Croix survey. Our poor European Church is already far too fragmented, so why exhaust ourselves in vain divisions instead of trying to unite all its vital forces?

Christophe Geffroy publishes the journal La Nef, through whose kind courtesy we are publishing this article.

Featured: Wrisberg epitaph, central panel: Distribution of the divine graces by means of the church and the sacraments, Hildesheim Cathedral, by Johannes Hopffe; painted in 1585.

Fiume: That Incredible “Conservative Revolution”

Nationalist and cosmopolitan, right-wing and libertarian, revolutionary and rooted in tradition. Such was the adventure, led by Gabriele D’Annunzio, in the irredentist Italian (now Croatian) town of Fiume between 1919 and 1920. How many people know what it was all about? Adriano Erriguel explains it all in this great article.


Today it is difficult to admit it, but in its beginnings, Italian fascism did not foreshadow the disastrous course it would eventually take for the history of Europe.

Emerging from chaos as a wave of youth, fascism belonged to a revolutionary era in which, in the face of old problems, new solutions were emerging. At its founding moment, Italian Fascism presented itself as an attitude rather than an ideology, as an aesthetic rather than a doctrine, as an ethic rather than a dogma. And it was the poet, soldier and condottiero Gabriele D’Annunzio who sketched, in the most emphatic way, that possible fascism that could never be, and that ended up giving way to a real fascism which failed to fulfill its initial promises to gallop, in the most obtuse way, towards the abyss.

Poet laureate and war hero, exhibitionist and demagogue, megalomaniac and histrionic, nationalist and cosmopolitan, mystic and amoral, ascetic and hedonist, drug addict and erotomaniac, revolutionary and reactionary, with a talent for eclecticism, recycling and pastiche, the genius precursor of staging and public relations: D’Annunzio was a postmodernist avant la lettre whose obsessions seem astonishingly contemporary. The fire he helped to start would take a long time to die out, but nothing would ever be the same again. Why should we remember this cursed man today?

Perhaps because in a monochord atmosphere of political correctness, tame transgressions and skimmed thinking, figures like his work as a counter-model, and remind us that, after all, imagination can indeed come to power.

Incendiary Years

It was an era of irrepressible vitality that, overloaded with tensions and high-voltage ideas, needed a world war to vent its contradictions. The few years between 1900 and 1914 saw an extraordinary fire in art and literature, in thought and ideology, which soon spread throughout the world. One of the epicenters of that fire was Italy—more specifically the axis between Florence and Milan—the place where “the dream of a radiant future that would emerge after having purified the past and the present by iron and fire” was kindled. This artistic-literary pyromania of art and literature, of thought and ideology, soon spread to the whole world.

This artistic-literary pyromania was nourished, in its deepest strata, by a philosophical and cultural revolution, carefully incubated during the second half of the nineteenth century—an ideological gale that lashed out against the rationalist positivism of the triumphant bourgeois civilization. Against the tabulation of existence by economics and reason, this new vitalism claimed the power of the irrational, of instinct and the subconscious and against liberal optimism; in a world pacified by progress, it opposed a tragic and heroic conception of existence. It was in this intellectual climate that a challenge arose which, because of its radical nature, could well be described as a new myth. A myth destined to cut history in two halves.

Three decades ago, the Italian essayist Giorgio Locchi gave the name “suprahumanism” to a current of ideas that found its most complete formulation in the work of Friedrich Nietzsche—on a philosophical level—and in the work of Richard Wagner—on an artistic and mythopoetic level. In its essence, according to Locchi, suprahumanism consisted of “a historically new consciousness, the consciousness of the fateful advent of nihilism, that is—to put it in more modern terminology—of the imminence of the end of history.”

Essentially anti-egalitarian, suprahumanism stood against the ideological currents that shaped two millennia of history: “Christianity as a worldly project, democracy, liberalism, socialism: all currents that belonged to the egalitarian camp.” The profound aspiration of suprahumanism—which for Locchi was nothing more than the emergence of the European pre-Christian unconscious into the realm of consciousness—consisted in proceeding to a re-foundation of history through the advent of a new man. With a method of action—nihilism as the only way out of nihilism, a positive nihilism that drank the cup to the dregs and made a clean slate to build, on the ruins and with the ruins, the new world.

More than an organized current, suprahumanism took shape as a European intellectual climate that permeated, to varying degrees, the thought, literature and art of the early twentieth century, with France as the ideological laboratory and Italy as the theater of all experiments. In the Italian ferment of those years, revolutionary syndicalists, avant-gardists, anarchists, and nationalists agitated, and all bore, to varying degrees, the suprahumanist imprint. But the undisputed protagonist among all the would-be incendiaries was the Futurist movement.

Futurism was the first truly global avant-garde, not only in the geographical sense but also insofar as it conveyed an aspiration to totality. (Futurism was present in Russia (Mayakovsky), in Portugal (Pessoa), in Belgium, in Argentina or in the Anglo-Saxon world with the foundation in London of the Vorticist movement by Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis.) Far from being limited to being an artistic proposal, Futurism extended to thought, literature, music, cinema, urban planning, architecture, design, fashion, advertising and politics. Futurism carried “the euphoria for the world of technology, machines and speed” and used “a new synthetic, metallic, syncopated language.” It did not disdain “the apology of violence and war; it exalted race understood as lineage—not as vulgar racism—and above all as the promise of a future suprahumanity.” Its enemies were the bourgeoisie, romanticism, tradition, the clergy, families; everything old, in short. Futurism was the avant-garde par excellence, the radical theorization of a pyromaniac will. Something that seemed to be, in principle, at the antipodes of D’Annunzio.

At the height of the avant-garde and the outbreak of the First World War, Gabriele D’Annunzio—celebrated throughout Italy as Il Vate—was the peninsula’s most famous writer, for many its leading poet after Dante. But for the Futurists, his style—abounding in modernist, decadentist and symbolist mannerisms, in ornate and eighteenth-century rhetoric—could be considered in its own right as the language of that mausoleum they wanted to set on fire.

But between the Futurists and D’Annunzio it was more a matter of love and hate. In the wake of Byron, Il Vate thought that a poet could also be a hero. At the outbreak of the World War, and displaying the versatility he had already shown in his literary career, he turned from a decadent poet into a combatant poet. And he invested himself with a new mission, that of exemplifying the suprahumanist ideal and its ultimate aspiration—the overcoming of the bourgeois world and the arrival of a “new man” who would embody a new ethic of action. The style is the man. Few figures as ready as his to symbolize the new times.

Gathering Flowers for a Massacre

Death is here… as beautiful as life, intoxicating, full of promise, transfiguring (Gabriele D’Annunzio).

Today it is difficult to understand the suicidal impulse of a civilization that, at the height of its power, organized its own holocaust. The outbreak of the First World War was celebrated as an outpouring of vitality, as catharsis and moral regeneration. The warmongering enthusiasm knew no boundaries of ideology or class, and artists and intellectuals all over Europe were ready to become the voice of the nation. No other voice sang of war with such rapture as that of D’Annunzio. No other oratory prepared so many compatriots, by the glory and seduction of words, to kill and die. No other apostle of war was so eager to assume, in his own flesh, the effects of what he preached.

When Italy announced its entry into war, Il Vate was at the height of his glory. Celebrated throughout Europe, surrounded by luxury and swarmed by women, everything invited him to contemplate the war from a comfortable distance. But at the age of 52 he enlisted in the Lanciere di Novara (Novara Lancers), a unit with which he was to take part in dozens of actions. The army, aware of the propaganda potential of his figure, allowed him to serve in a way that would have the greatest public impact. And it allowed him to use what would be his most lethal weapon—the word.

During four years of war, D’Annunzio spoke and spoke. He spoke in the trenches and in the rearguards, in the airfields and on the naval bases, at mass funerals and at the time of the attacks. His speeches were evocative and magnetic, intended to win not the intellect but the emotions. In them, the crudest physical miseries were adorned with a nimbus of glory; the combatants were heroes and martyrs—as noble as the heroes of classical antiquity or the legions of Rome—and the war was a heroic symphony in which his words rang out like “hypnotic waves of language: blood, death, love, pain, victory, martyrdom, fire, Italy, blood, death.”

Although he knew firsthand the horror of the carnage, he continued to preach his faith in “the purifying virtues of war and telling the troops that they were superhuman.” He spoke of flags flying over the sky of Italy, of rivers full of corpses, of the earth thirsting for blood. He did not disguise the atrocity of the war—which he described as the tortures Dante never imagined for his Inferno—but to the soldiers he told them that their sacrifice had meaning, and he praised them in a way they would never have recognized themselves; and he repeated that the blood of the martyrs cried out for more blood, and that only by blood would Greater Italy be redeemed. He told the soldiers that their sacrifice had a meaning, and he praised them in a way they would never have recognized themselves, and he repeated that the blood of the martyrs cried out for more blood, and that only by blood would Greater Italy be redeemed. He said to the soldiers that their sacrifice had a meaning.

An apologetics of the slaughter, that is; a hundred years later, difficult to digest. Did he believe it?

That is not the question. And it seems insufficient to be satisfied here with a “non-anachronistic” reading, or to limit oneself to pointing out that “that was the language of the time.” Perhaps it would be more appropriate to proceed to a reversal of perspective. Or to a different reading, in a suprahumanist key.

War as an Inner Experience

The reputation that D’Annunzio acquired during the war is due more to his deeds than to his words. Far from being a “paper soldier” he wasted no occasion to put his life in danger, and over the course of three years he came to fight on land, at sea and in the air. With a forerunning talent for publicity, he knew that small acts of terrorism had more psychological force than massive attacks, and he specialized in suicide actions—aerial and naval according to futurist canons—with symbolic value and media impact. He flew numerous times over the Alps—at a time when that was extraordinary—to bomb the enemy, occasionally with propaganda sheets. And when the Austrians put a price on his head he led a suicide raid, in a torpedo boat with a handful of men, against the enemy port of Buccari. (In the bombing, he included hollow rubber shells containing lyrical messages. He later celebrated this fact—known as La beffa di Buccari, “The Joke of Buccari,” in a famous ballad: “La Canzone del Carnaro” [“The Song of Carnaro,” “The Thirty of Buccari”]: “We are thirty men on board/ thirty-one counting Death”).

In one of his aerial missions, he lost the sight of one eye and partially that of the other, which he hid for a month in order to continue flying. Finally, he had to remain immobilized for several months to save his sight.

Lying on his back, and between pain and nightmares, he composed his poem “Notturno” (“Nocturn”). The prospect of blindness was for him an occasion for overcoming, rather than dejection. He confessed himself happy in the greatness of his loss—the blind in action were considered as the aristocracy of the wounded—and he enjoyed the sharpening of his senses of hearing and smell. If he was to be believed, that sense of happiness would never leave him throughout the war. The real D’Annunzio.

The true D’Annunzio reveals himself, more than in his patriotic trumpeting, in his correspondence and in his diaries. They reveal his suprahumanist attitude towards war. If anything is striking in his notes, it is the “constant fluctuation between the dreadful and the pastoral.” Everything becomes for him an object of celebration, even the most insignificant details—from explosions and bayonet attacks to the glow of a dragonfly in the mud, or the fleeting appearance of a woodpecker among the burnt trees. If he is to be believed, D’Annunzio was happy in the midst of hunger, thirst, extreme cold, wounds and bombardments, because his omnivorous enthusiasm for life could cope with it all, because all of it was but one and the same—the manifestation of that life which he consumed with voluptuous enthusiasm. What was war, if not a hole in ordinary life through which something higher manifested itself: “Life as it should be, and which passes before us, Life—in Ernst Jünger’s words—as supreme effort, will to fight and to dominate.”

The parallelism between D’Annunzio and Jünger is not casual; both manifest a common suprahumanist attitude. The same eagerness for experience, the same defiance of chance, the same aesthetic concern, the same absence of moralism. In contrast, in the case of the Prussian—apart from the acerbic objectivity of his style—the practical absence of any patriotic note. But it is also possible to think that in D’Annunzio the nationalist prosopopoeia was not the grain, but the chaff. A weapon of war like many others. It is possible to think that what was essential for him was that discipline of suffering of which Nietzsche spoke, that Amor fati which is nothing more than a great Yes to life in all its rawness.

More than of warmongering exaltation, it is a philosophical option, very different from the moralizing and pitiful posture of other writers. When Wilfred Owen, Heinrich Maria Remarque or Ernest Hemingway denounce and condemn war, they are undoubtedly right, but they do not fail to underline a truism. It happens that they experience war from the horrified sensibility of modern man. But when Ernst Jünger writes: “those who have only felt and retained the bitterness of their own suffering, instead of recognizing in it [war] the sign of a high affirmation, they have lived as slaves, they have had no Inner Life, but only a pure and sadly material existence,” what he is doing is expressing that immemorial sensibility that considers the spirit to be everything. “All is vanity in this world,” Jünger continues, “only emotion is eternal. Only to very few men is it given to be able to sink in its sublime futility.” Amor fati. “Moral” language is no good here. If anything, the language of the Iliad.

Another interesting element is D’Annunzio’s use of historical time. The new/old dichotomy, a recurring theme in his thought, would reach full expression in his war notes. Always on the lookout for historical analogies, “every infantryman reminded him of some episode of the glorious past, every exhausted peasant of an intrepid Venetian sailor, of a Roman legionary, of a medieval knight, of some martial saint recreated in a Renaissance painting. His vision of Italy’s glorious past covered the horrible conflict with a theatrical veil and surrounded the excrement, the garbage and the heaps of dead with glamour.” For the poet from Pescara the weaponry might be modern, but the men who wielded it—the young recruits he likened to mythical heroes or archetypes—belonged to a timeless tradition.

This confusion of past and present illustrates in its own way an element that Giorgio Locchi associated with the suprahumanist mentality: the “non-linear” conception of time, the constant presence of the past as a dimension that is within the present, alongside the dimension of the future. It is the revolutionary idea—as opposed to linear conceptions, whether “progressive” or “cyclical”—of the three-dimensionality of historical time: in every human consciousness “the past is nothing other than the project to which man conforms his historical action, a project that he tries to realize according to the image that he forms of himself and that he strives to incarnate. The past appears then not as something dead, but as a prefiguration of the future.”

Locchi associated this “nostalgia for the future” to the “spherical” image of time sketched in Thus Spake Zarathustra, as well as to one of the meanings channeled by the Nietzschean myth of the Eternal Return. Confusion of past and future, nostalgia for the origins and utopia of the future: the suprahumanist conception of time—felt in a surely unconscious way by D’Annunzio and many others—foregrounds man’s freedom from all determinism, because the past to which to be linked is always an object of choice in the present, as well as an object of changing interpretation. The present moment “is never a point, but a crossroads; each present instant actualizes the totality of the past and empowers the totality of the future.” Thus, the past is never an inert datum; and when it manifests itself in the future it does so in an ever new, ever unknown form.

Hughes-Hallett notes that “war brought D’Annunzio peace.” He had found a transcendental “third dimension” of being, beyond life and death. To set out on a dangerous mission was for him to reach an ecstasy comparable to that of the great mystics. The war brought him “adventure, purpose, a cohort of brave young comrades to love with a love beyond that which is devoted to women, a form of fame, new and virile, and the intoxication of living in constant mortal danger.” He ended the war recognized as a hero and a heroic man.

He ended the war recognized as a hero and covered with decorations. And then he and many like him—those recruits whom he compared to the mythical heroes of the past—had to return to their homes, to their workshops, to their marriages of convenience, to the monotony of their villages.

Farewell to Arms?

The victorious revolution will come. But it will not be made by beautiful souls, like yours, it will be made by sergeants and poets (Margherita Sarfatti, in the film, The Young Mussolini, 1993).

When on March 23, 1919 a hodgepodge of Futurists, former Arditi (Italian Army Storm Troopers), revolutionary trade unionists and former Socialists founded the first Fasci di Combattimento in Milan’s Holy Sepulchre Square, no one really knew what was going to come out of it all. Its visible head was the former sergeant Benito Mussolini, a maneuvering and possibilist politician recently expelled from the Italian Socialist Party. Mussolini claimed that the Fascists would avoid ideological dogmatism: “We allow ourselves the luxury of being aristocratic and democratic, conservative and progressive, reactionary and revolutionary, of accepting the law and going beyond it.” And he added that “above all we are supporters of freedom. We want freedom for all, even for our enemies.” The first Fascist program, visibly leaning to the left, took up the intellectual heritage of revolutionary syndicalism.

Seen in perspective there is no doubt today that historical fascism was a complete ideological phenomenon. But in its beginnings, it seemed to be the fruit of great improvisation. Mussolini proclaimed then: fascism is action and is born of a need for action. In the first place it took up many of the urgent aspirations of the “lost generation” which had fought the war, and which considered that the state of Italy—a poor and backward country, with chronic inequalities, without social security, with a victory “mutilated” by the Allies and heading for civil war—made a return to the era of the bourgeois parties and their electoral dances unthinkable. But in a deeper sense—as the historian Zeev Sternhell points out—before becoming a political force, fascism was a cultural phenomenon, an extreme manifestation—though not the only possible one—of a much broader phenomenon.

(We are adhering here to a strict analysis of Italian fascism, which excludes Nazism. Sternhell, the Israeli historian points out: “Fascism can in no way be identified with Nazism…. Both ideologies differ in a fundamental matter: biological determinism, racism in its most extreme sense… war against the Jews…. Racism is not one of the necessary conditions for the existence of fascism. A general theory that wants to encompass fascism and Nazism would always clash with that aspect of the problem. In fact, such a theory is not possible.”)

The most immediate intellectual antecedent of fascism was the revision of Marxism undertaken by revolutionary syndicalism, a revision in an anti-materialist sense. What these heretics of Marxism challenged in the doctrine was its scientific pretension, its undervaluation of psychological and national factors, its view of socialism as a mere rational form of economic organization. Another of their motivations was their disenchantment with the value of the proletariat as a revolutionary force; the proletarians were normally refractory to anything that did not affect their material interests, that is, to their aspiration to become petty bourgeois. Something that the first Fascists noted, just as they also noted that, between socialism and the proletariat, the relationship was merely circumstantial. From which it was deduced that the revolution was no longer a question of a single social class… which in turn broke the dogma of the class struggle. The revolution became, then, a national task, and nationalism its guiding thread.

But what revolution? A revolution with purely economic motives was insufficient for the political culture that was taking shape—a communitarian, anti-individualist and anti-rationalist political culture that aspired to remedy the social disintegration caused by modernity. In fact, in economics, fascism manifested itself as possibilist and declared that it wanted to take advantage of the best of capitalism and industrial progress, the essential thing being that the economic sphere should always remain subordinate to politics. The underlying question was different.

The essential thing—following Zeev Sternhell—was “to establish a heroic civilization on the ruins of a creepingly materialistic civilization, to mold a new, activist and dynamic man.” The original fascism exhibited a modern character, and its futuristic aesthetics pricked the imagination of intellectuals—which explains its attraction to the youth—as well as preaching that an elite is not a category defined by the place it occupies in the production process, but the expression of a state of mind—the aristocracy forged in the trenches was proof of this. And from Marxism it took the idea of violence as an instrument of change. Someone once defined fascism as our evil of the century: an expression that evokes an aspiration to overcome the bourgeois world. More than a doctrinal corpus, the original fascism was a nebula, a rupturing force of unprecedented character that aspired to the construction of a “solution of total change.”

Giorgio Locchi distinguished the mythical, ideological and synthetic phases as archetypal phases of historical trends. Thus, in the case of egalitarian thought, its “mythical” phase would correspond to Christian ecumenism, the “ideological” phase to the disintegration caused by the Protestant Reformation and the emergence of various philosophies and parties, and the “synthetic” phase to doctrines with scientific and universal pretensions (Marxism, ideology of “human rights”).

What was happening—to put it in Locchian terms—was that the suprahumanist principle was passing, in an accelerated manner, from its mythical phase to its ideological and political phase. On the ideological plane the so-called German Conservative Revolution was one of its manifestations. And on the political phase, Mussolini’s fascism was the offshoot that made its fortune. But it was not the only one.

And this is where D’Annunzio comes in.


When D’Annunzio arrived in Fiume on September 12, 1919, the Platonic dream of the poet-prince came to life two millennia late. A gale of Dionysian liberation was unleashed on the Adriatic city, a Nietzschean riot in which politics and mysticism, utopia and violence, revolution and Dada went hand in hand. A magical moment, a bacchanal of dreamers, a suprahumanist and heroic symphony.

The Road to the Rubicon

At the beginning of 1919, Mussolini was only a budding political leader, while D’Annunzio was the most celebrated man in Italy. With the war ending in a “mutilated victory”—the Allies ignored the territorial promises made to Italy—the country was plunged into a spiral of political and social chaos. And then many of those who expected a “strongman” to take the reins began to look to D’Annunzio. For his part, the soldier-poet was discovering how difficult it was for him to live without the war, and like many other Italians he was ruminating on his bitterness at the betrayal of the Allies.

“Your victory will not be mutilated”—wrote D’Annunzio in October 1918. A slogan that made his fortune (like so many others he coined) and that was music to the ears of all those who awaited a new call to arms. Italy was overflowing with men accustomed to violence and who, instead of receiving a hero’s welcome, were treated as unwelcome guests if not savage beasts, doomed to unemployment and the insults of the agitators of a budding Bolshevik revolution. Prominent among these men were the Arditi, the elite soldiers, fiercely undisciplined, accustomed to hand-to-hand fighting and fighting with daggers and grenades, dressed in black uniforms and with tufts of hair sometimes as long as horses’ manes—the dandies of war. Their flag was black and their anthem, “Giovinezza” (Youth). Everyone looked up to D’Annunzio as a symbol, and some of them began to call themselves “Dannunzians.” A war hero and a homecoming army—a fateful conjunction for any civilian government. The authorities began to fear D’Annunzio. The Rubicon had never been truly forgotten in Italy.

The soldier-poet began to multiply his public appearances, to mock the government that had accepted the humiliation of Versailles, to incite the Italians to reject their authorities. In a very short time, he found himself at the center of all the conspiracies, and all the opposition groups began to use his name. With the Fascists he kept his distance. D’Annunzio considered them as “vulgar imitators, potentially useful, but unfortunately brutal and primitive in their way of thinking.” And among all those who turned their gaze to D’Annunzio were the Italian communities on the Adriatic coast who hoped to be “redeemed” by their incorporation into the mother country. D’Annunzio, for his part, promised them that he would be with them “to the end.”

The city of Fiume, the main port on the Adriatic, had a majority Italian population that in October 1918 demanded its incorporation into Italy. But the Allies meeting in Versailles placed the city under international administration. The city then became a symbol for all Italian nationalists, and groups of former Arditi, shouting, “Fiume or death,” began to form the “Legion of Fiume” ready to “liberate” the city. And in the midst of a spiral of violence, the Italians of Fiume offered D’Annunzio the leadership of the city.

The poet-soldier had found his Rubicon. And his new incarnation—that of condottiero.

Fiume was a Party

“The contagion of greatness is the greatest danger for anyone living in Fiume, a contagious madness, which has permeated everyone” (The Bishop of Fiume, in an interview).

When on September 12, 1919, D’Annunzio arrived in Fiume in a Fiat 501, he surely did not know that he was starting one of the most extravagant experiments in the political history of the West: the Platonic dream of the poet-prince was coming to life two millennia late. A gale of Dionysian liberation was unleashed on the Adriatic city, a Nietzschean riot in which politics and mysticism, utopia and violence, revolution and Dada went hand-in-hand. The era of show-politics had begun, and D’Annunzio raised the curtain.

The Fiume era has been described as a microcosm of the modern political world—everything was prefigured there, everything was experienced there, we are all largely its heirs. A magical moment, a bacchanal of dreamers, a suprahumanist and heroic symphony in which a society hungry for wonders—galvanized by war, jaded by the insipidity of a century of positivism—met a leader at its height and seconded, to the rhythm of multicolored parades and rapturous crowds, his visionary Caesar’s chimeras.

The political trajectory of the city during those sixteen months was, unsurprisingly, erratic. The first program—annexation to Italy—was simple and realistic, but it was shipwrecked in a sea of indecision and diplomatic gambits. The second program was of a subversive nature—to provoke the spark that would unleash a revolution in Italy. But there was a third program, uncontrollable and radical—Fiume as a first step, not towards a Greater Italy, but towards a new world order.

A program that gained strength as the prospect of incorporation into Italy dissipated under pressure from the Allies and the Italian government’s indecision. Prompted by the syndicalist revolutionaries who surrounded D’Annunzio, the “Constitution of Fiume” (the Carnaro Charter) is the most interesting aspect of Fiume’s legacy, insofar as it represents an original contribution to political theory. The Carnaro Charter contained pioneering elements—the limitation of the (until then sacrosanct) right to private property, the complete equality of women, secularism in schools, absolute freedom of worship, a complete system of social security, measures of direct democracy, a mechanism of continuous renewal of leadership and a system of corporations or representation by sections of the community—an idea that would become a fortune. According to his biographer Michael A. Ledeen, D’Annunzio’s government—composed of very heterogeneous elements—was one of the first to practice a kind of “politics of consensus,” according to the idea that the various conflicting interests could be “sublimated” within a newfangled movement. The essential point was that the new order should be based on the personal qualities of heroism and genius, rather than on the traditional criteria of wealth, inheritance and power. The ultimate goal—basically suprahumanist—was none other than the alloy of a new type of man.

The Carnaro Charter contained surrealistic touches such as designating “Music” as the fundamental principle of the State. But the most original—the most specifically Dannunzian—was the inclusion of “an elaborate system of mass celebrations and rituals, designed to guarantee a high level of political awareness and enthusiasm among the citizens.” In Fiume, D’Annunzio (now referred to as “the Commander”) began experimenting with a new medium, creating “works of art in which the materials were columns of men, showers of flowers, fireworks, electrifying music—a genre that would later be developed and reworked over two decades in Rome, Moscow and Berlin.” The commander inaugurated a new form of leadership based on direct communication between the leader and the masses, a kind of daily plebiscite in which the crowds, gathered before his balcony, answered his questions and seconded his invectives. The whole ritual of fascism was already there: the uniforms, the banners, the cult of martyrs, the torchlight parades, the black shirts, the glorification of virility and youth, the communion between the leader and the people, the arm-in-arm salute, the battle cry: Eia, Eia, Alalá! Hughes-Hallett points out that D’Annunzio was never a fascist but that fascism was unmistakably Dannunzian. Someone wrote that, under fascism, D’Annunzio was the victim of the greatest plagiarism in history.

Another pioneering element was the creation of an anti-imperialist League of Nations: the “League of Fiume,” a project of alliance of all the oppressed nations that developed the concept of world revolution and of “proletarian nation” theorized by Michels, and which aspired to bring together from the Irish Sinn Fein to the Arab and Indian nationalists. Some want to see the Commander as a prophet of Third Worldism, although it would be more correct to see here “the first appearance of the theme of the rights of peoples.” The Allied powers began to be alarmed. Fiume’s enterprise was losing its nationalist character and accentuating its revolutionary content.

Make Love and War!

“Youth, Youth, Springtime of Beauty!” (Song of the Arditi)

A State ruled by a poet and with creativity turned into a civic obligation—it was not strange that cultural life acquired an anti-conventional bias. The Constitution was under the invocation of the “Tenth Muse,” the Muse, according to D’Annunzio, “of emerging communities and peoples in genesis… the Muse of Energy,” which in the new century would lead the imagination to power. To make life a work of art. In the Fiume of 1919, public life became a twenty-four-hour performance in which “politics became poetry and poetry sensuality, and in which a political meeting could end in a dance and the dance in an orgy. To be young and to be passionate was an obligation.” An atmosphere of sexual freedom and free love, unusual for the time, spread among the local population and the newcomers. The sexual revolution was beginning. This was what the new “Prince of Youth,” one-eyed and fifty-six years old, wanted.

No wonder the city became a magnetic pole for the whole brotherhood of idealists, rebels and romantics that swarmed the world. A Free-for-All Country where proto-fascists and internationalist revolutionaries rubbed shoulders without anyone thinking of something as vulgar as “entering into dialogue.” A countercultural laboratory in which a variety of groups sprouted, such as “Yoga” (inspired by Hinduism and the Bhagavad-Gita), the “Lotos Castaños” (proto-hippies in favor of a return to nature), the “Lotos Rojos” (defenders of Dionysian sex), ecologists, nudists, Dadaists and other specimens of various kinds. The psychedelic component was ensured by a generous circulation of drugs under the tolerant gaze of the Commander, a more or less occasional consumer of white powder. The 1960s began in Fiume. But unlike the Californian hippies, the Commander’s hippies were ready not only to make love, but also to make war.

Meanwhile, Rome looked at Fiume with a mixture of dismay and dread. In the words of the Italian socialists, “Fiume was being transformed into a brothel, a refuge for criminals and prostitutes.” The truth is that everyone went to Fiume—soldiers, adventurers, revolutionaries, intellectuals, allied spies, cosmopolitan artists, neo-pagan poets, bohemians with their heads in the clouds, the futurist Marinetti, the inventor Marconi, the orchestra conductor Toscanini. Eloquence and dandyism proliferated; the Commander’s personality was contagious. Decorations, uniforms, titles, hymns and ceremonies for everyone! The ornamental style was de rigueur. And in turn, the new visitors were becoming more and more marginal—runaway minors, deserters, criminals and other people with unfinished business with the justice system. Many of these elements were recruited to form the Commander’s corps guard: the “Legion Disperata,” with its glittering uniforms. D’Annunzio observed his Arditi eating lamb on the beaches, in their fantastic uniforms gleaming in the flame light, and compared them to Achilles and his myrmidons back at their camp in front of Troy. It is that electrifying mixture of archaism and futurism, so characteristic of the suprahumanist sensibility. It sounded so old, and yet it was so new.

Pressed by its international commitments, the government of Rome decreed a blockade against Fiume, and the city found a method to ensure its subsistence—piracy. Organized by a former Italian aviation ace, Guido Keller, Fiume’s ships came to seize any vessel transiting between the Strait of Messina and Venice. And every capture made by the Uscocchi—so named by D’Annunzio after the Adriatic pirates of the 16th century—was greeted in the city as a feast. Illicit activities extended to kidnapping—a commando from Fiume captured an Italian general passing through Trieste—and to expeditions to requisition supplies in neighboring territories, and also to symbolic occupations of other nearby cities. The Commander had his motto, Ne me frego (something like, “I don’t give a damn”) embroidered on a flag that he hung over his bed. Fiume was an outlaw state, what today we would call a hooligan state. His biographer points out that D’Annunzio, like a new Peter Pan, had built a “Never Never Land, a space freed from cause-effect relationships where lost children could forever enjoy their dangerous adventures without being bothered by common sense.”

But the problem of childhood is that it ends, and the time for adults arrives. The Treaty of Rapallo, signed in November 1920, established the Italian-Yugoslav borders and reached a compromise on Fiume. D’Annunzio was isolated, and even Mussolini’s fascists withdrew their support. After an intervention by the Italian Navy and the resistance of a handful of Arditi—which resulted in several dozen deaths—D’Annunzio was forced to leave Fiume at the end of December 1920. In a farewell ceremony his last cry was: “Long live love!”

The poet had concluded his revolution. It was the turn of the former sergeant.

Fascism without D’Annunzio

As the years went by, a Mussolini already in power would celebrate Gabriele D’Annunzio as the “John the Baptist of Fascism.” Becoming a legend, the poet would spend his last two decades secluded in his mansion of El Vittoriale on the shores of Lake Garda, where Mussolini would occasionally come to have his portrait taken with him.

Today D’Annunzio is considered a figure of the Regime, but the truth is that he was never a member of the Fascist Party and his relations with the Duce were much more ambivalent than one might think. In private, Mussolini referred to D’Annunzio as “a cavity, to be removed or covered with gold,” and he also referred to “misunderstood Fiumism” as a synonym of an anarchist attitude and thus unreliable. In fact, both men regarded each other with suspicion: Mussolini considered D’Annunzio too influential and unpredictable, and the latter refrained from expressly supporting the Duce. In fact, the poet had recommended to his Arditi to stay away from any political formation, although many would end up in fascism and some in the extreme left or even in Spain in the International Brigades. The only occasions on which D’Annunzio tried to influence Mussolini politically were to advise him to stay well away from Hitler (“that ferocious clown,” “that gummed-up and ignoble face”).

The poet-soldier died in 1938 in his Vittoriale mansion, in an atmosphere as baroque as it was claustrophobic, surrounded by Italian and German spies. With his death a whole epoch disappeared—that of the dawn of that fascism that could not be. The real fascism took up the staging and liturgy of Fiume, but emptied them of freedom and transformed them into a bureaucratized choreography at the service of a project that led Italy to catastrophe. The story is well known. However, some things are often overlooked.

It is often overlooked that this early fascism was part of an avant-garde, sophisticated and pluralistic cultural climate, very different from the obtuse provincialism that characterized the Nazis and their völkisch kitsch. In fact, the cultural pluralism of Fascist Italy—a country where there was practically no intellectual exodus whatsoever—has no parallel with the dirigisme imposed on culture in the Nazi era. Scholars such as Renzo de Felice or Julien Freund have contrasted the optimistic and “Mediterranean” character of fascism—with its tendency to exalt life in a certain spirit of moderation—with the somber, tragic and catastrophic character of Nazism, with its Germanic penchant for Raggnarök. The anti-dogmatic—even artistic and bohemian—character of that first fascism could also be highlighted, as opposed to the “scientific” pretensions of Nazi dogmatics, based on biological racism and social Darwinism.

It should be added that the first fascism had no hint of anti-Semitism, but rather the opposite: many Jews were early fascists and even held important positions, such as the publicist Margaritta Sarfati, Jewish lover of the Duce and prima donna of the cultural life of the regime. In fact, the foreign policy of the regime maintained frequent contacts with the Zionist movement. And after Hitler came to power, eminent Jewish exiles found a welcome in Italy.

It is also overlooked that after the “march on Rome” in 1922 Mussolini stood before Parliament and won a large vote of confidence from the non-fascist majority. One tends to forget that the violence of the fascist squads, while very true, was not unique to fascism—that was the political language in much of Europe. And in Italy it was fascism, better organized, that finally prevailed. It is also omitted that fascism collaborated with the socialists and other opposition forces, and that it won a majority of votes in the 1924 elections. Only then, after the brutal assassination of the socialist deputy Matteoti and the refusal of the opposition to remain in Parliament, did the Fascist henchmen gain the upper hand and the dictatorship was institutionalized.

In reality, 1924 marks the beginning of the decline. The following years were those of the great achievements of the regime—the construction of a social State, the great public works and the modernization of the country. These achievements won the support of a large part of the population. But fascism was already mortally wounded. By betraying that promise of 1919 in the Piazza del Santo Sepulcro in Milan (“We want freedom for all, even for our enemies”), fascism was transformed into a self-satisfied and self-indulgent bureaucracy, and Mussolini gradually withdrew from reality to enclose himself in a megalomania that turned out to be disastrous.

Even so, for some years fascism promoted a policy favoring peace and international cooperation, as evidenced by the Lateran Agreements in 1929 and the disarmament proposals in the League of Nations in 1932. In relation to Nazi Germany, there is something that is also often forgotten—Mussolini was the driving force behind the so-called “Stresa Front,” a diplomatic initiative that in April 1935, together with France and Great Britain, tried to guarantee the independence of Austria and respect for the Treaty of Versailles, and therefore to stop Hitler when it was still possible to do so. Two months later, in June 1935, Great Britain signed with Nazi Germany a Naval Agreement which was the first violation of that Treaty. Mussolini was left alone.

The isolation was consummated with the invasion of Abyssinia and the sanctions imposed on Italy, which forced Mussolini into an alliance with Hitler. From then on, a prisoner of a mixture of fear and fascination for the German dictator, the Duce was dragged into the abyss. In 1938, he even fell into the abjection of importing the anti-Semitic legislation of the Third Reich.

Would another, less dictatorial and more “Dannunzian” course have been possible? Mussolini, unlike Hitler, never had absolute control over the Party, and within fascism there was always a line against the Nazis and in favor of an understanding with France and Great Britain. Its main figure was the Minister of Aviation, Italo Balbo, war hero and early squadronist, the true prototype of the “new man” exalted by fascism. But a jealous Mussolini appointed him Governor of Libya to remove him from the centers of power. There he died in 1940, in an unclear airplane accident. The last remnants of the fascist opposition were liquidated in 1944 in the Verona Trial, with former Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano and other hierarchs executed at the behest of the Germans.

A Democratic Fascism?

Almost a hundred years later, D’Annunzio and his adventure in Fiume still raise questions. One is particularly provocative—could a democratic fascism have been possible?

A question that only has the value we want to give to history—fiction. Because history is what it is, and it cannot be changed. To speak of “democratic fascism” is today an oxymoron, and that seems undeniable. However, too often we take refuge in intellectually comfortable and morally irreproachable positions, and that makes it difficult to understand certain phenomena. In this case, the nature of fascism. The classical Marxist interpretation of fascism as a defensive instrument of Capital condemns itself to understand nothing, and leaves unexplained the wide adhesion obtained by a system that was only extirpated by war, a war in which the Marxists allied themselves with—capitalism. This interpretation has long since been superseded, and today it tends to be admitted that, as Zeev Sternhell points out, fascism was an extreme manifestation of a much more comprehensive and broader phenomenon—that which Giorgio Locchi called suprahumanism—and as such is an integral part of the history of European culture.

D’Annunzio was not a systematic ideologue, but his Promethean and Nietzschean endeavor symbolizes that suprahumanist cultural climate from which fascism sprang. Fiume was a magical and necessarily fleeting moment: one cannot be sublime for twenty years. But Fiume reminds us that history could have been different, and that perhaps that cultural and political rebellion—let’s call it “fascism”—could have been compatible with a greater respect for freedoms, or at least evolve away from the aberrations already known. Of course, then perhaps that would no longer be fascism; it would be something else.

If we do not take into account the cultural phenomenon of suprahumanism, fascism cannot be understood. But this was not its only offshoot. Historically there were two others. The first was an intellectual offshoot of great height, and which continues to speak to the men of our days: the so-called German “conservative revolution.” And the second was a poisonous plant: Nazism. The question that could be raised today is whether this suprahumanist cultural humus is definitively exhausted, or whether it could still give rise to unprecedented derivations. After all—and according to the “spherical” conception of time—history is always open; and when history regenerates itself it does so in an ever new, ever unforeseen way.

Right-Wing Anarchism

“We denounce the lack of taste in parliamentary representation. We recreate ourselves in beauty, in elegance, courtesy and style…. We want to be led by miraculous and fantastic men” (Filippo Tommaso Marinetti).

“The art of commanding consists in not commanding” (Gabriele D’Annunzio).

But the interest in re-examining D’Annunzio goes far beyond the question of the nature of fascism. The poet-soldier prefigures a way of doing politics that is still in force today: the politics of spectacle, the fusion of sacred and profane elements, the intuition that ultimately everything is politics. The Charter of Carnaro is a visionary document, insofar as it takes up concerns, liberties and rights hitherto relegated outside the political sphere, and which in the following decades would become part of modern constitutionalism. Somehow D’Annunzio seemed to hold the key to all that was to follow. We are all to a large extent his heirs, for better and for worse.

That is why it would be a mistake to belittle D’Annunzio as a dilettantish aesthete turned revolutionary. Or to depoliticize him and consider—as his perceptive biographer Michael A. Ledeen seems to point out—that what is important in Fiume is not the content but the style, and that no concrete ideological position emerges from Fiume. Carlos Caballero Jurado is much more correct when he says that: “Fiume was not a piece of land. Fiume was a symbol, a myth, something that perhaps cannot be understood in our days, in an era so refractory to myth and rites. Fiume’s enterprise has more to do with cultural rebellion than with political annexation.” What messages can the man of today draw, not only from Fiume, but from D’Annunzio’s entire trajectory?

In the first place, the idea that the only true revolution is the one that pursues an integral transformation of man. That is to say, the one that is posed first and foremost as a cultural revolution. Something that the revolutionaries of May 1968 seemed to understand well. But what they did not know was that, in reality, almost everything they proposed had already been invented—imagination had already come to power, fifty years earlier, on the Adriatic coast. The great surprise is that the one who so decided—and this is the second great lesson of Fiume—was not a progressive, libertarian and globalist utopian, but a patriot, an elitist practitioner of a heroic ethic. Fiume is the demonstration that ideas such as sexual liberation, ecology, direct democracy, equality between men and women, freedom of conscience and the spirit of celebration can be put forward not only from egalitarian, pacifist, hedonist and feminist positions, but also from aristocratic and differentialist, identitarian and heroic values.

D’Annunzio’s gesture also implies something very current—it was the first cry of rebellion against an American-morphous system that in those years was beginning to extend its tentacles; it is the cry of defense of beauty and spirit against the reign of vulgarity and the empire of the dollar.

D’Annunzio’s gesture was also the surreal and heroic vindication of a political regeneration based on the liberation of the human personality, and a cry of protest against the world of anonymous bureaucrats that was coming upon us.

Fiume is also a demonstration that it is possible to transcend the right-left divide, that transversality is possible. Right-wing values plus left-wing ideas. The first genuinely postmodern synthesis. Fiume is the only known experiment to date of what could be a right-wing anarchism taken to its ultimate consequences.

There is one last question, and that has to do with D’Annunzio’s activity as a preacher and exalter of war. That is something that today seems indefensible to us—although it was not so much so in those years when the war could still be lived as an epic adventure. But today we know that behind that inflamed rhetoric there was no real cause to justify so much sacrifice. And yet…

However, it is possible that those men of inflamed rhetoric, deep down, also knew this. It is quite possible that D’Annunzio and others like him, by distillation of a positive nihilism, knew that in the end patriotism is much better than nothingness. Today we have the Nothing, and certainly we have fewer dead. But it is worth asking whether, compared to those men, we are also more alive because of it.

The era of the incendiary years has submerged in time. The time when sergeants and poets made revolutions has passed. And as they say, bodies were devoured by time, dreams were devoured by history, and history was swallowed up by oblivion. They also say that old warriors never die, that they only fade away physically. After the catastrophe, we are left with the memory of greatness, and of the men who dreamed it.

Adriano Erriguel, from Mexico, is a practicing lawyer and consultant and also a literary critic and essayist in the field of the history of ideas, from a perspective that he insists on calling “metapolitics.” His preferred area of focus is the marginal intellectual currents, alternative and alien to the prevailing ideological consensus. His ambition is to draw up an intellectual cartography of the sources of rebellion that, from an anti-modern or post-modern perspective, confront political correctness and uniform thought. This article appears through the kind courgtesy of El Manifiesto.

Featured: D’Annunzio in Fiume, ca. 1919-1920.

When Miracles Ceased

One of the stranger ideas that accompanied the Reformation, was the notion that miracles had ended at the time of the New Testament’s completion. Never stated as a doctrinal fact in the mainstream of Protestantism, it remained a quiet assumption, particularly when joined with an anti-Roman Catholicism in which the various visions, weeping statues, and saints lives were considered to be fabrications of a corrupt priesthood. Stories abounded during the Reformation about how this or that well-known miracle had been debunked. What replaced that Medieval world was the sober thought of the Bible as answer book.

Many held that miracles were quite unnecessary after the Bible was “completed,” since everything necessary for salvation was contained within its covers. Miracles, visions or revelations from God were considered not only unnecessary but positively dangerous in that the faithful might imagine such things to carry an authority equal to or greater than the Scriptures.

Various groups within the Protestant world have actually codified this idea into a matter of their denominational doctrine. It is known as “Cessationism,” referring to the “cessation” of the gifts of the Spirit. The Modern Project itself, particularly in its secularized perception of the world, is a version of Cessationism. Indeed, the Cessationist ideas of early Protestantism were a primary force in the creation of the secular concept.

A secular worldview holds that things are just that – things. The world consists of a collection of self-existing objects (some of which breathe and think), that live within the bounds and limits of the “laws” of nature. If God is to be known or perceived, then either He must disturb the laws of nature or become an object among objects. The modern world, in the words of Max Weber, is “disenchanted.” It is as if you found your way into Narnia, only none of the animals speak, the trees have fallen asleep, and magic seems to have ceased.

This is the context in which we live. It is also a perception that, to a great extent, shapes how we ourselves perceive the world, whether we intend it or not. Secularism is the default setting for those born into modern culture. The world is mute.

This is in stark contrast to the traditional (Orthodox) Christian understanding. Only God is self-existing. Everything else not only depends on Him for its existence and continuation but is moment-by-moment sustained only by the will and goodness of God. As such, the world itself is a manifestation of the “divine energies” (the actions and working of God). Those actions and working of God are not something done “at a distance,” for His actions and works are themselves God. He is both essence and energies. And though the effects of His actions and works are not themselves God (the tree that He sustains is not Him), nevertheless, the effects cannot exist apart from Him (“in Him, we live and move and have our being” – Acts 17:28). Cessationism would be non-existence. Miracles not only continue, everything we see is a constant abiding miracle (including ourselves). There is only miracle.

The perception of God and our relationship with Him are inherently difficult for a modern or secular mind. For us, the world is mute, and we perceive God to be equally mute. As such, we think that He either does not exist or doesn’t wish to make Himself known. From the position of classical Christianity, just as there is only miracle, so there is only the action and working of God everywhere.

And so, we read such things in Scripture: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts; heaven and earth are full of Your glory!”

Confessing this to be the case slowly brings a shift in our perception and represents the renunciation of the Modern Project. Another way of describing this would be to say that the whole of creation is a sacrament. The bread and wine of the Eucharist, as the Body and Blood of Christ, are not exceptions: they reveal the truth of creation. The whole of everything is given to us for communion.

The Eucharist also reveals something of the nature or character of God’s divine energies (His actions and will). The God made known in the Eucharist is Christ crucified and risen. It is the Paschal mystery, the God who empties Himself and enters the depth and emptiness of our suffering that He might fill all things with His love. The modern person, upon being told that everything is sustained by the will and action of God often leaps to the many tragic sufferings within the world – as though they contradict that reality or suggest God’s incompetence. But they imagine a God other than Christ crucified, a God apart from His Pascha.

The Resurrection of Christ is the revelation of the goodwill of God, the promise of the final outcome of all things. The world that is being “gathered together in one in Christ Jesus,” is, through His suffering and death (within them), being united to His resurrection.

This is the context in which we pray and worship and in which we come to perceive God (with what the fathers describe as the “noetic” faculty). We pray and we listen and we think there is only silence. This itself is the secular perception. Everything around us and we ourselves exist, sustained by the voice of God. Their existence is the eloquence of His good will.

But what of miracles? If the whole world is a miracle, then what of those things that are commonly described as miracles? First, they do not belong to a separate category. That someone is instantaneously healed of a disease does not belong to a category of exception: it is a miracle among miracles that happen in a way such that we see the truth that might otherwise seem hidden. The danger in miracles for the modern mind is to think of them as exceptional. In doing so, we imagine the world as divided into the miraculous and the ordinary.

When we pray, if we expect the “miraculous” (in the modern sense), we will grow weary with the ordinariness of our experience. We imagine that we hear nothing, for we have already decided that the sound of the ordinary is nothing miraculous. I always caution inquirers and catechumens in the Church to be prepared to be bored. Though Orthodox services can be beautiful and profound, they are no more beautiful and profound than the world around us. The modern mind becomes bored by the so-called “ordinary,” because it has become accustomed to distractions that play to our passions. “Boredom” is what you get when you are not being entertained – it is a modern phenomenon.

Christianity does not begin as a discussion of the inner life. The Christian faith begins with the death and resurrection of Christ. That reality, which spans and unifies all things, is both present as a point in history with abundant testimony of eye witnesses, and as an eternal and ever-present moment that exists before all things and for which all things exist. Regardless of our subjective questions, the concrete reality of Christ’s death and resurrection remains.

Subjectivity itself, the world as we experience it inside our heads, is notoriously changeable and fails every test of reliability. It is the chimera of our existence, and can never be its foundation.

Years ago, when I was in college, I suffered a severe bout of depression. I was hospitalized for a week. After the hospital, I “white-knuckled” my way through the world and found a path back to sanity. One of those paths was to distrust my subjective experience. Nothing “sounded like fun” (that’s the nature of depression). But I reasoned that I needed to have fun and decided to treat fun as an objective activity. My now-wife and I began doing things that were the “kind of things people do for fun,” in an effort to teach my brain and body how to do something they had lost. It was very therapeutic.

It is a great joy when our inner and outer world agree. The tradition describes a pattern of life that strengthens “noetic” perception, and thus our awareness of communion with God. Largely, that pattern consists of the quieting of the passions and the acquisition of inner stillness. But this pattern, or its result, is simply a description of something within the spiritual life that is of value – it is not its basis or foundation.

To a great extent, modern skepticism presumes a world whose “ordinary” existence has nothing to do with the miraculous. Our existence and the providential character of the world are thus reduced to the random workings of chance. The world is inert and opaque and says nothing about God. As such, only the extraordinary, the “miraculous” (in the modern sense), can reveal God. It is a demand that God should agree to be a secular God, to reject His world as sacrament.

The Orthodox life is a consent to the world as sacrament, inasmuch as it is revealed to us in the death and resurrection of Christ. We do not believe in the death and resurrection of Christ because we see the world as sacrament, but the other way around. It teaches us that the fullness of our existence reaches beneath the surface into the providence of God’s goodwill at work everywhere and in all things. That we “see” this is always a gift and a joy. It is also a difficult thing in a world whose self-explanation has been 500 years of unrelenting disenchantment and anti-sacramentalism.

Will wonders ever cease?

Father Stephen Freeman is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, serving as Rector of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.

Featured: Christ healing many diseases. Mount Athos, Icon of the 14th century.

Blue Right and Fuchsia Left: Two Wings of the Neoliberal Eagle

According to the non-linear trajectory that connects 1968 with the new Millennium, the Left now finds its tone, no longer in the red of utopian passion, but in the fuchsia of sectoral demands on the terrain of capitalism. It finds its symbol of reference, no longer in the “hammer and sickle” of labor and its anti-capitalist redemption, but in the rainbow of the whims of individual consumption for the privileged classes, behind which hides and legitimizes the gray of capitalist reification. Inappropriately called “civil rights,” rainbow rights redefine public morality on the basis of cultural and psychological references consistent with the profit strategies of the liberal-globalist entertainment industry.

The displacement of the issue of social and labor rights to that of consumerist whims and environmental protection is one of the hegemonic strategies of turbo-capitalism and the neo-liberal left as a complement. Back in 1995, in Sinistra senza classe (The Left without Class), Leone De Castris vindicated—vox clamantis in deserto—the need to reinitiate in the Left that class struggle that has now disappeared from the radar of the programs of the new Left in all its gradations. The triumph of “civil rights” as the monothema of the left quadrant represents, however, the apotheosis of the liberal anthropological conception, which thinks of man as a competitive atom (“The only one and his property,” as Stirner said) and human freedom as the whim of the consumer in the market. Subsumed under capital, the Left becomes a privileged place of symbolic reproduction and ideological justification of capital itself; and this, in the form of the elaboration, organization, and defense of the “single thought” and the “new mental order” as superstructural complements of the authentic balance of hegemonic power. Thus, PC, once the noble acronym identifying the Communist Party of Gramsci and Togliatti, is today only the acronym of the Politically Correct code of which the post-communist “sinistrash” rainbow hodgepodge has set itself up as the custodian.

Compressed elastically between 1968 and 1989, the phase of the formal subsumption of the Right and the Left under capital is characterized by the fact that the two sides of the dichotomy have been gradually integrated into the neocapitalist system. A sort of “cultural Yalta” is taking place: on the Left, the increasingly marked adherence to the cultural liberalism paradigm of ethical progressivism coexists with some vague hints of economic regulation, while on the Right, faint vestiges of cultural and moral regulation coexist with the increasingly evident adherence to economic liberalism.

Since 1989, with the real subsumption under capital, Right and Left have been fully integrated into the turbo-capitalist paradigm. The Left is increasingly freeing itself from economic regulation, celebrating the rationale of the competitive market. And the Right is increasingly distancing itself from moral and cultural regulation, embracing neoliberal progressivism. The traditionalist Right and the communist Left are disappearing, swallowed up respectively by the ultra-capitalist neo-right and neo-left. At most, they survive as testimonial folkloric residues or, more often than not, as entertainment and ideological alibi of the neoliberal system, playing into its hands to be pointed out as living proof of the ever-latent presence of fascism and communism, or what is the same—without distinction of any kind—as the now useless traditionalist Right and the now evaporated communist Left. If the neo-liberal Left is not even a shadow of red, the surviving sectarian and folkloric groups of the “pure Left” have only a faint red shadow left. And the same could be said of the black shadow in the right quadrant.

With the real subsumption, Right and Left come to coincide—paraphrasing Sartre—in considering capitalism as “the insurmountable horizon of our time.” The Right, with a few noteworthy exceptions, very early on began to identify in the status quo of the capitalist market, the existing to be defended and promoted, often pretending at the same time—as Giddens, among others, pointed out—to fight against its effects (homologation, dissolution of traditional links and identities, etc.). Its adherence to the market gradually pushed it to “dissolve” into integral liberalism.

The three pillars of what Roger Scruton has identified as “conservative thinking”—authority, loyalty and tradition—have been neutralized by the market. The latter, substituting tradition for progress, recognizes the commodity form as the only authority and free trade as the only loyalty. From this point of view, the Thatcherite vision is emblematic of the liberal-Atlantist neo-right—it aspires to the moral regeneration of the family, the individual and the nation, but founding it on the free market, that is, on the root cause of their disintegration. And, in order not to have to admit that it is the free market which denies what they want to affirm, the Thatcherite neo-liberals must invent, by way of explanation of this degeneration of values, the propaganda of the perfidious socialists trying, in the dark, to undermine the foundations of society.

The Left, for its part, as Michéa pointed out, criticized—at least until the fall of the Berlin Wall—the capitalist balance of power and the very idea of the capitalist free market, while enthusiastically adhering to those “illusions of progress” which are among its main successes (degrading values and traditions, rejecting sovereignties and material and immaterial frontiers, achieving the integral fluidization of the world of life). Its acceptance of cultural progressivism led it to gradually reconcile itself with the market, which generated it in its image and likeness, following a process that already began in the 1990s of the “short century.”

This is the only way to explain, for example, the French socialist program of 1992, entitled, “Un nouvel horizon: projet socialiste pour la France” (“A New Horizon: Socialist Project for France”). This program textually states the following: “oui, nous pensons que l’économie de marché constitue le moyen de production et d’échange le plus efficace. Non, nous ne ne croyons plus à une rupture avec le capitalism” (“Yes, we think that the market economy constitutes the most efficient means of production and exchange. No, we no longer believe in a break with capitalism”). Back in 1985, Hollande—future President of the French Republic, of declared gauchiste orientation—published, under a pseudonym, a left-liberal manifesto entitled, La gauche bouge (The Left is On the Move); one of the main chapters is entitled, “Competition is Left-Wing!” We have, in the two cases just mentioned, the most specific feature of the post-1989 liberal-libertarian neo-left glamour.

Political-social relations and their conflictual dialectics remain permanently off the radar. And the image of the hegemonic world, in the form of a single thought that does not admit deviations, keeps repeating that we are all in the same boat, mobilized in the common enterprise of our individual entrepreneurial success. Further confirmation, among many others, can be found in Aldo Schiavone’s book, Sinistra! Un manifestoThe Left. A Manifesto (2023), in whose pages, in addition to defending the need to put aside Marx and everything that still vaguely refers to Red history (in primis, the class struggle), the author proposes an idea of the Left that makes it, in fact, indistinguishable from neoliberalism, of which it becomes the most progressive and most radical wing. This fulfills Del Noce’s prophecy of nihilism as a necessary landing place for leftist thought.

In the fin de siècle consciousness, the reconversion to the neoliberal reason of the world can be considered completed. The Left fades and becomes “decaffeinated.” From anti-capitalism it passes to “alter-capitalism,” beginning to fight, not against the fanaticism of the free market, but against those traditional bonds that still slow down its development. It becomes openly anti-communist and anti-Marxist, adhering, among other things, to the double neo-liberal vision according to which: a) criticizing capitalism leads to misery and the denial of human dignity (to which, paradoxically, capitalism itself is effectively leading); and b) the market must be left alone (laissez faire!), since today’s profits will create tomorrow’s jobs.

In short, in the formal subsumption phase, the Right criticizes the effects and cultivates the causes, while the Left celebrates the effects and fights the causes.

With real subsumption, Right and Left end up glorifying both effects and causes, sanctifying the turbo-capitalist mode of production at both the symbolic and real levels. Since they now coincide, their political opposition is essentially based on reproaching each other for the red or black past, and disputing the primacy of representing in government the interests and vision of the neoliberal oligarchic bloc. In de Benoist’s syntax, the Right of money has contributed more than the Left to destroy the values it claimed to preserve; while the Left of the suit has contributed more than the Right to prevent the advent of the redeemed society, to whose project it formally declared itself faithful. Naturally, this situation never presents itself in historical reality in a “pure” way, without cracks and contradictions. What is certain, however, is that gradually right-wing economic liberalism increasingly saturates the field of the Left as well, just as left-wing cultural liberalism increasingly colonizes the sphere of the Right—and ultimately leads them to become indistinguishable. The Left adheres to economic liberalism, since it embraced cultural liberalism; and the Right surrenders to cultural liberalism, since it has embraced economic liberalism. In an unprecedented game of mirrors, each now sees on the opposite side only a mirror image of itself.

The Pareto Void

Next August will be the 100th anniversary of the death of Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) and it seems unlikely that the political class he studied with care, which is otherwise so fond of morbid commemorative rituals, will commemorate the Italian economist and theorist of the circulation of elites. We Europeans have forgotten Pareto, if we ever had him in mind. Historical memory, democratic memory, memory of the victims. Vilfredo Pareto fits none of these. You can test this out with search engines. Not a trace. At best, references to Pareto before being the great Pareto. Little Pareto, yes. Big Pareto, no. Economist Pareto, mathematical Pareto, statistical Pareto… Harmless Pareto. Pareto optimality, Pareto 80/20 law, Pareto efficiency law. But no trace of the Pareto whom James Burnham placed—along with Machiavelli, Michels, Sorel and Mosca—among the neo-Machiavellian “defenders of freedom.” There are, of course, exceptions. If not, then read the article by Jerónimo Molina Cano dedicated to the political class.

It would be fair to call this—in order to compensate for such a great injustice, a new social legality bearing the name of our egregious political theorist—”the Pareto void.” The Pareto void prevails in that society, regime and/or public opinion in which the teachings on the political class by Vilfredo Pareto or, as the case may be, by some other member of the so-called Italian elitist school (Mosca, Michels) are ignored. In such a society, and in accordance with Pareto’s void, the level of political freedom and control of the rulers tends to zero, while corruption, incompetence and nepotism of the ruling class tends to infinity, thus fully complying with Gómez Dávila’s aphorism: “The more serious the problems, the greater the number of inept people that democracy calls upon to solve them.” Thus, every society tends, according to Pareto, to the Pareto void. And this explains the ignoring of Pareto. Regularity of the political: “We do not know what happens to us and that is precisely what happens to us” (Ortega dixit).

In the political assembly of a healthy republic, together with conquerors, founders, missionaries and—preferably—a scarce but necessary representation of corrupt compatriots who remember our common and sinful humanity (since there is no people or nation that can be free of it), there should also be, in a place of honor, a small but visible portrait of Vilfredo Pareto. Seeing this scrutinizer of the political class, with all its miseries and evil intentions, deputies, senators and governors would expectedly lower, at least for a second, their gaze before perpetrating their purposes of the day. The presence of this portrait would have an added benefit—to remind everyone of the mortality of political regimes and also that of their ruling elites. A portrait of Pareto is a memento mori for every political class. History is a cemetery of aristocracies, wrote our man with an image worthy of appearing in the Apocalypse.

More than a Biography

If biography is never a scholarly curiosity, in the case of Vilfredo Pareto this simple truth reaches astonishing levels. On July 15, 1848, he was born in Paris to a French mother. His father, the Marquis Raffaele Pareto, lived in exile in the French capital. Thus came into the world, “italiano ma anche francese,” Vilfredo Pareto. The date and place of his birth have a powerfully emblematic significance. According to Hayek, the century of European socialism begins in 1848, which is also the year in which the Communist Manifesto saw the light of day. “The most important event in the entire modern history of Europe,” said one of its most astute scrutinizers, Lorenz von Stein. Initiated in France, the so-called Springtime of the Peoples of 1848 spread throughout Europe. Decisive in this contagion was the accelerated level of development of communications (telegraph and railroads) within the framework of the Industrial Revolution. Pareto dedicated the beginning of his professional career as an engineer to railroads. Railroads or also “iron roads,” in its French etymology (chemins de fer). Perhaps a nod to his future mission (as he would later call it) as a sociologist of politics, for politics also has its iron roads (or laws). In any case, returning to the indicated date, it is a known fact that the political, social and moral crisis of that fateful year probably marked a profound rupture in the order of beliefs of the old continent, constituting the political watershed of contemporary Europe.

From a pure Genoese family, Pareto’s father, a Mazzinian aristocrat and typical product of the Italian Risorgimento, went into exile, as noted, in France because of his support for the new revolutionary movements. This explains why his son, named Vilfredo Federico Damaso, was born in Paris and began his studies there to continue them later in Turin, when his father benefited from a pardon in 1858. Schumpeter says that the same cannot be said of Vilfredo Pareto’s classical education as would be said of all the educated people of his time. This is not sufficient description for “the profound knowledge of the Greek and Roman classics which he had acquired on his own, in the ceaseless toil of his sleepless nights.” In any case, in 1869, Pareto obtained his doctorate in engineering at the Politecnico di Torino with a thesis on the Fundamental principles of the theory of the elasticity of solid bodies and research on the integration of the differential equations that define their equilibrium. At that time, there was nothing to suggest the birth of future research on other types of bodies.

As an engineer, as already mentioned, Pareto began a successful professional career in the Italian railroad sector. This fact is also fundamental for the long series of disappointments that marked his life. Pareto, son of disappointment. Our man could have embodied the new elite defined by the Saint-Simonian creed, but it seems that he ended up eluding this self-image at the same time that he moved away from the humanist and enlightened convictions of his father. These convictions also describe his first political commitments, which were also eventually disappointed. A defender of economic freedom against the protectionist enemies embodied in a decadent, weak and cowardly bourgeoisie—the favorite target of his diatribes—Pareto gradually began to make a name for himself in the area of economic thought, eventually occupying no less than the chair of Leon Walras in Lausanne.

By then, Pareto, disgusted by the climate of transformism (gatopardismo) of the elite perched in the bureaucratic apparatus, had already given up the political illusions of his youth. He would devote the rest of his life to teaching and study. Like other Europeans disenchanted with politics, he settled in Switzerland. Thus, he remained for history, portrayed as the loner of Celigny, a Swiss commune where he enjoyed his last years before his death in 1923. From his period as an economic theorist comes his imposing, Manual of Political Economy. As a result of his tireless dedication and work, came about his last works, Les systèmes socialistes (The Socialist Systems) and, above all, the monumental Trattato di sociologia generale (Treatise on General Sociology). Professor Arthur Livingston, who translated the Treatise into English, summed it up with a powerful formula: two thousand pages, one million words. As Raymond Aron would later recognize, “The Treatise on General Sociology occupies a special place in sociological literature. It is an enormous book, in the physical sense of the word, outside the great currents of sociology, which continues to be the object of the most contradictory judgments. Some regard it as one of the masterpieces of the human spirit; and with the same passion, others assert that it is a monument to stupidity. I have heard these judgments from the lips of people who can be considered perfectly qualified. We find ourselves,” Aron admits, “before a truly rare case.”

The First of Us

We will deal later with the reasons for this rarity, but at this point we can hazard a hypothesis about the profound significance of this singular figure. Pareto is an exemplary archetype of the metamorphosis occurring in a current of fin-de-siècle European thought. In a way, Pareto is “the first of us.” That is to say, the prototype of post-industrial, post-liberal, post-ideological and even post-modern man. He announced, in his own way, the political disenchantment of the world when the enchanters were still legion. He followed in a certain way the path of critical liberalism that opened its way with Tocqueville, but Pareto’s critique went further. It was the man of flesh and blood who discovered himself in the mirror behind the veil of the myth of the new man sculpted in the utopian vulgates, be they liberal or socialist. If we eliminate the religious aspect, there is in Pareto something of Pascal. Like the author of the Pensées, the loner of Celigny was the man capable of inventing the calculator or of demonstrating emptiness without any of this ever quite satisfying him. Dissatisfied with the promises of rationalism and technique, there was something in him that pushed him to dive further or down deeper. Where? In the depths of human psychology, which, although ensconced in the error of lies and self-deception, continues to determine the essence of collective behavior in social and political life. It is in those regions where, if we recall Hannah Arendt’s formula, thinking becomes dangerous.

Pareto has been reproached for his style (next to Marx’s Capital it may seem a model of composition) but the unprecedentedness of his proposal goes beyond formal issues. In his sociological consideration of the influence of the irrational on human behavior, his proposal on “residues” and “derivations” stands out in particular. In Pareto’s language, residues represent the constant, irrational core of human nature. It is what remains, the residue, when the veil of moralizations and false rationalizations is removed. For man, Pareto dares to affirm, rationalizes most of his acts. And this is precisely what derivations consist of. They are the camouflage or pretext; that is, the intellectual systems of justification and the “rational” alibis by which individuals or groups mask their passions. Stripping away our declared intentions, Pareto’s moral translator exhibits us in our pure animality. Behind every human action presumably motivated by the noblest and most rational pretexts housed in the neocortex, there is an unmentionable, irrational residue hidden in the paleocortex. Thus, Pareto distinguished between logical actions (those of the mathematician or the engineer) and non-logical actions (those of the masses or the ruling elites). In a simple way, he was dismantling the ideological mode of thought that concealed behind the mask of science and reason, disguised under benign appearance the irrational face of human motivations. His interest in Gustave Le Bon’s psychology of crowds is a significant indicator of this trend in his thinking. The Paretian theory of residues and derivations has, as can be seen, an air of family with that triangle of suspicion that brings together Nietzsche, Marx and Freud in the secret fraternity of the spoilsports of modernity. The fundamental difference is that this suspicion was not directed by Pareto towards religion, the economy or sexuality but towards the epicenter of social life—the political class. An advanced disciple of Machiavelli, Pareto distinguishes between truth and social utility. Could this political master of suspicion have subscribed to Heidegger’s apothegm, “only a god can save us?” Undoubtedly, for false gods can “truly” save the people who worship them. There is no need to appeal to René Girard to understand this.

Marx of the Bourgeoisie?

“Pareto thinks manifestly, and in the first place against his father (and perhaps against the convictions of his youth),” writes Aron. Indeed, like Freud, Pareto wanted to symbolically kill his father’s ideas. However, the one killed here was not God, nor capitalism or patriarchy, those favorite scapegoats of emancipatory and revolutionary ideologies. Pareto assassinates with his father the humanitarian dogmas of the new democratic religion and, with it, the anthropotheism of secular dogmas. “Adversary of all those who have believed in man and in the peaceful and humane future of societies, he becomes”—Aron added—”the adversary of all the political religions of the nineteenth century.” After Pareto we can no longer write “Reason,” “Progress” and “Democracy” with capital letters. On Pareto’s keyboard almost all capital letters are erased and those that remain are under suspicion. This is something we can thank him for.

It has been said of Pareto that he is the Marx of the bourgeoisie. An emphatic but misleading and mischievous formula. Marxist ammunition designed to hide the fact that the author of the Treatise on General Sociology drowned with his demystifying gesture the hegemonic critique of established intellectuals (and especially that of Marxists). As Schumpeter writes, “I doubt whether a man who wasted no opportunity to express the great contempt he felt for the ignorant and cowardly bourgeoisie can rightly be called ‘bourgeois.'” In The Communist Manifesto, Marx wrote that “all historical movements have hitherto been movements of minorities for the benefit of minorities.” For what other reason than theological or metaphysical would the proletarian revolution escape that rule? Magic or sorcery, perhaps. As Julien Freund, who dedicated a monograph to Pareto, writes, “with a lucidity as insightful as it is profound, Pareto saw that Marx’s concept of ideology was also ideological.” It is not Marx who explains Pareto but Pareto who explains Marx.

There are many reasons, as can be inferred, that made Pareto an accursed man in the history of ideas, but we cannot avoid the one that has to do with his presumed condition of inspirer of the first fascism. It is speculated that Benito Mussolini attended his classes during his Swiss exile. Emilio Gentile credits him for this. The only certainty is that, after the march on Rome, Pareto was appointed senator for life. A photo finish in a black shirt? Nothing worse could be imagined for the reputation of a skeptic. Certainly, shortly before his death, Pareto wrote that “Mussolini has now revealed himself as the man Sociology can invoke.” However, it is easily forgotten that the political situation in Italy at the time led other important disenchanted liberal thinkers such as Benedotte Croce, who would later become a fierce enemy of the regime, to support Mussolini. It seems unlikely that the declared enemy of nineteenth-century political religions would become an adherent of those born in the twentieth century.

In Main Currents in Sociological Thought, a work of unavoidable reference, Raymond Aron places Pareto alongside Montesquieu, Comte, Marx, Tocqueville, Durkheim and Weber; that is, alongside the great founders of the discipline. Let us not forget that Pareto also figures among the ten great economists in Schumpeter’s work of the same name. However, the courageous recognition of the sociologist Pareto is far from uncontroversial. Pareto never managed to be fashionable, even if sociology was. Perhaps the reasons must be sought in a significant difference of approach. Mainstream sociology allowed the historical dimensions of social facts to be silenced. In Pareto, on the other hand, the comparative-historical method comes into its own. Faced with the predominance of invariant structures of long duration that transcend all epochs and with the microscopism of social facts analyzed synchronically at the margin of all historicity, Pareto’s sociology returns, dodging its rationalist reduction, all its protagonism to the anthropological-vital. It is the basis of the theory of circulation, which in Pareto is essentially the circulation of elites. While the dominant sociological method eludes facts, chronologies, biographies, metamorphoses and political events, eclipsed by the everyday, the practical and the economic (present without past or future), Pareto’s sociology reverses the chain of fundamentals by raising historical becoming in an interpretative key. Instead of transforming history into sociology, Pareto recovers history for the cause of sociology. By insisting on the determinant role of elites, Pareto enhances the role of ruling minorities as opposed to an anonymist type of sociology that is only interested in the cold aggregates of mass as resulting from the impersonal interaction of individual atoms. Moreover, before the fashions of interdisciplinarity made their way into the academic Tower of Babel, Pareto’s work shocked those who refused to build bridges between disciplines or rejected anything that would widen the scope of economic reductionism or social unilateralism. It is impossible to pigeonhole him, Schumpeter points out again, because he did not worship any -ism. All this explains, perhaps, why Pareto is, as Julien Freund says, “an irritating, sometimes unbearable author.”

Not much will be said about Pareto on the centenary of his death, but his validity is indisputable. And the void he leaves is like the elephant in the room. If Pareto had not existed, today he would be born again. He, who had already denounced in his day the “absurd mercy for the evildoers” of the bourgeoisie of his time, would today better than anyone else expose the dark interests hidden behind the veil of that malicious philanthropy represented by the victimocratic ideologies promoted by a decadent political class and given to the myth of the Big Other. Pareto would be to sociology today what the Houellebecq of Submission has been to literature.

Franz Borkenau, one of his early biographers, writes that it is not known whether he had children, for even that part of his biography remains obscure. Perhaps we Europeans do not yet deserve to be called Pareto’s children. We can only hope for the day when we recognize him as our father. A father whom we could not kill without, at the same time, committing suicide.

Domingo González Hernández holds a PhD in political philosophy from the Complutense University of Madrid. He is a professor at the University of Murcia. His recent book is René Girard, maestro cristiano de la sospecha (René Girard, Christian Teacher of Suspicion) He is also the Director of the podcast “La Caverna de Platón” for the newspaper La Razón. He has explored the political possibilities of Girardian mimetic theory in more than twenty studies and academic papers. His latest publication is “La monarquía sagrada y el origen de lo político: una hipótesis farmacológica” (“Sacred monarchy and the origin of politics: a pharmacological hypothesis”), Xiphias Gladius, 2020.

Students Are Standing Up

A lost generation? Are today’s 20-year-olds all without a backbone? Journalist Patrik Baab disagrees. Students supported him in his legal dispute with Kiel’s Christian-Albrechts University. This did not go down well: an open letter was not allowed to be sent via the university distribution list. But the students didn’t give up up. A positive experience. The CAU had terminated Baab’s teaching contract because of his research in the Donbass. On April 25, the Schleswig-Holstein Administrative Court ruled that the termination was illegal. The ruling is not yet legally binding.

Nimble hands dipped brushes into pots of paint. On a banner, lying on the ground, they wrote out red letters. Faces could not be seen. But the slogan was soon visible: “Solidarity with Patrik Baab.” A few more hands hung the banner on the bicycle bridge over Olshausenstrasse at Kiel University. After the night-and-fog action, it remained there for days. In mid-February, students took their protest against censorship and restrictions on freedom of the press to the streets—and to the Internet: a video of the action went viral. The reason: After research in the Donbass and a press campaign, my teaching assignment for practical journalism was cancelled. As an eledged election observer, I would have legitimized Putin’s “sham referendums” and thus the “Russian war of aggression.” No one bothered to check if this was actually true or not. It was just more jumping on the bandwagon—for clicks and advertising revenue. The fact that the majority of people in the Donbass actually think of being pro-Russian does not fit in with the West’s propaganda.

(See, “The Donbas Rift,” by Serhiy Kudelia, and Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands, pp. 156ff).

On Good Friday 2023, my friend Friedhelm, his daughter Luise and I wanted to have a nightcap in the Kiel pub, Palenke, around 10:30 PM. The waiter came up to me: “Mr. Baab, you are a conspiracy theorist. You won’t get any beer here. Leave the pub immediately!”

Appalled, we left. Luise commented, “This is how I imagine 1933!” Reason enough to wash down our horror elsewhere. Conspiracy theorist; lateral thinker; Covid denier; right-wing extremist; Putin legitimizer; anti-Semite: These are the denunciation labels of the ecolibertarian and national reactionary bourgeoisie. They serve to enforce propaganda, to exclude dissidence, to divide the population, to destroy the existence of the target, to force anticipatory obedience by generating fear. Behind it all is one goal—to secure the rule of the power elites. But these campaigns are orchestrated by their academic and journalistic satraps. The waiter at the Palenke is named Moritz, studies at Kiel University and works at the campus radio station.

It is precisely against this “Cancel Culture” that students at CAU are now standing up. They are not alone: At Prof. Ulrike Guérot’s “conciliation hearing” before the labor court on April 28, about 100 students demonstrated against her dismissal by the University of Bonn; Prof. Michael Meyen, who is being dragged through the mud by the Süddeutsche Zeitung in particular, also finds support among many students and staff at the University of Munich. It is still a minority that is fighting against the anti-democratic rallying movement of media like T-Online, universities and state-supported denunciation platforms like Zentrum Liberale Moderne, Amadeu Antonio Stiftung or the Mobile Counselling Team against Right-Wing Extremism in Hamburg. But every day there are more of them. Because they know: These witch hunts are not about arguments, but about power. It is about using anti-democratic means to enforce the dominance of discourse. At Kiel University, too, the democratic culture of debate has collapsed—an alarm signal for universities, had it not been for the fact that the lecture halls have long since been colonized by a morally armored extremism of the ecolibertarian center.

But soon the witch hunters could become the hunted. Because now there is the working group “Dialogue on Fundamental Rights and Health Protection” at CAU. Founded in February 2022, it officially has ten active members. One of them is Julian Hett: “Unofficially, we are a lot more, because graduates remain loyal to the group. The community is much larger, maybe a hundred young people in Kiel alone. Our first topic was Corona – and what state organs took out during that time. The Covid measures at Kiel University were also completely disproportionate.” It didn’t stop at Covid. The Covid measures were only one step in the continuing attempt to impose authoritarian structures. Kiel University is part of an unfortunate tradition: Hooray-patriotism in lecture halls in 1914; academic Freikorps during the Kapp-Lüttwitz Putsch in 1920; “Sturm-Uni” of the Nazis from 1933; secret service involvement of professors during the Cold War and afterwards.

(“Sturm-Uni,” or “Sturm-Universität,” literally a “Stormtrooper university,” is a term from the Nazi-era, which simply means a university entirely aligned with, commited to and thus promoting state ideology—Ed.).

The students of the Arbeitskreis Grundrechteschutz (Working Group for the Protection of Fundamental Rights) know this, and they know what it’s all about. That is why they are organizing a solidarity event for me. On April 11, my lawyer Dr. Volker Arndt and I spoke in front of more than 100 people. In the home of the Kronshagen sports club, there was enthusiastic applause and more than three hours of critical debate about media, propaganda and the Ukraine war. Reason-led discussion against cancel culture and irrationalism, entirely in the spirit of the Enlightenment, as Immanuel Kant wished: “The critical path alone is still open.” For this, the Working Group booked a room, distributed flyers, put stickers on lamp-posts, and uploaded a recording on the web. Anyone who has ever done something like this knows that all this is no small feat.

Student protest. Kiel University.

The commitment of the Kiel students reminds me of my own beginnings—in the alternative newspaper movement at the end of the 1970s. With the founding of the Provinzblatt Homburg (Homburg is a small city in the southwest of Germany) , we wanted to take a stand against the machinations of the local construction lords and the one-sided reporting of the monopolist Saarbrücker Zeitung. The success remained modest—but nevertheless a circulation of 800 copies. At the meeting of alternative newspapers in Freiburg im Breisgau in 1977, those who later promoted the founding of the Taz (Die Tageszeitung) came together. They met again at the peace demonstration in Bonn’s Hofgarten in 1981. Six years later, they were joined by participants in the Olof Palme Peace March in the GDR. The central demand: a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe and a press oriented toward the interests of the people—demands that are still highly topical today.

The Provinzblatt Homburg has long since ceased to exist. But back then we were able to learn to stand when the wind was blowing against us. I have remained true to my ideas from back then: The power elites must face criticism; research is an oppositional concept. I offered a seminar on this at the CAU; something obviously stuck with some of the participants. The Taz is quite different: The paper has degenerated into a mouthpiece for the ecoliberal elites. Thus, Esther Geisslinger also joined in the campaign against me and called me a “Putin propagandist.” For more than 20 years I have been critically examining Putin’s Russia. These films are online. But Ms. Geisslinger apparently can’t even manage to use a search engine or listen in a courtroom. My lawyer forced the Taz to publish a counterstatement. The lying press—the students in Kiel are also mobilizing against this.

Journalist Thomas Moser did a reality check and wrote: “The treatment of NDR reporter Patrik Baab by universities and the media shows how deeply divided Germany is and how ruthless it is when militarized nationalism spreads.” Like the students from the Working Group, he speaks of an attack on the freedom of the press. He says, “This is a culture war. It has to be fought out now. It’s about preserving democracy. That’s why we need a new 1968, a new extra-parliamentary opposition.” But the mood among fellow students is divided. In Kiel, the campus radio and the student newspaper, Der Albrecht, are more on the identity politics trip. There, the right attitude apparently counts more than a researched reality check. Sociologist Oskar Negt had this to say about such attitudes: “Opportunism is the real mental disease of intellectuals.” A disease that is also widespread at Kiel University.

“A whole generation is missing,” I hear the peace movements of yesteryear, those who have long since turned gray, lament. But who educated this generation to conform? Who pushed through the Abitur after eight years? Who pushed for the restructuring of university courses? Who purged the content of critical questions and introduced multiple-choice exams in social studies? It was us—today’s 60-year-olds. Gustav Heinemann, the third German president, once said: “Those who point at others with their index finger are pointing at themselves with three fingers of their hand.” But is an entire generation really missing?

No. The oral court proceedings show the opposite. In front of the Administrative Court in Schleswig on April 25, flags and banners: “Free journalism deserves support.” A signpost at the CAU in Kiel—”Pluralism of opinion”—deleted. Twenty-five supporters in the hall, half students of Kiel University. “We rarely have that at the administrative court,” says the chairman of the chamber, Dr. Malte Sievers, “but here fundamental rights are also weighed against each other.” Meanwhile, in an editorial office I know, the internal word is, “We ignore that!” The entire misery of the self-proclaimed quality media is bundled in these three words. The press, which had already disgraced itself in tendentiously covering the demonstration by Sarah Wagenknecht, of the party “Die Linke,” and the publicist of the feminist magazine, Emma, Alice Schwarzer, for peace talks to stop the war in Ukraine, on February 25 in Berlin, continues to disgrace itself. The students from the Working Group are therefore also concerned with counter-publicity—against the manipulative of the established public spheres. This is reminiscent of the “Stop Springer” campaign in 1968 (a campaign against the Murdoch-like German media tycoon Axel Cäsar Springer and his press empire).. So, a touch of APO after all?

For that to happen, the few would first have to become the many. The ground is prepared for this: The sanctions against Russia and the accompanying inflation are impoverishing large parts of the population. Gradually, even many younger people are realizing that Germany could be drawn into a war in which there is much to lose but nothing to gain. The propaganda of the bellicose elites becomes all the more vehement. It is a “drastic reminder,” says Noam Chomsky, “that the arena of rational discourse collapses precisely where there should be hope that it will be defended.” That is, in academic circles.

Whether Kiel University has the strength to put its reputation as a “storm-trooper university” behind it this time—I have not yet formed a final judgment on that. But it is a signal that the students are taking the protest to the streets. Because—as in 1976 when the so-called anti-terror laws were introduced—it is about defending the republic—against an academic-media-political complex that wants to drive the country into a post-democratic elite-rule and new wars. The weapons of counter-Enlightenment are far from being blunted—not even at universities. That is why the Working Group for the Protection of Fundamental Rights is planning further actions. The fight goes on. For me, the support of “my” students is important. Thank you for that!

Wearing Woman-Face

To mark International Women’s Day, one of the leading lights of progressive thought, Justin Trudeau, issued a writ in which he let loose all manner of simpering on the subject of “woman,” before claiming some moral high ground about fighting “hate.” This Cloaca Minima of the New World Order also drew to full height to declare: “We reiterate today that trans women are women.”

We will leave aside the fake custom dedicating days to all sorts of “moral” causes—this assumes that the remaining 364 days of the year will have nothing whatsoever to do with said cause, for example, here, women.

To “mark” a day dedicated to women, Canada’s foremost pansophist informed us that men too are women. All men have to do is invest in some feminine clothing, smear on lipstick, and be instantly transformed into a “woman.” In other words, a woman is no more than the slight of a man’s hand.

To be a woman, you just need to wear “Woman-face,” just as Trudeau is fond of wearing blackface, and so to use his logic, he can also declare: “We reiterate today that white men are black men.”

To disagree with government declarations is to “hate,” and politicians like Trudeau have handy “hate-laws” to make sure the police show up and haul you off to face the full penalty of the law. You must admire the naked emperor’s new clothes. There can be choice. Repeat: “Trans woman are women!”

As is now too obvious, the West is defined by its ongoing war against reality, because it innately believes that reality is an invention of the “white man” and thus must be destroyed, so that a new “reality” may be established in its place. These various “white” sins are said to be entrenched in the entire system of the West, which is why the general political attitude is that of destruction of all that exists. The world must be built back better—without the white man.

The greatest of such white sins is viewing humanity as “men” and “women,” because in doing so, there are received (traditional) expectations of how a man and a woman must live, and what a man and woman must do. Therein lies the danger for the Western political class, in that received wisdom denies their authority, because tradition is a way to live beyond the hold and reach of politics. The more people value and share tradition, the less they need politics. For Trudeau and his ilk, this is truly dangerous as it fully invalidates them, for politics alone must be the be-all and end-all of life in all its totality.

This is why the trans movement is the final culmination of the great cycle of self-destruction that the West has engaged in: the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s (which included feminism), then gay rights of the 1980s and 1990s, and now the elimination of all notion of sexuality with transgenderism. From unhindered pursuit of pleasure to chemical and surgical castration. The point of it all? To sequester life itself into the narrow confines of politics, where life becomes impossible without politics—for the castrated creature needs full government support (emotional, social, and financial). In effect, the transgendered freak is the perfect face of Western politics.

It bears veering into a little more detail.

The prefix “trans-” is Latin in origin, where it means, “beyond.” But in our time, the prefix has transitioned into an adjective and at times even a noun and replaces the earlier terms “transexual” and “transgender.” Note as well another term that has now fallen out of favor—”transvestite” or a crossdresser, which had long been part of literary culture, since in theater all female parts were played by men (from the time of the ancient Greeks), and in drama crossdressing thus became a device to conceal identity and gain access to that which was otherwise forbidden (for example, in Euripides’ Bacchae or Hippolytus). More often, however, crossdressing was simply comedic. Culture carries deep influence, and transvestitism, through the theater (and later the screen), seeped into society as a strategy to win through deception. Thus, a rhetorical, literary ruse became social activism.

Because, in theater, men and women crossdressed, at times, to gain sexual access (marriage) or even prurience, this too became part of a sub-culture, much promoted, for example, in the 1920s, especially in Weimar Germany. Thus, in the underbelly of society, transvestitism was a trick to get sexual reward, with costumes and role-playing.

Over the past few years, crossdressing has been turned inwards to affect the reality of the human person, where costume becomes a permanent self-transformation. This has been classified as “gender dysphoria,” but mental disorders are always a tricky mode of explanation, since people have all kinds of motivations for their behavior. Rather, what has happened is that crossdressing has been given a political dimension—where men in female attire and make-up (woman-face) are declared to be “women” by political decree. The advantages therefore of crossdressing are great. And this decree is then internalized by crossdressers, who sense a chance at power, and who then agree to mutilate their bodies in order to gain advantage. The body is sacrificed in order to establish a better self, in a ”better world” that will replace the old, traditional one, in which men and women lived within the demands of their biological reality. In the “better world,” biological reality must be “fluid,” because the indeterminate self is ever-ready to assume any new political advantage. This “fluidity” is actively promoted by the education-media-entertainment complex. This “better world” demands neutered creatures, forever “celebrating” their castration—and there exists many a doctor who will happily assist. And people have a hard time understanding Dr. Mengele?

But, here, the “better world” runs into a problem. As is obvious, a neutered creature cannot reproduce. This is where schools become essential, where there is always a supply of new recruits for the trans flock. In other words, schools are places where the children of others are groomed, a process in which teachers (especially women) are now adept, to become “better.”

An Excursus into History

In history, castration was practiced to enforce control and ensure compliance in ancient times. The most famous example being the Gallus priests of the Cybele cult, who castrated themselves, then wore make-up and dressed like women, when they assumed office. Larger Roman society took a dim view of this fringe cult and much proscribed it, though it was never banned outright (perhaps because it was fringe). Then, there were the eunuchs of the Byzantine and Ottoman courts, who were employed as guards of the women’s quarters and harems. The purpose, obviously, was to ensure they could not be attracted to those they were guarding. Later in the 18th century, boys were castrated to preserve their pristine singing voices, which were much in demand in theaters and courts of the time.

What links these various examples from history is that sexual mutilation has always served the purposes of power. The trans creature is deeply, innately handicapped because it can no longer function in traditional human society—it must have recourse to a support system. And, yes, this creature is an “it,” because it has fundamentally destroyed the very essence of humanity that it was born with, in order to become the imaginary. It has sacrificed itself to ensure that politicians can justify their claims and their conspiracy theories. And in the process, notice what has happened—the dignity and value of the human body has evaporated, so that the “better” human body is one that perfectly embodies the happy-talk of politicians.

What to make of all this? Simplicity is always the best. The West is now gripped by evil; and evil must always hurl itself into extremes. Such is the logic of Satan: the vile in the human imagination must replace the good. This is the real reason why the rest of the world is now rejecting the West, for to seek to go beyond the human is suicide. Thankfully, the world will not be jumping off that cliff.

Aristarch lives in splendid isolation and writes whenever something catches his eye and the Muse grabs him by the throat.

The War Against the Dead: José Antonio Primo de Rivera, Eternal Victim of Hatred

It is said that when Charles V’s troops were victorious in Wittenberg (1547), some of his advisors urged him to exhume and burn Luther’s remains, which were in the chapel of the city castle. Magnanimous, the emperor simply replied: “He has found his judge. I wage war on the living, not the dead.” But respect for the graves of the dead, the desire for reconciliation and fraternization no longer seems to be on the agenda in the Spain of Pedro Sánchez. A New and striking demonstration of this is the latest twist in the Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caídos or Valle de Cuelgamuros) affair, with the exhumation of the remains of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, finally agreed upon by his family, in the face of pressure from the authorities and to avoid desecration of the grave by foreign hands. The mistake, for many people of good will, has been to persist in expecting sublime acts from the government when the source of the sublime has long since withered away. And so, the young founder of the Spanish Falange was exhumed and buried for the fifth time on the 120th anniversary of his birth (1903-2023). But why so much hostility, resentment and hatred towards José Antonio? Who was really the founder of the Falange?

Refusing Manichean History

For the craftsmen of the dominant historiography, neo-socialists or self-proclaimed “progressive” neo-liberals, the answer is as simplistic as it is repetitive: he was “a fascist, the son of a dictator,” and the case is closed. After thirty-five years of “conservative” or Francoist propaganda, followed by almost half a century of “progressive” propaganda, and despite the impressive bibliography that exists on the subject, José Antonio remains the great unknown or misunderstood figure of contemporary Spanish history. For his opponents, admirers of the Popular Front, often covert glossers of Comintern myths, the young founder of the Falange was a sort of daddy’s boy, a cynical admirer of Italian fascism, a pale imitator of Mussolini. At best, for his opponents, he was a contradictory, ambiguous spirit, who sought in fascism a solution to his personal and emotional problems. Worse, again for his opponents, he was a servant of capital, an authoritarian, antidemocratic, ultranationalist, demagogic, arrogant, violent, racist and anti-Semitic personality, devoid of any intellectual quality. In addition to this absurd and grotesque accusation, his right-wing opponents are no less known for their grievances. According to them, he advocated a deliberately catastrophic policy, a strategy of civil war. In any case, for them, he was a misguided personality whose contribution to political life was null, marginal or negative insofar as he accelerated the national disaster. Some add, as if this were not enough, that José Antonio’s presence in the national camp, in the midst of the Spanish Civil War, would not have changed the course of events. If he had confronted the military, they say, they would have imprisoned or even executed him. If he had survived and been more successful, “he would most likely have been completely discredited.” And they do not hesitate to point out what they call a “contradiction between Joséantonian Falangism and Catholicism,” concluding, without hesitation, “as the Bible says, he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.” But to affirm is not to prove.

For nearly half a century, I have been opposed to this caricatured, Manichean or soap opera history, to these reductive schemes contradicted by a considerable mass of facts, documents and testimonies. I know that the mere consideration of values, facts or documents, which contradict the opinion of so many so-called “scientific historians” (or rather camouflaged militants), leads ipso facto, at best, to silence and oblivion, and at worst, to caricature, to exclusion, to insult, to the accusation of complacency, of calculated legitimization, or even of disguised apology of fascist violence. But it doesn’t matter, the main thing is to say what needs to be said. A work, a historical study is worth its rigor, its degree of truth, its scientific value.
Once one has read much of the inexhaustible hostile literature, one must take the trouble to go to primary sources. In my case, the careful study of the Complete Works (Obras Completas de José Antonio Primo de Rivera, 2007) and the rigorous analysis of the documents and testimonies of the time have opened my eyes. The usual clichés about José Antonio Primo de Rivera, his person and his actions, or the repetition of truncated formulas and declarations taken out of context, in order to show the “poverty” of his analysis and the “weakness” of his thought, have not impressed me for a long time.

How can we grant a minimum of credibility to authors who keep silent, ignore or dismiss hundreds of balanced testimonies? Why is the anthology of opinions of personalities from all walks of life, published by Enrique de Aguinaga and Emilio González Navarro, Mil veces José Antonio (A Thousand Times José Antonio, 2003), so carefully ignored by so many so-called “specialists?” Why did Miguel de Unamuno, the greatest Spanish liberal philosopher of the time, along with Ortega, see in José Antonio “a distinguished mind, perhaps the most promising of contemporary Europe?” Why did Salvador de Madariaga, the famous liberal and anti-Franco historian, describe him as a “courageous, intelligent and idealistic” personality? Why would renowned politicians, such as the socialists and anarchists Félix Gordón Ordás, Teodomiro Menéndez, Diego Abad de Santillán and Indalecio Prieto, or famous liberal and conservative intellectuals, such as Gregorio Marañón, Álvaro Cunqueiro, Rosa Chacel, Gustave Thibon and Georges Bernanos, have paid tribute to his honesty and sincerity? Why would the most famous French Hispanist, member of the French Institute, Pierre Chaunu, a great connoisseur of Gaullism, have established a surprising parallel between the thought of Charles de Gaulle and that of José Antonio in a long article in Le Figaro (P. Chaunu, “De Gaulle à la lumière de l’Histoire,” September 4-5, 1982)?

Neither Right nor Left

José Antonio, as a precursor and disciple of Ortega y Gasset, had already denounced, ninety years ago, the two forms of moral hemiplegia: “To be of the right, as to be of the left, is always to expel from the soul half of what there is to feel. In some cases, it is to expel it entirely and to replace it by a caricature of the half” (Arriba, January 9, 1936). He wanted to create and develop a political movement animated by a synthetic doctrine, embracing all that is positive and rejecting all that is negative on the right and on the left, in order to establish a profound social justice so that the people return to the supremacy of the spiritual. The metaphysical, religious and Christian dimension, respect for the human person, refusal to recognize the State or the party as the supreme value, anti-Machiavellianism, and Classical and non-Hegelian foundation of the State are distinctive elements of his thought. With his sense of justice, solidarity and unity, while respecting diversity, with his strong sense of duty, José Antonio was both a traditionalist and a revolutionary.

He probably wanted to carry out a project that was too idealistic for his time: to nationalize the banks and the large public services, to attribute the surplus value of work to the unions, to carry out a profound agrarian reform in application of the principle: “The land belongs to those who work it,” to create a family, communal and union property. He wanted to establish individual, family, communal and union property, with similar rights.

Was his program reformist or revolutionary, realistic or utopian? One can debate this, but what cannot be said is that it lacked openness, generosity and nobility. José Antonio’s national-unionism failed miserably, but ultimately because he was a victim of the resentment, sectarianism and hatred of the Left as much as of the selfishness, arrogance and immobility of the Right. Censored, insulted, caricatured, imprisoned (three months before the July 18 uprising) and shot by the Marxist and anarchist Left on November 20, 1936, after a parody of a trial, the founder of the Falange, mocked and harshly criticized by conservatives and liberals before the war, was recuperated, manipulated, denatured and finally executed and buried a second time by Franco’s Right.

Alain Guy, a fine connoisseur of Spanish philosophy, and the political scientist Jules Monnerot, to mention only two prestigious French academics and intellectuals, affirmed that Joséantonian Falangism could not strictly speaking be reduced to “fascism” alone, that is, for serious historians and political scientists, to a certain model designating the imperfect similarities that can be established between the Italian and German phenomena. Nor was it reduced, they said, to Francoism, a regime and ideology whose character was above all conservative and authoritarian. Personally, I certainly do not put an equal sign between, on the one hand, José Antonio’s Falangism, Italian fascism, German revolutionary conservatism (before Hitler’s takeover) and, on the other hand, the three great hysterias of the twentieth century: National Socialist racism, the savage economism of neo-liberalism, or, the one that has undoubtedly caused more deaths than the two previous ones, Marxist socialism.

That said, it must be emphasized that José Antonio acted in a very specific time and space, the Spain of 1933-1936. His thought is not entirely reducible to the historical-cultural context, but it cannot be used to give concrete answers to current questions. Moreover, it contains elements that are questionable or even unacceptable today. Thus, its theorization of the “enlightened” minority, structured in clubs or parties, which would be the actor of development and revolution in the name of the people, is clearly marked and contaminated by the totalitarian conceptions inherited from liberal Jacobinism and Marxist socialism.

José Antonio and the French Non-Conformists of the 1930s

The Christian personalism of the founder of the Falange is very close to the thought of the French nonconformists of the 1930s (Robert Aron, Arnaud Dandieu, Jean de Fabrègues, Jean-Pierre Maxence, Daniel-Rops, Alexandre Marc, Thierry Maulnier, Emmanuel Mounier or Denis de Rougemont) who so influenced the future president of the French Republic, Charles de Gaulle (No less interesting is the comparison that can also be made with the thought of the founder of Fianna Fail, president of the Irish Republic, Éamon de Valera).

Ninety percent, if not all, of the personalist ideas of the French non-conformists of the 1930s, ideas most of which are surprisingly current, and which first permeated the most original circles of the Vichy regime, as well as those of most of the non-communist networks of the Resistance, were shared by the young leader of the Falange.

To be convinced of this, it is enough to recall here the main ideas of this French personalist current (see: Jean-Louis del Bayle, Les non-conformistes des années trente, 1969). There is first of all the criticism of the representative, parliamentary democracy, synonymous of lies, of absence of character, of dishonorable behavior, of control of the press and the democratic mechanisms, of regime in the hands of an oligarchy of ambitious and rich men. Then there is anti-capitalism, whose roots are philosophical and moral rather than economic or political. It is the virulent criticism of “laissez faire, laisser passer,” which leads to the transformation of society into a veritable jungle where the demands of the common good and of justice are radically ignored. It is the denunciation of the submission of consumption to the demands of production, itself submitted to speculative profit. It is the rejection of the absolute primacy of profit and financial speculation, as well as of the domination of banks and finance. It is the rejection of usury as a general law, of the triumph of money as the measure of all human action and of all value. Finally, it is the reproach of attacking initiative and freedom, of killing private property by concentrating it in fewer and fewer hands: “Liberalism is the free fox in the free henhouse.”

This personalist, non-conformist current declared itself “neither of the right nor of the left,” “neither communist nor capitalist;” it wanted to fight for the “dignity of the human person,” for “spiritual values,” and defended “the third way;” it wanted to extend individual property by multiplying non-state collective properties; it wanted to reorganize credit by entrusting it to banks, managed by professional organizations or consumer associations. His main criticism of capitalism was summed up in two words: materialism and individualism. “Drink, eat and sleep is enough;” in that, affirmed the nonconformists, Marxism does not break with capitalism, but prolongs its defects. The ultimate goal was not happiness, comfort and prosperity, but the spiritual fulfillment of man. They advocated simultaneously the need for a revolution of institutions, an economic and social revolution and a spiritual revolution. Fundamental to them was the idea that any upheaval of structures would be useless if it were not accompanied by a moral and spiritual transformation of man, beginning with that of the supporters of the coming revolution.

This brief review of the personalist spirit of the French nonconformists of the 1930s leads to the conclusion that there is not a single one of their proposals that does not find an echo in the writings and speeches of José Antonio. Primo de Rivera was neither a Hegelian, nor a racist, nor an anti-Semite. He did not place the state or race at the center of his worldview, but man as the bearer of eternal values, capable of being saved or lost. He did not advocate a materialistic and totalitarian revolution (collectivist-classist, statist or racist), which seeks to reduce social and spiritual reality to a single model, but a spiritual, total revolution, at once moral, political, economic and social—a Christian-personalist revolution, integrating all people and serving all people.

The influence of Italian fascist ideology on the thought and style of José Antonio is undeniable, but there are also other influences no less important, such as traditionalism, liberalism, anarchism and Marxism-socialism. Many judge José Antonio’s admiration for Mussolini severely. It is true that at the beginning of his brief political career, like many other politicians and intellectuals of his time, such as Churchill or Mounier, he showed a real esteem and even enthusiasm for the social achievements of the Duce. But we must not forget that the state totalitarianism of Mussolini’s regime was infinitely less bloody than the totalitarianism of class or race. All modern ideologies have been at the origin of flagrant crimes, and none can claim to be more human than the others. But there are degrees of horror, and when it comes to judging the founder of the Falange, a minimum of decency and rigor is required.

José Antonio and Che

Several authors have ventured to draw a parallel between José Antonio and the most emblematic figure of twentieth-century revolutionary romanticism, the Leninist-Maoist guerrilla, Ernesto Guevara. The similarities, however, are imperfect. Both exalted the virtues of courage, loyalty and fidelity. Both symbolized the altruism of youth. Both despised luxury, lavish tastes and the ostentation of wealth. Both rejected the economic and social order where only money reigns, where society is abandoned to the sole rules of profit and triumphant egoism, with their inevitable corollaries of speculation, greed and corruption. Both disregarded fear, despised money and were driven by a passion for duty. But the similarities end there.

José Antonio was a convinced Catholic. Che had no metaphysical concerns and was hostile to all religious beliefs. A materialist and atheist, Ernesto Guevara despised what Nietzsche denounced as “the weaknesses of the Christian.” Fanaticism, sectarianism, harshness, hatred of the Other, revolutionary demagogy are traits that Che shared with Robespierre, Lenin, Hitler, Stalin and Mao. The most terrible thing about Che is the mixture of personal asceticism and the ability to scourge others, the certainty of always being right, the abstract hatred, the cold political cruelty. For him, friends were friends only if they thought like him politically. Like his master, Lenin, political combat legitimizes all means: cunning, manipulation, cynicism, extreme violence, insults, invective, slander, libel, subsidies to the enemy of the fatherland, theft of inheritances, robberies and summary executions. Che loved people not as they are, with their greatness and weaknesses, but as the revolution would have transformed them. He was an exterminating angel. He expressed his feelings more easily for the death of an animal than for that of an enemy. It is difficult to imagine José Antonio ordering the summary execution of more than a hundred opponents, as Che did in the fortress of La Cabaña. It is equally difficult to imagine him writing, like Lenin to Gorky (September 15, 1922), these repugnant lines about intellectuals to deplore the delay in their executions: “The intellectuals, lackeys of the bourgeoisie, think they are the brains of the nation. In reality, they are not its brains, they are its shit” (see: Hélène Carrère d’Encausse, Lénine, 1998, p. 586).

The Ethics of José Antonio

José Antonio had a sense of measure and balance; he knew that in politics, the absolute refusal of any compromise (which is not the abandonment of principles in favor of opportunism) always leads to implacable terror. Republican and democrat of reason, he rejected any nostalgia of the past, whether monarchist, conservative or reactionary. He had no more the excessive taste of the military for order and discipline than the irresistible attraction of the actor or artist for the stage and comedy. He was neither Franco (for whom he had little sympathy) nor Mussolini. Stupid as it may seem, José Antonio had a marked inclination for goodness; a “goodness of heart,” as the master Azorín rightly pointed out, which, together with a high conception of justice and honor, an unquestionable physical courage, a constant intellectual preoccupation, a charisma or magnetism of a leader, and finally, a keen sense of humor, made him inevitably likeable.

Contrary to the Jacobin utopians and socialist-Marxists, José Antonio wanted to base his system on the person and to defend cultural, regional and family specificities. He did not seek to make the Other, an Other Me, but simply to accept him, to understand him and to convince him to collaborate with him for the good of the whole national community. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, in the face of the avalanche of hatred and fanaticism, of iron and blood, he resisted and stood up almost alone. From his cell in Alicante, he offered his mediation in a last attempt to stop the barbarism. But it was a lost cause, and it was rejected. He died with dignity, without hatred, with a serene soul, like a Christian hero, at peace with God and men. In his will he wrote: “I forgive with all my heart all those, without exception, who may have harmed or offended me, and I ask all those to forgive me to whom I may owe the reparation of some wrong, be it great or small” (November 18, 1936). In the political world of the 20th century, notable personalities abound, but it is difficult to find more noble ones. He was a kind of last Christian knight.

That said, historically, José Antonio’s merit is that he tried to critically assimilate, from a deeply Christian position, the socialist revolution while dissociating spiritual and communitarian values from the reactionary right. And one of his most original characteristics was to appear on the political scene of his time with a new rhetoric, a new way of formulating politics, with an original and attractive language for the young.

Lies and Truths

It is now appropriate to examine the accusations of violence and anti-democracy that are so often levelled at him. Invariably, he is reproached with a phrase that he himself described as unfortunate: “When Justice and the Fatherland are undermined, there is no other admissible dialectic than that of fists and guns.” But it is still necessary to quote it in its entirety and to put it into perspective. Let’s not forget the constant exalted, inflammatory and anti-democratic declarations of his opponents, starting with those of the “Spanish Lenin,” the socialist revolutionary and Marxist Largo Caballero, who called for the “dictatorship of the proletariat” (Cádiz, May 24, 1936), and declared “we are not different from the communists” (Bilbao, April 20, 1934); “I want a republic without class struggles, but for that, one must disappear” (Alicante, January 25, 1936); or the slogans repeated tirelessly by the socialists newspapers Claridad and El Socialista: “May the parliamentary republic die,” “Hate the criminal bourgeoisie to death.”

Let’s contextualize the alleged Joséantonian violence. The Joséantonian Falange was responsible for sixty to seventy murderous attacks between June 1934 and July 1936. But in the same period, it suffered about 90 deaths in its ranks (there were 2,000 to 2,500 deaths during the Second Republic). From the day after its foundation, in October 1933, the Joséantonian Falange suffered a dozen deadly attacks. These were not street fights, but terrorist attacks, carried out by socialists, communists and anarchists, to physically eliminate the distributors of the Spanish Falange (FE) weekly. The propagandistic image against the Spanish Falange (FE), as the main group whose terrorist action provoked the Civil War, is radically false. It was for his refusal to enter the cycle of violence for months that José Antonio was nicknamed “Simon the Gravedigger” by the right, and that his party and its militants received the nicknames of “Spanish Funeral” (FE) and “Franciscanists.” In reality, it was only after eight months of waiting that the Joséantonian Falange reacted violently. The trigger was the death, on June 10, 1934, of a 17-year-old Falangist student, Juan Cuellar, murdered in the Casa de Campo by a group of Madrid socialists. To top it all off, the socialist activist Juanita Rico urinated on the corpse of her victim and the father of the young Cuellar was unable to recognize his son’s face, which had been stomped, crushed and mutilated.

In reality, a presentation of the facts that ignores the Bolshevization or revolutionary radicalism of the socialist party, the development of the socialist and communist paramilitary apparatus, the incoherence of the liberal republicans, and the reactionary immobility of the conservatives, in order to better demonstrate that the Joséantonian Falange was the main cause of the violence during the Republic and, consequently, of the final breakup, is simply fraudulent. Violence was never a postulate of the Joséantonian ideal. It was violence to repel aggression or to defend rights or timeless truths (“bread, country and justice”) when all other instances were exhausted.

Anti-capitalist, anti-socialist and anti-Marxist, José Antonio was certainly that. But was he anti-parliamentary and anti-democratic? Why would he have said: “But if democracy as a form has failed, it is mainly because it has not been able to provide us with a truly democratic life in its content… Let us not fall into the extreme exaggerations which translate the hatred of the superstition of suffrage into contempt for everything democratic. The aspiration to a democratic, free and peaceful life will always be the objective of political science, above all else” (see Conference in Madrid: “La forma y el contenido de la democracia”—”The Form and Content of Democracy,” 1931). It is ridiculous to transpose the present image of Spanish democracy to the past. The present situation cannot be compared to the period before the Civil War. Then there were many revolutionaries and convinced conservatives, but very few tolerant and peaceful democrats. Respect for the other was not the order of the day.

Was José Antonio a putschist, as many authors claim? It is well known that coups d’état, whether moderate or progressive (and much more rarely conservative), were a prominent feature of political life in Spain (and also in much of Europe) during the 19th and early 20th centuries. In the Spanish Peninsula, after the French invasion and from 1820 onwards, no less than 40 major pronunciamientos or coups d’état, and hundreds of very minor ones, took place. It is more than likely that José Antonio was marked, even contaminated, by the putschist tradition of 19th century liberalism and by the dual putschist tradition of early 20th century anarchism and socialism. But what is certain is that his ephemeral and incongruous “insurrection” project, suggested only once at the Gredos meeting (June 1935), was never more than a circumstantial, theoretical and imaginary response—without the slightest principle of application—to the serious socialist insurrection of October 1934.

Who were the real theoreticians and technicians of the dictatorship from the end of the 19th century in Spain, if not the epigones of the praetorian tradition of liberalism, such as the republican-democrat Joaquín Costa, not to mention the socialists and Marxists who were then openly doctrinaire or advocates of the dictatorship of the proletariat, or, more precisely, of the dictatorship of the Party over the proletariat. José Antonio did not doubt the sovereignty of the people. He wanted to improve the participation of all citizens in public life. But to individualist and liberal democracy, to collectivist and popular democracy, he preferred organic, participatory and referendum democracy, which, according to him, was more capable of bringing the people closer to the rulers. In the Europe of the inter-war period, this choice appeared to many as possible, balanced and reasonable. Moreover, if this choice had not been considered by many to be realistic and thoughtful, why would so many famous leaders, whose political convictions were the opposite of José Antonio’s, such as the first Fidel Castro or the Prime Minister José María Aznar, have been attentive readers and admirers of the Complete Works in their youth?

Contrary to what is so often repeated, José Antonio admired, even with a certain naivety, the British parliamentary tradition. Some Falangist activists, who did not appreciate the interventions of the founder of the FE in Parliament, did not fail to criticize his “excessive taste for parliamentary debates.” In reality, José Antonio was a supporter of organic democracy, as were Julián Sanz del Río, Nicolás Salmerón, Fernando de los Ríos, Salvador de Madariaga and Julián Besteiro, to name just a few Spanish liberal and socialist authors.

On the other hand, José Antonio was much more patriotic than nationalist. The nation is not, according to him, a race, a language, a territory and a religion, nor a simple desire to live together, nor the sum of all these. It is above all “a historical entity, differentiated from the others in the universal by its own unity of destiny.” “We are not nationalists,” he said in Madrid (November 1935), “because to be nationalist is pure nonsense; it is to implant the deepest spiritual impulses on a physical motive, on a simple physical circumstance; we are not nationalists because nationalism is the individualism of the peoples” (Discurso de clausura del Segundo Consejo nacional de la Falange—Closing speech of the Second National Council of the Falange), Cine Madrid, November 17, 1936).

Some authors have tried to detect in him a late evolution and a rapprochement, almost in extremis, with the theses of National Socialist Germany. They rely on a work dated August 13, 1936, Germánicos contra bereberes (Germanic vs. Berber), written in the middle of the Spanish Civil War, in his cell in Alicante and found among his papers after his death. In it he expresses a superficial and reductive ethnocultural vision that does not stand up to rigorous historical criticism. He tries to explain the Reconquista as a confrontation between two archetypes, the “Germanic spirit” and the “Berber spirit;” but at the same time he seems to recognize the Hispanic-Romanic-Visigothic fusion. This work contains inaccuracies and assertions that are later totally denied and refuted by him in his will. However, it is worth recalling here that this type of ethnocultural interpretation was widespread in his time and among authors with contradictory beliefs. Most historians of nation-states conceived of their origins as an opposition between natives and conquerors. Thus, the historiography of France constantly oscillated between the thesis of a Frankish origin (Clovis, the Frankish king) and that of a Celtic and Gallic origin (Vercingetorix) or Gallo-Roman when Rome was taken into account. For the aristocrat Montesquieu, the liberties were of Germanic origin. But to return to the alleged racism of the work, Germanic vs. Berber, it should be remembered that the same abusive accusation could be made against works of philosophers and historians Ortega y Gasset, Américo Castro or Sánchez-Albornoz.

José Antonio was clearly anti-separatist, but he never succumbed to the Jacobin and centralizing temptation. His speech to Parliament on November 30, 1934, is a testament to this. “It is clumsy to try to solve the Catalan problem by considering it artificial… Catalonia exists in all its individuality, and many regions of Spain exist in their individuality, and if one wants to give a structure to Spain, one must start from what Spain really offers… That is why I am one of those who think that the justification of Spain is found in something else: Spain is not justified by a language, nor by a race, nor by a set of customs, but… Spain is much more than a race and much more than a language… it is a unity of destiny in the universal… That is why, when a region asks for autonomy… what we must ask ourselves is to what extent the consciousness of the unity of destiny is rooted in its spirit. If the consciousness of the unity of destiny is well-rooted in the collective soul of a region, it is hardly dangerous to give it the freedom to organize its internal life in one way or another” (España y Cataluña, Parliament, November 30, 1934).

Let us also recall in passing the alleged machismo or antifeminism of José Antonio for having expressed one day the desire of a “joyful Spain and in a short skirt.” It is perhaps not useless to recall here the name of one of the most outstanding figures of Spanish feminism, the lawyer Mercedes Formica. It is to her that we owe the deep reform of the Spanish Civil Code in favor of the rights of the women in 1958. A Falangist from the beginning in the 1930s, she was a loyal follower of José Antonio throughout her life (who appointed her national delegate of the SEU union and member of the Political Junta), which makes her the victim of a fierce omertà today. In her memoirs, Formica sweeps away the propagandist myth of an anti-feminist José Antonio, demonstrating its falsity and imposture.

As for the so-called imperialism of the founder of the FE, the arguments of those who support it are extremely fragile. There is no territorial claim in the Complete Works. According to José Antonio, in the twentieth century the Spanish empire could only be spiritual and cultural. It goes without saying that one would look in vain for anti-Semitic or racist overtones in his words. He uses the term “total state” or “totalitarian” five times, not without errors and clumsiness, but he does so clearly to signify his desire to create a “state for all,” “without divisions,” “integrating all Spaniards,” “an instrument in the service of national unity.”

Equally surprising is José Antonio’s opinion on fascism. He expressed it unambiguously in 1936: fascism “claims to resolve the disagreement between man and his environment by absorbing the individual into the collective. Fascism is fundamentally false—it is right to presuppose that it is a religious phenomenon, but it wants to replace religion with idolatry” (Cuaderno de notas de un estudiante europeoNotebook of a European Student, September 1936). As for his Catholic convictions, they are beyond question. The last and clearest manifestation of these can be found in the above-mentioned testament that he wrote on November 18, 1936, two days before his execution.

A Variant of the Third Way

The Joséantonian Falange is a variant of the Third Way ideologies, which many doctrinaires, theorists and politicians have defended or advocated since the end of the 19th century. Historically, personalities as diverse as De Gaulle, Nasser, Perón, Chávez, Clinton or Blair have referred to the Third Way. But their allegiances, despite sometimes misleading appearances, are not the same. There are two different political filiations, two directions that never meet. Beyond times, places, words and men, the supporters of the authentic Third Way pursue tirelessly the overcoming of the antinomic thought. They want, as José Antonio said, to build a bridge between Tradition and Modernity. The synthesis-overcoming, the need for reconciliation in the form of overcoming, is for them the main objective of all great politics. This is, after all, the root of the almost metaphysical hatred that their opponents feel for them. This being said, since José Antonio’s thought constitutes one of the members of the vast family of Third Way ideologies, it is all the more legitimate to ask the question: “What did José Antonio really leave us?” To answer this question, I will once again use the words of the Basque philosopher Miguel de Unamuno, which conclude my early book on José Antonio, prefaced in Spain by the economist Juan Velarde Fuertes: “He has bequeathed himself, and a living and eternal man is worth all theories and philosophies.”

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.

Save the Notre-Dame!

The reconstruction of the Notre-Dame de Paris is gradually turning into a desecration of an ancient Christian church, which was built in all its beauty to hold the holy Host. But plans are afoot to make the sacred site into a tourist-friendly information-center. The letter that follows is a protest over this Godless make-over.

If you would like to add your name to the letter of protest to the Archbishop of Paris, you may do so here.

An Open letter to Mgr. Laurent Ulrich, Archbishop of Paris

“What the fire spared, the diocese wants to destroy!”


I am writing this letter as president of Avenir de la Culture, an association of lay Catholics who since 1986 have been defending Christian values in French society. I also represent more than 110,000 people who have signed the attached petition asking the Diocese of Paris to refrain from inserting contemporary art inside the Notre-Dame.

The Tragedy of April 15, 2019

Some dates remain tragically engraved in the history of a country. As far as ours is concerned, April 15, 2019 is certainly one of them. On that day, it is not necessary to remind you, the Notre-Dame was set ablaze. Under the stunned gaze of Parisians and people around the world, the flames devoured the cathedral’s centuries-old beams. The spire collapsed, engulfed in an abyss of fire. As the mast sank, who did not fear the total loss of the ship? All night long, the firefighters led a heroic struggle to save almost a thousand years of history, accompanied by the impromptu prayers of the faithful, begging the Queen of Heaven not to abandon the cathedral dedicated to her. At dawn, the rising sun bathed an ocean of ashes with its light. In the midst of it, the towers of the Notre-Dame stood, miraculously intact. The Notre-Dame outraged! The Notre-Dame broken! The Notre-Dame martyred! But the Notre-Dame saved! As is the case with all miracles granted by Heaven, the miracle of the Notre-Dame de Paris invites conversion.

Why this Tragedy?

The cathedral had already witnessed the iconoclastic fury of the Reformation, the impious vindictiveness of the Sans-Culottes, the Prussian machine gun and the atrocities of two world wars. It stood upright through the vicissitudes of history before stumbling at the dawn of the third millennium. Why did God allow the tragedy of April 15, 2019? And why did He spare His sanctuary in extremis? Is it possible not to see in this fire an allegory of the drama our country is going through? Once the commander of Christianity, it is now faltering, eaten away by apostasy and hatred of God. “France, Eldest Daughter of the Church, are you faithful to the promises of your baptism?”—asked His Holiness John Paul II on the occasion of his first apostolic journey to France in the spring of 1980. How can we revive the promises made by Clovis in the baptismal font of Rheims on Christmas night in 496, without being faithful to the centuries of Christianity that are the fruit of these promises, and to the Notre-Dame its most beautiful flower? The tragedy of April 15, 2019 was an opportunity to implore the mercy of Heaven, as the faithful spontaneously understood, with rosary in hand and knees to the ground, begging God on the burning banks of the Seine.

A “Contemporary Touch” Envisaged

Unfortunately, as soon as the blaze was extinguished, the Notre-Dame was threatened with an outrage worse than the one inflicted by the flames. The head of state called for a “contemporary touch” on the occasion of the reconstruction of the roof and the spire of Viollet-le-Duc, destroyed by the fire. Immediately, the so-called “avant-garde” architectural firms competed with aberrant proposals, in brutal rupture with the sacredness of the place. The Dijon-based firm of Paul Godart and Pierre Roussel suggested a glass roof for tourists to stroll through. The NAB studio and the architect Nicolas Abdelkader offered to replace the roof with a botanical greenhouse in order to, among other things, “support professional reintegration by learning about urban agriculture, horticulture and permaculture.” Mathieu Lehanneur, a designer in the 2nd arrondissement in Paris, suggested replacing the spire with a giant, hideous flame that would somehow give the fire of April 15 the honors of time. However, the most obscene and implausible proposal was the one privately advoacted by the President’s companion herself, if we are to believe Roselyne Bachelot. In her book, 682 jours [682 Days], the former Minister of Culture says: “Lunching a few days later with Brigitte Macron, she showed me a plan for a project culminating in a kind of erect phallus, surrounded at its base by gold balls… “

Miraculously saved from the flames, here was the Notre-Dame threatened with assuming the face of our time: atheistic, playful, recyclable and even pornographic.

Head of State Forced to Back Down

Fortunately, the projects of “modernization” of the Notre-Dame, to which Mr. Macron had opened the door, aroused the disapproval of heritage lovers. “You can’t play with the Notre-Dame… you can’t make a ‘contemporary architectural gesture’ on a historical monument like this cathedral,” warned Didier Rykner, historian and director of La Tribune de l’Art. To rebuild the spire identically, “it is the cheapest, the fastest, the most efficient solution; it is the way of wisdom and legality,” added Stéphane Bern, the government’s “Mr. Heritage.” Public opinion was also stirred up. The French Association for the Defense of the Family Property Tradition took the initiative of an international petition addressed to the Head of State and to the Minister of Culture in order to demand an identical restoration of the Notre-Dame. Supported by a dozen French and foreign associations, notably Avenir de la Culture, this petition gathered more than 110,000 signatures, proving, if it were still necessary, the immense influence of your cathedral. Faced with protests from all sides against the “contemporary touch” he had announced, Emmanuel Macron was forced to back down. “After passionate debates, the president sided with the defenders of heritage and public opinion,” noted Le Figaro on July 9, 2021. The Notre-Dame seemed to be saved from disfigurement Alas, this did not take into account the indecent opportunism of those whose mission is to watch over the integrity of the sanctuary.

Notre-Dame Disguised as Disneyland?

As early as the fall of 2020, disturbing rumors began to appear in the press. Le Figaro sounded the alarm against the “controversial project of Mgr. Aupetit” for the redevelopment of the cathedral: “The computer-generated photos give the impression of an airport runway, or even a ‘parking lot’. The development project, to which the daily had access, would be a fabric of “disruptive creations,” which would not fail to break the “secular harmony” of the Notre-Dame. The 14 side chapels of the building would be completely renovated in favor of highlighting works of art: “Old paintings from the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries will dialogue with contemporary art objects.” A year later, when the project was to be examined by the National Commission on Heritage and Architecture, the British press echoed new concerns. “It’s as if Disney were entering Notre-Dame,” denounced architect Maurice Culot in The Telegraph. The specialist added: “What they are proposing to do to Notre-Dame would never be done to Westminster Abbey or Saint Peter’s in Rome. It’s a kind of theme park and very childish and trivial given the grandeur of the place.” Several architects who had access to the file complained to the British newspaper about aberrant innovations such as a “discovery trail” that would take visitors on a journey to Africa and Asia, texts projected on the walls in different languages, exhibits of mediocre taste and the dedication of a chapel to the theme, albeit secular, of ecology. Confessionals, altars and classical sculptures should be discarded. “This is political correctness gone mad. They want to turn Notre-Dame into an experimental liturgical showroom that exists nowhere else whereas it should be a landmark where the slightest change must be handled with great care,” concluded one architect quoted by The Telegraph.

Anti-Christian Artists

Another reason for concern, and not the least, is the diocese’s planned use of artists whose orientations and works are in every way opposed to the Church’s teaching. Among them: Ernest Pignon-Ernest, Louise Bourgeois and Anselm Kiefer. The first is the President of Friends of Humanity, the famous communist daily. A fellow traveler of the PCF for nearly 50 years, he has notably campaigned for the legalization of abortion. In 1974, Ernest Pignon-Ernest posted in the public space drawings of naked women, victims of clandestine abortions to encourage members of parliament to vote in the Veil Act. In 2019, on the occasion of the European elections, the artist was proud to have voted for the list led by Ian Brossat, a Parisian elected official who called for the desecration of the the Sacré-Cœur Basilica of Montmartre! Louise Bourgeois, who died in 2010, was also close to feminist movements. She is the author of pornographic works, celebrating male and female genitalia. Her last major installation, the Steilneset Memorial, is a tribute to witches. The German painter and sculptor, Anselm Kiefer, is notorious for his fascination with the Kabbalah. “The Old Testament has always struck a chord with me because it expresses the cruelty of God,” he says.

Excellency, the very possibility that the diocese would consider working with such characters is a scandal! How could the works of ungodly artists stand side by side with those of the heralds of God in the Middle Ages without defiling them?

“What the Fire Spared, the Diocese Wants to Destroy”

Once again, the plans to denature the Notre-Dame generated a strong reaction from heritage lovers. On December 7, 2021, in the columns of Le Figaro, an article co-signed by more than a hundred personalities from the academic and artistic world—including philosophers Alain Finkielkraut and Pierre Manent, historian Pierre Nora, and filmmaker Jean-Charles Fitoussi—denounced in no uncertain terms the planned alterations: “What the fire spared, the diocese wants to destroy.”

How can we believe, Your Excellency, that such eminent personalities would use such terrible words without having first weighed them? “The Diocese of Paris wants to take advantage of the restoration project to transform the interior of the Notre-Dame into a project that will completely alter the decor and the liturgical space,” the letter read. The signatories denounced “the installation of removable benches, lighting that changes with the seasons, video projections on the walls, etc., in other words, the same fashionable (and therefore already terribly outdated) ‘mediation devices’ found in all the ‘immersive’ cultural projects, where silliness often vies with kitsch.” They begged the diocese to back down: “Let’s respect the work of Viollet-le-Duc. Let’s respect the work of the artists and craftsmen who worked to give us this jewel. Let’s simply respect the heritage principles of a historic monument.” Before this forum, the academician Jean-Marie Rouart had also castigated, with a vehemence unusual for a member of the French Academy, “artistic freaks likely to distort it, to spoil our memories, to damage forever the spirit and soul that hovered in this sacred place.” “The Notre-Dame has miraculously escaped everything. Perhaps not, alas, the reformist pruritus of Bishop Aupetit,” he lamented in the columns of Le Figaro.

Who are the Artists Pre-Selected by the Diocese?

What was the response of the Diocese of Paris to this barrage of criticism? A skillful silence in the expectation that the storm would cease. As soon as the lightning fell, and the clouds moved away, the machination continued, in all discretion. According to Le Figaro, “five artists have been working for two months on the new liturgical furniture and are due to submit their work on May 23.” Among the artists “more or less close to the Church” are Constance Guisset, “a feminist and progressive on social issues” and Laurent Grasso “fascinated by the solar star and its ramifications.” A brief search on the Internet reveals that the artists preselected by the diocese are the originators of ugly, grotesque and eccentric contemporary works, far removed from the sacred harmony and splendor of Christian art. Everything leads us to believe that the Notre-Dame will be ravaged, disfigured, soiled. In the columns of Le Figaro, Mgr Olivier Dumas, rector-archpriest of the Cathedral, tried, not without cynicism, to extinguish the controversy: “We do not ask them (the artists) questions about their spiritual life or their religious practice. We believe him and that is the heart of the problem: entrusting to men without God the care of His house. ” He who is able to receive this, let him receive it,” says Our Lord in the Gospel (Mt. 19: 12).

A Supplication Left Unanswered

Along with the criticisms of the academic world, the faithful, and more widely all the French devoted to heritage, rose up. This time, it is Avenir de la Culture which led the revolt. The association that I have the honor of presiding addressed to the apostolic administrator of the diocese, Mgr Georges Pontier, a supplication in order to beg him to renounce subjecting his Cathedral to the dross of contemporary art. “Mr. Macron backed down by renouncing, for the exterior of the cathedral, the outrage of a ‘contemporary architectural touch.’ And now the diocese is rushing into it,” lamented the 108,536 signatories of the letter. Despite several letters informing him of this cry from the heart, addressed to him by the lovers of the Notre-Dame, Mgr Pontier refused them the charity of a reply. “Clericalism is a perversion in the Church,” Pope Francis said on Italian television in February 2022. “Under every type of rigidity there is rot,” he added on that occasion. Wouldn’t these warnings of the Supreme Pontiff apply to the leaders of the Archdiocese of Paris? Indeed, Your Excellency, how can we fail to describe as “clerical” and “rigid” this implausible contempt of the diocesan authorities for tens of thousands of faithful who turn with anguish to their pastor? Would the virtues of dialogue and “synodality,” so often present in the speeches of clerics, not apply to the faithful who wish to preserve our Christian heritage? As Jean-Marie Rouart rightly reminded us, the Notre-Dame does not belong to the archbishop of Paris, but to the entire nation. It is therefore right and normal that the French, and in particular Catholics, express themselves when they feel that the nature of the Cathedral is threatened. And the least we can do is to answer them!

Only Your Hand…

Despite protests from all sides, on December 9, 2021, the verdict fell: the project to redesign the interior of the Cathedral was validated by the members of the National Commission for Heritage and Architecture, with reservations concerning, on the one hand, the relocation of statues of saints in the chapels and, on the other hand, the benches on wheels equipped with lights planned by the diocese. There is no hand left to prevent the Notre-Dame from being defiled, except yours, Excellency! Think of the judgment of history and, even more, of God, if you allow this irreparable act to take place. The Notre-Dame remains, despite the stigma of the fire, the most beautiful sanctuary of Christianity. The queen of cathedrals is a jewel box of beauty, destined to receive what is most sacred in the world: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Its silhouette makes it immediately clear that it is a ship that leads souls to Heaven. Each of its windows, each of its statues and stones are dedicated to the glory of God. How can we not think, as we walk along its nave, of the heavenly Jerusalem described by the Apocalypse of Saint John in Chapter 21: ” And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light shall the nations walk” (Revelation 21:11;23).

Pedagogy of the Sacred

Before it was closed, thirteen million visitors entered the Notre-Dame every year. What were these men, sometimes from the ends of the earth, looking for? A mirror of their time? No, on the contrary, they were looking for beauty and sacredness, which our world without God is so cruelly lacking. They were seeking, often without knowing it, a trace of that blessed time when the “philosophy of the Gospel governed the States,” according to the expression used by H.H. Leo XIII in his encyclical Immortale Dei of November 1, 1885. ” Then it was that the power and divine virtue of Christian wisdom had diffused itself throughout the laws, institutions, and morals of the people, permeating all ranks and relations of civil society,” the Pope wrote of Christianity. ” The State, constituted in this wise, bore fruits important beyond all expectation, whose remembrance is still, and always will be, in renown, witnessed to as they are by countless proofs which can never be blotted out or ever obscured by any craft of any enemies,” continues Pope Leo XIII. Is not the Notre-Dame one of the most marvelous “documents” of this time that bears the name of Christ? The pedagogy of the sacred, desired by the contemporaries of Suger and St. Louis, speaks not only to the intelligence, but to the soul. “I myself was standing in the crowd, near the second pillar at the entrance to the choir on the right side of the sacristy. And it was then that the event that dominates my whole life took place. In an instant my heart was touched and I believed.” How many souls, far from God, have experienced under the sacred vaults of Notre-Dame, the encounter that shook Paul Claudel in these places? Where will these thirsty souls go to drink, if the source were to dry up through your fault?

Where do These Ill Winds Come From?

Your Excellency, where do the ill winds that suddenly threaten to sweep through the Notre-Dame come from? No doubt Father Gilles Drouin, in charge of the liturgical and cultural development of your Cathedral, offers us the beginning of an answer when he declares: “If Vatican II broke with the Latin Mass and turned the altars around to go towards the flock instead of turning their backs on them, fifty years later, part of the work remains to be done. Thus, it would be a matter of deconstructing Notre-Dame to make it a “conciliar” cathedral that no longer honors God, but Man! Alas, so many churches have suffered the same fate! “In the 1960s, the French clergy interpreted the Vatican II Council by implementing a vandalism unheard of since the French Revolution in the name of a dubious modernism,” recalls Didier Rykner. A vandalism that is, unfortunately, not limited to architecture. As Guillaume Cuchet has masterfully demonstrated in his book Comment notre monde a cessé d’être chrétien (How Our World Ceased to be Christian), the Council convened by H.H. John XXIII coincided with the beginning of a collapse, unprecedented in its brutality, of Catholicism in France, outside the period of persecution. Sacramental practice has become residual in our country, priestly ordinations are decreasing year after year, and, as you know, the clergy is plagued by sordid affairs of morality which bring despair the faithful and to which no one sees an end. Your Excellency, it is not only the Notre-Dame that is burning—in fifty years, Christian France has been reduced to ashes. And now, in the midst of this dark night, you are preparing to extinguish the Notre-Dame, the ultimate beacon of Christianity.

Your Excellency, it is not too late to refrain from letting into the Notre-Dame the “fumes of Satan” that stink up the Church, in the tragic words of Pope Paul VI. To hand over your Cathedral to unholy modernity would not only be an insult to those who built and preserved it, it would also be, first and foremost, an offense to the One to whom it belongs. From this touch, inevitable curses will be arise for the Eldest Daughter of the Church, at the very moment when a muted persecution threatens the Catholics of France. How can one not shudder to think that the Archbishop of Paris will write a chapter in this tribulation, by working to desecrate his own Cathedral? Excellency, for the love of God, spare the Notre-Dame! There is still time.

Please receive, Excellency, the assurance of my high and filial consideration,

Paris, March 25, 2023
Feast of the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary

Jose Antonio Ureta,

This letter appears through the kind courtesy of Avenir de la Culture.

Featured: The Hand of God protecting the faithfful, with a depiction of Notre-Dame de Paris, from the Hours of Étienne Chevalier, painted by Jean Fouquet, ca. 1452-1460.

Resilience: The Word of Power

A phantom haunts the ruins of technomorphic and pantoclastic civilization: it is the new species of Homo Resiliens. Freed from the remorse of an unhappy conscience and satisfied with the misery of the reified present, the “last man” dedicated to resilience knows nothing great to fight for and to believe in, to strive for and to hope for. Child of postmodern disenchantment and the end of the belief in grands récits oriented towards a redeemed future, the Homo Resiliens is content with what there is because he thinks it is all there can be. His is an ontology as primitive as it is depressive, which resolves possibility in the given reality, the future in the eternal repetition of the present. Conforming himself to the vulgar pleasures offered to him by the civilization of consumption (“one desire for the day and another for the night,” it is suggested in Thus Spake Zarathusta), the last man of resilience has no supérstite resource of value to oppose to the nihilistic maelstrom, which has exhausted all meaning and abandoned the godless world to the nothingness of production and exchange as ends in themselves.

A desperate expression of a purely passive nihilism, a serial member of an amorphous and shepherdless flock, Homo Resiliens views with the icy pathos of distance every yearning for true freedom, every project for the renewal of the world—he is convinced that this is no longer the time and that, in the twilight era of the decline of idols, there is no other way than conciliation and adaptation to an order of things that, however much it is questioned, admits of no alternatives and no escape routes. The imperative of ne varietur is accompanied, almost in a compensatory way, by a hypertrophic work on the self, aimed at making it more mature and stronger so that it is finally ready to accept without blinking whatever it is.

In the physiognomy of the last man, the most vulgar mediocrity imposes itself as the dominant factor, one perceives the integral contraction of the creative power of the human essence, now devoid of enthusiasm and passion—the Resilient Men, “wretches, who never lived” (Inferno III, v. 64)—resign themselves to what is there, adapting themselves time after time and striving to silence any inner voice of dissidence that might still subsist. The subversive force of the transformation of reality is expelled by the withdrawal into themselves of the last men, who live economic fundamentalism and its scenarios of ordinary misery as an irreversible destiny to which they pay submissive obeisance. The stoic imperative of amor fati, understood as adaptability to the logic of the real, constitutes the essential recipe of their mediocre happiness, in which the will of individual impotence coexists with the fury of the will of omnipotence of the technocapitalist production system.

The figure in which the new gregarious spirit of the last men seems to be best condensed coincides with that of the servitude volontaire proposed by La Boétie, which could be translated as the obscure desire to serve in order to be left in peace, to be dominated so as not to see the unlimited enjoyment derived from the flow of circulation of services and merchandise interrupted. Unlike the Resister, that is, the naturaliter nonconformist subject with the gregarious spirit and perhaps even willing to associate in revolutionary forms with his species, the Resilient Man fits the prototype of the ideal slave, who does not know he is one and who ignores the existence of the chains he carries or, alternatively, confuses them with unrepentant opportunities for inner maturation.

The hellish “malaise of civilization” sinks its roots in the elimination of both the Ideal and the social bond; and congruently produces the desert landscape of the mass hermits, of the Resilient who, socially estranged, try to survive by adapting, biographically overcoming the systemic contradictions almost as if they were only nuisances of the unreconciled self. The Revolutionary Man lived in the perpetual hiatus between reality and his dreams; the Resilient Man lives in the inextinguishable absence of dreams that allow him to think reality as something amendable.

A smart and elusive concept, elusive and capable of adapting resiliently to any context, resilience is, by right, an integral part of the constellation of new virtues incorporated into the managerial civilization of business—from empowerment to motivational practices, from problem solving to mindfulness—and of that neoliberal governance that has now saturated the world of life, commodifying it and reifying it without restrictions or free zones. It is, first of all, the existential attitude, but then also political and social, today systematically demanded of the subjects of the market civilization; that is, of consumers without a homeland and without roots, without critical substance and—Gramsci would say—without residue of the “spirito di scissione“: the mandate, in the form of an omnipresent imperative, comes mainly through the falsely polyphonic chime of the mass-media system, which is the megaphone of its master’s voice. The latter daily exhorts the sad tribe of the last men, the “lost people” of the shirtless of unhappy globalization, to become docile and submissive, to abandon all inopportune antagonism and all redemptive fickleness: in a word, to become resilient, to work on themselves to rise to the level of the world in which they live; that is, to endure on a daily basis, without the return of red heat, and without extemporaneous awakenings of the “spirit of utopia.”

Therefore, the dominant imperative, reaffirmed urbi et orbi by the cultural industry and by the officials of the superstructures, is the one that preaches the disenchanted adaptation to the existing as the only possible reality (Peter Sloterdijk, “Psychopolitics of Schizoid Society,” in Critique of Cynical Reason). From whatever perspective one observes, the resilient subject seems to be the ideal in vitro product of the system of production and of the totally administered civilization. Following the robot sketched by Antonio Trabucchi in his work, Resisto dunque sonoI Resist Therefore I Am—(2007), the resilient person is optimistic on principle, tends to read negative events as circumscribed and in any case as an opportunity for improvement, continues to believe that he is capable of controlling and governing his own life, and does not see any defeat, however thunderous, as arousing the will to fight to change the order of things.

His fundamental predisposition, congenital or conquered through hard work on himself, is “emotional agility,” that is, a kind of precariousness of emotions and feelings, called to express itself in the ability to adapt chameleon-like to the most diverse contexts and the most adverse situations, finding the right resources and the right spirit each time. Du mußt dein Leben ändern (You Must Change Your Life), the title of a successful book by Peter Sloterdijk, crystallizes in its most effective form the postmodern rehabilitation of the stoic endurance of the order of things and the glorification of the cynical reason of those who, after all, aspire only to their own individual salvation in the midst of collective tragedy.

Metabolizing the systemic imperative of adaequatio to the order of things, elevated to the status of “evidence” to be scientifically determined and stoically accepted, the contemporary Homo Resiliens makes no effort to understand and, even less, to rectify the order of things—it starts from the assumption that in case of conflict between Subject and Object, it is in any circumstance the former—for him alone in this lies the secret of a happy life—that has to adapt to the latter, overcoming the traumas and discomforts that untimely led him to such divergence. The transforming passion open to the future, which belonged to the revolutionaries, is annihilated by this contemporary form of disenchanted adhesion; a form whose ductility, in any case, easily tends to unveil the farce and ideological ballast.

The heroic mot d’ordre of courage and its reasoned indocility (frangar, non flectar) is overthrown by the vile adage of resilience and its unlimited willingness to suffer in silence (flectar, non frangar), pretending that traumas and injustices are to be welcomed as moments of overcoming and as proofs of fortitude. Note, en passant, that the adjective “fragile” has as its root the Latin verb frango, which means “to break,” “to rupture,” “to shatter”: the resilient is, therefore, the “fragile” who, as long as he does not break, adapts himself to everything, becoming liquid in the liquid society and, therefore, assuming “fluidity” as his own essential quality in all spheres.

Nietzsche’s famous aphorism, according to which was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker, “what does not kill me, makes me stronger,” does not seem to be taken as a definition of the spirit of resilience: in fact the resilient is an intrinsically weak subject, whose acting or, better to say, whose practical inactivity arises from the preemptive recognition of the superior strength of the object in front of him. Varying on the Hegelian theme, he is more a servant than a master since, preferring to bend in order not to break, he is unwilling to run the extreme risk of his life in order to reverse the order of things and gain freedom.

Like the trampled grass, which is always ready to return to its position, so the resilient one absorbs the blow each time, probably grateful for the precious opportunity of maturation he has obtained from it. He is required apertis verbis to cultivate that “mental flexibility” which consists, at bottom, in the ability to adapt to everything and everyone, which, not accidentally, represents a not inconsiderable variant of the universal flexibility of the era of precariousness and the evaporation of all figures of solidity—from family ties to labor relations, from links with communities and territories of belonging to grounded and structured worldviews.

In fact, one can do whatever one wants with the motto, “resilience,” since, in one way or another, it adapts to everything—such is, paradoxically, its degree of resilience. A paroxysmal profile of the postmodern liquid self, Homo Resiliens can be so in the psychological sphere, if he overcomes traumas by modifying himself; he can be so in politics, if he adapts himself cadaverously to the imperative of ne varietur, carved in capital letters in the neoliberal theologomenon; there is no alternative; he can also be so in economics, if he manages to make a virtue of necessity, living as opportunities the scenarios of ordinary exploitation and daily inequality proper to the fanaticism of the market.

De Mauro’s Dictionary of the Italian Language explains that “resilient” is one who manifests the “ability to bounce back from difficult experiences, adversities, traumas, tragedies, threats or significant sources of stress, maintaining a sufficiently positive attitude when facing existence.” In short, one who suffers misfortune and gets up as if nothing happened; one who in the face of injustice, instead of rebelling, finds the strength to go his own way, even if this means a daily dose of mortifying abuse.

Variant of the current fanaticism of tolerance, resilience is naturally a psychological profile. But it is also, inseparably, a political behavior in keeping with the era of techno-capital absolutism and the austerity desired by boss groups, jubilant at the prospect of being able to govern oppressed and resilient masses; or what is the same, masses capable of absorbing without blinking and without returning to the red heat, the daily violence on which a system is structurally based whose basic premise is the exploitation and misery of the majority for the benefit of a few. Let us not forget then that, as Federico Rampini (La Repubblica, January 23, 2013) showed, “resilient dynamism” was the slogan launched in 2013 by the World Economic Forum and by Obama—therefore in places and by people who fully inscribed in the order of the neoliberal hegemonic bloc of Atlanticist traction.

The Homo Resiliens falls and gets up potentially to infinity, but without ever questioning the objective world that always makes him fall again. Successor of the ignavo confined by Dante in Hell, the Resilient Man does not hinder the march of the world and, in fact, seconds it in all its dynamics, even if it is the most fiendishly unjust. He does not even condemn it with the weapons of criticism or subject it to scathing interpellation, trapped as he is by the smug satisfaction of having succeeded in working on himself to the point of finally accepting the unacceptable.

The resilient is the helpless self that sees personal hardships but never real contradictions and who, in case of disagreement with reality, prefers the psychologist’s couch to the square of the communal revolution, the variation of the self to that of the not-self, as Fichte would say. Its privileged sphere of action and life is individuality in the shadow of power, the disarmament of any critical spirit and the preventive mutilation of any project for the future. He is the ideal subject of the passive and homologated masses, in which everyone thinks and desires the same thing (since no one really thinks or desires anymore); but simultaneously he is also the isolated individual of the new era of telematic solitudes connected through the Internet and disconnected from reality and its throbbing contradictions that ask to be resolved in praxis.

In short, the Resilient Man is the ideal subject of the reifying prose of the new post-1989 capitalism and, a fortiori, of the very developments it is undergoing in the first decades of the new millennium—Homo Resiliens has treasured the appeals addressed to him from all points of the unified networks by the monopolists of discourse and therefore, via mediata, by the neoliberal oligarchic bloc. He has accepted to be submissive instead of revolutionary, adaptable instead of contesting, and has even internalized the need to change himself in order to adapt to a status quo of whose unchangeability he is intimately convinced. In short, he has chosen to speak the language of his class enemy, believing in progress—and therefore in the uninterrupted sequence of conquests of the dominant groups—and above all meekly assuming the behavior that the masters have always dreamed of from the slaves. Is it not the unconfessed dream of every master to rule docile and submissive slaves, in a word resilient? Is it not true that every shepherd has always had the desire to be able to lead a meek and obedient flock, ready to do whatever he is ordered to do because he is convinced that there is no other possibility?

That is also why resilience is, among all, the most propedeutic quality for the success of the neoliberal oligarchic bloc, the virtue that is propitious and expected from the massa damnata of the defeated. It is an integral part of the new mental order, politically correct and ethically corrupt, which serves as a superstructural complement to the structure of the asymmetrical diagram of the balance of power in the epoch inaugurated with the burial, albeit provisional, of the Marxian “dream of one thing” under the heavy rubble of the Wall (9.11.1989).

Diego Fusaro is professor of History of Philosophy at the IASSP in Milan (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies) where he is also scientific director. He is a scholar of the Philosophy of History, specializing in the thought of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. His interest is oriented towards German idealism, its precursors (Spinoza) and its followers (Marx), with a particular emphasis on Italian thought (Gramsci or Gentile, among others). he is the author of many books, including Fichte and the Vocation of the IntellectualThe Place of Possibility: Toward a New Philosophy of Praxis, and Marx, again!: The Spectre Returns[This article appears courtesy of Posmodernia].

Featured: Resilient Weeds, by Dimitri Sirenko.