Colonialism and Bruce Gilley: Electric Kool-Aid Acid of the Moral Imagination

1.

When Queen Elizabeth II died the poorest people in the United Kingdom crawled out of their hovels in their dirty rags to join in solidarity with all those poor people who were still suffering from the yoke of colonialism in the undeveloped world. As one, they cheered that the source of all their suffering was finally gone—now, at long last, they could all live the free and prosperous lives that the Queen of the British Empire had denied them. YIPPEE… Oh, sorry, that did not happen.

If the lines of millions mourning her passing are anything to go by, there were plenty of outpourings of grief from her subjects, not to mention her own family who, for all the tabloid guff, are people. The grief of the living in their mourning is something that is a reminder of the fleeting nature of life on earth and what awaits us all. Irrespective of whether one is for or against the monarchy, it was a somber occasion, signaling the passing of an age as much as a sovereign, as much as a person.

Some people, though, are incapable of mustering even a modicum of decency in the face of death—they are the ones that generally show as little respect for the living as for the dead, though they often yell and scream as if they were the carriers of humanity’s better self, which is the picture that they have of themselves. And while there is a good case to be made that the monarchy as an institution in Great Britain may not last much longer, now that one of the most popular and dutiful of monarchs has died, the fact is that the Queen always displayed far more compassion, and respect for her subjects and their institutions than the members of that class that has successfully seized upon the moral imagination of the present, which it uses to denounce any relics of the past as well as anyone else that may obstruct the imperial ambitions of its authority. What they call diversity is merely division.

The Queen was indisputably vastly wealthy, but her life was one which few of us would like to lead. It required the kind of curbing of appetites and desires that few of us, and few in her family, were capable of—of devoting herself to a life-time, in which decorum and duty overrode everything else. This was authority and duty in the old style. She may not have been so flash on Derrida or Foucault, but her bearing and intelligence and character were all tailored to the position for which she had been groomed and which she carried out with grace.

Grace is not a word that comes to mind when I think of the new pro-globalists moralists that run the show now, in every Western land. They see the world as a great big trough which they will lead others to, provided they, in their role as liberators and representators of the oppressed, have their fill first. Anyone who thinks that their ideas are just verbal squish covering up their own sense of self-importance and ambitions to rule the earth alongside the globalist corporations and technocrats will need to be destroyed. Tyrants, as Plato rightly observed, are bred in the chaos of ultra-democratic aspirations and the accompanying social breakdown those aspirations create.

Just as their view of the present involves preferring abstractions (you know the ones, equality/equity/diversity/inclusivity/ emancipation, etc.), which have not been adequately tested in the reality of history, to see if they are of any more value than providing some kind of status of moral authority to the ones who use them—it takes these same abstractions into the past, and in finding that these abstractions were not there in any meaningful way is able to condemn the past as one of sheer oppression. Of course, the past they select to condemn is very selective: for the same class loves to create fantastical stories about premodern or non-Christian societies, as if they were just wondrous paradises of tolerance, diversity, equity and inclusion—from the world’s first and greatest democracy in Aboriginal Australia, where they would meet in their town-halls to make sure all was fair and square, to the wonderful multiculturalism of the Ottoman empire, with its pride parades.

It was primarily the members of this class of fabulists, who now control the Western education system and media outlets, who were predominantly using the occasion of Queen Elizabeth’s death to bang on about the genocidal history of the British empire and the role of the monarchy in general, and Elizabeth in particular. I do think the treatment of the native Americans in the USA in the nineteenth century might be described as genocidal; it was certainly absolutely shocking, but that was not the fault of the British empire, any more than the gulags were the fault of the Romanovs. But it did not matter to those tweeting their spittle about the Queen’s death that since the handing over of Hong Kong to the CCP in 1997 (something deeply regretted by the many Hong Kong locals I met in my eight or so years living there), Great Britain no longer has any colonies, while when Queen Elizabeth came to the throne in 1952 there were still over 70 colonies. Not that decolonization was an act triggered by the crown for, as everybody but those doing their celebration of spitting and drooling, seem to know, the British monarch while a de jure Head of State/constitutional monarch is de facto a ceremonial figure, symbolizing the nation’s unity—which to be sure is no easy feat in the divided area of the United Kingdom. In any case, her position requires her not intervening in political decisions that are the province of the parliament and courts. Thus, it was when there was a constitutional crisis in Australia back in the 1970s, and the deposed Prime Minister sought for her to intervene, she stayed right out of it.

In the United States, one of the first out of the blocks to drool and punch the air in celebration was the Nigerian born Associate Professor of Second Language Acquisition at Carnegie Mellon University, Uju Anya. She tweeted, “That wretched woman and her bloodthirsty throne have fucked generations of my ancestors on both sides of the family, and she supervised a government that sponsored the genocide my parents and siblings survived. May she die in agony.” The fact that, a few days after tweeting this bile, some 4000 other “scholars” publicly endorsed her (there must be far more by now), just goes to show what tax-payers and students are getting for their money.

From what I can gather, the slender threads of reality that Anya has woven into her fabric of verbal vomit and idiocy are that the British government supplied arms to the Nigerian government in their war against the secessionist attempt by the military governor of Nigeria’s Eastern Region, Lieutenant Colonel Emeka Ojukwu, in what turned into a horrific civil war. A mountain of literature exists on the war, though anyone who wants fair and brief appraisals of what occurred might read pages 199-205 (2011 edition) of Martin Meredith’s magisterial, The Fate of Africa: A History of the Continent Since Independence, or Margery Perham’s even-handed and first-hand account, “Reflections on the Nigerian Civil War” in International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944), vol. 46, No. 2 (Apr., 1970)., pp. 231-246.

In a manner befitting the moralizing, fabulizing, historically revisionist class of which she is a member, Anya fails to address the most basic of facts about her own country’s history: the French and Russians were also providing arms to the belligerents; that is belligerents on all sides were killing each other and seeking weapons from anyone willing to supply the same to them; the secession attempt by Ojukwu was a resource grab without any legitimacy that would have had disastrous results for Nigerians outside Biafra; Ojukwu’s propaganda game was as dangerous as it was vile as it was disastrous in its contribution to the mass starvation of the Biafran people that remains one of the most shocking famines in relatively recent historical memory. The chain of events which sparked the war and famine was ignited by Igbo military officers who assassinated key figures in the First Nigerian Republic. Finally, and to quote Perham, “the federal constitution of the three provinces, taken over by the Nigerians in October 1960 was largely the product of the Nigerians themselves, built up in intensive discussions and conferences, and attended by all the political leaders over a period beginning in the forties, and ending with the final conference of 1958. The basic differences between the main parts of Nigeria were not evaded: they were endlessly argued, but not even a dozen years of discussion and political advance, following half a century together under the canopy of British rule, could square the obstinate circlers within which deep and ancient tribalisms were enclosed.”

But who needs real political facts when you can become a mega-star in todays’ academic world with a tweet, so long as the tweet amplifies an ostensibly morally certain consensus, whilst confirming the moral superiority of all those, who also don’t need to actually know anything to know what they know, viz. that empires and colonialism are very, very bad? And no good person could ever be a beneficiary of empire—somehow, magically, the Nigerian born Anya, along with God knows how many of the other 4000 scholars, lives in the USA, reaping the benefits of office and wealth that come from what colonizers and their techniques and technologies of world-making have created.

This “logic” is the logic of the silly, who think that they can just arbitrarily go back into bits and pieces of history to select a point from which they can blame the people they don’t like—this time British imperialists. Sorry, but no people anywhere have been where they are forever. Which is partly to say the world is not a moral fabrication of bits and pieces all fitted together into a nice Disney movie about all the inclusion and diversity there would have been had it not been for… the British, the Germans, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Gauls, the Celts, the Abassids, the Persians.

Really folks! The world we inhabit is what people in their conflict, scarcity, cruelty, suffering, and everything else that has been done in the past have made. We are all respondents to a reality that precedes us and that we then work upon. Here, the moralists puff themselves up and splutter some kind of nonsense that has to do with their indignation that some people have killed more or suffered more…blah blah…than others. Let’s just say, we can’t undo the past, and pretending that we do by having reparations, etc. is just one more fantastical bit of fanaticism that is only a new way of creating work for a bureaucracy and moralizing class seeking ever more dependents.

In the case of reparations, they will mean nothing two generations down the track—but understanding that means thinking about economic behaviour, and human motivation and institutions, and the kind of thing that requires that rarest of things in today’s Tik Tok academic world—thoughtfulness.

This virtue stuff exhibited by people who are paid to denounce unequal things that obstruct universal emancipation is today’s electric Kool-Aid Acid of the moral imagination. Let’s face it, everyone has to earn a buck, and there is no easier way to do so today than by running around tweeting, screaming, teaching, or writing great big refereed academic tomes from illustrious brand name presses or densely footnoted articles in “prestigious journals” denouncing people who just won’t take out that part of their brain that enables them to see that all that stands between them and emancipation (which means—as far as I can see—having lots of sex and having lots of stuff) is their being subject to racist, sexist, colonialist blah blah blah ideas that scholars like Anya and her 4,000 mates (probably far more by now) think are “facts.”

So, I really can’t blame Anya; or, to pluck another from the media wing of the cathedral of woke idiocy, Tirhakah Love, a “senior newsletter writer for New York Magazine, who wrote, “For 96 years. That colonizer has been sucking up the Earth’s (sic.) resources,” and “You can’t be a literal oppressor and not expect the people you’ve oppressed not to rejoice on news of your death” for seizing the career opportunities made available to them by a ruling class whose rule is predicated upon destroying the shared norms, institutions and cultural achievements of the West in the name of the moral progress they embody, and the great future they believe they will bring into being—on the basis of which we can see already that would be a world of ever greater spiraling inflation, ethnic/tribal violence resulting from opening up “citizenship” to anyone who wants to live anywhere irrespective of criminal background, or commitment to any traditions of their new homeland; far more urban, racially based riots and burning of businesses, including black ones (to make way for gentrification); far greater crime (from burglary, shoplifting to murder), adorning inner city areas with tents for the ever-increasing number of homeless junkies; the redeployment of police resources away from crime prevention and into community development activities, such as flying pride flags and dancing in parades when they are not arresting racists, and homo-transphobes; schools in which critical race theory (whites are all the same—unless they teach critical race theory—and all bad), and the joys of the multiverse of sex and the importance of sexual rights, like the rights to change your sex as soon as you can speak are the main curricula; ever more spaces for public denunciations and ever more censorship; sacking of all who won’t do whatever the right-thinking authorities say they must do, say, or think; increasing the number of abortions up to and in the aftermath of an unwanted birth; ever more military interventions funded by you in the West for people outside the West to die in in far off lands that will save this great world from its nefarious enemies—and lots more butcher’s paper and crayons for “life-long” learning because learning to live in this shit will require that one remains a compliant imbecile during the entirety of one’s life-time.

2.

Bruce Gilley is a Professor of Political Science at Portland University—at least he was still there last time I looked, though it seems his existence is an affront to all the other good and virtuous professors who work there and who are doing their damnedest to push him into unemployment (the idea that professors could in any way be more virtuous than other people, and hence be tasked with instructing them in how to be better people, is something that, in a world less insane, would be worked into one of the more incredulous episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm).

Bruce Gilley was once a highly respected scholar—with a dizzying number of academic prizes behind him—who once published books with such illustrious academic presses as the University Of California, and Columbia and Cambridge University. He burnt his bridges within the academic world with his essay “The Case for Colonialism.” The paper originally appeared in Third World Quarterly in 2017, having passed the blind refereeing process—a process that might give the delusion that the refereeing process in the Humanities and Social Sciences ensures academic quality and integrity—it doesn’t. But in any case those denouncing Gilley only care about referees who agree with them; and in the case of this essay, a petition of “thousands of scholars” and the resignation, in protest, of nearly half the editorial board of the journal, plus death threats being sent to the editor of the journal ensured it being “withdrawn” and given a new home.

Since the denunciations and attacks, Professor Gilley has written two books, both with Regnery Press—one can safely assume a university press will no longer touch anything he writes. His previous book, The Last Imperialist: Sir Alan Burns’s Epic Defense of the British Empire, before getting into print, underwent a similar saga. It was first going to be published by Lexington Books (an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield), where Gilley was also going to oversee, as the Series Editor, “Problems of Anti-Colonialism,” which would bring out books that sought “to reignite debate through a critical examination of the anti-colonial, decolonizing, and post-colonial projects.”

Then, the cancel crowd stepped in, started a petition on change.org: “Against Bruce Gilley’s Colonial Apologetics.” Many indignant “scholars” eagerly added their signatures. There was a counter-petition, which got nearly 5000 signatures, to try to save the series. But true-to-form, Rowman & Littlefield buckled and cancelled the series.

Eventually, Gilley found a far better home for his work—Regnery Publishing, which has also published his most recent book, In Defense of German Colonialism: And How Its Critics Empowered Nazis, Communists, and the Enemies of the West. This book does an excellent job of showing the ideological idiocy of those who are entrusted with teaching history to the youth of today, and who preside over the institutions which are preservers and now complete fabricators of a historical memory; that is to act as a foundation for future building.

Professor Gilley does not need my help in the shootout with the academy, as he takes down one “scholar” after another for preferring their ideological concoctions to the facts of the matter. But it is worth drawing attention to a few points that undermine not simply the ideological nonsense or inconvenient facts that derail the academic consensus which Gilley takes on with verve and astuteness, but both the role that the academy has adopted in ostensibly learning from the evils of the past to build a better future, and the mind-set that so commonly succumbs to preferring ideological simplicities and grand sounding nostrums to the far more complicated explorations which yield equivocations and hesitations in judgments about people who have had to deal with vastly different circumstances than those of our professional idea-makers, brokers, and overseers—as well as conclusions which one might not particularly be appreciated for reaching. That is, the study of real history requires being prepared to consider questions that transport one outside of a consensus that has been cemented because it was not driven by facts, historical or otherwise, nor by a well-considered and well-orchestrated series of questions, but by a priori “morally” and politically derived commitments which close off all manner of questions and hence understandings about reality.

History was among the more belated of the Humanities to fall into the kind of ethico-politics that took over Literary Studies for at least a generation.

In any case, working in the profession of “ideas” today involves little by way of having any virtue other than repeating and making inferences based upon certain moral consensuses and topics. One becomes a member of the profession of ideas by virtue of teaching and writing—the one exception in the doing is that increasingly universities have accepted the pedagogical value of political activism, if it is of the sort that conforms to the ethico-political ideas that have been accepted as true by those who write and teach on, and administer, the ideas which are to be socially instantiated. There are, to be sure, things one must not say (words or phrases one must not use) or do (at least to certain people with certain identities); but in the main not saying or doing those things is not remotely difficult, especially when the rewards are there for the taking, if one just goes along with things.

Just as character is a matter of irrelevance in today’s ideational configuration of identity, bestowing the right to a position, as a representative of one’s favoured disempowered group, being committed to a group narrational identity, has professional currency. Being an identity is to today’s mindset; what intelligence and character used to be. Neither of the latter are particular important anymore, as intelligence is dumbed down to the level of the school child, and character dissolved into an identity feature.

Today, our morally-fuelled anti-colonialists are condemning something that is now totally safe to condemn because it is no longer a reality that has any other part to play in their world than a moral occasion for their career advancement as talking moral heads. Being a part of today’s educated/ educational “leadership” brings with it all manner of predispositions and circumstances, and they are not ones that have anything remotely to do with what people who signed onto the foreign service or civil service in the age of colonialism, or even the academy some sixty or so years back, had to do.

People of different ages are pushed and pulled by different influences and priorities—and in so far as most young people are swept into whatever activities are part of the streams of opportunity, approval, ambition and mimetic desire that defines them, the difference between the youth who were caught up in the colonial enterprise, the revolutionary enterprises in Russia or China, or liberal progressive Wokeness today is not so much in their emotional enthusiasm and certainty, but the specific enterprise that has been socially and pedagogically concocted by the preceding generation and the opportunities that they grasp.

One can definitely identify which elites and which nations fare better by their doing; but so much of the doing is based upon what was made by previous generations, and who did what with the opportunities they had, as well as how much overreach and wastage occurred. Yes, I do think the elite generation of the West are more imbecilic and less charitable and capable of understanding the world and the circumstances that have made it and what is required to sustain a civilization than the elite that spawned colonialism. All groups have their blind-spots, and pathologies (here I am an unreconstructible Aristotelian) and the elites of the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century are not beyond criticism—no group is, because no group and no one can see exactly what they are doing, nor have all the information that would help their doing—but to dismiss them all as racists and plunderers is to be shockingly ignorant about their intelligence, moral sensibilities and motivations.

In any case, the various reasons that were involved in decolonization, including their excessive cost, an increasing lack of support on the home front, and the aspirations of an indigenous elite and rebels calling and /or fighting for national independence, were not events that had anything to do with the academics of today who contemplate colonialism as a moral problem with a very simple answer—it’s really bad.

Our time is not one in which colonialism offers any kind of desideratum at a personal, social or political level. Which is also to say the academic who writes critically about colonialism today is doing about as much to stop colonialism occurring now as their writings have to do with preventing a reconnaissance mission on Venus.

Of those teaching in universities who have fought for wars of independence who are still alive and who might hold a job in a university or in the media, the kind of questions raised by Gilley then come into play, viz. did things fare better once there was “liberation?” The answer to that will depend upon many things—who the colonizers were and what they did, and what transpired afterward.

Having taught in Darwin (Australia), I met a number of people who had fought against the Indonesians to create an independent East Timor/Timor-Leste. The results in Timor-Leste are mixed, though it is very poor; and while there are issues of corruption, it is stable. For their part, the Indonesians were, to put it mildly, not loved by the locals. The fact that the Indonesians occupied it after they had liberated themselves from the Dutch only goes to show that yesterday’s colonized can readily become tomorrow’s colonizer.

The question of how a country fares after colonialism is a serious one, and in some places the results have been horrific. It was the existence of such cases, of which there are many, with Cambodia winning the prize in that department, closely followed by a number of African nations like Uganda and Congo, that makes an article, such as Gilley’s case for re-colonialism, worth considering. But it is a far better career move to hate on Gilley by people who would rather ignore any facts which might complicate the founding passage of post-colonial scripture that the ‘white-colonialist devil’ is the demiurge responsible for all the post-colonial violence that occurs, and the formerly colonized are either angels of light and liberation, or zombies created by their white masters.

Gilley’s article is short enough for me not to have to repeat its contents. I will simply say that Gilley was trying to make serious recommendations about how recolonizing might be a better option in some places than continuing in the same way. That is the kind of idealism/thinking by design that I genuinely eschew, but as a thought experiment it deserved better than the accolades of denunciation it garnered. And had his critics taken their heads out of the sack of Kool Aid Acid, they might have realized that Gilley does not argue for reconquering territory, but for investment with legal/sovereign strings attached being undertaken in areas desperately in need of economic and social development.

My problem with this is that just as the anti-colonialists in Africa were often educated in the West, where ideas about how great communism and such-like started to abound and were commonplace in the 1960s, now what the Western mind offers would be even worse. The re-colonizers would be operating with their ESG and their DEI commitments and targets—they would be saddled with green energy goals, which would make sure they stay poor, and be expected to buy electric cars, otherwise keep on walking; their kids would be schooled in critical race theory, so they could blame everything that goes wrong on white people, and gender-sexual anatomy fluidity to break up the traditional family and anything else that the elite running corporations have seized on to incorporate into the great new world.

The new mental imperialism promises nothing but the endless division and persecution of anyone out of step with the ideology that ensconces Western liberal progressivism as the global norm. The clientelist assumptions and strategies which make of our professional ideas-people the emancipators of all and sundry who are not white, wealthy, cisgender men, who don’t support the globalist political left/progressive technocratic view of life being transposable to any circumstance, including that of people who live in former colonies, who only have to sit down and read their various primers on Fanon, or study post-colonial fiction and poetry, etc., along with Judith Butler to see how they can fix up their world, and get to the same standard as, say, a San Francisco tent for the homeless with free crack.

3.

Much of what Gilley says in his article has been said by others, his “mistake” was to say it straight and assemble it into a formulation that exposes the thoughtlessness of the modern ideological consensus about colonialism. More broadly, though, the thoughtlessness that Gilley is dealing with is not just about colonialism, it is about how the world has come to be the world that is. Colonialism is certainly one part of that, and it is what concerns Gilley.

But if we take a step back from colonialism (and it is this that also distinguished, as Gilley notes, the “pro-colonialist” Marx from the “anti-colonialist” Lenin), two further considerations about the world are particularly pertinent, if we want to free our minds from the enchainment of stupidity that is presented as some kind of moral progress which is due to the purity of thought and being of our contemporary pontificating paragons. The first is where violence and war fit generally into the schema of human things. The second is technology (including the division of labour it requires—one of Marx’s better thoughts was to see the interconnection the division of labour, i.e., classes and technology; and like all Marx’s better thought, Marxists have abandoned it), and administrative technique.

With respect to the first, warfare is a perennial feature of human existence. The reasons for any given war may vary, but to blame war itself on one particular group is ridiculous. In the context of colonialism, warfare was pertinent to colonialism at every level of its development—from the wars that were commonly occurring between rival groups that colonialists were frequently able to use to their strategic advantage, to the wars between and against colonial powers that led to the demise of empires and their colonies.

That wars would continue after colonialism would only surprise those who think that merely deeming war a bad or an immoral thing might somehow play a role in preventing it. But while I find pacificism to be a response to war akin to when my cat thinks that if he cannot see me, I cannot see him—so he hides under a stool with his back to the wall and tale sticking out right under my nose—I find even more abominable the moral cherry-picking that poorly informed academics make about which violent conflicts they choose to take a stand on, without concerning themselves too much with all the forces and flows that go into it—thus, in general, their tacit support for the NATO proxy war in Ukraine.

A general, and hence, to be sure, not overly helpful formulation about why wars occur is that competing interests, predicated upon ways of being in the world and making the world, go to war when they see no other way to get what they want—in the past, more often than not, that was acquiring or protecting scarce resources, including labour power. Modern commerce does not necessarily prevent war because some resources are such that access may be unreliable or so tenuous that conquest is the more certain way to acquire them. But international trade is often the more secure way to acquire wealth. Of course, the moral imagination of the modern academic is not slow to critique capitalism. But as with violence and war, it cherry-picks which kind of capitalists are bad and who it serves (finance capital/big tech/big pharma are now its major “masters”)—it also comes up with fudge-words when confronted with the truth that socialism was no less murderous—and generally resulted in even more poverty—than capitalism, though state apparatuses and the elites who run them do make a very big difference as to whether capitalism can be even mildly benign.

Just as there is no genuine design solution to the problem of competing interests and life-ways, there is no simple design system that can eliminate war or class differences—though one thing that might ameliorate some of our problems is that groups have more thoughtful and well informed sources of information and representation, so they might be able to broker their differences from positions of strength (which in turn requires discipline in what is done with resources, how they are channelled in terms of strategic priorities, and who is fit and able in applying them).

But sadly, we have handed over the minds of our public and private institutions to a class of people, in the main, with ambition and enterprise existing in inverse relationship to the ability to think through alternative scenarios and consequences.

Irrespective of how one “parses” the moral behaviour and qualities of any group in conflict with another, and while just war theory may have an illustrious history, it has become a standard go-to position of idea professionals, whose sense of justice can be traced back to their own magnanimity—the fuse of most wars is woven out of various complex threads that go a long way back and have their own “reasons,” which is why a new party of force may take advantage of older animosities between groups to leverage its new authority.

Imperialism and the establishment of colonies are ancient ways of doing power that involve war; and any suggestion, whether tacit or outright, that suggests that there was something uniquely immoral about British imperialism or modern European colonialism is a fantasy.

The question of what benefits or costs were associated with any given empire or colonialisation project can only be answered by sitting down and doing the calculating. At some point, one might find that certain behaviours fit into some kind of moral calculus—such as Spaniards ending human sacrifice in the Aztec empire, or the British prohibiting the practice of widow-burning (sati) in India; or one might count the number and scale of massacres and ethnic and religious rivalries and wars committed during the reign of a colonizing power with those that occur previous to or after their reign. In the latter case, no matter how heated someone wants to get about the violence of the British in India, none in their right mind could think that the scale ever remotely approximated the scale of violence of the Partition (1947), or the subsequent war of Bangladesh.

In any case, and in any given colonial or imperial venture, there will be all manner of pluses and minuses that could be calculated, and there will be some beneficiaries and some losers. The point here, though, is that any fool can say that any imperial or colonial endeavour of yesterday is immoral—but the reasons for the endeavour were as much the reasons of yesterday as were the morals of those who undertook them. We might well be thankful that we do not live in such times with such choices or moral consensuses—all well and good, but so what? A strictly moral account of any given society is always going to turn out negative—life is frequently one tragic set of choices after another—which in part is why our educated elite can keep getting away with the nonsense of the air in their heads and the smoke of their words seeming more beguiling to youth and know-nothings who believe that all we have to do is “reimagine” the world to get the world we want—one of endless stuff and sexual pleasure—yippee!

While Gilley, citing pertinent writings and speeches from Bismarck, makes a case for Germany’s colonial enterprise being largely driven by extra-commercial incentives, in the main I think it difficult to un-entwine benign moral intentions of those with authority from opportunity for cads and bounders that may exist in the new colonies—though, my point is equally that wherever you go and whenever you went there was always some lot extracting stuff from and being cruel to another lot. Concomitantly, anti-colonialist forces often had to be as ferocious and cruel against those who did not find the new aspiring hegemonic elite to be serving their interests, as they were against the colonialists whose resources and power they wished to capture.

If the point I have just made emphasizes the eternal return of violence/ war/ opportunity/ authority, the second point, I think extremely important, is the unique nature of the technological and technocratic levels of advancement that occurred in the West, leading up to and culminating in the industrial revolution.

There are many aspects that we can consider to be definitive in the formation of the modern, but the industrial revolution makes any nation, in the position to take advantage of it, far more powerful than any peoples who are required to succumb to its authority. But, as Carroll Quigley convincingly argues in Tragedy and Hope, the industrial revolution is but one in a sequence of revolutions that occurred in the West; and the uniqueness of the West’s potency—as well as the problems it generates for itself and elsewhere—is intrinsically bound up with the sequences of its revolutions.

Here there can in my mind be no doubt that the world wars are the West’s creation, and I strongly recommend the little known book by Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Out Of Revolution: An Autobiography of Western Man, which provides an account of the flow and circulatory nature of the revolutionary events which formed the peoples of Western Europe into the powers that would find themselves in the Great War and its aftermath.

But when the West is transported into other regions, such as its colonies, the powers that have been its revolutionary offspring come in a very different sequence and with varying accompanying problems.

I do not want to go into the different sequence of structural developments of revolutionary processes feeding into different and staggered modernities, but I do want to highlight the point that whether it was grace, genes, or the luck of the historical draw, or something else again that led to the modern West, once there was a modern West, and once there were modern weapons, and an industrial revolution, then class conflicts in non-Western countries played out along lines which have everything to do with resource-opportunities and competition and wilful determination by groups ready to use their arms to engage in the age-old act of resource extraction, from those who grow food to those whose labour can be put to use for them to expand the possessions and services at their disposal. One can morally condemn this all one wants, but it is a universal phenomenon that only passes by the intellect of people whose understanding of premodern life comes from Rousseau and Disney.

That is, once modern weaponry and machinery and the various goods they produce, from cars to tanks, designer clothes and luxury homes, smart drugs and high-class whores (let’s face it, the appetites of gangsters are as basic as they are commonplace among the extremely wealthy), exist, along with a group who are willing to do anything to get them, there will be an “enslaved” or violently brutalized class. That there will be tribal-elements involved in the social bonding is also pretty well inevitable (the Mafia and dynasties follow a similar logic).

This situation, to repeat, is not the result of colonialism as such but of modernity. And modernity brings with it a reality in which the choices are as inevitable as they are terrible: join it or don’t join it. Any group that opts out of joining makes itself vulnerable to any group with weapons who wants to encroach upon its territory, its resources, its labour, and its women. Further, the longer the delay in joining it, the more difficult it will be to adapt to what to a traditional life-way is a massive juggernaut of technologies and techniques exploding its fabric.

This is why the greatest enemies of the traditional life of the most vulnerable of social groups on the planet, the indigenous peoples who had not formed cities and/or larger units of social organization, were not missionaries or colonizers of the nineteenth century but the progressives of today who purport to ally themselves with anyone against Western supremacy, but who are, in fact, anti-traditionalists, Western supremacists, who have ditched anything that grounded the West in those pathways of life shared by all peoples.

Irrespective of the time of “joining” with a life-way of a superior power, and irrespective if the joining is one of choice or conquest, any group that joins in the process of modernization will find that it has to compromise/adapt its traditions and behaviours to the juggernaut. Seen thus it is hard to see how colonialism itself can be blamed for the choice. It isn’t responsible for that choice. Though our ideocrats tend to think that every problem is merely a matter of educating moral reprobates, which seems to be working out swell in US inner cities, where all manner of crimes go unpunished, and levels of violence and criminality are plummeting—NOT. Why not, though, try exporting a batch of critical race theory books to those areas where post-colonial gangsters and dictators—sorry victims of colonialism—now extort and kill others so they can wake up and see the light and go back to college, perhaps even one in the USA, and learn how to teach critical race theory and so be part of the great love fest that the new moral leaders of the West are creating.

German postcard (1899). “Hurrah! Samoa is ours!”

But let’s get back to reality—colonialism might better induct the colonized into the means and manners required to live with the machinery and technology, and administrative and various systems that are being introduced into this world that cannot escape modernity—to repeat, because if it is not introduced by the colonizers, it will definitely be introduced by those “industrious” enough to get hold of the equipment and weapons that they can put to use. This is where Bruce Gilley raises important arguments, and why the reaction to him only illustrates what a mind dump the academy is, as it disseminates fantasies, moral and not so moral, about the world and its history so that it can enable a technocratic infantile future, as bereft of knowledge and wisdom, as it will be bereft of real love, and creative and cooperative endeavours.

I have already made the points that I wish to emphasise about modern colonialism needing to be interpreted against the constant of human conflict nd the tragic choice placed before any premodern people. I do think that life is ever one in which we are born into the sins and transgressions of our fathers; which is to say, I think Greeks and Christian were essentially correct and in agreement about the kinds of limits we confront, and that the modern elite aspires to throw away those limits and does so by substituting fantasies about the past as well as the future to beguile us into their nightmare.

But there can be no doubt that the modern opens up previously undreamt-of technologies and techniques which are amazing, and which enable the possibility of greater comfort and opportunities to do things for those that can get access to them. Thus, it is inevitably the case that any people who are conquered by a technologically superior people, if not completely turned into slaves, will benefit from the materials now available to them. We might call this the Monty Python/ Life of Brian argument for colonialism. To put it briefly: What have European colonizers ever done for the World? Answer: they brought with them the modern techniques and technologies of wealth creation. And the absence of those techniques and technologies is lower life expectancy and, in terms of sheer numbers, less wealth and less social choices.

Of course, in any society not everyone is or was a beneficiary of new social or technological innovations, and in every society the number of poor is significant—and prior to the industrial revolution poverty was far greater, and far more people were far more vulnerable to unfortunate climate conditions. And let us be real, at a time when there is so much panic about climate change, the fact is that any future famine, as with a number of past ones, will be far more likely due to political conditions than climate alone. At a time when the Malthusians run amok and aspire to dictate how the world should be depopulated, there is less global poverty and food shortage than ever; and where it does occur, politics and corruption rather than climate or population are the primary causes.

4.

The points I have made above are general, but if I were to recommend one book that any reader wanting to consider a test case, which refutes so much of the moralising that is done about colonialism should read it would be Gilley’s In Defense of German Colonialism: And How Its Critics Empowered Nazis, Communists, and the Enemies of the West. The Postil has already published a short extract from it; but that extract did not indicate the extent to which Gilley exposes and successfully critiques the thoughtless claims that academics have made about German colonialism—or, in his (un-minced) words, “the drivel that passes for academic history” about German colonial history.

Early in the work, Gilley makes three points about colonialism in general, which are worth repeating and the antithesis of the kinds of facts that get in the way of a good moral fantasy. I will quote them:

Islands offer an almost perfect natural experiment in colonialism’s economic effects because their discovery by Europeans was sufficiently random. As a result, they should not have been affected by the ‘pull’ factors that made some places easier to colonize than others. In a 2009 study of the effects of colonialism on the income levels of people on eighty-one islands, two Dartmouth College economists found ‘a robust positive relationship between colonial tenure and modern outcomes.’ Bermuda and Guam are better off than Papua New Guinea and Fiji because they were colonized for longer. That helps explain why the biggest countries with limited or no formal colonial periods (especially China, Ethiopia, Egypt, Iran, Thailand, and Nepal) or whose colonial experiences ended before the modern colonial era (Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, and Haiti) are hardly compelling as evidence that not being colonized was a boon.”

And,

Colonialism also enhanced later political freedoms. To be colonized in the nineteenth–twentieth-century era was to have much better prospects for democratic government, according to a statistical study of 143 colonial episodes by the Swedish economist Ola Olsson in 2009.

And,

These twin legacies of economic development and political liberalism brought with them a host of social and cultural benefits—improved public health, the formation of education systems, the articulation and documentation of cultural diversity, the rights of women and minorities, and much else. It is no wonder, then, that colonized peoples by and large supported colonial rule. They migrated closer to more intensive areas of colonialism, paid taxes and reported crimes to colonial authorities, fought for colonial armies, administered colonial policies, and celebrated their status as colonial subjects. Without the willing collaboration of large parts of the population, colonialism would have been impossible.

With respect to the motives and the legacy of German colonialism, Gilley makes the argument that it was not primarily a plundering undertaking, in which blacks were to be treated as sub-humans and whites could treat them however they wanted—Gilley provides a number of examples of whites behaving badly in the German colonies and being punished for doing so. To frame it thus is not only to replace fact with fantasy but it is to ignore not only the statements of the colonizers themselves, but more important the voices of the colonized—Gilley provides numerous citations—who found that German colonial rule had bought greater peace and prosperity to them, thanks to placating tribal rivalries and long held animosities (Chapter 3 provides an analysis of the Herero and Nama peoples, and the imaginative claims that Herero-Nama wars were created by the Germans, or even more fantastically that they were gestures of anti-colonialism!). The major motivation, argues Gilley, is that colonialism was perceived as the accompanying condition of nation-building and being taken seriously as a major European power. The point is an interesting and important one, and it illustrates the vast gulf that separates the mindset of the generation that now dominates in the universities from that of a previous generation caught up in a completely different set of priorities of world-making.

Gilley provides numerous examples of what the German colonialists built, and again I will cite a few of his cases.

Having first established peace in East Africa, the Germans proceeded to establish prosperity. A 1,250-kilometer railway was built linking Lake Tanganyika to Dar es Salaam. To this day, the railway remains the lifeblood of Tanzania’s economy and of Zambia’s trans-shipment traffic. The German colonial railway was not just economically beneficial. It also led to the documenting of the region’s geography, vegetation, minerals, and peoples—much of which was carried out by the German-English railway engineer Clement Gillman as he surveyed the new line.

And,

For the green conscious, it is especially noteworthy that German colonialism discovered the knowledge and crafted the regulations that protected the great forests and fauna of today’s Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi.

And,

Without doubt, Germany’s greatest humanitarian contribution to Africa during its colonial period was the discovery of a cure for sleeping sickness. In terms of lives saved, Germany’s colonial achievement could stand on this ground alone. Sleeping sickness originated in nomadic cattle-herding populations in Africa whose movements had spread the disease for hundreds of years before the colonial era. The increase in intensive farming under colonialism accelerated its spread, an inevitable result of policies to increase food supply and modernize agriculture. The disease was ravenous. The British calculated that an outbreak in 1901–07 killed between two hundred thousand and three hundred thousand people in British Uganda, and two million people succumbed in all of East Africa in 1903 alone.

Nineteenth century colonialism is, as Gilley rightly notes, part of a genuinely civilizing approach to world-making. While that approach had both liberal and traditional European (conservative) accompaniments, it was also to be found in the communists Marx and Engels; and while the German socialists opposed how colonialism was being administered, they were, again as noted by Gilley, not unsupportive of colonial rule.

While the success of the modern, as these examples indicate, can be seen in terms of technical and technological advances, its diabolical underside is disclosed by the ideological concoctions that were to be transposed globally with far more devastating effects than colonialism itself. And if the first part of Gilley’s book might be an eyeopener for those who have not wanted to seriously think about what benefits accompanied colonialism, which is to say, those who have not thought out of the now fashionable moral academic box, the second part of the book makes the important point that both the Nazi and the communist projects were able to fuel anti-colonialist sentiments among various members of the aspirant elites in colonized country for their own geopolitical benefit and to the greater detriment of the societies in which these ideologically “educated” elites took power.

Need I say that any elite members wishing to gain power through national independence had no need to worry about the boring give-and-take and talk-fest that is endemic to democracies. Far easier to push through one’s will and that of one’s loyal support group or tribe and end up with—bloody chaos.

In an age where the holocaust is the diabolical terminus of history and anything and anyone from St. John to Luther to the family has been held up by some scholar or philosopher to be responsible, it is not surprising that colonialism would also be held responsible for the holocaust. But in spite of it now being commonplace among German academics to claim that there is line of continuity between German colonialism and the Nazis, the Nazis themselves from Hitler down wanted no truck with the colonialists and, in the main, few of the colonialists wanted what the Nazis wanted. In case anyone had not noticed, the Nazis were not in the civilizing business. Their fusion of nationalism and socialism, along with their antisemitism, and cult of the leader, was also embraced, along with open admiration for Hitler himself, by numerous anti-colonial leaders, most famously Nehru, Nasser, Amin and the Palestinian cleric Amin al-Husseini.

In the main, while academics don’t like the Nazis (unless they are Ukrainian ones who kill Russians and draw up hit lists of people to be liquidated for speaking out against them), they generally do like communists – in their upside-down world, communist rebels are freedom fighters. That communism is a Western ideological import that has not only exacerbated group and class conflicts but has been the means for justifying and entrenching “third world” elites with no idea how to better enhance economic conditions of people other than seizing land and property and pointing guns at people who must do what they are told.

The story of former colonies becoming entangled in the cross-fire of the Cold War like that of ambitious elites who used independence to secure their own power and wealth, along with those groups who give them their allegiances, is a horror story that belongs to the post-colonial age; but it is not the kind of story that neatly folds into a curricula or mind-set, where the answers to the cause of all things bad are white supremacism, i.e., European colonialists.

In a world as complicated as ours, the failure of the West to have an educated elite that are incapable of understanding the world before it, and the past behind it, is devastating. We are now living in that devastation; and although I detest those whose moral imaginations have been formed by sticking their heads in the bucket of Electric-Kool Aid Acid that now passes for an education, I have to concede that previous better-educated generations failed to see the consequences of their actions, and we are now living within those consequences.

Post script. Readers of a certain age will probably have recognised that I have borrowed the phrase “The Electric Kool-Aid” from Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Test, a book about Timothy Leary and his Merry Pranksters bussing across the US and their other shenanagins. This was in the days before college kids demanded safe spaces and fentanyl had become the drug of social breakdown. Wolfe was one of the founders of what was hailed as the new journalism in the early 1970s. Our world looks life the morning after what may have started as a party of sex and drugs and rock n roll and has turned into a nightmare of loneliness and totalitarianism.


Wayne Cristaudo is a philosopher, author, and educator, who has published over a dozen booksHe also doubles up as a singer songwriter. His latest album can be found here.


Featured: General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, the “Lion of Africa,” a poster by Grotemeyer, dated 1918. The caption reads: “Kolonial-Krieger-Spende,” or “Colonial Soldiers Fund.” Signature of von Lettow-Vorbeck at the bottom.

The Most Dangerous Man for the West

“The most dangerous man in the world”—this is how the Russian philosopher and geopolitician Alexander Dugin is referred to by his American counterparts. This alone is enough for a decent person to pay the closest attention to Dugin’s ideas.

Dugin is the undoubted enemy of the civilizing West, in all its manifestations, from the simple—the geopolitical project of Western global domination (globalization), through the negation of the Western ideological project (liberalism), to the high philosophical level of justification of dehumanization (object-oriented ontology). Dugin contrasts the first with a multipolar world, the second with the Fourth Political Theory, the third with Tradition.

Based solely on the Schmittian formula for the definition of the political—friend-enemy—it is not difficult to find one’s place in relation to Dugin: those who are for the West, globalization, and dehumanization (the transformation of man into a posthuman being, from a subject into an object) are against Dugin. The rest of us are “for him!”

You might ask, why, in fact, do we need to identify ourselves precisely with Dugin? Very simply. Because it was Dugin who created the theoretical foundation for all post-Soviet patriotic thought, grounding each point of this alternative to the West worldview matrix in the deepest way possible, having worked out each thesis in detail.

Everything you wanted to know from the realm of thought, but were afraid to ask, is in Dugin. Even if you are a liberal, a globalist, and a supporter of transhumanism, you need, if you are a serious thinker of course, to find an antithesis to each of your theses (to prove them, such is the law of scientific thought). No problem—Dugin has it all.

Even at the very beginning of the collapse of the Soviet bloc, when only liberalism (then called democracy) was offered as the sole alternative to Sovietism (at the suggestion of the West), Dugin developed and offered for public discussion the ideology of the Third Way, an independent ideological model of the new Russia, alternative to both Sovietism (with Marxism at its core) and the ideology of the West (with liberalism at its core).

Dugin contrasted the West’s assertion that there is no alternative to its model of development based on Modernism—with Tradition, the negation of which has been the foundation of Modernism with materialism, progressivism and positivism at its core for the last three centuries.

Dugin responded to the assertion that there was no alternative to the dominance of time with the thesis of the inviolability of Eternity. When people began to accuse him of proposing a Third Way as an alternative to the first (liberalism) and second (Marxism) ways, Dugin pointed out that it was then nothing more than fascism (the third political theory). Thus, Dugin pointed out that we are talking in general about going beyond the Modern; that is, about the Fourth Political Theory, which is based on Eternity, Tradition, God—everything that the Modern, with its liberalism, Marxism and fascism, has fully denied.
In response to the West’s assertion of the “objectivity” and “inevitability” of globalization (the thesis that all “advanced” members of the Russian political class have repeated like a spell since the early 1990s), Dugin proposed a multipolar world theory, based on an assertion of geopolitical pluralism.

In fact, geopolitics at that time, by Soviet inertia, remained “a pseudoscience justifying bourgeois imperialist expansion.” It was Dugin who took and translated all the fundamental works of the classics of geopolitics—from Mackinder and Mahan to Schmitt and Haushofer, and in between all the other major authors—and summarized all the basic criteria of geopolitical science in his Fundamentals of Geopolitics, written in 1995-1996 and published in early 1997. It was then that a whole galaxy of Russian geopoliticians appeared, rewriting Dugin’s textbook with varying degrees of diligence and zeal; while before that book, there was not a single one.

Dugin responded to the West’s proclamation of the project of European integration and the creation of the European Union by declaring a Eurasian Union, which he had previously worked out on an ideological level from as early as the late 1980s. It was Dugin’s neo-Eurasianism that first substantiated the need to position post-Soviet Russia as the basis for a special, non-Western and non-Eastern Eurasian civilization, Russia-Eurasia.

Dugin responded to the West’s assertion about the benchmark of its historical path of development and the universality of the model of Western society, a Western civilization proper, to which there is no alternative, with 23 volumes of Noomakhia, describing in a first approximation, the types of civilizations, their depth, metaphysical, cultural and geopolitical validity, as an alternative to the emasculated, primitive and superficial civilization of the collective West.

There is not a single statement by Western ideologues, thinkers, and philosophers to which Dugin and his intellectual group have not provided a similarly substantiated, conceptually elaborate, and profound response. It is no exaggeration to say that Dugin has it all!

When people ask me what I read, I half-jokingly (or maybe half-seriously) answer that “I only read Dugin.” Not literally, not because there is nothing else to read, but because before approaching any question, topic, concept, or philosophical idea, one must first look at what Dugin has written about it. This is only because Dugin has already read and comprehended all of this, and has presented it in a capacious, paradigmatic, and concentrated manner, in accessible language, drawing attention to the most important, while not emphasizing the secondary, and summarizing it in meaningful conclusions.

In order to be convinced of this, it is enough to conduct a little experiment, which I think I have already mentioned somewhere: just type in any meaningful combination of concepts, an intellectual formula, or a concept in combination with the name Alexander Dugin into any search engine, and you will get a selection of links to texts in which these ideas, models, or concepts have already been conceptualized, stated, and framed.

This is how Dugin’s ideas came to dominate the intellectual field not only in today’s Russia, but also in the thinking environment of the rest of the world, including the West, where the thinking part of society represents an alternative camp to the liberals, globalists and transhumanists. It was precisely because Dugin triumphed, took the intellectual upper hand, and forced everyone to think paradigmatically and holistically, that he worked through the entire sphere of the Ideas in all of their manifestations. He has already reversed the course of history, if we take the sphere of thought. But it takes time to be convinced of this firsthand, for the Idea descends from the sphere of the philosophical, where it is contemplated as an ideal image by the inner sight, through the sphere of the scientific, into the expert, and then into the media community, from where it becomes the property of the masses; and how long it will descend there depends not on the philosopher, but on the quality of the media in which the idea lives, develops (if it develops), and is conceptualized.

This unpredictability of the quality of environments affects the accuracy of predictions. As Dugin himself notes, a philosopher, giving a forecast, is never wrong about what will happen, but is almost always wrong about when it will happen. Maybe that’s because he is focused on Eternity, disregarding time.

Everything Dugin has written, said, elaborated on an intellectual level, is unfolding, coming true, incarnating before our eyes. You don’t have to be a profound philosopher yourself in order to open his books, articles and interviews, to read, listen to, comprehend and understand that everything, everything Dugin wrote and talked about in the 1990s and 2000s, has either already been realized or is being realized before our eyes, at this very moment. And what has not yet been realized is sure to come true. I cannot say when.

This is exactly why Dugin is, for example, “Putin’s advisor,” which the West and the rest of the world are convinced of. I have had to answer this question more than once everywhere—in Iran, in Turkey, in conversations with intellectuals in Latin America, Europe, Asia or Africa. Everywhere where thought matters, they are convinced that it is Dugin who determines the main vectors of Putin’s policy. Simply because everything Putin implements has previously been written or said by Dugin. What can I say to this? I don’t dare argue.

This is why we live in Dugin’s time. And this is why he is the most dangerous man for the West. If only because Dugin destroyed all the myths, so carefully and meticulously created in the West, about the standard of the Western way of historical development and the development of Western thought, about the universality of Western civilization, about the no-alternative to, and objectivity of, globalization, about the advantages of liberalism, about the objectivity of man. Everything, in fact, that the West needed to dominate the world, humanity, to be the ruler over all.

At the same time, no one in the West could demonstrate his intellectual superiority over Dugin (who was invited to hundreds of intellectual discussions with Western ideologists and philosophers), to demonstrate the primacy and validity of Western intellectual thought in an open dialogue—neither Brzezinski, nor Fukuyama, nor Bernard Henry Levy (deified by the contemporary Western intellectual community).

In an open intellectual confrontation with Dugin, they look pathetic and unconvincing. In plain English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dugin leaves no stone unturned in Western liberal-globalist concepts, justifying his rightness at any level of discussion—from television broadcasts with one-second running time, to scientific audiences in hours-long debates.

This is where all the baseness and meanness of the West comes into play. Unable to defeat Dugin in an open debate, Western political technologists stoop to the level of meanness, dirty tricks, and petty sordidness. An entire section at the State Department has been working to discredit Dugin, ordering one discriminatory campaign after another for nearly a decade and a half. The array of political and technological methods used to smear Dugin does not lack originality or variety. What is the West most afraid of? Fascism (they have suffered from it there and created it themselves) and the occult (which is just scary in itself).
The next step is then easy—just identify Dugin with these two terrible phenomena. Fortunately (for them), the same method works here—type “fascism” and “occultism” into a search engine and—voila. Dugin has studied and described all of Western thought—from the Presocratics and Plato and Aristotle, through the fall into Scholasticism and Cartesianism, to New Age, Modern and Postmodern.

Naturally, this includes the twentieth century period, including such European phenomena as Fascism, National Socialism with its racial theory, occultism, and so on. By the same logic, you can accuse someone who writes about insects of being an insect. This is exactly how they operate—if Dugin wrote about fascism, then he is a fascist; and if he wrote about the occult, then he is an “occult fascist.”

In order to discredit Dugin, American political technologists hire a contractor, local subcontractors, and all kinds of State Department sub-suckers who for small pay endlessly have cutting & pasting unreadable hodge-podge for ten years, endlessly combining the words “Dugin,” “fascism” and “occultism” with all their derivatives. The results are very silly; but they are many; and it is then easy to refer to one another endlessly, portraying the “scientificity,” “thoroughness” and “validity” of each other’s libels. The calculation is the same—if you type “Alexander Dugin” into a search engine, with such an abundance of ordered filth, something containing “fascist” and “occultist” is sure to pop up, and the ordinary reader does not even follow the links, being satisfied with the headlines.

All of this, according to the Western clientele, was supposed to make Dugin “toxic,” as young people now say it, in order to even theoretically rule out a synthesis between the main politician of today’s world, Vladimir Putin, and the main intellectual. In a sense, as it turned out, they did achieve this. However, Dugin himself, with the dignity of a philosopher whose eyes are turned inward, contemplating an ideal image of thought, continued to remain silent on the matter, while Putin continued to implement the strategies described by Dugin, also ignoring the stink and untidy machinations of Western “partners.”

Desperate to change any one thing at all, the Western perpetrators decided on the nastiest meanness of all—murder. However, the prince of this world has someone to confront him. Russia has entered the final eschatological battle for the end of history. God and the devil came together in the final battle, and the field of battle, as Dugin himself says—the human soul, as well as the human mind. The wars of the mind. Noomachy. Dugin’s time. Endkampf.


Valery Korovin is a journalist and sociologist. This article appears courtesy of Zavtra.ru.

Eurasianism: A Reaffirmation of Empire

Contemporary Eurasianism is undoubtedly marked by the strong personality of Alexander Dugin (1962). However, Eurasianist thought cannot be reduced to that of the latter (which he does not claim). At the same time, the Eurasianist movement has been able, during the two clearly differentiated phases of its history, to gather original and independent thinkers (and regularly in disagreement), while keeping a very specific intellectual identity.

Pyotr Savitsky: Father of Eurasianism and Theorist of Topogenesis

Eurasianist thought was born in exile at the beginning of the 1920s, at the initiative of certain White Russian intellectuals. Its main theorists were Prince Nicholai Trubetzskoy (1890-1938) and Pyotr Savitsky (1895-1968). The Eurasianist movement gradually broke up during the 1930s, before disappearing after the Second World War: the fairly complex thinking of Eurasianism was probably no longer suited to the simplistic confrontation of ideologies typical of the Cold War. However, Eurasianism experienced a revival in Russia in the 1990s (it was then referred to as neo-Eurasianism), around the personalities of Alexander Dugin and Alexander Panarin (1940-2003). It is not insignificant to note that the two historical phases of Eurasianism reacted each time to a fall: the fall of the “White Empire” of the Romanovs for classical Eurasianism, and the fall of the “Red Empire” of the USSR for neo-Eurasianism. We can thus readily define Eurasianism as a will to rethink the fundamentally imperial identity of Russia, at times when it seemed threatened with dissolution.

Before Eurasianism

If the double birth of Eurasianism is thus linked to precise contexts, the latter was obviously not constituted like Athena already emerging armed from Zeus’ brain. Without falling into the always somewhat vain exercise of “searching for precursors,” it is obvious that Eurasianism is rooted in a typically Russian intellectual soil, inaugurated by the father of Slavophilism, Aleksey Khomyakov (1804-1860). He interpreted history as the confrontation of two principles: the Iranian principle and the Kushite principle. These two principles were conceived as covering all the structural dichotomies of the world. To the Iranian/Kushite opposition thus corresponds the oppositions freedom/determinism, spirituality/ materialism, peasant civilization/industrial civilization, autocracy/plutocracy, Orthodoxy/Catholicism and Protestantism, East/West. Khomyakov thus radically opposed to a Kushite West an Iranian East, to which he integrated Russia. This integration of Russia with the East nourished Khomyakov’s interest in Iran and India (he would go so far as to learn Sanskrit to be able to read in the original the classical works of Hinduism). This conception of a Russia, open to the East but closed to the West, would become a constitutive pillar of Eurasianism.

The work of Constantine Leontiev (1831-1891) can be seen as a link between nineteenth-century slavophilism and twentieth-century Eurasianism. The latter, a veteran of the Crimean War, conceived of “Western progress” as a globalist and aggressive process of standardization of humanity from below. In contrast, he defended a diversity of men and cultures, finding its unity in a common imperial identity. This dialectic of the respect of the human diversity in the unity of the empire, put in opposition with the petty-bourgeois uniformity of the Western State-nation, will find itself in the Eurasianist thought. Thinking that the future of Russia was not in Europe but in Asia, Leontiev invited his compatriots to consider themselves no longer as Slavs, but as “Turanians” (the term “Turanians” designating, in the vocabulary of the time, the Turko-Mongolian peoples of Central Asia). Inaudible for his contemporaries, this renewal of Russian identity proposed by Leontiev will find an echo among Eurasianists.

The Idea of Eurasia

Eurasianist thought is vast and embraces many fields and themes. It is thus impossible to reveal it in its entirety here (we would in any case be hard pressed to give an account of Nicolai Trobetzskoy’s structural linguistic work). However, Eurasianists share a common way of conceiving the Eurasian discourse in itself. Totally anti-constructivist, Eurasianist thought considers that Eurasia pre-exists in its essence. The idea of Eurasia is an Idea, in the Platonic sense of the term, and the purpose of the Eurasianist discourse is therefore not to construct it, but to unveil it. This Eurasian Idea is thus fundamentally revealed in a territory that is neither Europe nor Asia, but a third continent: Eurasia. That the Idea of Eurasia is revealed in the territory of Eurasia may seem a very trivial statement, but it is not. Indeed, it means that, for the Eurasianists, Eurasia is a fact of nature, whose unity and specificity will have to be demonstrated by the geographical sciences. Eurasianism is thus thought of, on the theoretical level, as a scientific demonstration of the Eurasian Idea. Eurasian thought is thus characterized at the same time as a metaphysics and as a science (Trubetzskoy thus spoke of a geosophy of Eurasianism).

This naturalistic conception of Eurasia explains why the delimitations of the latter have never been the object of a clear consensus among Eurasianists, without them regarding this state of affairs as a real problem. Indeed, being defined by geographical and not historical-political criteria, Eurasia is not delimited by borders in the strict sense of the term, but rather by peripheral zones, by boundaries. Globally, Eurasia corresponds to the territory of the former USSR. In the East, Mongolia and possibly Tibet are generally added to it. Dugin excludes the Kuril Islands, which he proposes to return to Japan. The problem of the eastern limits of Eurasia has never really worried Eurasianists, insofar as they think of an opening of Eurasia to Asia, and see in the Asian countries natural allies in the face of Western hegemony (Alexander Panarin, who was a professor of political philosophy at Moscow State University, thus theorized the construction of a Sino-Eurasian alliance against the American “new world order”).

The problem of the Western limits of Eurasia is quite different, and has been of great concern to Eurasians (which is explained by their conception of a Eurasia closed to the West). The Eurasian territory is also based on that of the former USSR, excluding the Baltic States and the enclave of Kaliningrad, and with the addition of Bessarabia for some. Ukraine is considered Eurasian, but suffers from a very ambiguous status. As a western boundary of Eurasia, and because of its historical links with Poland, Ukraine is seen as having been largely influenced by the West (to such an extent that Eurasianists called the westernization of Russia in the Petersburg period “Ukrainization”). As a result, Eurasianists always considered that an independent Ukraine detached from Russia could not be anything other than a Trojan horse of the West in Eurasian unity.

The Concept of Topogenesis

Alexander Dugin describes this basically continental Eurasian space as “tellurocratic,” characterized by a traditional and socialist spirit, and opposes it to a “thalassocratic” Atlantic space, modern and capitalist (an opposition that we already find, mutatis mutandis, in The Peloponnesian War, where Thucydides opposes a “tellurocratic” and aristocratic Sparta to a “thalassocratic” and democratic Athens). The geographical opposition between a continental Eurasian space and a maritime Atlantic space is thus coupled with a civilizational opposition. Eurasian thought holds that civilization is conditioned (and not determined) by place. This is what Pyotr Savitsky proposed to call “topogenesis” (and which he considered a scientific concept): A specific geographical space conditions a specific civilization. To the Eurasian space thus corresponds a Eurasian civilization.

In the eyes of Eurasianists, religion is at the foundation of any civilization. The Eurasian civilization is thus for them fundamentally Orthodox. Atheism, deism, Catholicism, or Protestantism are seen as Western elements, foreign, and even opposed to Eurasian civilization. Thus, with a few exceptions, all Eurasianists are explicitly Orthodox. However, without questioning the sincerity of the personal faith of the Eurasianists, some criticized the ensuing notion that Russian Christianity thus does not seem to be based on a supernatural revelation, but simply as an expression of the Eurasian topogenesis; Father Georges Florovsky distanced himself from the movement for this reason, seeing in it a naturalistic reduction of the Christian mystery. Nevertheless, Eurasianists always remained conscious that not all Eurasians are Orthodox, and stressed that Russian Orthodoxy, while keeping its central role, can recognize, esteem, and fraternize with other Eurasian religious expressions. Thus, in the inter-war period, the Jewish Eurasianist Yakov Bromberg defended the existence of a specifically Eurasian Jewishness through the Khazar experience. More recently, Dorji-Lama, a spiritual leader of the Kalmyk Buddhists, joined Alexander Dugin’s Eurasianist organization.

But it is especially to Islam that the Eurasianists opened up, underlining the precocity with which the Russian empire was equipped with a representative institution of the Muslims of Russia (the great Muftiate of Russia was created by the empress Catherine II in 1788), and not forgetting that 40% of the citizens of the ex-USSR were Muslims. They held the existence of a specifically Eurasian Islam, Turkic, and influenced by Sufism and Shiism (Wahhabi Islam is on the other hand absolutely rejected as non-Eurasian, and being totally subservient to hated America). Dugin, mobilizing a conceptuality drawn from his reading of René Guénon, affirmed that Turkic Islam and Russian Orthodoxy are both linked in their essence to the “Primordial Tradition” (as well as all the authentically traditional religions) coming from “Hyperborea,” which he situates in Siberia (this conception is not foreign to Russian mythology; indeed, in the fourteenth century the archbishop Basil of Novgorod affirmed the existence of a secret terrestrial paradise in Siberia, which obviously refers to the biblical myth of the Garden of Eden and is very reminiscent of the Buddhist myth of Shamballah). Muslim personalities thus drew closer to Eurasianism: Talgat Tadzhuddin, former grand mufti of Russia, joined Dugin’s Eurasianist movement; and especially Nursultan Nazarbayev, former president of Kazakhstan and promoter of a specifically Turkic Eurasianism, distinct from the properly Russian Eurasianism (and to whom Dugin devoted a dithyrambic book).

As we can see, topogenesis is neither a determinism nor a universalism; it conditions and adapts that which exists. The various religions and cultures of Eurasia keep their particular identity, while showing common civilizational traits, making them all converge in the Eurasian unity, understood as a community, both natural and mystical, of destiny. The concept of topogenesis is thus a nodal point of Eurasian thought, where a dialectic of the one and the many is woven, founding an imperial affirmation of identity that respects (but also embraces) the particular identities of Eurasian peoples. it should also be noted that this strictly organicist conception leaves no room for individual choice—a Mormon Tatar who loves the country cannot be anything but a dangerous anomaly from a Eurasian perspective).

A Differentialist Critique of Western Universalism

This notion of topogenesis is also the basis of the Eurasian critique of Western universalism. The latter is understood as postulating the existence of a unique human civilization, the different cultures being only the expression of this unique civilization at different historical stages of advancement, obviously leading to the Western model, seen as the most advanced and most desirable historical stage of humanity (Eurasianists note that white supremacism is finally only a naturalized form of this universalism). Western civilization is thus seen as the goal of all humanity, and its model of development as the unique direction of history. Alexander Panarin considers that this superiority complex of the West comes from the obvious power of its industrial and consumerist model, while underlining that the contemporary ecological crisis undeniably demonstrates its harmful character.

To this historicist universalism of the West, justifying its political hegemony as well as the cultural westernization of the world, Eurasianists resolutely oppose a “geographist” differentialism. In their eyes, the Western model is absolutely not universal. As we have already said, each geographical space corresponds for Eurasianists to a given civilization, the Western model therefore legitimately and exclusively corresponds to the Western geographical space. Eurasianism thus defends an incommensurability and an equality of civilizations between them, which must each be respected in their specificity. The inexpiable fault of the West is thus to have believed itself superior to the rest of the world, granting itself the right to invade it “for its own good,” scorning thereby the irrefutable right of each people to remain itself and to develop according to its own internal logic; that is to say to remain faithful to its own topogenesis. The Eurasianists thus always presented themselves as anti-colonialists and Third Worldists (and this already in the 1920s; that is to say at a time when this was not yet fashionable). In France, Aleksander Dugin came closer to the New Right led by Alain de Benoist, which also carried a differentialist critique of Western universalism, while Aleksander Panarin, for his part, came closer to certain researchers from postcolonial studies. The latter affirmed in this respect that the providential mission of Eurasia is to take the lead in the revolt of the Third World against Western hegemony.

Eurasia as Ideocracy

Panarin’s Eurasian messianism undeniably reproduced certain “tics” of Russian nationalism. It is an observation that can be extended to the whole of Eurasianist thought, which grants Orthodox “Holy Russia” the role of the “spearhead” of Eurasia. Eurasianists, however, have always denied being reactionary. In the 1920s, they strongly criticized White Russians who stubbornly remained monarchists, and instead claimed to be “futurists” (and even “cosmists” for the most left-wing). If they rejected the Marxist ideology, they saw in the Soviet experience an important step in the process of political incarnation of the Eurasian Idea. For the Eurasianists, the Russian people, Orthodox and theophore, were providentially elected to carry out this process, i.e., to make the Eurasian empire come true. The latter, political incarnation of the Eurasian Idea, is thus understood by Eurasianist thought as an ideocracy, aristocratic and authoritarian regime, of religious and socialist essence, expressing the Eurasian organicity.

The Eurasianists trace the history of the constitution of the Eurasian ideocracy, through a historical meta-narrative breaking with traditional Russian historiography. Indeed, the Rus’ of Kiev is thus seen as denying its usual founding role. Only Saint Vladimir of Kiev (958-1015), for his historical choice of Byzantine Christianity, and Saint Alexander Nevsky (1220-1263) are preserved. The latter, confronted in the East by the Mongols, and in the West by the Teutonic Knights (launched in the famous Baltic, or Northern Crusades), chose to recognize the suzerainty of Batu Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, and to oppose the Teutonic Knights—thus making the choice of Eurasia against the West (the Eurasianists also contrasted Saint Alexander Nevsky with another Russian prince, Daniel of Galicia, who made the opposite choice, and whom they condemned to hell-fire for that; one finds here the dual character of Ukraine in Eurasianist thought)—because it is indeed the Mongolian empire which is seen as the matrix of the Eurasian ideocracy. The Eurasianist historiography, in an original way, thus rehabilitated Genghis Khan and the Genghisids. Lev Gumilev (1912-1992) pointed out the Christian dimension of the Mongol empire, including among its high aristocracy (the mother of Kublai Khan, emperor of China and grandson of Genghis Khan, was a Church of the East Christian princess). While traditional Russian historiography sees in the affirmation of Muscovy a founding struggle for national liberation against the Mongols, Eurasian historiography sees in Moscow the heir to the Mongol empire. The providential mission of the Russian people is therefore to bring to its historical completion the work that the Mongolian people started: the constitution of the Eurasian ideocratic empire.

It is difficult to assess the influence of Eurasianism on contemporary Russian politics. Those who have made Dugin into an eminence grise of the Kremlin, or even into a Eurasianist of President Putin, have probably greatly exaggerated. However, it would be wrong to underestimate the capacity of Eurasianist thought, with its mystical, political and scientific roots, to infuse some of its ideas into the state ideologies of the countries of the former USSR (as the examples of Russia, Kazakhstan and, to a lesser extent, Kyrgyzstan demonstrate).


Grégoire Quevreux currently teaches philosophy at the Institut Protestant de Théologie de Paris, and is completing a doctoral thesis on process theology under the direction of Professor Cyrille Michon. This article appears through the kind courtesy of PHILITT.


Featured: “The Road in the Rye,” by Grigoriy Myasoyedov; painted in 1881.

Walter Schubart: Can the East regenerate the West?

In his 1938 book, Europe and the Soul of the East (Europa und die Seele des Ostens—translated as Russia and Western Man), the Latvian writer of German origin, Walter Schubart, questions the possibility of a spiritual rebirth of the West compromised by Promethean ideology. In his eyes, the heroic man, that is to say the man who submits the world to his will, has run out of steam and must give way to the Messianic Man who alone will be able to reconcile the East and the West.

The spiritual decline of the West is a fact. Since the advent of what is usually called “modern times,” old Europe has abandoned making belief in God the condition of the possibility of the common good and of human life. The Promethean era—named after the Titan who stole the divine fire to give it to men—has reversed all values to make materialism, individualism and technical progress a new trinity. The superhuman has replaced the divine as the philosophical horizon. But the man who conceives himself as his own measure is exhausted and the 20th century has shown that the West has been irremediably attracted by its own destruction.

Therefore, where can we find the resources for the spiritual recovery of Europe? How to reinject spirituality into the worn-out carcass of Promethean Man? In the eyes of Walter Schubart, the salvation of the West must come from the East—and, more precisely, from that country torn between the two worlds since the reforms of Peter the Great—Russia. To the figure of the Promethean Man—of which Napoleon was the most perfect incarnation—Schubart opposes the figure of the Messianic Man.

Let us specify above all that for the author of Europe and the Soul of the East, history is cyclical and is divided into four ages. Each age produces a prototype of man who is characterized by his relationship to the universe: the Harmonious Man, the Heroic Man, the Ascetic Man and the Messianic Man. The Harmonious Man, the ideal of ancient Greece and China, does not perceive the heterogeneity of the spiritual and the material as a source of conflict. He contemplates the universe with love and is fully satisfied with the order of things. For him, “the problem of the meaning of history is already solved,” specifies Schubart.

The Heroic Man, the model of ancient Rome and modern Germany, sees chaos when he looks at the world. He wants to order what surrounds him, to make it conform to his will.

The Ascetic Man, on the other hand, considers material existence as a lure and turns away from it to devote himself solely to the spiritual. His objective is to live outside the world and within himself, while waiting for physical death. The Hindus and the neo-Platonist Greeks had adopted this philosophy.

Finally, the Messianic Man wants to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth and relies on an inner mysticism. To do this, he must reconcile what has been separated, through the love he carries within himself. The early Christians and the Slavs are emblematic of this temperament.

Schubart also breaks down the last millennium of the West into two ages: the Gothic Age, which was dominated by the Ascetic Man, and the Promethean Age, which was and still is dominated by the Heroic Man. In his eyes, the Promethean Age has run out of steam and must give way to the Johannine Age (of Saint John) which has the Messianic Man as its model. The Promethean age, as we have said, is characterized by man’s desire to detach himself from God: “No matter that Western man finds his destiny in the economy, or even in politics or in technology, he is certain that he no longer finds it in spirituality, nor in divinity. He has definitively renounced a spiritual attitude towards life. Attracted by material powers, he has finally succumbed to the forces of the earth—he has made himself a slave of matter,” writes Schubart. The contempt for the material that characterized the Gothic Age and its Ascetic Man is mirrored by the contempt for the spiritual that characterizes the Promethean Age and its Heroic Man.

Russia: A Link between East and West

The Johannine Age that the author calls for must therefore be envisaged under the sign of unity, in accordance with the temperament of the Messianic Man: “The Messianic Man does not act out of a spirit of domination, but is guided solely by a constant concern for conciliation; the feeling that animates him is love. He does not seek to divide in order to rule, his concern is to unite what has been separated,” emphasizes Schubart. For the Messianic Man, in this case for the Slavic soul, the spectacle of a fragmented world is unbearable. The separation of the material from the spiritual, of the soul from the body, of man from nature, and ultimately of man from God, strikes him with a deep sense of longing. The Messianic Man wants to recover the lost unity that was the joy of the Harmonious Man: “The image of the Universe that the Harmonious Man has of it is more or less the same as that which the Messianic Man had of it. However, whereas the one has already reached the goal, the other still seeks to reach it in a very distant future; both consider the Universe as the beloved being to whom they give themselves in order to unite with it.”

It is the Russians who have the task of turning the West from the Promethean to the Johannine Age, precisely because the Slavic soul—because it is fundamentally Eastern—is impervious to materialist and atheistic doctrines. Written in 1938, the thesis of Europe and the Soul of the East immediately raised an objection—why should salvation come from Russia when the Soviet Union has achieved on earth the exact opposite of what Messianic Man has a right to expect? Communism has turned materialism, atheism and technical progress into a state ideology: “The Russians, who are faithful to the Church, see in the Soviet Union the ‘Kingdom of Antichrist,’” responded Schubart.

For the author, the contradiction is merely superficial. Bolshevism is, according to him, only a vast enterprise of sabotage of the Promethean ideal. Schubart held that the advent of the Soviet Union was merely a harmful consequence of the Occidentalism which has been trying to impose itself on the Russian mentality since Peter the Great. The monstrous character of the Soviet Union resided precisely in this contradiction between the Slavic soul and the Promethean ideal: “The Russian is carried by a living feeling of universality. The contemplation of the steppes without limits always brings back his glance towards the infinite one. It will never be able to put itself in harmony with Promethean culture whose fundamental base is egocentrism and which supports individual emancipation or—what amounts to the same thing—the decline of the gods.”

The Unsinkable Russian Soul

Similarly, state atheism advocated by the communist regime had no hold on the deep convictions of Russians: “The absence of religious feeling, even within religions—this is the characteristic of contemporary Europe. The persistence of religious feeling, even in a materialistic ideology, is the characteristic of the Russian Soviet world. With the Russians, everything has a religious character, even atheism,” writes Schubart. This paradoxical formula translates a deep truth: the Russian man cannot do without religion, even when he renounces it. Schubart relied on Dostoyevsky’s Demons to support his point. Indeed, Stavrogin and Kirilov deploy, each in their own way, a mystical impulse in their enterprise of negation of divinity. Despite their respective nihilism, they position and define themselves only in relation to God. Unlike Westerners, they cannot be indifferent to this question.

Finally, the historical failure of communism, which Schubart did not see in his lifetime but which he foresaw, is a demonstration by the absurd of the intrinsically spiritual character of the Russian mentality: “Russia has provided the world with proof that a culture without God is doomed. It has also proved that the autonomy of the individual is an illusion,” says Scunart. And it is this unsinkability of the soul which can allow Russia to realize the synthesis between East and West, between the metaphysical spirit and the Promethean spirit, between faith and reason: “…modern Europe is a form without life—Russia is a life without forms. In the first case, the soul has abandoned the body and left an empty carcass. In the second case, life has destroyed the forms that hindered it.” Messianic Man—”the perfect man,” says Schubart—of the Johannine Age must above all be understood as a reconciled man, as a man who reaches out with all his might toward the lost harmony of Homer and Lao Tzu, even if it means finding the apocalypse in his path.


Matthieu Giroux is a Dostoyevskian sovereignist and the editorial director of PHLITT. This article appears through the generous courtesy of PHLITT.


Featured: “Strelka,” by Andrei Remnev; painted in 2015.

Knut Hamsun: Between Modernity and Tradition

Knut Hamsun was an adventurer, who has travelled through styles, genres and eras. A Norwegian genius, who is now largely unknown and forgotten, has left the literary world a work as dense as a northern forest, alternately obscure and enchanting. As a modern storyteller, he tried to escape the shackles of the literature of his time, working on both the psychology of his characters and language like a goldsmith.

If the Scandinavian writer Martin Nag describes Knut Hamsun as the “Norwegian Dostoyevsky,” it is undoubtedly because Hamsun was very much influenced by the realism of the author of The Possessed (to be clear, Russian realism is not that of the French tradition), even if his literary career took him much further. It was through an article published in 1890 in the magazine Samtiden, entitled “On the Unconscious Life of the Soul” that Knut Hamsun revealed his literary project. In this theoretical counterpart to his major novel, Hunger (1890), Hamsun showed the connection he sought to make, at least in an unconscious way, between Nietzsche’s individualism (although he neither read nor met him) and Franz Kafka’s modernity. Hamsun was impregnated by Nietzschean philosophy, thanks to the influence of Georg Brandes, who from 1888 onwards, gave a series of lectures, in Scandinavia, on the author of the Gay Science, a mindset that can be found in “Dark Sky,” the last chapter of the last book that Hamsun devoted to his trip to America. Blithely mocking his predecessors, especially Guy de Maupassant, he explored the depths of the human soul, starting with his own. This is how Hunger takes the form of a quasi-autobiographical novel. Knut Hamsun made the main character, an anonymous, modern urban, faceless, without roots, proof of his desire to break with the old codes of realism and naturalism of the declining nineteenth century—naturalism, which was more concerned with describing places, characters and objects in detail, with the aim of faithfully re-transcribing “nature.”

Knut Hamsun and the Modernity of Language

Much more than a social novel dealing with the misery and wandering of a man in a European capital that is totally unknown to him, Hunger is a psychological novel that puts its narrator in front of an alter-ego, an ambiguous companion, whom he maintains in order to cultivate the inspiration necessary for his literary work: “I had noticed very clearly that if I fasted for a long enough period, it was as if my brain was flowing very slowly from my head and leaving it empty.” This character runs through the novel, balanced between moments of genius and brilliance, between physical and mental torture. He writes thus: “God had stuck his finger in the network of my nerves and discreetly, by that way, had tangled up the threads a bit.” This ambivalent character allows Hamsun to evoke his own neuroses and to announce another objective of his life: the aesthetics of language. He never stopped working at it; sometimes with fever.

Kristofer Janson, a poet and priest who knew Hamsun, said that he knew “no one as sickly obsessed with verbal aesthetics as he was… He could jump for joy and gorge himself all day on the originality of a descriptive adjective he read in a book or found himself.” In Hunger, the character has an unpredictable and tumultuous relationship with writing: “It was as if a vein had burst in me, words follow one another, organized themselves into sets, constituted situations; scenes accumulated, actions and lines piled up in my brain and I was seized with a wonderful well-being. I write like a man possessed. I fill page after page without a moment’s respite… It keeps bursting into me. I am full of my subject and each word I write is like a dictation.”

His first novel thus inaugurated a work on the aesthetics of language. Previously, Hamsun spoke a Norwegian still “bastard,” peasant, and quite far from the bourgeois Norwegian of the capital. This is probably what he had in mind when he wrote in an article in 1888: “Language must cover all the ranges of music. The poet must always, in all situations, find the word that vibrates, that speaks to me, that can wound my soul to the point of sobbing by its precision. The word can metamorphose into color, into sound, into smell; it is up to the artist to use it to hit the nail on the head… You have to roll around in the words, to revel in them; you have to know the direct but also secret force of the Word… There are high and low resonance strings, and there are harmonics.”

Hamsun’s writing is therefore unquestionably psychological and introspective. The hunger of the hero serves to exacerbate the deepest traits of his personality. Similarly, in Pan, Hamsun delivers the character of the captain in exile, to better confront his thoughts with the wilderness: “I am sitting in the mountain and the sea and the air are whispering, which bubble and groan horribly in my ears because of the weather and the wind… The sea rises in the air, foaming and staggering, staggering; it is as if populated by great furious figures that spread their limbs and bawl at each other. No, it is a feast among ten thousand hissing demons that sink their heads into their shoulders and circle, whipping the sea into foam with the tips of their wings. Far, far away…”

We can also notice the influence of Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground on the novel Mysteries and more particularly on the character of Nagel, a man who has a taste for contradiction, and who nourishes an irrepressible need for escape. Nagel shocks by his habits, by his behavior, by his attire. Indeed, if Hamsun’s stories are full of details about the clothes of the protagonists, we know almost nothing about their physical portrait. Thus, the character of Hunger attaches particular importance to his vest, which he leaves “in the hock” to be able to get some money; but his name is never mentioned. And Nagel is always dressed in a suit and a hat. Hamsun’s characters are thus reduced to a silhouette, flat areas of neo-impressionist colors that reveal only their most intimate and sometimes most brutal psychology, like Thomas Glahn in Pan, who kills his dog without apparent motive.

Knut Hamsun, the Man of Tradition

If Knut Hamsun’s characters are modern in their resolutely introspective treatment, they evolve in a surprisingly traditional setting. Indeed, Knut Hamsun, raised in the Protestant tradition by his uncle, and drawing from his mother a deep attachment to his country, fed his stories with a telluric and almost carnal energy.

Hamsun reveals himself in a less obvious way as a man of tradition, in many ways a “pagan who adores Christ,” to quote Nicolás Gómez Dávila. One thinks of the setting of his novels, such as Pan, in which he shows his attachment to the nature of the North, or Markens grode (The Fruits of the Earth, or Growth of the Soil), a rewriting of Genesis. Very critical of bourgeois materialism, Hamsun maintained throughout his life a close relationship with spirituality, which occupies an important place in his books. Thus, in Victoria (1898), he writes in praise of the Gospels: “Love was the first word of God and the first thought that crossed his mind. When he commanded ‘Let there be light,’ love was. All his creation was successful and he did not want to change anything. And love, which had been at the origin of the world, was also its master. But its paths are strewn with flowers and blood. Of flowers and blood.”

Hamsun’s detestation of the bourgeois world is also apparent in a 1917 work entitled, Segelfoss By (Segelfoss Town). In it, Hamsun evokes a city “as if resurrected from the dead,” where people live in “small and old-fashioned” conditions, which is “as it used to be, a long time ago.” This neighboring city is symbolically outside of space and time. However, there is no nostalgia in Hamsun, who is aware of the changes and ruptures of time. Enemy of the modern world and major player in the Norwegian literary revival, his fate is similar to that of Ezra Pound in the United States or Louis-Ferdinand Céline in France.


Antoine Pizaine is a historian, monarchist and Maurrassian. This article appears through the kind courtesy of PHILITT.


Featured: “Portrait of the Author Knut Hamsun,” by Alfredo Andersen; painted in 1891.

The Paradox of Japanese Modernity

Modernity, as it appeared in Japan in the 19th century, baffles the Westerner who might consider questioning it. Because it is often wrongly perceived as an exclusively European phenomenon, its Japanese expression is reduced to an attempt to imitate it in order to make up for economic, political and military backwardness. Yet, in Moderne sans être occidental: Aux origines du Japon aujourd’hui (Modern without being Western: At the Origins of the Japan of Today), Japanese history specialist Pierre-François Souyri demonstrates that Japanese modernity, far from being an ersatz of Western modernity, has an identity and genesis of its own.

The identity between modernization and westernization of Japan is one of the most commonplace points of view. Writers, filmmakers, but also, more seriously, historians often describe a feudal archipelago that embraced Western modernity by discovering the new power of the expanding European empires in the mid-nineteenth century. The British gunboats created a sense of urgency and weakness in this traditionally isolationist people, forcing them to catch up technically, economically and politically. This approach thus holds that Japanese modernity is the product of the West; that the deep causes of the transformation of Japanese society are exogenous and that this radical change can be understood in the mode of pure and simple imitation, in particular through new tendencies, such as nationalism, imperialism or Japanese-style capitalism.

However, defends the thesis of an autonomous development, by underlining the internal causes that pushed the archipelago to embrace a specific and, precisely, non-Western modernity. In his opinion, if modernity has its origins in 16th century Europe, it also found its expression in 19th century Japan which, independently of the arrival of the Americans on its territory, experienced upheavals that profoundly redefined the organization of Japanese society, as well as the very mentality of its people. According to him, “the European vision of modernity… permeated Japanese discourse, to the point that some see it as a ‘spiritual colonization from within’ that polluted their historical imagination for more than a century.” In other words, the Japanese themselves were until recently unable to think of their own modernity outside the Western paradigm. They “long sought to conceive of the gap between Japan and the paradigm, consciously or not, by doing ‘Eurocentric comparatism.’”

It is not a question here of affirming that Japanese modernity owes nothing to Western modernity; rather, it is a question of restoring the originality of a historical phenomenon, by avoiding a systematic comparison with the European model. “For the past twenty years, this way of looking at things has been revisited in Japan, to the point that the history of Japanese modernization is now conceived at a pace identical to that of the ‘great powers,’ with shifts that were often less relevant than one might have thought.” From then on, Japanese modernity was no longer to be apprehended negatively, i.e., by always looking for what Japan does not have compared to Europeans, but positively, i.e., by reflecting on the nature of this modernity. In short, it is no longer a question of reasoning in terms of failure but of difference. “History indeed invites us to see that specific forms of modernity were born in Japan, with their own dimensions, hybrid and heterogeneous, and that they can sometimes be exported.”

The Japanese “Enlightenment”

The change of regime is decisive to understanding this period of Japanese history. The Meiji Restoration (1867-1912), the return of the emperor to the forefront, after more than two centuries of rule by the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1867), is part of the Japanese “Enlightenment” (bunmei kaika). In the ninth century, with the failure of the central state to defend the provinces, the political power of the emperor had faded to give way to a feudal Japan, dominated by daimyos (lords) and several centuries of civil war, until the arrival in power of Tokugawa Ieyasu in the early seventeenth century. The authority of the Tokugawa shogunate had been based in part on its ability to pacify Japan; but, faced with the military and technical superiority of the West, the regime no longer seemed to have the means to protect the country. From then on, only a central state with a modern army could ensure the security of the Japanese people against a possible invader.

The supporters of the Japanese “Enlightenment” were particularly impressed by Bismarck, during the Iwakura mission, which toured Europe from 1871 to 1873. The restoration of the Emperor was thus part of a context of modernization and “civilization;” but, unlike Western modernity, it did not involve the creation of a new type of regime, as in France or the United States. The writer and political theorist Fukuzwa Yukichi refers to this as “revolutionary restoration.”

From the outset, Japanese political modernity had something “conservative” about it; and Westerners were perfectly comfortable with the authoritarian character of the new regime. The Japanese case is thus very different from the French and American cases marked by intrinsically progressive revolutions. Moreover, if the West appears as a model in technical and military terms, it is also a rival, an enemy that must be imitated in order to better protect Japan. It is thus a double movement, both xenophilic and xenophobic, which conditions the advent of Japanese modernity.

That said, many supporters of the “Enlightenment” felt that political change was insufficient and that it was also necessary to transform society in depth by influencing mentalities. This is the case of the Society of the Year VI, which imported from Europe the practice of public debate, which had been completely absent in the archipelago. “We knew the palabra or the informal discussion in small groups; but confrontational debate was hardly in use. It would even have been shocking,” explains Souyri.

Muragaki Norimasa, deputy head of the Japanese delegation that went to Washington in 1860, was very surprised by the verbal violence of certain exchanges in parliament. “A minister who was taken to task by a member of parliament replied calmly, whereas a samurai would have drawn a sword!” Feudal Japan was administered by the samurai who respected a strict code of honor. The elites were forged by a warrior mentality and not a politician one. Insults were answered with weapons. There was therefore a long way to go to move from a society of hierarchy and honor to a society of free individuals practicing public debate and exchange between equal citizens.

Some members of the Year VI Society understood the link between the nature of the political regime and individual mindsets, as despotism was not really able to produce “civilized” individuals as in the West. The philosopher Nishi Amane said: “Docility is an important quality for the Japanese. In a despotic regime, it is indeed a highly prized quality.” Nakamura Masano, on the other hand, believed very early on that assemblies and councils elected by the people should be created to break with this despotic tradition and awaken the Japanese to the practice of politics.

The “Doctrine of the Quintessence of the Country”

Japanese modernity was also characterized by the emergence of nationalisms of different kinds. If the first intellectuals of the Meiji period wondered about the possibility of a change of regime to allow the Japanese to have more individual rights (freedom of assembly, association, expression) and real political freedoms, the debate then turned to the question of defining this new Japanese identity. “From the years 1887-1888… the terms of the debate evolved and henceforth crystallized around the question of identities within the nation, with a balancing act between three elements, the West and its always fascinating and threatening influence, the East (but this is mainly China) which became a kind of land of utopia or expansion, and finally Japan, whose essence had to be constantly redefined between the two previous poles.”

What is particularly interesting in the Japanese case is that nationalism, which is par excellence a modern political doctrine, was not only formed from the Western model. This is particularly true of a trend called the “doctrine of the quintessence of the country” (kokusui shugi). “They wanted to be the defenders and promoters of a pure national identity, of a form of nationalism of a new nature, of a national idealism,” Souyri emphasizes. From then on, we must not blindly imitate the Western model, which destroys what makes up the Japanese identity, but build a nationalism capable of grasping and respecting Japanese history and ethos. By adopting Western mores and techniques, Japan risked losing its soul, losing what is specifically Japanese. Those who defended the “doctrine of the quintessence of the country” believed that Japan should not be absorbed by modernity but should invent its own modernity, especially by preserving what is specifically Asian.

The Meiji government used an ancient concept to define the nature of the Japanese nation in order to confront popular demands and the supporters of the old feudal system: kokutai, which “refers to the national peculiarity of the imperial dynasty that has ruled the country forever and ever.” However, kokutai originally meant only the form and identity of a state, Japanese or not. It was a form of mystical nationalism in the 19th century that gave kokutai a new and specifically Japanese meaning: a conservative, national and anti-feudal doctrine. The idea of kokutai disrupted the old feudal hierarchies that structured society under the Tokugawa dynasty. It was used to build a strong central state that advocated the equality of all subjects before the deified person of the emperor, a particularly effective way to foster the emergence of a modern nation. “The emperor combines political authority with prestige of a spiritual nature. He is both the German Kaiser and the Pope of Rome embodied in one individual.”

Once again, we observe that Japanese political modernity was built by borrowing and recasting notions inherited from tradition, not by wiping the slate clean. The term kokutai appeared in the Imperial Constitution of 1889. Its first article states: “The Empire of Greater Japan is under the government of the emperor whose lineage has ruled our country since the beginning of time. The historical continuity of the Japanese Empire, despite periods of displacement, notably under the Tokugawa shogunate, allowed the defenders of the new Meiji regime to make themselves the guarantors of an absolute political authority, capable of resisting Westerners and defending a threatened ancestral Japanese identity.” Paradoxically, this new form of nationalism, out of rejection of Western values, turned in particular to Confucianism. “If there is a doctrine, it is rather a form of syncretism in which the most conformist Confucian thought is allied with the national precepts of autochthonist thought, mixed with forms of social Darwinism and modern nationalism,” says Souyri.

Japanese Anti-Modernism

In 1886, Shiga Shigetaka founded a new type of nationalism of cultural type. In Landscapes of Japan (1894), he explained that the beauty of Japanese nature is superior to that of Western countries and that from this aesthetic superiority should come a feeling of pride. “Shiga bridges the gap between a poetic and impressionistic discourse, and a naturalistic discourse that is scientific but based on the comparison, implicit or not, with the rest of the countries.” The objective of this book was to decompress the Japanese towards the Westerners by insisting on the natural beauty of the archipelago but also by praising the greatness of their poetry. Shiga’s thought thus went against the universalism of the Enlightenment to develop a new form of particularism but without falling into the xenophobia of the “doctrine of the quintessence of the country,” in which he did not recognize himself. “More than a political ideology, it is a thought with a cultural vocation,” insists Souyri.

In the same vein, we can cite Okakura Tenshin, famous for his Book of Tea, who understood early on the importance of valorizing Japanese art in the establishment of the new state. He participated in the creation of museums, the protection of heritage and the teaching of art. In his eyes, “fine arts are the quintessence and splendor of a nation.” While the Japanese were fascinated by Western art, Okakura Tenshin, who was a connoisseur of Western art, had the ambition to bring the importance of traditional Japanese art to the West. He “[was] at the origin of this image of an anti-modernist Japan, based on a mysterious and refined Japanese culture.” In this, Okakura Tenshin’s modernity can be compared to the anti-modern modernity of a Baudelaire defined by Antoine Compagnon. His anti-modernism is a reaction to Western cultural domination that sought to reactivate, within the framework of the development of the modern state, the aesthetic forms of Japanese tradition. In doing so, he participated in creating “a kind of invariance, the ‘eternal’ Japan'” as well as his “own orientalism.”

Pierre-François Souyri’s book allows us to understand that Japanese modernity was structured as much by imitating the Western model as by rejecting it. If there was indeed, in the history of Japan, a first movement influenced by the European Enlightenment, it was quickly counterbalanced by political doctrines that sought to preserve the spiritual and cultural identity of Japan, drawing on heterogeneous elements: Asianism, Confucianism, but also on a reinterpreted kokutai. This book is thus an invitation to detach oneself from any ethnocentrism in order to better understand the conditions of possibility of the emergence of a specifically Japanese modernity. “This forces us to assimilate in our mental schemas this simple idea: we are not the sole depositaries of modernity. Modernity was not invented once and for all by Europeans, and European modernity is perhaps not an exceptional and almost miraculous phenomenon. Other forms of modernity have manifested themselves elsewhere, and particularly in Japan.”


Matthieu Giroux is a Dostoyevskian sovereignist and the editorial director of PHLITT. This article appears through the generous courtesy of PHLITT.


Featured: “Founding of the Nation,” by Kawamura Kiyoo; painted in 1929.

The Submission of the Masses

We will not be laying bare any arcane mystery by pointing out that, since the essential quality of modern democracy is the legitimization of government by means of suffrage, power emanates from the persuasion of the voter, so that he who convinces wins. Once this obviousness has been established, we face, on the one hand, the challenge of analyzing what is most important in the democratic system, i.e., how consensus (i.e., majority) is achieved; which makes it possible to convert a given party’s preference into law. Once this has been done, it remains to be seen which individuals and groups are best adapted to this political ecosystem. Finally, and based on this examination, it is up to us to determine whether or not the design of the current democratic system encourages the most capable and virtuous to exercise power, or whether, 2500 years later, Diogenes’s assertion that lying is the currency of politics is correct.

Let us now take a step-by-step approach. Although given our relative delay in adopting the Anglo-Saxon model of liberal democracy, it is easy to fall into the Adamism of thinking that our political system has its own determining characteristics, which can drag us into the melancholy of frustration. It is enough to review the theoretical frameworks developed in the interwar period of the 20th century by Jewish-American intellectuals, such as Walter Lippmann and Edward Bernays, to see that their works became manuals for achieving and maintaining power through the ballot box.

Thus, concepts such as “public opinion” and “public relations,” which were coined by these authors, have become part of the lexicon of politics as euphemisms for “propaganda” and “manipulation of the masses.” Underlying these notions is the admission that since modern societies are increasingly complex, the maximum simplification of political discourse is essential—the infantilization of slogans—so that the complex can be explained to the population as if it were simple; and so that when the time comes to cast the vote, the voter does so convinced not only of doing so freely, but with a knowledge of the facts that emanates from understanding reality, thanks to the interpretation of it that has been transmitted by the politician, for whom the voter votes in the name of “those who constitute the invisible government that holds true power” (Bernays, 1928).

Lippman himself—author of the neologism “stereotype”—recognized that the metaphor of Plato’s shadow play in the cave was a faithful reflection of this state of affairs. This comparison being correct per se, the representation of the governed as mere spectators is insufficient, because it neglects the fact that members of society also participate actively, and often enthusiastically, in shaping the shadows that they then mistake for reality. This can be easily seen by getting on board any means of public transport, and seeing how mobile device users have become the product being sold, living in the absolute present; thus fulfilling to the letter that Marxian aphorism on the fetishism of commodities, according to which, when manufacturers create an object for the subject, they also create a subject for the object.

Perhaps the Romanian playwright Eugène Ionesco was best able to allegorize the situation of modern society in his 1958 play Rhinoceros, in which his protagonists are immersed in a sudden and absurd change that makes communication between them impossible; which ultimately becomes a voluntary act of conformism through a metamorphosis of the intellect which pushes them to repeat the ideas and slogans they hear, without bothering to reflect on their moral meaning and logical consequences. Ionesco shows us how difficult it is to live outside a given ideological framework, because to step outside it forces one to confront the complexity of the facts in the raw, without the fig leaf of synthetic certainties contained in ideology. Hence, in the underworld of virtual relationships, individuals tend to become rhinoceroses, reacting aggressively to any information that does not confirm or reinforce their mental frameworks, and is therefore perceived as a threat.

The paradox is that despite the illusory individualism of digital escapism, as in Ionesco’s play, people stop focusing on themselves, to immerse themselves in social distractions that make them lose personal focus, thus leaving them vulnerable to being manipulated without even being aware of it, thus joining a herd that is easy prey for those who influence the stories people receive about what is happening around them in a way that benefits the interests of the manipulator, through the formation of “public opinion” and the promotion of “public relations,” sewn into our lives with so few and transparent seams that we do not even notice the propaganda and censorship that weaves their stories together.

We wondered at the beginning of this essay if the current democratic system encourages the best to lead us. This does not seem to be the case—on the contrary. We often see that, in the absence of motivating proposals, political candidates resort to discrediting their opponents, with the sole purpose of making the opponent even less attractive than themselves in the eyes of the voter, generating vicious circles in which voter apathy encourages politicians to increase polarity and manipulation of the electorate, with all the means that the system itself puts at their disposal. Consequently, it does not seem that all this has a greater virtuality than to produce the perverse effect of favoring a negative natural selection; that of those aspiring politicians immune to opprobrium. Thus, far from encouraging the best to stand out, our system of manufacturing consent gives a competitive advantage to those who move better in cynicism and lies, making the lamp of Diogenes as necessary now as it was then.


Santiago Mondejar Flores is a consultant, lecturer and columnist on geopolitics and international political economy. This article appears courtesy of Posmodernia.


Featured: “The Parable of the Blind,” by Sebastiaen Vrancx, ca. 17th century.

Yukio Mishima: The Pen and the Sword

If Yukio Mishima remains a key figure in Japanese literature and beyond, it is undoubtedly because he was able to weave a perfectly fitting samurai costume. The writer rejected the mechanization and modernization of Japan to the death. He embodies the spirit of sacrifice in the service of an age-old aesthetic and a nationalism rooted in the smoldering ruins of imperial Japan.

On November 25, 1970, after submitting the manuscript of his tetralogy to his publisher, The Sea of Fertility, and its fourth part, The Decay of the Angel (a somewhat clumsy translation after Marguerite Yourcenar, who suggested “the rotten angel”), Mishima went to the Ministry of the Army accompanied by three of his disciples. He took the General Commander-in-Chief of the Self-Defense Forces hostage and had the troops summoned. He made a speech in favor of traditional Japan and Emperor Hirohito. Very quickly, he was forced to give up in front of the hostile reaction of the soldiers. He then proceeded to his ritual suicide by seppuku, following the tradition of bushido (“the way of the warrior”), and was decapitated by one of his acolytes. More than a ritual suicide, it was a real ritualized and theatrical killing, because it was filmed and photographed. Until death, Kimitake Hiraoka remained Yukio Mishima; that is to say an artist, the “Japanese Jean Cocteau,”, as he was sometimes nicknamed. Marguerite Yourcenar even said that “Mishima’s death is one of his works and even the most prepared of his works.”

Born in 1925 in Tokyo, Mishima appears both as an anachronism, and as a synthesis of European and Japanese classical genius. It was perhaps even in the European classical genius that he found a hope to rectify a Japan that was modernizing (he wrote mainly in the 1950s and 1960s) and Americanizing at full speed (the country is a quasi-American protectorate since the Japanese defeat following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki). Mishima was therefore undoubtedly the last samurai of Japan. This is how he thought of himself, paying homage through his book on Japan and the Samurai aesthetic, a critical essay on Yamamoto Tsunetomo’s Hagakure. He was the last to have cultivated this synthesis of the literate spirit and the cult of the body.

Mishima’s Obsession with Death

Mishima was haunted by the idea of death as a memory. This can be seen in three major facts: the first is the memory of burned Tokyo, which did not begin to haunt him until many years after the end of the war. This vision, as well as the two American nuclear bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, influenced Mishima’s entire generation, down to today, in cinema and literature. The bombings forged the relationship of the Japanese to the war, to the foreigner and to this brand new nuclear energy, in the Kaiju films, starting with the first of them, directed by Ishiro Honda in 1954, Godzilla (Gojira/ ゴジラ in Japanese).

Then, this culture of death also influenced and nourished him through his fascination with figures of European classicism—how can we forget the striking photo of Mishima as Saint Sebastian, hands tied, pierced with arrows, the body tense and muscular?

In the end, it was in the cult of the way of the samurai that he was able to find a means out of a Japan in decline. Mishima, a fearful, solitary child, refusing the modern Japan that was thrust on him, nevertheless decided to be a samurai of his time, the only authentic way for him to go his way and go to his end; by refusing modernization and mechanization, he chose the time and the way of his death. Between the code of chivalry, philosophy and religion, doesn’t the Hagakure say “I understood that the way of the warrior is death?” Every day, he “followed the way” and trained with a sword, even though the use of swords was forbidden at the end of the Edo period.

Therefore, how can we not understand his distress and anger, especially through his novel After the Banquet, which denounces the vanity of the behavior of the new Japanese bourgeoisie and especially the parliamentary system that Mishima hated. Similarly, in his novella, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, he evokes themes of traditional Japan—beauty, ugliness and community.

In 25 years, Mishima wrote about a hundred works: plays, short stories, novels, essays. This is not the work of a man lost in an era that is not his own, wandering aimlessly, but that of a man who realizes that feudal Japan and the samurai are no more.

The Samurai and the Martyr: A Sense of Duty and Self-Improvement

But Mishima is also the paradoxical synthesis between Japanese samurai education and European classical literature. He loved Racine, Balzac, Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and many others. In his quest for excellence and, again, for a lost ideal, since Europe had stepped into the midst of industrial and mechanical modernity, Mishima found a bridge in the figure of Saint Sebastian. Indeed, the Christian martyr, like the samurai, dies when his time has come, without shirking. Yamamoto Jōchō, in his Hagakure, writes: “True courage consists in living when it is right to live, and dying when it is right to die,” insisting precisely on the necessity to do one’s duty and not to run away from death. If the deep reason for Mishima’s morbid and almost erotic fascination with Saint Sebastian remains to be determined, the link between self-sacrifice and surpassing oneself, dear to the martyr and the samurai, undoubtedly enabled him to create this character, which is now almost mythical.


Antoine Pizaine is a historian, monarchist and Maurrassian. This article appears through the kind courtesy of PHILITT.

Of Drag Queens and Dragons: Two Global Elite Competitors

Introduction

In late May of this year, reports appeared about a scandal coming out of China, to do with a mathematics text books which had been used in primary school classrooms all over the country for the last ten or so years. Irate parents gathered on the internet to express their fury about the lewd, unpatriotic, and “ugly” pictures that had been included in the textbooks. The ugly ones depicted children with misshapen foreheads, droopy eyes, and “weird,” stylized Western clothes (one boy looks like he is a US college kid from the 1920s, another appears to be wearing Lederhosen, another is wearing a bow tie, another is posing like some young Hollywood star—in case you were wondering, Chinese parents generally don’t dress their kids this way). Some are pulling faces, or just looking stupid, and a number are making cheeky gestures with their tongues or hands; the unpatriotic ones include a picture of the Chinese flag in reverse and children dressed in colours suggestive of the American flag. The lewd ones are of little boys with very noticeable erect penises, another of a little girl’s dress lifted by her leap to reveal her panties and crotch, another has a boy tugging at a little girl’s dress, and in that same picture another child is squeezing the nipples of a little girl. At the very least, they look really weird—even more so that they appeared in a math textbook; though perhaps it is no weirder than university professors in the USA telling all and sundry that teaching math to black kids is racist.

The Chinese government appears to be embarrassed by the whole thing, and no less enraged than the parents, although there are questions to be answered about why the CCP had previously ignored complaints about the textbook. For it is only now, after a new surge of online complaints and chats, that the government has taken action and is investigating who was responsible. The question of responsibility for how a book makes it into a Chinese class room is no small matter. One imagines that a lot of seals of approvals are needed for a school text to be pedagogically and ideologically acceptable to the CCP. So, it seems that the illustrators are just the tip of an iceberg—the question is what lies beneath the surface?

The most common interpretation seems to be that there may be nefarious Western influences at work, who have deployed subliminal means to try and turn Chinese children away from traditional values and appropriate behaviour.

The Western media that I have read generally sees the whole thing as one more example of Western bashing. Irrespective of whether this is some foreign or domestic plot, or just someone having a laugh while the various officials presiding over ideological and social purity were asleep at the wheel, or someone given to the infantile humour, what is noteworthy is the concurrence between parents and the government about what constitutes an assault upon Chinese values, and what this indicates about how the Chinese expect their children to appear and to behave, and how they are responding to depictions of naughty sexualized children. It is equally noteworthy that they can see in these pictures a possible foreign attempt to subvert Chinese values by subliminally Westernizing children.

2. The Great Emancipation Continues, Spearheaded by Drag Queens and Trannies

That the Chinese government is able to pitch the above-mentioned episode as one of potential Western sabotage would seem less far-fetched were it not for the fact that in a very short space of time, the Western elite and the urban tertiary-educated metropolitan professional classes, who are its primary representatives, beneficiaries and enablers have literally dragged the matter of sexual rights and identity into childhood. Thus, there have been various local council and government initiatives to have drag queens read to kids in libraries, or drag events of meet-and-greet parents and kids; others allowing permits for setting up stripping poles at pride events for the kids to try their hand at what may turn into a new career opportunity. One that recently received a fair amount of backlash was of a scantily clad, well-stacked and packed, leggie transexual dancing around in a manner typical of “adult” club “dancers.” But it was not an adult club and “she”/”he,” or whatever the chosen pronoun, was not reaching out to adults, but to very young kids, with their parents clapping along, and encouraging kids to dance along with the nice ladyman. In a country that won’t allow people to have a beer until they are 21, there seems to be no issue with kiddies being in a bar with a neo-sign displaying the words ‘It’s Not Gonna Lick Itself;’ just in case you thought this was not OK, officials made sure that while kids may have been chaperoned in the “lick her” lollipop event, no liquor was served—thank the Lord that moral standards are being so safely protected by our moral paragons.

Speaking of moral standards and paragons of virtue, that other bastion of moral proprietary, the corporate media have increasingly come to see it as their moral responsibility to use children’s tv shows, films and books to celebrate same sex practice, coupling, marriage and childrearing as well as trans-children and trans-parents. In this new moral universe that has been conjured by the Western elite, it is a “normal” part of a child’s development to consider his/her biological sex as a matter of little importance whilst being encouraged to ponder the greater question of what biological sex he/she would like to become, and hence to help Big Pharma and surgeons decide what kind of drugs and amputation surgery they think might be suitable for kids that cannot be trusted to drink a glass of wine but have the wisdom of self to know where nature made an error in handing out the sex parts.

The world we all live in, in the West, was neatly laid out with that same intrepidity that defines the Daily Mail as the slummier version of the New York Times, a paper which never hesitates to scream louder for the demise of the Western world: on the same day that a former President’s home had been raided by the FBI (perfectly reasonable… after all he was groomed by Russian agents and he was definitely a Russian puppet President, and he posted really mean tweets, and he led an insurrection by saying we are going to march peacefully down to the Capital and protest)—a four-year-old child born a female announced transition with a blue gender reveal cannon at Vancouver Pride Parade—with its grandmother by its side. USA/Canada/Australia/New Zealand/Western Europe—as we say in Australia “same difference;” though, to be fair to the Canadians, they did at least pick a guy who can enforce the new fascism in complete sentences.

But it is not who the Grand Poobah is that matters anymore, anymore than it matters which ruling party holds office—it is what the Western globalist enablers and beneficiaries are willing to do to get their way. Those wanting the Great Reset are as prepared to destroy any populist opposition who might undermine their plans, as they are to starve people (ask the Sri Lankans about that), as they are to destroy the livelihoods of farmers who must cull their cattle, and thus be forced to sell their land off to those wanting to control the global production of food and its supply, of what will be a predominantly plant or insect based diet (ask the Dutch farmers about that), and as they are to encourage anything that might lead to the reduction of the global population, so that it might fit the number Klaus, Bill, Jeff, George and their mates think is desirable. It is not hard to envisage that behind the new family and the normalization of the idea that one’s biological sex organs not meaning anything is the prospect of the eventual banning of biological birth by anyone whose social credit is discredited. If that sounds like some crank conspiracy theorist, it is because today a conspiracy theorist is anyone who has read “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” or The Great Reset. And if anyone thought things like the directives “Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature,” and “Guide reproduction wisely—improving fitness and diversity,” which were engraved on the Georgia Guidestones in 1980, were actually intended to mean something and might in some way have been put there by someone (Ted Turner according to local rumour) who shared the same “vision” with Schwab, Gates, and Co.—well, they are really total crazies. (The monument was blown up last month and has been removed, so to think it was even there is crazy, man, crazy.)

This same elite also thinks that acceptance of this program should be mandatory; that parents who object to some part of it—like the kids thinking that Mummy and Daddy are really weird if they are last century’s version of Mummy and Daddy, or that “willies” and “vulvas” are about as defining of who and what one is as one’s favourite ice cream—are either misinformed and need to be re-educated or are a threat to their children’s well-being and hence their children need to be rescued from them for such parents’ cruel bigotry. This elite also think that any member of a medical or psychiatry association, and increasingly a university or school, who does not think this should be relieved of his duties.

None of this, though, prevented the mobilization of opposition to Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health which was driven by the slogan of women’s rights; which is indicative of the fact that “woman” is a biological term when those with progressive political intentions say it is because they want it to be—and when it does not suit them, then biology is a social construct.

In a world where an elite, and their imbecilic enablers, preach that it is not normal to think of one’s natural sexual organs as signifying anything, the right answer for anyone aspiring to hold office in the highest judicial office in the land is to pass on the question “What is a woman?” by stating the obvious that “she is not a biologist”—hence all those old laws and rules which do require distinguishing between men and women, or designating who may enter which toilets, bathrooms, or waxing services according to sexual anatomy, can be deemed unconstitutional without anyone ever needing to do something as clumsy and open to a barrage of ridicule as the Democrats did when they passed the “sexless speech codes for the House of Representatives.”

By the way, and apropos of China and America, and their respective elites and “leaders,” the code which bans the use of such terms as “mother” and “father,” “brother” and “sister” was introduced by Nancy Pelosi, the same one who, having poked the dragon by refusing to play the normal game of international diplomacy, publicly waltzed off to Taiwan (none knows exactly why, apart from the obvious reason of creating an international incident) thought that the public was so stupid that her telling the “cutest” anecdote of believing, as a little girl, that if she dug through the beach she would get to China—that’s how much she loved China and why she has had a special relationship with China ever since. Until I read that, and leaving aside pretty much any sentence Joe might air on any given topic, or videos of him walking into broom closets, shaking hands with the air a minute after shaking hands with a real person (assuming that is, that Chuck Schumer is not a lizard shape-shifter), and reading teleprompter directions for his audience to hear—I had thought nothing could top Kamala Harris’s lesson on international diplomacy for the American people: “Ukraine is a country in Europe. It exists next to another country called Russia. Russia is a bigger country. Russia is a powerful country. Russia decided to invade a smaller country called Ukraine; so, basically, that’s wrong,”

Xi and the boys are probably wondering on how earth the world economic and military hegemon is led by three idiots—and for the anti-Trumpers, let us concede along with the debacle in Afghanistan, poking the Russian bear into threatening to nuke the West, you got three idiots doing well over three times more damage for the price of one. Though Xi and Co. just might be wondering if all these seemingly imbecilic antics are coded signals to those in China prepared to engage in an elite overthrow in the People’s Republic.

Irrespective of what the leaders of the CCP think, what we are witnessing in the West is the most radical transformation ever undertaken of child socialization—by making sexual identity as a rightful (legislatively backed-up) choice the centre-piece of its importance. How we reached this state cannot be separated from the broader “march” of social liberalization that commenced with the acceptance of sexual practices once considered criminal; and, then, when decriminalized, extended to the publicization of said practices through public parades and carnivals, in which participants in various state of undress simulate sexual acts on floats (though to be fair, usually with humour); then to the removal of any institutional obstacle—such as had been operating in the military since God knows when—to employing people who openly identified their being with their choice of same-sex relationships and encounters; then to the right of same sex couples to adopt children; then to be married (the sequence indicated that this was already a fait accompli); and finally for the army to pay for gender reassignment surgery. A lot of people started to get irritated when it came to the last one—not because they are transphobic or want to beat up trans people but because they don’t want to pay for anyone’s surgery involving their sexual parts. But now that it has reached the kids a lot of people are very angry—although, as in so many other matters, our great cultural and political leaders think the problem is solved if they can just mock and disparage the parents of the kids being taught how to enjoy all the colours of the sexual rainbow, and to go sex-organ-shopping with their teacher.

The examples are endless, and seem to be ever more unbelievable—but the doozie is of a PhD (remember this is the ticket to academic life) involving the candidate’s ethnographic study of masturbation and Japanese boy-sex comics; the study consisted of him reporting on his “field” research—i.e., his feeling as he masturbated while viewing the comics. While Western progressives love to invoke how all cultures should be treated with respect, except the repressive Greco-Christian-Germanic, Western European/North Atlantic culture, there are also no pride parades, nor pride flags in China, nor, while we are at it, anywhere outside of Israel in the Middle East, nor Asia generally.

But, Islamic countries aside, governments generally have far more urgent problems than checking up on people’s sex lives, and the social cost of doing so is not one that has much going for it—apart from needlessly interfering in people’s personal lives, the opportunities for blackmail, the destruction it does to reputations or to friends and families makes it as toxic as it may be hypocritical (J. Edgar Hoover is the poster boy for that.) That was why governments in the West in the 1960s and 1970s (China followed in the late 1990s) overturned laws which were widely accepted as being discriminatory and socially and personally damaging. I am not surprised that even conservatives who object to gay adoption or gay marriage do not want to return to legislation against consensual same-sex acts between adults. But I no more see it as discriminatory against gays not to feel the need to wave pride flags, nor attend pride parades any less than I feel it discriminatory against women not to want to go to strip clubs. Of course, those who think they are fixing up the world from the cruelty of prejudice think that such an argument is not pertinent. But that’s the thing about consensuses dreamt up by elites—nothing other than what they think is relevant. That they think that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a defining feature of a person, as opposed to an aspect of someone, is what separates this elite from others of the past, as well as the Chinese elite—who don’t want the entire basis of the family overturned so that people can do what they do, and which the CCP doesn’t care about as long as they don’t bring it into classrooms, or do the kind of things in public that heterosexuals are also prohibited from doing.

That today’s teachers in the West are increasingly required to ensure that children not only not be bullied for their sexual choices but be encouraged to consider the various sexual life-style and alternative choices open to them makes sense in terms of the “logic” of liberation, and the logic of the self as being primarily defined by sexual desire. But what it also is, is the denial of traditional parents to induct their children into roles that they value. To be sure, many parents may once have been disappointed that their little Jimmy or Suzie, once they grew up, liked having sex with people of the same sex—though I think most who love their kids will not stop loving them because of that. Families have to get over all sorts of stuff; and to think that teachers should be authorized to reset the norms of social roles to ease the embarrassment or personal suffering due to parents’ expectations is but one more example of the expansion of the state into areas of life which threaten to make it an all-encompassing power controlling what anyone is permitted to think or say.

The matter of sexual emancipation is not just about sexuality, it is about state authority and what occurs when it is unbounded. In his impressive majestic tome on the subject of sexuality and modernity (introduced to me by the editor of this magazine), E. Michael Jones’ Libido Dominandi argues that unleashing the sexual floodgates of desire is intrinsic to the creation of the modern self and its values, and that at its centre is the desire and capacity to control. I think there is much truth to his argument, as well as his insight expressed on a YouTube presentation that the moderns distorted the traditional order in which desire is subordinate to truth and replaced it with truth being subordinated to desire. To which, what passes for an educated student today, asked him, whose truth? Elsewhere I have expressed my distaste for metaphysical a priorism intruding into matters where experience must be our guide; which is to say not experiences of the Lockean sort that have been put through an epistemological and metaphysical meat-grinder that is applicable to physics and not much else, but the experiences of our tastes, smells, touches and feelings—they are intrinsic to our second nature which is part of our social and historical cultivation.

But the point the said student missed (and I wish Jones had done a better job of making his case in this instance) was that yes different cultures/peoples/faith value different things, but there can be no argument about the built-up-world, with all its virtues and pathologies, and hence all the living consequences that reveal the truth of what an orientation is and where it leads. (This was why Augustine commences The City of God with his identification of where faith in the Roman gods has led). And that is not a matter of subjectivity but of record. Speaking over and around the world is subjective; but living in a good family and neighbourhood, or living in a shit-hole is as objective as being hit by a truck. In this respect, although all societies reproduce themselves through the cultivations and selections its authorities make, about which desires and practices its youth are to be orientated in, and which ones to be proscribed by punishing any transgressor. While the Western cultural revolution of the 1960s is closely connected to the sexual revolution and hence to subordinating truth to desire generally, but most of all sexual desire, the CCP, having scrambled back from the brink of its own defeat and the chaos it helped create, has closed that particular modern pathway of self-destruction.

That sexual emancipation in the West does disclose a truth is all too evident, when one moves outside of environments sufficiently well-resourced to drive the negative consequences of serial monogamy and broken families, into the more personal and solitary sad confines alleviated by drugs, alcohol, and other sedatives of the spirit, and enters into the social squalor of its underclass. There divorce is all too-often accompanied by impoverished single mothers serially coupling with socially, poorly formed, ill-equipped violent men, who treat them and their children with callous opportunity.

The more impoverished, squalid, hellish social pockets that breed crime, drug addiction, petty theft, woman-beating, abandoned children is all explicable in our Western world as the consequence of some kind of “-ism” or “phobia”—racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, or lack of equality (a word very easy to say but a problem whose solution more times than not equates into more jobs for the bureaucrats, as the problems attributed to inequality continue to fester). What cannot be touched is the central idea of the emancipation of our desires, which (with race coming a close second—but note how even BLM link their objectives to sexuality) has become the predominant one, circulated within the Humanities.

Thus, it should be no mystery that professions in entertainment, the media and education, and increasingly the medical and social work professions, now require all children—who are to be seen as smaller desiring subjects—be “rescued” because a minority of them might—and among them some definitely do—suffer because of their sexual desires. One issue this decision to reconstruct the self—for it is a decision—raises is at which age should the law configure the self in this manner. It is obvious that what now passes for the norm amongst those who believe themselves to be the leaders of our emancipation is that it would not only be cruel and morally wrong to distinguish between adults and children on matters of sexual identity, but even more cruel to deny this right to children.

Of course, laws of statutory rape and carnal knowledge are regularly enforced, and people can be imprisoned for sex with minors. Though it is weird, isn’t it, that with all the kerfuffle about Epstein, and sex trafficking, apart from Epstein himself, it is only Ghislaine Maxwell who has gone to trial—nothing to see here folks. If you ever wondered how loony stuff like Pizza-gate takes off, you might consider that the media actually does bury stories where sex with minors is involved—apart from Epstein, go dig, if you don’t know of its contents, into what incriminating stuff was on Hunter’s lap top.

While the march of emancipation is pitched as if it were primarily about choice—”my body my choice” being the slogan that stretches from the sex act to the sexual being of one’s entire identity, to “terminating” a pregnancy, from pleasure to extinguishing a potential life (let’s leave aside when, why and how it might be “justified”)—it is really about pleasure, and sexual appetite as the primary drive and hence most rightful basis of one’s identity. In part, this is an outgrowth of bad ideas that spring from the modern metaphysical revolution which became the ideational attractor force for modern politics and the modern state. Of course, pleasure is nice—it is pleasurable. But the social order, known by every premodern society, is not based upon pleasure but sacred obligation and sacrifice; and to think that pleasure can displace the sacrificial and the sacred by becoming the new sacred is a complete defiance of reality. And this is exactly what the Western elite today are—the incarnation of the defiance of reality—and in so far as reality and spirit are not separate substances, but are the occasion of each other; mutual aspects of ourselves, our encounters and our world; defying reality also means defying the spirit. The fact that this defiance occurs at the same time as our knowledge and control over the dead mechanics of nature is on a previously unprecedented scale of achievement is what gives us the predicament of a people dwelling in material surfeit, but lost, lonely, and despairing whilst seeking solace in, at best, escapist entertainment, or cocaine, crack, fentanyl, alcohol, and whatever else may act as a stimulant to the dying self. Zombie movies that became all the rage some twenty years ago, as I have mentioned elsewhere, strike me as the expression of the collective subconscious, representing the plight of the collective soul.

But of all the various stimulants, sex is the most immediate; and making our sexual being the fulcrum of our moral scale is a perfect way to sacralize a force that has, with some rare historical exceptions, always been recognized as a dangerous one, if not properly channeled and socially modulated, through the most socially authoritative powers. (It also provides false fuel for that hunger for spiritual meaning that is the defining feature of non-psychopathic souls.) This fact was what fantasists like Margaret Mead attempted to disprove by imagining people who lived lives of such libidinous indulgence that the poor repressed sex-starved souls in the West could only look on with envy. The sexualization of the self is, in short, a reconstruction of the self as a completely appetitive being—notice how all the rights talk of emancipation is about satisfaction of the need to have access to more pleasurable stuff, which has been kept from your group by the privileged oppressors.

That sexual appetite is mercurial and forceful is precisely why giving it too much authority in a scale of social values does not lead to emancipation or any kind of moral consistency, but to ever more haphazard ways of us dealing with each other, ever more opportunities to do what we as a species regularly do—hurt each other, and make each other miserable (that by the way is not a left/right thing—it is just a perennial thing that no ideology will save us from). But this is also why blunt and, often brutal, measures have traditionally been adopted to keep sex under wraps rather than make it the centrepiece of daily life. And why the West is entangled in its abstract puritanism, voyeurism, and appetitive obsessions—and the kids are smack bang in the middle of all this.

When we think of sexual desire being the centre of our being, most will think that this is largely due to Freud. Freud was possibly brilliant, but definitely nuts—for him all love derived from pleasure, and the search for love was a search for pleasure, which was a hunt for the big pay-off of sex. And for Freud our biggest problems in life all come back to the fact that Daddy and Mummy didn’t want the kids to have sex with Mummy. A culture that can create an entire profession around that idea is one that is willing to believe anything. In any case, we know coke makes people delusional about sex (Harvey Weinstein and Louis CK will surely agree with that); perhaps all that cocaine is responsible for Freud have decided that was the real meaning of human life. But to be fair to him, Freud at least conceded that civilization required redirecting the sex drive—had he not paused from having sex all day, and put his coked-up brain to another purpose, i.e. thinking about sex all day and finding it in all his dreams as well, he never could have given the world his “great” science of psychoanalysis. And in spite of all the coke and sex in Hollywood, it is difficult to discern in our film and tv show makers, as well as in our more poorly paid academics and school teachers (who generally can’t afford too much of the coke) much concession to Freud’s idea of sublimation.

The other guy who thought everything was about sex and pleasure—so much so that pain (of the self as well as others) was to be explored in all its modalities as the highest source of pleasure—was the Marquis de Sade. And it is no accident that the third figure in the Holy trinity (Marx and Nietzsche being the first two) of twentieth century existentialism, French poststructuralist and postmodernist philosophy (yes, they are kind of different, and they sure squabbled amongst themselves), that is the philosophy which took total emancipation as its endgame, is de Sade. To be sure in the writings of Bataille, Blanchot, Klossowski, Deleuze, de Beauvoir, Barthes, Foucault, it is de Sade the author, the man of imaginative and verbal excess that is celebrated; which is to say it is one in which the lion is muzzled, and the carnivalesque fantasies of murdering and torturing children is but air and words which, with their hermeneutical help, we can channel into the stratosphere of great philosophy and/or literature. The relevance of Sade, though, is that if life is all about desire and its most pleasurable kinds—or even better if we stick with the French jouissance—then transgression and emancipation are synonyms. Which it has been for lots of academics in literature departments in North America in the last thirty years or so—just do a search for transgression along with queer studies, feminism etc. so you get the picture.

Of course, the fact that someone writes with Sadean enthusiasm about sexual transgression in the morning does not mean that in the afternoon they won’t end up sitting on some committee in the afternoon accusing one of their colleagues for some sexual misdemeanors; on more than some occasions it is because a college girl’s fantasies with her favourite professor didn’t turn out the way she hoped. Consistency rarely plays a role in human affairs, especially where sanctimony is involved. And I do not want to say that all people are pedophiles who push for kids being part of the fun at pride parades, lollipop licking trannie shows, or being read to by drag queens in libraries, or pushing for more books about teenies showing each other their weenies or pee pee holes, or being super depressed because they either need them cut off, or need have them stitched on so they can be who they really are, which is to say they can receive all the accolades for being such good brave children by doing what their parents hope and pray they will do. I really don’t think they are primarily pedophiles; but I also don’t think all their immersion in Judith Butlerish gibberish has given them any clarity at all about what kind of world they are making, or what kind of mess they are making of the lives of the kids they are screwing up in order to save them from haters and ‘normies.’

In any case, the cultural revolution that took place in the West in the 1960s, of which the sexual revolution was a major component, was one in which the matter of childhood development, which included sexual development and desire, was already being signaled. Nowhere was this more visible than in a famous case in France, in which a number of prominent philosophers, whose names would become bywords for the philosophies of 1968 (frequently, albeit somewhat sloppily, grouped as “postmodernist”)—Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Roland Barthes, and (the definitely not postmodernists) Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir (yes, you spotted it; it is pretty much that same bunch of Sade lovers)—signed petitions, demanding the release of three men imprisoned for sexual activities with children aged 12 and 13. The petition was all couched in the language of the rights of children to have relations with whomsoever they wish. The issue then as now was who had the right to do what and which right should hold sway when the aim of the right was to prevent harm. At the time, the most public face of the philosophical pro-pedophilia position, a fact that had mostly been forgotten by all those professors lining up to instruct college students about why Foucault (the most cited scholar in the Humanities of our age) holds the keys to making the world such a much better place. Though there was a little rain a short while back on Foucault’s parade when Foucault’s pedophilia again became the talk of Paris, thanks to a French-American professor Guy Sorman saying he knew that Foucault had been paying for sex with underage boys in Tunisia; sometimes it seems he just raped them. (Given how big Foucault is in Post-Colonial Studies, one might think this might have damaged his brand—but I suspect that was no more the case than Althusser damaged his brand among radical feminists for strangling his wife.)

Non-progressives would generally concede that it is a casuistic point whether the divide between adults pedagogically inducting (normalizing) children into the various array of sexual choices and “their delights” are really grooming them—even though the scandals surrounding pedophilia in Disney and, more generally Hollywood, do indicate that those pushing to pleasure themselves with children have much to gain by promoting a sexualization of children. LGBTQ+ groups, though, who are proactive in promoting the lit, the films, the readings and the meet-and-greets couch everything in terms of saving the children, As noble as they see themselves, lots of parents do not buy, nor like, it. But the thing is that in the West, and unlike in China, they can do next to nothing about it. And whichever way we cut it, children are under the instruction of an elite who are spearheading the Western cultural revolution and reconfiguration of all Western institutions along lines suited to the narratives and values which this elite has by making a living out of the hellish marriage of human appetites and their control.

2. The Chinese Cultural Revolution and What the CCP Learnt from It

The contestation between the world’s two super powers is a contestation between two elites that have both come out of modern revolutions of national liberation and cultural revolutions. While the national revolutions were almost six generations apart, the cultural revolutions were simultaneous, and their respective outcomes—one defeated, the other successful and still in operation—would be decisive in how the two most powerful global elites would line up. Both cultural revolutions intensified an essential feature that lay imminent in their national revolutions—Maoist ideology was intensified in China, at the moment when other party members and factions sought to rescue the nation from the economic sabotage that had characterized Mao’s leadership since winning the civil war; the cultural revolution in the US was fought by an extension of rights (which had been a defining feature of the nation’s declaration of independence) to groups which all laid claim for their rights to be recognized, so that they could enjoy their right to happiness along with everybody else.

The cultural revolution in China occurred shortly after the country had been forced by Mao and the party to follow policies that involved mass killings and mass starvations of the Great Leap Forward—there are many books on this topic, but one by a former colleague of mine at the University of Hong Kong, Frank Dikötter’s Mao’s Great Famine, is probably the most thorough and harrowing account of the cruelty, stupidity, callous indifference, and sheer scale of brutality that took place in China between 1958-1962. While the party managed to retain its political power, Mao’s authority had to be reined in by other party leaders and their factions, who hoped to place the revolution back on some kind of stable trajectory. Being somewhat muzzled himself, Mao colluded with his wife, an ex-actress, Jiang Qing, to begin an active campaign against the threat to China being posed by the threat of capitalist in-roaders using bourgeois ideas (i.e., anything she did not like) to sabotage the revolutionary potential of the arts, whilst also laying down revolutionary guidelines. She took particularly firm control of the traditional art of Chinese opera—lots of earnest red guards, waving red flags, yelling out Maoist slogans, and triumphantly peering into a distant future, after they had humiliated and beaten on some terrible landowner or shopkeeper or other bourgeois vampire sucking the entrails out of beautiful athletic dancers and actors posing as simple peasants/proletarians. Art and reality perfectly reflected each other—it was real socialism and socialist realism, in which the youth on stage were as useful to real farming as the red guards prancing around the countryside bringing their vast wealth of experience and knowledge to the collective farms—and they were both crimes against any finer sentiments or thoughts that people might be able to muster up outside of the embittered neuro-pathways of this wretched embittered couple (just as Mao had scores to settle in the party, she had scores to settle in the theatre and film world she had once circulated in) who needed to overthrow and take lead of an entire former empire to fulfil their fantasies.

They may not have slept together, but they were able to give birth to a mass movement of youthful violent energy, in a country that had been in chaos for decades. The wretched life the poor youth had had as children, thanks to Mao and his subordinates, made them eager soldiers in the battle to storm the heaven of plenty and freedom. Marx had promised that the citadel of unalienated life could be had once capital had provided the techniques and technologies of endless bounty, provided it was expropriated from the blood-sucking capitalists. With Mao, whose track-record already included the ruin that accompanied ridding the land of the vermin of sparrows, and flies and bypassing industrialization by the establishment of backyard smelters transforming spoons and tin cups into industrial strength steel, very heaven was ripe for the taking. All they needed to do was follow the thought and wisdom of Chairman Mao, and destroy the source of all their problems: those “running dogs of capitalism” within the party and elsewhere, and “the four olds”—old ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits.”

These red guards hunted down all “old” and bourgeois elements not only within the country, but within their own families and neighbourhoods. In addition to roaming around the country looking for and destroying any signs of what they found unworthy of the new future, they threw elders out of their windows, put dunce caps on their teachers, and snitched on and insulted their parents and grandparents. Whenever they had an opportunity they would assemble, screaming Maoist slogans at all and sundry, whilst waving copies of that little red book—put together by the guy that was second to Mao before Mao did a number two on him and had him blown up in a plane—that had compressed all the great wisdom of the greatest genius the world has ever known into a book the size of one’s hand. It sure takes genius to come up with stuff like “We must fight a war if we have to. I am saying that it is not so terrifying even if half of our population perishes.”

No wonder all those real clever types, such as Foucault, Sollers, Kristeva and the Tel Quel crowd, Althusser, Badiou, Sartre, de Beauvoir (haven’t we met most of this lot a couple of times already?) in that city which would become the most bedazzling theoretical source for the various emancipatory groups that would be born in the womb of the student revolt—Paris—thought Mao was just tremendous. As far as they could fathom, people in Mao’s China were far freer than those like themselves who lived in that oppressive stodgy old political system and political culture that concealed its fascism and repression behind the shabby façade of free speech, state welfare and democracy—simple minded guy that I am, I fail to see the difference in craziness between this philosophical fantasy and one that blames the problems of the world on aliens from other planets inhabiting people.

The red guards also had to bond with the peasants by working in the collective farms, where they were likely to find old party officials who had actually fought in the revolution feeding the pigs and undergoing reeducation by being amongst the people. In the meantime, universities essentially ceased; thus ensuring a shortage of technically trained professionals, and hence too ensuring another decade or so of economic self-sabotage. If ever anyone wants to prove that there are worse ways to economically organize a country than capitalism, with all its flaws, all they have to do is point to Mao’s China—or to Mao’s most illustrious progeny, Pol Pot. If Mao had only had ten more years, he might have been inspired by Pol to show him just how he should have gone about it.

Mao was eventually brought to heel by the remnants of the party who had returned after having been harassed and banished to the countryside. From outside it seems that Mao had sense enough to realize that he too would be dragged under the wheels of the momentum of what he had helped orchestrate; so, he thought it better to remain as the great helmsman, while the rest of the party mopped up the mess. Mao was left as a figure head; left alone, as we all subsequently discovered, to have a driver cruise for young girls for him to sleep with, before slipping completely into senility. For their part, the anti-Mao forces in the party, which were very many, had to do one thing—wait. Wait they did. And immediately upon his death, they imprisoned his wife and the other primary instigators of the cultural revolution.

It seems that immediately after his death they were not too sure what to do, except put their faith in the little guy who had fought with Mao and returned to restore some sort of order. Prodded on by impatient farmers sick to death of working in collective farms for a pittance, and determined to bring some of their surplus to markets, he undid not only Maoism, but Marxist economics (though not the Leninist political apparatus which had enabled the CCP’s monopoly of political power). With that revolution from above, Teng would turn China into the rival hegemon to the USA it is today. Apart from allowing private property, the party realized that it had to tear out those radical cultural ideas that had created such social havoc and had managed to ruin urban industry as well as keeping China a country of impoverished peasants. The party then rehabilitated Confucius. That cemented any hope that any hotheads left over from the cultural revolution might have had.

Confucius, of course, had been attacked viciously by the CCP during Mao’s reign, in large part because at the centre of his teaching is the importance of parental authority and family roles. Conjoining Marx and Confucius is no mean dialectical feat, though to be sure no more so than calling for defunding the police in the West whilst requiring ever more legal enforcement to punish those who offend people’s feelings by speech deemed hateful. And in any case, it was one thing to change the content of communism so that it could be capitalism as long as the capitalists obeyed the party, but another thing altogether to ditch the brand name. But it was not only Marx and Confucius that had to be “married,” they could not eliminate Mao from the glorious history of the party. Thus, to this day Mao is still publicly revered, albeit with the rider, that he made “some mistakes.”

In the washup after the cultural revolution, the party, for all its infighting and factionalism, settled on three primary objectives: stability, solidarity and prosperity. On the matter of prosperity, and for all the profit siphoning, data and currency rigging, party and bureaucratic corruption, none can seriously deny the CCP has adopted policies which have lifted vast numbers out of poverty, exponentially grown its middle class, and massively expanded the regions where growth is taking place. The country certainly has people who still quietly grumble that the anti-corruption policies are simply the consolidation and protection of one criminal faction at the expense of others, but since Xi’s presidency the party seems to have well and truly placated any large-scale social unrest.

Irrespective of what one knows or thinks about the degree of corruption of the CCP, the CCP and its policies today is the result of 3-4 generations who have monopolized political power, who have led the country into and then out of chaos, and now rule a country in which opposition outside of the party is fragmented, kept under ground or under surveillance, and hence nowhere near hurling the country into civil war. When the CCP speaks of solidarity, it is intent upon preserving more traditional values, which is to say its view of solidarity is closely tied to the importance it gives to stability, and the prominence it gives to Confucius. And hence why the stuff in the textbooks and the stuff that is happening in the West raises their hackles.

For all its dialectical chicanery the CCP most certainly does not want to completely tear up the family again as had occurred during the cultural revolution—it needs it because only if children are raised to obey their parents and control their appetites will they have the discipline required to rear their own children, hold down a job and behave with civility. There is much about the CCP’s exercise of censorship, and unconstrained authority to be criticized, but the way the Western elite and its enablers has used desire generally, and used children to weaponize their adulation and deification of sexual desire for social control brings the matter of control and destruction to another level completely: the control is ever more total as is the destruction.

3. The Western Cultural Revolution and Why the West Rewards an Elite that Destroys Its own Civilization

In the West the cultural revolution, as in China, was a youth revolution—but to the extent it was orchestrated anywhere (and one should neither overestimate nor underestimate this aspect of it), it was partly aided by remote enemies of the United States—once more I advise any who are unaware of it, to check out the interview given by the ex-KGB agent in 1984, Yuri Besmenov, on YouTube and scout out the various Soviet funded fronts operating in the West during the Cold War—and by the extremely wealthy founders of “philanthropic” organizations, such as the Rockefeller Foundation.

Almost fifty years ago, I was astonished to see in Herbert Marcuse’s Soviet Marxism, a book that criticizes the Soviets for not being true Marxists, his acknowledgement of financial support by the Rockefeller Foundation. Alongside Rockefeller, the most famous foundations are probably the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and George Soros’s Open Society Foundations—which have continued to pump money into groups pushing forward the kind of radical politics that took their present shape, thanks to academic-student led identity formations in the Western youth/cultural revolution.

The generation that came of age in the 1960s was, however, damaged and spoiled long before Soviet and Rockefeller money found its way into supporting radical causes. And these agents aside, young people don’t need much assistance in becoming out of control. On the contrary, it takes a great deal of unified effort to harness natural energy into a form in which people can treat strangers among them with civility, and respect such fundamentals of civilization as property and sexual boundaries. Traditions that have been built up by generations, so that children honour their fathers and mothers, and their teachers, who also instruct children to honour their ancestors and ancestral ways, provide the foundation for people to treat each other in a law-abiding manner. Along with the family, there needs to be a certain deference to the tribe; and as tribes join into larger units, the expansion of civility may transpire. But the expansion of the bonds of social solidarity is not merely to the air of an idea, even if those appealing to ideas insist upon their moral or universal character. This idea that faith in moral ideas or moral rights, as set out in some document which provides the basis for greater bonds of solidarity, turns reality on its head—apart from the haphazard and ineffectual consequence of this, as all sorts of groups are happy to give lip-service to the formulae and to use the formulae to try and gain some kind of political or social advantage, but to ignore them completely when it does not suit them. Which is why the USA has so little moral credibility when it comes to getting the non-West to accepts its moral authority as setting the agenda of the international world order—or, just as obvious, why the UN routinely has dictatorships, who routinely violate human rights, serving on any number of its Human Rights bodies, such as the Human Rights Council, at any given time.

Traditional bonds of solidarity involve many aspects, including shared experiences, symbiotic hierarchical relationships and the adoption of diverse roles which make very different demands upon the various members of the social body, who in turn are intrinsic to accessing and conveying different aspects of reality which are transmitted across the ages. The fundamental differences between men and women are part of that accessing and transmission. And although changing material conditions may alter the urgency of our reliance upon certain components or elements of reality, which we need to access and cultivate in order to survive and live well, the idea that the real can simply conform to such abstract ends as freedom or equality, or diversity and inclusiveness, is the kind of idea that takes hold when people have become so used to the substitution of words and ideas for real roles with their duties, and sacrifices. It is no accident that the best educated generation, a generation drunk on ideas, albeit not very complex or intellectually sophisticated ones, was one which thought it could overthrow everything that previously had been considered essential to social formation.

One should also recall the crisis that the most well-educated people in the ancient world, the Athenians, were thrown into when sophists and orators became the new-fangled educators of ambitious young men aspiring to hold political power. The claim of the sophists was that they could teach the unjust argument to appear the just one, and the purpose of it was to school people into swaying crowds with the power of words. From different directions, Plato and Aristophanes attacked this emergent social practice—and in their attack, each one provided a diagnosis in which the practice of the other was seen as culpable in its development. And this remains the case today – both our philosophers and entertainers have contributed to the ideocratic nightmare which distorts our capacity to distinguish between socially constructive and socially destructive practices. Yes, the widespread acceptance that values are “socially constructed” occurs at a time when social destruction is far more assured than any construction that will endure in the future.

Words enchant; and while Max Weber rightly identified the development of the modern world with the disenchantment of reality, he should have added that it was no so much the ascendence and triumph of mechanical ideas which we deploy to rule nature, it was also the substitution of one kind of enchantment for another. That enchantment was manifest when, not altogether unlike what occurred in Athens, a new political elite based upon its rhetorical power was formed. I am not among that small group who speak as if we could go back to premodern feudal political forms as a means to escape the pathologies that our modern ones create. But that our modern political formations have created pathologies which play out in the triumph of abstract appeals and norms being used to direct our ways of life is a most serious problem. And that problem intensified with the mass education that took place in the 1960s and after, as the youth of the West, armed with a sweeping vocabulary of abstractions and a little learning, insisted on its knowing how to rid the world of its problems. All we had to do was follow it, and join in its social and cultural revolution. That there were serious problems is undeniable—if two world wars had not taught anyone that, then nothing would.

The issue was not that there were not serious problems—societies are always poised between survival and extinction, whether (as is our case) from their own internal deficiencies of the spirit, or to external enemies, wanting to expand their resources. It was whether those providing the diagnosis and the solutions to those problems had any credibility outside their own self-assurance and ambition. Unlike their Chinese counterparts, they did not go into the countryside to work amongst the farmers; but like their Chinese counterparts they screamed and shouted and denounced whoever they thought deserved it—and perhaps some of their targets really did deserve a good yelling at. But discrimination was not their strongest point—they were young, and did not really know much. Also, unlike their Chinese counterparts, they had been born into a land of economic plenty; but still there was plenty more to be had than a future job, and material resources to live in comfort. Added to latching on to the idea that pretty well all human desires may be satiated without bad consequences—Dante makes a pretty fair first of cataloguing what a large array of desires may make our personal and collective lives hellish.

It had been Nietzsche that called for “philosophers of the future” and “higher men” to lay out the new table of value in which we could dispense with any after-world and remain true to the earth and its eternal return. It was a really dumb, mechanistically-derived metaphysical idea that quite independently took the fancy of the radical precursor of one of the most brutal forms of modern political organization (Leninism), viz., Louis-Auguste Blanqui. But it was also an idea that served the purposes of infinitizing the self—whilst unintentionally infantilizing it at the same time (Freud was not wrong to see insatiable desire, even if not so Mummy-focussed as he thought, as an infantile condition). Which was why those with so little life experience were so sure they knew which values the human race needed to learn to be as smart as them and as happy as they thought they could be. Nietzsche also knew that shame is the inevitable accompaniment of valuation—it is the necessary means of value-enshrining and protection. He hoped his progeny would go around shaming the crippled in mind and body to kill themselves by adopting the myth of eternal return. As deranged and silly as I think his reasoning is about how the myth of the eternal return might be used (he thought millions might top themselves, and his buddies of the future would need to steel themselves to preside over such cruelty), I am sympathetic to anyone contemplating suicide who is forced to sit in a class of Thus Spake Zarathustra and write an essay on how tremendous it is.

The generation did pick up on the politicization of shame, and really got into the spirit of shaming anyone that did not think like them. But in order to occupy the moral high-ground, which they claimed as their right and duty, and what they thought distinguished them from all those other fascists who had also followed Nietzsche, and, anti-Semitism aside, had generally been more true to his teaching by dividing the world into the sub-human (who they did not like) and superhuman (themselves), they had to deal with the shame they felt at the actions of their forefathers. Of course, they were the direct economic beneficiaries of their forefathers’ ill-gotten gains; and while they were happy to share the future spoils of opportunity and office with the various oppressed groups they spoke on behalf of, they had been and would remain first in line to take advantage of the benefits opened to them by those same spoils. The day the same groups, who preach recompense, give away all they own and become like St. Francis, I will stop accusing them of being driven by self-interest. The shaming of ancestors also took on the form of guilt, which, to be sure I think for some, possibly many, was sincere. But whether sincere or simply stuff one said as part of the new value code of access into the emergent power elite which was being hatched within the student movement: the student revolution had replaced the failed proletariat one because the workers’ revolutionary potential had been bought off—such self-serving nonsense to legitimate political power was right up there with the divine right of kings, or Robespierre and Lenin’s justification for why they in particular had the right to hold the power they exercised. Emancipation and guilt became the twin add-ons to the liberal program of freedom and equality.

Pretty well everywhere we look in the West we witness a generation bombarded with guilt—the guilt of slavery and the Indians and the bomb in the USA; and on top of that in the US and Australia, which had its colonial past to deal with, was the Vietnam War; and, to make it even worse, the draft. The guilt seemed to be the one unifying force that crossed the diverse national histories and geographies. In Great Britain it was the guilt of empire; in France, the guilt about parents who were collaborators; in Germany, Nazi parents—and so on and so forth. I don’t doubt the importance of academic radicalisation that had been fostered by Soviet fronts and stooges, but what began as a trickle became a river with the US stumbling into the Vietnam War as those educated youth who were not radicalised by their teachers were radicalising each other.

The fire of generational antagonism may have had a different trigger to what was going on in China, but the antagonism was similar. At the time, the chaos was far more contained because Western institutions were far sturdier—even if they would not remain so for long. But the Achilles heel, exactly as in the Russian revolution, were the universities—modern societies need to train those who will not only do the professional tasks, such as engineering, administrating and making, interpreting and judging the law, but those who will also educate their youth, i.e., teachers at all levels across all fields. Thus, unsurprisingly, in a student revolution, it was the universities that were the first occupied terrain in the political contestation that was the West’s cultural revolution—and the war was lost early on with the concession that students should decide what was pedagogically relevant, which is why someone can now be doing a doctorate on an ethnographic study of his masturbation over Japanese boy comic porn. Whatever areas remained of devotion to scholarship and independent mindedness were easily killed off by the most ambitious of those in the system willing to join forces with the state to ensure complete control over the values and narratives, the teaching and research that would come out of the universities, thereby turning them into the sites of cultural and social control they are today.

If the surface of this cultural revolution in its initial phases seemed less explosive than in China, that was because it did not explode all at once; but apart from the odd riot or tragedy such as Kent State, it met with little resistance, evident also in the fact that there were jobs aplenty, especially in the idea-making areas of universities, media etc., for people who spouted ideas about needing to tear down the world and rebuild it anew on the basis of their superior moral understanding and character. That then developed into the situation it is today—if one does not share in the latest consensus formed around the narrative of the complete emancipation of appetitive desire, and hence the elite-adopted choice of priorities, tactics and strategies, down to the right words and thoughts, then one will not be recruited into any of the professions where the ideas-brokers have taken hold; and that now includes government agencies and public service positions. Further, in so far as the narratives of elite recruitment are based around identifying the shameful wrongs and crimes of anyone who may be shamed and denounced, the incentive for any rising bright star in the academic firmament is to discover some new threat to total emancipation and total equity (that does not threaten the corporate globalists who provide funding and platforms of endorsement to enable the cultural revolution to go fully global). The fact that it involves abstract verbal contortions, which make reading papers on quantum physics or high-level math proofs seem mere child’s play by comparison, only makes the whole show a laughing stock to anyone who bothers to follow its inner mechanics.

But satire and exposure to the lunacy of the ideas being forged, circulated, and protected in what was once an institution intended to provide higher learning make no difference to anything—just ask James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose and Peter Boghossian. The issue remains that the way to best advance one’s recruitment chance and career rise is to discover something else that other members of a designated (or even better, some yet to be designated) oppressed groups find offensive and oppressive—invariably the ones feeling most oppressed and offended are faculty at elite universities whose entire economic and career security rests upon them finding new sources of moral outrage.

When Michel Foucault was making a reputation for himself by drawing attention to how professionals, such as clinicians and social workers actively create the pathological objects which consolidate and enhance their social prestige and power, he was encouraging his readers to take a stand against the increasing asphyxiation of freedom that was being conducted by the professions of social “normalization.” But then those same professions adopted Foucault as part of their own pedagogy of social control. This was drawn to my attention some thirty years ago when some social workers drew a smile from me by asking me to conduct a Foucault reading group. It was around the same time that Foucault, a sworn enemy of the family, became the go-to philosopher for budding family therapists.

The target of who must be sacrificed in the endless striving for emancipation keeps shifting, so that yesterday’s heroes and heroines are now today’s greatest obstacle to total emancipation—the once lauded celebrity feminist Germaine Greer and progressive K.K. Rowling are now despicable transphobes. But one thing is sure, the immediate incentives—status, office, employment opportunity, whether it be the public or now the private sector, which keep this cultural revolution going, face no impediments. The adults long ago left the building. I do not fantasize about the brilliance of the politicians of half a century ago, but it would be hard to find anyone of that era who would not defeat one of the very incarnations of what now stands for moral, and political progress, AOC (I know it is unfair to pick on her because there is quite a crowd to choose from) in some basic general knowledge test.

Conclusion

I write much of this a short time after reading the CNN headline story reporting that the son of Guy Reffitt, the first US Capitol riot defendant to go to trial, rather than take a plea agreement, said his father “absolutely” deserves the 87-month prison sentence that was handed down. A couple of days later, I read that a former President’s house had been raided by the FBI. Andrew Breitbart, rephrasing Gramsci used to say, politics is downstream from culture. And the cultural revolution has now completely instantiated itself in the politics of every Western country. This is where the cultural revolution has taken us—and it is nowhere near stopping.

The authority and recruitment strategy for those who lead it, not only politically but corporately and pedagogically, rests upon its smashing the traditions of the nation—in the USA, this means identifying the year of the nation’s founding as 1619, not 1776, as well as protesting against rather than celebrating the 4th of July; it means ending citizenship through opening its southern borders, and replacing the value of character and personal achievement with racial, ethnic, or sexual “identity,” and a set of norms which the current elite holds to be the requisite beliefs that may be held by members who can become part of the “leadership team.” It is an elite which claims to support democratic institutions, but now finds itself in complete opposition to those who object to how they have attained power and how they exercise it. They embody one side of precisely the biggest danger that the federalist authors sought to eliminate—they preside over a nation of two factions. Which is why censorship is increasingly expanding and the acrimony toward those who dissent on any major consensus is so intense—dissenters are to be hunted out, denounced, sacked, etc. Talk of a civil war, which is presently a war of ideas, and occasional mob riots, does not seem far-fetched, as the elite have conducted a televised (show) trial of what it calls insurrectionaries, whilst it also, thanks to its corporatist wing, censors its critics from using the technological forums of expression which are today’s equivalent of the public square.

In 2020, the same elite cheered on Antifa (mostly white students, punily shaking their fists), off the grid alternatives and members of the black underclass wanting to get some free stuff as they burned and razed businesses in the name of justice. Surrounded by enemies, as if a hostage king, the President was publicly told by all and sundry that it would be criminal to bring in the national guard, and that it was mostly peaceful protesting. When what was a genuinely peaceful protest got out of hand, with no small aid from Antifa and federal plants, policemen ushering in protestors through the rear door, whilst others outside violently targeted peaceful protestors, as the more brazen and destructive were largely allowed to do their work, it has ushered in the kind of charges, trials and prison conditions, including solitary confinement, that indicates political protest is OK, if it is protest against anyone who publicly opposes the anti-democratic direction of what used to be considered the world’s preeminent democracy.

Like so much else this elite does, such memories will disappear without a trace in the media fog which now primarily exists to enable a group to run its world the way it wants, irrespective of about half of the people of the Western democracies, and irrespective of the fact that this elite has not made the world safer, the people freer or more independently minded, nor more unified. There are many people, like me, who observe this—we are not hostile to people of other nations, nor parochial, nor are we hostile to genuine migrants or people with other cultural backgrounds, nor do we care about people’s sexual taste as conducted in private. If there is to be greater consciousness of other people and greater cooperation, it must, though, come from genuine solidarity and common pursuits and enterprises, not from a small group telling us how to fall in line with their ambition and half-baked ideological certainties.

People who find their way to each other, who fall in love, who create friendships, who feel committed to building a community with a future worth living in together are not those who are energized by the excitement of razing buildings to the ground, of yelling and screaming at people they disagree with, of conniving to destroy people’s livelihoods, of publicly humiliating and shaming them because they said something they find offensive, but which may be either a piece of foolishness or a serious point worth discussing—only a more dialogical society can distinguish between this. But the drag-queens (or were strippers also waltzing around libraries reading children’s stories I would say the same about them) reading to kids in libraries may be creating a certain kind of diversity, but for all its “naughty”/ transgressive theatrics, it is not one in which there is the slightest consideration of parents who want their children to move through the various stages of life with loving parental guidance (which, to be sure, involves hard work and not to be taken for granted, and in various environments not even that), and not have strangers prescribe where sex fits into their lives, and how it fits in the larger scale of things. But that would mean realizing that sexual satiation is not the highest aim of life; or that defining someone primarily by their sexual desires may be a terrible way to create social solidarity and unity. But these people who question everything never question themselves—and now that they dominate the institutions of learning, they never need to. If this elite were creating a genuine open society, one with more open heart, minds and wholesome souls, instead of the infantile, hysterical, anxious and angry world we witness, then there would be no need to enforce inclusion and diversity (words that are now as vacuous as they are weaponized); nor would they be so scared about people disagreeing with them.

Meanwhile, the dragon that has arisen, does what any rival power with any sense would do: it watches and patiently waits for the right opportunity. The dragon requires that its elite are smart and extremely well educated—to be sure, in a way that does not kick against Marxism-Leninism, though the first part of that hybrid is used like the Santa Claus myth and persists as long as real economic development takes place. The price paid for stability is to maintain loyalty to its revolutionary past that is far more recent and far more saturated in blood than that of the United States, or any of the other decaying Western powers. Its children are required to be obedient, to respect their elders, to study hard, to be patient, and not to fall into the cultural habits of Western degenerates—it seems like only yesterday when the CCP wanted its next generation to learn from the West. Those days are pretty well gone.

In the US, children are taught that their founders are morally beneath them and their teachers. They are people who have barely lived, who have risked nothing, for whom cliches and slogans are thought, for whom humility and generosity are as remote from who they are as their character is from their identity. It is far from obvious to me that the word fanaticism can be used to describe the members of the CCP. It is equally obvious that is exactly the word to describe what the educated youth of the West are trained in. It cannot be stopped as long as it has the number of adherents it does in the institutions it does. But it must destroy the institutions it has inhabited—its own ruin is its destiny. Drag-queens in libraries might be seen by the political classes as pretty low on the scale of the West’s problems, but they are a symptom of which priorities matter in a society that has no sense at all of its own self-destruction. While China has many problems, at least it won’t allow its next generation to advance itself by tearing into its own social entrails, and its own genitalia.


Wayne Cristaudo is a philosopher, author, and educator, who has published over a dozen books. He also doubles up as a singer songwriter. His latest album can be found here.


Featured: “Seven Deadly Sins,” by Otto Dox; painted in 1933.

The De-Skilling of the Intellectual

The educational elite in Germany has not “betrayed” us—it is in the process of disappearing.

Expertocracies are based on the immaturity of the majority, falling on fertile ground when the citizen renounces his freedom of discretion. For Plato, the intellectual tutelage of a spiritual elite was still regarded as a means of self-knowledge, to help man become incorporated into the “harmonious whole.” This ideal, however, lost its innocence as soon as its universal values were put in the service of the worldly. To regain it, we must return to the enlightened spirit of an Erasmus of Rotterdam.

Sometimes that light at the end of the tunnel is a train” (Murphy‘s Law).

Justice as a Social Structural Principle

The people are too stupid for democracy. That’s why it needs experts to avoid being manipulated and deceived by egoistic rulers. This call for a “truth-based” epistocracy (ancient Greek: episteme “knowledge” and kratia “rule”) does not come from me, but from philosophers like Plato, John Stuart Mill or David Estlund.

According to them, society should not be oriented towards equality, but should be shaped according to the principle of justice. This arose, for example, with Plato—as soon as each individual limits himself to the function to which he is entitled on the basis of his constitution; those who are by nature capable of steering the whole should rule over those whose nature consists in subordinating themselves. The individual must recognize himself and understand “to do his own thing.” Only in this way does he achieve a “just state of mind” and approaches eudaimonia, the good life with himself as well as within the community.

Just as for Plato a happy life is conditioned by just action, for the latter he presupposed the structure of a hierarchical relationship between the three cardinal virtues of wisdom, fortitude and temperance. To the same extent that these were lived by the individual and the community, the inner harmony of the polis, the space in which ethical life is possible, intensified. If, however, power, ambition and the desire for fame triumph over morality, arbitrariness prevails and insufficient structures of order and permanent conflicts of private individual interests arise. For Plato, who saw the basic flaws of democracy in both an excess of individual freedom and the participation of unqualified and self-interested individuals, this meant the end of the rule of reason.

His ideal of a ruling philosopher aristocracy thus has a serious catch: it functions only as long as its sages are also interested in what is true. If, however, universal values are put in the service of the worldly, not only any distinction between right and true or good and well-intentioned is extinguished, but also any utopia of justice.

As soon as the freedom and personal responsibility of the individual as well as the moral corruptibility of a philosopher is misjudged, it is no longer a matter of truth but of power. If the will to help the citizen to integrate into the “harmonious whole” by means of reflection and self-knowledge is turned into the illiberal, the citizen may continue to be educated to the “good,” but this “good” no longer benefits only him, but those who decide what he is to understand by it.

In the Service of the Worldly

It was the French philosopher Julien Benda who, in view of the unconscionability of his time, took it upon himself to re-examine the nature of the intellectual in terms of the Platonic aspect of virtue. Thus, in his book, La trahison des clercs (The Betrayal of the Intellectuals), written in 1927 and revised in 1946, he defined the latter’s natural constitution as disinterested, static, and rational.

For Benda, the classical intellectual represents justice, truth, and reason in their abstract form. He is not out to find justice on earth, but seeks satisfaction in himself. If his very own interest was cognition and not knowledge, “pure speculative thinking” was perhaps the noblest form of intellectual activity for the intellectual. If he recollected it, the intellectual lived according to what Spinoza once called “time-conditioned perfection”: a kind of universalism within the intellectual way of life, from which, in turn, a sense of eternity is able to develop.

If the intellectual realm is consequently “not of this world,” he is also not out to set certain “courses” in man by means of “subjective ideologies” and thus to “re-educate” him. His sense of the whole lets him always regard man as an end in himself, as a subject with dignity, morality and understanding, to whom nobody needs to prescribe what he has to do or not to do.

George Orwell wrote about himself in 1940: “Emotionally, I am definitely ‘leftist,’ but I believe that an author can only remain honest if he keeps himself free of party labels.” Benda saw in the omission of impartiality the betrayal of intellectuals—for their real task was the impartial search for truth using their reason.

As soon as intellectuals labeled themselves and justified political passions with their teachings instead of eternal wisdom, they also ceased to be intellectuals for Benda. They became servants of the mundane—experts or “media intellectuals” who subscribed to the dogma of “the perpetual development of science” and thus considered worthless everything that did not belong to the “real.” They began to act “as if thinking did not have to be thinking exclusively, without wanting to put itself in ‘the service’ of whatever” and became supporters of a system, “which respects thinking only insofar as it serves it, and ostracizes it as soon as it finds satisfaction in the pure accomplishment of itself.” They want to uphold doctrines, not people.

The Unmasking of the Ethos of the Expert

While this betrayal of the intellectual’s intellectual heritage led even Noam Chomsky to call the modern expert an anti-intellectual, a follower of a “kind of secular priesthood” for the power elite, this “distribution of tasks” of intellectual activities allows Michel Foucault to distinguish between the “universal” and the “specific intellectual”: If the universal intellectual was still free of ideology, this allowed him to clarify general values and to represent with them “the conscience of all.” If he wants to feel diversities in all their depth and indissolubility, the specific intellectual strives for unification.

The specific intellectual is to be regarded as the result of a world whose horizon expands from day to day in such a way that specialization appears as the only possibility of reducing complexity. Thus, just as the intellectual’s topics are now no longer universal but specific, he too is no longer impartial and free of judgment. As an expert or “media intellectual,” his task henceforth is no longer to clarify truth and justice, but “to influence by thought, to develop ideas for the powerful, and to proclaim to all what they should believe.” He can provide plans, strategies, theories, and justifications, but no autonomy, no recognition, no appreciation for the individual.

Ultimately, the expert ends up as a prisoner of his own barriers to thought—unable to recognize that in his attempt to establish universal morality and truth from his own discipline alone, he betrays those very morals. While his world view is just as fragmented as the interdisciplinarity of his sciences, he is so taken in by himself and his matter that his narrow-mindedness suppresses any form of unconventional solution-finding and ultimately becomes his own undoing.

Thus, shackled to the fragility of those “value scales of the earthly,” public venues for long reflection or enlightened discussion disappear from his listening radius; their concerns cannot be expressed either in statistics or in studies. His belief in generating higher evidence, and certainty for the good life by means of research, ultimately exceeds his confidence in that good life itself.

Is this still Politics, or sheer Driven-ness?

As soon as a society tries to establish truth through itself, it becomes blind to the fragility of its own knowledge bases. The loss of the classical intellectual as an intellectually and materially independent companion of events can also be viewed under this aspect: With the disappearance of his role as a “disruptive factor” (Joseph A. Schumpeter), not only the fundamental criticism of the ruling system—which had been common until then—disappeared, but also along with it that spirit which still knew how to stand up to the temptations of unfreedom.

What remains is a lack of intervention in public discourse, driven by wanting to be prominent and pride, as well as a collective thinking based on the disorientation of modernity, permeated by obedience, spinelessness and command structures.

The renewal of society must start from doubt“—Ivan Illich.

Freed from oppositional insurgencies, those doctrines strengthened which always hit fertile ground where man is given a morally justifiable reality without any alternative. Consequently, it is not surprising that our Western hemisphere has fallen prey to such hubris—after all, it not only protects itself and its members from many forms of systemic pathologization, but at the same time generates a momentum of its own that has nothing but universality, coherence, homogeneity and precision in mind. If there is no friction, there can be no contradiction. And where man encounters no inconsistency or runs into doors, there is no reason to question things. A loyalty to the line that Rudi Dutschke defined back in his conversation with Günter Gaus in 1967 as follows:

But we have systematically been given governments again and again, which in a sense could be described as institutionalized instruments of lies, instruments of half-truth, of distortion; the people are not told the truth. No dialogue is established with the masses, no critical dialogue that can explain what is going on in this society…. We (have) after 1945 a very clear development of parties, where the parties are no longer means to raise the consciousness of the totality of the people in this society, but only instruments to stabilize the existing order, to enable a certain apparatus layer of party functionaries to reproduce themselves out of their own framework, and thus the possibility that upward pressure from below and upward consciousness can prevail, as an institution of the parties, has already been made impossible.

If power is built on the basis of oppression, truth loses its audience. It is no longer about knowledge, but about consensus: If bourgeois interests are in conflict with political-economic ones, there is a tendency—instead of letting the mask of the welfare state fall and thus mutating into a horror itself—to invent circumstances which aim at the desired action by suppressing certain needs in themselves. Washed clean by the intention to serve only the common good, the human being as the actual purpose of all endeavors is lost from view. What education, politics or treatment might ultimately consist in, becomes secondary. Where only their application counts, their observance becomes an end in itself.

If today’s totalitarianism prefers to wear a suit and a gown instead of a uniform, it nevertheless retains its corset of narrow-mindedness: if some plunge into a kind of sublimated conformism by means of consumption and mass culture, others suffer a so-called déformation professionnelle; an adaptation of the professional goggles for the entire practice of life.

While in the case of designers, gardeners, or cooks this may still take place within the framework of a penetrating everyday comedy, such a universality in the case of politicians, police officers, and teachers as well as scientists, doctors, and virologists entails much more far-reaching consequences—suddenly everything becomes political; everyone is potentially contagious or a supposed danger; and in addition, third parties are involved whose life trajectories were previously still able to move outside of any encroachment. According to Ivan Illich, the dissolution of the private sphere, which he once described as “incapacitation by experts,” threatens to blur the individual contours, and people are seen only as stenciled educators, consumers, clients or patients.

In the Soup Kitchen of Political Realism

While philosophers like Aristotle and Hegel still assumed that truth was subject to an inner dynamic and that one could only ever approach it, but never reach it, their thinking was not only outside the contradiction of eternity and status, but they lived within a lack of pretension as to the meaningful contexts of this world, which is diametrically opposed to our claim to be alone today—particularly in times of crisis, we experience how scientific killer-arguments are used by politicians to immunize their own decisions.

Whether climate change or pandemic emergencies, under the aspect of sovereignty, rules are drafted in which those who are subjected to them must participate procedurally—an inductive procedure that declares correctness in detail to be valid in general. As such, it represents a level of encroachment that would doubtless provoke broad waves of indignation if our lifestyles had not reached a level of passivity that makes us perceive paternalism more as relief than as disenfranchisement.

Benda saw the origin of this procedure in the three-pronged nature of political passions, consisting of the weakening of intellectual attitudes, the abolition of idealism, and the decimation of discernment. In the course of the past century, this has created a field of thought through which the state’s endeavor to mobilize all moral resources for itself need no longer be confined to wartime—instead of letting people develop their own ideas and values in the midst of an open utopia, they have decided to keep people dependent on those ready, prefabricated narratives by means of mental atrophy.

Whether the debate is about digitization, gender, war advocacy, eco-communism or “daring more dictatorship” has therefore become completely irrelevant—people’s moral will is nowadays so quickly integrated into the value framework of these prefabricated guidelines that it is difficult to deny the rise of a new political religiosity.

Our inner and outer worlds are simply too one-sidedly played upon not to perceive this as a kind of “semi-permeabilization” of our self: The more susceptible we have become to outside influences, the more our voice has lost relevance. It has become irrelevant what we actually want, how we actually want to live, and what our emotional state would actually consist of if we weren’t constantly being twisted like this.

The medialization, medicalization and mathematization of our perception of reality has decoupled it from the reality of our everyday life in such a way that auto-, experto- and technocrats have an easy game in restabilizing the detached uncertainties about right and wrong, good or evil, with their own value concepts. While the individual loses his voice in the speech poison of the masses, the latter became so fragile over time that they preferred to follow instructions instead of guidance and only orders instead of advice for fear of making mistakes in the course of their own decisions.

Caring behavior has a tendency to incapacitate. Protecting keeps people down. Caring is therefore number one of the ten ways to make people passive“—Reinhard K. Sprenger.

The Unwaveringness of the Erasmanian

Even if every generation has the right to fail because of its own stupidity, it is still far too short-sighted to look for the reason for a lack of emancipation solely in the individual. In times when universities mutate into corporations and the discussion rounds of all media formats are geared only to ratings—generating “confrontainment” instead of enlightenment and education of a critical public, it is simply no longer enough to “know” the roots of earlier authoritarian systems—especially since these usually hit the most fertile ground with that “cultivated” social class.

To unmask the bondage of one’s own zeitgeist, even though its representatives not only prove not to be advocates of enlightenment but to be profiteers or even initiators of unfreedom, requires more than “knowledge” or insight into the political: In order to muster the courage to stand up for freedom and independence in the midst of a society that mistakenly believes itself to be free and independent, one needs a self that is unspoiled by the constraints of the time, that does not allow itself to be distracted by what one has to think and say, but knows how to preserve the value of justice in itself, independent of all moral constitutions.

It is necessary to create sober, patient people who do not despair in the face of the worst horrors and do not delight in every stupidity. Pessimism of the mind, optimism of the will“—Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebook 28, paragraph 11, 2232.

From Karl Popper, Isaiah Berlin, and Norberto Bobbio to Alexander Mitscherlich, Erich Fried, Michel Foucault, and Golo Mann to Hannah Arendt, Theodor W. Adorno, Primo Levi, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Jan Patočka, or Group 47—all of them did not let their sense of justice be driven out of them in “times of trial”—one more, the other less. They not only resisted the temptations of unfreedom, but also made the voice of reason resound in the midst of all Gleichschaltung. For them, freedom was still the absence of coercion.

For Ralf Dahrendorf, this made them Erasmusians, those “lateral-thinking individualities” who often stood alone as representatives of the liberal spirit—and thus immune to the currents of their time. If they kept their moral and political heads while others lost them, loneliness became the price of their thoughts and thus also the price of their freedom. If Raymond Aron or Walter Benjamin died for this principle, today’s court intellectuals lack any form of discipline, self-control and prudence to make even a comparable sacrifice in the “fight for reason.”

Undoubtedly, “tying” moral decisions to reason is rarer than ever. At the same time, there is a lack of those cool, clever minds that still see things from the perspective of the future—How do we want to live? Who do we want (to have been)? There is a lack of that way of being that has always been able to maintain a far-sighted view without falling out of its own center.

There is a lack of voices that ask questions rather than say them; thinkers whose aphorisms still encouraged people to think for themselves instead of boiling them down to a moralizing mood-mash by means of emotionalization.

Those “guardians of truth”, whose stock of knowledge reached so far that they could be called “world specialists,” but who never used their competences to keep their fellow world down. Those whose concern was to give people differentiated trains of thought so that they, in turn, do not lose their heads in this world? In short, there is a lack of those thinkers one can look up to without feeling small. But who says that we can’t be these thinkers ourselves?

When I say that people have always made their history, but have not yet made it consciously, then that should mean that if they make it consciously, then the problem of the elites becoming independent, of the apparatuses becoming independent, no longer arises. Because the problem consists in voting out elected representatives again—being able to vote them out at any time—and being aware of the necessity of voting out”—Rudi Dutschke, in an interview with Günter Gaus, 1967.


Lilly Gebert loves to rack her brains, be it about how humanity can be preserved in a system based on inhumanity or how it can still be measured in times of technocracy and alienation. Since she knows how quickly the view of the world can be blocked with a newspaper, she tries to bring clarity to the mental derangement of our time on her blogTreffpunkt im Infinity.” This article appears courtesy of Rubikon.


Featured: Fool’s Cap Map of the World, ca. 1580-1590.