Christianity and Resistance to Nihilism

The market society cannot accept the religion of transcendence and, in the European case, its specific form which is Christianity; among many other considerations, because it inevitably carries with it a social message incompatible with the civilization of markets and with the liberal atomistic of competitors, a market variant of Hobbesian homo homini lupus. As Ratzinger has observed, therein lies the essence of that “philosophy of selfishness,” according to which “the other is always, in the end, an antagonist who deprives us of a part of life, a threat to our self and to our free development.” As we have tried to show more extensively in Minima mercatalia (2012), the transition from the classical Greek worldview to the Christian one can also be understood as a redefinition in transcendent terms of the ontological question inherited from the Greek world. The fundamental prerogatives of “being” (τὸ ὂν) highlighted by Hellenic philosophy, such as the eternal permanence of the One and the Good, are not denied by Christian thought but reshaped in a new framework, so that they are transferred to the plane of the transcendent.

The formula with which Nietzsche scornfully disparaged Christianity—Platonismus fuers Volk, “Platonism for the people”—has, if nothing else, the merit of capturing the real continuity, differences deducted, between the Greek doctrine (especially the Platonic doctrine of being) and its theological successor: under the supervision of a God who creates everything ex nihilo (distinguishing Himself in this effectively from Plato’s Demiurge, who only organizes and gives form to uncreated matter), the Parmenidean world of being of immutable paradigms always equal to themselves is transferred in the Heaven of divine transcendence, and the Heraclitean realm of becoming embraces the sensible reality subjected to the processes of genesis and corruption. Incompatible seems, then, Heidegger’s hermeneutic perspective, which interprets the very conception of the Christian God as a decisive moment in the history of metaphysics insofar as it forgets being and the anthropocentrism that puts the being in relation to the human subjectivity called to assure it. In the Middle Ages, in particular, in a cognitive framework in which every entity appears as ens qua ens creatum, the theological concern conceals, in Heidegger’s view, the humanist impulse aimed at guaranteeing man Heaven and earth, the stability of the world and salvation in the other world. God himself is thought of as “super-mind,” as ipsum ese subsistens. For Heidegger, the oblivion of being and of the ontologische Differenz trace the horizon of sense of the medieval epoch, in which “every entity comes created by a creator and preserved as created”: the Vollendung, the “culmination” of metaphysics in planetary technique, is already prospectively noticed. This allows Heidegger to maintain, with hyperbolic figure, that “the Christian God and the institution of the grace of the churches are of the same essence as the airplane,” their common essence being that of the metaphysics of the nihilistic oblivion of being and the reduction of the entity to an available fund. For this reason, for Heidegger, Christianity and science figure in equal measure as das Vernichtende, “that which destroys,” that which dissolves all reference to being.

In antithesis to the Heideggerian hermeneutic line, which tends to recognize already in Plato and then in Aristotle the premises of the mastery of the planetary technique incardinated on the oblivion of being, Christianity has “transferred” being to the dimension of transcendence, confirming itself in that as “Platonism for the people”: as a synthesis, the level of the “being that is and cannot not be” is referred to God, where the sphere of Heraclitean becoming (πάντα ῥεῖ) is redirected to the sensible world of entities. In short, from this derives what, in Heidegger’s expression, could justly be defined as an “onto-theo-theo-logy”: the being codified by the Greeks “is transferred” to Heaven and remains there until the emergence of what Hegel will define as the “conversion of Heaven to earth” proper to Modernity and its principle of Weltweisheit, of “wisdom of the world.” Thus conceived, the God of Heaven also becomes the reflection of human solidarity and of the ethical community of believers: He is, so to speak, the imago of humanity which sees itself reflected in its Creator and which, precisely for this reason, feels its own uniqueness; uniqueness by virtue of which each one is an unrepeatable individual (“person”) and, at the same time, “brother” to all his fellows, who, like him, are creatures of the one eternal Father. In other words, God is superior to individual creatures and guarantees their ontological unity. In addition to being a symbol of the law, God thus appears as a symbol of the community of His children, called to love and reciprocal recognition.

Under this perspective unequivocally based on communitarian solidarity, faith constitutes the transcendent presupposition of an anthropocentric earthly humanism based on the ideal of the bonum commune. It is, however antinomical it may seem, a universalist communitarianism, which thinks of the community as a union of solidarity and, at the same time, aspires to universalize it in the form of a “community of communities,” capable of including in its bosom the whole human race, conceived as a union of the children of God. For Christianity, the very universality of God expresses the human need for ontological unity of knowledge and axiological evaluation. Thus, to give just one example, in the powerful architecture of the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas, the concept of Deus and that of bonum commune are solidary. They find their unity in the ontological presupposition of totalitas ante partes: just as God is the totality that pre-exists the created parts, so, on the level of immanence, communitas—which is the visible imago of God—is so with respect to each of its members and guarantees their communion. In fact—writes Thomas—bonum unius hominis non est ultimus finis, sed ordinatur ad commune bonum (the good of a man is not the ultimate end if it is not ordered to the common good).

The community that courageously fights in defense of the common good is, consequently, the political equivalent of the martyr who faces death “for the sake of the pursuit of the Supreme Good which is God.” Heir to Aristotle’s anti-chrematistic ethics, Thomas’ communitas aims at the bonum commune, founded on modus, and condemns gains that exceed the necessities of life: omnis lex ad bonum commune ordinatur (every law must be ordered to the common good). To what extent this view, Aristotelian in expression by Aquinas, was rooted in the imaginary of the time is further confirmed by the medieval doctrine of the “just price”: according to it, a price could not produce for anyone a “profit out of the ordinary,” that is, such as to exceed the “just mean,” the μέτρον codified by Hellenic thought. The bonum commune is defined as the human good that is so in relation to the subjects belonging to the same social reality and that results of superior value to the good of the individual: in the words of Thomas, the bonum commune figures as melius et divinius quam bonum unius (the common good is better and more divine than the good of one). It is the lex divina itself that prescribes the conformity between the law and the common good: if this were contravened by the lex humana, then it would be legitimate to rebel against the sovereign (in obedience to God) in order to restore the bonum commune.

Although from different parameters, the thought of William of Ockham also lends itself to an interpretation centered on the idea of the bonum commune and of God as the imago of the human community in solidarity. If Thomas Aquinas is the author in whom, in all probability, the communitarian vocation shines best—thanks also to his powerful reference to Aristotle—Ockham could, at first sight, be considered the thinker most distant from an approach of this genre: and this is due to the fact that he dismisses universals as a mere nomen to which does not correspond an ontological reality in se et per se. Even from a superficial reading, one could have the impression that Thomas’ Aristotelian communitarianism is opposed to Ockham’s programmatic and anti-universalist individualism. In reality, Ockham’s theorization of the “invisible Church,” situated in the individual consciousness of the just, as well as his “nominalism,” for which the universal is a mere nomen, must be understood as the Franciscan foundation of a critique not of the common good in itself considered, but of the institutions that claim to reflect it exclusively: for the nominalist Ockham, the good is not embodied in institutions, but lives in a sum of individuals, each of whom is ontologically perfect as he follows the paupertas. Ockham does not deny the community and the common good; au contraire, he reaffirms them as the necessary result of the commitment of all, omnes et singulatim: that is, they do not exist as universals in se et per se, but as the concrete result of the responsible action of each one.

The figure of Jesus Himself can be understood in this onto-theological perspective centered on the idea of the community of solidarity and the bonum commune. His theandric nature reveals the essence of man as imago Dei and, at the same time, the power of the final redemption: this, in order to be explained, requires the passage through the immense power of the negative (per crucem ad lucem). In addition, the message of Christ is characterized by its communitarian and solidary flow, whose objective is to create the sensible worldly image of the Kingdom of Heaven: it is not a matter of “emptying” the reality of Christianity into a scheme of socio-political praxis of liberation, as “liberation theology” would pretend in part or as, among others, Reza Aslan has proposed in his reading of Jesus as a simple political rebel; quite the contrary, it is a matter of acting and striving to model the earthly kingdom—the civitas humana—according to the principles of the Kingdom of Heaven (civitas Dei). This is evidenced, by the way, in the proclamation of that year of mercy of the Lord (Lk 4:14-30), which implies the forgiveness of debts, with the associated liberation of slaves and the communal redistribution of wealth. Correspondence can be found in many testimonies of Jesus: “If you would be perfect, go, sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, so that you may have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (Mt 19:21); “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 21:24). In this regard, the contrast established by the “young Hegel” in Volksreligion und Christentum (1793-1994) between the “popular religion” of the Greeks and the “anti-communitarian” religion of the Christians does not seem convincing: Christianity, in fact, when it prescribes “sell all your goods and give the money to the poor, so that you will have treasure in heaven,” does not demand the renunciation of the community, but the foundation of a new community of free and equal individuals.

The episode of the “multiplication of the loaves and fishes,” the only miracle of Jesus narrated by all the four evangelists, could also be read in a communitarian key, not only ontological: the goods that, in appearance, seem to be scarce, if distributed equitably among all the members of the community are sufficient for a generous meal that satisfies the needs of each one of them. The same episode of the “expulsion of the merchants from the Temple” is inscribed in this horizon of meaning. The “Kingdom of Heaven” (βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν) then coincides with the earthly kingdom redeemed by divine justice. The faith for which Jesus immolated himself was the faith according to which the Kingdom of God, already established on high in the Heavens, was to be translated in the here and now into concrete behaviors and consequent actions: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. Wherefore he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart, To preach deliverance to the captives, and sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of reward” (Lk 4:18-19). All were called to abandon private property and recognize God as its only “owner,” in the name of a distribution of goods according to the needs of the community.

Collective conversion would have put an end to the private appropriation of wealth, in a context in which the ideal of the Kingdom of God stood as the paradigm from which to act to implement the ideal of justice on earth, creating a community in which each human being would be free to manifest his or her own capacities: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill” (Mt 5:3-6). The words with which Jesus explains to his chosen ones the reward of the Kingdom of God are well known: “For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:35-40).

In its “hot current” the Christian message, with its reference to the βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν, does not resolve the transcendent into the immanent, but proposes a modification of the latter so that it corresponds to and is consistent with the former. This is the reading key to understanding the system of the Scienza nuova of Giambattista Vico, who, criticizing the exclusively geometrizing conception of the concept of raison in Descartes and counterposing to it a conception of truth as knowledge of human history (verum ipsum factum), maintains God as the supreme instance of good and evil in history: in the absence of this transcendent instance, external to the simple temporal flow of events, the only criterion for knowing and evaluating historical events would coincide with the success or failure of historical agents. In such a way that it would be reduced to an absolute historicism that would lead to nihilistic relativism. Thus, for example, it is precisely this—following Del Noce’s diagnosis—what has determined the “suicide” of a good part of Marxism, which historicistically passed to an integral adherence to the market world.

In this regard, it should not be forgotten that ἐκκλησία (ekklesía), before becoming the name of the Church, was for the Greeks the communal “assembly” and, as such, referred to an unmistakably social element, in which even the original Christian communities expressly recognized themselves: “And all they that believed, were together, and had all things common. Their possessions and goods they sold, and divided them to all, according as every one had need” (Acts 2:44-45). Among the constitutive elements of the Church of the origins, therefore, a very central place is occupied not only by adherence to the magisterium of the Apostles, but also to “communion” (κοινωνία) and to the equitable breaking of bread. There is a patent call to the communitarian dimension, by virtue of which the distinction between rich and poor is annulled, and everything is common among believers, who recognize themselves equal in the fact that they are all children of God. In his Apologeticum (39:7), Tertullian recounts how the attention and assistance of Christians towards the needy and the weak aroused a deep sense of wonder and amazed the pagans.

From the Christian point of view, the Mass itself is not a personal affair, nor an intimate act, nor even a devotional gesture. It is the We of the community that gathers with the You of God and the We of the Trinity. For this reason, the prevailing pretension today constitutes a pure absurdum (and consistent once again with the neoliberal order) that demands that religion and the sacred be liquidated in the private sphere of a de-socialized individual, insisting on the well-known distortion of Lutheran origin. In fact, the supremacy of the I over the We is the apogee of capitalist individualization, but also of the disintegration initiated with the Lutheran Reformation, which dissolves the “Church” (Kirche) into a “Christianity” (Kirchenheit) of the sum of individualities living sola fide. The Mass is impossible without the ecclesial We, understood in turn not as a sum of solitudes, but as a corporate subject, as communio. Also, from this point of view, the enmity between Christian communitarianism and neoliberal individualism is evident. The community of God’s children who love each other as creatures of the same Father, gathered under the sign of the ἐκκλησία, comes disintegrated in the neoliberal “system of atomistics,” where each one is alone, without God and without brothers and sisters, projected into the cold de-spiritualized space of the Global Market. In its icy, unregulated domains, each one is worth and receives recognition according to the exchange value at his disposal. The de-Christianization of the world goes hand in hand with the individualization of the competitiveness of the competitive society.

For Christians, the very fact that God becomes man opens up the possibility of an anthropocentrism unknown to all other cultures. The divine, understood in Christian terms, does not “weaken” the human; on the contrary, it strengthens and magnifies it, since man himself is now divine, the supreme vertex of the creaturely order and himself the living image of God: God became man, so that man might become God. This is the theme of the “young Hegel” and of his so-called Theological Writings of his Youth (Theologische Jugendschriften), where the contrast between Judaism and Christianity is always repeated. The former is the religion of the abstract, which radically distinguishes between man and God, confronting the latter as a threatening and vengeful entity. Christianity, however, is for Hegel the religion of ϑεανδρικὴ “theandric” union, according to the expression perhaps first employed by Pseudo-Dionysius. God and man are now united and to pretend to separate them represents the ultimate sin, since the last of men, abandoned by God and by men, is God Himself: hence arises the imperative that prescribes discovering the imago Dei even in the last among men. Enfremdung von Gott und Versöhnung mit ihm, “alienation from God and reconciliation with Him” are the central terms that condense the theological-philosophical problematic of the “young Hegel.”


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


Featured: The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes. Flemish School, 17th Century.


Interview With Tucker Carlson: Issues of Terminology

The interview with Tucker Carlson in Russian has been translated hastily and not quite correctly. On the whole, everything can be understood. But there are a few nuances. I am talking to an American and addressing the American public as a priority. Judging by the thousands of comments, they understood me perfectly well.

So here it is: in the political language of the modern States there are common terms—for example, woke, wokeism—that we do not use. It is a call to all liberals to immediately write denunciations of those who differ from the LGBT (banned in Russia) agenda, or from critical racial theory (the same needs clarification, but that is for another time), who question internationalism and globalism, who question the need to protect illegal and any migration. Then there is the vilification of all patriots and conservatives (present and historical) by accusing them of “fascism.” Apparently wokeism is now being actively mastered by the younger generation of the CRPF, but they are not the ones I am addressing.

The logic is as follows: woke left-liberal identifies a victim (conservative), writes a series of denunciations, makes a video on YouTube, Instagram (banned in Russia), gathers a flash mob, etc., and then canceling comes into play—inspections at the place of work, biased interviews reminiscent of interrogations, commissioned articles, and then dismissal, ostracism, search pessimization in social networks, financial checks, ban on loans, account disconnection—in extreme cases, murder (of the figurehead himself or a relative). A complete cycle of left-liberal terror. With a historical figure, the same thing is done to his legacy—books (paintings, movies) are censored or banned, his place in the query hierarchy drops dramatically in search engines, a defamation section appears on Wikipedia that cannot be removed. This process can affect Dante, Dostoevsky, Rowling, and even Scripture if it is found not politically correct enough.

Therefore, when I say “woke” I am immediately understood by everyone in the USA. But in our country, we would have to publish a whole article with explanations and examples, after which many of our domestic leftists and left-liberals would be ashamed (if they have a conscience, and this still needs to be proven).

Further, there is also the familiar US meaning of the term “progressive” or “progressist.” This is the self-designation of left-wing liberals, deadly opponents of Trump, Tucker Carlson, conservatism, religion, family, traditional values. We do not use the term “progressive” or “progressist” in this sense either.

There is a real war going on in the United States between “progressives” and “conservatives.” The “conservatives” believe that the “progressives,” though mistaken, have the right to exist, while the “progressives” brand all “conservatives” as “fascists” and insist that they have no right to life and their ideas. They are “enemies of the open society” (Popper), who must be destroyed before they destroy the “open society” itself. That is, “progressives” are woke and canceling. The core of the “progressives” are Trotskyists, both direct the left wing of the Democratic Party and those who have become neocons (like Robert Kagan, Bill Kristol, Victoria Nuland, etc.). In essence, “progressives” are supporters of World Revolution (only liberal, globalist) and Jacobin terror.

And finally, the most difficult term, “liberals.” It means several things at once in modern American political parlance:

  1. The entire American political system as a whole, that is, recognizing the legitimacy and supremacy of capitalism, can be called liberalism. In this sense, “liberals” in the US are everyone: the left liberal Democrat Party, the right liberal Republican Party (GOP). The former are more in favor of free migration, perversion and wokeism, the latter are more in favor of flat tax and big capital.
  2. More narrowly, and in a bipartisan discussion, it is usually the “liberals” who are referred to specifically as “left liberals,” that is, those who are for wokeism, cancel culture, and who are “progressive.” Sometimes they—being real fascists—appear as “anti-fascists.” Their logic is: “if you don’t send a suspected ‘fascist’ to a concentration camp in advance, he will send you there.” Such “liberals” believe that Republicans, and especially Trumpists, i.e., the republican conservative flank, should be locked up, or even cut out. And again—until they cut them out themselves (see the new movie “The Civil War”—it is about exactly that and accurately captures the mindset of American—left-wing—liberals).
  3. In an entirely different context, one might call “liberals” (though this is increasingly rare) “old liberals”—such as Tucker Carlson himself. Sometimes the term “libertarians” is used to distinguish them. They are most like anarchists, only right-wing rather than left-wing. “Progressives” often identify them as “fascists” because they interpret “liberalism” quite differently than the liberal left themselves. And anyone who is not a left liberal is a “fascist” and should be “abolished.” Libertarian liberals are in favor of a flat income tax or no income tax at all and are against state and government involvement in the economy. They are also in favor of bearing arms (2nd Amendment to the Constitution) and the complete and unrestricted freedom to do what you want, say what you want, and be whoever you want. Such “old liberals” believe that the “new liberals” (woke, LGBT, “progressive”, internationalists) have taken over the Federal Government and want to build “Stalinism” or “communism” or a “corporate state” in the US.

So, when talking to Tucker Carlson about liberalism, I had to take into account all three meanings of the term, and as the comments show, the American audience understood me perfectly well. If I were to explain all this in more detail, Tucker Carlson would really, as in the memes, turn gray and grow old. And for the Russian audience I would have to organize a whole course on liberalism, its history, its origins, its mutations (from right-wing Hayek to left-wing Soros—and this is only at the very last stage), and on contemporary political semantics in the United States. And then another course showing that it has nothing to do with us—then what was the first course for, those who will understand the second will ask? Actually, I have done this many times—including at the Center for Conservative Studies at Moscow State University, at the Tsargrad Institute, at the Ilyin Higher Political School, in countless lectures, courses, videos (short and long), textbooks and monographs.

That said, the American public is also a bit prepared for my ideas. There was a wild campaign of globalists and left-wing liberals for my total vilification. Sometimes I was even referred to as a “Trump advisor” to make it easier to destroy him. In other words, for “progressives,” Wokeists and “liberals,” I am a “Dr. Evil” of global proportions, “the most dangerous philosopher in the world.” At the same time, Dimitri Simes Jr., son of the prominent political expert, thinker and analyst Dimitri Simes Sr., who grew up in the United States, told me that he became acquainted with my books (in English, of course—at least a dozen of them translated and published in the United States) at school. His fellow students showed him, sub rosa, The Foundations of Geopolitics or The Theory of a Multipolar World, bragging about their access to dissident literature—until some woke Afro-lesbian noticed and wrote a denunciation—with imminent expulsion.

But I did not have such a format of addressing Americans as I did in the case of the interview with Tucker Carlson and especially after the historic phenomenal interview of our President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin with the world’s number 1 journalist. The globalist media shows only what is favorable to them, and everything I say is not favorable to them. That is why they say all kinds of invented and absurd things on my behalf. And the alternative American media, where I appear from time to time, do not have much coverage and are themselves semi-legal—as are the bright, freedom-loving journalists—like Alex Jones or Larry Johnson. Tucker Carlson is an exception. He and his program are still mainstream American, and his views are at complete odds with the totalitarian dominated ruling class of “progressives,” “woke,” “liberals,” and “anti-fascists.”


Alexander Dugin is a widely-known and influential Russian philosopher. His most famous work is The Fourth Political Theory (a book banned by major book retailers), in which he proposes a new polity, one that transcends liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism. He has also introduced and developed the idea of Eurasianism, rooted in traditionalism. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitika.


On Gigantism: Against the Core Belief of Conventional Statecraft

Conventional wisdom holds that centralised control can yield efficiency gains without any noticeable downsides. It facilitates decision-making at scale. It opens up possibilities of horizontal integration, of drawing linkages between different phases of the distribution mechanism, to deliver a singular, more coherent offering. Going big{-er} is always better.

This is gigantism: the belief in the inherent value of aggrandising the scale of operations while concentrating control. Everything should ultimately be determined at a single locus of authority or, at least, as few as possible. Corporations operate along those lines, as do states and institutions therein.

The Hierarchy as an End in Itself

Gigantism defines every entity that handles its communication channels and decision-making processes in the form of a hierarchy. A vertical structure creates a built-in incentive—indeed drive—to diffuse uncertainty by means of imposing uniformity. Heterogeneity must give way to homogeneity. Plurality must be superseded by singularity. All shall be streamlined for the distribution mechanism of the vertical structure to function with as little friction as possible.

In a nutshell, gigantism is the ideology that underpins the hierarchical model of political, social, economic organisation. It is the set of rationalisations developed by the members of the hierarchy itself in pursuit of their model’s self-preservation, augmentation, and proliferation.

We can find gigantism as a fully realised ambition in the empires of yore as well as everywhere in our world. The Romans at the height of their reign, which can also be understood as the point in time when they fully realised and embraced the inherent propensities of imperialism, developed a system of absolutism that featured a single deity (the Christian God, the pantokrator or almighty), a single representative of said deity (the Church, headed by the Pope—a hierarchy par excellence), and a single sovereign or superordinate political office (the Emperor).

The Reign of Wealth as an Expression of Gigantism

First a definition: Platform: properly equipped basis for the development of new endeavours, applications. The set of prerequisites for a chain of functions.

The concentration of control as a necessary good also exists in the domain of economics, or rather in a subset of economistic thinking that exalts the corporation as the driver of all unmitigated blessings in the economy. Most industries in mature capitalist economies feature a two-tier system that is falsely considered the by-product of the unencumbered operations of the “free market”:

The platformarchs (platform owners, else rentiers). Large, typically multi-national, corporations that own the very infrastructure or means of access or essential ‘intellectual property’ in the given industry. They become the industry leaders and enablers. This is the economic elite and manifests as an oligopoly or de facto monopoly with strong, symbiotic ties with the domestic political establishment.

The platformzens (platform dwellers, else tenants). Smaller business entities that can only operate in the industry within the half-spaces left by the platform owners. They cannot compete with the platformarchs on equal terms due to their lack of ‘scale’. Platformzens typically perform ancillary functions to those of the {mono,oligo}-polistic interests. In cases where platformzens grow in size, they are outright bought by the platformarchs, essentially ending their autonomy and reinvigorating the two-tier system of capitalist business economics.

The reign of [concrentrated] wealth—plutocracy—is the political system that emerges from the fusion of the interests of the platform owners with those of the political elite. For that to be accomplished, the state apparatus must also be structured along the lines of gigantism, in order to be in a position to impose its corrupt will on the populace.

The Political Establishment Promotes Gigantism

Which brings us to the point of quotidian politics. Virtually every party across the political spectrum peddles a variant of gigantism. Their ideologies are imbued in imperialistic doctrine, litanies to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Contradiction of “Free Market Capitalism”

The neoliberal, else conservative, purports to support the free market, but is in fact in favour of state interventions in the interest of the economic establishment. They have no hesitation whatsoever to push through with draconian measures such as austerity for the masses coupled with excesses for the economic elite: “quantitative easing” which basically is free money for the banksters, bailing out banks or legislating in favour of oligopolies or de facto monopolies in the various sectors of the economy…

Here is the catch. There is a fundamental misconception that capitalism is all about forming an economic domain defined by the symmetry of power among its actors. Naive capitalists think that the terms “capitalism” and “free market” are interchangeable and practically the same. In fact, capitalism throughout its history is the gigantist ideology by which state interventions should be limited to the support of capital owners, which at scale is limited to the support of platformarchs.

I define it as a type of gigantism because the practice of pampering the economic elite presupposes a powerful state that can extract taxes from the masses, impose its will without much trouble, and implement measures in a uniform way. Consider for example, institutions such as that of an independent central bank that is practically immune to public scrutiny—like the European Central Bank or the Federal Reserve Bank of the USA. As such, the capitalist state shares close, nay, inseparable ties with powerful economic interests, forming a politico-economic oligarchy.

Furthermore, neoliberals or conservatives promote individualism, which is an ideology that greatly facilitates gigantism. You are but a decontextualised human. Your local community, your culture, mean nothing. You are just a factor of production that holds “human capital”—and all individuals are replaceable by each other.

Individualism creates precarious living conditions for everyone that is not part of the economic or political elite. Rootlessness makes us weak, keeps us divided and at odds with each other by forcing us to resort to our base instincts of surviving in the face of precarity.

And the capitalist suggests that this inherent asymmetry is just the level-playing field where the “invisible hand” (according to Adam Smith) of the market is allowed to work its magic. Madness! Or rather class consciousness that rationalises every hideous measure in the interest of the status quo’s preservation.

Ultra-Conservatives are Capitalists with a Different Rhetoric

For all intents and purposes, the ultra-conservatives are in the same camp as the neoliberals, at least insofar as gigantism of the capitalist sort is concerned. They just focus more on the promotion of traditional values: values that embed and embody the capitalist values of individualism and the deification of the amoral corporation.

They are explicit about wanting a paternalistic political order. The state as a cop and pimp. Their ideas of the homeland, public security, and the archetypical family are to be enforced by the all-mighty state apparatus—an assortment of bureaucrats that claims to know what is good for its subjects and has the means to impose its will: propaganda, security forces, mass surveillance… These initially keep the populace in submission and are eventually marshalled for the support of the domestic economic elite typically under the pretext of some patriotic cause of “protecting our own companies”.

Economic elites need only conform to the utlra-conservatives’ demands on the social policy front. A fairly trivial task, especially once social policy is reduced to a mere witch hunt against certain groups of immigrants. Otherwise, the balance of power and distribution of resources remain in tact.

The Self-Righteous Professional Central Planner

Social democrats are slightly different than capitalists, or so they think. Their starting point is the aggrandisement of the state architecture. The power elite should be omnipotent and omniscient, so as to have the means of forwarding whatever agenda of social reform. The typical social democrat is an exponent of technocracy, albeit one that conforms to the ideals of progressivism, however defined in any given context.

Perhaps without realising it, the social democrat believes in the essentials of capitalism. A powerful state that can enforce its edicts with ease. A state that can, in other words, manipulate every aspect of public life. A bureaucracy that can engineer social reform with the help of large corporations that control the means of production—the platformarchs.

Now combine that with the quintessence of “progressivism”: the notion that social reform should take place in an incremental fashion, as opposed to abolitionism. Progressives are satisfied with keeping the core of the system in tact. It is what gives them nourishment.

Make no mistake: “progressive” in this case seldom is about going forward and being enlightened. It concerns the management of the capitalist nexus of interests in a more overt and involved way compared to the deluded advocates of ‘free market capitalism’.

The social democrat is typically the one who toils to preserve domestic big businesses by means of subsidies, so that these may in turn stick around to employ people. This is their notion of “creating jobs”: keep the platformarchs happy, support the plutocracy and enhance it, so that the rest of society may perpetuate its precarious living. In effect, social democrats are desperate to reinforce the multitude of symbiotic relationships between public entities and private interests.

Think of all the laws that are being passed which expect from banks to hold more capital or from a handful of software giants to police the Internet. All in the name of the “average citizen”, as if the progressivist technocracy has any first hand experience of precarity!

In every field of endeavour, the self-righteous professional central planner imposes bureaucratic constraints that harm small private entities while ultimately reinforcing the dominion of the economic elite.

Their understanding of social policy presupposes the presence of large corporations and of state-business symbiosis. Big state, big capital, big labour unions, with the bureaucrat as the glue—the nasty goo—that keeps everything together.

Meanwhile, they may claim to be against individualism, but their exhortations tend to have the same effect as those of the neoliberal. Open borders, the idea that we are all just “humans” or “people”, enforced multiculturalism, quotas in the interest of ‘positive discrimination’ and other items from the social justice warrior’s agenda…

All converge at a vision of the human person as a rootless individual that can be moved around with ease and, more importantly, manipulated by the almighty state.

Communism is Neither about the Community nor the Commons

The communist wants a ubiquitous, all-knowing state, that directs intersubjective experience from a single command centre. Allusions to “the commons” are nothing but references to complete ownership of the means of production and governance by a state apparatus; a bureaucratic elite.

In practice, the communist is a louder social democrat. The differences between their beliefs are ones of degree, not category. Oh, they also have distinct circles of cronies. Same principle, new faces.

More importantly though, state ownership of all that can be owned produces a monopoly of power, which can then be distributed with ease among the technocrats that form the communist elite. The Soviet Union was such a kleptocratic dystopia, as is modern-day China.

No, such regimes do not constitute a deviation from the ideal communist polity. Rather, they are the natural outcome of the complete concentration of authority at a single locus of power.

The Three Scales of Modern Gigantism

The only noteworthy differences between gigantists qua gigantists concern the ceiling they place on the upward concentration of power.

  • Nationalists (nation-statists) want to concentrate control at the national centre.
  • Continentalists seek to do the same at the continental level (e.g. the EU).
  • Globalists wish to take things to the international domain, where a global bureaucracy will take charge (e.g. the UN).

One can identify such tendencies across the political spectrum, depending on the subject matter. The common denominator is gigantism.

Gigantism Detests Autonomy and Autarky

We may not live in a modern incarnation of the Roman Empire. Yet we still have to struggle against its greatest legacy. At every scale there is an oligarchy consisting of political and business elites.

For gigantists, politics is about the distribution of control and the management of interests that are detached from actual human communities. They loath distributed systems because they cannot manipulate them. And they dislike strong organic ties between people as these remain robust to the sense of rootlessness that gigantism preaches and thrives in.

The gigantist wants to think of abstractions as physical entities so as to reinforce their drive for the concentration of sovereignty. Hence the tendency to speak of states or nations as if they were individuals. “Europe needs”, “Germany wants”… Such language makes it easier to render things impersonal and to proceed to take power away from communities.

The faceless state and the impersonal corporation can work in tandem, while the ordinary fellow toils at the sweatshop in pursuit of some consumerist fantasy, else dies on the battlefield driven by patriotism. Either way, the promise of a better life post-death keeps them at awe—another expedient myth that formed part of the tenets of Roman totalitarianism.

Consumerism is the equivalent of a treadmill whereby we must ceaselessly work to reproduce our precarious lifestyle, while precarity ensures we always suppress our demands. Bad eating habits, poor health in general, a deviation from the simple and natural life, constant bombardment of {mis-,dis-}information, means that the consumer cum guinea pig is always subject to the machinations of the oligarchy—to the bureaucrats that peddle peanuts as welfare subsidies and to the economic elite that exploits their psychology by inducing in them the false needs that are characteristic of the insatiable consumerist behaviour.

The terra patria (homeland) is yet another abstraction else fiction that obscures the tyranny of the plutocracy by virtue of placing the exploiters and the exploited under a common denominator, ignoring social injustices altogether. The exploiter is depicted as “one of us”, conveniently disregarding the fact that their very conduct runs contrary to the conviviality and solidarity shared by organic communities (who truly identify in their fellows “one of them”). The tyrant’s cultural background, the language they speak, the religion they practice or worldview they hold, does not make their dominion any less odious.

Time for Re-Institution

There is no point in trying to fit into this system. We will always be struggling against its built-in propensity to engender elitism. We must enact reform at both the political and the personal level. To achieve that we must first combat rootlessness, which manifests as individualism, humanitarianism, racialism, and similar ideological constructs that decouple the human person from its natural and social habitat.

You are neither a decontextualised human nor a part of an imaginary homogenised whole. You have individuality but it is brought into being through your inter-subjective experience, which unfolds in your immediate community and locality. That is where you belong. That is what makes you, and your community as a whole, stronger. And that is where you may build your collective life in a spirit of genuine freedom; freedom from the control of gigantists.

The goal is to bring the locus of authority to the local level. We do not need some bureaucrat to decide for us, nor some politician in the capital city to forward the agenda of their corporate sponsor. The task must be to gain control of the means of production and governance within our milieu. We must own the land we live on. By owning our space, we must also take control of its politics. We literally have a stake in the community. We are a fraction of it.

Citizenship is not about a legal arrangement between the state and its subjects. It rather signifies the capacity of each of us as a member of the local community, as an owner and defender of its land, and as one among equals in terms of power within the political compact. This is the ideal of the citizen-homesteader-guardian.

A fully fledged revolution should not be ruled out. However, we must not let that be an obstacle to gradual-yet-inexorable change. Reform is also about “small, continuous victories” as I like to call them.

We start by changing our ways and leading by example. For instance, we boycott industrial loaf and switch to eating real bread that is produced locally. We organise events where we help our neighbours and friends install free/libre software on their computers. We want to liberate them from the shackles of corporations that spy on them and try to extract profit and ultimately power from their entire computing experience. In a similar fashion, we prepare group activities where we instruct our fellow citizens best practices for cultivating their land, preparing their food, raising their kids, etc. in a manner that is sustainable for the locality, the community, the surrounding ecosystem.

We must strengthen the intimate link between locality and community through such forms of activism. The objective is to put an end to urbanisation (and its concomitant rootlessness) by re-establishing the agrarian model with the help of technology and the latest scientific breakthroughs. In this regard, we must share knowledge about sustainable agriculture, ecosystem-friendly ways of water management, the importance of cultivating bacteria (benign microorganisms) for the purposes of gastronomy and land preservation, and the like.

Ecosystemic consciousness, a frugal and natural modus videndi, is not merely about being in peace with the rest of nature. It constitutes a direct opposition to the interests of gigantism that seek to control the food chain. We fight against chemicals, pesticides, patented crops—patents and artificial scarcity in general—, and the complex of corrupt politics and big business behind them.

At the level of ideas, we must cultivate the virtues of locality and community. Localism is about fighting for control within the very space we occupy. Communitarianism is about strengthening the ties between us at the inter-personal level. Our answer to gigantism is a distributed system built around local communities: an organic polity.


Protesilaos Stavrou is a Greek philoospher who lives in the hills of Cyprus. He also teaches and coaches privately.


The Philosophy of War in Conceptualizing the Phenomenon of War and Peace

War is one of the oldest phenomena of human history, which is so inseparably connected with it that it is difficult to imagine the existence of human society without it. Many treatises have been devoted to “eternal peace,” the problem of war and peace in the works of Friedrich II, Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottfried Herder, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Carl Philipp Gottlieb von Clausewitz and others. German authors have shown a variety of approaches to the problem of war and peace. Some adhered to the view that the development of history inevitably leads to universal peace, while others have insisted on the inevitability of wars and conflicts. Thus, Kant, in raising the question of the correlation between eternal peace and eternal rest, unlike Frederick II, who assumed the possibility of establishing “eternal peace” in the conditions of monarchical rule, associated the establishment of “eternal peace” with the conclusion of a universal peace treaty, but necessarily in the conditions of a republican form of government. At the same time, Kant’s “eternal peace” appears to be delayed, and its occurrence is achievable only in the future [Zotkin 2016].

In this regard, it was difficult to hope that in the foreseeable future humanity could find harmony in international relations. To this day, the world continues to teeter on the brink of war and peace; in one region or the other approaching the brink, beyond which Pandora’s box may open. What determines the “periodomorphism” that is manifested in the life of states and peoples? Following Heraclitus of Ephesus, who declared war to be the origin of everything, many philosophers have noted the role of war in the history of human civilization. Plato also considered war as a permanent element in the development of society. In The Laws he wrote: “…what most people call peace is only a name; but in reality, there is an eternal, irreconcilable war between all states by nature” [Plato 1972, 86].

Among European philosophers, Plato was one of the first to speak about the factors determining the emergence of wars. He shrewdly recognized the role of the demographic factor in the emergence of wars between states. Many philosophers of Antiquity considered war as an integral attribute of the existence of the state. This was due to the understanding of war as a way of establishing domination, a source of slave power, wealth, territories, which allowed to reach a higher stage of development of the ancient polis/republic. At the same time, not every war was positively evaluated. For example, the ancient Greeks were against wars between Hellenes, as well as internal wars (called strife), because it could lead to the self-destruction of the Greeks [Plato 1971, 270]. Another criterion of admissibility and moral justification of war was the principle of justice. The causes of wars, political, economic, demographic, social and other consequences were also the subject of philosophical reflection.

For a long time, the comprehension of various phenomena of nature and society remained the monopoly of philosophy. But even the emergence of other approaches for the study of these phenomena has not completely displaced this paradigm, which has been formed over two millennia. The founder of positivism, Auguste Comte, asserted that every science is a philosophy in itself, thus unwittingly assessing the cognitive status of philosophy.

More recent forms of knowledge of war, as compared to philosophy, have set aside their predecessor and claim to have exhaustive knowledge of the phenomenon, using their own tools. As disciplinary approaches to the study of war multiplied, many proponents of non-philosophical approaches had the illusion that it was possible to find exhaustive answers to fundamental questions about war through these approaches. However, as life has shown, these misconceptions were quickly dispelled, as these approaches only partially solved the stated problems.

Where and when does the philosophy of war begin? The works of philosophers that have addressed the issues of war are numerous and diverse. Therefore, it is difficult to draw a sharp dividing line between those works that dealt with the problem of war in fragments and those that had a clear indication of the subject of study at hand, as well as those that were fully devoted to war but were not philosophical treatises. For example, we do not find in Clausewitz a clear indication of the “philosophy of war,” although he is considered one of the main classics in this area. Nowadays, some researchers regard Clausewitz not just as a philosopher of war, but as a political philosopher of war, arguing that Clausewitz was perceived in this capacity within the framework of Carl Schmitt’s concept of the “political” [Belozerov 2018a; Belozerov 2018b].

One of the main merits of the Prussian general is considered to be his ingenious formulation of the determinacy of war by politics. Before him, Navia-Osorio y Vigil, the Marquis of Santa Cruz de Marcenado had written about it [Navia-Osorio y Vigil, 1738]. In an even more precise formulation, the philosophical direction of the study was indicated in the fragment, “Philosophy of War” [Lloyd 1790], from Henry Lloyd’s Military and Military Memoirs, translated as Introduction à l’histoire de la guerre en Allemagne en 1756 … ou Mémoires militaires et politiques du général Lloyd. Traduit et augmenté … d’un précis sur la vie… de ce général (Bruxelles: A. F. Pion, 1784), by Germain-Hyacinthe de Romance, a French officer. In it, even before Clausewitz, he laid the foundations of the philosophy of war and before Antoine-Henri Jomini had substantiated the principles of the doctrine of operational strategy. He divided the science of war into two parts: the first was mechanistic in nature and could be taught to students; the second was philosophical in nature and could not be taught. According to a number of researchers, this dichotomy largely determined the strategic thinking of the British theorist. It also influenced the confrontation between two leading strategists of the 19th century: Jomini, a supporter of purely strategic approaches, and Clausewitz, a proponent of philosophy and dialectics [Chalvardjian 2014, 166]. The period of the Napoleonic wars accelerated the process of synthesis of philosophy and military strategy. In France, a participant of the Napoleonic campaign in Russia, Marquis Georges de Chambre, a general of the French army, published his study, which was the result of deep observations, which he called, Philosophie de la guerre (Philosophy of War). In it, he explained the importance of the philosophical approach to the study of war and his attitude to it [Chambray, 1829, V-VI].

The reason for the interest in the epistemological possibilities of philosophy, apparently, was that religious, in particular Christian, interpretations of the origin and laws of war no longer satisfied either political thinkers or military leaders. Niccolo Machiavelli, in addition to political problems, in his works addressed issues of military development. This was because of his official elected position as secretary of the Military Commission of Ten (Dieci di Libertà e Pace), which was responsible for representing Florence in conflicts, as well as his civic position as a political thinker. In his treatise, On the Art of War, he puts forward the idea of replacing the mercenary army with an army of citizens recruited for service by conscription. An essential feature of Machiavelli’s political philosophy was the transition to a secular political-philosophical model of understanding the power interactions of contemporary Italian society, expanding the boundaries of what was permitted by the Church.

As humanity has evolved, new technical means of violence have emerged, and new ways of armed struggle have multiplied, changing the face of war. This in turn led to attempts to rethink its essence and transformations. Each researcher saw in it specific features, the nature of which he sought to penetrate. In methodological terms, this is the basis for synthesizing the general and the singular, the object and subject of the philosophy of war. Is it possible to destroy the philosophical that is present in knowledge as such? The experience of a magnet with a north and south pole comes to mind. Trying to break the magnet in half does not result in the formation of the north and south poles separately in the resulting fragments. Each new piece will have north and south pole just like the original sample. In the same way, philosophy will be inherent in any knowledge that has reached a high stage of development. Whatever the name of a discipline, there will always be a place for philosophy in it. This understanding of the essence of the question of the presence of philosophy in theoretical knowledge became characteristic in the 19th century. New branches of knowledge appeared, where “philosophy” was a constituent part. It was especially widespread in German scientific and popular science literature, where the literary series Natur- und kulturphilosofische Bibliothek appeared. This applied in full measure to the science of war [Steinmetz, 1907].

The changeability of war has been noted by many thinkers, who used various metaphors to convey this property. Thus, Sun Tzu compared war to water: “… The army has no unchanging power, water has no unchanging form. Who knows how to master changes and transformations depending on the opponent and win, he is called a deity” [Sun Tzu, 2002, 51]. Representatives of the French school of polemology also associated changeability with the water element. They compared war with the mythical hero, Proteus, the son of Poseidon, who (according to Virgil) had inexhaustible abilities of transformations. A classic example of the changeability of war is Clausewitz’s statement about the internal and external sources of transformation of this phenomenon: “Thus, war is not only a real chameleon, since it changes its nature somewhat in each particular case, but also in its general forms in relation to the prevailing tendencies, it is a strange trinity made up of violence as its original element, hatred and enmity” [Clausewitz 1997, 58].

The multiplicity of war has been noted and highlighted by many contemporaries. One of them is the French philosopher Alexis Philonenko, who devoted himself to the study of many philosophical problems, among which the philosophy of war occupies an important place. In his Essais sur la philosophie de la guerre [Essays on the Philosophy of War], (1976), he scrutinizes the philosophical work of various philosophers—Machiavelli, Kant, Fichte, Saint-Just, Hegel, Clausewitz, Prudon, Tolstoy, De Gaulle—in relation to the study of the phenomenon of war. In doing so, he addressed the problem of the plurality of interpretations of war, as well as the problem of the correlation between war and peace. Among the reflections on the contributions of European philosophers and thinkers, Philonenko devotes a significant place to the philosophical reflections of Leo N. Tolstoy. Of the twelve chapters, four are devoted to it: “History and Religion in Tolstoy” (IX), “Tolstoy and Clausewitz” (X), “Tolstoy or Fatalism” (XI), “Logic and Strategy: Differential Calculus in War and Peace” (XII). Comparing the two unlike thinkers in their views on war, Philonenko wrote: “If at times it seemed that Tolstoy prevailed over Clausewitz, it must be recognized that a moment later Clausewitz prevailed over Tolstoy, and that in this way the philosopher of violence sometimes prevailed over the apostle of nonviolence, and vice versa” [Philonenko, 1976, 247]. Attention to the philosophical reasoning of Tolstoy, on the part of the French researcher, testifies to his open-mindedness to the work of one of the representatives of the Russian philosophy of war. Such positive interest for Russian thinkers on the part of foreign authors causes positive emotions, because it is not always so. An example of this is Raymond Aron’s arguments about the Marxist-Leninist doctrine of war and the army (which, in fact, was the philosophy of war in the USSR).

Discussing the multidimensionality of the philosophy of war, O.A. Belkov, a Russian researcher at the Research Institute of Military History of the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, notes: “Taking into account these questions, the clarification of which constitutes the content of the philosophical understanding of war, and the problems that need such understanding, we can identify the areas of philosophical study of war: war as a state of society, different from peace, its essence and meaning, properties and signs; the role of war in the life of humanity and individual countries, the impact it has on various aspects of this life; social consequences of war; value-oriented analysis of war; sources and causes of wars and military conflicts; ontology of war, its existential content; the structure of war, the relationships between the various components of its content; the relationship between war and various spheres of public life and types of human activity; the spiritual side and ethics of war; political, economic, social and other non-military determinants and factors of the course and outcome of wars; internal contradictions of the war; the place and role of the army, the military class in the destinies of the homeland; conceptual and categorical apparatus and methodological principles for the study of war, typology of wars” [Belkov 2019, 120]. This once again proves that in the presence of a single object of study (war), the subject can vary to a large extent.

Realizing the multitude of problems facing the philosophy of war, we will limit ourselves in this article to a few topics: the problem of historical truth about wars and the problem of victory and defeat in war. All the more so because they are related to each other.

Uchronia, or Way of Distorting the Truth

We are all familiar with the term “utopia,” which is applied to something that does not exist in reality but is desirable. It is very often used to refer to an ideal social order, most often associated with an imaginary future. Thomas More used this neologism, an etymological derivative from the Greek “topos” and the negative prefix “u.” That is, it is a place that does not exist. In 1857, a book by French philosopher Charles Renouvier (1815-1903) was published, Uchronie. L’utopie dans l’histoire (Uchronia. Utopia in History). In the very title, the author unambiguously indicated, first, the utopian nature of the concept of “uchronia” and, second, its focus on history. The fabula of this work was the imaginary victory of Napoleon at Waterloo and its socio-political consequences for Europe. Renouvier was far from the first in this kind of historical fantasy. As the sources testify, Titus Livius in his treatise, History of Rome from the Founding of the City (Book IX, sections 17-19) develops a hypothesis about what would have happened if Alexander the Great had directed his conquest to the West instead of the East. A later author, the Abbé Michel de Pure (1620-1680), published in 1659 his novel, Épigone, histoire du siècle futur (Epigone, History of the Future Century), which is considered to be in the genre of uchronia.

Why does such a desire arise—to “remake” history? Most likely, because the real results of the historical process are not satisfactory, which do not always coincide with the desires of the participants, even those who did not take part in them and not even contemporaries. This applies to Marie-Pierre Rey’s four-hundred-page book, L’effroyable tragédie : Une nouvelle histoire de la campagne de Russie (A Terrible Tragedy: A New History of the Russian Campaign) [Rey, 2012], in which the author, deviating from accepted historical facts, gives a modified idea of the events of Napoleon’s campaign in Russia. The former President of the French Republic, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, went even further in a book he wrote called, La victoire de la Grande Armée (The Victory of the Grand Army), [Giscard d’Estaing, 2010]. In it he paints a picture of the victory of the French emperor over the Russian army. The triumph of the campaign is the return to the homeland and the acquisition of great power status by France. An example of a beneficial interpretation of real events was Napoleon I himself.

The “rewriting” of history is becoming an increasingly common practice these days. This is the sin of authors for whom the established ideas about the world status quo are an obstacle to changing it and creating a new world order in which a new history will be required to justify it. For this purpose, the historiosophic concept of uchronia, which provides freedom for the most daring distortions of historical facts, is very convenient.

It is quite understandable why history has become a field of struggle for new meanings and values, because it is very profitable to obtain moral, and other, dividends by appropriating what never belonged to the “uchronists” (in the broad sense) and their ideological sponsors, and to take away from those who were the basis for the resolution of crisis situations, especially those of a historical scale. Such attempts are very productive in cases when witnesses of events pass away or when ruling political regimes impose deliberately distorted ideas about real events on society. Sometimes such a desire outstrips and even replaces thoughtful and objective study of factual material. But history is a rather stubborn thing. Sooner or later, the facts of history become the property not only of specialists, but also of the general public.

In the philosophical reflections of the participant of the Patriotic War of 1812 and foreign campaigns of the Russian army in 1813-1814, Fedor Nikolayevich Glinka sounds a futurological warning to posterity: “The present repeats itself in the future as the past does in the present. Times will pass; years will turn into centuries, and there will come again for some of the kingdoms of the earth a decisive period similar to the one that has now covered Russia with ashes, blood and glory.” [Glinka 2012, 132]. Unfortunately, his warning has been repeatedly confirmed in history.

How can we counter the onslaught of unsafe historical “fantasies” and direct distortions of facts? The surest way is to counter it with historical, documentary truth. This is the only way to bring down the lie, no matter what kind of garb it wears.

In the three-volume work, History of the Patriotic War of 1812, according to reliable sources (1859), the talented Russian historian Modest Ivanovich Bogdanovich gave an objective analysis of the scientific works of Russian and foreign researchers who described the events of the past clash of Napoleon’s and Russian armies. He highly appreciated the contribution of compatriots and foreigners in the reliable description of the events. He praised General Dmitry Buturlin, General Alexander Mikhailovsky Danilevsky, Dmitry Milyutin, Smith, Gepfner. At the same time, he noted the not always high enough level of foreign sources on the War of 1812: “none of them corresponds either to the importance of the subject nor to the current state of science” [Bogdanovich, 1859, IV]. Only a few works by foreigners deserve, in his opinion, praise: “Memoires of the Prince of Wurtemberg” (Erinnerungen aus dem Feldzuge des Jahres 1812 in Russland), “Notes of Count Toll” (Denkwürdigkeiten des Grafen v. Toll) and General de Chambre’s “Histoire de l’expédition de Russie” (Histoire de l’expédition de Russie) (see: [Soloviev 2017, 43]).

M.I. Bogdanovich rightly remarks: “When describing the war, one cannot do without comparing the testimonies of both sides, which alone can serve to impartially investigate the truth.” [Bogdanovich, 1859, V]. Thus he emphasized the methodological significance of the event aspect of the military clash in both epistemological and political terms. This kind of inference honors the author not only as a general, but also as a historian and philosopher.

From the point of view of distortion of the real state of affairs, we should note different levels of this process: distortions of historical truth at the level of concepts and theories, and on the other hand, biased interpretation in their favor at the factual level. The techniques of distorting information for military and political purposes are known at all times. The famous historian Yevgeny Viktorovich Tarle relates examples of “information warfare” during the Patriotic War of 1812: “The false bulletins of Napoleon’s headquarters made in France, Poland, Germany, Austria, Italy the impression they were designed to make” [Tarle, 2015, 155]. As some contemporary Russian researchers note, the French often used methods of distorting information, which can be considered as prototypes of “information warfare” [Bezotosny, 2004, 190-202]. The subjects of falsification were military losses, battle results, superiority of military strategy, and civilizational ambitions [Zemtsov, 2002, 38-51].

Victory and Defeat

The theme of victory and defeat in historiosophic terms was of interest to many authors. It was addressed by our famous compatriot Nikolay Yakovlevich Danilevsky, the ideologist of pan-Slavism, one of the founders of the civilizational approach to history. The original ideas of this thinker in the field of philosophy of politics brought out ambiguous responses from contemporaries. At the same time, the statement of problems was characterized by thorough elaboration. In January-February 1879 in the journal, Russkaya rech’ (Russian Speech), he published an article “Woe to the victors!” in which he addressed the problem of Russia’s military policy in the Eastern Question. He assessed the geopolitical situation in the region pessimistically: “…we were to achieve by war: the resolution of all the obstacles, both moral and material, separating the north-eastern Slavs, i.e., Russia, from the south-eastern Slavs and from all the Orthodox peoples inhabiting the Balkan Peninsula. And all barriers were destroyed by the bayonets of Russian soldiers—and rebuilt again, and some were even strengthened and created again by the pens of Russian diplomats. The negative results achieved by Russian policy far surpassed the negative ones achieved by Russian military art and Russian military valor! The strange and ridiculous sounding paradox, woe to the victors, Russia managed to turn into a sad but undoubted fact” [Danilevsky, 1998]. Indeed, this problem has an even longer history. This situation is enshrined in the winged expression “Pyrrhic victory,” understood as a victory obtained at an exorbitant price, which equalized the winner and the defeated (there are earlier analogues of this expression).

French polemologist Julien Freund in his work, Sociology of Conflict addresses the problem of the correlation between victory and defeat in war. This philosophical problem is always in the center of attention of philosophers, thinkers and politicians. Who really enjoys the fruits of military victory, and whether military and political victory are identical? Speaking of military victory, he writes: “Victory, which means the defeat of the other, is a conclusion that corresponds to the internal logic of conflict, since it aims to break the resistance of the enemy in order to impose our will on him. In principle, since it is a bilateral relation, only one of the opponents can be the winner. Thus, phenomenologically, the triumph of one and the defeat of the other essentially constitutes the most appropriate outcome to the spirit of the conflict. From this point of view, the victory should even be, if possible, the most complete and the defeat, if possible, the most crushing. C. Clausewitz never tires of repeating this, varying the wording.” [Freund 2008, 58].

Modern Russian scientists are attentive to the problem of victory and defeat. It is not difficult to find an explanation for this. Victory or defeat for the Soviet Union was a problem of life and death not only for an individual, but for the entire nation. The war waged by Hitler’s Germany against the USSR was a war of extermination. The historical memory of the people eternally preserves the events that were a crime against humanity. It is a kind of genetic immunity against national ignorance, which in the 21st century can internally disarm a citizen of his country.

Andrei Afanasievich Kokoshin, a specialist in military-political issues, reacted to the book, Winning Modern Wars (2003), by retired American general Wesley Clark, with a small paper, “On the Political Meaning of Victory in a Modern War,” devoted to the consideration of the political component in a military conflict. The work sounds modern and, in a certain respect, leads us to think not only about the political meaning of victory in modern or past wars, but also about its moral content.

The object of study of the philosophy of war can be various specific wars or wars in their totality. Each source provides the researcher with rich material for study and generalizations. In this sense, the Patriotic War of 1812 is of great interest, because it is, in our opinion, a model that includes the rich experience of past wars, and which also became a prototype for future wars.

When he began the war against the Russian Empire, Napoleon had numerical superiority, vast combat experience, the combined economic potential of France and conquered Europe, etc., but he failed to use these advantages. The explanations for this on the part of the French were irrational (“barbaric customs”, etc.), but the reasons were quite real—at the minimum, the poor organization of supply of the French army. Napoleonic historian, a participant of the French campaign in Russia, Eugene Labaume described the condition of the French troops: “The weather, which was beautiful all day long, became cold and damp at night. The army settled on the battlefield and settled down partly in the redoubts, which it so gloriously captured. This bivouac was severe; the men and horses had nothing to eat, and the scarcity of firewood made us experience all the severity of a rainy and freezing night” [Labaume 1820, 160]. Labaume, who did not question the victory of Napoleon’s army in the campaign, without wanting to, revealed one of its weaknesses—poor logistics.

Another confirmation of the catastrophic situation of the French troops, who had not yet taken Moscow, is the testimony of Count Philippe-Paul de Ségur, who described the Borodino field after the battle in his memoirs: “…there are soldiers everywhere, wandering among the corpses and looking for food even in the duffel bags of their dead comrades” [Ségur, 1910, 147]. Then he makes a conclusion that diverged from the generally accepted opinion in French historiography, which insisted on the unconditional defeat of the Russians at Borodino: “If the remaining (Russian troops—A. S.) withdrew in such good order, proud and so little discouraged, how important was the mastery of a single battlefield? In such vast areas the Russians will always have enough land to fight on” [Ségur 1910, 148].

But his profound observations and conclusions are disharmonious with other inferences having the character of civilizational superiority: “It is obvious that they (Russian soldiers—A. S.) seemed more resistant to pain than the French; this is not because they endured suffering more courageously, but they suffered less, since they are less sensitive both in body and spirit, which is due to a less developed civilization and to organs hardened by climate” [Ségur, 1910, 149-150]. Similar attempts to belittle the achievements and successes of Russia and its citizens can often be found nowadays in many Western authors.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is worth noting that the problem of war and peace is still a fundamental one, and addressing it from a philosophical perspective is very important for understanding the origins and essential relations arising in the transition from a peaceful state to a state of war and vice versa. The philosophy of war greatly contributes to this, allowing us to penetrate into the essence of changes in the image of war, and in some cases to anticipate the direction of transformations of modern wars.

In his work “Cherished Thoughts”, the great Russian scientist Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev, reflecting on war and the possibility of its elimination as a social phenomenon, wrote: “No matter how much people wish to live in good harmony forever, and no matter what alliances the states make, still ahead, i.e., in the not distant future, or more precisely, in the twentieth century, wars cannot be avoided, and if governments make peace, the peoples will not stop fighting and demanding wars” [Kozikov 2018, 221]. And if governments do not contribute to peacekeeping? Unfortunately, the history of the 21st century shows the emergence of wars and military conflicts in one part of the planet or another. This provides food for philosophical reflection, a vivid example of which is the study of the “world-war” cycle of human development [Danilenko 2008a; Danilenko 2008b]. More recently, Indiana University professor and political anthropologist Edgar Illas’ book, The Survival Regime. Global War and the Political [Illas, 2019]. This suggests that the philosophical analysis of the political-economic content of the phenomenon of war has been and remains relevant.

For references, please consult the original:


Alexei V. Soloviev is Associate Professor in the Department of the Philosophy of Politics and Law, Faculty of Philosophy, Lomonosov, Moscow.


Featured: Crossing the Berezina River on 17 (29) November 1812, by Peter von Hess; painted in 1844.


Marc Fumaroli: A Reminiscence and Prologue

On October 2nd, 1993, Marc Fumaroli, first citizen in the Republic of Letters, delivered a paper at Princeton on the subject of rhetoric. Philippe-Joseph Salazar was his student and worked closely with him. He “sets the scene” for this paper.

Marc Fumaroli was a master, yet one without disciples. In fact he scorned the idea of having “groupies,” a word he used with gusto well before French intellectual moeurs were impregnated with Americanisms of all sorts.

I knew him well, and over a long period of time, indeed. In fact, in 1979, he set me on the path of rhetoric, after proofreading pen in hand my first book, on opera, and quipping: “And now, after ce tour de piste, onto the real stuff.” I was barely twenty-four, it was my first book, and he spared no time and effort to guide me so that I would not mess up my début at the (then) sanctum of Presses universitaires de France. He was generous, but in his own way, which never was devoid of “raillerie.” Then he supervised my Doctorat d’Etat, a hallowed and now defunct degree thanks to the Plan-Organize-Lead-Control system imposed by Brussels (and Bologna) managerial bureaucracy on academic outputs. I can hear him punning on “output.” We are only a handful to have had him as a directeur de travaux for that recondite degree.

He was a laconic supervisor. My last supervision meeting took place over dinner in a dark restaurant in Göttingen—a side event to some colloquium he left half-way through it as it was his custom when “les cafards” (his word) started taking, and talking, over. He gave me sparse advice, but always cutting to the quick. Odd supervisor he was who mocked the routine rhetoric of academia, yet an adroit player in the cursus honorum game. One day, to my bewilderment, he took a school edition of Les Fourberies de Scapin, jumped into a large office cupboard, and burst out reciting with a high pitched voice the famous tirade when the imposter defines himself:

“Heaven has bestowed on me a fair enough share of genius for the making up of all those neat strokes of mother wit, for all those ingenious gallantries to which the ignorant and vulgar give the name of impostures; and I can boast, without vanity, that there have been very few men more skilful than I in expedients and intrigues, and who have acquired a greater reputation in the noble profession.” He added: “Tout est là!

I remember sitting there, next to his desk, aghast at his comedic skills. He admired and knew Grotowski. Whenever I attended a colloquium where he spoke, that impersonation of his came back—not for its content, of course, but for the performance itself.

His preferred eloquent mode however was the Voltairean causerie, the off the cuff (but on target) erudite comment, to sum the supple exercise and witty display of intelligence in a conversation between peers or meant to educate novices. Formalities were not his forte. Once, upon returning from England, while dropping his leather duffel bag with a loud plonk, he exhaled: “Ah, ces pompeux emmerdements d’Oxford.” Translation needed?

Nonetheless Fumaroli had a following, of students and colleagues, whom he did not always treat very kindly as the man could never resist un trait d’esprit, at their expense of course. Victims would usually succumb in silence. All his witticisms and actes manqués and antics would fill up a Fumaroliana—a book of ana, that exquisite literary genre of the Republic of Letters that has disappeared from intellectual life. Nothing more unwoke than a book of ana. You’ll get sued.

Nevertheless in September 1993 his (non) disciples together with his peers congregated in the redoubt of trendy intellectualism at Cerisy-la-Salle manor house. It is hard to imagine today what a shock it was to have a Fumaroli colloquium there. Imagine Derrida being feted at Davos. Or the Che at the RAND corporation. He told me, the moment he arrived from the tiresome rail and road journey to that gentilhommière in the Western Normandy countryside: “Well, merci, you put me a foot in the grave” (he died in 2020, though). The Cerisy colloquium had a provoking title, he chose: “Les Lettres: un gai savoir,” an ironical, rhetorical clin d’oeil to the fashionableness of Cerisy’s dedication to avant-garde in all its forms. But the actual theme was of course the dignity of Ciceronian otium, the joys scholarship affords to free minds—as in Nietzsche’s Fröhliche Wissenschaft—while paying homage to the poetic inventiveness of medieval gay saber. Two years later he was elected to the Académie française while the transactions, Le loisir lettré à l’Age Classique (Geneva, Droz) came out at about the same time.

About ten years after Cerisy, his epigones congregated again, this time by way of a special issue of XVIIe Siècle, the apex journal of erudite studies on “Age classique” (in the French sense of classical) to reflect on “Trente ans de recherches rhétoriques” (vol LIX, No 3, July 2007). We took stock of Fumaroli’s influence in shaping an entire new generation of rhetoric scholars in Europe.

Fumaroli is now nearly forgotten. I tested this on a young man who has just entered my college, Ecole normale supérieure. This Telemachus of France’s intellectual elite had only a vague idea of who Fumaroli was. If not forgotten altogether, he remains “sulfureux” with those who were part of the cultural and political struggles of the 80s. Significantly, after his death, a leading literary magazine of probing intelligence turned down a suggestion to highlight his contribution to French intellectual life: “Too toxic.” Buried or toxic, like nuclear waste. His staggering erudition and sharp pen were feared by his opponents on the left and, I suggest, misunderstood by his political supporters on the right. In fact, Fumaroli admired intelligence, including that of his intellectual opponents like Bourdieu (I know that first hand). He helped careers of junior academics of great scholarly promise, while deriding in private their political certainties, and vanities.

Here is a key to his temperament: his favourite American writer was Gore Vidal. To this day I regret having turned down his invitation to go to Italy with him, and meet Vidal—confirming the dictum that youth is wasted on the young. He admired Vidal’s ability to use his first-hand knowledge of the American patriciate, a form of erudition and, armed with it, paint compelling historical frescoes, composed with wit, elegance and a light touch. Fumaroli was the Gore Vidal of French erudition. This comparison goes further: when he wrote eloquently about the Tridentine rhetorical aggiornamento and the Roman Church as the power of oratory, his mind and taste were not religious or devout, they were cast in the mould of his beloved Poussin and “paganism.” He was, in effect, a radical sceptic in the great tradition of French libertinage.

His skepsis distrust of ideas for ideas’ sake (“la peste des intellectuels!” one of his favourite sayings) is something his intellectual opponents on the left and his fans on the right never quite fathomed about him. That is why, I believe, he felt at ease in Italy where intellectual life is far less compassé. For instance, I recall an episode in Rome when, at a bus station, someone shouted at him, “Fumaroli, vieni qui,” and then began an animated chat, at the kerb, on Castiglione’s Courtier. The bus stop became a salon, nay, an academy. And, dear me, how long that conversation lasted. Buses came and went, and were missed while they talked, like in a Bertolucci movie.

In the days following Cerisy Marc asked me to go over a lecture he was to deliver at Princeton, in October. I did not alter his style, I merely tried to shorten sentences and wipe off some Gallicisms. He gave me the revised version he had typed up—the text presented here. Typos are his. He actually typed his books and papers himself, sat at his gothic desk framed by two heavy Venetian damask curtains on the second floor of a XVIIth century building where he lived, quite derelict at the time as most of the hôtels particuliers in the Marais—before gentrification and then globalisation by various means. A mutual friend, and descendant of Marinetti, would help him sell it later when he moved to illustrious Left Bank quarters, rid of the sight of leathermen in chaps gathering at a gay bar round the corner.

Before that time, when he was writing, one could hear, at night, the morse-like tac-tac-tac (with longer Typex pauses) of his typewriter from the corner of rue des Mauvais Garçons (the name amused him) and rue du Bourg-Tibourg. An Italian trattoria owner across the narrow street was worried sick about his late night typing, and tried to make sure he ate properly. When Age de l’éloquence came out, she asked him for a signed copy. He sighed: “She thinks it is a novel, imagine un peu! (go figure!).” That summed up for him the difference between les Lettres and literature, one of his pet topics.

The text presented here is emblematic of the utterly French style of lecturing, light yet profound, a sprezzatura of the mind that has always been misunderstood in Anglo-American academic circles (with some notable exceptions)—to wit, and this is my last ana, it led him once to refuse adding footnotes to an invited article by a leading English-speaking Renaissance journal, and to exclaim in sheer exasperation: “What a nerve! If their readers don’t know what my references are, then est-ce vraiment une revue savante?” Rich from a scholar whose hermeneutic skills were astounding and whose juggernauts of technical footnotes and primary sources (at a time when one had to go into archives and special collections; one book at a time, four a day only, and “make sure you only use a pencil”) are so intimidating that they prevent his monumenta from being translated. This Princeton lecture is therefore without notes. Caveat emptor. Or cave canem. Take your pick.


French philosopher and essayist Philippe-Joseph Salazar writes on rhetoric as philosophy of power. Laureate of the Prix Bristol des Lumières in 2015 for his book on jihad (translated as, Words are Weapons. Inside ISIS’s Rhetoric of Terror, Yale UP). In 2022, the international community of rhetoricians honoured him with a Festschrift, The Incomprehensible: The Critical Rhetoric of Philippe-Joseph Salazar. He holds a Distinguished Professorship in Rhetoric and Humane Letters in the Law Faculty of the University of Cape Town, South Africa.


The Philosophy of St. Bonaventure On Creation

Then appeared the peripatetics, whose master and leader was Aristotle, and whom St. Bonaventure treats with some moderation during the calm period of the Commentary on the Sentences. At this time he is well aware that Aristotle taught the eternity of the world; now, as we shall see more fully later on, he considers that the doctrine of the eternity of the world is extremely hard to reconcile with that of creation; he does not believe then that Aristotle considered matter and form created by God out of nothing, even from all eternity: utrum autem posuerit materiam et formam factam de nihilo, hoc nescio; credo tamen quod non pervenit ad hoc.

Relying upon charitably interpreted texts, St. Bonaventure supposes that Aristotle considered the world as made by God from eternal elements. The philosopher’s error was therefore double, since it rested on the eternity of the elements and on ignorance of creation ex nihilo, but it had at least an advantage over Plato in not supposing that matter could ever have existed without its form. The error of Plato, which assumed God, matter and the idea in separation, seemed to him then more objectionable (multo vilior) than that of Aristotelianism which assumed God and a matter eternally perfected by its form: ideo et ipse etiam defecit licet minus quam alii. Later St. Bonaventure expresses harsher opinions about Aristotle, but yet he will never expressly deny that his God without ideas and without providence made the world eternally, of eternally existent matter and form.

So it clearly appears that those who of all philosophers came nearest to the truth yet failed to reach it. Now it is just there, at the precise point at which the skill of philosophers breaks down, that revelation comes to our aid, teaching us that all has been created and that things have been brought into being in the totality of what they are: ubi autem deficit philosophorum peritia, subvenit nobis sacrosancta Scriptura, quae dicit omnia esse creata, et secundum omne quod sunt in esse producta. Thus it is that the reason when better informed perceives and confirms with decisive arguments the truth that Scripture affirms.

For it is certain that the more a productive cause is primary and perfect in the order of being, the more profoundly its action penetrates its effects. In the case where the cause considered is the absolutely primary and perfect being, the action that it exercises must extend its efficacy to the total substance of each of its effects.

In other words, if God produces a thing, He can only produce it integrally, and His action necessarily engenders its constitutive principles, matter and form, at the same time as the compositum. Similarly, the less aid it requires for its action, the more noble and the more perfect is the agent. If then we consider the most perfect agent possible, his action must be completely sufficient in itself and must be exercised without recourse to any external aid. Now the case of God is exactly this; He is then capable, in Himself, of producing things without the help of pre-existing principles. On the other hand, God is perfectly simple; His essence is not divisible into particular beings; He does not extract things from Himself by dissecting His own substance; so He necessarily extracts them from nothing. In the same way, lastly, if God is truly perfect and absolute simplicity, He cannot act in a part of Himself; in each of His actions, it is His whole being that is concerned and comes into play; now the nature of the effect is necessarily proportioned to that of the cause; so just as the action of a being composed of matter and form can engender a form in a matter which is already present, so an absolutely simple being such as God can produce the integral being of a thing. Acting in all His being, His effect can only be being; the natural result then of the divine action is the bringing into existence of that which nothing preceded, except God and the void.

A second problem, and one inseparable from the foregoing, is the question when this integral production of beings can have taken place. The human reason, incapable of discovering with its own resources the true nature of the creative act, is similarly incapable of determining accurately the moment of creation. Either we know that creation consists in producing the very being of things, without employing any pre-existing matter, and so it is obvious that the world was created in time; or, on the contrary, we believe that the creator used in His work principles which were anterior to the world itself, and thus the created universe seems logically eternal. The kernel of St. Bonaventure’s argument on this point was always that there is a contradiction in terms in supposing that what is created out of nothing is not created in time. The idea of a universe created by God out of nothing and from all eternity, an idea which St. Thomas Aquinas considered logically possible, seemed to St. Bonaventure so glaring a contradiction that he could not imagine a philosopher so incompetent as to overlook it.

His thought, which he does not develop at length, although he states it with the greatest energy, seems here to follow St. Anselm very closely and to proceed from a vigorously literal interpretation of the formula ex nihilo. The particle ex, in fact, seems to him capable of only two interpretations. Either it designates a matter existing before the divine action, or it simply marks the starting point of this action, implies and establishes a relation of order, fixes an initial term anterior to the appearance of the world itself.

Now the word ex cannot signify a matter, for it here determines the word “nothing,” the very significance of which is absence of being, which could not therefore designate a material in which things could be shaped. It can only signify the starting point of the divine action and establish the initial term of a relation of anteriority and posteriority. It follows that to say that the world was created ex nihilo is either to say nothing or to say that the non-existence of the universe preceded the existence of the universe; that before there was nothing of the world and that only afterwards the world appeared; to suppose, in a word, the beginning of things in time and to deny their eternity.

Although this seems to have been the central and decisive argument in St. Bonaventure’s eyes, since it makes the eternity of a world created out of nothing seem contradictory, it is presented to us from the time of the Commentary on the Sentences flanked by other arguments of no less historical importance, based on the impossibility of the created infinite. It is easy to prove on this point how inaccurate it is to explain St. Bonaventure’s thought by his ignorance of the Aristotelianism of Albert and St. Thomas. For it is with the help of Aristotelian arguments and in opposition to Aristotle himself that he shows the impossibility of a world created from all eternity; better still he expressly refutes the thesis which St. Thomas was to believe supportable; St. Bonaventure therefore is fully aware of the position that he takes up, and he dismisses the teaching of which he is alleged to be ignorant on the ground of maturely considered principles.

In the first place, the eternity of the world contradicts the principle that it is impossible to add to the infinite; for if the world had no beginning, it has already experienced an infinite duration; now every new day which passes adds a unit to the infinite number of days already gone; the eternity of the world supposes therefore an infinite capable of being augmented. If it is objected that this infinite is so only, as it were, at one end, and that the number of days gone, infinite in the past, is finite in the present, nothing substantial is asserted. For it is evident that, if the world is eternal, it has already passed through an infinite number of solar revolutions and also that there are always twelve lunar revolutions to one solar; so that the moon would have accomplished a number of revolutions in excess of the infinite. So, even considering this infinite bounded by the present, and considering it infinite only where it really is so, in the past, we end by supposing a number larger than the infinite, which is absurd.

In the second place, the eternity of the world contradicts the principle that it is impossible to order an infinity of terms. All order, in fact, starts from a beginning, passes through a middle point and reaches an end. If then there is no first term there is no order; now if the duration of the world and therefore the revolutions of the stars had no beginning, their series would have had no first term and they would possess no order, which amounts to saying that in reality they do not in fact form a series and they do not precede or follow one another. But this the order of the days and seasons plainly proves to be false. This argument may seem sophistical from the Aristotelian and Thornist point of view.

If Aristotle declares that it is impossible to order an infinite series of terms, he refers to terms essentially ordered; in other words, he denies that a series of essences can be infinite if it is hierarchically ordered, if its existence or causality is conditioned from top to bottom, but he does not deny that a series of causes or of beings of the same degree can be infinite. For example, there is no progression to the infinite in the ascending series of the causes of local movement in terrestrial bodies, for superior movers are required, requiring in their turn an immobile first mover to account for them, but we can suppose without contradiction that this hierarchical system of moving causes exists and operates from all eternity, the displacement of each body being explained by a finite number of superior causes, but being preceded by an infinite number of causes of the same order. St. Bonaventure is not ignorant of this distinction and, if he does not accept it, it is not because he cannot grasp it, it is because it implies a state of the universe which is incompatible with his profoundest metaphysical tendencies. In St. Bonaventure’s Christian universe there is, in reality, no place for Aristotelian accident; his thought shrinks from supposing a series of causes accidentally ordered, that is to say, without order, without law and with its terms following one another at random.

Divine Providence must penetrate the universe down to its smallest details; it does not then account only for causal series, but also for those of succession. The root of the matter is that St. Bonaventure’s Christian universe differs from the pagan universe of Aristotle in that it has a history; every celestial revolution, instead of following indifferently an infinity of identical revolutions, coincides with the appearance of unique events, each of which has its place fixed in the grand drama which unfolds itself between the Creation of the world and the Last Judgment. Every day, every hour even, forms part of a series which is ruled by a certain order and of which Divine Providence knows the whole reason; si dicas quod statum ordinis non necesse est ponere nisi in his quae ordinantur secundum ordinem causalitatis, quia in causis necessaria est status, quaero quare non in aliis? St. Bonaventure refuses to admit not only causes but also events accidentally ordered.

The third property of the infinite which is irreconcilable with the eternity of the world is that the infinite cannot be bridged; now if the universe had no beginning, an infinite number of celestial revolutions must have taken place, and therefore the present day could not have been reached. If it is objected, with St. Thomas Aquinas, [Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, I . 46, 2 , per tot., where St. Bonaventure’s arguments are discussed point by point: ad 1 and 2 against his interpretation of ex nihilo; ad 6 against the argument “infinita impossible est pertransiri“; ad 7 against the impossibility of an infinite series of accidentally ordered causes; ad 8 against the actually realized infinity of immortal souls]—that to bridge a distance it must be traversed from one extremity to the other, and that, in consequence, one must start from an initial point which in this case is lacking, we shall answer: starting from the present day, we must necessarily be able to fix a day infinitely anterior to it, or else we cannot fix any one; if no anterior day precedes the present day by an infinite duration, then all the anterior days precede it by a finite duration and therefore the duration of the world had a beginning; if, on the contrary, we can fix an anterior day infinitely removed from the present day, we ask whether the day immediately posterior to that one is infinitely removed from the present day or whether it is not. If it is not infinitely removed from it, neither is the preceding one, for the duration which separates them is finite. So if it is infinitely removed from it, we ask the same question about the third day, the fourth, and so on ad infinitum; the present day will not then be further removed from the first than from any of the others, which amounts to saying that one of these days will not precede another, and that they will consequently be all occurring at the same time.

A fourth proposition incompatible with the eternity of the world is that the infinite cannot be understood by a finite faculty. Now to say that the world had no beginning is to say that the finite can understand the infinite. It is generally admitted that God is infinitely powerful and that all else is finite; it will be admitted further, with Aristotle, that every celestial movement implies a finite Intelligence to produce it or, at least, to know it; no doubt it will be allowed, lastly, that a pure Intelligence can forget nothing. If then we suppose that this Intelligence has already determined or simply known an infinity of celestial revolutions, since it has forgotten none of them, it necessarily possesses today the actual knowledge of an infinity of memories. And if it is objected that it can know in a single idea this infinity of celestial revolutions which are all similar to one another, we reply that it does not know these revolutions only, but their effects also, which are diverse and infinite, so that actual knowledge of the infinite must necessarily be attributed to a finite Intelligence.

The fifth and last impossibility which St. Bonaventure brings forward against the eternity of the world is the coexistence of an infinite number of given beings at one and the same time. The world has been made for man, for there is nothing in the universe which is not in some way related to him; it cannot have ever existed therefore without men since it would have had no reason for existing; now man lives only in finite time; if then the world exists from all eternity, there must have existed an infinite number of men. But there are as many rational souls as there are men; therefore there has been an infinity of souls. Now these souls are naturally immortal; if then an infinity of souls has existed, there exists an infinity of them in actuality also, which we have already declared impossible. And the evasions which are attempted in order to escape this error are worse than the error itself. Some suppose metempsychosis, so that a finite number of souls could pass through different bodies during an infinite time, a hypothesis irreconcilable with the principle that each form is the proper and unique act of a determined matter. Others suppose, on the contrary, that a single intellect exists for the whole human race, a still graver confusion, since it involves the suppression of individual souls, of last ends and of immortality. [This objection seems very strong to St. Thomas Aquinas and he hardly sees how the supporters of the eternity of the world can meet it, unless by supposing that the world has always existed, like the unchangeable bodies or the eternal Intelligences, but unlike corruptible beings such as the human species. Cf. Summa theologica, ad 8].

1938.


Featured: Saint Bonaventure, by Claude François; painted ca. 1655.


The Light of God in a New Light

Reflections on the Divinity of Jesus, Formless Matter, and Conceptualization in the Human.

Here, I will endeavor to try to grasp the way in which the symbol of light is deployed on several levels of meaning, which are themselves linked to correspondent levels in the architecture of reality. Namely: those levels of meaning that are God considered in His ideality, God considered in His relationship to contra-material nothingness, God considered in His incarnation into the universe, and the consciousness of God considered in its incarnation into the consciousness of Jesus. On that basis, I will endeavor to overcome those three philosophical cleavages that are the opposition between radical Arians and the Trinitarians on the issue of whether Jesus is divine; the opposition between Gersonides and saint Thomas Aquinas on the issue of whether there was formless matter instead of a temporal beginning of matter; and the opposition between Averroes and saint Thomas Aquinas on the issue of whether the mind of God (rather than the human mind) is what conceptualizes in the human mind.

I understand God, let us recall, as follows: an infinite, eternal, substantial, volitional, and conscious field of singular ideational models which is completely incarnated into the universe while remaining completely external to the universe, completely ideational, and completely subject to a vertical (rather than horizontal) time; and which is not only completely sheltered from any forced effect (whether ideational or material) with one or more efficient causes in its willingness, but which, besides, is traversed, animated, efficiently-caused, and unified by a sorting, actualizing pulse which stands both as the active part of God’s will and as the apparatus, the Logos, through which God incarnates Himself while remaining distinct from His incarnation.

Considering some entity from the angle of one of its (present at some point) properties consists of considering how the property in question is inscribed within the whole of the entity’s (present at that point) properties. Considering some entity independently of one of its (present at some point) properties consists of considering what are the other (present at that point) properties in the entity when the property in question is ignored. In the majority of ideational entities and of material ones, the fact of ignoring some property lets all the other properties apply. In the case of that material entity that is the universe, some of its properties present at some point apply depending on whether the universe is considered from the angle (or instead independently) of that substantial relational property that is the incarnation relationship of the universe with respect to God.

Neantial, Ideational, and Material Conceptual Objects

A concept is a unit of meaning: it signifies a certain object taken from the angle of its constitutive properties (rather than from the angle of all of its properties). The properties (including constitutive) of a conceptual object coincide with the properties (including constitutive) that are imputed to the concerned conceptual object depending on whether material or ideational reality validates the imputation of the imputed properties. In a material or ideational conceptual object, its existential properties of (i.e., those of its properties that are relating to whether the object exists, and to how it exists or inexists) rank among the constitutive properties of the conceptual object in question. A neantial conceptual object is a conceptual object that contains no existential properties; just as every neantial conceptual object is contra-material or contra-ideational, no neantial conceptual object is material nor is it ideational.

Just as every conceptual object is material or ideational or neantial, every conceptual object is fictitious (in a weak or strong mode) or matching (in a weak or strong mode). Just as a fictitious material conceptual object and a matching material conceptual object are respectively a material conceptual object which happens to not exist (in the material field) and a material conceptual object which happens to exist (in the material field), a fictitious ideational conceptual object and a matching ideational conceptual object are respectively an ideational conceptual object which happens to not exist (in the ideational field) and an ideational conceptual object which happens to exist (in the ideational field). Just as a fictitious neantial conceptual object and a matching neantial conceptual object are respectively a neantial conceptual object which is a type of nothingness having not actually preceded the universe and a neantial conceptual object which is a type of nothingness having actually preceded the universe, a contra-ideational neantial conceptual object and a neantial contra-material conceptual object are respectively a type of nothingness substituted for the field of the Idea and a type of nothingness substituted for the field of matter.

A concept and its linguistically accepted definition (i.e., its definition accepted in a certain language) are considered synonymous in the considered language; that synonymy, instead of being true or false independently of reality (whether ideational or material), is nevertheless true or false according to ideational reality (in the case of the ideational objects and of the contra-ideational neantial object), or according to material reality (in the case of the material objects and of the contra-material neantial object). Just as the ideational reality validates or invalidates the synonymy between an ideational object (for example, God) and its accepted definition depending on whether the ideational reality validates whether the constitutive properties (including existential) of the concerned ideational object are those alleged by the accepted definition, material reality validates or invalidates the synonymy between a material object (for example, Chi) and its accepted definition depending on whether material reality validates whether the constitutive properties (including existential) of the concerned material object are those alleged by the accepted definition. As for the neantial objects, material reality validates or invalidates the synonymy between a contra-material neantial object and its accepted definition depending on whether material reality validates whether the constitutive properties of the concerned conceptual object are those contained in the accepted definition; just as the ideational reality validates or invalidates the synonymy between a contra-ideational neantial object and its accepted definition depending on whether the ideational reality validates whether the constitutive properties of the concerned conceptual object are those contained in the accepted definition.

The object of the concept of light is a matching material conceptual object, i.e., a material conceptual object that happens to exist in the material field. The concept of light means light taken from the angle of its constitutive properties; the linguistically accepted definition of light, which evolves as language evolves, must be judged true or false in the light of material reality. The currently accepted definition of light is as follows: “electromagnetic radiation whose wavelength, between 400 and 780 nm, corresponds to the sensitivity zone of the human eye, between ultraviolet and infrared.” Our knowledge of reality remaining irremediably perfectible, that definition is subject to a hypothetical revision one day or another (under the hypothetical progress of physics on that level); we will start from that definition, which we know is “true” until further notice.

Light: Symbol of the Ideality of God

Every light has: its source (i.e., what it emanates from), and its object (i.e., what it illuminates). We cannot correctly grasp what the symbol of light refers to without focusing on that conceptual trio—luminaire (i.e., source of light), illuminated object, and light. The light of a candle manifests itself via the flame which envelops the wick, and via the wax which the light of the candle illuminates; however the light of the candle is not visible itself. More generally, light manifests itself without making itself visible: in other words, it manifests itself in a mode other than that which would consist for it of making itself visible. In order for light to manifest itself via its source, a necessary, sufficient condition is that light manifests itself via the illuminated object; it is by illuminating its object that light manifests itself via what it illuminates, but it is, besides, by manifesting itself via the illuminated object that light manifests that it emanates from a certain luminary (and manifests which is its luminary). In other words, just as it is by illuminating that object it illuminates that light manifests itself through the illuminated object, it is by illuminating that object that light manifests itself through the luminaire.

A symbol is a concept that allows one or more other concepts to be glimpsed while leaving them in obscurity; it is both an incomplete path towards those other concepts, and a completely hermetic enigma about them. Let us endeavor to see what the concept of light opens up to: to begin with, the ideality of God. Just as matter is that which exists in a consistent, firm mode, the Idea is that which exists in a mode devoid of the slightest consistency and firmness. Just as materiality is what a material entity is composed of, ideality is what an ideational entity is composed of. Reality is subdivided into a material field and an ideational field; the universe occupies (and summarizes) the material field, but God occupies (without summarizing) the ideational field. The supramundane field is to be not confused with the ideational field: the supramundane field, in that it encompasses everything that is beyond the world, encompasses the ideational field as well as the neantial field (i.e., the field of the nothingness prior to the temporal beginning of the material field).

Interstellar vacuum, energy, or thought are modes of matter: they are as consistent as is wood or fire, but consistent in a different way. Light is a certain mode of matter; but it is a mode of matter which is so “fine” in its consistency that it evokes the ideality of which God is made. Let us specify that the Idea (which Plato and Pythagoras deal with) must be distinguished from the idea: the Idea is that which exists in a mode devoid of the slightest consistency and firmness, but the idea is a material entity (in the case of an idea lodged in the mind of a material entity) or an ideational entity (in the case of an idea lodged in the mind of an ideational entity). God is an Idea; but the concept of God in the mind of a certain human is an idea lodged in the mind of said human. Let us also clarify that physics only deals with a certain mode of matter: namely that mode of matter which has mass and extent. Thought (which has neither mass nor extension), as well as the void (which has extension but is devoid of mass), are both excluded from the field of physics; they nonetheless remain modes of matter. Light, although it falls within that mode of matter which occupies physics, evokes a mode of being which is beyond physics; although light is material, it evokes a mode of being that is truly immaterial.

Light: Symbol of God Considered in His Relationship to Contra-Material Nothingness

The light which crosses the void where the celestial bodies “float” barely manifests itself because it barely illuminates the celestial bodies; in other words, the void is black because the light emanating from the stars barely illuminates the celestial bodies. In that regard, light is a symbol of God considered in His relationship to contra-material nothingness. Namely that God—just as starlight barely illuminates the black of the interstellar void that it travels through—does not dissipate at all the contra-material nothingness that it overhangs.

Every conceptual object is either supramundane or intramundane. Just as every supramundane object is ideational or neantial, every intramundane object is material. Just as every conceptual object is intra-mundane or supramundane, every intra-mundane conceptual object is: either fictitious in a weak mode, or fictitious in a strong mode, or matching in a weak mode, or matching in a strong mode; the same is true of every supramundane conceptual object. A fictitious object in a weak mode is a fictitious object which could have been a matching object had this world been different or had another world existed; a fictitious object in a strong mode is a fictitious object which would have been fictitious even if this world had been different or if another world had existed. A matching object in a weak mode is a matching object which could have been a fictitious object had this world been different or had another world existed; a matching object in a strong mode is a matching object which would have been matching even if this world had been different or if another world had existed.

Every intra-mundane object matching in a strong mode is a material object; but a supramundane object matching in a strong mode is either ideational or neantial. Every matching intra-mundane object is a material object matching in a weak or strong mode; but a matching supramundane object is either an ideational object matching in a strong mode, or a neantial object matching in a strong mode. Every fictitious intramundane object is a fictitious material object in a weak or strong mode; but a fictitious supramundane object is either an ideational object fictitious in a strong mode, or a neantial object fictitious in a strong mode. A supramundane object of an ideational type is either matching in a strong mode, or fictitious in a strong mode; the same applies to every supramundane object of the neantial type. Every intramundane object (and, thus, every material object) is either matching in a strong mode, or matching in a weak mode, or fictitious in a strong mode, or fictitious in a weak mode.

Two modalities of the concept of nothingness are valid: a matching modality (in a strong mode) that is contra-material nothingness, i.e., that sort of nothingness that is substituted for the existence of matter; a fictitious modality (in a strong mode) that is contra-ideational nothingness, i.e., that sort of nothingness that is substituted for the existence of the Idea. Of those two modalities of the concept of nothingness, the former has as its object the contra-material nothingness (i.e., the absence of matter) which effectively preceded (chronologically) matter: at least, matter considered independently of the incarnation relationship of matter with regard to God. The latter modality has as its object contra-ideational nothingness (i.e., the absence of any ideational entity), which is fictitious. That the absence of matter was chronologically prior to matter (at least, matter considered independently of its relationship of incarnation with regard to God) is a fact which would have occurred even if our world had been different or if another world had existed; thus, contra-material nothingness is a modality of the concept of nothingness whose object is matching in a strong mode. God exists from all eternity (whether matter is considered from the angle of its incarnation relationship with regard to God), and His existence would be eternal even if our world were different or if another world had existed; contra-ideational nothingness is thus a modality of the concept of nothingness whose object is fictitious in a strong mode.

Matter, in that it had a temporal beginning (if we consider it independently of its relationship of incarnation with regard to God), was preceded by contra-material nothingness. By Himself, however, God cannot dissipate contra-material nothingness; no more than starlight can dissipate the black of the interstellar void. Precisely, the black of the interstellar void symbolizes contra-material nothingness. By itself, the ideality of which God is made cannot dispel that darkness; what is ideational cannot get substituted for the absence of what is material, no more than it can generate ideational effects substituted for the absence of what is material. The only way God can dispel that darkness, and introduce matter in place of darkness, is for Him to change Himself into what He is not: matter.

Light: Symbol of the Incarnation of God into the Universe

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” the Gospel of John tells us. The sorting, actualizing pulse which unifies, animates, and traverses the field of ideational essences present within God, and which operates the incarnation of God into the world (while allowing Him to remain external to the world which is His incarnation), is that “Word” whose mystery occupied the apostle John (or the Johannine community). It is inaccurate to say of God that He is His Word; the Word of God is nevertheless the active part of His will, as well as the apparatus of His incarnation. The Word, although it unfolds in a time that is eternal (i.e., which has neither beginning nor end) and vertical (i.e., where past, present, and future are simultaneous rather than successive), does unfold; in other words, the Word operating in the ideational field is gradual as is every speech formulated in the material field. Just as God creates (by incarnating Himself) in a gradual mode, the universe exists in a gradual mode; like a discourse that is being held, the universe is unfolding. That joint gradualness in the creation on the part of God, and in the existence of the universe, lets itself be glimpsed in these terms in the Koran: “And, with Our powers, We have built the sky, and assuredly, We continue to extend it.” For its part, the fact that God creates through His Word lets itself be glimpsed here as follows: “When He decides a thing, He simply says: “Be”, and it is immediately!”

What light is a symbol of is not only God considered from the angle of His ideality or of His relationship to contra-material nothingness; it is also God considered from the angle of His incarnation into the universe. Light, let us recall, does not manifest itself in the way that would consist for it of making itself visible. Instead of making itself visible, it manifests itself through its source (what illuminates), and its object (what is illuminated); and it is by illuminating its object that it manifests itself both through its object and its source. Let us see how the symbol of light illuminates the creation by God through incarnation. God is (symbolically) a light that stands out in three ways from the light of this world. In the first place, that light is its own source; it is both the lighting and the light that illuminates, the luminaire and what emanates from it. In the second place, that light that is God does not manifest itself by what it illuminates; God certainly enlightens the universe, but the universe does not manifest the presence of God who enlightens it. In the third place, the light that is God engenders what it illuminates; the light of God brings the world into being by illuminating it. To those three properties of light taken as a symbol of God incarnated into the universe correspond three properties of the incarnation of God into the universe. In the first place, God is substance, i.e., exists from all eternity and without having any efficient cause. In the second place, God remains external to the universe; that exteriority of God with respect to His own incarnation, that independence of God with respect to His own creation by incarnation, it follows from it that the universe does not manifest the presence of God. In the third place, God remains that which created (and is incarnated into) the universe; God is certainly external to His creation, the universe nonetheless remains what God created by means of His incarnation.

Light: SDymbol of the Incarnation of the Consciousness of God into the Consciousness of the Son of God

It is useful to remember that the light of God is ideational, whereas the light of our world is a modality of matter. God, who hardly manifests Himself through His creation by incarnation that is the universe, nevertheless inspired the words of the prophets; that inspiration, although it did not manifest God through the speech of the prophets, allowed the prophets to express themselves about God. God inspired what was said about Him; His inspiration, however, was not His manifestation. The Gospel according to John, however, says of God that while “no one has ever seen God [until then],” “the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, is the one who has made him known.” That inspired symbolic language can be deciphered in these terms: God, who until then had no more manifested Himself (were it partly) in His creation than His consciousness had been incarnated within the world, saw His consciousness become a human consciousness (i.e., the consciousness of the earthly soul of a certain human), but neither His consciousness nor anything of God manifested itself on that occasion.

Just as in any novel the plot can be considered from the angle of the creation relationship of the novel with regard to the novel’s author, or considered independently of said relationship of creation, a same statement with respect to a novel’s plot can be true or false depending on whether the novel is considered from the angle of the creation relationship of the novel with regard to the novel’s author, or considered independently of said relationship of creation. Let’s take a novel whose plot ends on a cliffhanger: in the novel considered from the angle of its relationship of creation with regard to its author, the plot ends on the cliffhanger in question; but, in the novel considered independently of its relationship of creation with regard to its author, the plot continues after the cliffhanger (instead of stopping at the end of the novel). The universe is a novel whose author is God, which He writes by means of his Word; but it is a novel whose words are incarnated into what they say (while remaining external to that material incarnation). Just as God’s words are those ideational essences that He selects and actualizes, the respective incarnation of God’s words is the respective incarnation of those ideational essences that He selects and actualizes. Jesus, in that he is the incarnation of the ideational essence of Jesus, is the incarnation of a certain part of God; but, in his consciousness, Jesus is also the incarnation of a certain (other) part of God in that the consciousness of God is incarnated into the consciousness of Jesus.

The consciousness of Jesus is symbolically a light, but it is a light that stands out in three ways from the non-symbolic light. In the first place, that light is its own object; it is both what illuminates and what is illuminated, the light and what the light illuminates. In the second place, the light that is the consciousness of Jesus illuminates its object while nevertheless leaving it in the shadows; that light illuminates itself without making itself visible. In the third place, the light that is the consciousness of Jesus does not manifest the source from which it emanates, no more than it manifests that it is an emanation. To those three properties of light taken as a symbol of the consciousness of Jesus correspond three properties of the consciousness of Jesus. In the first place, the consciousness of Jesus is at the same time the incarnated consciousness of God (regarding his consciousness in the universe considered from the angle of the relationship of incarnation of the universe with regard to God) and the consciousness of the soul nestled in the human Jesus; thus the consciousness of Jesus is both a property present in God (regarding the consciousness of Jesus in the universe considered from the angle of its relationship of incarnation with regard to God) and a property present in that non-divine entity that is the soul of the human Jesus. In the second place, the consciousness of Jesus, although it existed in the world, was no more manifested in the world than the consciousness present in some conscious material entity is in a position to manifest itself in the world; what is ideational and nevertheless in the world cannot manifest itself alongside any material entity. In the third place, the consciousness of God taken in its exteriority with regard to its own incarnation into the consciousness of the earthly soul of the human Jesus was not manifested in its incarnation; it was incarnated without that incarnation being manifestation.

Grasping what, of Jesus, is of God requires that we go beyond what John (or the Johannine community) seemed to understand from his own symbolic language when he expressed himself in these terms in his Gospel: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.” What, of God, became flesh is not His word, but it is the respective ideational essence of those entities endowed with flesh (including the entity Jesus); what makes Jesus a Son of God is that are respectively incarnated a certain ideational essence into Jesus, and the consciousness of God into the consciousness of Jesus. The word of God is what operates the selection and actualization of some ideational essences; the ideational essence of Jesus, in witnessing its selection and actualization get carried out, witnesses Jesus come into the world with a substantial essence that includes the property (that is itself inscribed in the ideational essence of Jesus) of the incarnated consciousness of God. The universe is indistinct from God (although distinct from God who remains external to His own incarnation that the universe is); for his part, Jesus is indistinct from the ideational essence of Jesus and, thus, from a part of God (although distinct from his ideational essence which, while incarnated into Jesus, remains external to Jesus), but the consciousness of Jesus is indistinct from the (totality of the) consciousness of God (although distinct from the consciousness of God which, while incarnated into the consciousness of Jesus, remains external to the consciousness of Jesus).

Overcoming the Divide between Radical Arianism and the Trinitarian Doctrine

The entire universe, not just Jesus, is the incarnation of God; but, although God is entirely incarnated into the entire universe, the consciousness of God is only incarnated into the consciousness of one or more human individuals precisely elected so that their respective consciousnesses be the incarnated consciousness of God. The consciousness of God, while incarnating itself into one or more human consciousnesses, does not see the object of the consciousness of God incarnate itself into the object of those human consciousnesses in which the consciousness of God gets incarnated. The object of God’s consciousness is (at every point) one’s existence and the entire field of the ideational essences and the (simultaneous) past, present, and future of the operation of the sorting, actualizing pulse, as well as the entirety of the (successive) past, present, and future of the universe; but the object of the consciousness of the one or those in whom the consciousness of God is incarnated is (at every point) one’s existence and a certain part of the universe, and hypothetically (and in a mode which is, at best, approximative) a certain part of the field of the ideational essences. Only a handful of humans (rather than all or the majority of humans) or a single human (rather than several humans) sees the consciousness of God incarnate itself into theirs; Jesus was either the only human whose consciousness was the incarnated consciousness of God, or one of those few humans (through the ages) whose respective consciousness is the incarnated consciousness of God.

In the universe considered from the angle of its incarnation relationship with regard to God, the consciousness of Jesus is both the incarnated consciousness of God and the consciousness of the soul of Jesus; but, in the universe considered independently of its incarnation relationship with regard to God, the consciousness of Jesus is only the consciousness of the soul of Jesus. Likewise, in the universe considered from the angle of its incarnation relationship with regard to God, Jesus is at the same time a human endowed with a consciousness indistinct from the consciousness of God (in that his consciousness is the incarnated consciousness of God) and a human who in his consciousness has nothing divine nor anything of God; but, in the universe considered independently of its incarnation relationship with regard to God, Jesus is in his consciousness only human (instead of being endowed with a consciousness indistinct from the consciousness of God). In that the consciousness of God is co-eternal with God, the consciousness of Jesus is co-eternal with God in the universe taken from the angle of its relationship of incarnation with regard to God; but, just as much in the universe taken from the angle of its relationship of incarnation with regard to God as in the universe taken independently of said relationship of incarnation, Jesus (instead of being co-eternal with God) has a temporal beginning and end.

The soul, as I expressed myself on that subject in a previous writing, is an Idea which, like the ideational essence, is eternal although endowed with an efficient cause (through God); but which, unlike the ideational essence (which remains within God, and which sees God communicate to it His consciousness and will), is endowed with a consciousness distinct from the consciousness of God, and with an existence external to God. The soul retains its consciousness both when the soul is supramundane (i.e., located in the ideational field) and when it is earthly (i.e., located in a living entity within the material field); but, whereas the earthly soul is without any willingness and without any mind (although every terrestrial soul is nested in an entity that is, if not endowed with a mind, at least endowed with a willingness), the supramundane soul has a willingness and a mind respectively distinct from the willingness of God and from the mind of God. The (supramundane) soul rises to the rank of a god in the ideational field by having experienced, during its stay or stays (as an earthly soul) in the material field, a heroism that is sufficient in order for God to grant it a divine rank. Every divine soul is supramundane; but no earthly soul is divine, just as not every supramundane soul is divine. Although the soul of Jesus became divine at the end of the earthly stay it effectuated in the biological entity that Jesus is, the soul of Jesus had nothing divine during the stay in question.

Heroism and exploit, as I expressed myself on that subject in the same previous writing, must be taken respectively in the sense of the accomplishment (as a conscious material entity) of one or more exploits; and in the sense of an act that is jointly exceptionally creative (i.e., characterized by the mental creation of one or more exceptionally creative ideas), exceptionally successful (i.e., characterized by the complete achievement of an exceptionally difficult goal), and exceptionally endangering for one’s material subsistence. The (earthly) soul of Jesus rendered itself divine (on its return to the ideational field) by experiencing an earthly stay (as Jesus) which saw Jesus accomplish an exploit great enough for that stay to be sufficient to render divine the (supramundane) soul of Jesus. That exploit is that of having created a new, semi-worldly, and multi-millennial religion by dying on the cross. Each supramundane soul knows perfectly the content of each ideational essence; thus each supramundane soul pre-knows perfectly what its earthly stay will be when it opts for a certain earthly stay. God, although each supramundane soul makes use of a self-determined willingness in its decision to opt for some particular earthly stay rather than for another one, perfectly pre-knows the decision of each supramundane soul on that level. God, although He elected the (supramundane) soul of Jesus so that his (earthly) soul be the earthly soul (or one of the earthly souls) whose consciousness is the incarnated consciousness of God, saw the (supramundane) soul of Jesus make use of a self-determined willingness in its choice of an earthly stay characterized by the incarnation of the consciousness of God into the consciousness of the (earthly) soul.

God, while incarnating Himself in the world, remains external to the world which is His incarnation; but the world, for its part, remains indistinct (rather than distinct) from God whose incarnation it is. A same statement can nevertheless be true or false depending on whether we consider it in the world taken from the angle of its incarnation relationship with regard to God, or in the world considered independently of its incarnation relationship with regard to God. In the world taken from the angle of the incarnation relationship of the world with regard to God, Jesus is endowed with a consciousness that is both indistinct from the consciousness of God and distinct from the consciousness of God; but, in the world taken independently of the incarnation relationship of the world with regard to God, Jesus is endowed with a consciousness distinct from the consciousness of God (rather than indistinct from all or part of the consciousness of God). Accordingly, the overcoming of the cleavage between radical Arianism and the Trinitarian doctrine is constitutive of a correct answer to the question of the divinity of Jesus (i.e., the question of knowing whether Jesus is divine). Moderate Arianism considers Jesus as a human who, in that he is the incarnated Father, was both created by the Father and created as indistinct (though distinct) from the Father; and who, in that he has a temporal beginning and end, is not co-eternal with the Father whose incarnation he is. For its part, radical Arianism envisages Jesus as a human who has nothing divine and who, in that he was created by the Father in a mode other than a creation by incarnation, is human (rather than God) and distinct from the Father (rather than indistinct from the latter); and as a human who, in that he has a temporal beginning and end, is not co-eternal with the Father. Whereas, according to moderate Arianism, Jesus is (incarnated) God without being co-eternal with the Father, Jesus, according to radical Arianism, is neither God nor endowed with anything divine nor is he co-eternal with the Father (although he is created by the Father).

Intermediate positions are found between radical and moderate Arianisms; but all modalities of Arianism have in common that they are opposed to the Trinitarian doctrine, for which Jesus is both the incarnation of God (instead of being a creature without anything divine nor anything of God) and an entity co-eternal with God. Knowing which modality of Arianism was the one that Arius actually defended is a problem on which I will not take position here. The cleavage between radical Arianism and the Trinitarian doctrine sees my position on the question of the divinity of Jesus operate an overcoming in these terms. The entire universe (and not only Jesus within the universe) sees God incarnate Himself into it, what is beyond the understanding of the Trinitarian doctrine and of radical Arianism (as well as of all modalities of Arianism). The assertion (in the Trinitarian doctrine) that Jesus is both human and indistinct from God (rather than a part of God) is partially true in that, in the case of the world taken from the angle of its incarnation of God (rather than in the case of the world taken independently of its incarnation relationship with regard to God), Jesus is his incarnated ideational essence (and thus an incarnated part of God), and a human endowed, besides, with a consciousness which is both the consciousness of the (earthly) soul of Jesus and the incarnated consciousness of God. For its part, the assertion (in radical Arianism) that Jesus has nothing divine is partially true in that, in the case of the world taken independently of its incarnation relationship with regard to God, Jesus is a human who is no more an incarnated ideational essence than he is a human endowed with a consciousness indistinct from the consciousness of God.

In the case of the world taken from the angle of its incarnation relationship with regard to God, the consciousness of Jesus is co-eternal with the consciousness of God; but (whether the world is taken independently of its incarnation relationship with regard to God) Jesus himself does have a beginning and an end in (horizontal) time. As such, the assertion (in radical Arianism) that Jesus is not co-eternal with God is true; but the affirmation (in the Trinitarian doctrine) that Jesus is co-eternal with God retains a part of truth in that the consciousness of Jesus in the world taken from the angle of the incarnation relationship of the world with regard to God is indeed co-eternal with the consciousness of God.

Overcoming the Divide between Gersonides and Saint Thomas Aquinas

The question of formless matter (i.e., the question of whether the universe, instead of having known a temporal beginning from contra-material nothingness, experienced a formless matter that was without any temporal beginning) is another question which demands the overcoming of a certain philosophical cleavage: here, the cleavage between Gersonides and saint Thomas Aquinas. Whereas formless matter is matter that exists without entering into the composition of any material entity, arranged matter is matter that enters into the composition of a certain material entity (within which it coexists with formal properties). The Gersonidean position on the question of formless matter is that the universe, instead of having experienced a temporal beginning (from contra-material nothingness), experienced a formless matter (which had always been) from which God operated to create a universe which be endowed with form and not only matter; for its part, the Thomist position on the question of formless matter is that the universe, instead of having experienced a formless matter (without any temporal beginning), had a temporal beginning which saw the universe begin with an already arranged matter.

Each of those two positions has a part of truth (depending on whether the universe is considered independently of its relationship of incarnation with regard to God, or from the angle of said relationship), and a part of falsehood (depending on whether the universe is considered independently of its relationship of incarnation with regard to God, or from the angle of said relationship). The relationship of incarnation of the universe with regard to God is co-eternal with God; but the relation of incarnation of a given entity within the universe with regard to its own ideational essence is no more co-eternal with the ideational essence in question than a given entity within the universe (whether the latter is considered independently of the relationship of incarnation of the universe with regard to God or from the angle of said relationship of incarnation) is co-eternal with its own ideational essence. The universe is nevertheless co-eternal with God when it comes to the universe considered from the angle of its relationship of incarnation with regard to God; regarding the universe considered independently of said relationship of incarnation, the universe, instead of being co-eternal with God, is endowed with a temporal beginning. The universe considered from the angle of its relationship of incarnation with regard to God certainly saw arranged matter begin temporally; but, whereas the universe considered from the angle of its relationship of incarnation with regard to God sees the temporal beginning of arranged matter follow a phase (without any temporal beginning) of the universe that was characterized by formless matter, the universe considered independently of its relationship of incarnation with regard to God saw the universe begin temporally (from contra-material nothingness) and begin with an already arranged matter.

What renders partially true the Thomist affirmation of the temporal beginning of the universe (from contra-material nothingness) is that the universe considered independently of its relationship of incarnation with regard to God is (unlike the universe considered from the angle of said relationship of incarnation) effectively endowed with a temporal beginning. Likewise, what renders partly true the Gersonidean assertion that the universe, instead of having experienced a temporal beginning (from contra-material nothingness), experienced a formless matter is that the universe considered from the angle of its relationship of incarnation with regard to God has (unlike the universe considered independently of said relationship of incarnation) actually passed through the phase (without any temporal beginning) of a formless matter rather than through the phase of an arising from contra-material nothingness. Every entity (whether ideational or material) is a compound of form and composition: the universe considered from the angle of its relationship of incarnation with regard to God was therefore a semi-entity so long as the matter which composed it was a formless matter. For its part, the universe considered independently of its relationship of incarnation with regard to God was an entity as soon as its existence began temporally.

Overcoming the Divide between Averroes and Saint Thomas Aquinas

Conceptualization consists of producing a concept or a definition of said concept or a description of all or part of the object of said concept; conceiving a concept consists of conceptualizing, or judging that a concept or a certain definition of said concept or a certain description of all or part of the object of said concept are valid. The question of conceptualization in the mind of God (i.e., the question of whether it is the mind of God, not the human mind itself, which conceptualizes in the human mind) has been the subject of a cleavage between Averroes and saint Thomas Aquinas. Whereas the former conceives of the human mind as incapable of conceptualizing, and the mind of God as that mind which conceptualizes in the human mind, the latter conceives of the human mind as capable of conceptualizing (just like the mind of God), and the conceptualization in the human mind as the work of the human mind itself.

Every concept (i.e., every unit of meaning) is an idea; but every idea is either a concept or an association of concepts. Every definition is an association of concepts; but not every association of concepts is a definition. The willingness (i.e., the pursuit of one or more ends) is either acting (i.e., employing one or more means for the purpose of an end), or non-acting (i.e., pursuing an end without employing any means for the purpose of that end); in God, the sorting, actualizing pulse, the Word, is the acting willingness. An object of willingness (i.e., an end that a willingness pursues, or the means or the various means that it employs for the purpose of an end) is never an idea; in every conscious volitional entity, willingness (whether it is acting or non-acting) is nevertheless accompanied by the idea of the object of willingness. Just as a volitional idea is an idea that accompanies an object of willingness (without causing the object in question), an actional volitional idea and a non-actional volitional idea are respectively a volitional idea that accompanies an end or means present in an acting willingness; and a volitional idea which accompanies an end in a non-acting willingness. In God, the sorting, actualizing pulse, in that it merges with acting willingness, is distinct from volitional ideas; each operation of said pulse is nevertheless accompanied by a correspondent idea in the mind of God. Just as an actional volitional idea in God is a volitional idea which corresponds to a certain operation of the sorting, actualizing pulse, an actional volitional idea which, in God, corresponds to a means in acting willingness and a non-actional volitional idea which, in God, corresponds to an end in acting willingness are respectively a volitional idea which corresponds to a selection and actualization; and a volitional idea which corresponds to an incarnated ideational essence. From an ideational entity present in the material field, nothing can be the object of an experience by a material entity; but it is possible for a human material entity to have an experience (which nevertheless is, at best, approximative) of all or part of an ideational essence, as well as of the consciousness of God or of a supramundane soul, as well as of all or part of (what are at the moment of that experience) the non-actional volitional ideas in the mind of God, as well as of all or part of (what are at the moment of that experience) the ideas in the mind of a certain supramundane soul.

A non-actional volitional idea in God is an idea corresponding to an end which is certainly in the will of God, but which does not relate to the operations of the sorting, actualizing pulse. Just as an ideational essence present in God must be distinguished from that essence’s concept present in the mind of God, the direct grasping of an ideational essence in God must be distinguished from the direct grasping of an idea in the mind of God. In the mind of God, ideas that are other than non-actional volitional ideas are also those ideas that God does not allow humans to grasp; in the mind of God, non-actional volitional ideas are those ideas that God allows humans to grasp, but a grasp that is, at best, approximative and whose effectiveness varies from one individual to another. The mind of God, although capable of conceptualization, is no more the mind that conceptualizes in the human mind than humans are incapable of conceptualizing; the Thomist position that the human mind, like the mind of God, is itself a conceptualizing mind (instead of the mind of God being that mind which conceptualizes in the human mind) is true. The Averroist position that the human mind, although incapable of conceptualization, sees the mind of God conceptualize in it remains partially true: on the one hand, in that the human mind is capable of conceptualizing from a direct grasping of all or part of the non-actional volitional ideas in the mind of God, a grasp whose effectiveness is, at best, approximative and varies from one individual to another. On the other hand, in that the human mind is capable of conceptualizing from a direct grasp of all or part of the ideational essences contained in God, a grasp whose effectiveness is, at best, approximative and varies from one individual to another.

A non-actional volitional idea in God is an idea corresponding to an end which is certainly in the will of God, but which does not relate to the operations of the sorting, actualizing pulse. Just as an ideational essence present in God must be distinguished from that essence’s concept present in the mind of God, the direct grasping of an ideational essence in God must be distinguished from the direct grasping of an idea in the mind of God. In the mind of God, ideas that are other than non-actional volitional ideas are also those ideas that God does not allow humans to grasp; in the mind of God, non-actional volitional ideas are those ideas that God allows humans to grasp, but a grasp that is, at best, approximative and whose effectiveness varies from one individual to another. The mind of God, although capable of conceptualization, is no more the mind that conceptualizes in the human mind than humans are incapable of conceptualizing; the Thomist position that the human mind, like the mind of God, is itself a conceptualizing mind (instead of the mind of God being that mind which conceptualizes in the human mind) is true. The Averroist position that the human mind, although incapable of conceptualization, sees the mind of God conceptualize in it remains partially true: on the one hand, in that the human mind is capable of conceptualizing from a direct grasping of all or part of the non-actional volitional ideas in the mind of God, a grasp whose effectiveness is, at best, approximative and varies from one individual to another. On the other hand, in that the human mind is capable of conceptualizing from a direct grasp of all or part of the ideational essences contained in God, a grasp whose effectiveness is, at best, approximative and varies from one individual to another.

Conclusion

Genesis distinguishes between primordial light and the light of the sun and the moon; the primordial light was created before the first day, with “the heavens and the earth,” but the sun and the moon were created only on the fourth day. Genesis tells us of God that He creates by “speaking,” and that the primordial light is His creation. As God invites humans to complete His creation that is the universe, the word that He inspires invites humans to deepen the symbolism it contains. The primordial light, we think, is a symbol of God envisaged in that ideality that is evoked by the finesse of the mode of matter that is light; a symbol of God envisaged in His inability to replace contra-material nothingness so long as He is only a light in the darkness; a symbol of God envisaged in the fact that He incarnates Himself into the world as a light which would create, by illuminating it, the illuminated object itself; and a symbol of God envisaged in the fact that His consciousness, while seeing itself incarnated in the consciousness of Jesus, remained hidden in that incarnation like a luminaire that its light would not manifest.

The “beginning” with which Genesis and the Gospel according to saint John open is no chronological beginning, but a pre-chronological one. In other words, the time of origins, instead of being the beginning of the time of this world, is that time without beginning and without succession from which the beginning of the succession of time in this world stems. Saint John, who symbolically identifies “the Word” to “the true light, which, when coming into the world, enlightens every man,” adds that this light “was in the world, and the world was made by it, and the world did not know it.” The deciphering of those inspired symbolic words involves the overcoming of these three ancient philosophical cleavages: the cleavage between radical Arians (for whom Jesus is a creature with a temporal beginning and end, and a creature who is God-created without being incarnated God) and Trinitarians (for whom Jesus is a creature co-eternal with God, and a creature who is incarnated God) on the question of the divinity of Jesus; the cleavage between Gersonides (for whom a formless matter without temporal beginning, not contra-material nothingness, was prior to the compound of form and matter in the universe) and saint Thomas Aquinas (for whom the universe had a beginning in time and began as a composite of form and matter) on the question of formless matter; and the cleavage between Averroes (for whom it is the spirit of God which conceptualizes in the human spirit) and saint Thomas Aquinas (for whom it is the human spirit which conceptualizes in the human spirit) on the question of conceptualization in the mind of God.

It is false that God is entirely incarnated into Jesus; it is no less false that there is nothing of God that is incarnated into Jesus. Jesus sees a part of God incarnate itself into Jesus, and an (other) part of God incarnate itself into a part of Jesus. What, of God, is incarnated into Jesus is a certain ideational essence; but what, of God, is incarnated into that part of Jesus that is the consciousness of Jesus is the consciousness of God. Jesus (whether the world is taken from the angle of its incarnation relationship with regard to God, or independently of said incarnation relationship) has a beginning and an end in time; but the consciousness of Jesus in the world considered from the angle of the incarnation relationship of the world with regard to God is indeed co-eternal with the consciousness of God.

The universe considered from the angle of the incarnation relationship of the universe with regard to God has experienced—instead of a temporal beginning which would have seen it begin with an already arranged matter—a formless matter which never began temporally, but from which God operated to create a universe which be veritably a composite of form and matter. Concerning the universe considered independently of the incarnation relationship of the universe with regard to God, the latter—instead of having passed through a formless matter whose phase would never have begun in time, but would have temporally preceded the phase of a universe composed of arranged matter—has effectively begun in time with an already arranged matter which temporally began from contra-material nothingness.

The human mind (rather than the mind of God) is what conceptualizes in the human mind; the human mind, with an efficiency which varies from one individual to another, and which is, at best, approximative, is nevertheless in a position to conceptualize from a direct experience of all or part of the ideational essences contained in God. Besides, the human mind, with an efficiency which varies from one individual to another, and which is, at best, approximative, is in a position to conceptualize from a direct experience of the consciousness of God and of all or part of the non-actional volitional ideas contained in the mind of God. Precisely, the mystical experience is the suprasensible experience a conscious material entity makes of the consciousness of an entity that is ideational (and present in the ideational field), or of one or more ideas contained in the mind of an entity that is ideational (and present in the ideational field). To humans, God allows the grasp (in a mode that is, at best, approximate) of all or part of His non-actional volitional ideas; of His mind, it prevents him from grasping (even in an approximate mode) the slightest idea other than a non-actional volitional idea.

The Word, which incarnated the consciousness of the ideational entity that is God into the consciousness of the soul of the human entity that is Jesus, made himself the object of the symbolic discourse inspired to Jesus; thus it can be said symbolically of the Word that he is “the true light, which, when coming into the world, enlightens every man.” Jesus saw his consciousness incarnate the consciousness of God in the world, and the (global) incarnation of God into the universe, while having formless matter precede the universe considered as incarnation, caused the beginning in horizontal time of the universe considered independently of that incarnation, and the consciousness of God, although it manifests itself in the mystical experience of the consciousness of God, was not manifested in its incarnation; thus it can be said symbolically of God that He is a light which “was in the world, and the world was made by it, and the world did not know it.” God, who no more manifests Himself in His incarnation into the world than He manifests Himself in the incarnation of His consciousness into the consciousness of (the earthly soul of) the human Jesus, manifests in suprasensible experience (which is carried out in a mode which is, at best, approximative) all or part of the ideational essences contained within Him, as well as all or part of the non-actional volitional ideas contained in His mind. Suprasensible experience—when it has as its object all or part of the field of the ideational essences in God, or all or part of the non-actional volitional ideas contained in His mind—is that through which God illuminates us; the grasp of what are (at a given moment) all or part of those non-actional volitional ideas present in the mind of God (at the concerned moment) is that by which God reveals to us the content (at the concerned moment) of that which is sometimes considered His heart.

The fact that a certain human entity, at a given moment, is grasping in an approximative mode all or part of what the non-actional volitional ideas are at the moment in the mind of God is inscribed in the ideational essence of the human entity in question, just as is inscribed in the ideational essence in question what are those non-actional volitional ideas present in the mind of God at the moment of the grasping. The same applies to a grasping whose effectiveness is less than approximative. God is not constrained by any actualized ideational essence to have some non-actional volitional ideas in mind at a given time; He nevertheless ensures in the operation of His Word that, when a certain actualized ideational essence states what all or part of His non-actional volitional ideas are at a given moment, what His non-actional volitional ideas are effectively at the moment in question validates what the ideational essence states about all or part of those ideas. Likewise, no supramundane soul is constrained by any actualized ideational essence to have some ideas in mind at any given moment; but God, in the operation of His Word, ensures that, when a certain actualized ideational essence declares what all or part of the ideas are at a given moment in a given supramundane soul, what the ideas are effectively in the soul in question at the moment in question validates what the ideational essence states about all or part of those ideas. If the parallel between what a certain actualized ideational essence states about a certain idea present in the mind of God at a given moment and the content of the mind of God at the moment in question were to fail, then the universe would not fail to implode and to experience a reset; the same is true of the parallel between what a certain actualized ideational essence states about a certain idea present in the mind of a certain supramundane soul at a given moment and the content of the concerned supramundane soul at the concerned moment. Although God makes Himself capable of errors in His quest to make the universe evolve towards ever-increasing order and complexity, He is (and forever remains) incapable of errors in His approach to ensuring that never any of those parallels fails.


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


Featured: God separating the water from the land; engraving, Nazerene Brotherhood, 19th century; published in 1937.


Leibniz’s The Theodicy, or the Dystopia of a World without Tears

Leibniz’s theodicy, according to which, our world is the best it can be has often been mocked by progress-mongers like Voltaire. How, indeed, can we justify the existence of a good God and a harmonious world when, on the contrary, the latter contains so many misfortunes? This question, less heard than it might seem, lies at the heart of the works of Dostoevsky and Aldous Huxley, who question the truly utopian nature of a society without tears. Would not a world without tribulations be a world deprived of freedom and poetry?

In The Theodicy, the philosopher Leibniz sought to demonstrate that we live in “the best of all possible worlds,” a claim that earned him much ridicule, starting with Voltaire. In Candide, Voltaire ironized the naïveté of Leibnizian optimism through the character of Pangloss, who repeats at every turn “everything’s for the best in the best of all possible worlds.” How could anyone believe that the best of all possible worlds existed, given the wars and epidemics, the misery and death? For Voltaire, the world cannot be said to be the best it can be as long as the question of Evil remains.

“One day, all will be well, that is our hope / All is well today, that is the illusion.” In these verses, written after the Lisbon earthquake in November 1755, a catastrophe that claimed between 50,000 and 70,000 lives, Voltaire reaffirmed the idea that is at the heart of the Enlightenment: the perfectibility of the human race, the march of progress towards a world free of “useless pain,” towards a “Christianity without tears,” to quote Aldous Huxley in Brave New World. To get there, we must, like Candide, “cultivate our own garden,” working to establish human happiness here on earth rather than in the next world. Yet Leibniz is not blissfully optimistic, nor is he blind to suffering or injustice. Voltaire pretends not to have understood Leibniz’s idea that Evil is necessary for the Best. “It is true that we can imagine possible worlds without sin or misfortune, and we could make novels and utopias out of them… but these same worlds would be much inferior in goodness to our own,” comments Leibniz in his The Theodicy. These utopias, these novels, are what we find in the writings of Aldous Huxley and Dostoyevsky.

Towards a Christianity without Tears

Indeed, we can reread Aldous Huxley’s masterpiece Brave New World as a hermeneutic of this controversy between Leibnizian and Voltairian ideas. From this perspective, the title translated into French [Le Meilleur des mondes ] is perhaps more meaningful than the original Brave New World. The novel, undoubtedly less Manichean than it appears (less so than George Orwell’s dystopian Nineteen Eighty-Four, to which it is often compared), deals with the establishment of an earthly Jerusalem, a system that rationally defines human happiness.

Moreover, Huxley does not dispute the eutopic character of Fordian civilization, i.e., its happiness. The new world state he has imagined truly brings happiness to mankind. Its Controller, Mustapha Mond, affirms: “The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. They’re well off, they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death.” The happiness Voltaire had hoped for has finally arrived. But this “never grandiose” happiness can only be established at the price of renouncing “high art,” freedom, nobility, heroism, poetry, danger, sin, in a word, Shakespeare, everything that, for the Controller, is merely “overcompensations for misery.” For the Controller, if Edmund, the character in Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear, had known Fordian civilization, he would undoubtedly have renounced his tragic and grandiose destiny for a seat in an inflatable armchair, a sexual partner and the harmless drug Soma.

As a counterpoint to this end-of-history civilization, a reserve of savages, as if placed in a jar, bears witness for the new man to what the free world was, the world before its rationalization. Here, animality confronts sterilization. Misery, old age, solitude, cruelty and whipping still reign on the Reservation. This world may seem crueler than the Fordist World State, but contrary to what the Controller thinks, Edmund may not give up his destiny. John, the savage who lived on the Reservation, has known anguish and tears. He has known Lisbon, he has found Shakespeare, and Shakespeare is worth Lisbon to him. For Othello, he goes so far as to “[claim] the right to be unhappy” from the Controller. In his view, the best of all worlds is not one that “[gets rid of] everything unpleasant”, but one that “[learns] to live with it”. The best of all worlds is one of nobility rather than ease. For the savage, “Othello is better than those feelies.” No Othello without passion, no passion without suffering. Here is Leibniz: a world without unhappiness would not be as good as ours.

Is Shakespeare Worth Children’s Suffering?

The question, then, is no longer, as Dostoyevsky thought, whether Shakespeare is worth a pair of boots [“The question that divides us all boils down to this: which is prettier, Shakespeare or a pair of boots?”—The Demons]—the answer is all too familiar—but, as Huxley wrote, whether Shakespeare is worth “the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen to-morrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.” If Shakespeare is worth the unhappiness, then let us affirm with Leibniz that we live in the best of all possible worlds. If not, let us swallow that blue Soma pill they are handing us.

It’ is the same Cornelian dilemma that defeats Ivan’s reason in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. On the one hand, Ivan revolts against the Leibnizian idea that a greater good can justify an evil. Nothing, for Ivan, not even the perfect happiness of all, “higher harmony” or Truth justifies the tears of a single child. Nothing great or beautiful can come of children’s suffering, only disgust and rejection. Who can remain insensitive to the terrible account he gives of this little girl whipped and trampled every day, forced by her own parents to eat her own excrement, beating her chest and calling for help from a “Good God” who never comes? Or the boy who was fed to the dogs in front of his mother? Ivan refuses to allow this “absurdity” to promise a better plan, unless the loving God the little girl invokes is no better than Job’s cruel, vengeful God.

On the other hand, Ivan also refuses the Soma, the “earthly bread” that the terrible figure of the Inquisitor—whom he invented to solve the problem of evil—offers man in exchange for his freedom. To make man happy, to “lighten his burden with love,” the Grand Inquisitor, like Mustapha Mond, is ready to renounce his own happiness and salvation [The Controller smiled. “That’s how I paid. By choosing to serve happiness. Other people’s—not mine”]. Ivan has guessed the earthly consequences of establishing Voltaire’s City: any attempt to rid the world of its misery and suffering can only lead to an even more absurd materialistic tyranny, whether consumerist, as in Huxley, or socialist, as professed in 19th-century Russia. The Grand Inquisitor is none other than the counterfeit double of the good shepherd he faces; his caricature who treats humanity not as a flock where each sheep has a priceless and promising value, but as mere cattle. Ivan recognizes the devil in the Inquisitor.

Take Up Your Cross…

In the naïveté of his twenty-three years, Ivan was full of love for life, that “enchanted cup” in which he “[became] intoxicated with tenderness” before heroism, the ideal and the “tender shoots of spring.” He wanted to live, “even in spite of logic,” without looking for meaning in his life. Yet he cannot help it—Ivan just does not know how to live; he is not Dimitri, his brother, the figure of the pure savage. [Dimitri, rather than Shakespeare, quotes the poets Goethe: “Man, be noble!” or Schiller: “Turn chaos into suns,” but all from the same impulse]. Though he loses his faith, he does not believe salvation is possible without God. Though an atheist, he has none of the cynicism of Rakitin or Chigalev in The Demons. If heavenly happiness disgusts him as long as a single child experiences hell here below, earthly happiness is even more repugnant to him if it comes at the price of human stupidity.

To deprive man of his freedom, even if it is for his own good, or to grant it to him, even if it means that he will abuse it and make his children suffer, is always too high a price for Ivan, who is incapable of simply relying on God, like his younger brother Alyosha, who, although frightened for a moment by his elder brother’s words, answers, like John in Brave New World: “I want to suffer.” Alyosha does not know how to respond to Ivan’s science, but he does know how to forgive, and retains faith in a God who became incarnate to share our pain and misfortune. In Brave New World, the Bible is hidden from men, locked away with Shakespeare. But “if we drive God from the earth, we’ll meet him underground!” exclaims Dostoyevsky’s Dimitri, whose soul is resurrected when he is condemned to the mines. A tragic hymn to the God of joy rises from the underground ruins of Lisbon, and Leibniz lends his voice to it: “And Jesus wept” (John 11: 35). There is no Christianity without tears.


Jean Chamaillet studied history at the University of Angers.


Featured: The Bridge in-curve, by Grace Cossington Smith; painted in 1930.


A Philosophy of War by Henri Hude

The English edition of A Philosophy of War, by the French philosopher, Henri-Paul Hude, has just been published. We are happy to bring you an excerpt from this very important and timely book.

What is war today? To answer this question, we can no longer rely on notions of war elaborated in various classic works, because we are faced with a new problem—how to save humankind from annihilation in a total world war involving weapons of mass destruction. The simplest answer is to establish a “Leviathan,” whose promise and project is straight forward: cancel all powers except one, which will be universal and absolute, and start a war without end against all free powers and all liberties. This way eventually you will get peace forever. But can Leviathan actually deliver on this promise? And peace at what cost, because Leviathan demands absolute and unlimited power over the entire human race? It is this problem that Philosophy of War lays out in all its chilling detail. Is there another solution that can bring political and cultural peace to the world? Indeed, there is, and this book next details a very clear path, one that also ensures that we do not become enslaved by Leviathan. Nations, and their “wisdoms” (that is, “religions”) can unite as peace becomes possible. If you love liberty and desire peace, then this book is for you.

Please consider supporting the work of Professor Hude by purchasing a copy of the book.

I was twenty years old and suffocating at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, in Paris, often just called “Ulm” because of its location on the rue d’Ulm. There, Marxism lay heavy and it was oppressive. But there was an exchange program with Amherst College, in Massachusetts. Seizing the opportunity, I fled to America. On the flight over, I listened to Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, “From the New World.” In America I breathed free. I enrolled in a course on the Cold War (even then!). But I was not a diligent student. I meditated, read, wrote, reflected, contemplated and prayed. I was happy. France is my mother. America was my first love.

I spent a year at Amherst, as a teaching assistant in French, in what was then called the Department of Romance Languages, at the top of the hill, next to the great library, which was so precious to me, since I also had to return to the Sorbonne with a demanding piece of work on the status of logic in William of Ockham.

Next to the library was a memorial, which looked over a particularly beautiful view of the forest below that stretched as far as the eye could see. Nature has never moved me more than in its autumnal glory in New England. Large stone parallelepipeds were arranged in a sober, solemn semicircle. Names of battles were engraved on them. I always sat on the one that read, “Normandy.”

Another memory comes to me, with particular intensity, one day, when we came to revisit the D-Day landing beaches. Our sons were swimming in Omaha Beach. They were playing, splashing and shouting with joy. It was life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. I kept an eye on them. But I was thinking of your sons of long ago.

When I arrived in the United States, my mind was in a fog. At Ulm, my first “caiman” [slang for a supervising tutor who resembles an allegator because he devours your time, your freedom] had been the philosopher Jacques Derrida, one of the pontiffs of French Theory. From the outset, our relationship was atrocious. I dumped him, but was left with a choice between two other tutors, a half-mad Nietzschean and the famous Marxist theorist Louis Althusser. I made the rational choice, though I soon realized that I had fallen out of the pan and into the fire. Good God! Between French Theory, Marx and the Antichrist, where to go? I went to America, thanks to my English tutor.

I am a citizen, a philosopher of action. The practical is my element. I abhor idle questions. I love knowledge, not sterile erudition. For me, man is the decision-making animal. But to decide, you have to see things clearly and live in the real world. What I encountered in the United States was reality. When I landed in Boston, I was intellectually cataracted. I knew the world existed, but I saw everything through a kind of fog; I could not really see that it existed for real. I knew there was a God, but that was even less clear. Between God and me, a wall. Among you Americans, the veil dissipated, my lens cleared. After much reflection, one winter’s day, at dusk, after the rain, I left Crossett, where I shared an apartment with three truly excellent roommates, and, walking aimlessly, stopping suddenly, in the light of a street lamp, I admired the damp bark of a birch tree, its tender green beneath the brilliant white, hemmed in black. I was finally in the world and the world was here. Later, the wall fell, too.

By the time I left the States, my mind was at rest. There is nothing like a year of freedom, in a free country. For America was then a free country: a well-possessed middle class, powerful industry, a functioning political constitution, a decent culture, both classical and original. Infinitely less ideology than in Europe. A serene harmony between religion and freedom. Common sense and natural fairness. Free discussion between convinced and civilized people. Opportunities for all. A shaken but still substantial moral consensus. You could feel that something was beginning to sour, but the mood was still excellent, compared to the fetid atmosphere I had left behind.

On the plane ride back, I again listened to Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9. But I was now returning, strengthened, to my Europe that was slashed by wars, revolutions, ideologies, totalitarianism and absurd atheism. The America from which I returned was more like the Old World, but not frozen or hardened, rather preserved alive and modernized, like an eighteenth-century Europe that had evolved without trauma, highly civilized, without anti-religious fanaticism. Is it all over? Does that America no longer exist? Must America also be a heartbreak for me?

If it does not find both reason and God, the USA will have a war and it will lose it. It will remain a great nation, like France after Napoleon and his excesses. As for Europe, alas, I wonder if there will be any of it left.

****

Finally, the question for the USA, which I am taking the liberty of asking, in publishing this book, is quite simply: “Have you decided to be Leviathan?” And the second is its sequel: “Or will you decide, on the contrary, to make us dream again?”

****

Let us take a closer look at Leviathan’s prerogatives. Leviathan will have at its disposal all national armed forces, which will have become international mobile gendarmerie squadrons; the nations themselves having become mere territorial administrative divisions within the state. This unique and rigorous organization will prevent the proliferation and dissemination of weapons.

Armed groups outside the world’s public forces shall all be classified as terrorists. National independence, local autonomy, freedom of association and individual freedom will no longer be relevant. Given the level of risk, the precautionary principle will demand that all citizens and groups be considered potential terrorists and placed under continual surveillance. Every opponent of Leviathan becomes an irresponsible, reckless person; a madman, an insurgent, a terrorist, a criminal, because mankind can only choose between (1) War or (2) Leviathan politics (Leviathan’s continual, universal and irresistible action of force, constitutive and conservative).

Leviathan is the solution to the problem of real Absolute War, but on condition that all claims to freedom, all claims to natural rights, are repressed. This repression is the essence of Leviathan’s policy. It is indeed a war against any plurality that might be reborn—against peoples and nations, against individuals, groups, families, against all freedoms. Through this heroic, titanic act of force, Leviathan, a single, total state, unjustly threatened by the deaf hatred of all, but indifferent, free and resolute, sure of its right to absolute power, will impose itself on all, not without the consent of all, and truly at the call of all. It thus shall force them all to total disarmament (military, political, legal, technical, physical, moral and intellectual). From what was a chaos of nations and individuals in mortal danger, it shall make a single world people, no longer terrified, but reassured by their partly happy, partly angry submission to absolute world power. Barring a profound cultural change, such is our future.

To preserve humankind’s right to survival, Leviathan will neutralize any threat, even preventively, in a discretionary manner. It will generalize and trivialize the anti-terrorist practice of targeted assassination, but not only against individuals, also against human groups.

The Leviathan State shall remain a Republic, unique and universal. There will still be a social pact. This pact will be made between every terrified individual on Earth and the unique Leviathan, endowed with absolute power, spiritual as well as temporal, whose sole law shall be public salvation. It shall be the very reason and free will of every individual on Earth.

To be strong enough, Leviathan shall remain concentrated. It must include only the wealthy and educated elite—and only them—provided they adhere to Leviathan’s policies. They are the ones who will benefit from medical progress. What will be the relationship between the rich and the rest? “The relationship between humans and animals is the best model we have for the future relationship between superhumans and humans.” No doubt this is why the culture of powerlessness talks so much about animal rights and promotes vegetarian eating. Inferior individuals will be reassured to know that they will not end up as corned beef.

Excluded from sovereignty will be the people, and above all the middle classes, if there are any left. These masses shall be deprived of political and economic rights. This deprivation shall be ensured by biocratic surveillance, repression and prevention—including genetic augmentation or diminution, remote brain control and regular intake of various prescribed drugs/medication. Elections could probably continue without much inconvenience, but we shall need to be sure that their outcome will not endanger Leviathan. The anxious fear of death and war, and the culture of powerlessness, will allow us to associate a reassuring servitude with a happy awareness of security and freedom.

Analysis of the Leviathan inevitably has the whiff of a “conspiracy theory.” Let us say a few words about this. What we call “conspiracism” lies at the crossroads of (i) a hypercritical philosophical tradition, (ii) the new postmodern class struggle and (iii) the historical dynamic tending towards the realization of Leviathan.

A) Philosophical conspiracy is central to the constitution of modern and postmodern critical reason. Marx, Nietzsche and Freud set out to reveal or denounce the occult interests, material or impulsive, unconscious or masked, that pull all the strings in our individual or social lives. More radically, this conspiracism goes back to Descartes. Its major feature is “doubt,” the basis of philosophical modernity, which remains inoperative without the introduction of the “Evil Genius,” a hidden, fictitious or mysterious power which, in its power and malignity “has employed all its industry to deceive me.” But then,

B) why do modern and postmodern elites hate “conspiracy?” For the same reasons that Descartes reserved the use of modern, critical reason for a thinking, conservative elite. If everyone began to doubt everything in morality, law, history, religion and, above all, politics, there would be revolution, communism or anarchy. Postmodern enlightened elites do not hate hypercritical (and therefore conspiratorial, in the philosophical sense of the word) reason, but since they have disrupted certain social equilibria and renewed the class struggle, they do fear revolution, if the use of criticism does not remain their monopoly, or were insufficiently controlled. Globalization, for example, would then be the object of a more or less Marxist critique. Marxism has long accustomed minds to seeing ideologies as the masks of powers and their means of domination. In line with this idea, conspiracy theorists (especially in long-developed countries) see in the praise of globalization an ideology at the service of elites and capital against people and labor. Elements A) and B) converge as follows:

C) with the dynamics of the Leviathan, which unfolds by virtue of a rather impersonal and involuntary logic, which surpasses all those who pride themselves on creating it. The elites believe, often in good faith, that Leviathan is the solution, even if they have reservations about one aspect or another. Leviathan will undoubtedly favor the elites, but their privileges will serve the general interest, and the people are quite irresponsible when they oppose it. Their populist demagogues will be potential terrorists. The people, who do not see it that way, think like George Orwell and attribute historical dynamics to the psychotic will to power of monstrous and perverse elites, from whom it is always legitimate and rational to expect the worst.

In summary, the term “conspiracy” is somewhat contradictory, as it tends to disqualify a political critique of globalization in the name of a modern or postmodern reason that is nonetheless philosophically conspiratorial. It is also a source of confusion, because it mixes relatively classic and timeless political issues (such as the tensions between oligarchy and democracy) with the problematic of Leviathan, specific to the hypertechnical age.Let us now complete our analysis of Leviathan. Under its empire, war can only exist between Power and each individual or group, large or small, potentially delinquent or rebellious. This war, if well waged, will be reduced to a reassuring political and cultural police action, as extensive as necessary, but conducted with discretion—and to a gendarmerie or special forces action, or secret political police, against all attempts at secession or sedition (liberation). This war will be permanent and without end, just as the fight against the underworld is for the police.

The social pact implies adherence to the politics of Leviathan (its constituent war). The freedom of the social pact exists authentically as unconditional adherence to global security totalitarianism, which has become the only reasonable regime imaginable. And all rational liberals have finally rallied to enlightened despotism.

Leviathan will not afford, especially in just a few decades’ time, to let a single lone wolf slip through its net, even for a moment. One would be enough to destroy everything. Universal control shall therefore be preventive. Surveillance shall be continuous, focusing not only on outward appearances, but also on everything that cannot be seen with the naked eye, such as brain waves and hormonal flows. Anything that is not authorized must be prohibited under the most severe penalties.

Leviathan will control everything. Attempt and intent will be punished as much as action. A sci-fi movie like Minority Report is a pretty good approximation. As it is impossible to take the slightest risk of recidivism, extra-judicial elimination is the only conceivable measure against any untimely exercise of freedom. But Leviathan will be worry-free. With technical progress, death is no more than an instantaneous, painless, non-tragic and unannounced obliteration. Public opinion will just believe it to be a natural death.

It is in Leviathan’s interest to make people believe that war is an inevitable effect of the unchecked ecological crisis, since this would be the cause of a global food crisis, leading to a furious struggle by all for the means of subsistence. In the final analysis, this crisis is itself the effect of human proliferation. Peace therefore will require that Leviathan have the right to regulate demographics and impose appropriate morality—libertarian or rigorist as the case may be—to ensure that the set numbers are respected. Aldous Huxley understood that the reproduction of the species is too serious a matter to be left to the freedom of individuals. Here again, a science-fiction film like Gattaca provides a pretty good approximation. “The love of servitude cannot be established except as a result of… a greatly improved technique of suggestion… a foolproof system of eugenics, designed to standardize the human product and so to facilitate the task of the managers.” Demographic and eugenic totalitarianism, as well as the most imperious sexual moralism (lax or rigorous, depending on what social utility requires), will be therefore indispensable to social and political control, barring major cultural change—and this (it should be noted) irrespective of anything one might reasonably think on the subjects of demography and ecology. All growth is incompatible with totalitarianism, without which there can be no true Leviathan, and therefore no guaranteed world peace.

****


Artists as Intellectuals?

In a society like ours, of consumption, opulent for the few, whose god is the market, the image has replaced the concept. We stopped reading to look, even when we rarely see one.

And so artists, actors, singers, announcers and TV hosts have replaced intellectuals.

This replacement comes from a deeper one; when intellectuals, especially after the French Revolution, came to replace philosophers. It is true that philosophers continued to exist, but the general tone of these last two centuries marks their public disappearance.

Progressivism, that infantile disease of social democracy, is characterized by assuming the vanguard as a method and not as a struggle, as was the case with the old socialism. The old newspaper La Vanguardia still exists in Barcelona.

The vanguard as a method means that for the progressive it is necessary to be, against all odds, always on the crest of the wave. Always ahead; in the vanguard of ideas, fashions, uses, customs and attitudes.

The progressive man always places himself in the temporal ecstasy of the future, neither the present, much less the past, has any significance for him, and if it does, it is always in function of the future. He is not interested in the ethos of the historical Nation, and even goes against this historical-cultural character. And this is so, because the progressive is his own project. He is always installed in the future because he has adopted the avant-garde as his method. No one and nothing can be in front of him, otherwise he would cease to be progressive. This explains why the progressive cannot give himself a project of country or nation because it would be placed in front of him, which implies and creates a contradiction.

And as no one can give what he does not have, the progressive cannot give himself nor give us a political project because he himself is his political project.

The progressive man, being the one who says yes to every novelty that is proposed to him, finds in artists his intellectuals. Today, in our consumer society where images have replaced concepts, we find that artists are, in the end, those who translate concepts into images. And the formation of the progressive consists in that, in a succession of truncated images of reality. The homo festivus, the emblematic figure of progressivism, of which thinkers such as Philippe Murray or Agulló speak, finds in the artist his ideologist.

The artist frees him both from the effort of reading (a habit that is irremissibly lost) and from the concrete world. The progressive does not want to know but only to be informed. He is greedy for novelties. And the world is “his world” and he lives in the glass bell of the old neighborhood stores where the flies (the people and their problems) cannot enter.

Porteño progressives live in Puerto Madero, not in Parque Patricios.

The tactic of the progressive governments is to transform the people into “the public;” that is, into a consuming public, with which the people cease to be the main political agent of any community, to cede that protagonism to the mass media, as ideologists of the masses, and to the artists, as ideologists of their own elites.

This is a mechanism that works at two levels: a) in the mass media, hundreds of journalists and broadcasters, those loquacious cultural illiterates, according to Paul Feyerabend’s (1924-1994) apt expression, tell us what we should do and how we should think. They are the messengers of Heidegger’s “anonymous one” that through the dictator “is,” says, thinks, works, dresses, eats, plunges us into improper existence; b) through artists as translators of concepts into images in theaters and cinemas and for a more restricted public with greater purchasing power: for those who are satisfied with the system.

The artist fulfills his ideological function within progressivism because he sings the infinite themes of vindication: gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia, adoption of children by homosexuals, consumption of marijuana and cocaine, the fight against imperialism, the defense of indigenism, immigrants, the reduction of sentences for criminals, a nod to marginality and a long etcetera. But he never sings about the insecurity in the streets, prostitution, the sale of children, pedophile tourism, the lack of employment, the increasing murder and robbery of people, gambling for money, etc. No, that is not what Mastroiani’s film talks about. In short, he does not see the sufferings of society but its joys.

The artist as an actor represents all those plays where political correctness is represented. And in this sense, as Vittorio Messori says, in the first place is to denigrate the Church, to criticize the social order, the bourgeois virtues of moderation, modesty, thrift, cleanliness, fidelity, diligence, reasonableness, making the apology of their opposites.

There is no actor who does not rend his clothes talking about the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, although no one represents the Christian or gypsy women in those same concentration camps.

Thus, if they represent Heidegger as a Nazi and Stalin as a master of humanity. The Pope always as an executioner and the nuns as perverts, but the moneylenders as needy and the pimps as liberators. No more depictions of the Merchant of Venice, nor of Martel’s La Bolsa. The conductor who dares to touch Wagner is excommunicated by the thought police of Jewish aesthetics in classical music.

In the local order, if they represent Martin Fierro, they remove the payada and duel with Moreno. General Belgrano is portrayed as a doctor. Perón as a bourgeois and Evita as a revolutionary. Even when the emblematic figure of every actor is Che Guevara.

All the theatrical hermeneutics is penetrated by psychoanalysis tinged by the logic of Freud and his hundreds of disciples. Logic that is resolved in the rescue of the “other” but to transform him into “the same,” because in the heart of this logic “the other,” like Jehovah for Abraham, is lived as a threat; and that is why in the supposed rescue I have to transform him into “the same.”

The artist is educated in difference; we see it in his outlandish clothing and behavior. He thinks and looks different but his product ends up being one more element for the homogenizing cohesion of all differences and otherness. He is one more agent of cultural globalization.

The pluralism preached and represented ends up in the apology of the sweet totalitarianism of the social democracies that reduce our identity to that of all equally.

Finally, the political mechanism that is at the base of this dissolution of the other, as the distinct, the different, is consensus. In it functions the simulacrum of the Kantian “as if.” Thus, I lend an ear to the other but I do not listen to him. A delayed negation of the other is produced, because, in the end, I seek to bridge the differences by reducing him to “the same.”
This is the ultimate reason why we have been proposing for years the theory of dissent, which is born of the real and effective acceptance of the principle of difference, and has the requirement of being able to live in that difference. And this is the reason why it is necessary to practice metapolitics: a discipline that involves the need to identify ideological diversity in the area of world, regional or national politics, trying to turn this diversity into a concept of political understanding, according to the wise opinion of the political scientist Giacomo Marramao.

Dissent should be the first step in making genuine public policy and metapolitics the philosophical and axiological content of the political agent.


Alberto Buela is an Argentinian philosopher and professor at National Technological University and the University of Barcelona. He is the author of many books and articles. His website is here.


Featured: The Serenade, by Jacob Jordaens; painted ca. 1640-1645.