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.