miércoles, 20 de junio de 2012

Enlightenment and modern cultural totalitarianism

A fragment of  "From Enlightenment to Revolution" from Eric Voegelin that summarizes very well the radical spirit of the Enlightenment of the XVIII century in a way that is a premonition of contemporary totalitarian regimes, or, in the non overtly violent revolutionary phase, comparable to the current leftist cultural totalitarianism  that is established de facto in the West.

It is a critique of  L' eisquisse, an essay of Condorcert, that he wrote shortly before being guillotined. (The fate of the cultural revolutionaries is to be obliterated by the next wave of violent revolutionaries)

To carry the progressivist idea to the masses is Condorcet's great
desire. The gulf has to be bridged between the few who actively carry
the progress of mankind and the vast majority who participaie in it
only slightly. This bridging of the gulf has already begun. fn his
survey of the progress of mankind, Condorcet pays particular attention
to the decisive historical epoch when progress ceases to be the privilege
of an active elite and is brought within the reach of the common man.
"Hitherto we have shown the progress of philosophy only in the men
who have cultivated, deepened and perfected it; now we harret o observe
the effects on the opinion genérale.' Reason not only has purified our
methods of knowledge and guarded us against the errors into which
we were led to by respect for authority,' it also has destroyed in the
masse generale of men, the prejudices which for so long have corrupted
the human species. At last the right has been recognized to use one's
reason as the sole criterion of truth and no longer to rely on the word
of another man. The abasement of reason before the delirium of a
supernatural faith disappeared from society,as it has disappeared from
philosophy. The sociali nstrument for bringing about this huppy state
was a new class of men uwho were less interested in the discovery of
truth than in its propagation; who pursued the prejudirces into the
recesses where the clergy, the schools, the governments and the old
corporations had amassed and protected them; who set their pride
rather in destroying popular errors than in pushing farther back the
limits of human knowledge; who developed this indirecr; manner of
servingp rogress,w hich was not the least perilousn or the least useful"

With a few masterful strokes Condorcet has sketched the new type
of intellectual parasite whose zeal to teach others is stronger than his
willingness to submit to intellectual discipline, who thrives on the fallacy
that truth is to be found in the solutions of problems rather than in
their discovery, who believest hat truth can be dispensed as a body of
doctrine, who transfers the characteristics of revealed truth to the finite
human search for knowledge; who consequently, through vulgarizing
problematical knowledge into dogmatic results, can make the innocent
believe that they enter into the truth if they accept faithfully as dogma
a proposition which no conscientious thinker would accept without far reaching
qualifications, who create in their victims the belief that
instruction is education, who destroy intellectual honesty through their
separation of results from the critical processesw hich lead up to them,
who build up in the masses the unshakable brutality of ignorant conviction
and who, for their murderous work of destruction, want to be
applauded because it is "not the least perilous, nor the least usefultt
to society.

The techniques employed by these men are described by Condorcet
with the competence of first-hand knowledge. They employ "all the
arrns which erudition, philosophy, brilliance and literary talent can put
at the disposition of reason; they assume all the tones, use all the
forms, from pleasantry to the touchins, from a vast and scholarly
compilation to the novel or pamphlet; they cover truth with a veil in
order not to frighten the weak, and to leave the pleasure of surmise;
they are skillful in catering to prejudices in order to deal even more
effective blows; they neither attack them all at the same time, nor one
quite thoroughly; sometimes they give comfort to the enemies of reason
by pretending that in religion they do not want more than semitolerance,
or in politics more than semi-liberty; they are moderate towards
despotism when they fight the absurdities of religion, and towards
the cult when they rise against tyranny; they attack the two scourges on
principle when they seem to castigate only some revolting or ridiculous
abuses; and they strike the tree at the roots when they seem to trim
only somer ank branches" The passage sounds as if it came from an
instruction sheet, issued to his staff by * National Socialist Minister for
the Enlightenment of the People. We should note the tone of implacable
hatred; the radical will to strike at the root of institutions, even when
the overt criticism extends only to reformable abuses; the technique of
apparent compromise by which the propagandist whittles down iesistance
step by step until he can deal the final blow; the intentional dishonesty
of "veiling," that is of half-truth which may tempt the uncritical
mind; the playing of sentiments against each other until the
institutions are equally engulfed in a social catastrophe; in brief: the
catalogue of techniques, which we all know too well, employed by the
political intellectual in undermining the authority of institutions and in
transforming bewildered individuals into a disoriented mass.

16. Condorcet (L743-94) wrote the Esquisse while he was irr refuge with
Mme. Vernet. The manuscript was completed by October 1793. It was published
for the first time An III. For a brief life of Condorcet and the qurestion of MSS
and publication see the ttlntroduction" and ttAvertissementtt by C). H. Prior in
his edition of the Esquisse (Paris, 1933).
L7. Esquisse d'un Tableau Historique des Progres de l'Espfi Humain. Outsrage
posthume de Condorcet (n.p., L795), p. 242,
18. Ibid.r p. 243,

lunes, 4 de junio de 2012

Bloodless thinking and contempt of History

The past generations lived in the conscience of history and in eternity. The Christians believed to be the continuation of the history of Israel. The bible is filled with descriptions of sins that we the christians have to avoid as if ourselves, represented by the people of Israel had committed in the past.

Historylessness is a key in the understanding of this time. This neurotic seek for the last news without the time and the desire to sit down and extract a global picture of the situation is an escape from responsibility with future generations and, more important, it is an escape from the responsibility in the errors of the past, that are indeed not of this or that generation but the entire society and a display of the worst of human nature, that is, of every human. 

By neglecting responsibility and even attacking the errors of past generations (from which modern christian-rooted antisemitism is a particular case) the modern man is free to affirm the feel-good (and feel-god) idea that the errors and limitations of the past say nothing about its own human nature and its own modern society.

Once the History is manipulated for self encumbrement by presenting it as the fight between oscurantism, agression and irrationality against reason, peace and light, whose triumph culminates in the illumination of the present, the History becomes something void that has nothing to teach. Except as an supermarket of excuses for demonizing anyone that question the next wave of modernity. jewish, catholics, protestant-capitalists and finally the whole West fall in disgrace in front of the modern man in its untenable quest for salvation from itself: Antijudaism, the Inquisition, the Spanish Black Legend, anticapitalism and finally the demonizartion of the West as a whole, with the same arguments: conspirative, evil, imperialistic, aggresive, and predator of  angelic victims.

bloodless thinking is thinking without the "nous" of the greek philosophes or without the soul of the Christian tradition. The nous is the inner sense that tell us that something is right, beyond any (sometimes impossible) testing.  This is usually known as "common sense". And Common Sense in a very positivistic definition, is a compendium of biological and cultural best practices inprinted in human nature and society based on the experience of the past (by natural and cultural selection) in the form of intuitions.

Because most errors have  bad consequences in the very long term, it is not possible to arrange experiments to test them.  These errors are civilization-wide, so they are the worst errors men can commit. The highest Truths, that prevents these errors, are untestable, but because we have them imprinted in our intuition, these Truths sound and shines in our souls. "Truth is not 'tested' in any way, but sounds itself or shines outwards in beauty"

Blodless thinking is nothing but passing over our accumulated knowledge and traditions, even the most basic ones, with the inevitable consequences. This is the situation that Spengler denounced. 

This is taken from my own comentary to the  the excelent, as allways, essay of  Mr Bertonneau about  "Oswald Spengler On Democracy, Equality, And “Historylessness”" 

domingo, 3 de junio de 2012

Sobre el placer de destruir

Hace tiempo cuando mi niña era un bebé, yo hacia torres de piedras en una playa de cantos rodados. la niña esperaba con deleite a que estuviera acabado y entonces la tiraba con gran placer y vueta a empezar.  No hace falta mostrar la alegría con que los niños de todas las edades se ensañan con casas abandonadas. Tampoco hace falta ver lo que hacen ciertos adolescentes sociópatas con el mobiliario urbano.

La razón de ese placer de destruir está en ultima instancia el negar el orden creado por otros como paso previo para después imponer el propio. Si n lo uno no es posible lo otro. Y aunque sea el caso de que el poder propio no se puede imponer, esa temporal ilusión de poder produce un sentimiento de euforia. Todo orden es la manifestación de la inteligencia y el poder de otros y por tanto es una amenaza al poder propio. Una calavera en un palo en la selva, una alineación de menhires en las praderas neolíticas, o la  inmensa sala de recepción de tributos de los reyes Persas con todo su complejo protocolo  tiene el mismo sentido que la marca hormonal fresca de un carnívoro para otro que se adentra en su territorio: Es una indicación clara de que el posible oponente ha sido capaz de hacerlo y esta dispuesto a defenderlo, ya sea desplazándose diariamente por las fronteras, ya sea movilizando la misma compleja organización social que hizo posible esa manifestación de orden, que puede utilizarse tanto para la paz como para la guerra. Cualquier manifestación de orden, por pequeño que sea, es una signo de actividad humana y por tanto una posible amenaza.

La sociedas existe cuando hay un respeto a lo hecho por otros. Ese respeto es siempre precario y tiene que haber un arbitro que medie en las disputas. los robos, invasiones de la propiedad son constantes, pero la destrucción por el mero placer no existe en Occidente, al menos de forma evidente, simplemente porque es muy dificil que el que se comporta asi reciba alguna compasión de la Justicia. Pero, como en el caso de una panda de niños en una casa deshabitada, hay aspectos de la realidad construida durante cientos de años en el que los dueños han desaparecido o no se pueden defender o no se dan por aludidos. No solo se pueden destruir las creaciones materiales. También se pueden destruir las ideas. Por eso el adolescente macarra ridiculiza no solo al empollón sino a lo que se enseña en la escuela, porque sabe que si no, la chica se puede ir con el empollón.

Tal es el caso de la destrucción de la historia mediante la tergiversación de ésta, como lo es la destrucción de las instituciones tradicionales, especialmente la familia o la obsesión con la desaparicion de la Iglesia de la vida de la gente. Quizá habría que incluir aquí la misma destrucción de las meras nociones de hombre y mujer y la misma destrucción de las conciencias, por medio de esa obsesión neurótica por asegurarse de que nadie crea en nada excepto en la religión "científica" de turno , ya sea el ecologismo, el marxismo o incluso la dietética o la energía de las piedras. Los destrozones quieren arrasar los artesonados, las columnas, los espejos, las escaleras, hasta los cimientos de la casa vieja  para montar su tienda de campaña y ponerse a asar patatas en la hoguera hecha con los marcos de los cuadros.

Spengler describía bien esa "furia torpe" de este tipo de destructores culturales, bien talluditos, pero con el mismo complejo infantil, disfrazado de libertad:

"Cuando la "nobleza derrochadora ... los académicos náufragos, los aventureros y especuladores, los delincuentes y las prostitutas, los holgazanes, y los débiles mentales despertan a la chusma en la causa de la libertad lo que realmente quieren es liberarse de todos los vínculos de la civilización, de todo tipo de formas y costumbres, de todas las personas cuyo modo de vida sienten, en su furia torpe, que son superiores"

-Oswald Spengler http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/4945