Monday, November 28, 2005

Noam Chomsky Posted by Picasa
Big Business as a supporter of anti-racism

Noam Chomsky

This is one of the most insightful passages on the issue of race. How ironic that a left-anarchist is far more honest about the question than self-styled "conservatives" in this country.

It also sheds light on the fact of why establishment conservatives are "anti-racists" who say that "race doesn't matter." To the plutocracy, a human being is not a creature with a mind, a culture, or any kind of identity, but simply a unit of production and consumption. Therefore race naturally "doesn't matter" to those who think in strictly economic terms.

Because of that, Multinational corporations are usually amongst the biggest supporters of anti-racism you will find anywhere. Its important to understand the link between late capitalism and antiracism, how we went from being producer to consumer societies. Late capitalism is a grossly inefficient economic system. It produces far more junk than anyone can possible consume. So it sets out in search of new markets. In fact, the advertising industry is constantly creating new markets from scratch, simply by creating needs where they previously did not exist before. And this is another one of the big reasons there is so much emphasis on 'diversity' and 'tolerance' these days. Business likes to create all sorts of fetishes and lifestyles in order to create new markets. Also, the vast majority of potential consumers in this world are non-Europeans. Western markets are typically highly saturated as well. Businesses are targeting and appealing to this demographic.

Incidentally, this is what unites the capitalist and the marxist mindset. Far from being polar opposites, both rely on the same simplistic model of "economic man" divorced for culture and history. As such, both capitalism and Communism are united not so much by being inhumane, but by being inhuman.


Question: Professor Chomsky, one issue where I've noticed that activists get kind of a good press in the United States -- and it seems out of sync with what we usually see -- is coverage of people protesting South African apartheid (official system of racial segregation and white supremacy, the legal basis for which was largely repealed in 1990-91). I'm wondering if you have any ideas why coverage of that might be a bit more positive.

"I think you're right: anti-apartheid movements in the United States do get a pretty good press -- so when some mayor or something demonstrates against South Africa, there's usually kind of a favorable report on it. And I think the main reason is that Western corporations themselves are basically anti-apartheid by this point, so that's going to tend to be reflected in the media coverage.

See, South Africa had been going through an internal economic transformation, from a society based on extractive industry to one based on industrial production -- and that transformation has changed the nature of international interests in South Africa. As long as South Africa was primarily a society whose wealth was based on extracting diamonds, gold, uranium and so on, what you needed were large numbers of slaves, basically -- people who would go down into the mines and work for a couple years, then die and be replaced by others. So you needed an illiterate, subdued population of workers, with families getting just enough income to produce more slaves, but not much more than that -- then either you sent them down in to the minds, or you turned them into mercenaries in the army and so on to help them control others. That was traditional South Africa. But as South Africa changes to an industrial society, those needs also are beginning to change: now you don't need slaves primarily, what you need is a docile, partially educated workforce.

Something similar happened in the United States during our industrial revolution, actually. Mass public education was introduced in the United States in the nineteenth century as a way of training the largely rural workforce here for industry -- in fact, the general population in the United States largely was opposed to public education, because it meant taking kids off the farms where they belonged and where they worked with their families, and forcing them into this setting in whcih they were basically trained to become industrial workers. That was a part of the whole transformation of American society in the nineteenth century, and that transformation is now taking place for the black population in South Africa -- which means for about 85 percent of the people there. So the white South African elites, and international investors generally, now need a workforce that is trained for industry, not just slaves for the mines. And that means they need people who can follow instructions, and read diagrams, and be managers and foremen, things like that -- so slavery is just not the right system for the country anymore, they need to move towards something more like what we have in the United States. And it's pretty much for that reason that the West has become anti-apartheid, and that the media will therefore tend to give anti-apartheid movements a decent press.

I mean, usually political demonstrations get very negative reporting in the United States, not matter what they're for, because they show that people can do things, that they don't just have to be passive and isolated -- and you're not supposed to have that lesson, you're supposed to think that you're powerless and can't do anything. So any kind of public protest typically won't be covered here, except maybe locally, and usually it will get very negative reporting; when it's protest agaisnt the policies of a favored U.S. ally, it always will. But in the case of South Africa, the reporting is quite supportive: so if people go into corporate shareholder meetings and make a fuss about disinvestment [withdrawing investments from South Africa to pressure its government], generally they'll get a favorable press these days.

Of course, its not that what they're doing is wrong -- what they're doing is right. But they should understand that the reason they're getting a reasonably favorable press right now is that, by this point, business regards them as its troops -- corporate executives don't really want apartheid in South Africa anymore. It's like the reason that business was willing to support the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. American business had no use for Southern apartheid, in fact it was bad for business.

See, capitalism is not fundamentally racist -- it can exploit racism for its purposes, but racism isn't built into it. Capitalism basically wants people to be interchangable cogs, and differences among them, such as on the basis of race, usually are not functional. I mean, they may be functional for a period, like if you want a super exploited workforce or something, but those situations are kind of anomalous. Over the long term, you can expect capitalism to be anti-racist -- just because its anti-human. And race is in fact a human characterstic -- there's no reason why it should be a negative characteristic, but it is a human characteristic. So therefore identifications based on race interfere with the basic ideal that people should be available just as consumers and producers, interchangable cogs who will purchase all the junk that's produced -- that's their ultimate function, and any other properties they might have are kind of irrelevent, and usually a nuisance."

[Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky (New York: The New York Press, 2002), pp.88-89]

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Posted by Picasa

Alain de Benoist
Some Thoughts on GRECE's 'Manifesto of the New Right'

Inspiration from France

This article appeared in the October 2001 issue of 'Middle American News' in the USunder the title 'French Manifesto Could Be Basis For A New Political Movement'.

The Centre for Research and Study on European Civilisation (Groupement de Recherche et d'Études sur la Civilisation Européene - GRECE) was founded in France in 1968. It is the most prominent representative of the European New Right (Nouvelle Droite) - which is in no way to be confused with the Anglo-American free-market New Right - and is closely identified with its leading member, Alain de Benoist.

The European New Right is, in de Benoist's own words, 'in no sense a political movement, but rather a current of thought and cultural action' (Interview for Right Now magazine, April 1997 - echoing the opening lines of the 'Manifesto of the New Right' below). Its activities encompass the publishing of magazines and books, the organisation of conferences and debates and so forth, rather than either electioneering of paramilitary action. De Benoist himself has published something in the region of forty books - among them Vu de Droite (Seen from the Right) for which he was awarded a prize by the Académie Française in 1978 - and either founded or been associated with a number of magazines (Nouvelle École, Éléments and Krisis).

De Benoist has in these endeavours been particularly influenced by the theories of the Italian communist Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci was a critic of the Marxist belief that power stems simply from the ownership of capital. He stressed instead the importance of people like journalists, academics and teachers in creating a climate of ideas which would be the precursor to successful political change. De Benoist set out to institute a 'Gramsciism of the Right', in which respect he met with some degree of success. In particular when in 1978 he and other key members of the New Right were appointed to the staff of the French daily Le Figaro. These appointments helped to spread the ideas of the New Right far more widely than would otherwise have been possible. The outcry from the left at this only served to increase publicity and ensured the ideas were even more widely disseminated. All this is credited with preparing the ground for the electoral breakthrough of the National Front in France in the early 1980s.

So what are these ideas? The defining document of the New Right is GRECE's 'Manifesto of the New Right' (Manifeste de la Nouvelle Droite), co-written by de Benoist and Charles Champetier. I think it justifies examination in some detail.

The Manifesto is divided into three sections, preceded by a short introduction. The first section provides an analysis of the ills of present-day society, the second expresses de Benoist and Champetier's vision of man and the world and the third states their position on major contemporary issues.

The introduction opens by making it clear that the New Right is a school of thought rather than a political movement. And taking up the Gramscian theme, the writers stress the importance of ideas in shaping human history. Philosophers, theologians, political thinkers and their like have through their ideas brought about revolutions the effects of which are still felt today. The history of ideas - as de Benoist says in the Right Now interview (following Herder) - is the key to the history of deeds.

De Benoist and Champetier also bring in another vital theme in the introduction - the need to think across accepted political divisions. We are living in an age, they tell us, in which traditional institutions (the political parties, the unions etc) are losing their power and the traditional left-right dichotomy is - along with other similar categorisations - becoming obsolete. In the fluidity and uncertainty of the modern world they seek therefore to develop a 'transversal' (transversal) mode of thought which ignores these decaying mental barriers.

The first of the three main sections of the Manifesto begins by declaring that we are today at a historical turning point: the end of modernity. How do the writers justify this rather startling claim?

They start by telling us exactly what they mean by 'modernity'. It is defined as the political and philosophical movement of the last three centuries of western history, and ascribed five principal characteristics: individualism, 'massification' (i.e. the adoption of standardised behaviour and lifestyles), the triumph of scientific over religious interpretations of the world, the triumph of the mercantile mentality and technology, and the planet-wide spread of a model of society - the western one - presumed the sole rationally possible.

The various schools of political thought of modernity may differ on many things, de Benoist and Champetier say, but all agree on this: that there exists a sole and universal solution to social, moral and political questions. Humanity must realise its historical unity, and in this respect the diversity of the world becomes an obstacle and what differentiates men from one another must be eliminated. Modernity has tried therefore by all possible means to tear individuals from their surroundings in order to universalise them and - introducing a theme that is a common thread throughout de Benoist's many works - the most effective means it has used to do this is the market.

De Benoist and Champetier go on to outline what they see as the crisis of modernity. Its central values - liberty and equality - have been betrayed. Cut off from the communities which protect them and give sense and form to their existence, individuals are subject to the iron rule of immense mechanisms (the market, technology etc) in relation to which their liberty is purely formal. And the promise of equality has brought on the one hand barbarous communist regimes and on the other capitalist societies which give equality in principle but in practice allow huge inequalities.

As for the idea of progress - the promise of an ever-improving future - for many this future is not now full of hope but rather of fear. Each generation faces a world different from that which the previous one faced. The speed of change produces anxiety not happiness.

We are living in the most empty civilisation in human history, the writers say: adspeak is our paradigm language, all is commercialised, technology rules and criminality, violence and incivility are widespread.

This shows that modernity is drawing to a close, according to de Benoist and Champetier. We are entering a period of post-modernity which will be not so much a return to what has gone before but rather a rediscovery of certain pre-modern values but now looked at in a post-modern way.

In the second section of the Manifesto that most vital and most controversial of contemporary issues - race - begins to make its presence felt.

Man's belonging to the human species is always expressed through a particular context we are told. Humanity is plural by nature - not one race. Diversity is of its very essence. Differences between cultures are neither an illusion, nor transitory, nor accidental, nor of trivial importance. All of which will have our anti-racist ideologues foaming at the mouth.

Human existence, the writers go on to tell us, is also inextricably linked to the communities and social groups in which it is set, the most basic of these being the extended family. This is an idea which would be anathema, they say, to the modern individualist and universalist who associates community with hierarchy, parochialism and claustrophobia.

In reality, though, modernity has not set men free by breaking the old bonds of family, locality, race, religion etc. It has, de Benoist and Champetier tell us (taking up again a theme from the first section of the Manifesto), just submitted them to different constraints - and harder ones at that because more distant, impersonal and demanding. In becoming more solitary man has also become more vulnerable and powerless. He has no sense of where to place himself in the world. The great project of emancipation has resulted in alienation on a massive scale. We must therefore reinstate the idea of community.

And on the economy again: contrary to what liberals and Marxists suppose, the writers assert, the economy has never formed the 'infrastructure' of society. In pre-modern societies the economy was embedded within and contextualised by the rest of human activity. Though it is undeniable that economic development has brought benefits it will eventually lead us to an impasse, not least because the world has finite resources.

De Benoist and Champetier say that the commercialisation of the world in the last few centuries has been one of the most important phenomena in human history and that its decommercialisation will be one of the great issues of the twenty-first century. The economy must be recontextualised. All the other important elements must be put back into the equation - ecological equilibrium and everything else. Even one might venture - though they do not mention it directly - the greatest bogeyman of all: race.

And there is a corresponding critique of the idea of universal human rights. Rights are social, we are told. They are only conceivable within a specific setting. Rights, like the economy, must be put back within a social context. What might our rapidly-proliferating human rights gurus and missionaries think of this?

Towards the end of the second section de Benoist and Champetier come back to the subject of diversity. They stress again that diversity is inherent in life itself - that there exists a plurality of races, languages, customs and religions - and that there are two opposing attitudes to this. There are those who believe such a diversity is a burden and always seek to reduce men to what they have in common and there are those - like the New Right - who believe differences are riches that should be preserved and cultivated. A good system, say the writers, is one that transmits at least as many differences as it has received.

The word 'diversity' here is quite rightly recaptured from our present rulers and their entourage of race relations experts. The New Right are the true upholders of diversity. When the proponents of our present multi-racial society use this word - as they so frequently do - they are being disingenuous. Racial diversity for these people is not something of value in itself. It is just a stepping-stone to their ultimate goal - the destruction of race through mass inter-breeding (the mixed-race society, one might say).

De Benoist and Champetier also take two other important and sensitive concepts - imperialism and ethnocentrism - and show just who stands where on these today. The attempt by our political class to impose the social and economic system and moral standards (human rights) of the west on the rest of the planet is the modern-day equivalent of the crusades or colonialism. It is an imperialist and ethnocentric movement which seeks to efface all differences through the imposition of one supposedly superior model. It is the New Right who are its opponents.
But unstoppable though our leaders' vision of society seems at present there are growing signs that they will not succeed. This is not the 'end of history' whereby the western model of society finally and permanently triumphs over all competing versions. Other civilisations are on the rise. The new century will see the birth of a multi-polar world in which power will be defined as the ability to resist the influence of other cultures rather than to impose one's own. Let us hope they are correct about this!

The third and final section expresses the New Right's position on a range of contemporary issues. The spread is wide and includes gender, democracy, Europe, the role of work in society, the modern urban environment, ecology and freedom of speech. I just want to concentrate here on a few points most relevant to my own interests (principally racial issues).

De Benoist and Champetier express their opposition to both homogenisation and tribalism and their support instead for what they term 'strong identities' (des identités fortes).

Homogenisation, they say, leads to extreme reactions - chauvinistic nationalism, tribal savagery and the like. By denying individuals the right to an identity the western system has paradoxically given birth to hysterical forms of self-affirmation. The question of identity is sure to become more and more important over the coming decades. Who could doubt that they are right about this?

And they continue by saying that the New Right is the defender of the cause of peoples. It defends not only its own difference but the right of others to be different too. The right to difference is not a means of excluding others for being different.

The right to an identity or the right to difference. A new human right? A universal right which is not universal, one might say. It is interesting to note that this type of right also appears, for example, in the programme of the Austrian Freedom Party where it is termed the right to a cultural identity.

De Benoist and Champetier go on to make clear the distinction between the right to difference and racism. Racism, they say, is a theory which holds that there exist between races inequalities which mean that one can distinguish 'superior' and 'inferior' races, that the value of an individual can be deduced from which racial group he or she belongs to, and that race is the central explaining factor of human history. All three of these assertions, the writers maintain, are false. Races differ but one cannot put them in a hierarchy.

Opposed to racism de Benoist and Champetier distinguish two very different forms of anti-racism: a universalist form and a differentialist form. The first, they say, is as bad as the racism it denounces. It values in peoples only what they have in common. These kind of anti-racists - the ones with whom we are all only too familiar, sadly - are incapable of recognising and respecting differences. Differentialist anti-racism, on the other hand - the New Right kind - considers the plurality of the human race to be a positive thing. The New Right, in short, rejects both exclusion and assimilation, the writers say. Neither apartheid nor the melting-pot are for them desirable forms of society.

But they then make it quite clear where they stand on immigration. In view of its rapidity and massive scale it is, they say, incontestably a negative phenomenon. And the responsibility for the problem lies not principally with the immigrants themselves but with the western system which has reduced man 'à l'état de marchandise délocalisable' (to the status of an uprootable commodity). Immigration is desirable neither for the immigrants themselves nor for the peoples of the receiving nations who are confronted with unwished-for and often brutal modifications to their environment. The problems of developing nations are not resolved by the large-scale transfer of population to the developed world. The New Right, we are told, therefore favours a restrictive immigration policy.

De Benoist and Champetier go on to say that as regards the immigrant population in France today it would be illusory to expect their mass departure (something which I could never accept in relation to the immigrant population of Britain, France or any other northern European country). But the writers declare themselves firmly in favour of immigrants being encouraged to retain their own cultures, rather than their being pressurised into integration - which I could hardly disagree with at least as a stop-gap or second-best measure.

There is just one further point I would like to pick out. Towards the end of the Manifesto - during a critique of modern capitalism - de Benoist and Champetier do a bit of very important transversal thinking. Taking up a cause which is normally thought of as belonging to the left they call for the cancellation of third world debt, the freeing of developing economies from the dictates of the World Bank and IMF and other changes to the relationship between the developed and developing world.

This kind of transversal thinking is not quite unique - there are elements of it in the programmes of many major radical right parties in northern Europe (the National Front in France, the Flemish Bloc in Belgium, the Freedom Party in Austria and the Danish People's Party, for example). You will also find such thinking in the programme of the Federation for American Immigration Reform and, though approached from a very different angle, in the famous speech given by the late Bernie Grant MP in the House of Commons in December 1995 in which he advocated government assistance for people from the Caribbean to return home. It is always welcome to see people prepared to ignore obsolescent political divisions in this way.

The Manifesto provides a strong foundation for the modern radical right. One can draw a huge amount of inspiration from it - for example, as regards the need for transversal thinking (as demonstrated above), or from the way the writers quite rightfully reclaim the word 'diversity', or from their analysis of what racism really means.

It seems to me, in fact, that de Benoist, Champetier and other like-minded people are the only true opponents of globalisation in the west. Their sole rival in this respect is the green movement. But greens are inconsistent in their opposition to globalisation. Whilst they are staunch opponents of economic globalisation they also tend, bizarrely, to be among the most enthusiastic supporters of the globalisation of people - i.e. of increased immigration, particularly the de facto mass immigration scheme known as the asylum system, and of the multi-racial society generally (this, incidentally, is a mirror image of the criticism that is often made of Enoch Powell - that his views were inconsistent because he opposed immigration and the multi-racial society yet was at the same time a strong supporter of capitalism).

There are things I would disagree with in the Manifesto too. Not only the dismissal of the possibility of the departure of non-white immigrants but also the pre-eminent position accorded to the market as regards responsibility for our present ills. I would put the largest share of the blame on the perverse doctrine of universalist anti-racism with the capitalist economic system as its hand maiden (it is the economic system that goes naturally with such a credo). After all, as I have pointed out elsewhere, how many non-Oriental immigrants are there in the paradigm capitalist society of Hong Kong, or in Japan? Though they have the most capitalist of economies they have relatively few immigrants because they do not suffer from the sickness of universalist anti-racism.

So when are the kind of ideas contained in the Manifesto going to be taken up by a political organisation in Britain? When is there going to be some concrete, pragmatic initiative? The creation of an organisation which displays similar transversal thinking in its programme. And one too, I would argue, which focuses very much on the tackling of the most sensitive and difficult issue of all - race - and does so in a more daring and forthright manner than de Benoist and Champetier. We had better hope it is soon.


Sunday, November 20, 2005

The New Right in Europe

by Mark Wegierski

The European New Right (ENR) presents itself as a contradictory phenomenon. While many of its arguments sound radical and original, they owe a great deal to traditional European thought -- especially Catholic organicism. Although the ENR has rejected the far Right, some questionable links remain. Despite this, it may become the ideology of choice for those intellectuals still opposed to capitalism -- a possible place for that intellectually-honest part of the Left attempting to come to terms both with the collapse of "really existing socialism" and a triumphant Western consumerist society predicated on managerial-therapeutic capitalism.

The ENR cannot be understood independently of its history. As Marco Tarchi, a leader of the Italian New Right put it: "What we must do today is to illuminate the fundamental novelty of the New Right, to put the emphasis on the term 'new' and no longer on the term 'Right.' Otherwise we will still be clinging to the heritage of the decrepit and worm-eaten currents of thought of the 1950s and 1960s which, in the face of all opposition, are still churning out the same old slogans with their whole perception of reality built around bygone political divisions. The desire to restore chauvinistic nationalisms is part of this archaic way of thinking. . . . It is up to us, to our generation, definitively to surpass these outworn ideas."[1]

The ENR has made a major effort to break with its far Right roots. In this sense, it is misleading to call a tendency strongly opposed both to Anglo-American conservatism (with its emphasis on bourgeois individualism, capitalism, and property rights) and traditional Continental conservatism (with its emphasis on monarchy and Church) "right-wing." The conventional notion of "right-wing" in the Anglo-American context is so different from what the ENR represents that it is almost useless when it comes to describing the latter phenomenon.

The ENR came into being in the 1960s to provide a satisfactory analysis of what ails the West and the world, and to identity possible brakes for the ineluctable logic of "progress." It saw as the primary feature of late modernity the tendency to shatter religious, cultural, and national traditions stretching back hundreds or even thousands of years, and to replace them with banal victimologies. It is explicitly opposed to American hegemony and, in Britain, it identities with the Celtic fringe. The ENR claims that England had diverged from the continent in its Calvinism, capitalism and Whiggery, and that America then diverged still further. European intellectual lite -- Left, Right, and Center, particularly in France -- revolves around a knee-jerk anti-Americanism. The ENR is no exception, and has developed a Left-sounding critique of American intervention in Vietnam and around the globe, American cultural imperialism in France, the problems of poverty and homelessness in America, the Calvinistic messianism and puritanism of the US, and so forth.[2]

The ENR has not yet worked out a precise genealogy of what it views as the Anglo-American deviation, though the outcome of the English Civil War and the later struggles which led to the exclusion of the Stuarts from the English and Scottish thrones have played a large part in determining the Anglo-American trajectory. Along with anti-Americanism, anti-capitalism is also central to the ENR. Here "capitalism" is seen as the encroaching system of US-based media/corporate oligarchy: gross materialism and the homo ceconomicus, or the homunculus of Nietzsche's Last Man. It also implies the whole burgeoning world of technology and its attempt to manipulate human and physical nature. Through anti-capitalism, the ENR links with the Left and various ecological movements. According to Perspectives, a leading ENR organ: "The collapse of communism is not only a political victory for the American New World Order but a moral triumph for the American Way of Life. We can all now look forward to a future of unbridled consumption, in which we will all be equal and free to buy the same things. However, there are those in Europe who still value the roofed diversity of its peoples, and all the qualities which make us more than mere units of consumption. These people actually oppose the liberal-capitalist system. They want an organically rooted society instead of more Disneylands, and they flout accepted political convention by talking about transcending the old notions of Left and Right in a new synthesis of radical thought. They are active in fields of culture and metapolitics, waging a war of ideas. They seek a European renaissance. This attachment to identity is an inconvenience to the multinationals, an insult to Ronald McDonald and a direct attack on Coca-Colonization."[3]

This anti-capitalism is connected with the ENR's opposition to Calvinism -- something it shares with nearly all varieties of Catholic-derived Continental right-wing thought -- but also with its opposition to Judeo-Christianity. This radical, anti-traditional aspect of the ENR is also shared by the anti-clerical Lett and Nazism. The ENR engages in biting anti-clerical polemics of an almost Voltairean style. It sees the roots of totalitarianism and persecution in European history as a result of Judeo-Christian values, notably the Old Testament, with its tales of ferocity and retribution. "The body count amassed by the servants of the God of love . . . is now incalculable . . . Had Nicolae Ceaucescu lived a few hundred years ago he would have made a not untypical prince of the Church-on frequent precedent, a saint. . . . The concept of totalitarianism, the evil seed of the Inquisition, Auschwitz and the Gulag, was brought to Europe and forced on it by the followers of Jesus Christ. . . . "[4]

A group calling itself the "Organisation de Defense Juive" violently protested against GRECE on December 9, 1979, claiming that opposition to "Judeo-Christian totalitarianism" was disguised anti-Semitism. (They seemed to forget that the criticism of Christianity as the seed of Auschwitz is common among Jewish and Left historians). GRECE's response to these accusations was unequivocal: "Jewish monotheism became truly totalitarian only when it ceased to be Jewish and claimed to submit people who held different religious views to the law of a single God. . . . The children of Athens and of Jerusalem, the pagan and Jewish victims of religious intolerance, suffered as a result of Christian persecutions."[5] However, this condemnation of Christianity and exculpation of Judaism is disingenuous. The ENR stresses the Near Eastern, alien origins of Christianity, implying that the Jews are also aliens in Europe. The tact that such views were prominent in Nazism contributes to the ENR's ostracism from mainstream politics.

Although there is a long tradition of criticism of Judeo-Christianity from Voltaire to Nietzsche, the ENR creates problems for traditional conservatives. It is ironic to find laudatory articles on Joseph de Maistre and Nietzsche within a few pages of each other in Elements.[6] For a school ostensibly critical of modernity and its "disenchantment of the world," these vitriolic attacks against traditional religion may be counterproductive. Clearly not all Christians are like Ceaucescu. It the problem of late modernity is the disappearance of all rooted, truly meaningful, and relatively stable belief-systems, then even from the ENR standpoint any traditional religion, even Christianity, must be better than no religion at all.

The ENR also takes its anti-Christianism further by recycling the most traditional European religion: paganism. This is quite a trick. It may even be dishonest: a ducking of the issue of the ENR's atheism (a more difficult position to hold for alleged "restorers of the sacred"). What can this mean, thousands of years alter paganism has disappeared? This embrace of paganism may be an attempt to re-evaluate the relation between humanity and nature along Heideggerian lines, while vindicating particularity and locality.

For the ENR the Golden Age is the primordial Indo-European past. This is lifted straight out of German Romanticism and 19th century anthropology. The immediate suspicion is that "Indo-European" is simply a polite substitution for "Aryan." Allegedly, in this pagan, tribal Indo-European paradise, there were no fratricidal wars between different branches of European peoples, and every member of the tribe lived a meaningful lite in relative economic prosperity. The spatial and temporal boundaries of this world are not precisely drawn -- it could in-dude ancient India, Greece, Germanic tribal lite at the time of Tacitus, Slavic tribal lite around the 9th century A.D., and so forth.[7] The ethnographical work of Georges Dumezil, which identified the so-called "frifunctionality" of the Indo-European priest, warrior, and farmer, is often cited. This romanticized past is important because many of the ENR referents, such as paganism, naturalism, particularism, a sort of feminism, and ecology, are predicated on it.

This paganism fits well with Alain de Benoist's "spherical" concept of time, according to which "(everything is in the instant) . . . the past and future consitute dimensions present in every actual moment. . . . The present actualizes all past moments and prefigures all future ones. To accept the present by joyously assuming the instant is to be able to enjoy all instants at the same time. Past, present, and future are three perspectives, equally actual now, that are given to every moment of historical becoming . . . [this] delivers to him the possibility of connecting with tradition, indeed in a cultural and ethnic sense. Tradition is not the past but is 'beyond time'; it is 'permanent' and 'within us,' and it becomes 'our tradition' by being reactualized."[8]

Despite such an elaborate metaphysics, this could be interpreted simply as a call for a return to one's ethnic and cultural roots -- a staple of traditional conservative thought. At any rate, there may be a contradiction in the ENR's embrace of paganism. Is paganism meant to be a "manly," "heroic" warrior-creed opposing the weakness of Christianity (allegedly a masochistic "slave-morality"), or a kind of sentimental nature-worship opposed to a savagely inquisitorial Christianity, with its crusades and witch-burnings?

The ENR's "paganism" entails a naturalism towards mores and sexuality. Unlike still traditionalists, ENR members have a relatively liberated attitude towards sexuality. Thus Benoist had no qualms about giving an interview to Gaie France, which features homoerotic images as well as cultural commentary.[9] ENR members have no desire to impose what they consider the patently unnatural moralism of Judeo-Christianity on sexual relations. However, while relatively more tolerant in principle, they still value strong family life, fecundity, and marriage or relations within one's own ethnic group. (Their objection to intraethnic liaisons would be that the mixture of ethnic groups diminishes a sense of identity. In a world where every marriage was mixed, cultural identity would disappear). They also criticize Anglo-American moralism and its apparent hypocrisy: " . . . a video depicting a man and woman having sexual intercourse . . . is liable to confiscation by the [British] state. One graphically depicting teenage girls being disembowelled by razor blades affixed to the lingers of a repulsive ghoul, by contrast, tops the rental figures quite lawfully across the land, goes into tour editions, each more disgusting and genuinely obscene than the last, and is not indeed the most unpleasant revelling in blood and gore to sit lawfully on the video shops' shelves."[10] In this, they are closer to a worldly Europe than to a puritanical America obsessed with violence. According to the ENR: "Our ancestral Indo-European culture . . . seems to have enjoyed a healthy natural attitude to processes and parts of the body concerned with the bringing forth of new life, the celebration of pair-bonding love, and the perpetuation of the race."[11]

In its desire to create a balanced psychology of sexual relations, the ENR seeks to overcome the liabilities of conventional conservative thought: the perception of conservatives as joyless prudes, and the seemingly ridiculous psychology implied in conventional Christianity. It seeks to address "flesh-and-blood men and women," not saints. Since some of the Left's greatest gains in the last few decades have been made as a result of their championing sexual freedom and liberation, the ENR seeks to offer its own counter-ethic of sexual joy. The hope is presumably to nourish persons of the type who can, in Nietzsche's phrase, "make love alter reading Hegel." This is also related to the desire for the reconciliation of the intellectual and warrior in one person: the reconciliation of vita contemplative and vita activa.

This naturalism leads the ENR to re-evaluate "the feminine" and reject what it sees as Christianity's denigration of women. The ENR has begun developing a counter-ethic of feminism which, while respecting women and "the feminine," rejects the US ideologization of gender by politically-correct feminism. These ideas promise to overcome the poisoned atmosphere of sexual relations and the neopuritanism of radical feminism. "In pre-Christian Europe, amongst the Celts and the Norse for example, women, without in any way renouncing their femininity or seeking to be ersatz men, enjoyed essentially equal rights."[12]

The ENR's naturalism also leads it to defend the supposedly natural and normative nature of ethnic or kinship links. Thus the ENR departs from traditionalism by emphasizing the small nations and the historical regions of Europe, rather than the large and homogenizing nation-states: "The emergence of the idea of nation-state in the 18th century is a phenomenon arising not from a consciousness of identity, but, on the contrary, from the bourgeoisie's social and political conception of the state."[13] Similarly,". . . the Europe of the big states . . . is not, and never has been, a natural Europe. It is the product of rival imperialisms, of conquests, of aggressive and violent acts, both military and socioeconomic . . . . The real Europe, the natural Europe, is one of numerous small states, numerous national communities, principalities, and free cities which are united and brought together above the level of their differences and divergences by a common civilization, forged over the course of two millennia . . . . It was this natural Europe that the big imperialist states, and their conscripted supporters, destroyed and replaced with their own version. Great Britain, France, Germany and Russia were mainly to blame for this development."[14]

The ultimate goal is the Europe of a Hundred Flags -- a patchwork quilt of colorful, traditional principalities. The ENR does not emphasize national uniformity -- the traditional right-wing position -- but difference. This is part of the ENR's overall anti-totalitarian stand. The emphasis is on philosophical pluralism: opposition to the reduction of life to any one variable or force (e.g. the class-struggle, economy, nation, or race), in favor of multiplicity and particularity. This is complemented by an aestheticism, in the tradition of the interwar German "Conservative Revolution" -- a visceral reaction of "high taste" to the vulgarized modern world of "rubbish."

ENR publications are filled with finely-rendered reproductions of heroic art from Europe's long history. The locus is on "romantic realism" -- though they are not averse to some modernist painters. This is not only a trank celebration of European art, but also a deliberate attempt to vindicate the heroic aspects of life, for European people deadened by consumerism and Americanization.

In contrast to its emphasis on mythopoeia, the ENR tends toward what Ferraresi calls its scientism: ". . . in a cultural context which privileges science as the highest form of knowledge, one of the stated goals . . . is the propagation of scientific developments which will dissipate the prejudices and 'taboos' of the reigning ideology, i.e., egalitarianism and democracy. The 'hard new' sciences like anthropology, biology, genetics, ethology, sociobiology, psychology, psychiatry, etc. are thus systematically plundered, and those results are selected that support the notions of heredity, invariance, innateness, the biological determination of social and ethical attitudes . . . .

The outcome is a set of savage rules, which are then put forward by right-wing ideologues as 'laws of nature'."[15] This scientistic locus was at one time very prominent, e.g., when the ENR sought to integrate the thought of the Vienna Circle and Bertrand Russell. This must be seen as intellectually jejune: it clashes with other proclivities for irrationalism and romanticism.

While the ENR's "scientific" efforts are questionable, the accusation of lack of compassion is less plausible. Although the ENR unabashedly defends aristocracies or hierarchies, as both "natural" and organic, it also criticizes liberal-capitalist modernity as "soft in ideas, but hard in practice."[16] The ENR argues that liberal capitalism conceals a crashing harshness behind its soft rhetoric of freedom and equality, a real "war of all against all."[17] Summarizing his critique of late modernity, Benoist writes: "I am appalled by the remarkable capacity of the majority of people to adapt without complaint to a society which I estimate to be, and I mean what I say, the worst kind of society ever to have existed. The worst, because the most subjected to the tyranny of the economy; the worst, because the least organic and therefore the most inhuman."[18]

Although some ENR members at one time advocated technocracy, they have now embraced ecology, as one of the most hopeful tendencies on the planet today. The 1993 GRECE colloquium was dedicated to ecology. To the extent that it sets limits not only on the physical exploitation of the planet, but also on the grotesque excesses of consumerism, ecology is seen as a hopeful development. The ENR hopes that ecology will continue to evolve a paradigm seeking to preserve cultural rootedness as well as the physical integrity of nature. Its preferences are for communitarian ecology. The ecological call for sacrifices in consumption would be much more meaningful if they were sacrifices for something more local, tangible, and particular than abstract ecological principles. It would apply to this land, this countryside, this country. Communitarian ecology calls for the careful shepherding of resources and stewardship of nature for the sake of a particular community deriving its sustenance from these resources. This also implies that either all communities will accept such policies, or that particular communities must be capable of repelling possible incursions from other communities refusing to accept this model. Such an ecological program cannot be based on wholesale de-urbanization, but rather on saner and more ecological management.

A central premise of this critique is that late capitalism is not a rational system of resource allocation. Enormous amounts of resources are wasted in advertising to inflame demand for unnecessary products, obsolescence is "built-in" to keep consumption high, etc. The personal and psychological rewards resulting from such a decrease in consumption, for a decrease in quantity will be an increase in the quality of life, the emergence of time for pause and reflection, as well as a sense of participation in and belonging to a genuine, friendlier, and safer community.

A large sector in the ENR subscribes to what they call le Gramscisme de Droite. The ENR (like Gramsci) reverses Marx's idea of base and superstructure. It believes that changes in the ideological superstructure among the cultural and elite opinion-forming groups determine social change.[19] Gramsci called on intellectuals to change society in a socialist direction. The ENR adopts this approach tot their own programs. This is called metapolitics. The ENR also identifies with the appeal to populism in Gramsci, although it rejects the rest of the Marxist apparatus.

The ENR explicitly repudiates racism and searches for allies in the Third World against the US.[20] Although the ENR is a European phenomenon, it also seeks alliances with Islam, East Asian semi-authoritarian regimes, India; etc. against the Anglo-American world. This is an extension of the idea of pluralism in international politics -- a multiplicity of power centers and cultural spheres instead of one militarily, economically, and culturally hegemonic power-center. One hegemonic power severely constricts the choices available to humanity, and moves it along one predetermined path. This fits well with the ENR view of itself as a kind of laboratory of ideas.[21] Thus it is proud of its intellectualism and its eschewing of raw political conflict. Nouvelle Ecole, one of the ENR's main journals, refuses to endorse political candidates, and is opposed to Le Pen's National Front. Finally, in terms of tactics, there is clearly the attempt to generate a mystique. ENR figures do not want to be perceived as stodgy, pet-it-bourgeois philistines, but as perceptive critics.

Try as it might, the ENR has not escaped Left-liberal criticism. Many routinely consider its members to be barely-disguised fascists, or part of "the eternal reactionary Right."[22] The definition of "reactionary" here is peculiarly wrong. Intellectually, the stand "against all totalitarianisms" clearly entails the rejection of the Nazi reductionism of race. However, the ENR has a tendency to dance on the rim of the volcano by including certain politically risque imagery in its publications (e.g., photographs of Hitler in heroic poses) and questionable announcements.[23]

Although the ENR sees itself rooted in the 1968 revolutionary tradition, Pierre-Andre Taguieff has traced its origins to the classical French Right.[24] But to what extent can one be held accountable for positions held decades earlier and now strenuously rejected? Similarly, the ENR cannot be held responsible for the adoption of some of its ideas by groups such as Le Pen's National Front, or the Anglo-American or German Right.[25]

The tendency to exaggerate in relation to the ENR is typified by Seymour Martin Lipset, who writes: "The best publicized European radical rightist tendency . . . has been the French 'New Right.' This movement . . . has, like the intellectual Right of pre-WWI France, focused its criticism on 'alien' anti-European forces, foreign immigrants, and radical and liberal forces. Supported by press lord Robert Hersant . . . once an overt anti-Semite and youthful collaborator with the Germans in WWII, the views of the New Right reach wide circles of the population, and may have helped stimulate widespread anti-Semitic violence in 1980."[26]

Some of the ENR's dabbling in politics, however, is problematic, although mostly in theory. Thus some ENR members support Zhirinovsky (or similar figures), Serbia, and a putative German-Russian alliance at the expense of most East European countries -- all in the name of anti-Americanism.[27] The ENR also runs into problems with traditional religion and nationalism. Roman Catholicism is probably the only remaining serious traditional religious force (of historical duration) in Europe today. However strenuously the ENR rejects it, the similarities of some of its positions to those of traditional Catholic organicism are all too obvious (anti-capitalism, the stress on the social, and attacks on gross materialism and consumerism).[28] It is ironic that the ideas of Rene Geunon, and especially Julius Evola (such as the "political soldier," considered pagan and terroristic in their implications by some dogmatic liberal critics[29]), are being taken up by a professedly Catholic tendency. As both C. G. Jung and Camille Paglia have indicated, Catholicism was clearly more "pagan" than Protestantism. One of the main Protestant accusations against Roman Catholicism was that it was a disguised paganism (with its worship of Mary and the Saints, its sumptuous churches, and its religious icons and relics). However, "the integralist French Catholic Right . . . considers the New Right as 'Masonic adepts of the Satanic Revolution against the one true living God'. . . ."[30]

Relations to traditional nation-states are also problematic. To what extent should the regionalization and break-up of nation-states be encouraged? Is this not an invitation to community dissolution? What about countries such as Poland that will clearly not let go of their national identity? What about the threat of a Greater German),, perhaps lurking behind this proposed "regionalization," possibly involving the reconstruction of a German-dominated East Prussia, Silesia, and Western Pomerania, as well as the weakening (or disintegration) of France by the secessions of Brittany, Provence, Normandy, etc.? What about relations with the US? Does the ENR realize that some of its most cherished ideas, i.e. ecology and even neopaganism, are very popular in the US, especially in California? Does it intend to expand its activities to the US, presumably among the libertarian Left or ecological and New Age circles?

The ENR has an extremely simplistic vision of the US -- reducing it to Disneyland, Coca-Cola, etc. Clearly the US is more than New York, L.A., and San Francisco, more than "rap, crack et Big Mac." It is a huge country of diverse regions and towns. Is the ENR more critical of "narrow-minded small--town America" (which American conservatives consider "the heartland"), or "big-city America" (which most American conservatives consider nightmarish, but Left-liberals defend as centers of progress)? Is it America's Puritanism (of which little seems to be left in actual family mores), or a burgeoning decadence which is their target? At any rate, the center of anti-Americanism today is the US itself. Considering the fact that the US is being consumed by self-hatred and anti-Americanism, the ENR will have to rethink its position vis a vis the moral residues of contemporary American society. Because of the ENR's violent anti-Americanism, it has hardly any relations with American paleoconservatives. The emphasis on federalism, cultural particularity and local autonomy, however, may pave the way for a new dialogue.

Two problems with ENR theory are rather obvious. First, there is the tension between elitism and populism. On the one hand, it identifies with the Olympian elitism of figures such as Nietzsche and Evola, harboring contempt for the masses. On the other, it wants to embrace an "organic democracy" rooted in Herder, German romanticism, the German Conservative Revolution and, to a certain extent, Carl Schmitt. Second, there is its over-reliance on the ancient Greek heritage, as reflected in the name of one of its main groups, GRECE. Even a superficial reading of Nietzsche betrays his condemnation of the influence of the Greek heritage in the development of Europe. Although "the gifts of the Greeks" can be considered multivalent, clearly traditions of both political democracy and science had their origins in Athens. Is it legitimate to trace the errors of contemporary Europe only to the Judeo-Christian heritage? Should not the classical heritage also come in for some careful scrutiny?

At any rate, the obsessive search for the origins of present European decline leads the ENR astray. One of the most obvious reasons for its adoption of a "metapolitical" position may be due to the fact that ideas such as neopaganism are difficult to relate to today's sociopolitical realities. Consequently, the ENR is often accused of being a typical French salon phenomenon focused on German thinkers, in line with the old WWII "collaborationist" tradition (the ENR has sought to rehabilitate some of those figures), practising "Biedermaier" politics.

It is all too easy to overemphasize the ENR's radicalism. In some sense it may be nothing more than an esoteric version of de Gaulle's political program and an expression of Gallicism, with all of its cultural pride, joie-de-vivre, intellectual flashiness, and unabashed eroticism. After all, de Gaulle's political genius has been consistently underestimated in the Anglo-American world. An anti-Nazi, anti-Communist, and anti-American (he led the Free French, dealt with Communist terror after the Liberation, and continued to oppose les deux hegemonies to the end of his life); a compassionate but strong nationalist, as well as a decolonizer; a champion of the unity of a "Europe of fatherlands" full of respect for tradition and the Catholic Church, while suspicious of progressivism, liberalism, and democracy, he is someone with whom the ENR could easily identity.

The ENR's hopes for the future can be summarized as follows: 1) A return to meaningful politics (aiming at a restoration of the public sphere) against an apolitical, juridically-determined, economically-focused liberalism and formally egalitarian democracy. This politics would have to be both erotic and aesthetic, and predicated on "organic democracy." 2) A restoration of community spirit. The ENR would like to see the dissolution of the US into regional and ethnic states. It prefigures a genuinely pluralistic global framework in opposition to American liberal universalism. (Pluralism of cultures across the planet requires some exclusivity of cultures in given areas and regions). 3) A braking of tendencies towards consumerism, commodification, commodity-fetishism, consumer-tribes, technologization, etc., by means of a "rooted radicalism" and "communitarian ecology."

Following the recent victory in Italy of Berlusconi's Forza Italia, today a more dynamic Right seems to have some chance of succeeding in Europe. Although Berlusconi's victory has little to do with the ENR, the Northern League's regionalism is fully in line with ENR ideas, while the softening of doctrinaire positions which made possible the victory of the National Alliance in the South may also have something to do with ENR influence. Yet Berlusconi and many sectors of the conventional Right have placed a born-again capitalism at the center of their program. This leads to a harshness toward social problems and a contempt for anyone who cannot compete. This conventional Right ignores the fact that humanistically-trained, aristocratically-minded people who could lead a genuine cultural Right are probably the least able to prosper in the projected brave new capitalist world. The obsessive focus on "the discipline of the market" is antithetical to the rooted popular culture and ENR's "high culture."

The circulation of ENR journals is rather small, but intellectual influence can rarely be measured by circulation figures. By pursuing its "metapolitical" strategy, the ENR has created a new climate where some Right ideas can be voiced more freely and with less opprobrium. What makes the ENR arguments attractive is that often they are simply good, persuasive arguments. After all, the substitution of a particularistic "right to be different" for a belief in an innate, absolutistic white and European supremacy was a much-needed shift. The ENR has also understood that the orthodox Christian approach to sexual and family morality, in an extremely permissive and sexually-obsessed age, was untenable. The ENR has also renewed much of the criticism of capitalism from an organicist-aristocratic context at a time when the Left seems to have fallen silent on this matter in its uncritical and opportunistic embrace of liberalism. Only in today's dessicated political landscape are people shocked by these positions, as the organic and Catholic Right -- partially linked to various pre-Marxian socialisms as well as syndicalism and anarcho-syndicalism -- had traditionally been in the forefront of the critique of capitalism. (In the 19th century, John Ruskin could readily claim: "I am a Tory of the sternest sort, a socialist, a communist"). ENR ideas are also intimately intertwined with central aspects of French identity and national character. Thus the ENR is divided concerning European unification, perhaps because it sees it as a possible vehicle for the continuation of French hegemony through such archetypically French figures as Jacques Delors.

At any rate, under no circumstances can the ENR be characterized as a "neo-fascist" residue destined to play only a very limited role in the future of Europe. Despite certain obvious problems and inconsistencies, the ENR has clearly transcended its origins in the far Right. Its formulations on certain issues have been pioneering, though often, and ironically, coming out of nothing more than a reactivation of half-forgotten arguments in the great store of non-fascist organicist thought. The ENR today is very much in the forefront of key debates concerning personal and cultural identities, and "the sources of the self" The intellectually-honest Left could benefit by appropriating some of these ideas. On the whole, the ENR represents the most intellectual, sophisticated, least dogmatic and most positive element "on the Right," engaged in the reconfiguration of the political landscape alter the collapse of communism and the terminal crisis of liberalism have rendered traditional categories hopelessly obsolete.

For notes see:

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Evola Posted by Picasa

Most philosophers, in all periods of history, have at some point discussed suicide, and either condemned it or justified it in various ways.

Aristotle condemns suicide absolutely, regarding it as an injustice committed against oneself and against the City, and as an act of cowardice, opposed to virtue. For Plato, even if the philosopher aspires to leave this body, in which the soul is jailed, and to return to the world of the Ideas, as a mere man he has no right to decide by himself the moment of at which his soul may leave his body, since it is the Divinity which put him there. Besides, the philosopher, through a Divine gift, possesses the privilege of contemplating supreme reality and the Idea of the Good, and thus of discovering that evil is a lack, an ignorance. It is the duty of the philosopher to try to share this truth with other men. So long as he is alive, he must work for Good in the City. Basically, one who commits suicide does it out of ignorance of the true Good. However, Plato is more moderate than Platonism. He admits three exceptional situations in which he tolerates suicide: condemnation, a very painful and incurable disease, and a miserable fate.

Augustine recapitulates Plato's views on suicide, and hardens them, while trying to provide them with theological foundations. He condemns suicide implacably, in the name of the commandment "Thou shall not kill". The Augustinian arguments against suicide will inform the whole view of the Middle Ages. Thomas Aquinas, as a good Aristotelian, will deny to man the right to kill himself, on the basis of three arguments : suicide is opposed to the natural inclination of man, the Natural Law, and the love which man owes to himself ; man belongs to his fatherland and to its society, and he does not have the right to deprive them of his presence and activity ; it is up to God, whose property we are, to decide as to our life and our death.
From the Renaissance, the view on suicide starts to change, in the name of humanistic arguments. Thomas More, in his Utopia (1516), presents religious dignitaries who encourage sick persons doomed to die in suffering to put an end to their existence.

Montesquieu considers the criminalisation of suicide to be unreasonable, while Rousseau affirms that pain of sufficient severity as to deprive man of his will and reason justifies him in killing himself. Hume's position, in his Essay on Suicide, is closely akin to Rousseau's. However the controversy is reopened by German idealism : Kant and Fichte condemn suicide in the name of the categorical imperative, the moral law, which does not allow its universalisation, and are followed by Hegel, who judges that no person should arrogate such power to himself. Nietzsche will uphold an opposite view, one with stoic undertones, as expressed in the saying of Zarathustra: "One must know how to die proudly when one can no longer live with pride".

So, Philosophers can be classified into three main categories on these matters. Some, for whom the reason for living is exterior to man, condemn suicide in the name of the Divinity, of the City, or of abstract Moral Law. Others, taking Nature, or Man in his mere naturalistic aspects, as the ultimate point of reference, authorise suicide, without however encouraging it, when health, will, or intelligence deteriorate, and man has only suffering, pain, and loss of dignity ahead of him. The stance of the third group, the Stoics, is linked to the acknowledgment of the value of man : man is trapped within the game of the world, but, unlike other beings, he possesses reason, which enables him to know what depends on him and what does not depend on him. What depends on him is his inner life, his reason, and his will. We must be able to become independent of what happens to us, and, therefore, disdain all things which happen to us independently of our will - to disdain death above all. This is not to glorify suicide, but it does justify keeping one's own self-control, derived from reason and will, which make us independent of living and dying. What is of value is not the act of suicide but the inner freedom which allows this act when it is more reasonable than continued life. This is precisely the higher view of suicide, upon which Evola based himself in "The Right over Life", published in Diorama mensile (a column of the paper Regime Fascista) on the 17th of May 1942, though he elevates the topic further by considering it from the point of view of Aryan teachings.


We do not propose to discuss the right to life in general, here, but the right to one's own life, adapting the ancient formula 'jus vitae necisque' (i.e., the power of life and death - ed.), to refer to the freedom to accept one's own existence or voluntarily put an end to it. This problem we propose to consider from the purely spiritual point of view, omitting therefore considerations of a social character, which - in this field as in any other - can have real significance only if they are supported by deep interior conviction, by true principles and by a higher sense of responsibility. This responsibility is to be understood as being essentially towards oneself, and not as being restricted to the narrow horizons of a single lifetime, but as encompassing our entire destiny, both earthly and supraterrestrial. We will also avoid any references to devotional criteria, given the rather conditioned and unenlightened nature of the latter. We prefer to remain faithful to the criteria of a realism of superior character.

The view of Seneca

From this point of view, the most severe and manly form in which the absolute right to own and control our own life has been affirmed is that of stoicism, especially in the formulations of Seneca, whose fundamental stance shows the effect - according to some people - of a spirit not only Roman but Aryan-Roman in type, though limited by a certain stiffening and by a certain exasperation.

To understand the importance of Seneca's position, and, in general, the essence of the ideas that we want to exhibit here, we must start by condemning expressly any justification of the right to commit suicide in which passion plays a part. The man who kills himself under the influence of passion is to be condemned and despised, because he is a defeated, fallen man. His action only testifies to his passivity, his incapacity to impose himself upon the impulses of the life of the senses ; placing oneself above such impulses being the first condition to be able to be considered really as a man. On such cases it is therefore not necessary to waste any further words.
Seneca's justification of the right to suicide is interesting because it puts itself resolutely above such a plane. The general view of Seneca and of Roman stoicism is that life is a struggle and a test. According to Seneca, the true man is above the gods themselves because these, by nature, are not subjected to adversity and misfortunes, whereas man is exposed to them, but has the power to overcome them. Unhappy is the one who has never met misfortune and pain - Seneca says - because he did not have the occasion to experience and to know his power. Something superior to exemption from pain was granted to men, namely, the power to overcome it. And the persons who are the most afflicted are to be considered as worthier, just as, in war, the positions which expose us to the most enemy fire, and the most dangerous missions, are entrusted to the strongest and most qualified elements, whereas the less brave, the less strong, and the most indecisive persons are employed in the less demanding life of the civilian zone.
Now, it is in the context of a similar manly and combative view of life that Seneca justifies suicide, by putting these words into the mouth of the deity (De Providentia,VI,7-9) : not only to have given to the true man, to the wise, a force stronger than any contingency, but also to have seen to it that nothing is able to hold man to this destiny if he no longer desires it : the way 'out" is opened - patet exitus - "Wherever one does not want to fight, it is always possible to withdraw. Nothing is easier than to die".

Aryan teachings

This teaching, 'si pugnare non vultis, licet fugere', which alludes to the voluntary death that the wise man has the power to give to himself, is to be understood in the spirit of the text, not as a cowardice, or as an escape. It is not a question of withdrawing because one does not feel strong enough in front of a given test. It is rather one of having had enough of a game in which one no longer sees any point, having proved to oneself that one has the capacity to overcome similar tests. It is therefore a cold detachment, we would almost say Olympian, achieved by a person who continues to dominate all of the elements of life.

In the ancient Aryan traditions, we find justifications for voluntary 'departure' from earthly life which are not devoid of a certain affinity with the view of Roman stoicism as we have just explained it. Wherever one has been led to renounce life in the name of life, that is to say, by one form or another of a will to live or a will to pleasure which cannot find satisfaction, killing oneself is reproved. In such cases, this action does not mean a liberation, but precisely the opposite : it is an extreme, if negative, form of attachment to life, of dependence on life and on 'desire'. No 'afterlife' awaits the one who uses such violence on himself ; the law of an existence devoid of light, of peace, and of stability will be reimposed upon him. On the contrary, only he who has attained complete detachment regarding this life, to the point where to live or not to live is a matter of indifference to him, is justified in putting an end prematurely to his terrestrial life. But then, it could be asked, what exactly can move such a person, who has reached such an apex, to take the initiative of such a violent solution, especially considering that it is difficult for one who has achieved such a perfection not to have grasped, to some extent, the supra-personal signification of his existence on earth, and to have felt, at the same time, that this existence is nothing but a short passage, an episode, the manifestation for a given mission or a special test, "a journey during the hours of night", as the Easterners say. To feel some boredom, some impatience, some intolerance for the time which is still ahead of us, wouldn't this show perhaps a residue of human weakness, something still not 'resolved' and soothed by the sense of eternity, or, at least, of the non-terrestrial and non-temporal 'vast distances'?

Is life 'mine'?

Aside from that, another consideration of principle arises. One can have power, in reality, only over what belongs to him. Power to put an end to one's own life is therefore conditional upon the extent to which this life can be said to be really 'mine'. And when speaking of 'life' one cannot ignore the body, or the physio-psychological organism in general, on which one has to act in order 'to be done' ; the life possessed by the feelings and sensations themselves cannot be excluded either. Now, in principle, can all this be said to be really 'mine' and 'myself'? Here everyone experiences a certain delusion, which, however, an instant of reflection is enough to dispel. A text of the Aryan tradition, which we have already mentioned (*), puts the problem in very tangible manner in a conversation. The wise man asks: "A sovereign has the power to have executed, exiled, or pardoned, whomsoever he wishes in his kingdom, does he not?" - "Certainly". "By the same criterion, then : my body is myself, it can achieve this desire for me : does it follow that it is 'my body', or that it is not 'my body'? Or, analogously : this feeling is myself, this perception is myself, it can achieve this desire for me : does it follow that it is 'my feeling' or 'my sensation', or that it is not 'my feeling' or 'my sensation'?". The reply of the one who is questioned will necessarily have to be : we cannot speak of 'our body', of 'our' life', because this 'our' refers to things over which we have power, while, in fact, our power over these is nil or less than nil. We are not the principle or cause of 'our' lives, but rather the recipients of them, so that, in the ancient Aryan traditions, life is considered as a 'loan', to be requited by performing the duty of passing on to someone else such a life, by giving birth to a son. And it is for this reason that the first-born child was called "the son of duty".

Besides, if our life was us ourselves, and our own, it would be possible to leave terrestrial life by means of a pure action of the spirit or of the will, without violent external actions : we know however that this is something impossible to almost all men, because only certain ancient traditions consider a 'way out' of this kind, and only in relation to absolutely exceptional figures. By killing ourselves in the common manner, the physical one, we savage a thing which cannot be said to be ours and does not depend upon us : a thing, therefore, regarding which it cannot be said, legitimately, that we have 'power' - jus vitae necisque - even less can this be said here than it can be said regarding our children, because these, at least, were begotten by us. Here an objection may however arise : it may be said that, precisely because we did not want and create our life, we do not have to accept or to preserve in all cases such a loan or gift. We may therefore 'have done with it' at some point. Here, naturally, it must be presupposed that the condition already indicated, that is to say, that of detachment from life as such, as ascertained by ourselves with positive proofs and not with mere words or suggestions, is realised. Otherwise, to consider life as something alien which we can keep or return to the one who, without our approval, gave it to us, would be a mere mental fiction. Therefore, we still remain in the field of exceptional cases. What are we to think about these?

Test of reaction on destiny

The answer to this question is determined by one's general vision of the world. The vast majority of modern Western men, given the predominant religion, have become accustomed to seeing in physical birth the principle of their life. For them, the problem, naturally, is rather serious, because where birth and therefore earthly life are not considered as effects either of chance or of some mere conjunction of external circumstances, they must be regarded as having been caused by the divine will.

In either case, man's personal will plays no part in them, so, where people are not religious enough to accept their life through love of God, in resignation and in obedience, the attitude of the one who claims his freedom towards a thing which he did not want can always be reasserted.
But the view found in the majority of the most ancient Indo-European traditions does not coincide with the one we have just indicated. As a rule, it was felt that there was a pre-existence with respect to earthly life and a relation of cause and of effect, sometimes even of choice, between the force pre-existing to physical birth and life itself. The latter, in such case, even though it could not be attributed to the most exterior and already human will of the individual, comes to represent an order suffused with a specific sense, something which has a meaning - albeit hidden - for the 'I', as a series of experiences important not in themselves, but with respect to our reactions. In short, then, life here below is no longer chance, and therefore cannot be considered either as something to be accepted nor to be rejected according to our wishes, or as a reality which is imposed on us, regarding which we are merely passive, with the alternative of a dull resignation or of a continuous test of resistance. Instead the feeling arises that earthly life is something in which we, before being earthly men, got, so to speak, 'mixed up' and, to a certain extent, involved, whether as in an adventure, a mission, or a choice, whichever you prefer, thus taking on the problematic and tragic aspects of it as part of a whole.

It is hard to believe that the superiority, or more simply the detachment, towards life, which would allow us to 'have done with it', does not bring with it in most cases a sense of the nature of existence, as we have explained it here, which, at least in a few cases, would justify the decision to 'have done with it'. Everyone knows that, sooner or later, this end will come, so that, faced with any contingency, the wisest attitude would be to discover its hidden meaning, the part which it has in the entire life which, according to our explanation, is centred on us and is contained within our transcendental will. The only negative which would be decisive would be a - sincere - impatience for the eternal, for an existence which is no longer terrestrial, such as expressed in the mystical Spanish sentence : in tam alta vida espero, que muero porquè no muero (I hope for so high a life as to die of not being able to die). Otherwise, life as a test must be exacerbated, instead of passing to a direct and violent intervention : there are the heroic vicissitudes of war, there are the highest peaks, there is the dangerous life of explorations or missions - there are thousands of means by which to ask 'destiny' a most peremptory and insistent question, and to receive from things themselves the reply, in order to determine the extent to which there is still a profound, impersonal reason to continue here a human life.

Editor's Notes:

The reader will recognise in this article considerations brought forward by Evola on the same subject in the 30th chapter of "Ride the Tiger", which, as a matter of fact, bears the same title : "Il Diritto sulla vita" ("The Right over Life"). In addition to this, there is also "The Right over Life in East and West", an essay published in 1955 in "East and West", the review of the Orientalist and traveller Giuseppe Tucci. Both versions are paraphrased and expanded ones, containing certain identical sentences but not whole identical paragraphs : in the former, not only are Seneca's views on suicide exhibited and discussed, but also those of Buddhism, of creationist religions, and of Heidegger, and, more generally, the existentialists. The latter essay, as its title suggests, develops the views of Eastern religions in a comparative perspective, as against those of Stoicism, rather than existentialism. However, the text we present here constitutes an earlier and independent draft, but cannot be regarded exactly as the 'first draft' of either of the others, since they were written between 13 and almost 25 years later. Besides, it is only in the 1942 essay presented here that Evola refers to the Aryan teachings on these matters, and it is for this reason that we have thought it interesting to present, not to mention the fact that its shorter length, and its greater focus on these Aryan teachings, give it a density which in turn confers upon it a remarkable force.

(*) Cf. 'The Doctrine Of Awakening', Chapter 7, 'Determination Of The Vocations', Paragraph 12 :

In speaking of "Olympian bearing" and of detachment we should not think of something like the indifference of a badly understood Stoicism. The Aryan "renunciation" is fundamentally based on a will for the unconditioned considered also as liberty and power. This is apparent from the texts. The Buddha, while challenging the opinion that the stems of ordinary personality are self, asks his interlocutor if a powerful sovereign wishing to execute or proscribe one of his subjects could do so. The answer is naturally, yes. Then the Buddha asks: "You who say: 'my body is my self,' do you now think that you have this power over your body : 'Thus let my body be, thus let my body not be'?" - and the question is repeated for the other elements of the personality. The interlocutor is forced to answer no, and thus the view that the "I" is body, feeling, and so on comes to be confuted. (Majjhima-Nikaya, 35)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Taken from Crikey

Racists thwart an anti-racism gig at Macquarie University

Crikey reporter Jane Nethercote writes:Last night, a gig going under the name of "Rock Against Racism" was to be held at the student union's SAMbar at Macquarie University. The event was all about raising money for an African community centre. It was also an effort by students to create a public front of solidarity for an open and tolerant society – most specifically to try and counteract the damage done to Macquarie University's reputation by Andrew Fraser, the controversial professor who opposes non-white immigration and was banned from teaching at the Sydney university earlier this year.

But according to organisers, the bar's management cancelled the gig a week ago – apparently after receiving a threat from a right wing or neo-nazi group – citing a "duty of care" to their patrons. They could have beefed up security, says one of the organisers L'amahz Bah, President of the African Communities Council, but instead they cancelled the event without consultation – and without detailing the nature of the threat. It was an "act of cowardice really," says Joseph Pugliese, associate professor of the Department of Critical and Cultural Studies. Students and staff are "pretty disappointed" – staff had been very supportive of the event (the gig appeared in the university's staff newsletter).And Pugliese agrees with Bah that the reasons for cancelling are "problematic," given that a forum held two months ago to debate Fraser's convictions received similar neo-nazi threats, but went ahead after security had been increased. So there's a precedent for overcoming these kinds of threats, he says.

However, that forum was run by academics, so the event was university-run as opposed to student union-run, which might explain the different approaches.At the end of the day, student welfare was of paramount importance, Pip Brook, marketing and communications director of SAM, Macquarie's student union, told Crikey. So why not simply increase security rather than cancel the event? SAM was told of the threats six days in advance and to organise security in this amount of time, when it required the involvement of the local command, wasn't possible, says Brook. We took the threats "seriously" and had to protect students, Brook told Crikey. That's SAM's role, she says, noting that the student union does substantial work to support students who wish to raise money for causes.

Brook refutes that organisers weren't informed about the cancellation or told of the nature of the threat, saying a full email was sent to the organisers with these details. It's all very upsetting, says one student, "not just because it appears that the university (an institution which should be a bastion of free speech) caved in so easily, but also because of the lack of transparency in the decision process," says one student.From an outside point of view, he says, "the decision seems to be based on concerns about insurance and liability. And it demonstrates the way in which University culture has changed over the last twenty years."

In the meantime, Bah and organisers are pressing on with plans for a larger concert which they're hoping to stage in the Sydney Opera House forecourt. Negotiations are under way with NSW Premier Iemma.

CRIKEY: Vice Chancellor Di Yerbury was in conference so was unavailable for comment.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


NEW RIGHT is metapolitical beyond movements and organisations.

NEW RIGHT seeks to influence all parties and none.

NEW RIGHT puts intellect before dogma.

NEW RIGHT puts common sense before the party line.

NEW RIGHT will raise ideas above economics.

NEW RIGHT stands for tradition against modernity.

NEW RIGHT adds substance to human will.

NEW RIGHT gives meaning to action.

NEW RIGHT is virile and uranian, not impotent or tellurian.

NEW RIGHT meets chaos and discord with transversal solutions.

NEW RIGHT rejects egalitarianism and political correctness.

NEW RIGHT is elitist and anti-democratic.

NEW RIGHT defends the sacred against the profane.

NEW RIGHT is opposed to mass societies and plebian dictorship.

NEW RIGHT stands for pan-Europa against American hegemony.

NEW RIGHT is polytheistic and supports diversity.

NEW RIGHT promotes the individual above individualism.

NEW RIGHT heals division with synthesis.

NEW RIGHT pursues a global agenda against globalisation.

New Right Logo Posted by Picasa