Tocqueville on Fake Revolutionary Abstractions

“When we study the history of the Revolution, we see that it was carried out in precisely the same spirit in which so many abstract books on government are written. The same attraction for general theories, for complete systems of legislation and exact symmetry in laws; the same contempt for existing facts; the same confidence in theory, the same taste for the original, the ingenious, and the new in institutions; the same desire to remake the whole constitution all at once, following the rules of logic and according to a single plan, rather than trying to fix its various parts. A frightening sight! For what is merit in a writer is sometimes vice in a statesman, and the things which have often made lovely books can lead to great revolutions.

“The language of politics itself then took on the quality of that spoken by authors; it was full of general expressions, abstract terms, ambitious words, and literary turns of phrase. With the help of political passions which used it, this style spread to all classes and descended with unusual ease even into the lowest…

“…What is unique is that we have kept the habits we took from literature, while losing almost completely our old love of letters. I have often been astonished, in the course of my public life, to see people who never read the books of the eighteenth century nor those of any other, and who strongly despise writers, preserve so faithfully some of the chief faults which the literary mind produced before they were born.”

The Old Regime and the Revolution (1856), Book III, Chapter 2, “How Around the Middle of the 18th Century Intellectuals Became the Country’s Leading Politicians, and the Effects Which Resulted from This”  

Thanks to secret friend for this quote!

What is Straussianism?

Mutual Influence of Theology and Philosophy by Leo Strauss ...

I am posting a piece critiquing the Straussians in a few days, and thought a short companion essay explaining Straussianism would be helpful.

Leo Strauss was a German Jewish émigré who ended up spending the majority of his career teaching at the University of Chicago. From that perch, he had access to many talented youths whom he led to an interest in political philosophy. Many of these went on to become professors in prominent universities and he himself was widely praised as a talented scholar for some time. Eventually he published an essay ridiculing the sorry state of political science and the social sciences generally. After this, his work and students garnered more scrutiny and blackballing. While they did in fact make their way into many institutions and even the federal government, into places where they really did influence the direction of America, this influence is by and large spent, relegated to an increasingly small number of prominent schools. Though plenty of departments across the nation still provide ready homes for these scholars who, I would say, make up the best sect in American academia.

What did Strauss teach these promising young pupils? Strauss focused on a few principal themes that run through the Western political tradition. In this he is quite different than any philosopher to come before him, insofar as those philosophers typically spoke to a specific people about their God and their law (Maimonides and Alfarabi come to mind) or about universal truth, like Aristotle or any of the Enlightenment thinkers. (Nietzsche too, insofar as “truth is manmade” is obviously a claim to universality. Something of which Nietzsche was perfectly aware so don’t think this insight does anything substantial to his position.) Unlike these earlier philosophers, Strauss wrote books about thinkers throughout the political tradition and tried to show, contrary to an easy relativistic view, that they were not all giving different interpretations of “reality” or something like that, but that they were all talking about the same things and indeed all agreed on the essentials, that where they appeared to differ was a matter of political rhetoric in order to make the truth palatable for their time (this includes Maimonides and Alfarabi, by the way).

This attempt to attune the truth to the times, Strauss (and many others before him) called “esoteric writing.” The esoteric/philosophic writer speaks in the terms that are used and popular in his time, and tries to show how all virtue and all good things… he tries to show where these things have their ultimate source. Philosophic writing is an invitation to a discovery of the truth of things, an invitation which must be given in terms that can possibly be understood by contemporary readers. In other words, you cannot just “tell” someone the truth. It has to be discovered if it is to be “possessed” or understood.

Strauss invited his readers to this discovery by focusing on a few “tensions” or “conflicts”: the conflict between the ancients and moderns, the conflict between Athens and Jerusalem (aka Reason vs. Revelation), and the tension between politics and philosophy.

When it comes to the conflict between the ancients and moderns, Strauss teaches that the moderns are relativistic while the ancients were not. This is his baseline teaching and it was already familiar to English readers through the works of many Christian thinkers. Indeed, this aspect of Straussianism was meant specifically to appeal to Christians and especially Thomists in the fight against the leveling forces of communism (and not merely USSR Communism). The moderns openly or almost-openly taught atheism and materialism and if they appeared not to teach these things, their positions implied atheism and materialism as foundations. The moderns were teachers of evil, or were driven to foolish teachings out of “antitheological ire.” They were actually angry with God and his Church and wanted to bring these edifices down. Ultimately modern philosophers are responsible for “moral relativism,” because they taught Skepticism (atheism + materialism) in order to win the fight against religious persecution. The ancients on the other hand were interested in the promotion of nobility and they were not materialists. In this conflict, Strauss sides decisively and openly with the ancients.

When it comes to the conflict between Athens and Jerusalem, or Reason vs. Revelation, let me quote the most famous passage:

If we take a bird’s eye view of the secular struggle between philosophy and theology, we can hardly avoid the impression that neither of the two antagonists has ever succeeded in really refuting the other. All arguments in favor of revelation seem to be valid only if belief in revelation is presupposed; and all arguments against revelation seem to be valid only if unbelief is presupposed. This state of things would appear to be natural. Revelation is always so uncertain to unassisted reason, and man is so built that he can find his satisfaction, his bliss, in free investigation, in articulating the riddle of being. But, on the other hand, he yearns so much for a solution of that riddle and human knowledge is always so limited that the need for divine illumination cannot be denied and the possibility of revelation cannot be refuted. Now it is this state of things that seems to decide irrevocably against philosophy and in favor of revelation. Philosophy has to grant that revelation is possible. But to grant that revelation is possible means to grant that philosophy is perhaps not the one thing needful, that philosophy is perhaps something infinitely unimportant. To grant that revelation is possible means to grant that the philosophic life is not necessarily, not evidently, the right life. Philosophy, the life devoted to the quest for evident knowledge available to man as man, would itself rest on an unevident, arbitrary, or blind decision. This would merely confirm the thesis of faith, that there is no possibility of consistency, of a consistent and thoroughly sincere life, without belief in revelation. The mere fact that philosophy and revelation cannot refute each other would constitute the refutation of philosophy by revelation. (Natural Right and History 74-75)

In spite of that quotation, Strauss clearly sided with philosophy. So that should be taken into account. Likewise, he clearly sided with Athens. But his choice in this conflict led to a different course of action than his choice in the conflict between the ancients and moderns. He sided with the ancients and openly attacked the moderns. On this question, he sides with Athens and Philosophy but openly promotes the dignity of Jerusalem and Revelation.

Third, Strauss discussed the conflict between politics and philosophy. Athens killed Socrates and many Straussians believe that this was in a way just, because they believe that Socrates really did “corrupt” the young, that philosophy corrupts the young by turning them away from the noble pursuits of politics towards the private life of philosophy. This question is in large part what my other essay is about.

Now that I have stated Strauss’ positions as basically as I could, let me tell you what developed out of those teachings, what “the school” teaches. And I will try to do so generously.

When it comes to the atheism of the school, I am not joking when I say it is the norm. The clearest book on this was written by professor Leibowitz: An Ironic Defense of Socrates. In that book, he argues that the question of religion has been bungled by most. The question is emphatically not about whether or not god “exists,” but whether or not we—from our perspective—can actually obey commands if we think they are bad for us. He comes down on a solid “no.” You cannot obey a command if you think it is bad for you. Full stop. If you cannot obey a command you think is bad for you, then you cannot blame those people who do not obey commands. They couldn’t help it. And if you can only obey commands that you think are good for you, well, then, what do you think that means about your relationship to god? Are you obedient to him or obedient to your reason? You are only ever obedient to God when what he commands aligns with what you think is good for yourself. God(s) might exist, how can a philosopher or anyone say he definitely doesn’t? but that isn’t the point at all.  This little argument sparked off a giant debate in the Straussian world. By the way, Nietzsche belittles this argument as a Socratism in BGE—he points out that this argument makes little leftists out of halfwits. But the Straussians are hated as crypto-fascists!?! It is almost only ever other Straussians who accuse their fellows of being too leftwing. Pangle is somewhat famous for this. I add this bit about Straussians criticizing their fellows as lefties to recommend the school to you.

On the other questions, the Straussians tend to be hardly distinguishable from rather fluffy conservatives and have most definitively split when it comes to whether or not patriotism is a virtue. I recommend the essay by Anton in UNZ, which covers well the disagreement between the “East Coast” and the “West Coast” Straussians. I only add one thing:

The East Coast Straussians really do not think the “modern philosophers” were philosophers. They read the ancient philosophers for understanding and write about the modern philosophers to show that they themselves understand philosophy better than Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau among others. And look I kind of get it… when you are reading the “great books” you tend to agree or disagree with authors, but I promise you this is a low way of reading. Almost all the major authors in the canon can show you the way if only you know how to read them. Relativism is a mirage produced by nonessentials being different in different times… and people placing too much importance on those nonessentials, thereby seeing disagreement on them as signs of an inability to agree about the most profound things. Let’s take an extremely obvious example and I will be done with this essay: say in one time it was absolutely important for your people to reject clothes made of two materials because a ruinous political faction, a political faction that would betray your people over to their enemies, promoted the fashion of mixed materials, a fashion common among the enemy. So a philosopher might openly oppose wearing mixed-material clothing in his writings. Now apply that to most questions that “grip the populace” and you have a provisional but true answer as to why philosophers appear to have different “philosophies” or “descriptions of reality.”

Dominique Venner

In English we have 2 works of Venner’s, both brought to us by Arktos publishing. For A Positive Critique is, I think, the first book he published (1962) and The Shock of History came near the end of his life: it is a written interview (presumably done over email). So I beg your patience if you are a thorough Venner buff in the French style: From these two books and from the simple story of Venner’s life, I have great respect for the man, but I am not able to know Venner as well as I should like from the works I have.

Venner is French; I am American. His notion of cultural renewal and “a secret and more noble Europe” appeals to me because there is and always has been a “secret America.”

“Before taking part in politics, the Hindus first made a return to the source of their tradition.” The Hindu nationalist eschewed politics (as Venner understands the word) in order to focus on the secret and noble Hindu. Venner admires their focus on scouting movements and education. There really isn’t any use in fighting political battles if there isn’t a side worth fighting for, and only the secret and noble strain of a civilization is worth the fight. If the nobility of your blood or creed or race or whatever defines your nation (or whatever collection of things defines your nation) has no chance at succeeding at politics, politics is bunk for the time being. Venner turned historian in order to do his part in the cultivation of promising youth.

The historian is the ideal man in Junger’s mature theorizing: the historian achieves greatness within himself and this is what permits him to interpret the great men and their influence on history. Historians with poor eyes, impoverished souls, only bungle history and mislead young people. Such historians obscure the secret nobility of their people (supposing it exists—it doesn’t always).

Venner took this seriously and turned historian, giving up political activism as largely ineffective in the midst of so much decline. And not only decline… he recognized that the French people had terribly declined, but he also recognized that even the good men had (and have) no chance at wielding political power, an option only open to the financiers and the few statesmen who stand at the heads of independent states.

For Venner, politics involves the ability to make the most important decisions, which ultimately culminates in decisions of life and death. He follows Schmitt in this way and strikes me as a profound reader of Schmitt. Secret France had no access to this power. I do not know about France today, but I think it is obvious that good Americans do not have access to this power either. In fact, just recently, decent citizens were disabused of a long held notion that they had the right to control their police forces and lock away local criminals. The financier George Soros and others began gradually, but are quickly taking this right for themselves.

Politics must be put aside for the cultivation of the youth. “Thus a Young Europe, founded on the same civilization, the same space, and the same destiny, will serve as the active center of the West and of the world order. The youth of Europe will have new cathedrals to construct and a new empire to build.” This was his activist hope in 1962; only the immediacy of his hopes changed over time. He never lost sight of the youth of Europe: “This awakening [of Europe] will undoubtedly come. When? I do not know but I am positive it will take place.” (2012)

What to Preserve—The Hidden and Secret Elite

“Junger always distanced himself from the infamous and disgraceful acts of his time. He proved that despite the disappearance of the European aristocracy as a social class, the qualities of honour, self-sacrifice, and of conduct could survive in those of elite character who, in decadent times, constitute a sort of hidden aristocracy.” (32) (all quotes from here on out are from Shock)

“[Stefan George] even before 1914, began to outline his idea of a ‘secret Germany,’ embodied by a small elite belonging to a ‘Poetic state,’ opposed to the materialistic society of his time. His poems called for the awakening of a secret elite to protect the ancient flame.” (42)

You cannot just say what makes someone elite. If you could, it would be much easier to be “elite” and there wouldn’t be an elite. Let it suffice here to say, the exertions undertaken by the dissident rightwing are the groundwork for preservation of what is good: BAP’s Sun & Steel, the broad agreement around reading and discussion unbowed by fake morality, new projects, and a longing for real camaraderie.

I am aware that as an internet phenomenon, insofar as we are, there is no camaraderie in the old style. There is a lamentable side to this, but to be sure there is a virtue to be found in it as well. When your life is forced down certain avenues—and much of life has been forced onto the internet—you have to make a virtue of the necessity. The immense pond of human beings would in fact be much more stifling and unhygienic if we could not make the connections we are making over the internet. The groups we are forming in our locales are enriched as a result of our connection online, through which we have access to men we otherwise wouldn’t. I am not saying there haven’t been horrific consequences … our political life has been raped; you understand that. But if you’ve been injected with semen and cannot abort, you might as well bring forth new life as best as you can.

The Wordy Right: A Basis for the Hidden Aristocracy

“The first act by which we free ourselves from tyranny, by which we enter into intellectual and moral rebellion, is to free ourselves from the power of words. It is by means of words, by their seductive, corrosive, and intimidating power, that an able system captures those it wishes to neutralize or dominate, and it does so well before falling back on more dangerous weapons. … From the depths of the Gulag, Solzhenitsyn heroically reconquered his inner world, making himself a free man in spite of the barbed wire fences and guard towers that surrounded him. Solzhenitsyn said that he first had to conquer the lie that Communism had instilled within him, the lie that constituted the crux of his difficulty. Words are strategic implements. To give yourself your own words, and above all to give yourself a name, is to affirm your existence, your autonomy, your freedom.” (62)

Venner leaves the reader with that thought at the end of Chapter 6, and then starts in on a 3 chapter run discussing the history of Europe, where he seeks to provide a diagnosis to his English readers of the problems that beset Europe, specifically, the problem that a set of words has imposed upon Europe and the way out.

Venner does not like America and who can blame him. I have a number of criticisms of his view of America and of what follows, but I am saving that for a follow-up essay.

We start with what is highest: Venner’s view of the gods. Europe is currently guided by two gods and needs a return to the god Apollo. The Hebraic God and the Titan Prometheus currently are the strongest gods in Europe. Prometheus is in some sense the god imposed upon Europe by the Enlightenment and the Hebraic god was an Asian import, whose first foothold came through Plato but later, of course, through the Jews. It was good that the Olympian gods overthrew the Titans and bad that they were replaced by the One God of the Hebrews. We must return to Homer and retrieve the true meaning of Europe.

Taking things out of the realm of the gods: we have to oppose politics through abstractions and moral hypocrisy. We have to recapture the possibility of Tradition and Loyalty in our time.

“Tradition … is not the past, it is that which does not pass away. It comes to use from that which is most distant but always present. It is our interior compass, the benchmark of all the norms that suit us and that have survived all that has tried to change us. Look at the role of women…” (83)

Venner is emphatic on the role of women: the Homeric view of the ideal woman, the feminine virtues, have largely survived (as a remnant, not completely intact) since Homer’s Penelope. If Christianity had had its way, there would be no celebration of the bodies of Women in sculpture: the nude statue or painting would be forbidden. If Christianity could not eradicate this, the “North African immigrants” won’t have their way either. European women embody the truly feminine and excel the women of other traditions, which is why it is only in the European tradition that women are celebrated as they are.

Our tradition also contains a guiltless view of human life, though Christianity successfully attacked this. The truly European religions “made no pretence of being privy to a transcendent ‘truth’ and imposed no ‘morality’ from on high. Natural morals (do not kill, do not steal, honour your father and mother, respect your neighbor’s wife, etc.) were taught through tradition. Everything changed with the introduction of the Hebraic monotheism, which tore morality out of the hands of tradition and put it into those of a divine arbiter who threatened grievous punishment in the afterlife to those who broke the rules. This new ‘morality,’ according to Manent, through its often perplexing interdictions, introduced a conflict between ‘what men do and what men say.’ If we take the notion of secularism in the current sense of the word, the separation of politics from the ‘monotheistic religion,’ it may appear as though there has been an implicit return to the freedom of ancient polytheism, without the pantheon of gods.” (89-90)

So to repeat: the enemies are abstraction, nominalism, and transcendent morality (the ‘theological virtues’ if we are going to call a spade a spade). Tradition teaches “natural morality” and is, as tradition, inherently concrete and not abstract.

Our tradition teaches that we are, in a large sense, the playthings of the gods and in this life… we have the option of striving and though we hope for the best we may run up against a tragic catastrophe. This is okay because tragedy is part of the fertility of tradition: if your life is a tragic one … look, you should consider yourself lucky to be worthy of a tragic eruption. It means you were a significant part of the tradition. As for everyone else, they are only expected to be normal citizens—“do not kill, do not steal, honour your father and mother, respect your neighbor’s wife, etc.”—not tortured by unrealistic and perplexing divine commands whose violation can result in an eternity of torment.

The transcendent morality on the other hand, through its “often perplexing interdictions,” makes men into hypocrites: political action requires the violation of transcendent morality, all real striving must disregard it and you cannot keep men from striving. If you require men to turn the other cheek you just make them into hypocrites; you divorce speech and deed.

Europe toppled the transcendent morality, reasserted itself, in the person of Machiavelli—but it did so by having recourse to the Titan Prometheus, i.e., a reliance on utilitarian or techno-scientific culture. It did not regain its Homeric footing, but it did heal the division of speech and deed. I won’t go into an extensive explanation of the evils of the Enlightenment, which are well known: materialism & skepticism impoverish. If Europe is going to completely reassert itself, it must revive a respect for Apollo, either literally or metaphorically, to counterbalance the Promethean excesses.


“The metaphysic of the unlimited, which has been the driving force behind human progress, has suddenly met its limit. The question we must now ask is: how can we rediscover the Apollonian aspect of our civilization in order to counterbalance the Promethean excess?” (16)

“The European spirit ignores moderation which was a rule among the ancient Greeks, at least before Plato. Apollo against Prometheus, in a manner of speaking. At that time, before the fifth century, a number of Greek philosophers and mathematicians endeavoured to learn about nature (phusis) using reason alone.”

European man must forego his addiction to progress through technology and abstraction; he is to moderate himself which means he is to return to tradition. On the one hand technology and abstractions sever European man from concrete problems… they hide from him the primal concerns of life and death. On the other, specifically with respect to abstract notions of “the good” (a holdover from Plato and Christianity), abstractions about “Man” have plunged Europe into a fit of disloyalty to itself, or disloyalty to its ancestors and their tradition; the abstraction “man” has prostrated Europe before the interests of the refugee-profiteers.

The god Apollo would permit Europeans to be loyal to themselves again. He would orient Europeans to the concrete reality faced by every tradition. The Europeans must recognize their position in the world as a unique people, which must undergo trials and undertake adventures and exertions if it is going to survive. The Apollonian aspect would return order and limit to the “unlimited metaphysics”: Europeans will see themselves as a living tradition that can but shouldn’t permit itself to die. Europe must permit itself a moral faux pas… there is a sense in which every living thing has to face up to the fact that it has no choice but to think of itself, to see itself as a mortal creature whose only security lies within its own resources. Apollo is the god of resourcefulness, of order for the sake of life. And beyond this moral faux pas… Apollo calls upon Europeans to re-cultivate the spirit, to see that they cannot avoid the problem of man: no artificial creation can save man from himself.

“The security of peoples resides in their homogeneity, their resolution, their intelligence, and the bravery more than in miraculous weapons or treaties.” (101)

Venner’s Suicide

Venner killed himself 7 years ago today. He did so not in rejection of the Apollonian; that was not the point. You can kill yourself for the sake of life. It does not take much imagination to see how. I do not have time or the inclination to go into his justification and doubt it is even proper… if someone questions this action of his, well, he defended himself quite eloquently on this score. You can find a justification of suicide in Shock as well as his suicide letter.

But let’s briefly look at history’s two greatest suicides: Cato and Socrates. Cato despaired. He had spent his life fighting for a Rome that no longer existed and he knew no other reason for living than for the glory and virtue of the Republic. If you have no reason to live, why do so? I know there are many arguments about “you just don’t know! You cannot play god!” But I think such protests … look, try living your entire life devoted to something and then live with the realization that what you lived for is over. I myself like to think you can always make a virtue of necessity, but maybe that is not always the case.

Socrates goaded the Athenian people into killing him and in so doing protected his friends and glorified philosophy. I don’t know if you know, but he was going to die at some point anyway and was quite old when he did. What if he had run away to Sparta or wherever? Would Plato have been passed down to us? Xenophon?

All honor to Dominique Venner whose accomplishments are still unfolding.

The Lebanotarian’s Library of BAP-exandria (25-29)

Episode 26:

BAP discusses the history of Russian Oligarchs
Only Russians have Oligarchs don’t you know

First a youtube of Rachmaninff Preludes:

Casino Moscow by Matthew Brzezinksi…

Godfather of the Kremlin: Looting of Russiaby Paul Klebnikov…

Spy Game with Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. Old school CIA versus new school

Spy Game (2001) – IMDb Directed by Tony Scott. With Robert Redford, Brad Pitt, Catherine McCormack, Stephen Dillane. Retiring CIA agent Nathan Muir recalls his training of Tom Bishop while working against agency politics …

Operation Gladio , a CIA operation in Italy and throughout Western Europe…


Armand Hammer | American businessman Armand Hammer, American petroleum executive, entrepreneur, and art collector. The son of a doctor, Hammer had made his first $1,000,000 through his enterprising ventures in his father’s pharmaceutica…

Erich Traub, one of many operation paperclip assets from Germany and DISCOVERER of Lyme disease…

Write up on the relationship between Franco and the Falange in Spain

Franco, Fascism and the Falange – Not One and the Same Thing by Norman Berdichevsky (Sept. 2008) The long term misunderstanding and simplification of RIGHT vs. LEFT terminology in political discourse is responsible for the misconception that “The RIGHT” with i…,_Fascism_and_the_Falange_-_Not_One_and_the_Same_Thing/

French Integralism….Vermeule, careful what you wish for!…

Finally the rogues gallery, starting with Boris Berezovsky

Boris Berezovsky: An Oligarch Dies Boris Berezovsky was a man of grand, Shakespearean scope. And Putin’s Russia is no country for grand personalities.

I present Masha Gessen, neolib mouthpiece. Will not link anything. Physiognomy speaks a thousand words


Anatoly Chubais: “reformer” that liberated Russia of it’s wealth and natural resources

Anatoly Chubais | Russian economist and politician Other articles where Anatoly Chubais is discussed: Yury Luzhkov: …particularly First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais. Luzhkov frequently squared off against Chubais over the handling of the pri…

Interesting news item out TODAY related to Mikhail Khodorkovsy, who Putin PUNISHED

Dutch Court Reinstates Order For Russia To Pay $50 Billion In Yukos Case A Dutch appeals court has reinstated an international arbitration panel’s ruling that Russia must pay $50 billion in compensation to shareholders in the former Russian oil giant Yukos — a ruling…

Christina Kirchner of Argentina, small potatoes criminal compared to the Clintongs

Argentina’s Kirchner charged with fraud, assets frozen

Episode 27:

“Finally some Nietzsche”
BAP & particularly Bronze Age Mindset has been referred to as “Beach Nietzsche” even though insiders know the reading list is far longer. Here we have a Chill Beach-side chat with BAP.

Goethe wearing a cape


Reputed pollster Rich Baris

Richard Baris | Big Data Poll Richard Baris is the Managing Director of Big Data Poll (BDP) and has been the Director of the PPD Election Projection Model since it debuted in 2014.

Nietzsche Beyond Good and Evil aphorism 248


Nietzsche Ecce Homo…

From Camille Paglia’s Sexual Personae referring to Goethe (above) Tiresias, the blind Greek Prophet


Tiresias the Blind Greek Prophet: Britannica.

Nietzsche : The Gay Science; section 356


Nietzsche: The Gay Science; section 361


Nietzsche: The Gay Science; section 362 (Napoleon)


Georg Christoph Lichtenberg:

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg | German philosopher and physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, German physicist, satirist, and writer of aphorisms, best known for his ridicule of metaphysical and romantic excesses. Lichtenberg was the 17th child of a Protestant pas…

New Contribution from @Semmelweis7: Gobineau on male and female peoples


Episode 28:

Colonialism Mindset
Movie about South Boston “The Town”

The Town (2010) – IMDb Directed by Ben Affleck. With Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner. A longtime thief, planning his next job, tries to balance his feelings for a bank manager connected to an earlier he…

Pierre Van den Berghe The Ethnic Phenomenon
Guru to @Steve_Sailer

The Ethnic Phenomenon F

Roger Devlin – Heartiste where are you…

Russian play Olbomov

Oblomov: A Play in Three Acts ebook by Frank J. Morlock – Rakuten Kobo Read “Oblomov: A Play in Three Acts” by Frank J. Morlock available from Rakuten Kobo. Based on a novel by the Russian writer Ivan Goncharov, this dramatic comedy features his eponymous hero, Oblomov.… Theo

Vinneman author of Europa Visconia, Europa Semitica…

George Borjas video on Immigration. @CityBureaucrat has links to more:

The Unheavenly City The Unheavenly City book. Read 3 reviews from the world’s largest community for readers. A discussion of the nature and fture of the urban crisis focusin…

The Doric temple of Segesta in Sicily

Carthage colony in Sicily…

Greek Colonies of Italy…

Jacob Burkhardt the History of Greek Culture

History of Greek Culture History of Greek Culture book. Read reviews from world’s largest community for readers. This monumental work by a distinguished European scholar presents…

Wiki explaining the four major tribes of Greece… Sybaris of Magna Graecia

Emperor Hadrian of Rome who larped as a Greek.

Hadrian Hadrian was Roman emperor from 117 to 138 CE and he is known as the third of the Five Good Emperors (Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius…

Finally St Patricks day, who does it better?


Finally last one do you know of someone who suffers from FECAL AlCOHOL SYNDROME ?


Episode 29:

I bring to you notes from Episode #29 of #CaribbeanRhythms

Quarantine preparedness stack Elderberry: PipingRock.

NAC, which raises glutathione levels , reducing inflammation.

Chaga Mushrooms: Healthline.


Chaga and coffee products:


Roasted Octopus Salad with Chilli Mayo (WHOA)


Levi Strauss on cuisine:


Epicharmus, a Greek Poet: Britannica.

Sappho 2, a fragment from the Greek Poet.

Athenaeus 3rd century Greek poet.

Pindar’s Olympic Odes.


Jeff Gannon – rent boy past?


Middle ages Greek comedy is written up here.

Write up on the Greek Symposium.


Shibuya Businessmen…is this how you contain Coronavirus?


I bet you can’t find this anywhere else, Sancocho edition: 1. Columbia 2. China


I bet you can’t find AUTHENTIC beans and rice: 1. India 2. Afreaka 3. Columbia 4. Louisiana


Moldbug Calls on The Bronze Age Pervert

Mencius Moldbug: The Deep State vs. The Deep Right

No one can touch the ruling class directly, through legitimate or illegitimate political action; but indirectly through art disruption is possible. The art-right is the way forward. The Brietbarts, the populists who started this revolution produced hackneyed and not real art. Real art aims at what is highest in man and isn’t concerned with an audience… art isn’t mere propaganda.

Nevertheless, art is dangerous and everything dangerous is a weapon. Every regime is also an aesthetic—i.e., every regime relies on the dangerous weapon—and currently the only weapon in town is the democratic aesthetic.

Bolshevism was an aesthetic experience. Nazism was also an aesthetic experience. And democracy remains one. To play in this league, to compete on this historical scale, requires aesthetic gestures of great power: strong gods.

The way an aesthetic break is established… an aesthetic break is established when the old aesthetic becomes incapable of telling the truth: post-ossification, there are vested interests, long devoid of any vital power, which continue to believe in their right to dominance, but find themselves in need of increasingly massive, indeed infinite, financial resources to reproduce their lies, to get their lies into the heads of the populace. Spending massive amounts on false narratives is a sign of desperation. The legacy elite are afraid and this is a sign of coming change. [This inevitability of regime change is the closest Moldbug comes to saying the world is essentially Just. I at least have always felt a devious optimism when reading his persuasive descriptions about regimes that cease being able to tell the truth.]

In this war, there is no room for compromise: everything old must be burnt off so that what is alive can grow. The sculptor is not here to compromise with the politician. The painter isn’t producing a paint-by-numbers… his paintings are not predetermined by the lines and boundaries of a focus group. The writer isn’t trying to persuade academics and pundits. Art must be an action that subdues the opponents only incidentally… i.e., art must exude dominance.

The world cannot be won by force. She must be seduced by greatness.

BAP is good at burning, but has no positive program. He is like Nietzsche and is setting fire to everything—necessary, but not sufficient. In time this will no longer be enough. In time, every “no” will have been said. A “yes” will be required.

A Response:

Moldbug says there is no way to act politically or violently against today’s oligarchs. I completely agree. So then, why isn’t BAP’s “sun and steel” program, with its promotion of male camaraderie, not a “positive project”? It gives men something to do. Does a “positive project” have to encompass a whole society? I doubt it. If we don’t even have a Club Tropical Excellence, how can we aim at reforming all of society?

In any event, the Bronze Age Pervert isn’t interested in offering guidance to mass society but the war-band, the assembly of armed men, and the small brotherhood… none of these groups need to be told what they want. BAM was a necessary book because of how much the obviously good things are mendaciously attacked today. The Pervert does offer compelling and interesting descriptions of model men, but most importantly he clears the way for a naturally healthy young person to follow his actual desires rather than be slowly crushed by fake moral claims.

As far as Moldbug’s hoped-for institutions… I imagine institutions grow up out of a great burst of life and that talking about the “art right” is, in a sense, useless; the great artists come of their own accord. Moldbug recognizes this in his essay. He both calls for the creation of institutions and notes their basic nullity when it comes to producing great art. Great art requires telling the truth about nature, and is therefore not always producible by just any regime: great art can only be produced by the regime that can tell the truth given the present circumstances. Great art is always consonant with the regime of the future, or an impending modification of the present regime. There was a time when art supported democratic regimes, because it was the democratic regime that could tell the truth. This is no longer the case. Moldbug therefore focuses on BAP, who represents the best thing we’ve got, the closest a new regime has come to finding a voice.

The writers at The American Mind decided to ignore the focus of Moldbug’s essay. They decided, each writer in his own way, to passively suggest to Moldbug that they would prefer he write about Christian things instead. With the exception of Haywire’s petulant essay, none of the writers even mention the Bronze Age Pervert! This is an embarrassing mistake. Moldbug did not write the essay because he wanted to explain the power of art on politics–that is kid stuff. Everyone and their mother knows about the power of art. Moldbug wrote the essay because he wanted to draw attention to BAP and goad him onto another book.

Zero HP Lovecraft: The New Tlön

Lovecraft argues that everything will be new but it will still be Christian. You won’t even recognize the new church. That’s the basic gist of his essay and it is in line with the Christian Philosopher Arthur de Gobineau’s observation about the Christian religion:

We do not find that Christianity has ever given the world a unique type of civilization to which all believers belong. The Church adapts itself to everything.

Lovecraft doesn’t mention BAP, but he passively suggests that BAP’s aesthetic, the aesthetic Moldbug wrote to promote, is compatible with the Cross.

Readers and listeners of BAP know he has indeed defended Christianity. He calls for its reformation. He defends the passion of Christ against the usurpers of that passion.

They had a chance and still do, to take on the idolatry of the holocaust and the idolatry of slavery. These idolatries do everything they accuse me of, but a thousand times bigger, and yet they say nothing. This imagery of the holocaust of slavery, have been used to appropriate Christian concepts and imagery of the passion story… Explicitly appropriated it. This NYTimes 1619 project… They twist it now into this new religion that serves the passive-aggressive, feminized, pagansim or gnosticsim of the modern state. It wears this garb one day and calls it ‘liberal democracy’ the next day. And these self-righteous faggot trads who put on the garb of religion themselves … they dare say not one word against it.

Caribbean Rhythms #19

Meadowcraft & Keegin: Resurrection Aesthetic

Meadowcraft & Keegin argue that the old world died at the Somme. It is time for something new. Although it is time for something new, we should borrow from Christian civilization. This requires an anthropology of the “whole human person.” Modernity is individualistic so it doesn’t see the whole human person because it doesn’t look for God. Understanding the “whole human person” means subordinating Athens to the Gospel, seeing man as a “frightened, doomed animal, adrift in a hostile and chaotic cosmos.” I know they say this view of man is from Athenian tragedy… but it isn’t and they give no evidence for their position—they like the idea that man is broken and in need of salvation and so they attribute their more perverse desire to the Athenians and save the optimism for the Gospel.

Look, if this is your kind of thing, there is always Flannery O’Conner. But this “whole human person” thing… it’s ugly. By “whole” they mean to say you aren’t allowed to ignore the ugly; the broken are saved by God so surely they have a demand on you as well. You cannot just love good people, you have to love “whole” people, i.e., all the people, without discrimination. It’s an egalitarian essay and as such stands as a passive-aggressive rejection of Moldbug’s view of art which doesn’t care for the “whole” person but what is best in man.

Rachel Haywire: Who Owns Vitalism

Rachel implies that Moldbug is ripping her off: she claims to have come up with the term “the Art Right.” I mean, it just isn’t that impressive of an accomplishment to turn the phrase “Alt Right” into “Art Right”… I wouldn’t be surprised if more than two people had the idea on their own. I doubt anyone cares who came up with the phrase. There is no substantive argument in her essay: she asserts that Moldbug lacks credentials. She takes some baseless swipes at BAP too, after pretending to be hardly aware of who is; that is, she resents him and wants to display that, but also needs you to know she is way too important to take notice of him. Haywire is a harpy, nothing more. I have a hard time understanding why they actually published this essay. [Maybe she and Moldbug are old friends, and her tone is a kind of aggressive-banter. I don’t know.]

James Poulos: I Know Why the Caged Man Tweets

Poulos argues that better men will learn to be content. He ends the essay on that note anyway.

And after a while, many of them [men who have tried very hard to be perfect] will fall deeply in love what surrounds them—even, or perhaps especially, if it isn’t strictly beautiful.

The reason men must learn to be content with less is that the “problem” of man is insoluble: nothing can be done that will give a truly ambitious man what he wants and so he has no choice but to humble himself and accept the constraints placed on him by nature and God. I wonder why he thinks the problem is insoluble if it is possible for man to humble himself before nature and God—if it were truly possible to so humble oneself before these pillars, then wouldn’t you expect that humility to be the solution? He says religion won’t do it: perhaps he means “religion” like those people who say “It’s a relationship with God not a religion” I don’t know, that could be what he means… but he seems pretty adamant that there is no solution whatsoever.

I assume Poulos is taking on BAP indirectly, when he writes:

But it has pushed men into feeling as if the dam that must soon burst, spilling big male energy back into the world, will create a mighty river on which the right kind of helmsman can take a shortcut to sweet relief from the ugly aesthetic experience of being trapped and knowing it. An aesthetic will rise, hoisted aloft by a Cosmic Chad… so commanding a command performance will be performed that the trap will be sprung, men will be able to be men again, justified by their role in completing a fitting, pleasing whole!

Even if this quotation is not aimed at Bronze Age Mindset… I believe it is, but it doesn’t matter to my argument whether it is or not. (However, it does speak to the dishonesty of this reply and the others: why write responses to an essay about the Bronze Age Pervert and resolutely refuse to recognize him or his work?)

There seems to be this notion that men shouldn’t aim for “perfection” because it doesn’t work for all men all the time, that men inevitably become dissatisfied even if they get what they want. I mean, what is the evidence for Poulos’ claim that the problem of man is insoluble? Maybe the problem of society or mass society is insoluble, but why is that the case for every man everywhere? Maybe it is just very difficult to solve the problem of man and most people fail?

Poulos’ claim is not unlike the sophistical claim that there is no “human nature” because, unlike fire that burns hot everywhere, man is variable.

If there is a human nature then the problem of man is not insoluble… his problems would arise from ignorance of that nature, from aberrant desires rather than good desires. Or to put it another way, if we take Poulos’ view, man is in the unenviable position of having to fight against his desires; he appears more miserable than every other animal; he is irremediably confused, divided, and at war with himself. Contentedness under great constraint or after exhaustion is his only option.


The aesthetic of BAP’s Bronze Age Mindset and Caribbean Rhythms isn’t Christian, but Christianity is malleable and can be reformed. Perhaps Zero HP Lovecraft aims at something like that. As for Meadowcraft, Keegin, and Poulos … I want to ask if it is okay to try to be beautiful, to try to go after the beautiful things, to ignore and avoid the ugly and unsavory things, and above all seek independence from the fake moral claims of others? The point of their responses strikes me as only tangentially about art and primarily about putting makeup on egalitarian moral constraints, on the same moral constraints conservatives have been laboring under unsuccessfully for decades. Whether or not these had their heyday is beside the point: they are dead; we do not want them resurrected. Readers and listeners of BAP are interested in how to improve, not how to avoid being bad. That desire is the fertile soil Moldbug sees and BAP is the cultivator to whom Moldbug appealed. Why didn’t the responses take Moldbug seriously?

Elijah del Medigo on The Divide between the Ancient and Moderns

Elijah del Medigo recently wrote a longish piece about what ails modernity, in which he follows the Straussian line from NRH and the essay “The Three Waves of Modernity.”

I am going to summarize the sections of Medigo’s essay and posit a few questions about his thesis as I go. His thesis in sum: liberal political theory produces bad politics, and is in fact the progenitor of communism and fascism which are also bad. You can find his essay on his blog Thoughts out of Season.

Liberalism and the End of History & Liberalism and Nature

Liberalism is the child of modern political philosophy and modern political philosophy promotes the conquest of nature—specifically, human nature. Liberalism is pacifist and pacifism is contrary to nature. There is a “genuine struggle of war and famine” that makes history, and this struggle is overcome by liberalism. Trying to escape war and famine doesn’t sound that bad though; indeed, the desire for tranquility (a release from war and famine) sounds Biblical as well. So… there is a difference between the Biblical utopia and the liberal utopia, between the Platonic utopia and the Baconian utopia: liberalism is dishonest. It distracts men with fake wars (war on drugs, poverty, etc) and fake threats, whereas the Biblical utopia never forgets human neediness and therefore human nature. Liberalism enervates man and obscures the genuine struggle whereas the Bible and Plato elucidate human nature and orient man accordingly. Everyone’s political philosophies are aiming at a paradise, but the paradise of liberalism is fake and gay. Liberalism is the secularized return to the Garden of Eden.

Question: It’s unclear whether liberalism is anti-nature (and therefore different from ancient political philosophy) because it is trying to “immanentize the eschaton” and is “millenarian,” or because “it replaces the genuine struggle of war and famine with a purely political counterfeit.”

Socialism and Fascism

Liberalism is the father of socialism and fascism. Socialism seeks to attain the liberal utopia through illiberal means: namely, violence. Fascism “rejects both liberal ends and liberal means, and yet it is still characteristically modern.” Focusing on the volk and Fuhrer, and marrying the “corporation and state,” are modern things, not ancient things.

Question 1: Why are the volk, Fuhrer, and marriage between corporation and state specifically modern? Are there no analogues for these things in ancient political philosophy? There seem to be… Is it possible to link fascism to liberalism without its having this “distinctly modern” character that you assert? Are there really no shared aims and means? And if the “modern” link is indeed all that ties it to liberalism … why can’t there just be two or three or x-# of “modern” political philosophies, or ONE GREAT modern political philosophy of which even liberalism itself is an offshoot?

Question 2: You say, “liberalism seeks to create a simulacrum of History internal to itself, and thus avoid the trauma that accompanies actual history.” Do you mean that liberalism comes to a sort of stasis and then promulgates fake problems and fake solutions, thereby giving people something to do without meaning? Why not interpret the “war for the rights of some minority; the battle for healthcare of some other cause” as signs of decline (and encroaching communism) rather than mere “simulacrum”?

Relativism and the End of History

The basis of toleration is skepticism regarding things religious:

[T]he genesis of the liberal order consisted of the declaration that it does not matter which party is in possession of ultimate truth, which is tantamount to a declaration that for all practical purposes, there is no truth.

Call it relativism; call it nihilism; call it tolerance. However we wish to label it, relativism is built into the liberal scheme of things. This is not entirely a negative phenomenon: it allowed for a cessation of religious warfare.

People who are skeptical of religious claims will not fight others on behalf of those claims. Spreading doubt takes away the justification of violence on behalf of religion.

This relativism plays a role in spawning communism and fascism. Communism offers a more substantive standard, a more liberal liberalism: a liberalism without skepticism, which men will be willing to fight and die for. Communist ideology deepens liberalism, makes something that was largely meaningless or merely a reaction (to religious violence) into a positive political program. Communism is “liberalism more itself.” How relativism leads to fascism is more complicated.

Fascism jettisons everything liberal except for the relativism. Medigo quotes Mussolini: “From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value [the takeaway from liberal relativism], we Fascists conclude that we have the right to create our own ideology and to enforce it with all the energy of which we are capable.”

Question 1: How can liberalism be both a utopian attempt to “immanentize the eschaton” and relativist?… have an ideal and assert that all ideals are relative?

Question 2: Do fascists deny the right of other people to assert and defend their ideals? If they do, then how are they nihilist? If they don’t, same question. In other words: do they really think all ideals are equal? Don’t they really think, as you seem to think, that the liberal ideal is deceitful and therefore cowardly, whereas they are honest and therefore more deserving of recognition?

Fascism and The End of History

Fascism arises out of despair at our inability to return to nature. The liberal declared war on nature and defeated it. Despairing of a return to nature, the fascist views the state as a machine: that’s why he talks about “the Corporation and the State.” There is no internal content to fascism: the only reason it is anti-Jewish is because liberalism tolerated Judaism. The ideal of fascism, its utopia, is perpetual struggle. The obsession for struggle “nurtures an obsession with aesthetics.” This obsession and its adoption of liberal language make it a “grotesque parody” [he calls it this 4 times] of liberalism.

Question 1: What makes fascism mechanistic? You say that “fascism is the mechanistic society devised by Bacon and Hobbes … behind the façade of neo-classical building and martial Romanism.” But Carl Schmitt’s criticism of Hobbes in his The Leviathan in The State Theory of Thomas Hobbes focuses on exposing the liberal’s mechanistic conception of the state. “The idea of the state as a technically completed, manmade magnum-artificium, a machine that realizes ‘right’ and ‘truth’ only in itself—namely in its performance and function—was first grasped by Hobbes and systematically constructed by him into a clear concept.”

Question 2: Why does the promotion of “perpetual struggle” nurture an obsession with aesthetics?

The Dialectic of Modernity & Two Types of Post-Liberalism

Strauss advocated returning to liberalism but this is impossible and undesirable, because it would merely restart the unfortunate dialectic: liberalism to communism to fascism. What is needed is a genuine return to nature, which means a revival of premodern political philosophy.

Concluding thoughts:

Attempts to draw a sharp or principled distinction between ancient political philosophy and modern political philosophy suggests that modernity represents a complete break with antiquity, that something wholly new was wrought by the modern political philosophers. In Medigo’s essay, he asserts that this can be seen in the “un-Natural” principles, aims, and means of modern political philosophy as opposed to the natural character of ancient political philosophy.

However, these attempts strike me as inadequate. Every state, whether it is a massive modern state or the polis of ancient Greece looks up to ideals, seeks to succeed in war and thrive in peace, glorifies struggle and shows a concern for property, and so on. Even the charge that the modern state is “mechanistic” amounts to so much hand-waving, whether the accusation is made against liberalism or fascism … it’s not like the Romans didn’t “balance power” and seek to make institutional corrections that would cut back on mismanagement and corruption. That was the point behind the institution of co-Consuls, and the later addition of the Tribune.

Should we simply deny our eyesight, then? Isn’t the modern world different from the ancient? Don’t the modern philosophers write differently than the ancient? Doesn’t their rhetoric appeal to different passions?

These questions about modernity animate Medigo’s essay, and he illustrates various currents in modern liberal thought that certainly are anti-nature. The questions I asked and this conclusion are not meant to be a wholesale rejection of his thesis. He begins his essay saying “I fully acknowledge its inadequacy, both in terms of sourcing & in terms of coherence” … so I hope my questions and objections are not too “out of season.” In a future post I will provide an interpretation of Strauss’ “three waves of modernity” essay and in the meantime hope he responds to my questions and expands upon his general thesis.

Bolaño’s Cave

“I don’t really know how to explain it,” said Amalfitano. “It’s an old story, the relationship of Mexican intellectuals with power. I’m not saying they’re all the same. There are some notable exceptions. Nor am I saying that those who surrender do so in bad faith. Or even that they surrender completely. You could say it’s just a job. But they’re working for the state. In Europe, intellectuals work for publishing houses or for the papers or their wives support them or their parents are well-off and give them a monthly allowance or they’re laborers or criminals and they make an honest living from their jobs. In Mexico, and this might be true across Latin America, except in Argentina, intellectuals work for the state. It was like that under PRI and it’ll be the same under the PAN. The intellectual himself may be a passionate defender of the state or a critic of the state. The state doesn’t care. The state feeds him and watches over him in silence. And it puts this giant cohort of essentially useless writers to use. How? It exorcises demons, it alters the national climate or at least tries to sway it. It adds layers of lime to a pit that may or may not exist, no one knows for sure. Not that it’s always this way, of course. An intellectual can work at the university, where the literature departments are just as bad as in Mexico, but that doesn’t mean they won’t get a late-night call from someone speaking in the name of the state, someone who offers them a better job, better pay, something the intellectual thinks he deserves, and intellectuals always think they deserve better. This mechanism somehow crops the ears off Mexican writers. It drives them insane. Some, for example, will set out to translate Japanese poetry without knowing Japanese and others just spend their time drinking. Take Almendro—as far as I know he does both. Literature in Mexico is like a nursery school, a kindergarten, a playground, a kiddie club, if you follow me. The weather is good, it’s sunny, you can go out and sit in the park and open a book by Valéry, possibly the most read by Mexican writers, and then you go over to a friend’s house and talk. And yet your shadow isn’t following you anymore. At some point your shadow has quietly slipped away. You pretend you don’t notice, but you have, you’re missing your fucking shadow, though there are plenty of ways to explain it, the angle of the sun, the degree of oblivion induced by the sun beating down on hatless heads, the quantity of alcohol ingested the movement of something like subterranean tanks of pain, the fear of more contingent things, a disease that begins to become apparent, wounded vanity, the desire just for once in your life to be on time. But the point is, your shadow is lost and you, momentarily, forget it. And so you arrive on a kind of stage, without your shadow, and you start to translate reality or reinterpret it or sing it. The stage is really a proscenium and upstage there’s an enormous tube, something like a mine shaft or the gigantic opening of a mine. Let’s call it a cave. But a mine works, too. From the opening of the mine come intelligible noises. Onomatopoeic noises, syllables of rage or of seduction or of seductive rage or maybe just murmurs and whispers and moans. The point is, no one sees, really sees, the mouth of mine. Stage machinery, the play of light and shadows, a trick of time, hides the real shape of something behind the veil of camouflage, not the real shape, but at any rate it’s the shape of something. The other spectators can’t see anything beyond the proscenium, and it’s fair to say they’d rather not. Meanwhile, the shadowless intellectuals are always facing the audience, so unless they have eyes in the backs of their heads, they can’t see anything. They only hear sounds come from deep in the mine. And the translate or reinterpret or re-create them. Their work, it goes without saying, is of a very low standard. They employ rhetoric where they sense a hurricane, they try to be eloquent where they sense fury unleashed, they strive to maintain the discipline of meter where there’s only deafening and hopeless silence. They say cheep cheep bowwow, meow meow, because they’re incapable of imagining an animal of colossal proportions, or the absence of such an animal. Meanwhile, the stage on which they work is very pretty, very well designed, very charming, but it grows smaller and smaller with the passage of time. This shrinking of the stage doesn’t spoil it in any way. It simply gets smaller and smaller and the hall gets smaller too, and naturally there are fewer and fewer people watching. Next to this stage there are others, of course. News stages that have sprung up over time. There’s the painting stage, which is enormous, and the audience is tiny, though all elegant, for lack of a better word. There’s the film stage and the television stage. Here the capacity is huge, the hall is always full, and year after year the proscenium grows by leaps and bounds. Sometimes the performers from the stage where the intellectuals give their talks are invited to perform on the television stage. On this stage the opening of the mine is the same, the perspective slightly altered, although maybe the camouflage is denser and, paradoxically, bespeaks a mysterious sense of humor, but it still stinks. This humorous camouflage, naturally, lends itself to many interpretations, which are finally reduced to two for the public’s convenience or for the convenience of the public’s collective eye. Sometimes intellectuals take up permanent residence on the television proscenium. The roars keep coming from the opening of the mine and the intellectuals keep misinterpreting them. In fact, they, in theory the masters of language, can’t even enrich it themselves. Their best words are borrowings that they hear spoken by the spectators in the front row. These spectators are called flagellants. They’re sick, and from time to time the invent hideous words and there’s a spike in the mortality rate. When the work-day ends the theaters are closed and they cover the openings of the mines with big sheets of steel. The intellectuals retire for the night. The moon is fat and the night air is so pure it seems edible. Songs can be heard in some bars, the notes reaching the street. Sometimes an intellectual wanders off course and goes into one of these places and drinks mezcal. Then he thinks what would happen if one day he. But no. He doesn’t think anything. He just drinks and sings. Sometimes he thinks he sees a legendary German writer. But all he’s really seen is a shadow, sometimes all he’s seen is his own shadow, which comes home every night so that the intellectual won’t burst or hang himself from the lintel. But he swears he’s seen a German writer and his own happiness, his sense of order, his bustle, his spirit of revelry rest on that conviction. The next morning it’s nice out. The sun shoots sparks but doesn’t burn. The person can go out reasonably relaxed, with his shadow on his heels, and stop in a park and read a few pages of Valéry. And so on until the end.”

Response to Tom West

Image result for tom west political theory of the american founding

In what follows, I do not think I am taking issue with Locke’s own understanding, merely with his public teaching, a teaching that today appears incapable of accomplishing what it accomplished in former times. Also, while it is a reply to Tom West, it is not an open letter to him, but an essay meant for the blog.

Why I Criticize the West Coast

I think West agrees that Locke’s teaching, much less the founders’ view of natural rights, isn’t understood any longer. In his seminar at Georgetown Law, he even points out how little understanding there is of the natural rights theory of the founders amongst our political class.

I have watched colleagues try many times to get students to understand the Lockean and Jeffersonian meaning of equality, and to see that Jefferson was not inconsistent. I try to do this myself. What has happened again and again is a class of students goes away thinking they are patriotic for loving the founders, but who merely think the founders were the precursor to Lincoln who was the precursor to MLK. I swear, if I hear MLK mentioned as a relative equal of “Jefferson and Aristotle” one more time I am going to lose it… At the most, the students are inoculated against some of the crazier varieties of leftism. But who cares if they like the “founders,” if the “founders” they love are more left-wing than Eisenhower? They do not understand freedom of association (the right to exclude) unless you are very frank about what that means. Really, you have to be offensive or they will not follow the argument through.

They will not accept that Jefferson believed blacks were inferior to whites and should be excluded from republican society. The students I have talked to only ever really accept … they think “well, yes, the founders were consistent—but they were morally wrong to hold onto their slaves nonetheless.” Not one in ten of a West Coaster’s best students will admit that it was morally justifiable for Southerners to hold onto their slaves in lieu of being unable to repatriate them. Lincoln beats Jefferson every time, unless they simply refuse to acknowledge who Jefferson was. In other words, these lovers of the “founders” do not have that self-assertion that made the founders who they were, and do not even admit self-assertion is a virtue in the most basic concrete terms. Exclusion is inequality. Treating “the other” unequally is racist and Hitlerish. A good West Coaster will teach the students that the founders were anti-slavery, but the students will come out thinking the founders were anti-racist, and hell, even anti-sexist to boot.

In other words, the doctrine of rights and consent cannot accomplish today what it was intended to accomplish, but that does not mean the purpose of Lockean liberalism was ignoble.

The Inconsistency in Locke’s Public Presentation of Natural Rights
(aka, Tom West Accepts the Amalgam Thesis)

What I was pointing out in my post on West’s book were inconsistencies in the public teaching of liberalism—inconsistencies that West himself points out! In brief: rights are practically worthless if they do not command some respect, but under the stress of necessity no sane or reasonable man would blame another for violating the rights of a stranger—as Jefferson points out in his letter to Colvin where he talks about the ships meeting at sea, or in his letter to Holmes where he points out the plight of the Southerners.

Now, if our natural rights represent an ideal, a goal, then that’s another thing entirely—men in desperate situations at sea, or men finding themselves amidst a sea of slaves and willing agitators, can take their bearings by the theory of natural rights, namely, they can see how they should like to live if they ever escape the present necessities.[1] They should like to live in a commonwealth where everyone is good enough, reasonable enough, independent enough not to need to violate the life, liberty, or property, not only of their fellow citizens (although this would be their first goal, and usually the principal means of escaping necessity) but of anyone whosoever. So … the goal is being able to respect the rights of your fellow citizens and avoiding the need to exploit people outside of your society.

But if this is the goal… then why is it also taught by Locke as the baseline? That is, why does he teach that men who violate the rights of others are morally bad men, when that is not the case. Only men who violate the rights of others under very strict and, frankly, fortuitous conditions, are men who “fall beneath the law.” The “quarrelsome and contentious” are the bad men, not the men who violate the rights of others—but Locke is much louder about violating the rights of others than he is in discussing the vices of the quarrelsome and contentious, or the virtues of their apparent opposite, the rational and industrious. I know if you read Locke esoterically, taking into account, for example, his use of the phrase “enough, and as good left” in the fifth chapter of the Second Treatise, you can see he permits the self-assertion of a man who has no recourse but the exploitation of others if he is going to be a freeman. Yes, he permits it esoterically. But exoterically that is not the case. And it is the same game in A Letter Concerning Toleration: you are a bad man if you use the law against a religion, but only when all the religions are Lockean, that is, when all the religions are willing to teach reasonable teachings and promote the general welfare of the commonwealth rather than narrow sectarian interests. Instead of elaborating on the lineaments of the true, aka, Lockean religion, he emphasizes again and again that the bad religions use the law against their enemies. At the very least, the baseline has been the great takeaway, the “lesson learned” by readers of all backgrounds except, in some cases, the West Coast Straussian.

It is this baseline teaching that, today, produces the undesirable effect in the students, of turning them away from the virtue of self-assertion and towards the moraline drug of egalitarian anti-racism, of accelerated abolitionism, whereby they willingly permit themselves and their fellow citizens to be robbed of their property, their liberty, and yes, their lives, for fear of failing to show obeisance to the “other.”  I mean for goodness’ sake, decent citizens actually get themselves murdered because their sense of shame does not permit them to take precautions for themselves or their children. While this is of course rare, it does happen, and in any event, the lesser evils abound. White parents willingly accept the legal and social subordination of their children in education and the job market every single day. “Well Jimmy might’ve achieved more, but goodness, I simply cannot judge that black kid, whose life has been so hard because of racism. He deserves a chance to develop as well. Jimmy will be fine. He is white after all.” Someone immediately call social services on this woman!

And if anyone calls me paranoid or insecure for pointing this out… I don’t care. That is what is always said. Yes, that is the status of self-assertion in today’s America: it is almost always interpreted as neediness or petulance, while ingratitude and insolence pass for “courage” and “justice.” So I will be accused, god forbid I get doxed—but what else am I to do?

The Lockean baseline—do not violate the rights of others or you are a bad person!—has this anti-racist effect unintentionally. Locke was taking aim at different evils.

Whereas in our time, we face “the appalling problem, when one comes to actual cases, of getting men to distinguish between better and worse.” Locke faced a corrupted ruling class suffering under a different moral delusion: “That subjects or foreigners, attempting by force on the properties of any people, may be resisted with force, is agreed on all hands. But magistrates, doing the same thing, may be resisted, hath of late been denied” (sec 231).

A careful reading of the Second Treatise shows that natural rights serve the purpose of assertive but rational self-interest, in much the same way Hobbes taught a more Royal Self-Interest (I think it is time to bring back Hobbes and the Cavalier Poets!).

Let me try to throw what I mean into bold relief: for Locke, the teaching of natural rights, the natural equality and freedom of all men in the state of nature, and the necessity of consent are various ways of approximating the rule of wisdom in a time of mass society. In West’s book, the section he mentions in his comment to my post, he quotes Jaffa saying that consent “as mere acquiescence of the will” is not enough, and that “prudence” is essential to success as opposed to the merely doctrinaire view that if you get the doctrine of rights correct—if all your citizens are orthodox ideologues—you get the whole of government correct (PTAF 52). In that same section, West downplays the role political theory (the “form”) can play, to emphasize the importance that “matter”—geography, ancestry, manners and customs (mores)—plays.[2] It is at this point, and only at this point, where West will admit the “amalgam” thesis has any traction: “to the extent [that you need the “matter”] the amalgam thesis is correct.”

This weakness—and I think West agrees that admitting the amalgam thesis is a weakness, though I am guessing here—is a necessity for natural rights theory because of the Lockean tendency to promote the “baseline” I discussed earlier, rather than the Jaffa-West refashioning of it, that is, Jaffa & West more openly teach the elitist side of the theory whereas Locke eschewed it on account of the practical difficulties England faced in 17th century. Our founders mostly followed Locke, in their combat against certain religious superstitions and, obviously, in their Revolution against the Crown. But it is perfectly possible to have a theory of Natural Right without an amalgam, if you are willing to do the admittedly dangerous and often imprudent thing of openly saying “the absolute rule of wisdom” is the best form of government, as Locke knew full well. Then your theory can take into account the excellencies of men, however varied those may be, and provide a very full description of the “cycle of regimes,” over which the enlightenment philosophers are relatively quiet as compared to the ancient.


In sum: Locke esoterically teaches the rule of wisdom, but promotes a baseline teaching about consent and the rights of life, liberty, and property. In this public teaching, consent approximates wisdom by going some way to ensuring the rulers have the best interests of the commonwealth in mind, and the natural rights approximate wisdom, by going some way to ensuring that moral vanities do not cloud men’s thinking about politics. But this public teaching—the baseline teaching whereby it is morally wrong to violate the rights of others, rather than “not ideal”—suffers from the need for an amalgam, a need that can easily be overlooked in order to produce egalitarian moral blindness and accelerated abolitionism.

In a future essay, maybe … (I should really be writing “professional” articles to advance my “normie” life…) I will explain how to read Locke esoterically.

[1] West points this out when he says “The founders (and Lincoln) looked up to the laws of nature and of nature’s god. In this sense, the founders’ America was defined in 1776 by its anti-slavery principles, in spite of the fact that slavery was then legal in every state.” (PTAF 65)

[2] It is indeed a “based” section, for those of you wondering: (PTAF 50-54).

A Comment on Proverbs 9

Proverbs 9 King James Version (KJV)

1 Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:

2 She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.

3 She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city,

4 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,

5 Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.

6 Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

7 He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.

8 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.

9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

11 For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.

12 If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.

13 A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.

14 For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city,

15 To call passengers who go right on their ways:

16 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,

17 Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.

18 But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.

This is an interesting Proverb, because the place of the simple is unclear. Are they good or wicked or what? Both the goddess Wisdom and the temptress call to them, using the same words, and as simple men how are they to know which is which? This conundrum is reinforced in 7-9.

The opposite of the one who scorns is clear enough: it is the one who does not scorn. The opposite of the wicked, however, is twofold: the wise man and the just man.

We are told what wisdom is for and what lacking wisdom brings. Wisdom is for oneself and lacking wisdom is its own punishment, “thou alone shall bear it.”

It is difficult to imagine how a deficiency of this sort would not spill over into injustice towards others, but that seems to be the claim here. If you lack wisdom you suffer for it. But wouldn’t others suffer for it as well insofar as you affect them in any way?

Possibly what is meant is a denigration of justice. Maybe the simple man can also be a just man because he simply never harms others. He may not have the wisdom to benefit them, but at least he doesn’t harm them. Justice would be half or only need half, whereas wisdom would be whole, namely, the knowledge of what is good and bad. The wise man can not only avoid injuring others, he can benefit them as well because he knows what is good for them and what they should avoid.

This denigration of justice must be a concession to the simple. You can be a just man if you remain innocent in the eyes of others.

But can you remain innocent in the eyes of others if they think you’ve helped them but have indeed harmed them? Even with the best intentions, a simpleton or fool trying to help can do harm. Every son trying to help his father with some difficult task has, at some point or another, been the cause of some disaster, minor or otherwise. But there are other examples. Say you make a man rich who shouldn’t be rich.

“Well if they never know they’ve been harmed–you made them rich and this made them worse but they never realized it and therefore thanked you until their dying day.” Can men remain invincibly ignorant of their own deficiencies? The researches of Plato would suggest, yes, they can, but something as insignificant as a gadfly can rouse them. And everyone with eyes can see that Time herself is capable of revealing many deficiencies to people who did not feel the error at first or for a long time.

But this is, in a sense, beside the point. Certainly there are men who are both simple/unwise and completely powerless to bring harm to others.

Tolstoy longed to be such a man, but unlike his simpleton Platon Karyatev, he took it upon himself to write and give advice–he used the power in his tongue and pen to move others thereby negating his ideal. This might make you think of the philosopher who only pointed at things, forsaking speech, but that is another matter entirely.

So Proverbs 9 leaves room for the powerless simpleton. He too can avoid falling into wickedness if he chooses the goddess instead of the temptress and thereby count himself among the Just, though he won’t be of use to anyone.

“Oh but there is always a benefit in a just man!” That will be said. “Perhaps he smiles and warms the hearts of others. Gives hugs.” Well then, as you are keen on elevating him, you also show the rarity of Justice without wisdom, because even the simplest man will exercise some power over human beings.

Observations on Celine’s London Bridge

“Men don’t need to be boozed up in order to ravage heaven and earth. Carnage’s in their blood! It’s a miracle they’re still going strong, given how long they’ve been trying to wipe each other off the face of the earth. Just one thing on the brain—the Void! Nasty customers, born to crime! They see red wherever they look. Mustn’t keep hammering away at this, it’d spell the end of all poetry” (321).

Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s London Bridge is the sequel to Guignol’s Band. The works are presented as autobiographical; the narrator is “Ferdinand.” This narrative technique alone makes the murder of the dwarf Centipede by Ferdinand probably the most shocking part of Guignol’s Band. In London Bridge Ferdinand seduces—or perhaps is seduced by—a fourteen year old.

Celine is often characterized as a nihilist or a fascist—and sometimes even by the same person as both (I would love to know how someone can be a nihilist and a fascist). Both those attracted to him and those repulsed by him have a tendency to present him in terms that are “beyond good and evil.” Or people think he is moral in Journey to the End of the Night but gets over it in his subsequent works.

London Bridge starts out relatively sane, and the first 120 pages are presented in nice bite-sized sections of 6-20 pages a piece. Ferdinand, on the run from the police even before he murdered Centipede, and his friend, the eccentric Sosthene, hide out by going to work for the Colonel, testing gas masks. Ferdinand wiggles out of any dangerous work and serves as the group’s factotum. It is under these circumstances that he falls for the Colonel’s niece, Virginia—if she is, in fact, his niece; the work is presented in such a paranoid tone that one can never tell exactly what information is reliable.

When we first meet Virginia we can’t tell whether she is a blessed innocent, the lover (related or not related) of the Colonel, or something in-between these extreme positions. Ferdinand falls for this woman immediately; on the very first page, the narrator tells us that it was love at first sight. The thighs, calves, short skirt, and blue eyes of Virginia are treated repeatedly and with extraordinary attention throughout the work. Unless the reader is prevented by the young age of the woman from doing so, he will experience Ferdinand’s response to Virginia as a psychologically normal response to beauty: as Ferdinand falls in love, he deifies Virginia, considers himself unworthy of her, and forces himself to approach her nevertheless. None of this is weird; it is just that she happens to be fourteen.

In fact, Virginia has the soul of a whore. The prostitutes she encounters throughout the work immediately see her as one of their own, and this link is confirmed by the narrator: “Cracking up a gang of tarts is a snap… they laugh at every little fart… one drowning fly sets off wild fits… the really awful thing, and I do mean awful, was that my tenderest most delicate darling was getting just as big a bang… laughing her little head off just like the others” (342).

Where does this leave us? The narrator himself goes out of his way to overplay his own age; only at the end of the work do we learn that Ferdinand was twenty-two at the time of the action. Several times throughout the work Ferdinand is called “Romeo” as an insult; unlike Shakespeare, who quietly downplays the importance of any age gap between Romeo and Juliet, Celine hams up the gap between Ferdinand and Virginia. The narrator is relentless in telling us that she is only fourteen. Not only are we meant to find the situation repulsive, but also Ferdinand himself is repulsed by his attraction. Celine presents the reader with two contradictory thoughts, both held by Ferdinand: 1) the advances are inappropriate; 2) beauty is overwhelming, and attraction to beauty is inherently correct. I take Celine to be indignant at the likely hypocrisy of the reader—and to be indignant at hypocrisy indicates that one is concerned with morality.

The first major attempt at seduction takes place to the following tune: “Go ahead, laugh! Laugh! little bitch!… I’m going to gobble your thighs! I can’t hold back anymore! I roll around at her feet… I kiss her little shoes… the tips and then her socks… and then her leg the taut flesh down there so pink and tanned… her muscles laughing too, quivering… the downy blush of life… ah! laugh, laugh little girl! my goddess! I’m going to sink my teeth in you raw! (71). After almost ten pages of attacking and retreating, Ferdinand has almost won her over when suddenly there is a great “KEE-RRASH! all hell breaks loose again! what a godawful din!” (78). Sosthene and the Colonel have accidentally inhaled gas and proceed to tear their laboratory apart. This is Celine’s way of showing how technological development spoils appreciation of beauty.

Ferdinand is sent out with Virginia to buy replacement equipment. This is the beginning of a section over 100 pages long in which Celine slowly descends into a fever dream. Over the course of buying equipment, the duo become drenched by rain, and they stop to rest: “She’s so pale she scares me… she’s staring off into the distance on the other side of the lawns… ‘Did you catch your death?’ I ask her point-blank… poor little face… ‘What do you see, Virginia? Your face so drawn and those big eyes?…’ Nothing’s out there on the lawns… just more rain… puddles… long tatters of fog drifting along… I take a look too, peer hard… don’t spot a thing… not a blessed thing… ah! wait a sec, some guy’s over there….” (128). This is our first indication that Ferdinand is turning feverish. The man they encounter turns out to be Centipede—but wasn’t Centipede the man Ferdinand killed in Guignol’s Band? Did he somehow survive being pushed under a train? The man’s putrid body and rotting flesh indicate otherwise. The deceased Centipede joins the group, they get dinner and drinks, and go to a jazz club. This adventure is depicted as a descent into Hell, and the reader has no idea what the relationship is between what is happening inside Ferdinand’s head and what is happening outside of his head. We experience the same feverish uncertainty as Ferdinand. At the end of the fever dream Ferdinand escapes the society of Centipede with Virginia: “ ‘Honey buns! Honey buns!…’ I call her. ‘Sorry! Sorry!…’ I shake her… bite her!… suck her! Ah! it’s my hot love!… my blood!… my lightning passion!… I’m all revved up full blast!… I’m going to bust her up!… crush her alive!… can’t stop myself anymore!… I hammer my whole body into hers!… crush her… I’m out of control… I ram! I ram!… and talk… got to bellow… bellow… ‘You’ll do everything to her!… You’ll do everything to her!…’ I can feel her kissing me!… sucking at my lips… she’s a sweetheart!… I plough into her!… Ramming away!… Killing her!… Killing her!… That’s the truth!… The truth!… I ought to know! Even harder now!… Faster!… Got to be worse!… until we tear each other limb from limb!…” (175-6). Considering his feverishness, Ferdinand has to have what happened confirmed for him the next day. Virginia is pregnant.

Ferdinand goes through the expected train of thoughts. He curses his luck, imagines abandoning her, and imagines sticking it out with her. He decides to stick it out with her, and Ferdinand, Sosthene, and Virginia determine that it would be best if they moved along. Ferdinand attempts to book them passage either to Ireland or America. When the captain of the boat will allow only Ferdinand passage as a deckhand, he decides to leave Sosthene and Virginia behind.

The normal interpretation of what follows is that Ferdinand takes Sosthene and Virginia to a bar to have a few drinks together before he has to leave. The proprietor of the bar is an acquaintance and a party has been prepared for Ferdinand because it is his name day. All of his dubious English criminal acquaintances are there, and the party causes him to miss his boat. Evidence of a past crime is destroyed during the party and, afterwards, Ferdinand, Sosthene, and Virginia cross London Bridge together. It is an optimistic image implying that the uncertainty of the past is behind them.

This straightforward interpretation ignores the likelihood that the party in Ferdinand’s honor is a fever dream brought on by the prospect of abandoning Virginia. The party makes no sense. There is no reason to think that Ferdinand’s acquaintances would know where he is or be motivated to help him. More importantly, in what are apparently throwaway lines, the narrator twice mentions the presence of the deceased Centipede at the party. Ferdinand’s party, the apparent cause of his inability to abandon Sosthene and Virginia, is an expression of his fractured inability to decide completely in favor or against abandonment. The beautiful image of a new beginning is tainted by undertones of feverish paranoia and uncertainty.

London Bridge translated by Dominic di Bernardi and published by Dalkey Archive.

—Essay by HerodoteanDreams