Centralised / Dispersed

Centralised      -       Dispersed

Many sincere men feel that liberty, even though it may contribute most to internal welfare, cannot stand up against despotism in the external struggle. Liberty, they argue, means too much dissipation of energy, too much delay, too much division. These feelings make it easier for them to accept the loss of liberty as an inevitable destiny.

Then, in the economic structure, the economic arrangements which during the past several centuries aided political liberty, are being rapidly swept away. Private-capitalist ownership of the economy meant a dispersion of economic power and a partial separation between economic and other social forces in a manner that prevented the concentration of an overwhelming single social force.

Today the advance of the managerial revolution is everywhere concentrating economic power in the state apparatus, where it tends to unite with control over the other great social forces--the army, education, labor, law, the political bureaucracy, art, and science even. 

This development, too, tends to destroy the basis for those social oppositions that keep freedom alive.

[James Burnham]
The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom, p.227

[…] any organisation has to strive continuously for the orderliness of order and the disorderliness of creative freedom. And the specific danger inherent in large-scale organisation is that its natural bias and tendency favour order, at the expense of creative freedom.

We can associate many further pairs of opposites with this basic pair of order and freedom. Centralisation is mainly an idea of order; decentralisation, one of freedom. The man of order is typically the accountant and, generally, the administrator; while the man of creative freedom is the entrepreneur. Order requires intelligence and is conducive to efficiency; while freedom calls for, and opens the door to, intuition and leads to innovation.

[E.F. Schumacher]
Small is Beautiful, p. 203

[...] I have reached the conclusion that large-scale production, all issuing from one unit, is also a phenomenon due to cheap and plentiful oil, and is being brought into question as that period of cheap and plentiful oil draws to a close.

[...] I can't see anything that man really needs that cannot be produced very simply, very efficiently, very viably on a small scale with a radically simplified technology, with very little initial capital, so that even little people can get at it.

If you have a technological trend, as we've had for the last hundred years, for everything to become bigger and bigger, more and more complex, more and more capital-demanding, then of course more and more people get excluded. The thing is reserved for people already rich or powerful.

The technology has grown beyond the human scale. The question is, Can we bring it back to the human scale?

We have been at this, with an organization called the Intermediate Technology Development Group, for ten years. And wherever we have tried, we have found, yes, of course, it's perfectly possible. If we want to make cement - although the trend of the cement industry has been to go from small to ever, ever bigger, and now there are installations where half a million tons of cement a year are produced from one factory - if we use the know-how that we have and make the design study, we can have a mini-plant.

And, instead of having one whopper plant in one place, making half a million, we can have a hundred plants scattered around, where the resources are and where the demand is, to make a few thousand tons a year each. This can be done; it can also be done with bricks, it can be done with chipboard, it can be done wherever we've tried. It can be done.

[E.F. Schumacher]
Good Work, p. 20-22

Related posts:

Force of Will

Numerous and varied are the personal qualities thanks to which certain individuals succeed in ruling the masses.

These qualities, which may be considered as specific qualities of leadership, are not necessarily all assembled in every leader. Among them, the chief is the force of will which reduces to obedience less powerful wills.

Next in importance come the following: a wider extent of knowledge which impresses the members of the leaders' environment; a catonian strength of conviction, a force of ideas often verging on fanaticism, and which arouses the respect of the masses by its very intensity; self-sufficiency, even if accompanied by arrogant pride, so long as the leader knows how to make the crowd share his own pride in himself; in exceptional cases, finally, goodness of heart and disinterestedness, qualities which recall in the minds of the crowd the figure of Christ, and reawaken religious sentiments which are decayed but not extinct.

[Robert Michels]
Political Parties, p. 72

Related posts:

The De-Souling of Culture

Civilisation       -        Culture
Atheistic           -         Theistic 
Intelligence       -        Wisdom 
Profane              -        Sacred 
Machine            -        Organism 
Quantity            -        Quality 
Static                 -         Dynamic 
Objective           -         Subjective
Global               -         Local 
Material            -         Spiritual 
Reactive            -         Active 

Atheism, rightly understood, is the necessary expression of a spirituality that has accomplished itself and exhausted its religious possibilities, and is declining into the inorganic.

Atheism comes not with the evening of the Culture but with the dawn of the Civilization. It belongs to the great city, to the "educated man" of the great city who acquires mechanistically what his fore fathers the creators of the Culture had lived organically.

Men continue to experience the outer world that extends around them as a cosmos of well-ordered bodies or a world-cavern or efficient space, as the case may be, but they no longer livingly experience the sacred causality in it. They only learn to know it in a profane causality that is, or is desired to be, inclusively mechanical.

There are atheisms of Classical, Arabian and Western kinds and these differ from one another in meaning and in matter. Nietzsche formulated the dynamic atheism on the basis that "God is dead," and a Classical philosopher would have expressed the static and Euclidean by saying that the "gods who dwell in the holy places are "dead," the one indicating that boundless space has, the other that countless bodies have, become godless.

But dead space and dead things are the "facts" of physics. The atheist is unable to experience any difference between the Nature-picture of physics and that of religion.

Language, with a fine feeling, distinguishes wisdom and intelligence - the early and the late, the rural and the megalopolitan conditions of the soul. Intelligence even sounds atheistic. No one would describe Heraclitus or Meister Eckart as an intelligence, but Socrates and Rousseau were intelligent and not “wise" men. There is something root-less in the word. 

It is only from the standpoint of the Stoic and of the Socialist, of the typical irreligious man, that want of intelligence is a matter for contempt.

The spiritual in every living Culture is religious, has religion, whether it be conscious of it or not. That it exists, becomes, develops, fulfils itself, is its religion. It is not open to a spirituality to be irreligious; at most it can play with the idea of irreligion as Medicean Florentines did.

But the megalopolitan is irreligious; this is part of his being, a mark of his historical position. Bitterly as he may feel the inner emptiness and poverty, earnestly as he may long to be religious, it is out of his power to be so.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 408-9

Humanity's existential lesion is generally explained as an effect of material, economic organization in a society such as the capitalist one.

The true remedy, the start of a “new and authentic humanism,” a human integrity and a “happiness never known before,” would then be furnished by the setting up of a different socioeconomic system, by the abolition of capitalism, and by the institution of a communist society of workers, such as is taking place in the Soviet area.

Karl Marx had already praised in communism “the real appropriation of the human essence on the part of man and for the sake of man, the return of man to himself as a social being, thus as a human man," seeing in it the equivalent of a perfect naturalism and even a true humanism.

In its radical forms, wherever this myth is affirmed through the control of movements, organizations, and people, it is linked to a corresponding education, a sort of psychic lobotomy intended methodically to neutralize and infantilize any form of higher sensibility and interest, every way of thought that is not in terms of the economy and socioeconomic processes.

Behind the myth is the most terrible void, which acts as the worst opiate yet administered to a rootless humanity. Yet this deception is no different from the myth of prosperity, especially in the form it has taken in the West. Oblivious of the fact that they are living on a volcano, materially, politically, and in relation to the struggle for world domination, Westerners enjoy a technological euphoria, encouraged by the prospects of the "second industrial revolution" of the atomic age.

At all events, the error and the illusion are the same in both socioeconomic ideologies, namely the serious assumption that existential misery can be reduced to suffering in one way or another from material want, and to impoverishment due to a given socioeconomic system.

They assume that misery is greater among the disinherited or the proletariat than among those living in prosperous or privileged economic conditions, and that it will consequently diminish with the "freedom from want" and the general advance of the material conditions of existence.

The truth of the matter is that the meaning of existence can be lacking as much in one group as in the other, and that there is no correlation between material and spiritual misery.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p. 28-9

Our commitment to a radical reconstruction is directly relevant here because it insists there can be no dealings not only with every variety of Marxist and socialist ideology, but likewise with what in general can be called the hallucination, or the demonic possession by the economy.

We are dealing here with the idea that in both the individual and collective life, the economic factor is the important, real, and decisive one; that the concentration of every value and interest upon the field of economics and production is not the unprecedented aberration of modern Western man, but on the contrary something normal; not something that is, possibly, an ugly necessity, but rather something that should be desired and exalted.

Both capitalism and Marxism are trapped in this closed and dark circle. We need to break this circle wide open.

As long as we talk about nothing else but economic classes, work, wages, and production; and as long as we delude ourselves that real human progress and the genuine elevation of the individual is conditioned by a particular system of distribution of wealth and goods, and therefore has to do with poverty and ease, with the state of prosperity à la the United States or with that of utopian socialism, we yet remain on the same level as that which we need to combat.

We need to assert the following: that everything that relates to economy and the view of economic interest as a mere satisfaction of physical needs has had, has now, and always will have a subordinate role in a normal humanity.

Beyond this sphere we need to separate an order of superior values which are political, spiritual, and heroic; an order that — as we already said — does not recognise, or even admit, ‘proletarians’ or ‘capitalists’. It is only in terms of this order that it is proper to define the things for which it is worth living and dying, which establish a true hierarchy, which differentiate new ranks of dignity, and, at the top, place on the throne a superior function of command, an Imperium.

[Julius Evola]
‘Orientations’, VI

It would be good to look further into the kind and presuppositions of [scientific] “knowing.”

The cosmic constant is a purely mathematical concept; in using it to speak of the speed of light, one no longer imagines speed, light, or propagation, one must only have in mind numbers and symbols. If someone were to ask those scientists what is light, without accepting an answer in mathematical symbols, they would look stupefied and not even understand the request.

Ever since [modern man] has been subject to compulsory education, his mind has been stuffed with “positive" scientific notions; he cannot avoid seeing in a soulless light everything that surrounds him, and therefore acts destructively.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p. 133, 138

This is why atomistic thinking led people to metaphysical materialism, to the rather mysterious idea that only matter is real. The Greek atomists were the first people who seriously made this striking claim, the first real materialists.

Their Ionian predecessors such as Thales had taken for granted that life and spirit were included as properties of their primal substance - water, air or fire. Instead, the atomists seriously tried to show how life and consciousness could emerge from a world consisting only of static, inert atoms and the void.

[Mary Midgley]
Science and Poetry, p.89

The “natural conscience” of mankind, Edwards says, "should approve and condemn the same things that are approved and condemned by a spiritual sense or virtuous taste.”

Those who take a purely behavioral view of morality will see this as an admission that the distinctions Edwards is so eager to establish—the distinction between “true virtue" and "secondary virtue," between the "gratitude that is truly virtuous” and the gratitude that comes from “loving those which love us," or again between "remorse of conscience" and genuine repentance - have no practical consequences and are therefore completely irrelevant to moral philosophy.

If “natural conscience ... concurs with the law of God," why do we need the law of God at all? Man-made morality appears to be enough for practical purposes.

Indeed the man-made morality outlined by Edwards, apparently indistinguishable in its content from the morality that issues from a love of God, itself appears to hold up an impossibly exalted standard of conduct, one that most people will inevitably fall short of. What good does it do to hold up a standard higher still, especially when we cannot show that it will improve the way anyone actually behaves? Edwards seems to prescribe a morality more suited to angels than to human beings, as Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes once observed.

Perry Miller points out in his biography of Edwards that Edwards would have agreed with this description of his morality, though not with the corollary that his morality was therefore irrelevant to human purposes. Civic order and social peace, we might add, are simply not the human purposes Edwards chiefly has in mind.

Important as these are, they do not exhaust the concerns that ought to be addressed by a well-conceived ethical theory.

In Edwards's view, the regulation of collective behavior remains a secondary concern. A more important concern is what men have to do in order to achieve a state of grace—the condition described only imperfectly as peace of mind, inner assurance, trust, overflowing vitality, and spiritual health.

Curiously enough, the concept of happiness, that eighteenth-century obsession, may explain as well as any other why the virtue that enables us to live in peace with our neighbors matters so much less, in Edwards's scheme of things, than the virtue that "softens and sweetens the mind” and thus enables us to live in peace with God—who “himself,” Edwards reminds us, "is in effect being in general.”

Secondary virtue cannot make us happy (to put the point in terms intelligible to the modern mind). It cannot overcome our resentment of the world's imperfections. It cannot solve the “problem of evil.” It cannot explain why we should be expected to love life when it is full of pain and suffering, heartbreakingly short, and bounded on either side by darkness.

Only "repentance” and “consent" can do that: such is Edwards's answer to the eighteenth-century "pursuit of happiness."

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.255-6

[…] I propose a different definition of capitalism, and implicit in this definition is a foundational critique. The definition is simple: capitalism is the total desacralization of property.

Feudalism arose from the combination of vassalage with fief-holding—that is, it arose from the inherently personal obligation to a man, in conjunction with the granting of immovable property by that man. Property under feudalism is bound up with social obligation—all property is held subject to the performance of duties.

One mark of sacral property is inalienability; feudal property was not exactly inalienable, but in some degree indivisible. The serf can’t be alienated from his land and can’t be parted from his family—this is one of his rights, which is God-given and sacred.

All feudal property stood upon this sacral basis, however indirectly. Later, the glue that held the system of property relations together came to be the great chain of being, where each man in the divine hierarchy, from bonded serf all the way up to the Holy Roman Emperor, could trace his part in the social order unto the throne of God himself. And property itself was in some sense consecrated. It was restricted in its usages; it was possible to abuse it; above all, property conferred not only rights, but duties. Property was not exactly a sacred relation, but nor was it purely economic—it was a mixture of the two.

The break between feudalism and capitalist was not so much the break between corporate and individual ownership; more fundamentally the break involved the loss of this mixed sacrality.

[…] For the archaic Roman, all economic transactions were essentially sacred matters, requiring an elaborate ceremony known as the mancipatio (lit. “taking hold of the hand”). A sale was not a mere handshake, but an elaborate ceremony presided over by a god, with prescribed ritual actions and verbal formulae that must be performed exactly for a valid transaction to take place. The reason for this was that for our Roman, ownership was not an agreement between men as to the status of a thing, but the status of a thing in the eyes of the god.

This point-of-sale system was necessarily somewhat limited and localized. Over time, as the needs of Roman society changed, a second category came into existence: the res “nec mancipi”—goods not requiring the mancipatio.

[…] The Marxist attempt to draw a line between capitalism and itself is utterly naïve, because properly understood, it is desacralization of property which gives birth to both communism and capitalism—not opposites, but cousins.

First, the move from res mancipi to res nec mancipi desacralizes property. Later, usufruct enables the use-based proprietorship of the emphyteusis—a further desacralization. Still later, the secularization of the homage and the discharge of obligation in impersonal terms moves us still closer to capitalism. At every stage the relation between owner and owned devolves into mere use—we call this “commodification”. This is the fountainhead of our “rights based” moral paradigm—today only rights attach to property; duties attaching to property is unintelligible.

What began as particularized, inherited, rooted in the soil, inalienable, and corporative, through the slow march of time devolved—though by no means necessarily—into something universal, deterritorialized, free, and individual. Over thousands of years, in the move from the archaic to the classical, through feudalism and ultimately to capitalism, the history of property relations is a history of desacralization.

These are all special cases of our view, which sees in the originary and undistorted essence of capitalism a loss of property’s ultimate significance. When we say that capitalism is materialistic, commodified, exploitative, usurious, utilitarian, and mercantile, these are all distorted and indirect ways of saying that capitalism is irreligious.

Capitalism is not something new, but is simply the logical conclusion of something old—capitalism is the total desacralization of property. Feudal property still retained something of the sacred character handed down from the earliest times, and where capitalism makes a qualitative break from it is in its total, or at least near-total abdication of this sacrality.

Above all, the archaic critique of capitalism lays bare the essential solution: resacralization. The burden here is that the problem of capitalism is not separate from the other problems of modernity that demand resacralization, such as the problem of meaning, of the state, and of the family—not for no reason is oiko-nomos the “law of the household”. The issue is resacralizing property, which is not separable from resacralizing our world—this is “one struggle” against one problem.

[Imperium Press]
‘Capitalism: An Archaic Critique’, Imperium Press, Substack

Rest belongs to the sphere of the sacred. Work, by contrast, is a profane activity that must be wholly absent from the religious act. Rest and work represent two fundamentally different existential forms. They are divided by an ontological, even a theological, difference.

“This is because work is an eminent form of profane activity: it has no other apparent end than to provide for the temporal necessities of life; it puts us in relations with ordinary things only.

On feast days, on the contrary, the religious life attains an exceptional degree of intensity. So the contrast between the two forms of existence is especially marked at this moment; consequently, they cannot remain near to each other. A man cannot approach his god intimately while he still bears on him marks of his profane life; inversely, he cannot return to his usual occupations when a rite has just sanctified him. So the ritual day of rest is only one particular case of the general incompatibility separating the sacred from the profane.”

If rest becomes a form of recovery from work, as is the case today, it loses its specific ontological value. It no longer represents an independent, higher form of existence and degenerates into a derivative of work.

Today's compulsion of production perpetuates work and thus eliminates that sacred silence. Life becomes entirely profane, desecrated.

[Byung-Chul Han]
The Disappearance of Rituals, p.38-9

[...] it may be a debatable issue whether these evils are the result of industrialism as such or of the particular capitalist form in which it made its appearance in the West.

I myself fear it is industrialism as such, irrespective of the social form. In what way does it stunt personality? [...] mainly by making most forms of work - manual and white-collared - utterly uninteresting and meaningless.

Mechanical, artificial, divorced from nature, utilizing only the smallest part of man's potential capabilities, it sentences the great majority of workers to spending their working lives in a way which contains no worthy challenge, no stimulus to self-perfection, no chance of development, no element of Beauty, truth, or Goodness.

The basic aim of modern industrialism is not to make work satisfying but to raise productivity; its proudest achievement is labor saving, whereby labor is stamped with the mark, of undesirability. But what is undesirable cannot offer dignity so the working life of a laborer is a life without dignity.

The result, not surprisingly, is a spirit of sullen irresponsibility which refuses to be mollified by higher wage awards but is often only stimulated by them.

[E.F. Schumacher]
Good Work, p. 27-8

It is interesting to note that the modern world takes a lot of care that the worker's body should not accidentally or otherwise be damaged. If it is damaged, the worker may claim compensation. But his soul and his spirit? If his work damages him, by reducing him to a robot - that is just too bad.

Here we can see very clearly the crucial importance of metaphysics. Materialistic metaphysics, or the metaphysics of the doctrine of mindless evolution, does not attribute reality to anything but the physical body: why then bother about safety or health when it comes to such nebulous, unreal things as soul or spirit?

We acknowledge, and understand the need for, the development of a person's body; but the development of his soul or spirit? Yes, education for the sake of enabling a man or woman to make a living; but education for the sake of leading them out of the dark wood of egocentricity, pettiness, and worldly ignorance - at the most, this would be a purely private affair: does it not smack of "copping out" and "turning one's back on reality"?

Materialistic metaphysics, therefore, leaves no room for the idea of good work, that work is good for the worker.

Anyone who says, "The worker needs work for the development and perfection of his soul," sounds like a fanciful dreamer, because materialistic metaphysics does not recognize any such need. It recognizes the needs of the body; that they can be met only by somebody's work is an unpleasant fact and perhaps automation will soon abolish it. Meanwhile, the work needs to be done. Let's get on with it, but make sure the body doesn't get hurt.

If we see work as nothing but an unpleasant necessity, it is no use talking about good work, unless we mean less work.

If we continue to teach that the human being is nothing but the outcome of a mindless, meaningless, and purposeless process of evolution, a process of "selection" for survival, that is to say, the outcome of nothing but utilitarianism - we only come to a utilitarian idea of work: that work is nothing but a more or less unpleasant necessity, and the less there is of it the better.

Our ancestors knew about good work, but we cannot learn from them if we continue to treat them with friendly contempt - as pathetic illusionists who wasted their time worshiping non existing deities; and if we continue to treat traditional wisdom as a tissue of superstitious poetry, not to be taken seriously; and if we continue to take materialistic scientism as the one and only measure of progress.

[E.F. Schumacher]
Good Work, p. 119-21

We take this tree, with this radical, contextualised, complex value, and take it out of its context and give it this reduced, abstracted, simplified value metric.

We’ve done that to eighty percent of the old growth forests that the earth has spent billions of years developing, [and] 90% of the large fish species in the ocean. What does that capital then really do, other than continue to [reproduce and maintain itself].

It’s a process of abstracting value - from complex value to abstract value - and then extracting and accumulating it. Capitalism does that, but socialism and communism have other versions of doing [- they] were really only subsets of this kind of resource concentration system

That’s the core, that’s the ring of power that has to be broken: abstraction of value, and specifically a reductive abstraction; extraction, so you remove the content form its context; and accumulation.

And that’s how you take a complex system - that is resilient -and turn it into a complicated system - that is not resilient, that is becoming progressively simpler - and kill it.

[Daniel Schmachtenberger]
'46: Daniel Schmachtenberger - Phase Shifting Humanity', The Future Thinkers Podcast

The conflict between Soviet communism and liberal democracy was not a clash between the West and the rest. It was a family quarrel among western ideologies [...] The Cold War was a conflict between opposed variants of the same Enlightenment project.

The Soviet collapse was not a victory by ‘the West’ over one of its enemies. It was the ruin of this century’s most ambitious westernising regime.

[John Gray]
False Dawn, p.102-3

The oldest surviving strata of Greek literature display the same immersion in a world of enchantments that can be found in the oldest surviving strata of post-Roman European literature.

Then, like clockwork, poetry gives way to prose, and the first stirrings of philosophy and natural science give rise to rationalist currents. Thoughtful intellectuals turn their attention to traditional religion in an attempt to make sense of it, never realizing until too late that they are undermining the faith they themselves hold dear.

[John Michael Greer]
'The Destiny of Disenchantment', Ecosophia

[Spengler] showed, among other things, that every major civilization has had its own age of reason, the rationalist philosophies deployed by each age of reason are simply that culture’s religious beliefs with the serial numbers filed off and some abstraction put in place of the former god or gods, and ages of reason differ because civilizations differ—the seeming superiority of our age of reason is simply a reflection of the fact that it’s better at fulfilling our civilization’s idiosyncratic fantasies, while the ages of reason of other cultures fulfilled those cultures’ fantasies instead.

[John Michael Greer]
'The Return of Religion', Ecosophia

It could be said that the scientist sets up the triumph of reactive forces as his model and wants to chain thought to it.

"Observe the ages in the history of peoples when the scholar steps into the foreground: they are ages of exhaustion, often of evening and decline"

[Gilles Deleuze]
Nietzsche and Philosophy, p.73

Related posts:

From Static to Dynamic

“The will of God" for us is a pleonasm — God (or “Nature," as some say) is nothing but will.

After the Renaissance the notion of God sheds the old sensuous and personal traits [...] becomes little by little identical with the notion of infinite space and in becoming so becomes transcendent world-will.

And therefore it is that about 1700 painting has to yield to instrumental music — the only art that in the end is capable of clearly expressing what we feel about God.

Consider, in contrast with this, the gods of Homer. Zeus emphatically does not possess full powers over the world, but is simply "primus inter pares," a body amongst bodies, as the Apollinian world-feeling requires. Blind necessity, the Ananke immanent in the cosmos of Classical consciousness, is in no sense dependent upon him; on the contrary, the Gods are subordinate to It.

The Classical soul, therefore, with its parts and its properties, imagines itself as an Olympus of little gods, and to keep these at peace and in harmony with one another is the ideal of the Greek life-ethic of Temperance and Ataraxia.

More than one of the philosophers betrays the connexion by calling nous, the highest part of the soul, Zeus. Aristotle assigns to his deity the single function of […] contemplation, and this is Diogenes's ideal also — a completely-matured static of life in contrast to the equally ripe dynamic of our 18th-Century ideal.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 312-3

Related posts:

Deep Code

There are as many morales as there are Cultures, no more and no fewer.

Just as every painter every musician has something in him which, by force of inward necessity never emerges into consciousness but dominates a priori the form-language of his work and differentiates that work from the work of every other Culture, so every conception of Life held by a Culture-man possesses a priori (in the very strictest Kantian sense of the phrase) a constitution that is deeper than all momentary judgments and strivings and impresses the style of these with the hall-mark of the particular Culture.

The individual may act morally or immorally, may do "good" or "evil" with respect to the primary feeling of his Culture, but the theory of his actions is not a result but a datum. Each Culture possesses its own standards, the validity of which begins and ends with it.

There is no general morale of humanity […]

Just as we are incapable of altering our world-feeling - so incapable that even in trying to alter it we have to follow the old lines and confirm instead of overthrowing it - so also we are powerless to alter the ethical basis of our waking being […]

We may talk to-day of transvaluing all our values; we may, as Megalopolitans, “go back to” Buddhism or Paganism or a romantic Catholicism; we may champion as Anarchists an individualist or as Socialists a collectivist ethic - but in spite of all we do, will and feel the same.

A conversion to Theosophy or Freethinking or one of the present-day transitions from a supposed Christianity to a supposed Atheism (or vice versa) is an alteration of words and notions, of the religious or intellectual surface, no more. None of our "movements" have changed man.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 345-6

The text of a conviction is never a test of its reality, for man is rarely conscious of his own beliefs.

Catchwords and doctrines are always more or less popular and external as compared with deep spiritual actualities. Our theoretical reverence for the propositions of the New Testament is in fact of the same order as the theoretical reverence of the Renaissance and of Classicism for antique art; the one has no more transformed the spirit of men than the other has transformed the spirit of works.

The oft noted cases of the Mendicant Orders, the Moravians and the Salvation Army prove by their very rarity, and even more by the slightness of the effects that they have been able to produce, that they are exceptions in a quite different generality - namely, the Faustian-Christian morale.

That morale will not indeed be found formulated, either by Luther or by the Council of Trent, but all Christians of the great style - Innocent III and Calvin, Loyola and Savonarola, Pascal and St. Theresa - have had it in them, even in unconscious contradiction to their own formal teachings.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 348

[…] the word “God” in antithesis to “world” has always - however interpreted in this or that case - implied exactly what is implied in the word “will” with respect to soul, viz., the power that moves all that is within its domain.

Thought no sooner leaves Religion for Science than we get the double myth of concepts, in physics and psychology. The concepts “force,” “mass,” “will,” “passion” rest not on objective experience but on a life-feeling. Darwinism is nothing but a specially shallow formulation of this feeling […]

When a Materialist or Darwinian speaks of a "Nature" that orders everything, that effects selections, that produces and destroys anything, he differs only to the extent of one word from the 18th-Century Deist.

The world-feeling has undergone no change.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 312

[…] Natives love to joke about those situations in which a judge makes a brief remark and waits while the translator begins a long oration in an Indigenous language. The judge asks in surprise, "Did I really say that?" The translator replies "Yes, ... more or less." "But," the judge will say, "I only spoke a couple of sentences and you went on for about twenty minutes!” A little later, when asked a question, a Native witness will begin a long speech, at the end of which the translator may simply report, "The witness says, 'No'."

What is going on is not simply a matter of moving between two different languages but of translating between profoundly different worldviews.

What to the judge was a single sentence may have contained words that are related to concepts, that touch on issues, that are never found within the traditional Indigenous worldview. The translator will have to set the scene, as it were, and provide the context in which the judge's brief remarks can be understood.

These issues do not arise when we translate between English, Spanish, French, and German because Europeans and North Americans share a common worldview. Our notions of reality, time, space, and causality are more or less identical, so there is no need for a translator to deal with radically new concepts when discussing a land deal. A similar ease of movement between English and Mohawk, Cree, Hopi, or Haida is not possible.

[…] when we hear a language that is totally foreign to us, we may nevertheless be within our own language family, dealing with peoples who share some of our values, culture, worldview, and science. Native American languages, however, are profoundly different from Indo-European […]

Our technological world is so remarkably uniform that what we take to be differences of attitude and culture are generally nothing more than variations upon one particular theme. When we enter the world of Indigenous American languages, however, we encounter profoundly different concepts and worldviews. Indeed, not only are the concepts enfolded within the languages radically different, but even the meaning of language itself and the function of the sounds people make is profoundly different.

It isn't that these languages have not properly developed, or that the thought processes of the Cree people area "primitive" because they do not categorize the world. They have chosen to work within the world in a very different way from us.

[F. David Peat]
Blackfoot Physics, p.220-2, 228

But there is another possible approach to all of this, and that is to see mathematics as inseparable from language and culture. After all, those who talk of the universality of mathematics, and the common ground shared by Europeans, Arabs, and ancient Indians alike, tend to be professors who speak and think within a common Indo-European family of languages.

Some linguists have argued that mathematics is a particular, formal expression and extension of the various relationships, transformations, and interconnections that exist within language. And language, in turn, is to a greater or lesser extent connected to culture and the particular way people live.

Thus, what we take as our universal and value-free mathematics may be connected in certain very subtle ways to the set of common paradigms and ways of thinking that are embedded in all Indo-European languages. These include, for example, the strong role of nouns (objects) in the languages, the importance of categories, as well as certain notions of time and causality.

[F. David Peat]
Blackfoot Physics, p.190

At the heart of every civilization lies a special “thinking presence”, Dasein.

This “thinking presence”, Dasein, determines the structure of a given civilization’s Logos, that is to say it lies at the basis of the metaphysics which can subsequently be built upon the root structure of the Dasein.

[…] the basic, phenomenological level of the “thinking presence” of man in the world differs in its deepest roots, and this difference is the foundation upon which the structures of culture, society, philosophy, politics, knowledge, science, and art are built.

We consider the Dasein of each civilization, in its approach to death, to be unique, and it is this existential plurality that determines differences in secondary significations and configurations.

[Aleksandr Dugin]
Noomakhia: Wars of the Mind – Geosophy: Horizons and Civilizations

Some of the more intractable difficulties of newly decolonized areas are psychological, especially as these difficulties are hard to identify and often provide almost insuperable obstacles to development programs, especially to those directed along Western lines.

It is, for example, not usually recognized that the whole economic expansion of Western society rests upon a number of psychological attitudes that are prerequisites to the system as we have it but are not often stated explicitly. Two of these may be identified as (1) future preference and (2) infinitely expandable material demand.

In a sense these are contradictory, since the former implies that Western economic man will make almost any sacrifice in the present for the sake of some hypothetical benefit in the future, while the latter implies almost insatiable material demand in the present. Nonetheless, both are essential features of the overwhelming Western economic system.

Future preference came out of the Christian outlook of the West and especially from the Puritan tradition, which was prepared to accept almost any kind of sacrifice and self-discipline in the temporal world for the sake of future eternal salvation.

The process of secularization of Western society since the seventeenth century shifted that future benefit from eternity to this temporal world but did not otherwise disturb the pattern of future preference and self-discipline. In fact, these became the chief psychological attributes of the middle class that made the Industrial Revolution and the great economic expansion of the West.

The mass production of this new industrial system was able to continue and to accelerate to the fantastic rate of the twentieth century because Western man placed no limits on his ambition to create a secularized earthly paradise.

Without these two psychological assumptions, the Western economy would break down or would never have started. At present, future preference may be breaking down, and infinitely expanding material demand may soon follow it in the weakening process. If so, the American economy will collapse, unless it finds new psychological foundations.

[…] without these two attitudes it will be very difficult for underdeveloped nations to follow along the Western path of development. This does not mean that no “achieving” society can be constructed without these two attitudes. Not at all. Many different attitudes, in proper arrangement, might be made the basis for an “achieving” society, but it would probably not be along the Western lines of individual initiative and private enterprise.

[Carroll Quigley]
Tragedy and Hope, ‘The New Era,’ p.751

Related posts:

The Duty to Work

It is not attitude and mien, but activity that is to be given form.

As in China and in Egypt, life only counts in so far as it is deed. And it is the mechanicalizing of the organic concept of Deed that leads to the concept of work as commonly understood, the civilized form of Faustian effecting.

This morale, the insistent tendency to give to Life the most active forms imaginable, is stronger than reason, whose moral programs — be they never so reverenced, inwardly believed or ardently championed — are only effective in so far as they either lie, or are mistakenly supposed to lie, in the direction of this force. Otherwise they remain mere words.

We have to distinguish, in all modernism, between the popular side with its dolce far niente, its solicitude for health, happiness, freedom from care, and universal peace — in a word, its supposedly Christian ideals — and the higher Ethos which values deeds only, which (like everything else that is Faustian) is neither understood nor desired by the masses, which grandly idealizes the Aim and therefore Work.

If we would set against the Roman "panem et circenses" […] some corresponding symbol of the North […] it would be the "Right to Work." This was the basis of Fichte's thoroughly Prussian (and now European) conception of State-Socialism, and in the last terrible stages of evolution it will culminate in the Duty to Work.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 362

Related posts:

The Lie of Life

Something has come to an end.

The Northern soul has exhausted its inner possibilities, and of the dynamic force and insistence that had expressed itself in world-historical visions of the future - visions of millennial scope - nothing remains but the mere pressure, the passion yearning to create, the form without the content.

This soul was Will and nothing but Will. It needed an aim for its Columbus-longing; it had to give its inherent activity at least the illusion of a meaning and an object.

And so the keener critic will find a trace of Hjalmar Ekdal in all modernity, even its highest phenomena. Ibsen called it the lie of life. There is something of this lie in the entire intellect of the Western Civilization, so far as this applies itself to the future of religion, of art or of philosophy, to a social-ethical aim, a Third Kingdom.

For deep down beneath it all is the gloomy feeling, not to be repressed, that all this hectic zeal is the effort of a soul that may not and cannot rest to deceive itself.

This is the tragic situation — the inversion of the Hamlet motive — that produced Nietzsche's strained conception of a "return," which nobody really believed but he himself clutched fast lest the feeling of a mission should slip out of him. This Life's lie is the foundation of Bayreuth – which would be something whereas Pergamum was something - and a thread through the entire fabric of Socialism, political, economic and ethical, which forces itself to ignore the annihilating seriousness of its own final implications, so as to keep alive the illusion of the historical necessity of its own existence.

[Oswald Spengler] 
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 364

Related posts:

The Coming of Nihilism

Civilisation        -           Culture
Mechanism        -           Organism 
Part                    -           Whole
Barren                -           Fertile  
Data                   -           Narrative
Quantity             -           Quality
Dead                   -           Alive

Modernity - by which we mean the liberal worldview - can be characterised as the negation of traditional bonds and boundaries. In this sense, Modernity does not offer a positive programme - it only works to dissolve, rather than create. Its only borders are those that preserve the liberal status-quo, which is another way of saying that it prohibits bonds, boundaries and groupings.

'Modernity' is synonymous with 'anti-tradition.'

Dugin and Woodman see modernity as being in thrall to the dark side of the Great Mother - the Black Logos - which manifests in a pervasive, debased materialism. The emblem of debased matter (dead matter) is the machine. Total efficiency means total death - the end of error. 

Schumacher points out that modern man still desires to 'rise above' his humdrum existence - still yearns for something beyond the everyday - but having denied himself access to the 'vertical dimension of the spirit', his yearnings are confined to mundane outlets, which ultimately prove to be unsatisfying. 

We can see 'new materialism' as an attempt to revive matter, undermining a Newtonian vision that has radically underestimated its true nature. 

Each of the three [Buddhism, Stoicism, Socialism] buried a millennium of spiritual depth [...] In each case, the ideals of yesterday, the religious and artistic and political forms that have grown up through the centuries, are undone.

Each proclaimed his gospel to mankind, but it was to the mankind of the city intelligentsia, which was tired of the town and the Late Culture, and whose "pure" (i.e., soulless) reason longed to be free from them and their authoritative form and their hardness, from the symbolism with which it was no longer in living communion and which therefore it detested.

The Culture was annihilated by discussion.

If we pass in review the great 19th-Century names with which we associate the march of this great drama - Schopenhauer, Hebbel, Wagner, Nietzsche, Ibsen, Strindberg - we comprehend in a glance that which Nietzsche, in a fragmentary preface to his incomplete master-work, deliberately and correctly called the Coming of Nihilism.

Every one of the great Cultures knows it, for it is of deep necessity inherent in the finale of these mighty organisms. Socrates was a nihilist, and Buddha. There is an Egyptian or an Arabian or a Chinese de-souling of the human being, just as there is a Western.

This is a matter not of mere political and economic, nor even of religious and artistic, transformations, nor of any tangible or factual change whatsoever, but of the condition of a soul after it has actualized its possibilities in full.

Not external life and conduct, not institutions and customs, but deepest and last things are question here - the inward finishedness (Fertigsein) of megalopolitan man, and of the provincial as well. For the Classical world this condition sets in with the Roman age; for us it will set in from about the year 2000.

For Western existence the distinction lies at about the year 1800 - on the one side of that frontier life in fullness and sureness of itself, formed by growth from within, in one great uninterrupted evolution from Gothic childhood to Goethe and Napoleon, and on the other the autumnal, artificial, rootless life of our great cities, under forms fashioned by the intellect.

Culture and Civilization - the living body of a soul and the mummy of it […] Culture and Civilization - the organism born of Mother Earth, and the mechanism proceeding from hardened fabric. Culture-man lives inwards, Civilization-man outwards in space and amongst bodies and “facts."

That which the one feels as Destiny the other understands as a linkage of causes and effects, and thenceforward he is a materialist - in the sense of the word valid for, and only valid for, Civilization – whether he wills it or no, and whether Buddhist, Stoic or Socialist doctrines wear the garb of religion or not.

The feeling of strangeness in these forms, the idea that they are a burden from which creative freedom requires to be relieved, the impulse to overhaul the stock in order by the light of reason to turn it to better account, the fatal imposition of thought upon the inscrutable quality of creativeness, are all symptoms of a soul that is beginning to tire.

Only the sick man feels his limbs.

Life is no longer to be lived as something self-evident - hardly a matter of consciousness, let alone choice - or to be accepted as God-willed destiny, but is to be treated as a problem, presented as the intellect sees it, judged by “utilitarian” or “rational” criteria.

The brain rules because the soul abdicates. Culture-men live unconsciously, civilisation-men consciously. The megalopolis - sceptical, practical, artificial - alone represents Civilisation to-day. The soil-peasantry before its gates does not count. The "People" means the city-people, an inorganic mass, something fluctuating. The peasant is not democratic - this again being a notion belonging to mechanical and urban existence - and he is therefore overlooked, despised, detested. With the vanishing of the old "estates" - gentry and priesthood - he is the only organic man, the sole relic of the Early Culture.

[Faust] is Civilization in the place of Culture, external mechanism in place of internal organism, intellect as the petrifact of extinct soul.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p.352-4, 357

A current of thought and a “historiography” exist that represent this process of rebellion and dissolution, or at least its first phases, as having been something positive and as a victory. It is another aspect of contemporary nihilism, whose undeclared basis is a sort of “shipwreck euphoria.”

It is well known that the phases of dissolution, beginning with illuminism and liberalism and proceeding gradually to immanentist historicism (first “idealistic,” then materialist and Marxist), have been interpreted and celebrated as those of the emancipation and reaffirmation of man, of progress of the spirit, and of true "humanism.”

Man, at a given moment, wanted to "be free.” He was allowed to be so, and he was allowed to throw off the chains that did not bind him so much as sustain him. Thereupon he was allowed to suffer all the consequences of his liberation, following ineluctably up to his present state in which “God is dead” […] and existence becomes the field of absurdity where everything is possible and everything is allowed.

This is what Nietzsche called the “tragic phase” of nihilism. It is the beginning of the “misery of man without God.” Existence seems devoid of any meaning, any goal. While all imperatives, moral values, and restraints have fallen away, so have all supports […] Existence is reduced to itself in its naked reality, without any reference point outside itself that could give it a real meaning for man. 

For some time, a good part of Western humanity has considered it a natural thing for existence to lack any real meaning, and for it not to be ordered by any higher principle, arranging their lives in the most bearable and least disagreeable way they can. Of course this has its counterpart and inevitable consequence in an inner life that is more and more reduced, formless, feeble, and elusive, and in a growing dissolution of any uprightness and character.

One also notices that the sporadic experiences of intellectuals and artists of the past become modes of behavior occurring in the natural course of things for certain groups of the younger generation [...] Only yesterday it was a matter of writers, painters, and “damned poets” living on the edge, often alcoholics, mingling their talents with the climate of existential dissolution and with irrational rebellion against established values.

Already after World War I, processes of this type had begun to spread, announcing the final phases of nihilism. At first such harbingers remained at the margins of life, on the frontier-zone of art. The most significant and radical of them all was perhaps Dadaism, the end result of the deepest impulses that had nourished the various movements of avant-garde art.

But Dadaism negated the very categories of art, showing the transition to the chaotic forms of a life deprived of any rationality, any restraint, any coherence; it was not just the acceptance but the exaltation of the absurd and the contradictory, of nonsense and pointlessness taken just as they are.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p. 19-22

[...] boomer truth or the boomer truth regime refers to the episteme under which we have been suffering since 1945. 

In this episteme the summum bonum, the ultimate moral good, is something like individual self-expression unmoored from societal constraint. In its most depraved manifestation we might imagine the grotesque defender of the regime, Vaush – a hog-like neck-bearded YouTuber – defending paedophilia and questioning sexual age-of-consent laws. 

The ultimate evil in this regime is represented by the Mid-Century Germans and their terrible monstrous leader Moustache Man.

[Academic Agent]
'About This Substack: On Boomer Truth and Related Issues'      

Turning to a particular point, one can only maintain an attitude of detachment when facing the confrontation of the two factions contending for world domination today: the democratic, capitalist West and the communist East.

In fact, this struggle is devoid of any meaning from a spiritual point of view. The “West” is not an exponent of any higher ideal. Its very civilization, based on an essential negation of traditional values, presents the same destructions and nihilistic background that is evident in the Marxist and communist sphere, however different in form and degree.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p.175-6

What is called the course of history is more or less the same thing as what is called ‘progressivism’ in Left-wing circles, and it aims at only one thing today: to foment passivity in the face of the current that is getting stronger and carries us continually lower.

As to the charge of ‘reactionary’, ask them the following question: while you are acting, destroying, and profaning, do you then want us not to ‘react’, but to stand by passively watching, or maybe even shouting, ‘Good work, keep it up!’

[Julius Evola]
‘Orientations’, V

Although it announces that it is taking leave of all ideology, dataism itself is an ideology. It is leading to digital totalitarianism.

Big Data is supposed to be freeing knowledge from subjective arbitrariness. By this logic, intuition does not represent a higher form of knowing; instead, it represents something merely subjective - a stopgap compensating for the shortage of objective data. In complex situations, the argument goes, intuition is blind.

The mistrust even extends to theory, which is suspected of being an ideology: if enough data are available, it should prove superfluous as well.

The second Enlightenment is the age of purely data-driven knowledge. Anderson's visionary rhetoric goes: 'Out with every theory of human behavior, from linguistics to sociology. Forget taxonomy, ontology, and psychology. Who knows why people do what they do? The point is they do it, and we can track and measure it with unprecedented fidelity. With enough data, the numbers speak for themselves."

Adorno would say that the 'transparency' of today is another name for myth too - that dataism likewise heralds false clarity. The dialectic of old is also making the second Enlightenment, which seeks to counter ideology, into an ideology in its own right - more still, it is leading to the barbarism of data.

Dataism, it turns out, is amounting to digital Dadaism. Dadaism also takes leave of meaningful contexts of every kind. It empties language itself of sense: 'The acts of life have no beginning or end. Everything happens in a completely idiotic way. That is why everything is alike. Simplicity is called Dada."

Dataism is nihilism. It gives up on any and all meaning. Data and numbers are not narrative; they are additive. Meaning, on the other hand, is based on narration. Data simply fills up the senseless void.

[Byung-Chul Han]
Psychopolitics, p.58-9

Today, a further paradigm shift is silently taking place. The Copernican anthropological turn which made man an autonomous producer of knowledge is being superseded by the dataistic turn.

The human being now has to comply with data. No longer the producer of knowledge, the human being cedes its sovereignty to data. Dataism puts an end to the idealism and humanism of the Enlightenment. The human being is no longer the sovereign subject of knowledge, the originator of knowledge. Knowledge is now produced mechanically.

The data-driven production of knowledge takes place without the involvement of the human subject or consciousness. Enormous volumes of data displace the human being from its central position as producer of knowledge, and the human being itself is reduced to a data set, a variable that can be calculated and manipulated.

[Byung-Chul Han]
The Disappearance of Rituals, p.81-2

Modernity was distinguished by the gradual rise of the Logos of Cybele.

Galileo and Gassendi revived atomism, and nominalism became the basis of the scientific method. Materialism thus gradually became the criterion of scienticity. Eternity was rejected and replaced by the absolutization of time, historicism and, finally, the idea of progress. As in Epicurus’ philosophy, god first becomes “idle” (Deism) and “logical” (the “god of the philosophers”), and then yields to pure atheism (Nietzsche’s “God is dead”). The human soul is thought to be mortal and then comes to be regarded as the “psyche”, that is the sublimated continuation of the physical organism.

The doctrine of the atomic structure of matter came to be laid at the foundation of the physical map of the world of Modernity, and the opening of this vacuum brings us back to the Great Void of Democritus. Space becomes isotropic and Democritus’ principle of isonymy thereby becomes dogma.

If we take into account the materialism and heightened and clearly unhealthy fixation of modern people on things and atomic (and ever more microscopic) phenomenon, the reign of quantity over quality, earthly over heavenly, and mechanical over organic, the preponderance of individualist fragmentation, including the aesthetic norms of contemporary art, then the notion that we find ourselves under the rule of the Black Logos seems to be a wholly probable supposition.

Modernity, thus, is the onset of the philosophical winter, marked by the domination of the Great Mother of Matter. The Titans storm the abode of the gods. Night triumphs over day. The mystical nocturne subjugates the ranks of the heroic diurne. Thus arises the era of the masses, of gravity (Isaac Newton’s universal gravitation) and – in René Guénon words – the “reign of quantity.”

As soon as one refrains from interpreting Tradition and religion from the standpoint of the “contemporal moment”, and instead strives to determine the “contemporal moment” from the position of Tradition and religion, then everything immediately falls into place, and the anomalousness of our epoch is revealed in all of its volume. We live in the center of winter, at the bottom point of the Untergang, of descent.

[Aleksandr Dugin]
The Three Logoi: An Introduction to the Triadic Methodology of NOOMAKHIA, Chap. 2

[…] in the spirit of the Logos of Dionysus we have drawn substantially nearer to the zone of matter and the Mother […] Yet still the form, the eidos, remains the fundamental pole of the phenomenon and, as follows, therefore cannot claim the role of being the philosophy of Cybele.

In Democritus, Epicurus, and Lucretius Carus, we have a developed panorama of the philosophy of the Titans which shaped the Logos of the Great Mother and systematized its procedures and basic concepts.

The blind rampage of sputtered particles turns into vortices which constitute organizational ensembles, but order itself, including the eidoi, figures, bodies, and processes, is shaped by the aleatoric laws of random combinations.

There is no harmony or immanent logic in the world, everything is utterly meaningless. Seeing the world as an insignificant accident, Democritus laughed at anyone who treated being seriously and solemnly, thus earning himself the epithet “the laughing philosopher.”

In the spirit of his general system, Democritus did not believe in eternity, the soul, or immortality, but solely in accident and the Great Void of the dead and alienated Universe.

Here we can see a vivid example of the mystical nocturne, the shift of consciousness towards the opposite side, towards identification with the blind, unseen, or ghostly forces of matter, disorder, and chaos, i.e., the philosophy of Night. Plato was completely right to see in Democritus and his atomists existential enemies, the bearers of the chthonic, titanic element.

Similar ideas were developed in Epicurus’ philosophy, which reduced all of reality to the sensual world and recognized the doctrine of atoms, thereby rejecting not only the being of Platonic ideas, but also the forms/eidoi of Aristotle.

In this case, man’s soul is as mortal as his body. Epicurus believed in the evolution of species, postulating that material forces develop from the simplest forms towards the emergence of more organized beings.

The Neoplatonists saw the castrate philosophy of materialism to be a gross violation of healthy sense and related its main principles to the final four hypotheses of Plato’s Parmenides pertaining to the denial of the existence of the One. Thus, we are dealing here with a philosophy of the universe which, from an Apollonian point of view, simply cannot exist – cannot and should not.

[Aleksandr Dugin]
The Three Logoi: An Introduction to the Triadic Methodology of NOOMAKHIA, Chap. 2

Although it has long been believed that capitalist society is a patriarchal arrangement because of the inferior roles and limited rewards granted to women, it is important to realise that Becky, not Becko is in charge.

The so-called patriarchy serves the dark side of the Magna Mater - what Phillip Wylie in Generation of Vipers (1955) called “Momism.” This dark side is embodied in a materialism so pervasive that matter itself, in all its infinite variety, is the divinity we serve. Mater or matter (“the stuff of which a thing is made” [Oxford English Dictionary]) has become Western society’s dark goddess.

Looked at from the inside, our culture functions in the service of a Great Mother Machine, a devouring Kali.

The question is not how can we get out of matter, out of the womb of the Great Mother, but how can we redeem her - that is, how can we contact and release the light that is at the heart of her darkness?

[Marion Woodman]
‘The Emergence of the Feminine’, Betwixt and Between, p.203-4

We modern people, who reject traditional wisdom and deny the existence of the vertical dimension of the spirit, like our forefathers desire nothing more than somehow to be able to rise above the humdrum state of our present life.

We hope to do so by growing rich, moving around at ever-increasing speed, traveling to the moon and into space; but whatever we do in these respects, we cannot rise above our own humdrum, petty, egotistical selves.

[E.F. Schumacher]
Good Work, p. 114

At the base of Russian nihilism, when grasped in its purity and depth, lies the Orthodox rejection of the world […], the acknowledgment of the sinfulness of all riches and luxury, of all creative profusion in art and in thought […] Nihilism considers as sinful luxury not only art, metaphysics, and spiritual values, but religion also […]

Nihilism is a demand for nakedness, for the stripping of oneself of all the trappings of culture, for the annihilation of all historical traditions, for the setting free of the natural man […]

The intellectual asceticism of nihilism found expression in materialism; any more subtle philosophy was proclaimed a sin […] Not to be a materialist was to be taken as a moral suspect. If you were not a materialist, then you were in favour of the enslavement of man both intellectually and politically.

[Nikolai Berdyaev]

Related posts:

Interpretations of History

The Classical spirit, with its oracles and its omens, wants only to know the future, but the Westerner would shape it […] The Socialist - the dying Faust of Part II - is the man of historical care, who feels the Future as his task and aim, and accounts the happiness of the moment as worthless in comparison.

It is well, at this point, to recall once more that each of the different great Cultures has pictured world-history in its own special way. Classical man only saw himself and his fortunes as statically present with himself, and did not ask "whence" or "whither." Universal history was for him an impossible notion. This is the static way of looking at history.

Magian man sees it as the great cosmic drama of creation and foundering, the struggle between Soul and Spirit, Good and Evil, God and Devil - a strictly-defined happening with, as its culmination, one single Peripeteia - the appearance of the Saviour.

Faustian man sees in history a tense unfolding towards an aim; its "ancient-mediæval-modern" sequence is a dynamic image. He cannot picture history to himself in any other way. This scheme of three parts is not indeed world-history as such general world-history. 

But it is the image of world-history as it is conceived in the Faustian style.

It begins to be true and consistent with the beginning of the Western Culture and ceases with its ceasing; and Socialism in the highest sense is logically the crown of it, the form of its conclusive state that has been implicit in it from Gothic onwards.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p.363

Related posts:

Explain Away

Within Modernity, the extremes work to negate or destroy the centre. Knowledge of the atomic level undermines the everyday world because we assume that the former is more 'true' than the latter, which then becomes a mere illusion. 'Nothing but' reductionism shifts truth to the extremes, and asserts that the only way to solid ground is by digging ever deeper.

Within Tradition, on the other hand, the extremes work to enrich and deepen the centre. Tradition extends truth to all levels, from the everyday to the Quantum. The extremes are sacred zones, only to be explored by the initiated.


Sweet is the lore which Nature brings:
Our meddling intellect
Misshapes the beauteous forms of things: -
We murder to dissect.

[William Wordsworth]
The Tables Turned

The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.

[Steven Weinberg]
The First Three Minutes, p. 154

Should our only reaction to a diamond be to explain that it is just carbon, and to a rainbow to point out that it is just water […]?

[Mary Midgley]
Science and Poetry, p.70

Descartes, the father of modern rationalism, insisted that 'we should never allow ourselves to be persuaded excepting by the evidence of our Reason', and he emphasised specially that he spoke 'of our Reason and not of our imagination nor of our senses.’

The method of reason is to 'reduce involved and obscure propositions step by step to those that are simpler, and then, starting with the intuitive apprehension of all those that are absolutely simple, attempt to ascend to the knowledge of all others by precisely similar steps'.

This is a programme conceived by a mind both powerful and frighteningly narrow […]

[E. F. Schumacher]
A Guide for the Perplexed, p.17

Is it, then, possible to imagine a new Natural Philosophy, continually conscious that the ‘natural object’ produced by analysis and abstraction is not reality but only a view, and always correcting the abstraction? […]

The regenerate science which I have in mind would not do even to minerals and vegetables what modern science threatens to do to man himself. When it explained it would not explain away. When it spoke of the parts it would remember the whole. While studying the It it would not lose what Martin Buber calls the Thou-situation […]

Its followers would not be free with the words only and merely. In a word, it would conquer Nature without being at the same time conquered by her and buy knowledge at a lower cost than that of life.

Perhaps I am asking impossibilities. Perhaps, in the nature of things, analytical understanding must always be a basilisk which kills what it sees and only sees by killing. But if the scientists themselves cannot arrest this process before it reaches the common Reason and kills that too, then someone else must arrest it.

What I most fear is the reply that I am 'only one more' obscurantist, that this barrier, like all previous barriers set up against the advance of science, can be safely passed. Such a reply springs from the fatal serialism of the modern imagination - the image of infinite unilinear progression which so haunts our minds.

Because we have to use numbers so much we tend to think of every process as if it must be like the numeral series, where every step, to all eternity, is the same kind of step as the one before.

There are progressions in which the last step is sui generis - incommensurable with the others - and in which to go the whole way is to undo all the labour of your previous journey. To reduce the Tao to a mere natural product is a step of that kind. Up to that point, the kind of explanation which explains things away may give us something, though at a heavy cost.

But you cannot go on ‘explaining away' for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on 'seeing through' things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it.

It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to ‘see through' first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To ‘see through' all things is the same as not to see.

[C.S. Lewis]
‘The Abolition of Man’, Selected Books, p.428-9

Experience means to us an activity of the intellect, which does not resignedly confine itself to receiving, acknowledging and arranging momentary and purely present impressions, but seeks them out and calls them up in order to overcome them in their sensuous presence and to bring them into an unbounded unity in which their sensuous discreteness is dissolved.

Experience in our sense possesses the tendency from particular to infinite. And for that very reason it is in contradiction with the feeling of Classical science.

What for us is the way to acquire experience is for the Greek the way to lose it. And therefore he kept away from the drastic method of experiment; therefore his physics, instead of being a mighty system of worked-out laws and formula that strong-handedly override the sense present ("only knowledge is power"), is an aggregate of impressions - well ordered, intensified by sensuous imagery, clean-edged - which leaves Nature intact in its self-completeness.

It would never have occurred to a Classical physicist to investigate things while at the same time denying or annihilating their perceivable form. And for that very reason there was no Classical chemistry, any more than there was any theorizing on the substance as against the manifestations of Apollo.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol.1, p. 383, 394

According to one most recent theory, which integrates Einstein's relativity, purely mathematical entities that on the one hand magically spring forth in full irrationality, but on the other are ordered in a completely formal system of algebraic "production,” exhaustively account for everything that can be positively checked and formularized regarding the ultimate basis of sensible reality.

This process was the intellectual background to the atomic era's inauguration - parallel, therefore, to the definitive liquidation of all knowledge in the proper sense.

One of the principal exponents of modern physics, Heisenberg, has explicitly admitted this in his book: it is about a formal knowledge enclosed in itself, extremely precise in its practical consequences, in which, however, one cannot speak of knowledge of the real. For modern science, he says, “the object of research is no longer the object in itself, but nature as a function of the problems that man sets himself”; the logical conclusion in such science being that “henceforth man only meets himself."

Not only has [science] gradually freed itself from any immediate data of sense experience and common sense, but even from all that which imagination could offer as support. The current concepts of space, time, motion, and causality fall one by one, so to speak.

Everything that can be suggested by the direct and living relationship of the observer to the observed is made unreal, irrelevant, and negligible.

It is then like a catharsis that consumes every residue of the sensory, not in order to lead to a higher world, the “intelligible world” or a "world of ideas," as in the ancient schools of wisdom, but rather to the realm of pure mathematical thought, of number, of undifferentiated quantity, as opposed to the realm of quality, of meaningful forms and living forces: a spectral and cabalistic world, an extreme intensification of the abstract intellect, where it is no longer a matter of things or phenomena, but almost of their shadows reduced to their common denominator, gray and indistinguishable.

One may well speak of a falsification of the elevation of the mind above human sense-experience, which in the traditional world had as its effect not the destruction of the evidences of that experience, but their integration: the potentizing of the ordinary, concrete perception of natural phenomena by also experiencing their symbolic and intelligible aspects.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p.135-6

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Spirit / Soul

Spirit                                    -                      Soul
Reason                                 -                      Instinct
Cerebral                               -                      Visceral
Outside                                 -                      Inside

Where the old [education] initiated, the new merely ‘conditions'. The old dealt with its pupils as grown birds deal with young birds when they teach them to fly; the new deals with them more as the poultry-keeper deals with young birds - making them thus or thus for purposes of which the birds know nothing.

In a word, the old was a kind of propagation - men transmitting manhood to men; the new is merely propaganda.

[…] They probably have some vague notion […] that valour and good faith and justice could be sufficiently commended to the pupil on what they would call 'rational' or 'biological’ or ‘modern' grounds, if it should ever become necessary […] Let us suppose for a moment that the harder virtues could really be theoretically justifed with no appeal to objective value. It still remains true that no justification of virtue will enable a man to be virtuous.

Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism. 

I had sooner play cards against a man who was quite sceptical about ethics, but bred to believe that ‘a gentleman does not cheat', than against an irreproachable moral philosopher who had been brought up among sharpers. In battle it is not syllogisms that will keep the reluctant nerves and muscles to their post in the third hour of the bombardment. The crudest sentimentalism […] about a flag or a country or a regiment will be of more use.

We were told it all long ago by Plato. As the king governs by his executive, so Reason in man must rule the mere appetites by means of the ‘spirited element’. The head rules the belly through the chest - the seat, as Alanus tells us, of Magnanimity, of emotions organized by trained habit into stable sentiments.

The Chest - Magnanimity - Sentiment - these are the indispensable liaison officers between cerebral man and visceral man. It may even be said that it is by this middle element that man is man: for by his intellect he is mere spirit and by his appetite mere animal.

[C.S. Lewis]
‘The Abolition of Man’, Selected Books, p. 407

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