Ideal / Real

Ideal                            -         Real
Positive                       -         Negative  
Abstract                       -         Concrete
Future                          -          Past
Principles                    -          Care
Stated preferences       -         Revealed preferences    
Conscious                   -          Unconscious
Rational                       -         Non-rational
Formalism                   -         Realism    
Separation                   -          Connection
Masculine                    -         Feminine
Tyrrhic                         -         Odinic    
Eternal                         -         Historical   

The 'great men' who shape history are like eruptions of irrational energy, 'black swan' events that lay waste to structure, models and theory. They show us that, in the last, the primitive and non-rational has greater power to move than does the rational, because it is more real

Ideologies are always insufficient because they're based on partial information. They are idealised models that claim to account for everything - or at least enough

The blind willingness to sacrifice people to truth, however, has always been the danger of an ethics abstracted from life. This willingness links Gandhi to the biblical Abraham, who prepared to sacrifice the life of his son in order to demonstrate the integrity and supremacy of his faith.

Both men, in the limitations of their fatherhood, stand in implicit contrast to the woman who comes before Solomon and verifies her motherhood by relinquishing truth in order to save the life of her child. 

It is the ethics of an adulthood that has become principled at the expense of care that Erikson comes to criticize in his assessment of Gandhi's life.

[Carol Gilligan]
‘In a Different Voice', Harvard Educational Review, Vol. 47, No. 4, p.515

Once they slaughtered and persecuted over the interpretation of a dogma, or of a passage in the Bible. 

Then they slaughtered and persecuted in order to inaugurate the kingdom of liberty, equality and fraternity. Today they are slaughtering and persecuting and fiendishly torturing each other in the name of other creeds. 

Perhaps tomorrow they will slaughter and torment each other in an effort to banish the last trace of violence and injustice from the earth!

[Gaetano Mosca]
The Ruling Class, p. 198

Among other things, by "Big Gods" the researchers mean "moralizing religions". This sounds redundant but "moralizing religion" is to be understood in Weberian terms, what Weber called the "ethicization" of religion.

All religions tell you to do X and not do Y, but different religions tell you in different ways. Until the Axial age, religions typically made use of taboo, which regulates specific acts; one of the Axial acquisitions was "ethics" which governs a general attitude or disposition, and enables norms to be rendered abstractly into systems in order to deal with novelty (and which often is a source of novelty).

Something like Hindu karma or Egyptian ma'at is the capstone and not the pyramid—the iceberg under the water is the primeval tribalistic ethos that regulates this act for this people by way of gods that are familiar, close, and above all, unique to themselves. Universalism is not the cause of social complexity but the effect of it.

[Mike from Imperium Press]

[…] there’s a very good book highlighting the limitations of Althusser’s anti-humanist structuralism by the socialist historian E.P. Thompson called The Poverty of Theory. Thompson ultimately accuses Althusser of being an idealist, a type of theologian with an ahistorical and closed system that is completely incapable of recognising man as he really is.

The elite theorists, for example, Pareto […] recognised the role of Will to Power, Carlyle’s Great Man of history, the Man of Action. Such men trample over structure through the force of their character. There is no ‘structural analysis’ that gives us Lenin, Mussolini, FDR, Hitler, or Mao, although we can account for their respective rises.

Each of these men may have had their own ideological commitments at one time or another but they inspired personal (which is to say non-ideological) loyalty in others […] That systems as disparate as liberal democracy (FDR), communism (Stalin), and the so-called third position (Hitler) should each gravitate towards the Cult of Personality around the Great Man tells us something about what humans are like regardless of ‘system’ or ‘ideology’.

The ‘messiness’ of human nature disrupts structuralism in this way. History is and always will be made by such exceptional men.

This basic truth should be recognised intuitively and instantly by all those on the right. I fear Davis has no feel or instinct for these sorts of things whatsoever since his basic orientation is intellectual rather than felt, and that intellect tends, like structural Marxism, to strive for a Pure Theory of power. I can even imagine Davis arguing in earnest that the time for Great Men is over since the modern world, made up by managerial elites, makes them structurally impossible – tell that to Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping.

[Academic Agent]
‘The Problem with ‘Theory’, The Forbidden Texts, Substack

There are many different forms of economics, communist economics, neoliberal economics, and so on. But they're all invalid to the extent that they don't recognize there are certain biophysical realities, which, if they are not incorporated into an economic theorem, invalidate that economic theorem.

[William Rees]
‘William E. Rees: "The Fundamental Issue - Overshoot" | The Great Simplification #53’, Nate Hagens, YouTube

Language is really interesting and it was this huge step in evolution [because] it opens up the possibility space.

By that, I mean, when we have this symbolic thought, we can imagine all of these potential futures that are simply creations of our mind. Then we can create the future that we imagine.

A powerful property of conscious experience and the ability to imagine, is that basically the future isn’t determined in this strict sense once thought. We can use our imagination to sort of explore the space of possible designs and we can manifest those designs by acting on the mental creations we’ve made […] It opens up the space of possible designs [and] allows us to think about inventions and technology.

[Bobby Azarian]
‘EP 159 Bobby Azarian on the Romance of Reality’, Jim Rutt Show, YouTube

The political level per se is one of superior unities when compared to unities defined in naturalistic terms like those to which the general notions of nation, fatherland, and people correspond.

On this superior level, what unites and what divides is the idea: an idea borne by a definite elite and tending to achieve concrete form in the state. For this Fascist doctrine - that in this aspect remained faithful to the best European political tradition - gave first place to idea and state as compared to nation and people, and understood that nation and people acquire a significance and a form, and participate in a higher grade of existence, only within the state.

Our true fatherland must be recognised in the idea. What counts is not coming from the same land or speaking the same language, but sharing the same idea.

Not understanding this realism of the idea means remaining on a level that is fundamentally sub-political, that of naturalism and sentimentalism, if not of downright chauvinistic rhetoric.

[Julius Evola]
‘Orientations’, VIII

[…] implicit in Indo-European peoples’ conceptions of sovereignty are two basic categories.

The first is the Odinic, the wartime king, what Dumézil calls the “magician-king”. He is the hard-boiled realist: the pragmatic, skeptical, revolutionary sovereign who views men as means to achieve a destiny. He is not exactly amoral, but he looks so to the current moral paradigm—he is, rather, the wellspring of a morality that comes to be accepted.

The Tyrrhic, on the other hand, is the peacetime king, called by Dumézil the “jurist-priest”. He is the soft-hearted idealist: the romantic, pious, traditionalist sovereign who views men as fundamentally perfectible. His role is to stamp the morality of the wartime king with traditional legitimacy—both are sovereigns, but the Odinic holds sway over the Tyrrhic.

Elementally, the Odinic is the night sky: the source of life-giving rain, but above all something to be feared—the Tyrrhic is the warm earth: familiar, and what gives shape to the gifts of the gods. These two are of course complementary, and need each other. But just as the husband needs the wife, this does not imply an equal relationship.

[…] the Odinic is the giver of law, the Tyrrhic the interpreter […] Odin represents the Great Man, and Tyr represents the Maintainer of Order. Moreover, you may notice that these are not opposites, but complements. Any sovereign necessarily discharges both functions—Odin and Tyr are co-sovereigns. Lastly, these are not equals; the one prevails over the other—Odin is the high god, Tyr subordinate to him.

For Peter the Great, actions governed ideals; for tsar Alexei, vice versa. When Lenin said that “there are decades where nothing happens and there are weeks where decades happen,” he was describing the tenure of the Tyrrhic and the Odinic respectively. It is during those centuries where nothing happens that idealism reigns, and it is during those decades where centuries happen that realism reigns.

The Odinic is the great man, who reigns during extraordinary time. Most of us live in ordinary time, under the Tyrrhic, but the history we study is that of the Odinic. Ordinary time is simply less consequential, and thus less present to our historical view, whereas revolutionary time shapes subsequent history, and thus comes more into our view—we are always living in the shadow of the last Odinic, who is enshrined by the Tyrrhic.

So, understanding the relationship of dependence between the Odinic and the Tyrrhic, we are in a position to answer our question of “realism vs. idealism”: realism shapes idealism, because idealism enshrines the morality of the realist.

The idealist’s only genuine expression of conscience is in his choice between realists, though part of the idealist’s “post hoc cope”, as Academic Agent puts it, is to convince himself that his preferred realist was really an idealist—this is Pareto’s class I residue all over again, and is absolutely proper for the Tyrrhic if he is to hold up his end of the sovereignty bargain.

[Imperium Press]
‘Realism or Idealism?’ & ‘The Odinic vs. the Tyrrhic’, Imperium Press, Substack

Vilfredo Pareto had something to say on this, and his case is laid out ably in The Populist Delusion.

According to Pareto, human action is essentially non-rational, animated not by conscious belief but by pre-rational sentiment, which he calls residues. However, the first class of residues impels man toward elaborating, systematizing, and rationalizing his sentiments after the fact—these rationalizations are called derivations.

Pareto’s residues are the source of his derivations, and while this doesn’t perhaps address our realism vs. idealism question head-on, the implied answer is quite clear: particular men dictate ideas because ideas are the post hoc rationalization of the sentiments that dwell within those particular men.

[Imperium Press]
‘Realism or Idealism?’, Imperium Press, Substack

Realism and formalism are two philosophical approaches to law, and have been with us as long as law itself. If we look at the American context, we can see a very distinct Odinic-Tyrrhic dynamic at play.

Legal realism is the idea that the law is a living body that evolves—law is subject to the will of the judge, who must continually reinterpret it according to circumstances particular to time and place. Legal formalism—also known as “originalism”—is the idea that the law is something logical and self-evident, that legal interpretations are guided by formal principles.

Without giving a blow-by-blow account, American legal history is the history of the realist as the creator of law and the formalist as maintainer. In one generation—say, that of Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall—the realist and the formalist battle for supremacy, with the realist prevailing and the formalist of the next generation affixing to his creation the stamp of traditional legitimacy.

To his own generation, the realist looks frenzied and disordered, a lawgiver beyond the pale, awful to behold; but to the next generation he just is the tradition, and the function of the formalist is to sanctify, order, and interpret the creative power wielded by the realist.

[Imperium Press]
‘The Odinic vs. the Tyrrhic’, Imperium Press, Substack

My own commitment to ‘The Negative Vision’ is much derided by ideology-peddlers, but I maintain it is the only honest position.

Why? Because whatever new regime replaced The Regime will not have an ideology even slightly resembling what I set down on paper today. It will need to act in the real world. The real world requires actions and decisions now and justification later.

No regime ever has consulted the sacred scrolls before it acted, rather it acted and then updated the sacred scrolls.

[Academic Agent]
‘Defining Ideology, Part 2’, The Forbidden Texts, Substack

The phenomena of emergence in social systems mean that we can only give an explanation of the whole retrospectively and the problem there is that tend to create history as a series of causal chains, we join up the dots as we want things to be logical, based on motivation rational choice etc.

In practice, it’s mostly a series of accidents beneficial or otherwise with varying degrees of effective intentional intervention.

[Dave Snowden]
'Where you start is key', The Cynefin Co

Goethe thought in terms of polarities. But the tension between polarities is different from the tension conceived along the lines of dialectical tension. Tension between polarities implies an atemporal structure, in which polar oppositions continue existing as such, simultaneous and equal in structure; and that they ceaselessly reappear as forms that are at once always new and always the same — a kind of eternal return.

By contrast, historical speculation pursues a series of concrete questions and concerns, which call for concrete answers. This question-answer process actualizes the dialectic of history in concrete terms; it determines the structure of historical situations and epochs. This historical dialectic need not follow the logic of Hegelian concepts; it can be understood as the general legislation of nature in its temporal unfolding.

The veracity of polar oppositions is an eternal truth, eternal in the sense of an eternal return. A historical truth, on the other hand, is true only once.

And how many times could it possibly be true, since its repetition would contradict its historical uniqueness? The unique character of all historical truth(s) is the arcane forbear of all ontology, as Walter Warnach has called it. The dialectical structure of history as a question-answer realized in concrete terms […] neither compromises or negates the uniqueness of the historical event; rather, it increases its uniqueness, insofar as a historical event is only conceived as such when we have conceived it as a unique, concrete response, to the call for such a response by a unique and concrete situation.

The spectacle of eternal change and eternal return is thus alien to any specific truth that corresponds to a unique situation and historical moment. Polar opposition lacks the dimension of historical unrepeatability.

[Carl Schmitt]
‘The Planetary Tension Between Orient and Occident and the Opposition Between Land and Sea’, Chap. III

It is because the habits of mind engendered by our modern academic curriculum separate out the history of political and social change (studied under one set of rubrics in history departments by one set of scholars) from the history of philosophy (studied under quite a different set of rubrics in philosophy departments by quite another set of scholars) that ideas are endowed with a falsely independent life of their own on the one hand and political and social action is presented as peculiarly mindless on the other.

[Alasdair MacIntyre]
After Virtue, p.72

When the British began to talk in this fashion, appealing to high principles of international cooperation and conciliation, the French tended to regard them as hypocrites, pointing out that the British appeal to principles did not appear until British interests had been satisfied and until these principles could be used as obstacles to the satisfaction of French interests.

[…] the British governments of the Right began to follow a double policy: a public policy in which they spoke loudly in support of what we have called the foreign policy of the Left, and a secret policy in which they acted in support of what we have called the foreign policy of the Right. Thus the stated policy of the government and the policy of the British people were based on support of the League of Nations, of international cooperation, and of disarm- ament. Yet the real policy was quite different.

After 1935 the contrast between the public policy and the secret policy became so sharp that the authorized biographer of Lord Halifax (foreign secretary in 1938–1940) coined the name “dyarchy” for it.

[Carroll Quigley]
Tragedy and Hope, p.180-1

The influence of democracy served to increase the tension of a crisis because elected politicians felt it necessary to pander to the most irrational and crass motivations of the electorate in order to ensure future election, and did this by playing on hatred and fear of powerful neighbors or on such appealing issues as territorial expansion, nationalistic pride, “a place in the sun,” “outlets to the sea,” and other real or imagined benefits.

At the same time, the popular newspaper press, in order to sell papers, played on the same motives and issues, arousing their peoples, driving their own politicians to extremes, and alarming neighboring states to the point where they hurried to adopt similar kinds of action in the name of self-defense.

Moreover, democracy made it impossible to examine international disputes on their merits, but instead transformed every petty argument into an affair of honor and national prestige so that no dispute could be examined on its merits or settled as a simple compromise because such a sensible approach would at once be hailed by one’s democratic opposition as a loss of face and an unseemly compromise of exalted moral principles.

The success of Bismarck’s policy of “blood and iron” tended to justify the use of force and intimidation in international affairs, and to distort the role of diplomacy so that the old type of diplomacy began to disappear. Instead of a discussion between gentlemen to find a workable solution, diplomacy became an effort to show the opposition how strong one was in order to deter him from taking advantage of one’s obvious weaknesses.

Metternich’s old definition, that “a diplomat was a man who never permitted himself the pleasure of a triumph,” became lost completely, although it was not until after 1930 that diplomacy became the practice of polishing one’s guns in the presence of the enemy.

[Carroll Quigley]
Tragedy and Hope, p.140-1

The amateur weapons of the late nineteenth century made possible the mass citizen armies that fought the American Civil War and both of this century’s world wars.

Such mass armies could not be offered financial rewards for risking their lives, but they could be offered idealistic, extreme, and total goals that would inspire them to a willingness to die, and to kill: ending slavery, making a world safe for democracy, ending tyranny, spreading, or at least saving, “the American way of life,” offered such goals.

But they led to a total warfare, seeking total victory and unconditional surrender. As a result, each combatant country came to feel that its way of life, or at least its regime, was at stake in the conflict, and could hardly be expected to survive defeat. Thus they felt compulsion to fight yet more tenaciously. The result was ruthless wars of extermination such as World War II.

[Carroll Quigley]
Tragedy and Hope, 'The Future in Perspective,' p.1761

It is not Apollo who is opposed to the tragic or through whom the tragic dies, it is Socrates: and Socrates is as little Apollonian as Dionysian.

Socrates is defined by a strange reversal, "while in all productive men it is instinct that it is the creative-affirmative force, and consciousness acts critically and dissuasively, in Socrates it is the instinct that becomes the critic and consciousness that becomes the creator"

Socrates is the first genius of decadence. He opposes the idea to life, he judges life in terms of the idea, he posits life as something which should be judged, justified and redeemed by the idea. He asks us to feel that life, crushed by the weight of the negative, is unworthy of being desired for itself, experienced in itself.

Socrates is "the theoretical man", the only true opposite of the tragic man.

[Gilles Deleuze]
Nietzsche and Philosophy, p.13

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Life and Death (and everything in-between)
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