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]

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