The Coming of Nihilism

Civilisation                            -                      Culture
Mechanism                            -                      Organism 
Part                                        -                      Whole
Barren                                    -                      Fertile  

Modernity - by which we mean the liberal worldview - can be characterised as the negation of traditional bonds, or 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, then, synonymous with 'anti-tradition.'

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

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