The Enlightenment Project

Mono                  -         Poly
Rational              -         Non-rational

Both Marxism-Leninism and free-market economic rationalism adopt a Promethean attitude to nature and exhibit scant sympathy for the casualties of economic progress. Both are variants of the Enlightenment project of supplanting the historic diversity of human cultures with a single, universal civilisation.

A global free market is that Enlightenment project in its latest - perhaps last - form.

[…] Each was convinced that human progress must have a single civilisation as its goal. Each denied that a modern economy can come in many varieties. Each was ready to impose its single vision on the world. Each has run aground on vital human needs.

[John Gray]
False Dawn, p.215, 235

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.

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

Both socialism and capitalism are products of the European Enlightenment and are thus modernizing and anti-traditional forces. In contrast, distributism seeks to subordinate economic activity to human life as a whole, to our spiritual life, our intellectual life, our family life.

[Thomas Storck]
'Capitalism and Distributism: two systems at war', Beyond Capitalism & Socialism, p. 75

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

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.

[Julius Evola]
‘Orientations’, VI

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Constant Conflict

Stasis                  -         Change
Security              -         Insecurity

Chaos isn't a pit. Chaos is a ladder.

Many who try to climb it fail, and never get to try again — the fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, but they refuse. They cling to the realm, or the gods, or love ... illusions. Only the ladder is real, the climb is all there is.

Dialogue from Game of Thrones

We have entered an age of constant conflict. Information is at once our core commodity and the most destabilizing factor of our time.

For the world masses, devastated by information they cannot manage or effectively interpret, life is “nasty, brutish . . . and short-circuited.” The general pace of change is overwhelming, and information is both the motor and signifier of change.

Those humans, in every country and region, who cannot understand the new world, or who cannot profit from its uncertainties, or who cannot reconcile themselves to its dynamics, will become the violent enemies of their inadequate governments, of their more fortunate neighbors, and ultimately of the United States.

We are entering a new American century, in which we will become still wealthier, culturally more lethal, and increasingly powerful. We will excite hatreds without precedent.

[…] States will struggle for advantage or revenge as their societies boil. Beyond traditional crime, terrorism will be the most common form of violence, but transnational criminality, civil strife, secessions, border conflicts, and conventional wars will continue to plague the world, albeit with the “lesser” conflicts statistically dominant. In defense of its interests, its citizens, its allies, or its clients, the United States will be required to intervene in some of these contests. We will win militarily whenever we have the guts for it.

There will be no peace. At any given moment for the rest of our lifetimes, there will be multiple conflicts in mutating forms around the globe.

Violent conflict will dominate the headlines, but cultural and economic struggles will be steadier and ultimately more decisive. The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing.

The next century will indeed be American, but it will also be troubled. We will find ourselves in constant conflict, much of it violent. The United States Army is going to add a lot of battle streamers to its flag. We will wage information warfare, but we will fight with infantry. And we will always surprise those critics, domestic and foreign, who predict our decline.

[Ralph Peters]
‘Constant Conflict’, Parameters, Summer 1997, 4-14

Whatever the horrors of war in the nineteenth century it had limited goals and could be terminated by the states that waged it. That was the kind of war classically theorised by Clausewitz.

[…] As the control of war has slipped in some measure from sovereign states the world has not thereby become more peaceful; it has become less governable and yet more unsafe.

[John Gray]
False Dawn, p.75

Much of the workforce now lacks even the economic security that went with wage-labour. It exists in the world of part-time and contract work and portfolio employment in which there is no stable relationship with a single identifiable employer.

[…] In this new orthodoxy the role of national governments in overseeing their domestic economies through policies of macroeconomic management has been reduced to devising and implementing microeconomic policies, promoting yet greater flexibility in labour and production.

The corrosion of bourgeois life through increased job insecurity is at the heart of disorder capitalism. Today the social organisation of work is in a nearly continuous flux. It mutates incessantly under the impact of technological innovation and regulated market competition.

[John Gray]
False Dawn, p.71

The most clear-sighted and candid of the New Right’s thinkers defined progress as ‘movement for movement’s sake’.

Any genuine conservative must regard this as a prescription for purposeless change - in other words, as an expression of nihilism.

In its more concrete uses, which are doubtless the ones that matter to neoliberals, ‘progress’ denotes the incessant social change forced on people by the imperatives of free markets.

[…] The permanent revolution of the free market denies any authority to the past. It nullifies precedent, it snaps the threads of memory and scatters local knowledge. By privileging individual choice over any common good it tends to make relationships revocable and provisional.

[…] As Joseph Schumpeter, who saw this aspect of capitalism with unsurpassed clarity, wrote: ‘The opening up of new markets, foreign and domestic, and the organisational development from the craft shop and factory to such concerns as US Steel illustrate the same process of industrial mutation - if I may use that biological term - that incessantly revolutionises the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.

This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism.’

[John Gray]
False Dawn, p.36-7, 195

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Evil / Good

Evil              -             Good
Puritan         -             Orthodox
Total            -             Plural
Mono           -             Poly

The traditional Christian attitude toward human personality was that human nature was essentially good and that it was formed and modified by social pressures and training. The “goodness” of human nature was based on the belief that it was a kind of weaker copy of God’s nature, lacking many of God’s qualities (in degree rather than in kind), but none the less perfectible, and perfectible largely by its own efforts with God’s guidance.

In this Western point of view, evil and sin were negative qualities; they arose from the absence of good, not from the presence of evil. Thus sin was the failure to do the right thing, not doing the wrong thing (except indirectly and secondarily).

Opposed to this Western view of the world and the nature of man, there was, from the beginning, another opposed view of both which received its most explicit formulation by the Persian Zoroaster in the seventh century B.C. and came into the Western tradition as a minor, heretical, theme […] The chief avenue by which these ideas, which were constantly rejected by the endless discussions formulating the doctrine of the West, continued to survive was through the influence of St. Augustine.

From this dissident minority point of view came seventeenth-century Puritanism. The general distinction of this point of view from Zoroaster to William Golding (in Lord of the Flies) is that the world and the flesh are positive evils and that man, in at least this physical part of his nature, is essentially evil. As a consequence he must be disciplined totally to prevent him from destroying himself and the world.

In this view the devil is a force, or being, of positive malevolence, and man, by himself, is incapable of any good and is, accordingly, not free. He can be saved in eternity by God’s grace alone, and he can get through this temporal world only by being subjected to a regime of total despotism. The direction and nature of the despotism is not regarded as important, since the really important thing is that man’s innate destructiveness be controlled.

The Puritan point of view tended to support political despotism and to seek a one-class uniform society, while the older view put much greater emphasis on traditional pluralism and saw society as a unity of diversities.

The newer idea led directly to mercantilism, which regarded political-economic life as a struggle to the death in a world where there was not sufficient wealth or space for different groups. To them wealth was limited to a fixed amount in the world as a whole, and one man’s gain was someone else’s loss.

That meant that the basic struggles of this world were irreconcilable and must be fought to a finish. This was part of the Puritan belief that nature was evil and that a state of nature was a jungle of violent conflicts.

[Carroll Quigley]
Tragedy and Hope, ‘The Future in Perspective,’ p.785-6

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