Globalism, Don Juan and the Perennial Philosophy

The perennial philosophy postulates a spiritual Source from which all being emanates; all is one. It is the contention that there is a structure to reality and this structure matches man’s interiority; his soul. There is a hierarchy of being; body, mind, soul and spirit.

One might add that if love is connection and all is one, then love corresponds to the structure of ultimate reality. In the realm of the Absolute, there are no distinctions; no individuals, no time and no space – just love.

However, I argue in Globalism, Don Juan and the Perennial Philosophy published at the Sydney Traditionalist Forum that in order for love to be made manifest in the realm of the Relative, it is necessary to love individuals; individual people, individual families and individual countries. Liberals make a philosophical and theological mistake in backing globalism which attempts to bypass the particular. This can be compared to Don Juan. A man who loves women must express his romantic love by loving a particular woman. Don Juan, however, attempts to simply bed as many women as possible, treating them as disposable nothings, which is far from love. The deracinated, rootless cosmopolitan likewise has no attachments to any particular country, community, culture or landscape and therefore loves none of them adequately, if at all.

Is Western Civilization Misogynistic?

My latest article Is Western Civilization Misogynistic? at the Sydney Traditionalist Forum answers this question in the negative. In it the case is made that feminism is misogynistic and that feminist self-hatred drives their resentment and hatred of men. Feminism embraces the mistaken notion that there is something wrong with femininity in women – a view few men adopt. When Hélène Cixous lists binary opposites, she imagines that there is something wrong with the item associated with the feminine. In this, she is deeply wrong. What the list reveals is the way in which each needs the other, in the way men and women do for the species to continue.

Feminists find themselves in rivalry with men and suffering from a sense of inferiority. The current strategy is thus to highlight every cultural, artistic, moral and scientific achievement they can find by women. If men point out the positive contribution of many men in all those areas, as breath-taking as they are numerous, it would just make feminists hate men even more. Thus any attempt to provide counter-examples to the notion that men are a worthless bunch will just increase their ire.

This is an example of the self-sealing fallacy where what sounds like an empirical claim is made, namely that men and patriarchal culture are evil and worthless. If counter-examples are provided of positive male achievement, Plato, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Cervantes, Gandhi, Einstein, Tesla, Louis Pasteur, Jesus, these accomplishments are imagined to represent opportunities denied to women, so these are evil too. Anytime a factual assertion becomes immune to counter-example, even in principle, it means that the factual assertion has been replaced by tautology. For feminists, men and patriarchy are evil by definition.

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Identity: The Future of a Paradox

My essay on Identity: The Future of a Paradox appears at the 2017 Symposium of the Sydney Traditionalist Forum along with essays by Paul Gottfried, James Kalb, Valdis Grinsteins, Urho Lintinen, and Richard Cocks, among others.  I would like publicly to thank the Forum’s convener Edwin Dyga for his meticulous editorial work and fine presentation of the essays.  The Future of a Paradox explores idea, argued in a book by the French historian Rémi Brague, that Western Civilization is uniquely a civilization that has its founding principle outside itself and that has understood itself since its first embodiment in the Roman polity as the steward of something that it received (namely Greek high culture) but did not create. The essay examines this thesis in light of the Western epic tradition beginning with Virgil and proceeding through Ovid, Jordanes, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Snorri Sturluson, Harry Martinson, and Ezra Pound.  I offer an extract:

The Gothic successors of the Western Empire stood to Romanitas as Romanitas stood to Hellenism, in a relation of secondarity or even second or third secondarity.  When Jordanes, in his Origin and Deeds of the Goths (mid-Sixth Century), narrates Theodoric’s departure from Constantinople for Italy, where with the Eastern Emperor’s permission he would establish himself as viceroy, he uses this quaint phrase: “He set out for Hesperia.”  Jordanes’ allusion to Virgil anticipates the Trojan pedigrees that Geoffrey furnishes for the Britannic kings of the annals and Snorri for the Aesir of the sagas.  That the gesture approaches self-consciousness to the point of sentimentality neither belies nor obviates it.  Now a sentiment, like a father, might be a burden onerous to shoulder, but that fact never divests it of sincerity.  A complementary image of shouldering the father, as Brague reminds his readers, is standing on the shoulders of giants, the structure of which subordinates the subject in a slightly different way from the onus, but insists on that subordination nevertheless.  In Medieval stained glass, the Saints stand on the shoulders of the Prophets; in Gothic decorative statuary, Pagan figures mingle with Hebrew and Christian figures.  It is nearly a thesis in capital letters.

The two images stand in common tension with an opposite image that takes the form of the consciousness or identity that claims, for its own part, an entirely autogenetic status.  For [Rémi] Brague, the prototype of that stance is the Second Century Marcionite heresy.  As did many Gnostics, Marcion of Sinope (85 – 160) hated and rejected the Old Testament, arguing in respect of the New Testament what Islam would later argue in respect of the Koran, that it was aboriginally new hence genuinely and uniquely primordial and that it therefore abrogated everything that claimed spuriously to have come before it.  Modern liberal people are the issue of Marcion despite their complete unfamiliarity with him, and their deluded consciousness corresponds to his point by point.  Modernity and liberalism, in the making since the Eighteenth Century at the latest, and currently triumphant in the West, exist in a second reality in which all debts have been cancelled, all obligations annulled, and the way lies open to that urge without origin or goal that goes by the name of progress.  Tellingly, in its acute current phase, the modern liberal regime has mounted an explicit attack on family, attempting to define the institution away by imposing contradictory deformations on it by judicial fiat.  Likewise, the modern liberal regime attacks sovereignty, the concept that separates one nation from another and by doing so guarantees a people’s rights.  The modern liberal regime seeks, rather, a globalizing borderless society in which differential evaluation of ethoi and defense of one’s proper ethos are criminalized.  The modern liberal regime pursues an agenda of forced promiscuity for the sake of abolishing difference, while insisting contradictorily that difference is a supreme value.  The modern liberal regime collectivizes, homogenizes, and atomizes all at the same time.

Philosophy and the Crisis of the Modern World

Philosophy and the Crisis of the Modern World is my contribution to a symposium on the topic of identity published at the Sydney Traditionalist Forum. René Guenon criticizes philosophy for generating this crisis. He argues that removing or ignoring the esoteric content of Platonic philosophy resulted in exoteric rationalism which has dominated Western philosophy, certainly since the scientific revolution. Since rationality is not itself generative, but merely analytic, philosophers find themselves with a vacuum where God should be and inevitably head in the direction of nihilism – the unavoidable consequence of postulating a Godless universe.

It is hard to see how a nihilistic culture could sustain itself in the long term. My argument is consistent with these comments by Scott Weidner concerning T. S. Eliot:

Eliot formulated the most basic tenet of his cultural theory, that religion and culture are essentially “related.” <4>  In fact, Eliot argued that “no culture has appeared or developed except together with a religion: according to the point of view of the observer, the culture [appears] to be the product of the religion, or the religion the product of the culture.” <5>   They might be thought of as different aspects of the same thing; culture was “the incarnation of the religion of a people.” <6>   Civilizations which appeared to be secular or humanistic, such as ancient Greece and Rome, were actually religious cultures in decline. <7>   Culture could not be preserved, extended, or developed in the absence of religion, nor could religion be preserved and maintained if culture was not. <8>

Why don’t people want Muslim immigration?

It’s not terrorism, crime, or wage depression.  We don’t have nearly enough of them for those to be major issues (yet).  The real reason many don’t like Muslim immigration is this:

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This is an excellent propaganda piece for our side.  It’s easy for people to say that our country isn’t defined by religion, race, or culture, but to see that picture is to behold the abyss behind those thoughts.  “We the people”, it says, meaning this is a picture of us, a picture of Americans.  And yet, the first thing you think when seeing that woman is that she is foreign.  Not only does she belong to a religion alien to our civilization, she maintains the style of dress and standard of modesty of an alien culture.  To notice this is not to criticize.  There is nothing wrong with the hijab, but it is not how we traditionally cover our women.  Islam is a false religion, but so is Unitarianism, and we easily recognize the former but not the latter as foreign.  This woman is probably not a terrorist.  She might be able to recite the Constitution from memory, and her political philosophy might be identical to that of James Madison.  According to liberalism, according to the First Amendment, she is as American as any one of us, because to be American means nothing more than to be committed to a certain set of procedures of government.  If in a hundred years, all Americans were to look like this, liberalism demands you accept that nothing fundamental would have changed.

And yet we immediately sense that the woman in the picture is foreign–her image was chosen precisely for this reason, to show us the implications of our tolerance.  If she is “we the people”, than what are we, the people belonging to America’s traditional culture?  We are nothing; no such “we” is allowed to exist.  No region of the country, no profession, and no association can admit that this woman is foreign to it.  People say that Islam is the dog that pisses on every tree; where it comes, it owns.  But even if our Muslim American harbors no such designs for supremacy, she delegitimizes our culture just by the fact that we cannot admit her foreignness.  A Muslim America wouldn’t necessarily be a bad place.  It might have any number of virtues.  But would it really still be our country, the same country that exists right now?

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What Inclusion Really Means

The university library is running a promotional campaign to assure students that they are, indeed, welcome inside, where the books are found.  The suggestion, as you shall see, is that many are presently skirting the library because they fear that bigots may haunt the stacks, and that hurtful words may be heard among the whispers.  Apparently it is this rumor of hostility (and not, say, ubiquitous access to the worldwide web) that has rendered the postmodern library such a forlorn and desolate place. Continue reading

Book review: How to be a Conservative

Conservatism is, ironically, the one political philosophy that has failed to convert itself into a tradition.  Each generation, it must be discovered anew, as a new voice arises to remind us that the job of the Right is not just to be a bit more practical than the Left in how we demand freedom and equality.  Roger Scruton was that voice in the late 1970s, and his great work The Meaning of Conservatism reminded us that conservatism is not about freedom but about authority, the authority not only of the state but of a host of autonomous institutions.  As he describes in his new book How to be a Conservative, Scruton’s work behind the Iron Curtain softened his attitudes toward Western liberalism shortly after he wrote The Meaning of Conservatism.  The experience of socialist totalitarianism inclined him more positively to classical liberalism, if not to its Lockean justifications.  In How to be a Conservative, Scruton again attempts to explain his understanding of conservatism.  Again it has very much to do with his horror at seeing the institutions of civil society treated as means to an extrinsic end (now no longer called socialism, but social justice).  It is a conservatism in the moderate British style, with all the good and bad that come with this approach.  He generously tries to see the valid insight driving each ideology of the day; the chapters are named “The Truth in Nationalism”, “The Truth in Internationalism”, “The Truth in Socialism”, etc.  (The last-named chapter, though, is mostly about the falsity of socialism.)  Finally he comes to conservatism, which supposedly incorporates the truth in these other beliefs while rejecting their excesses.  Scruton’s conservatism does, I think, succeed in this goal.  It also fails to conserve anything.

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Christianity, the Religion with No Benefits

You may have seen the article in the New York Times entitled “Christian Leaders Denounce Trump’s Plan to Favor Christian Refugees.” If not, and if you are not already struggling with suicidal depression, you can read it here.  This article reminds us, once again, that Christianity is the religion with no benefits.  Members pay dues, of course, but the table they spread is open to everyone. Continue reading

Repudiate the False, I Say!

Reading Isegoria this morning, this paragraph jumped out at me.

Offering kids the opportunity to pursue what they’d like, freed from societal expectations, is an undeniably positive thing — whether it has to do with toys, clothing, or their future aspirations. But the scientific reality is that it’s futile to treat children as blank slates with no predetermined characteristics.

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