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The Political Anthropology of the Divine Beast (Part IV)


We have witnessed the imagery and concepts of sacrifice throughout this article. This is not entirely accidental. Even so, if this were not altogether deliberate (and where, in particular, it was definitely not consciously intended), it is even more apt. This only exposes the necessity.

In the most blessed ages, men understand that sacrifice — including literally the ritual shedding of blood — is necessary. In fact, it is not merely the preserve of recalcitrant savages, but the precondition of higher culture. Only severity is profound; pity is only prosaic and pernicious. No, it is severity we treasure. A cosmic balance is observed, the stability of long, painstaking setting-aright, by generation after generation. So, for everything there is a price, which is taken most seriously. Supposing the scales have been upset, only an earnest effort returns them to balance, harmony and order. Naturally, this means an act of terrible and excruciating significance.

Perhaps it was Kierkegaard who plumbed this terrible thing most clearly, to its most overwhelming depths. At this point, it is better to merely refer to his account of the Binding of Isaac here en passant, rather than vainly attempt to reproduce it here, with the excellence of the original. Suffice it to say, that Kierkegaard understands most clearly what is at stake in sacrifice and the profound courage of the sacrificial act.

We too must face this like men. However, we must go beyond Kierkegaard. We must find the most extreme — that is to say, supreme — form of devotion that is actually carried out.

Sacrifices must be made.

The sword of vengeance expresses the principle most clearly. An avenger expiates the wrong which lingers over his kin; for it is his kinsmen who are avenged, his ancestors who are honoured, his gods who are appeased. He himself is vindicated, as the very blade of his blood. It is blood, after all, which matters. Everything carries the weight of blood. The lex talionis is the real lex sanguinis.

So, this shall be the whole of the law: all matters are ultimately reckoned in blood. This is the Law of the World. Every line of this law-code is a line coloured by blood.

By contrast, we have the reactionary ‘justice’ system of the courts, which only exists (outwardly) to protect sentimental abstractions like present-day private property, ‘social justice’ and the other ‘Rights of Man’ — and now there are courts to protect nothing more than ‘human rights’ as such!

The law of the courtroom loses its vital connection to its natural jurisdiction, precisely when it normalizes and mechanizes its procedures. When ‘targets’ are more important than upholding the law which binds the nation in an orderly body politic, decisions are no longer judicial, but purely technical rationalizations. The advent of private prisons, the transformation of the penitentiary (which is expiatory) from an exaction of the public debt to an enterprise for the extraction of private profit (i.e. a wholesale transubstantiation of a public function into a private one) is an accompaniment and guarantor of this development. The courtroom thus becomes a sanctimonious playground for rarified moral phantasies and insidiously fallacious excuses.

“The known way is an impasse”, Heraclitus cryptically tells us, in a fragment; this is especially accurate in the institutions of Law. Thus, when the law of the court hollows out and abolishes itself, the laws return home to the nation, as if beasts unfettered, returning to their habitat. So, when the necrotic court ‘justice’-system is purged and utterly destroyed, the path of tradition opens up once more and the Law of Blood bursts through.

The Law of Blood, in which the terrible price is known, demanded and paid in full, often with interest, is the mode of this principle which is clearest in actual practice.

However, the principle is present in every sort of sacrifice. (Vengeance is simply the most understandable.)

Sacrifice is not merely an act of atonement, but one of gratitude. Indeed, it is not only a positive deed, but an affirmative one. It confirms everything. This is why, as a religious ritual, it is a totalizing act, exemplifying and embodying the totality of the mythological worldview. The ritual in which the sacrifice is performed is a mysterium tremendum et fascinans, which reveals — even while still in a meaningful way concealing — the irreducible richness of life. It seems on the face of it, to the faithless apostates of our own day, to be an irrational and negative act. It is irrational, perhaps, but not negative. Even if we do not believe that the gods actually partake of the offering (and so the sacrifice is ‘wasted’), the whole communal life of men is reaffirmed and underlined in the most decisive way. It is affirmative in nature. In this sense, it is not even mostly destructive. The destruction of the sacrificial animal or object is of only marginal importance.

The Nordic pagan’s offerings made on the winter solstice — even today — are of a similar nature. The edible and imbibable portion of the offering is not left so as to perish, but to be absorbed again into the natural world. We have, to symbolically represent this, the story of Odin’s wolves devouring what men offer up.

Only in the moment of slaughter — and the reaffirmation of all that to which one belongs — is it that the principle is seen (albeit obscured) at its highest. In the terrible seconds preceding the lethal bloodshed, with the dagger held aloft, one anxiously comes to grips with oneself. Doubts must be reckoned with in the anticipatory moment, if at all. Nevertheless, the principle ascends to its zenith, precisely in the fateful instant when the blade descends, meeting its mark — and cleaving its way through cleanly. In that instant, one knows one’s heart. The terror of the moment before is maddening; the horror which follows, merely sobering. It is the curtain-call which brings to a close the absurdist play of the binding. The deed must be done. Only the faithless and the ungrateful can turn from this.

O, dira necessitas!

One must not wait for all Neptune’s oceans to wash one’s hands; one must be the equal of one’s deeds. Only the convinced can kill honestly, even if they are wrong.

We must become lion-hearted, like the narrator-protagonist of the song ‘Rabbit Heart‘ by Florence + The Machine. At long last, we consumate the tremendum fascinosum. The eternal mystery unfolds and exposes itself in the instant, only to the Initiate:

This is a gift,
It comes with a price!
Who is the lamb
And who is the knife?

It is the great paradox of human nature, that we must not be unwilling to suffer or die; or, for that matter, to cause suffering and death. We do not question or posit any hereafter (for that is not gratitude), but merely offer up to the gods their due. Hesitation is ungrateful and — naturally — the highest crime against one’s gods, one’s race and oneself.

What, then, can we infer from this? Surely, we can rediscover the wisdom which was old when the greatest civilizations on our planet were young.

Gratitude is the most genuinely telling human feeling. When presented with a boon, it is the obligation of the grateful to seize it. This is their joyful right but also their sorrowful responsibility.

“We raise it up, this offering”, the bridge of ‘Rabbit Heart’ reiterates. This is sacrifice — honourable, holy and open-handed. It must ever be thus.

Notice how the hunter who lives off his kills respects his prey. He is careful with how their lives are taken, he thanks his gods and goes through many unannounced rituals with which he does himself no dishonour. When his quarry is obtained, he must only kill them thus, skin them thus and gut them thus. It must be so. Surely, too, however, his duty must be to kill them in the first place, when they are sent to him by the cosmic winds.

The great mystery yields, then, an even greater clarity.

No norm can exist within chaos, Schmitt rightly observes (in Political Theology). There can be nothing apprehensible within the indescribable, inexplicable, unfathomable tempest of anarchy. There is nothing normal, let alone normative, so all is permitted — and the distance between man and man is not only unknown, but unravels, expands and returns to its ‘original position’, where it has become infinitely remote and hostile. All proximity is done with and finished. Approximation is gone as if it never was. Sacrifice is again loosed from its customary bounds and begins the offering-up of the not-I, the not-we, the sacrificial Other; even sacrifice within is permitted. In short, human sacrifice.

There are the obvious examples when we think of societies which practice this kind of sacrifice — the excesses of the Aztecs, Incas and Mayas — and in Europe we had the Druids. However, this is not where it ends. Even peoples not widely known for human sacrifice practised it; with some, like the Germanic and Nordic pagans, we get to see all the more clearly how important the sacrifice of a human being is. They understand it in precisely the political-mystical terms I have described. Our loosely Schmittian framework can therefore remain.

Within the context of a prevailing order, we can have the auguries, offerings of goats, rams, oxen and even the slaughter of horses. (The Celts even threw away old and battered weaponry, so that their new weaponry would be stronger and favoured by the gods.) In ordinary times, this is proper — and it is enough. However, more desperate times require more desperate measures; more extreme circumstances demand more extreme offerings. The hecatombs, bringing together great numbers of offerings, might also lead to more singular sacrifical offerings of  greater import: people. The intensification brings about a change in the ritual.

The Germanics were largely against this most extreme form of ritual killing. We should nevertheless not allow ourselves to be fooled into thinking that this is because the sanctity of life prevents this. Rather, the sanctity of life inheres in human sacrifice and precisely what makes this practice coherent. The instinctual (and, as Hume points out, not at all rational) perception of cause-and-effect is a natural and necessary superstition. The offering is both (1) the grateful acknowledgement after-the-fact (propitiation-as-effect) and (2) the anticipatory entreaty for continued propserity — or even just continuity itself (oblation-as-cause). The relation goes both ways and is, of course, murky, because its relation is intuitive but not strictly rational.

The ritual slaughter of humans may be the great taboo now, but it was ubiquitous. Indeed, offerings seem to have been treated similarly by all Indo-European peoples.

The Aryans in India practised this same kind of oblation. Their priests can truly be called sanguinary, for they consumed the blood of sacrificial animals. What power or worth lies in the blood, they consumed. This entered into the reckoning of sacrifice.

One of the most important, but also rarest, Vedic rituals was the purushamedha — literally, Man-sacrifice. Despite being rarely discussed, it is also highly and contextually necessary. In this ritual, the man is ritually slaughtered much in the same way as the horse in the ashvamedha. Notice that there must be something distinctly human in the former ritual, just as there is something distinctly equestrian in the latter; in the same way that, during the latter, the gilt and adorned chariot is drawn in with the horse, to symbolize the military strength (specifically horsemanship and charioteering) which allowed the Aryans to prevail everywhere. So, the blood can be surmised to carry the distinctly human divinity.

Why make such extreme offerings? Because it is portentous and necessary.

Now that the words have been spoken — that the very sacrifice of human beings is carried out — we must look beyond our shock. What makes this necessary? Life makes this necessary. Life and Death are not truly opposites; the final fact of a life is Death, but Death is merely a Part of Life. Sacrifice, moreover, is a much more intelligible form of death. Today, we see this reversed. Sacrifice makes very little sense to us, for the same reason that maintaining order makes very little sense to us.

Sacrifice is the renewal of order.

What the Finnish ecological philosopher Pentti Linkola advocates, for example, is really just a recent (and ecological) variant of this primitive worldview. ‘Can life prevail?’ he asks, even making this the title of one of his books. A re-formulation is in order — and so we ask: ‘Can we prevail?’

Humans are sacrificed for the human order. Blood is met with blood, force with force, terror with terror and the man capable of the most terrible things prevents the most terrible plagues by comparably terrible treatments. It is like a physician excising a tumour, that the ascendant, dominant man removes threats which are inimical to the legal, social and political order. This is how he keeps his throne and why he deserves it.

The metaphor can be made literal: medicine itself is of roughly the same nature. Cures work because they are ruthlessly effective, not because they are pleasant. Clearly, the discipline we call medicine is as unspeakably morbid as the maladies which it cures — but it is so largely by necessity.

It was supposedly the Ksatriya, not the Brahmin, who performed the solemn purushamedha. This, of course, makes sense, since the Ksatriya caste is the class of the warriors, also that class from which the kings are drawn — namely, the caste which maintains order. Human blood propitiates the human political order.

Invariably, that which one is willing to subdue and sacrifice determines one’s existential reward.

In decadent times like our own, when nothing reigns but anarchy; in places where the blind automaton of the managerial state rolls endlessly on into eternity, punishing impotently, discouraging not a single crime, while encouraging all kinds; when we are in that topsy-turvy void which Sam Francis called ‘anarcho-tyranny’. The arbitrary confidence required to make distinctions and determinations of justice must again be infused into the system, by a temperament like that of the Lawgiver and Sovereign, through deeds like his. When the gavel of justice has been cast aside, the sword of justice may be taken up again.

So, the challenge of the exception must be addressed. We put a stop to our material, physical, existential destruction in its own terms. For the answer to force must be force; it is with fire that we must answer fire-bringers; the murderer must be slain; we destroy the destroyer. A single drop of the best blood shed, das heiligste Blut, must be avenged with torrents of common blood. This is simply how men in concreto are. Supposing we were not this way, we would not be at all.

In pain, we find not only the answers but the affirmations of great questions. Nietzsche is correct on the wisdom found in pain. “There is as much wisdom in pain as in pleasure: like pleasure, pain is one of the prime species-preserving forces. If it weren’t, it would have perished long ago: that it hurts is no argument against it — it is its essence. In pain I hear the captain’s command: ‘Pull in the sails!’ The hardy seafarer ‘Man’ must have learned to adjust the sails a thousand ways; otherwise he would have gone under too quickly and the ocean would have swallowed him too soon. We have to know how to live with reduced energy, too: as soon as pain sounds its safety signal, it is time for such a reduction — some great danger, some storm is approaching, and we do well to ‘inflate ourselves’ as little as possible.” (Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Cambridge: CUP, 318.) There is a conservatism in this, which applies to most men, at most times.

Still, we have the colloquial expression ‘No pain, no gain’. So, what do we gain from pain? Simply, by its operation, pain imparts instruction. It teaches us about the differences between men — and it even teaches us about ourselves. What kind of man am I? What will I endure? What am I willing to inflict on myself and others? Who am I — and what is this ‘I’?

Pain is the determiner of whether men rise or fall. Indeed, we see that pain is a great separator in this way, also. Nietzsche continues — and we must let him speak the greater part of pain’s wisdom: “True, there are people who hear exactly the opposite command when great pain approaches and who never look as proud, bellicose, and happy as when a storm is nearing — yes, pain itself gives them their greatest moments! They are the heroic human beings, the great pain-bringers of humanity, those few or rare ones who who need the same apology as pain itself — and truly, they should not be denied this! They are eminently species-preserving and species-enhancing forces, if only because they resist comfort and do not hide their nausea at this type of happiness.” (Nietzsche, The Gay Scienceibid.)

Pain is no objection whatsoever to the most needful and sacred pursuit of order. Rather, in fact, pain can be indicative of a life-affirming, life-preserving, life-enriching experience — hence it is associated with sacred necessity.

The greatest of men not only know how to endure pain, but how to use it to achieve the most invaluable effects. The men who meet pain with laughter, who can thank their torment and are grateful for the brutal vividness of life, these are the men without whom our conquests, our riches and even our civilizations could not be, even as these men may themselves be retainers of the most joyously barbarous or savage temperaments.

One can see throughout Jünger’s writing that he understands pain, sacrifice and exile. This is, in some way, shape or form, present throughout Jünger’s entire oeuvre. It matters not whether the evolving beast is called the Frontsoldat, Arbeiter, Waldgänger or Anarch — a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. We see him draw taut like a bowstring, between the typical and exceptional. What emphasizes the grateful yet forlorn longing for belonging more than painful affirmation, more than the anonymous (or perhaps anomalous) sacrifice?

The individualist does not understand this, for individualism is an abstraction and active theoretization of the fearful, over-weaning instinct for hoarding, retreating, reasoning and bargaining one’s way out of danger. The individualists (of all stripes) abuse the strands of sensible non-interventionism and pragmatic allowances to fabricate a fanatical creed out of whole cloth and call it a rational plan for history. There is more than a touch of strychnine in this. The axis from themselves to ‘the individual’ is the umbilical cord — that is to say, we can trace their ‘individuality’ through their longing for the womb. In this dried out womb of denial, we find that the injunction ‘Laissez-faire!’ really necessitates the laisser-aller! The crawling, snivelling, conceptual retreat of these invertebrates shows their visceral commitment to cowardice and indecision. Even the Sadean wish to throw open our prisons to prove our virtue is really the puss that oozes from the burst boil of bourgeois morality, that now-festering sore of soft-stomached, soft-hearted, suburban sponge-life society, whose intermittent secretions up until the point of bursting were senseless flashings of violence in a decadent world. It is the end not only of Man, but of men — and we are thenceforth ‘individuals’ and die letzten Menschen.

It is for this reason that gratitude is to be restored. We must be existentially grateful for materially manifest gifts — but not all gifts are pleasant. Indeed, even (and perhaps especially) the best among them are bittersweet, are they not? Even les fleurs de mal can be beautiful — and they are.

The sacred and the profane are present in the same world. They are consubstantial. In our world, specifically our place within it, we find the unity of the natural and supernatural. It is a similar thing Maistre addresses when he speaks of the perfect parallelism of the physical and moral worlds, albeit he speaks as both Catholic and illuminist and that of which he speaks is two worlds and not one. The nuance for a thinker like Xunzi is much more apparent, so it is to him that we turn. Concretely, man is the completion of a triad with Heaven and earth, says he. To this Chinese, however, Heaven is rather more immanent — the governing principle in natural affairs, existing as the principle of order does to the principiate of order; the latter being the earth in its proper relation to Heaven. Man is always the inaugurator of the conjunction of principle-principiate. It is his mindful good conduct which holds Heaven and earth in their proper position and keeps all aright.

So, the man who finds his place and is thankful for it, is blessed. Again, we find that centre around which the wheel turns is—gratitude! It is the ungrateful who are truly forsaken. They damn themselves to their own hells. Gratitude is the compensation and correction of all deficiencies in life. Rather, it is the fierce who make prosperity possible. What is authentic and affirmative to life? We can answer: Pain is preservative! Sacrifice is salutary! Adversity is enriching!

Kierkegaard says that the man who loves himself becomes great in himself and he who loves others becomes great through his devotion to them, but the man who loves God becomes great than all others. Why is this? It’s because we find self-overcoming in what we love. What the Dane is really saying is that the man who loves himself overcomes himself; who loves others, overcomes his society; and — which he completely forgets to say and, in fact, lets fall away altogether — he who loves God, overcomes the Divine itself, to become divine himself.

Can we subscribe to this more extreme view? In some form, yes.

The man who overcomes himself, not only finds himself, but earns himself. “I am done with my graceless heart / So, tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart!” the singer resolves in Florence + the Machine’s ‘Shake It Out‘.

The highest castes of the divine beasts maintain order. Holding firm the sacred circle in which each nation is invisibly bound and blessed, policing the frontiers of our awareness like stallions protecting a herd of horses; their unhesitating hands raining thunderbolts on the forces of chaos without hesitation, these are honestly the best men. He who strikes is rightly called blessed before all others; he who strikes as the gods strike, is called sovereign. Here we see the impenetrable, yet profoundly palpable, order of rank, the pathos of distance contained and made approximal in quality, in the gradation of the Divine Beast from highest to lowest and vice versa.

The lotus unfurls its petals and the riddle unfolds. Authenticity is found, then, not in some static Truth, set apart from its bloody roots, but rather in ἀλήθεια (‘ālétheia’ or unconcealedness) and the alethetic process of sacrifice as disconcealment and utter, illimitable affirmation. Only the brave among us will stare into the beating heart of human life! In all honest heroes — and specifically all primal heroes — we find the anima naturaliter religiosa.

Simply, we are left once more with the bloodied but brilliant figure of our political anthropology: the divine beast, made whole in the sacrificial act. He has gained himself — and the world — through his gratitude.


The Political Anthropology of the Divine Beast (Part III)

Part Three of the Political Anthropology. (3 of 5)


Men who first find human fellowship experience epiphany. They are not so profoundly overawed by this because human beings are united, transcendentally or otherwise, by some over-arching concept ‘Man’, but rather precisely for the opposite reason, because they are not so united. Granted, he is not born alone, as Rousseau’s man strangely is. Man before genuine political organization is still social, still born of a mother, nor is his conception in any way immaculate in the sense of virginity, but only in the sense of sinlessness.

*[This is why the pre-modern Christians speak of the “statu innocentiæ”. The first men were born without sin, because they were born without the concept. So, why make use of their work, when it hinges upon the doctrine of sin? For in them we see the first and proudest European Christianity, which is at first only paganism turned on its head and little else modified ( — to wit, many gods become one God, the flesh and the spirit are pried apart, men are sinful, etc. — ), and so we make use of their completed labours, by putting them aright again, without undoing them altogether.]

We must take a view of men which is, at the very least, a place-holder for our political anthropology. There must be a number of ‘regulative hypotheses’ (to paraphrase Nietzsche) or ‘philosophical fictions’ (to use Hume’s expression instead), i.e. provisional arguments to serve as a heuristic for sketching out the behaviour of men, both individually and collectively.

There are various things we can infer about men as they are. This is similar to how we infer things about the world. For example, we learn from astrophysicists and cosmologists that there is residual heat in the universe — and this has been used as circumstantial proof for the Big Bang theory. It is, in fact, the evidence which was championed as it gained widespread acceptance. Ernst Jünger makes a similar point in his essay ‘The Tree‘ (recently translated and posted on the Jünger blog): “The forest grows vigorously in biomass, returning more to the earth than it asks of it. Flourishing anew each year, it casts off its leaves and branches and ultimately its trunks too, entrusting them to the humus, in which the heat of mighty summers is stored. We still warm ourselves with the surpluses of forests whose riches no human eye ever saw.” This remarkable point returns, incidentally, to men. It applies both figuratively and literally. What we get, again, is the notion of a background heat, from a specific source (in this case, the forests of the earth), but also quite literally the background — and the very ground — of human existential continuation.

Where would we be without forests? Without fire? Without the skins we garbed ourselves in? Without the abundance of the earth? Without other men?

It does not matter that we seem not to need forests, fire, skins, the abundance of the earth or other men. All of these, to some degree or other, are needed for the way of life we enjoy. Supposing they grow more distant from view, it is not because we have progressed so far from needing them, but because they lay at the foundation of our complex, politically organized societies, much like the building and lighting of the common hearth within a city’s walls chronologically lay at the foundation of a Greek polis; their fittedness to our bare necessities lays dimly half-remembered because the providential supererogation of their divine superabundance has allowed us, through varying economic distributions and stratified political organization, to build up our societies — in short, precisely because they are so necessary.

Where would we be without bloodshed?

[Jefferson let more slip than he ever intended, if he truly wrote that the tree of liberty must be watered from time to time with blood. Nietzsche understands that our whole ‘moral world order’ as it were, is a gigantic piece of hypocrisy. Our entire construction of a flawed and slavish morality leads not to less cruelty, but to more, because it is morbidly self-mortifying and destroys others ‘for their own good’, truly a richly portentous monstrum of monstrosities to come; so “the moral conceptual world of ‘guilt’, ‘conscience’, ‘duty’, ‘sacred duty’ originates – its beginning, like the beginning of everything great on earth, has long been steeped in blood.” (II §6, Nietzsche, [trans. Smith, D.], On the Genealogy of Morals [1998], Oxford: OUP. p.46.)

The difference is that, in slave-morality, this becomes more intense and more genuinely, harmfully destructive in proportion to how stringently it is denied by the moralists. However, in the former moralities which may be comprehended under the appellation of master-morality, this is not the case. In these moralities — which are manly and masterly in their conception and sentiments —  blood, sweet, toil and tears are accepted and embraced; sacrifices of every kind are permitted, in the proper place at the proper time, under the proper circumstances.

Slave moralities, modern-day ideologies and utopian dreams are enormous lies. They can simply not be honest on this point, because they are incapable of living up to the genuine unity of life — which is not at all kumbaya, but rather a molten, tectonic shifting, a sacred and structured hiearchy utterly inextricable from the celebration and augmentation of thriving life — which that demands that offerings of all kinds be given up as the very precondition for social order. How many scores of bones lay broken on the field all around us, waiting to be ground underfoot by the ceaseless (and perhaps ultimately aimless) march of History through the world?   How much blood nourishes the roots of the Tree of Life?

In the great edifices of human civilizations, there are always bodies in the foundations. Blood always nourishes these roots, because many must bleed so that some may be free. Many must toil so that culture can even exist. The maintenance or even intensification of a rigid class/caste structure leads to what Nietzsche calls “higher culture”. Countless masses must produce, so that a tiny handful of truly great men can create.]

We must understand the lesson of the Sceptics, that men (like any other natural phenomena) cannot be considered in isolation — that is, rationalistically — separate from their situations. Nevertheless, just as we can discover background radiation throughout the whole universe, in different parts at different times, which lead our scientists to believe in a Big Bang, we can learn things about men from what we know of their similar natures in different situations. So, where do we go from here? Well, we create a cosmology of man, showing his place in his world as a whole! Let it be termed a political cosmology, to go neatly with our political theology and, of course, our political anthropology. Moreover, it will be yet another direction from which to approach this political anthropology.

To this end, we shall take a number of varying and widely contrasted theses, which nevertheless form a complex (and much more life-like) picture of a man. A living being, after all, exists multidimensionally; he has more than one aspect.

(Thesis 1)
Man is a singular creature. It is his mortality which makes him so — even as it makes him live with others, to give meaning to his life. He is being-toward-death, as Heidegger says, and none can die in his place. The greater the danger, the greater the awareness of mortality and its profound riddle (albeit all must be aware, to some extent). Let us treat the singularity of what we call the strongest and proudest of men — the warrior. He is a singularity and is all too aware of the risk of physical destruction.

Since it is this ‘singular-ness’ (not singularity per se) that we are interested in at this point, rather than call the condition in which he exists a bellum omnium contra omnes, we will be better to call it a bellum unum contra omnes. He can stand by himself, in fighting all of nature, all hazards and animals, and even all other men. He makes his war (or what passes for war) by his own choice. He very consciously could die by himself, which shapes how he lives. Encounters with other men mean conflict, even if they do not have to. It is his choice to be the lone frontiersman, the outlaw or the lord — as is a permanently dangerous situation his choice.

This is the sort of man Robert E. Howard envisioned, fully formed in his mind’s eye, when in The Phoenix on the Sword, he wrote the famous lines: “Hither came Conan the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jewelled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.” This calm, lean, pantherish (anti-)hero captures the very physical quintessence of these men almost perfectly.

There are countless examples throughout the Western tradition — and it is perhaps a good omen that they are still, half-unconsciously, drawn upon even today.

A more contemporary example, the idiosyncratically written song ‘Amaranth‘, by Nightwish, opens with these lines:

Baptised with a perfect name
The doubting one by heart
Alone without himself

His is a grim joviality which is so rigidly natural as to appear to us perverse. What can we say of his moods? He is implacable at his worst, indomitable at his best, and inscrutable at all times.

This man, as we find him, is a fearsome skirmisher. His hand, like Ishmael’s, is against all men, as theirs are against him. He shelters himself from them when he sleeps; when he eats, it is apart from them and perhaps at their expense. They huddle together, for warmth, while he skins wild beasts for his adornment and lean comfort. Once the stag is dead, its antlers become his weapons, too. Soon, he will fashion weapons inspired by wildest nature or have others in his power (women, children or such like) do so.

It is natural for him to dictate in this way, for “each one is the law for his own wives and children, and cares nothing about the others”. (The Odyssey of Homer, trans. Richmond Lattimer, London: Harper-Perennial, p.140) The power of the lawgiver, the sovereign and the supreme justice must be derived from his arbitrary imposition — this and nothing else must be its basis. So, a man must make this imposition and a woman must surrender herself to it. Notably, in Roman law, the closest corresponding concept of marital and sexual consent was affectio maritalis (literally the marital feeling or inclination), a man’s and woman’s consideration of one another and themselves as husband and wife respectively. The woman must consider herself “swept off her feet”, as it were.

Nevertheless, this is merely the refinement of a more primitive, primal practice. We see this with the sort of man in question.

A woman becomes his and solely his when he carries her off and takes her in hand, to behold her for himself. Either that or she is given to him by her father or a (male) relative who has precedence and power over her. Thus the Greek marriage ceremony was a giving-away. The woman’s consent, in such times, was the effect of their union, not the cause. In this second case, the man and woman are bound in the home and will be bound by blood, with the wife’s bearing and rearing of his children, whereas the man and his father-in-law are bound by their tacit agreement and their families brought closer together. The laurels of amity thus grow around strength.

Now, she will be safe, but protection and possession are, in this case and at this point, indistinguishable. Man protects what is his, protects what he adores, protects that which becomes part of him. He is not the weak little individualist, bound only to the epidermal limits. The man and his young family grow together in the sweet symbiosis of inequality. Family is a condition of intimate dependence (thus we see the etymological root of ‘family’, in ‘famulia’, and the whole development of the family concept, bundled neatly together). Even so, he has a dignity which can only be maintained in self-reliance.

This is why he makes the law in the home. Even as it is the woman who both obeys and enacts it, through her enforcement, his domicile is in his dominion, in which he is supreme. It is woman who rules the hearth, but she does so in her relation to her man, she serves at his pleasure, only the further to honour his rulership of the household.

This, however, is the case of a few men, but not all. We can see this in how this man sets himself apart from others.

(Thesis 2)
Others might find peace in the so-called ‘state of nature’, but it is a cowardly contentment, it is a demeaning condition of timidity. However, men of the most frighteningly ferocious temperaments exist and must find community with their own or be checked by their fellows — sometimes both. The timid, who like to live in prideless peace, may vainly try to avoid such beings, but this does not at all mean they will not be followed by his depredations. So, they will be protected by one pugnacious protector, against the pugnacity of another — or they may be destroyed, in absence of such protection. There is, at a stretch, a third option: that they could even eke out an existence quite undisturbed and plod aimlessly through life so long as their natures permitted this, as Nietzsche suggests, but it does not. Supposing it did, then in any case, no matter how close they live together, they can never become or join a people. Without a protector and without leaving their places of comfort to awaken and acknowledge that they are surrounded by dangers, they will never become a political community. They will never know walls to shelter them or sanctuaries to worship their own gods or marketplaces, let alone free ones. These are risks such men cannot stomach. They are a poor parody of nomadic warriors: these pitiful creatures are nomadic cowards.

Nietzsche’s point is, of course, quite different (but clearly related): namely, that men are not like this, for survival is not their most fundamental instinct. How many such communities exist — and, indeed, how many fewer last, if they exist in the first place? They will kill for nothing and die for nothing — and so they will be nothing.

So, it is possible that men could be peaceful, but it would be an absurd and un-noteworthy existence, not life. There is no danger Here we have the demonstration that men do not live merely to survive, but to thrive — and, if necessary, sacrifice blood, toil and life itself for this purpose. It is not a will to life which drives them, but a will to power.

Perhaps there is an effeminate ‘state of innocence’, in which men rather prosper, without struggle, without contest. It is possible that, given the arrangements among men, and their natural fearfulness, they might somehow avoid dangers. They might even avoid the animals, so far as that is possible. Fire, the Promethean gift to men, may have been a way of warding them off. One could grant that men might be content in the enjoyment, so far as it goes, of such a state.

In any case, we can for the sake of fascination at least entertain Aquinas’ musing in the Summa, that “homines in statu innocentiæ non indigebant animalibus ad necessitatem corporalem, neque ad tegumentum, quia nudi erant, et non erubescebant, nullo instante inordinatæ concupiscentiæ motu; neque ad cibum, quia lignis Paradisi vescebantur; neque ad vehiculum, propter corporis robur. Indigebant tamen eis ad experimentalem cognitionem sumendam de naturis eorum. Quod significatum est per hoc, quod Deus ad eum animalia adduxit, ut eis nomina imponeret, quæ eorum naturas designant”.

[Translation: “Men in the state of innocence would have no need of animals for his person: for they did not need their hides for clothing, as these men went naked without shame, since they had no inordinate impulses to concupiscence; nor for food, since they ate of the trees of Paradise; nor for carriage, since he was strong enough for this himself. Man needed, however, to acquire an understanding of their natures. This is signified by the fact, that God to him led the animals, so as for him to give them their names, which designate their natures.”]

In the last instance, the point in considering this counter-position is immanent critique. Let us consider, that is to say, how this counter-position ramifies — and how, dialectically as it were, this counter-position is changed and absorbed by our general zoological understanding of Man. So it goes: the earth was very likely a great boon, like a planetary nature preserve which needed no efforts for preservation! It is, then, most probably accurate that men had things much easier in this condition — but they did not make things easier; they do not want things easier.

This is in no man’s nature; in any case, nothing could be further from the nature of the stronger specimens.

Remarkably, Xunzi makes the contrary assertion that this prosperity and ease of living exists where men form hierarchical societies, in accordance with Heaven, and are thus able to subdue other creatures. “Fire and water possess energy but are without life. Grass and trees have life but no intelligence. Birds and beasts have intelligence but no sense of duty. Man possesses energy, life, intelligence, and, in addition, a sense of duty. Therefore he is the noblest being on earth.” (Xunzi, Basic Writings, trans. Burton Watson [2003], p.47) Notice that Xunzi does not give the credit for man’s greatness to his intelligence, but rather to his social instinct and his ability to form stable, stratified societies — or ‘sense of duty’. “He is not as strong as the ox, nor as swift as the horse, and yet he makes the ox and the horse work for him. Why? Because he is able to organize himself in society and they are not. Why is he able to organize himself in society? Because he sets up hierarchical divisions. And how is he able to set up hierarchical divisions? Because he has a sense of duty. If he employs this sense of duty to set up hierarchical divisions, then there will be harmony. Where there is harmony there will be unity; where there is unity there will be strength; and where there is strength there will be the power to conquer all things. Thus men can well in security in their houses and halls. The reason that men are able to harmonize their actions with the order of the seasons, utilize all things, and bring universal profit to the world is simply this: they have established hierarchical divisions and possess a sense of duty.” (Ibid., pp.47—48.) Inequality, order and prosperity are inseparable.

Why is it important to organize in this way?

“Men, once born, must organize themselvesi nto a society. But if they form a society without hierarchical divisions, there will be quarreling. Where there is quarreling, there will be chaos; where there is chaos, there will be fragmentation; where there is fragmentation, men will find themselves too weak to conquer other beings. Thus they will be unable to dwell in security in their houses and halls. This is why I say that ritual principles must not be neglected even for a moment. He who can follow them in serving his parents is called filial; he who can follow them in serving his elder brothers is called brotherly. He who can follow them in serving his superiors is called obedient; he who can follow them in employing his inferiors is called a ruler.” (Ibid., p.48.)

So, Xunzi ties together traditions, rituals, inequality, order and feudal relationships between all men. What is it, exactly, that men enjoy, once they organize in a society with hierarchical divisions?

Xunzi lays these out with a beautiful description of ancient China’s wealth in natural resources:

“In the far north there are fast horses and howling dogs; China acquires and breeds them and puts them to work. In the far south there are feathers, tusks, hides, pure copper, and cinnabar; China acquires them and uses them in its manufactures. In the far east there are plants with purple dye, coarse hemp, fish, and salt; China acquires them for its food and clothing. In the far west there are skins and colored yaks’ tails; China acquires them for its needs. Thus the people living in lake regions have plenty of lumber and those living in the mountains have plenty of fish. The farmers do not have to carve or chisel, to fire or forge, and yet they have all the tools and utensils they need; the artisans and merchants do not have to work the fields, and yet they have plenty of vegetables and grain. The tiger and the leopard are fierce beasts, but the gentleman strips off their hides for his personal use. Thus, wherever the sky stretches and the earth extends, there is nothing beautiful left unfound, nothing useful left unused. Such goods serve above to adorn worthy and good men, and below to nourish the common people and bring them security and happiness. This is what is called a state of godlike order.” (Ibid., pp.45—64.)

Men only enjoy ease when it goes perforce hand-in-hand with dominance and exploitation.

A man will perhaps, in a situation of plenty, with a group to call his own and a vast array of possessions, enjoy a certain ease of living, due to the protection of his property — but the apparatus of protection, with all its historically developed mechanisms, is coercive. It is occasioned precisely by the precariousness of possessions which prevails in the quarrels and clamour of chaos. Moreover, his leisure, his ease of living depends upon the ruthless and guiltless exploitation of others* and not at all upon a peaceful disposition.

*[Notice that the bourgeoisie attempt to justify such exploitation, because they do not really believe in it and must expiate their guilt.]

Regardless, no man begins with brotherly love in a powerless and equal condition. We can comment, if nothing else, that brotherly love, derives from the specific form and content of a relationship between brothers. Note, though, that the relation between brothers inherently requires a specific relation and also that non-brother relations exist. In other words, for brothers to be possible, there must exist those who are not brothers. We may, in a poetic sense, stretch this meaning to include comrades-in-arms. However, we may not so extend it that there are no longer men we do not call brothers — that is to say, of course, that we may not extend this universally. A brotherhood of humanity is therefore impossible — or worse, it implies (as detailed above) that some (e.g. the counter-revolutionary classes!) are excluded from this brotherhood, in order to be the target of an absolute and eternally unrelenting enmity, until they are simply wiped out.

We find this not simply in the relations between concepts, but in the affirmation of practical experience. We find comrades only in great struggles, on the march to battles and war, where we face a common enemy. This is where the strongest of friendships, camaraderie and brotherly oaths are found.

(Thesis 3)
The class of men who rule and fight differ from the rest somehow — and we have just reaffirmed this principle.

So, we are once again brothers, under the gods of our race; our gateway is marked clearly on either side — like the great arcaded entrance-way to the Doge’s Palace in Venice — by two gods, Mars and Neptune, whose dominions seem distinct. The former, the war-god, is he who overturns a vat of fire onto the land; the latter is god of tempests and of the deep. For as surely as warriors drill and march and feast with Mars, the greatest of them surely dwell in the House of Neptune, enduring the long tides and plumbing the depths of themselves and the world. They sup and discourse with the great Lord of the Oceans. It is only from the flux of the seas that they learn that things shift from one condition to another, but they do so constantly — and so Neptune teaches them the paradoxical principle of impermanent permanance or permanent imperanance. The only way to overcome the antinomic contradiction, between the metaphysical extreme of Permanence and the other of Impermanence, an antinomy well known to the Buddhist philosophers, is with a third position: Continuity. Great pantheons of elemental energies and forces preside over the divine-bestial fury which binds us in clans, fiefs and nations: the elemental divinities of war and thunder; fire and the forge; the oceans and the underworld.

What is most ungodly in men comes from the gods.

It does not matter where we find him: Man sooner or later reveals himself, red in tooth and claw: whether feral and free; barbarous and brutal; or, civilized and sybaritic. Everywhere, at every stage of refinement, one finds the specimen that is still primal and proud. Still, even now, he is self-reliant. All that is conducive to his continuation, he arrogates to himself; all that he wants, he acquires. He takes exactly what he needs, like Stirner’s egoist. All things are nothing to him! Nothing but what he makes of them!  Himself he adduces to the innermost meaning of life. He is the most dreadful son of the divinities, the ungodly beast who reaches up and snatches the golden bough, to fashion for himself a godly weapon and symbol.

Why is his gaze so far-seeing? Why does his eye glint with something we have never seen before?

The world he sees is different, because it is a different man seeing it, through different eyes. He welcomes the world into a different heart. It can even be said that his phenomenological perceptions are completely different from the rest of herd-like ‘humanity’ and are exclusive to his kind: his awareness begins with himself, his happiness, desires, drives and his symbolic meaning to himself, which is central, radical, immediate and first in order. To himself, he is ontologically primary; all else, secondary — and a distant second at that. Since there is only so much variety in the biology of men, we may say that this self-experience is a recursive phenomenon (or suite of phenomena). It is, for once, a clean-cut either/or proposition, a binary opposition: either a man is strong and self-reliant or he is not. Following on from this, he must be conscious of his strength, if nothing else, and this consciousness shapes his perceptions, especially his self-perceptions. Conversely, the weak and dependant perceive themselves only upon a distant and indirect reflection, as secondary, as derivative, as an after-effect, as merely an object in relation to a more powerful being. It is the strong who become their masters, because it suits both.

The master gives meaning; the slave must be given meaning.

It is the master that must be venerated.

The man of this kind, since he is strongest, does not need to change. Naturally, therefore, he is the most unselfconsciously conservative of beings. He is the most genuine remembrance of our origins. In him, we have a reminder not only of our own ontogeny, but of the very ontogeny of the political community. These are, quite simply, the men who prevail.

There must be a focal point for lesser men — and it is he. Once they have someone to look up to, they honour in him “the fruit of long ages” (Nietzsche, The Gay Science§40, p.57), as Nietzsche says, and obey happily.  He is their lord and they follow him. When more men such as him appear, with their own dependants and bonded inferiors, we have the whole array of noble and hierarchical phenomena, from the Greek πόλεις (‘poleis’ or cities) with their χῶραι (‘chorai’ or territories) — e.g. Athens with Attica — and the military-aristocratic republics, to the feudal monarchies and the whole feudal-tenurial order of Europe in the Middle Ages.

Accordingly, the war of all against all will only end with the man — and all such superior men — who, alone, combats and destroys all comers.

(Thesis 4)
Man is a social creature. Men can live alone, but they do not. This does not suit man’s natural strengths. (This is to say nothing of his later strengths, whether infrastructural, technological or rational, since these come later.) The strongest man at the dawn of his kind is a warrior; if he lives close to his fellows, albeit solitary and self-reliant, he might be enticed to protect them. This engages both his natural talent and lust for war, as well as his predisposition towards dominance.

Despite his proud self-reliance, the enjoyment of his solitude and the mortal danger posed by other men (as he perceives them), he is even at the beginning of his species social, as thinkers from, say, Aristotle or Xunzi to David Hume have recognized. Men are at their best when they find kinship with their fellows.

The social nature of men is often compared with the perfect social union of insect colonies. The sociobiological term for this form of organization is “eusocial”. It is characterized by a hive mentality, perfect coordination, a complete loss of individuality (cf. Bernard Mandeville’s The Fables of the Bees).

Marx compared the social organization of insects with that of men, when he observed that though bees may build a hive more perfect than any structure built by men, yet the architect is superior to the bee, for he can conceive of the thing before it is built. In other words, men are set above by the faculty of imagination. (Notably, this same faculty is the one Hume regarded as most important for human thought.) This divine gift, the human brain, is the same organ which Schmitt believes makes us capable of distinctively political organization in the face of our beastly nature, despite also being the source of our fame futura famelicus, which only makes us more monstrously bestial.

(This is what Confucius addresses when he says that men seek to feed the eyes, when they should be content to feed the stomach.)

However, that which makes men behave in such a destructive, self-seeking, “asocial” way, is the same thing which allows him to overcome these difficulties: the brain. His destructiveness makes his compliance with a strict and severe social order all the more important and all the more apparent to the operations of a healthy intellect. He is able, unlike the insects, to achieve a form of social organization (in his case, political organization) without sacrificing personality or gender differences. This is also precisely what allows women to dwell happily in the power of men and leads to the “godlike order” of the happy household.

The most apparent question to modern thinking is simply this: Why would demons want to be angels? Why would men — selfish, acquisitive, wrathful, covetous beasts — wish to be divine? It is the question which is wrong, because it already presupposes its own answers to the issues we have raised. Needless to say, these answers are utterly wrong. Why? Again, it is more simple than we might expect: we seize the sacred, we are divine, precisely because we are the most terrible of all beasts on the face of the earth.

Xunzi says that men pursue the good, precisely because their “original nature” is evil. “Now is it the nature of man that when he is hungry he will desire satisfaction, when he is cold he will desire warmth, and when he is weary he will desire rest. […] Every man who desires to do good does so precisely because his nature is evil. A man whose accomplishments are meagre longs for greatness; an ugly man longs for beauty; a man in cramped quarters longs for spaciousness; a poor man longs for wealth; a humble man longs for eminence. Whatever a man lacks in himself he will seek outside.” (Basic Writings, pp.163—166) This is why men must consciously and dutifully obey sagely advice and ritual principles, according to Xunzi — and why a rigidly structured society must be inaugurated and maintained.

Somehow, somewhere and at some point, all scattered groupings of men realize this and come together, eventually arrange themselves in communities. It is a mysterious mixture of conflict and cooperation which ultimately results in lordship, hierarchy and established inequalities. These are enshrined in convention, customs, habits, rituals and traditions, in conformity with the instincts — and a stable political community ensues.

It is, in short, the beginning of the divine beast’s political life.


The Political Anthropology of the Divine Beast (Part II)

Part Two of the Political Anthropology set down as a waypoint for The Devil's Review. (2 of 5)


Our problems do not stop with language. We have much the same problem referring to ourselves as human beings as such. So, the term ‘Man’ cannot be taken for granted, much less used by us as it stands — that is, as if we are affirming that it is something universal — lest we fall into the same trap.

‘Man’ is a terrible abstraction. It is to this fictional creature and only to him, for example, that the ‘Rights of Man’ refer. Not to men as they actually exist.

In his book The One-Dimensional Man, Marcuse evokes human nature somewhat en passant as he discusses universals: “the philosophic concept of “man” aims at the fully developed human capacities which are his distinguishing faculties, and which appear as possibilities of the actual conditions in which men actually live. The concept articulates the qualities which are considered “typically human.” The vague phrase may serve to elucidate the ambiguity in such philosophic definitions — namely, they assemble the qualities which pertain to all men as contrasted with other living beings, and, at the same time, are claimed as the most adequate or highest realization of man.” (Marcuse, H. [1991], The One-Dimensional Man, London: Routledge. p.218—9)

In a note he adds: “This interpretations, which stresses the normative character of universals, may be related to the conception of the universal in Greek philosophy — namely, the notion of the most general as highest, the first in “excellence”, and therefore the real reality”. What Marcuse does not say is this: one does not build from the sky down. Even in orders with an ascendant aspect, orders of rank, where what is highest is most treasured, one builds it as a pyramid is built, not as a castle in the sky or a basket of fire hanging on nought but a cloud. Later in his book, Marcuse makes the Hegelian argument (and explicates it very well) that Nature is subordinate to Reason. Historically, Nature is dependant on the subject ‘Man’.

Marcuse’s presentation of the Hegelian argument is remarkably insightful. Nature is not only to be overcome by Man’s self-realization (as the animal rationale), but moreover ‘liberated’ by this. (He also overlooks the point that the Marxist view of man as the animal laborans turns the animal rationale on its head or even obliterates it as such; this, a point made by Hannah Arendt in ‘Tradition and the Modern Age’, one of the essays in the Between Past and Future.) We see here that Hegel (and the Hegelian Left, well into the twentieth century) carried over the flawed logic of the Revolution, that the ‘liberation’ and realization of Man is liberation as such.

The danger for the Marxist unfolds thus: that it is all too easy to go from making use of what the natural world furnishes, to actually transforming the natural world and, finally, to the theoretical negation and the complete uprooting and destruction of the natural world. Nature has become ‘negative’ from the start, as Marcuse correctly points out. So, the natural is the negation, which must in turn be negated. Practically, this means destruction.

Since the human Subject of History, either as ‘Man’ or as class-conscious proletariat, must be seen as the motive force in a neo-Hegelian-Marxist narrative, everything — natural resources, class enemies, everyone and everything else, even Nature itself — is consumed or destroyed, yet in either case can be called ‘liberated’. So, the monstrous conclusion drawn by the Marxist Left, is that anyone who endeavours to protect their environment and their condition as it is, is in fact resisting ‘liberation’ and must be ‘liberated’ all the more zealously.

This shows us very clearly, of course, the ‘compassionate’ humanity inherent in humanitarian humanisms. In other words, none at all.

The aberrant nature of the abstract universal is also clear to see at this point.

We have thought man into the blue — and we will rue the day we did so. Beginning with the general as the origin — that is, with what had to be abstracted from similar particulars in the first place — is putting the cart before the horse. Reasoning from a general concept after the fact is a convenient way to more quickly and effectively form particular conceptions about different things which may resemble one another in certain respects. It even conforms to that inescapable and indispensable cognitive faculty, by which we form schemata, general ideas which allow us to more efficiently process information. (Ironically for the do-gooders, this is the self-same source of our hated tendency to ‘stereotype’.) The evidence of cognitive psychology shows that this is simply inherent and ineradicable, as well as eminently beneficial.

So, this is how we form general concepts about things which happen to be similar. However, this does not mean the particulars in reality derive from some actually existing hypostasized correspondent of the general concept so formed. Indeed, some particulars rigidly resist generalizations (e.g. the ‘state of exception’ in Schmitt’s writing; or the ‘black swan’ event, as conceived by Nassim Taleb).

To confuse the first thought in a chain of associative thought with It may even be called a ‘category-mistake’, to borrow Gilbert Ryle’s expression. (Today, one will more often find the expression ‘category error’ in Anglo-American academic philosophy.)

This is the dangerous error in Greek thought, which is carried over into the problem of universals and becomes a sort of crisis in Scholastic philosophy and theology. It is even carried over today (albeit harmlessly) by eccentric Catholic traditionalists today, , for whom nominalism is the thought-crime to end all thought-crimes (or, rather, to begin them!), the lèse majesté against Catholic Christendom, which causes the European social order to unravel. Suffice to say, to call this thesis implausible is kind; it is patently comical. However, the problem of universals is inherent in the humanitarian humanisms described above.

We cannot allow ourselves to even be deceived by this notion — not for a moment! — much less, allow ourselves to be destroyed by it.

Even when this dangerous notion of Man was new and had the impulse and credulity of loosed vices, unchecked passions and an unfettered rabble on its side, it was doubted and assailed from now this corner, now another and so on. Today, when this specious, insane, foolish notion is firmly established and ever ascendant, it is more in need of scorn and ridicule than ever, yet receives none of any note. So, we must turn to the words of those who inveighed against the abomination when it was young.

To identify the rough outline of what is at stake, we must turn to a very different thinker: Joseph de Maistre. It is he who flippantly says “there is no such thing in the world as Man.  In the course of my life, I have seen Frenchmen, Italians, Russians, etc.; I am even aware, thanks to Montesquieu, that one can be a Persian.  But, as for Man, I declare that I have never met him in my life.  If he exists, I certainly have no knowledge of him.” Constitutionally at least, ‘Man’ is meaningless; there are only nations.

Man is the last evil spirit or spook,” rails the beautiful egoist Stirner, “the most deceptive or intimate, the craftiest liar with honest mien, the father of lies.” (Max Stirner [2005], The Ego and His Own, Mineola, NY: Dover, p.184)

On this point, we must closely agree with ‘Saint Max’.

However, it is Schmitt who de-politicizes and re-historicizes this ‘spook’, making it contextual and therefore identifying a point of attack.

“Humanity is not a political concept,” he writes matter-of-factly, “and no political entity or society and no status corresponds to it.” This point is, as yet, theoretical — and it corresponds to Schmitt’s definition of ‘the political’. Nevertheless, he does not let up and, in fact, with the very next line, presses the overtly historical basis for his argument: “The eighteenth-century humanitarian concept of humanity was a polemical denial of the then existing aristocratic-feudal system and the privileges accompanying it.” (Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, p.55.)

So, it is like Nietzsche that Schmitt refutes this absolute God, this ‘Absolute Subject’ of humanitarian ideology, in historical terms; with a quick, ‘clean sweep’ — so avoiding the pointless posturing of postulate after postulate, in the cold and shallow realm of Reason, where all is proof and counter-proof and the last word is never the last. Nevertheless, Schmitt maintains his theoretical argument and proceeds, from this historical remark, back to his discussion of the political impossibility of humanity:“Humanity according to natural law and liberal-individualistic doctrines is a universal, i.e., all-embracing, social ideal, a system of relations between individuals. This materializes only when the real possibility of war is precluded and every friend and enemy grouping becomes impossible. In this universal society there would no longer be nations in the form of political entities, no class struggles, and no enemy groupings.” (Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, p.55.)

Paul Gottfried, in his invaluable volume Carl Schmitt: Politics and Theory, raises a very relevant point: “The Stoics, who rejected the older Greek distinction between Hellenes and barbarians, invented the concept of the genus humanum; equally significant, they coined the ominous term inhumanus, which gave rise to new insidious distinctions.” Specifically for the Marxist Left, he points out that the Internationale calls for consolidating “le genre humain,” but also demands violent struggle against counterrevolutionary classes.” In other words, under the auspex of ‘Man’ or humanity, the dehumanized outlaws of humanity can be destroyed utterly and unconditionally, at our leisure and without guilt. Man’s greatest inhumanity to man always takes place under the banner of good intentions — and most brutally under the banner of humanity itself!

In order to save the concept of humanity, Rorty tries to redefine how we approach it in his work Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, under the rubric of his liberal ‘ironism’. Ingeniously, he attempts to do so by means of a fallaciously persuasive sophistry which holds that trying to determine what is “distinctively human” leads to persecutions, so instead we must resign these questions in favour of the (essentially egalitarian) position which embraces all humans — and yet this position itself assumes a pre-determined concept what is human, specifically a universalist concept, with only surface nuance.

“What makes Freud more useful and plausible than Nietzsche”, avers* this strange postmodernist, “is that he does not relegate the vast majority of humanity to the status of dying animals.” (Rorty, R., Contingency, Irony and Solidarity [1989], Cambridge: CUP, p.35.) One must first ask: ‘Useful and plausible to whom?’ This late thinker’s intellectual descendants would be unable to answer this honestly. We can only imagine that he himself also would not.

*[This is precisely an inversion of the relation of both thinkers. Nietzsche is the genuinely far more valuable thinker. Freud is trite and derivative, when held up beside (or rather, below) Nietzsche. Without Nietzsche’s influence, one would have none of the strands of Freud’s thought which made him interesting.]

Digressions aside, we can see why Rorty makes this claim. It is a blatant statement of his implied presuppositions. What is the measure of more useful and plausible? Why, more universalist, of course!

His argument is, needless to say, a piece of rubbish — and one which we can only struggle to call an argumentum ad negationem or argumentum ad negatur; that is to say, an argument to the negated, a strange case of petitio principii, in which the presupposition appealed to (in this case, determinations on the content of the concept of the ‘human’) has already been refuted in the argument itself.

This self-contradictory argument ramifies to underline the instability and assailability of the universal humanity concept.

Gentlemen, you have had your chance — more chances than you deserve, to push this empty concept upon us. No, humanity as a universal must be banished from our discourse. In its theoretical expression, it is deficient; in practical expression, it is unrestricted warfare and the very pogroms the do-gooders constantly warn us about.

Accordingly, we cannot ignore this abstraction, humanity or ‘Man’, which is our most crucial target. It must be utterly obliterated. Man as we understand him is not a universal. The closest Idealism comes to us, is the universalization of men is as a ‘concrete universal’ — that is to say, a universal which consists only of its actual instantiations at any one time — but even this is defective.

The concrete is not at all as the Hegelian pictures it. Otherwise, it would be merely the metaphysicalization of Hume’s empiricist theory of impressions and ideas. Simple ideas coalesce into complex ones. (For example, the complex idea of a rose is merely the composition of the simple idea of red, along with several other simple ideas which together resemble the form of the rose as conceived mentally.) Abstraction of this sort appears to be the ‘first cause’ of that which concretely exists, but it is in fact a posteriori in nature. The abstraction of simple concepts from concrete (complex) concepts always takes place after the fact. The ancient Sceptics realized this. The abstraction cannot be viewed from nowhere, by nobody, as they correctly argued. It is only through the power of discernment and imagination that we separate it out from the bounds of its natural unity in a particular object of perception (which is itself separated arbitrarily by mere differentiation). So, we can see that the abstraction arises from the process of perception itself. The thing which exists is at first undifferentiated in its differentiation. Out of its difference, we delineate and sort particular differences. This means that what is concrete comes first.

So, the ‘concrete universal’ as such, must be revised or thrown out. Supposing it is revised, it must overcome the idealism in which it originates.

Naturally, the concrete universal called ‘Man’ must be completely overhauled so as not to resemble or even imply universalism. Men are not possessed of a single distinguishing quality as we perceive them, but many such qualities which are found together; and yet ‘Man’ is not even a complication of abstractions, made into one concrete (complex) universal, since all is originally one (or, dare one say, ‘undifferentiated difference’), along with the properties that humans share with other species and things, as well as the qualities which make a man who he is personally. The all-encompassing unity which branches out is not, then, a general concept, possessed of a greater ‘excellence’ than particular concepts. We must turn this on its head — or, more precisely, set it back on its feet, to borrow Marx’s phrase. Rather, the all-encompassing unity is in what is perceived, before its differential quality leads it to be separated out. Variation is seamless. The sharpness of separations in nature are merely the projections of the imagination.

Consequently, we must be nominalists on the question of Man — that is to say, the significance of the term is strictly nominal. The referent of the term is not a thing unto itself, but rather the categorization of several similar things (in this case, beings; men) together. In other words, we may accept that there are beings who may be comprehended under the appellation ‘Man’, beings we call men, but that ‘Man’ itself is not something which exists; and that these same beings exist with similar genomic features, inter alia, owing to common origin and composition. Nevertheless, men are not really united causally or teleologically, but rather by what Wittgenstein called Familienähnlichkeit — ‘family resemblances’ — or groups of phenomena found together in a particular.

Humans are whatever they are, regardless of ‘Man’-as-Idea.

Men in concreto have a living existence, vividly and clearly determined by material conditions. They are different in different situations, but something about them can be called ‘human’. This is not essentialism: one can only say that the human species changes little, but not that it is immutable; one can say that it varies widely over different places, times and situations, but always changes consistent with its nature. In politics, Montesquieu (borrowing a term from physics) calls this ‘constance’. The essentialism of Man — just as surely as the hypocritical non-essentialism of the multiculturalists — effectively imputes all important features to all men and peoples at all times. In both theory and practice, these metaphysical extremes are universalism.

Metaphysics is the Judas goat of the political.



The Political Anthropology of the Divine Beast (Part I)


We are political beasts.

This argument has been made at least as early as when it was made by Aristotle. It is from him that I select the expression ‘political beasts’. The reason I render the ζῷον (‘zöon’) in ζῷον πολιτικόν (‘zöon politikōn’) as ‘beast’ is because this seems to me to be the most apt translation. Two problems often lead us to dismiss the importance of the term ‘zöon’ — not only the importance of the term itself, but also in how it indelibly inflects that political part of our beastly nature.

The riddle of our nature opens up to us when we embrace it, not when we ignore it. “The utopian”, Joe Sobran wrote, “wants to fly by disregarding gravity instead of understanding it.” To disregard obstacles inherent in human life is not the same as to overcome them.

This is precisely the error to which we shall not succumb — and, indeed, that we shall endeavour to demolish.



In discussing the nature of men as ‘political animals’ or ‘political beasts’, as in the discussion of other topics, there must be a specifiable domain of knowledge (in this case, one much like Hume’s “Science of Man”), which is roughly mapped out, with an appropriate methodology, even if this is ad hoc. In other words: if such a domain did not already exist, it would be necessary to create one. Supposing this domain is established in some sense, but is not fully mapped out, then we must tend to this also.

What is this domain? ‘Political anthropology’. This is what we call the consideration of our nature as politically interactive beings. In The Concept of the Political, the jurist Carl Schmitt lays out the following heuristic, under this title, by which political philosophies can be cleanly separated into two rough groups by their underlying assumptions: “One could test all theories of state and political ideas according to their anthropology and thereby classify these as to whether they consciously or unconsciously presuppose man to be by nature evil or by nature good. The distinction is to be taken here in a rather summary fashion and not in any specifically moral or ethical sense. The problematic or unproblematic conception of man is decisive for the presupposition of every further political consideration, the answer to the question whether man is a dangerous being or not, a risky or a harmless creature.” (Schmitt, C. [], The Concept of the Political, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p.58)

Also, Schmitt is at pains to avoid imputing a moral interpretative content to the terms ‘good’ and ‘evil’. He takes a brief opportunity to remind the reader of this. Put bluntly, these have none of their moral meaning, in the sphere of the political. They are not used in political-anthropological discussion as normative terms. Rather, in political life, theirs is a practical, political and didactic meaning. So, it is important for Schmitt to be clear on what ‘good’ and ‘evil’ do not mean; their positive content is less important, since he says that “[t]he numerous modifications and variations of this anthropological distinction of good and evil are not reviewed here in detail. Evil may appear as corruption, weakness, cowardice, stupidity, or also as brutality, sensuality, vitality, irrationality, and so on.”

So, what is a man?

This question, rather naturally, recurs throughout European writing, especially political writing, from at least Classical Antiquity. It becomes much more complicated with Christianity, since it has to be reconciled with religious doctrines by means of contrivances and convoluted arguments. Under these new auspices, discussion around it intensifies. This too is quite natural, since many of the great scholars of Christendom are wont to rescue the pagan notions about men, sometimes openly, sometimes in subtle and cryptic ways — but always couched in the creedal and dogmatic language of the day.

We even see this strong trend into the Early Modern period. The transition from mediæval to modern thought is not the cut-and-dry separation — in any case, it is not at all the straightforward ever-improving progress from the Dark Ages to the Renaissance and an ever-unfurling flower of Enlightenment.

The historical movement from the Middle Ages to the Modern Age is also, in a manner of speaking, mirrored in the philosophical movement from a discussion centred on the “statu innocentiæ” (the State of Innocence) to one centred on the “statu naturæ” (the State of Nature), the latter being a term used already in mediæval times, albeit adhering more or less to the meaning of the former. In the mediæval literature, the state of innocence is, of course, Man’s situation in Eden before the Fall; that state in which man is good and his enjoyment of himself, Nature and God’s harmony is — in a word — perfect. This gradually changes as the impetus of European philosophy takes it out from under the auspices of Scholasticism and wider mediæval thought. We see that with the secular or civil focus of Hobbes, for example, the “State of Nature” comes into its own. There is an inversion here that is rather interesting — or rather, a reversion, a subterranean attempt to set the nature of men (inverted by Christian doctrine) back on its feet.

So, how do we make sense of what we’ve turned around? What is this political theology we have just uncovered with this revolution?

Anthropology, as Feuerbach (himself a kind of blessed fool) suggested, must ultimately be the starting point for Theology, just as Theology must be the point of departure for the return to Anthropology. The same also applies when we prefix (literally and figuratively) both anthropology and theology with ‘the political’. So, political anthropology is not only important for its own sake, but also the crucial precondition for a political theology, which is how we end up with all our myths and the prevailing structures of political organization.

Harnessing powerful myths, images, rituals as Master-words, we may string together sentences worth a thousand books, and find a narrative for ourselves — and so, we give rise to anthropological discourses.

So, what is man — and can we discover this in what he says?

The answer is ‘Yes’, but not a straight yes. Man does not say what man is, but he sees.

Since we can see how he is perceived by his fellows, we can answer the question firstly in those terms: ‘Homo homini lupus’ the rational realist Hobbes gives as a motto for his view of man (drawing on Plautus); ‘Homo homini deus’ replies Francis Bacon (drawing on Pliny the Elder); and at last, Schmitt (in his book The Leviathan in the State Theory of Thomas Hobbes) poses these two formulations as successive, the former followed by the latter, by pointing to the deus mortalis, the ‘mortal god’, the dread sovereign of the Hobbesian state. Man becomes, to man, a god, where before all men are wolves. It is a wry connection to be drawn and, contextually, is a brilliant connection for the book on Leviathan to make.

Nevertheless, men are not suddenly something else, with no trace of their previous selves. In anything organic, there can never be a clean, completely separate periodization; nor, in any case, can there be anything without intermediate developments and a substantial continuity.

Again, we ask the question, slightly reformulated: What is man throughout? ‘Homo homini lupus’ or ‘Homo homini deus’?

In order to get a fuller and more accurate picture of man qua man, we must agree with both — in other words, agree with both expressions, as well as a third — a synthesis — which retains both. So, we must find this third way of expressing that which makes us human.

Men can be either wolves or gods, to other men. Again, they can also be both. How is this so? It is revealed in their polemical nature. In war, man is at his most predatory and yet his most divine, in one and the same instance. The Ancients, in the intuitive genius of their mythologies, acknowledged this but dimly — yet they did acknowledge it. Indeed, the Ancients had sacrifices before war, but afterward — and these latter were of a narrative nature, conducted after the fact of actual conflict, when the dust settled on the field and men lay mangled by the bronze spear. They would often ritually re-enact the slaughter of battle, the notable deeds of engagement, in the efforts to capture the divine connection in such deeds.

In Roman culture, the wolf-god connection becomes even more apparent, literal and surreal. The Romans would throw open the gates of the Temple of Janus and keep them open in times of war, even as the standard-bearers of Rome’s army adorned themselves and their armour in the skins of wolves. Is it any wonder, too, that Rome’s deified founder Romulus, was suckled on wolf’s milk? This is an even more direction connection! Even though a wolf and a god may be separated by a spiralling staircase of infinity, stretching from Tartarus to Olympus, from the Inferno to Heaven — with each winding step, each interstice, each single quantum an infinity unto itself, despite its infinitesimal slightness — the human dominion spans its entirety. Men can embody each and every increment of this spectrum.

These things are bound together: wolves and gods (in men); sacrifice and war (in the Sacred).

Moreover, the sacredness of war was even known to the philosophers — and to some more than others.

“War is the father of all things”, says Heraclitus. Great Polemos is our progenitor and his kind are everywhere, all around us, at all times. We may count ourselves among his descendants. Even so, it is also in the Heraclitean fragments that we find the wisdom that “nothing is beyond due measure” — that is to say, nothing is beyond the relations in which it exists to other things — “not even the Sun itself”. Everything in the heavenly spheres has a relative position, a mutual and relational aspect; somewhere and at all times, there are sextiles, the perpendicular meetings of squares and the outright diametric relation of oppositions. So, too, does everything on earth exist in its varying relations, within the web of all that is.

War is the most political activity; also the most sacred, and even, consequently, the most human. Given that this is the case, we must understand our origin in polemical terms, why this origin has a divine aspect, and how this brings us to live in political communities.

Men are war-makers first and foremost; tool-makers only insofar as these allow some advantage over other men. Naturally, our first tools were weapons; and if there will ever be a final tool for human beings, it will be a weapon. We have the terrible sense of sacredness which is speculative, which leads us to investigate the universe and interrogate of our place in it. We are only the one religious animal; not only this, but the only animal which ‘plays God’. Indeed, man is the only animal which makes of himself a god outright.

However, we are mortal — and this is what makes lives precious and wars sacred.

We may descend far enough away from our origin to forget it, but we will never be able to destroy it, remove it or somehow replace this origin with another.

The pulp writer Robert E. Howard addressed this with great clarity in his story ‘The Tower of the Elephant’. In this piece, the young barbarian, Conan of Cimmeria, is trying to get his bearings in a tavern full of thieves, thousands of miles from his native land, when he is unwisely mocked by an ugly thief. “Civilized men are more discourteous than savages”, writes Howard, “because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.” Needless to say, in the story, the Cimmerian leaves a dead man behind him.

How does Howard describe the wider scene of the Thieves’ Quarter? “Steel glinted in the shadows where wolf preyed on wolf,” he writes, “and from the darkness rose the shrill laughter of women, and the sounds of scufflings and strugglings.” This, too, is significant. Here are the beginnings of civil society, yet men are still rude — the Zamorian thieves are so because they are criminal and degenerate; and yet Conan is rude, too, but it is because he is barbarian and as yet innocent. Still, wolf preys upon wolf. Even so, wolves differ — and we can admire some more than others. What has really changed, since the archaic time reflected (albeit with creative license) in Howard’s fiction?

Let us widen the field, beyond the scope of the individual, to pit the Celtic-Germanic barbarian race of the Cimmerians against the more ‘civilized’ races far abroad (civilized in the Persian, rather than the Greek, sense). Indeed, let us look to factual rather than fictional races and compare those whose manners preclude their strife-free mingling. We see the same glinting of steel, whether on the personal or on the national level. Men and their families quarrel and kill; nations slaughter and annihilate. This is the way of things, living among others. We confront one another as men, the most monstrous of creatures on the earth, in the most sacred capacity of war. Let us say, then, that ‘Homo homini hominus’. — But this still looks far too much like an evasion! What is the man himself, we ask again?

The question has remained thus far — but now finds an answer: Homo homini ferus—divini’! Man is to man a divine beast.

Indeed, man really is a divine beast! Let it be spoken aloud! Let it be announced to the world!

Why would we want to be otherwise?

What? Would we rather be—homo sapiens? The animal rationale? Isn’t this just the rambling beast, animal loquens, which speaks of itself as rational? The talking animal! Well, then, it might as well be the animal stultum, the jester of the universe, gibbering away senselessly at the feet of the sovereign of the Heavens.

No — we say No! — we are the descendants of the ritual killer.

This man is ferus, divinum, necans — the wild, divine, killing one. He rises out of the earth, stepping into view, like a divine avatar cast in bronze, like a titan reborn. His gods, like him, must have an almightily iron hand. Emanating from this glowing being, we finally have a political theology, but it is indeed a wicked theology, to borrow Yeats’ expression. It is as wicked as the thunderbolts cast from the heavens — and depends upon similar demonstrations of arbitrary, dreadful, superhuman power.

This is the shimmering image we see in the looking glass, a reflection of what we could be: the proud and brooding beast, the great dominator.



Ah, but we look away, for escapism is the order of the age! We want to pretend we are otherwise, than this beast. Even when we meet his gaze, we blink. For the same reason, men in the West today will not lock eyes with the divinities.

No, they prefer “deliberation”, “dialogue” and self-denial.

Talk! Today all is the mechanical pumping of hot air, the chattering of teeth and the snapping of heads — you are all talk, gentlemen! They must escape a decision, at all costs — especially a fateful decision, with dreadfully catastrophic consequences. This is what we call politics — and perhaps it is — but it is not political.

Only a god or a monster — or both — could take such a decision upon titanic shoulders! Of course, today we shun all genuine gods and monsters.

Today, with our thoroughly modern, humanitarian ‘humanisms’ (both Christian and secular), we sanitize ourselves as being either beings divinely created separate from ‘the animals’ or something evolved away from animals in our capacities if not in our very essence. (The first humanism corresponds with creationism; the second, neo-Darwinism.) The latter humanism, at least, is a sort of ‘speciesism’ which acknowledges evolution ‘from’ (that is, away from) the lower animals, only insofar as to mobilize ‘natural selection’ arguments for why we abuse and destroy these lower creatures. On the other hand, the former humanism is just a simpler, perhaps even less sinister, sort of speciesism. (Ironically, animal liberation movements operate on the same — albeit even more strictly unspoken and unexplored — presuppositions as both of these speciesisms.) So, these sentimental creeds, so exhibitive of hysteria and so furtively, perniciously harbouring spite — against all that is genuinely holy, healthy and life-affirming — must be mined out and detonated.

This task could not be more crucial.

Since some sort of humanism or other is deeply ingrained in our contemporary efforts to self-destruct, this author thinks it is time to track down and extirpate these errors, while at the same time laying out a positive concept (rather than merely a negation of a negation!). Our alternatives must be powerfully positive. That is to say, as a general rule, when we smash something we oppose, we must vigorously propose something else. Even as we demolish the vindictive absurdities erected over our sacred sites, we must be careful to restore our altars, sacral fetishes, and ritual mysteries — even if this means making new ones, in honour of the old.

First, some preliminaries for our positive iconography: positing a political nature for human beings must nevertheless not be taken to adhere to some unspoken (and therefore unchallenged) assumption that there is indeed a more general human nature, which is meaningful, which even unites us and so on. ‘Humanity’ indicates nothing which more specific and concrete categories do not already specify much better; and this, to the better enrichment of these indications. Indeed, for that matters, at its most general, ‘humanity’ indicates nothing which is not already generalized much better; again, enriching said indications. We are wont to describe talking as a profoundly and solely human activity. However, other animals communicate just as well — nay, better in some ways!

Here, context is important. Of course, this is the very thing the humanitarian-humanist wants to obscure and obliterate. Everything, especially thinkers, must be de-contextualized. To this end, Aristotle’s second formulation of man’s political nature, as the  ζῷον λόγον ἔχον (‘zöon lōgon echon’), has been taken on in a corrupted form and much abused over time.

It is indeed a strange affectation by which we think of ourselves as a sort of animal loquens. A creature of universal grammar! Universal speech and thought! Universal being! Finally, universal humanity. This absurdity, although seemingly rational (but to whom?), has gradually stretched, exceeded and broken (humanitarian) Reason, the very thing its adherents claim as its justification. Yes, it is a strange and decadent affectation. Nevertheless, this is where our discourse is at the moment and where the errors must be overcome.

The great masses of people today, including their intellectually-bankrupt intelligentsia, are inclined by an obstinate and obstructive obtuseness to regard the expression ‘I speak’ as more profound than, say, ‘I speak French’, simply because it implies in more cases.

At first, the universalist position seems profound; in all honesty, it isn’t even shallow. Even when Aristotle uses the expression mentioned above, ζῷον λόγον ἔχον (‘zöon lōgon echon’), it is something altogether different at his hands. One speaks something meaningful and intelligible to one’s fellows. In other words, one communicates in a community! (The etymological connection here is far from trivial.)

Our contemporaries prefer the predicate ‘I speak’ by itself, because its veneer is the purely imagined power to open doors, break down barriers, and end all dangers. It does not. The predicate derives its worth from the fact that is open-ended and, thus, potentially open to a specific content.

Supposing ‘I speak’, I must speak something, or else be speaking nonsense — in other words, saying nothing at all; not speaking.

Little do our pontificating illiterati realise, that any profoundness of this predicate derives specifically from its determinateness in explicitly specific cases — i.e. from precisely those cases in which that which is spoken is specified: e.g. ‘I speak French’, ‘we speak English’, ‘we speak different languages’ or ‘we speak related languages’. It is from expressions like these that the predicate is abstracted — and only in these expressions does it have any meaning whatsoever. Nevertheless, we prefer the empty predicate.

The philosophies in which we’re schooled encourage and reinforce this. This enshrinement of an abstraction is a piece of sophistry to which we are attracted so closely only (and therefore merely!) by the mendacious meddling of our managers. According to their own logic, they are self-described chatterers and it is by this that they are to be defined. Very well then! We shall agree on this — and only this — point!


Freedom, Justice and Revolution

In this article, I have set out to explore three terms. They are named in the title. ‘Freedom’ (or ‘Liberty’), ‘Justice’ and ‘Revolution’. These are very attractive terms, to be sure. There is no doubt about that. They are, in fact, so attractive that those who understand them least use them the most. Despite being left ill-defined, these terms, when used in political discourse, have a strong impression upon us. What definitions and conceptions of them which we do have are — quite simply — false, misleading and harmful.

Usually, what makes the use of these terms counter-productive is not their original meaning. Rather, it is the dishonest deviation from this meaning. They are de-historicized and neutered. Rights which were interpersonal, social, legal, contractual become merely (and dangerously) metaphysical. Where origins are forgotten, there the flower of ignorance — monstrous and erroneous — blooms. Specifically, wherever one forgets how and when rights have come to develop (and lacks even a mythical description of this development), there the exploding bud is the ‘Rights of Man’.

What was once understood as historical and contingent, is supplanted by a twisted facsimile — an ahistorical, universal and static parody, suspended awkwardly over history.

Nevertheless, there may yet be something which can be salvaged from them.


The Ancient Greeks were preoccupied with man’s place in the community and his prosperity as an individual. It must be noted right away that the Ancients saw the two as being inextricably linked. Mutatis mutandis, the same applies to the ancient Roman, the ancient Norsemen and so on. It is only today that the individual in conflict with the body politic.

In the ancient world, the most honourable men associated out of selfishness. This made perfect sense to an ancient Greek, Roman, Nordic or Brahmin. To us, being Westerners in the world of today — with our paltry conceptions of liberty, rights, selfishness and so on — this is rather more difficult to understand. When it comes to liberty, our ‘modern ideas’ obfuscate matters, rather than illuminate them.

Where we have normalized relations with certain parties, we have expectations. These expectations are contingent upon these relations. So long as these relations continue, they will be formalized. Once formalized, they are represented by ‘rights’. So, why is it harmful to forget this origin — or even, to forcefully break with this origin? First, because rights are contractual and conventional. Only with provenance can one prove rights. Secondly, because this opens the door to the error of making rights metaphysical. Since rights are conditioned by the power to provide for them, if rights are assumed everywhere, we cease to take account of reality. Our flight of fantasy sacrifices the ‘is’ for the ‘ought’. Moreover, the justification garnered from making it a moral issue adds impetus to the most horrifying conclusions.

It is from the nobility that we have the men who create, inherit and guarantee rights. It is only proper, therefore, that they hold the first and highest rights of all, and grant these to their sons. More fundamentally, these liberties are based on their valuations and are most at home in the same kind of soil they were born in. The differences which informally (yet invariably) lead to men falling into roughly two distinction groups — (1) the best, and (2) the rest — also lead the first of these groups to form an entire worldview based on their own extraordinary nature. In the class distinctions which follow from this, we find the formalization of qualitative differences. What is made formal is the inequality which is the precondition of rights. What does this mean? Simply, the class-system provides the basis for all rights, as well as the guarantee of liberties. Beyond this, authentic freedom (in a more fundamental sense) is only possible for those with the aristocratic spirit.

Nietzsche’s master-morality (Herrenmoral) neatly and essentially encapsulates this. Also, he tells us that there are no rights without an inequality thereof. Moreover, equal rights only exist between equals — i.e. between those who can requite themselves. Those who can equal one another, in deeds. (“Equality for Equals, Inequality for Unequals” he suggests as a mocking slogan.) Drawing on another use of the word ‘equal’, we might say that one only has equal rights where one is equal to these rights.

Excavating terms (and therefore, concepts) embedded in our language, Nietzsche set out — with great success — to prove this. The etymological ancestry which he thus traces vindicates his theory of a twofold history of morality. What he more or less demonstrates is that we begin with the primary distinction: good-bad. This distinction starting from the declaration: this benefits me, therefore it is good; or, more simply, ‘if it’s good for me, it’s good’). It is, however, to be distinguished from the evil-good distinction (which begins with evil — in short, with what is Other, what is hated, what is to be reacted against). The reader may notice I called the good-bad distinction the primary one. This is what I would call the primal phenomenology of human existence. It is self-consciousness.

On this point, it would be irresponsible not to mention Hegel. Why? Is this due to a fear of influence not being acknowledged? No. Rather, I wish to show the chief, irreconcilable difference between this conception and Hegel’s conception of ‘Herrschaft und Knechtschaft’ (or ‘Lordship and Servitude’) from The Phenomenology of Spirit. Put simply, Hegel incorrectly ascribes the impulse of self-consciousness as residing with the servant, not the master. The Master is the creator-conqueror — he is the originator and arbiter of value. He spontaneously develops the good-bad distinction.

The Master — that is, the superior — has primacy of self-awareness. In his consciousness we have the origination of self-consciousness. The ‘I’ is his contribution to ontology. This is fundamental, in his value-system. The good-bad distinction is underived from anything other than the Master’s own experiences of the world — and his innermost, ownmost feelings. In short, the good-bad distinction originates in a sort of ‘ipsissimosity’. One might call this ‘own-most-ness’, for want of a better form of expression.

Moreover, the Master treasures different things. He reveres that which carries the marks of age; and he reveres tradition. Nietzsche emphasized that “all law rests on this twofold reverence”. Conservatism is indelibly ingrained in the value-system of the nobility, even if they are born and bred risk-takers. Nietzsche argues, furthermore, that faith in one’s ancestors and partiality towards them are noble traits, surely indicative of “the morality of the powerful.” Legal relationships are based upon their profound conservatism.

Naturally, then, it is among such value-creating men, among the nobility, that law is first taken seriously — as in Rome. (“Jus est ars boni et æqui” — that is, “Law is the art of the good and the right”. The Roman would naturally assume — and correctly — that this referred to the nobility.) It is among men of approximate power, who see the advantages in avoiding open contest, that legal relationships — and thereby civil association — first arise. Similarly, it is only among peers that one can have justice proper.

Justice is not based upon everyone being equal, but on the opposite — upon our radical inequality.


In revolutionary leftist politics, there is a tendency to condemn what is considered reactionary.

However, the proletarian condemnation of ‘everything’ reactionary is insincere. The accurate identification of the bourgeoisie as reactionary is beside the point. That middle-class commoners are reactionary does not make lower-class commoners any less reactionary. They have more in common with each other than either would like to admit. Indeed, more than either has with the nobility. It is this, and not purely economic ‘forces of production’, which makes the capitalist system a hot-bed for revolutionaries. Moreover, it is also precisely this which plots the coordinates for the middle-class Angst so characteristic of the modern age.

One of the few things which is in any way unique about the middle-class is that exists between two classes. The virtually extinct class above it has been everywhere betrayed by the money-grubbers. They feel inadequate next to this, which accounts for all their show. All middle-class ‘selfishness’ is not based on self at all, but based on pursuing what everyone else pursues. They are long on vanity and short on self-esteem. Their ‘self-interest’ consists wholly of the extent to which they are suckers. Knowing that they are unable to match those they have betrayed perpetuates an inherited guilt. Put bluntly, they feel, even if only unconsciously, they have robbed the world of something they know to be beautiful and matchless. Something which, for all the ‘forces of reproduction’ at their fingertips, is irreproducible.

Perhaps that’s why they must deify capitalism and reinterpret history in a whiggish fashion, to marginalize the part of the nobility in securing ancient freedoms. In fact, the nobility did not make a mere contribution to the concept of liberty. Liberty itself is the aristocratic contribution to European life! This is somewhat like Freud’s interpretation of monotheistic religion as being founded upon feelings of guilt (and perhaps remorse) over killing the father-founder. Given their utter inadequacy as a ruling class, they must feel, given their inability to live up to the responsibilities of a genuinely ruling class — by the ruling class.

Such guilt is compounded by their fear. There is a kind of collective neurosis in the middle-class. That is to say, there is a vague fear of something, and that trembling expectation is, in fact, a dim recollection of their treachery. Note that it is ever the adulterer who is quickest to accuse their spouse — and it is ever in the adulterer’s mind to suspect adultery, just as surely and as soon as the adulterer’s heart is capable of adultery. Adultery is only wrong when and insofar as it is treachery. This explains the discomfort and the otherwise inexplicable outbursts of the middle-class ideologues — fascists, libertarians and generic right-wingers — against the aristocracy, whenever this sore point is even lightly brushed.

Adducing Nietzsche’s counterpoint to the aristocracy’s abovementioned respect for what is old and traditional might clarify. He says that this respect is indicative of “the morality of the powerful; so, it is just as sure a sign that when, conversely, men of ‘modern ideas’ believe almost instinctively in ‘progress’ and ‘the future’ and show an increasing lack of respect for age, this reveals clearly enough the ignoble origin of these ‘ideas’.” How seriously are bourgeois belief-systems committed to tradition and veneration of the old over the new? The answer is: Not nearly enough.

The vulgar temperament is secondary and reacts against what is old, inherited, traditional and so on — often, it even does so when it tries to do otherwise. On the other hand, a retention and reiteration of origins is aristocratic and primary — and, therefore, not reactionary.

So, what is really reactionary?

Reaction is weakness. That is, one reacts in the political sense out of weakness. When a person or group react politically their conditions of life, with some kind of demands, they are reactionary. Reaction is the closest that commoners, the weak (formerly known as the bad also), can come to requital. (The repayment of acts — good or ill — is the crucial precondition upon which one is regarded ‘good’ in the sense of master-morality. The ‘bad’ are identified as those unable to return either generosity or wrongdoing.) They cannot repay the debt, so they would rather wipe it out altogether. Revolution is a form of acting out so as to erase one’s origins — even if only temporarily.

What is revolutionary, therefore, is invariably and necessarily reactionary.

To be genuinely and fundamentally reactionary is to feel the weight of another’s existence more heavily than one’s own. Complaint is the act of signalizing one’s permeability. It is virtually consent. Complaining, as we usually think of it or act it out, is the acceptance of victimhood. Implicitly, one admits that another is the victor and oneself the vanquished; or ‘worse’, that another is lord and oneself the vassal. Revolutionary violence in the name of freedom, social justice or some other such nonsense is going too far. It is an over-compensation for the inescapable knowledge that one is and always will be a slave.

Revolution is always slave-revolt; and the slave-revolt is the acknowledgement of one’s status as such. In politics, the slave doth protest too much. For example, gay-rights activists invoke the latter-day iteration of Judeo-Christian metaphysics as their own basis when they champion their cause as homosexuals — a category invented by nineteenth-century physicians. They, as a once-frowned-upon minority, are revolting against the societies which “oppressed” them by its own terms and on its own playing-field. This is just a particular case of a general phenomenon.

The slave admits and internalizes his irremediable status as a slave by the very act of revolution. Revolution does not abolish or disprove the master’s view of the low-born (that is, the view of them as wretched and predisposed against virtue). Rather, it vindicates this view.

The slave is always profoundly unfree, even when he is unchained.


The question of what freedom is, what it means to be ‘free’ (if one can indeed be free), is of crucial importance.

Liberties, like rights, have a basis only insofar as they have a provenance. Not only is this manifestly and demonstrably true, it has to be accepted by conservatives. Similarly, Liberty itself — or Freedom — can only be regarded as authentic if we can find out where she belongs. Supposing She is our totem, we will find a place for Her among ourselves and our own origins.

So, how is the term ‘liberty’ used politically? We could digress indefinitely in answering this, so let us look at one particular answer.

Incidentally, another triad of terms containing the term ‘liberty’ was the rallying cry of the French Revolution (Liberté, égalité, fraternité). This at first sounds appealing, until one realises that it completely misunderstands the nature of the very first term: liberté. Did the Revolution bring liberty? Do revolutions in general allow greater liberty? Is equality the same as justice? Is revolutionary ‘brotherhood’ better than civil association? The reader is now in a better position to answer these questions. Indeed, I can answer them right now.

The French Revolution opens the door to an interesting ‘cast study’ of sorts: France in the modern period.

My position on the inheritance of guaranteed rights can be largely summed up in the thèse nobiliaire. The reason why is quite simple. One need only look to the environment in which this thèse was passionately expressed. There is a perverse continuity between the projects of the centralized, absolute monarchy and the motivations behind that series of events making up the French Revolution, the ‘Reign of Terror’ and the progressive décadence of France thereafter. Moreover, both of these involved rationalistic State-building projects (explicitly, in the case of the Revolution; implicitly, in the case of the Bourbon monarchy).

So, the thèse nobiliaire is the only one which conservatives can accept. Anything less and one is no conservative at all. Metaphysical rights, without history, without precedent and without limit, have ever been the justification of usurpation; and liberties will ever be the justification of unchecked state expansion — and of tyranny. This is what genuine conservatives have ever railed against. Montesquieu can be correctly called a conservative in his efforts to prove the case for this thèse.

Incidentally, the Constitution of the United States is based — albeit imperfectly — upon the framework observed by Montesquieu. It includes a separation of powers — the trias politica — albeit in a form quite different from what Montesquieu actually envisaged; but it does not contain the corps intermédiaires or pouvoirs intermédiaires — that is intermediary ‘bodies’ or ‘powers’ — which are, in fact, crucial for the proper operation of government. The flourish of the baron’s pen is in that founding document of supreme law. In fact, Montesquieu’s influence upon the Founding Fathers — both Federalists and Anti-Federalists alike — was various yet vast. Even these democratic dreamers were swayed by his pluralism. It is little emphasized today, but this is an important influence in early American (constitutional) history. The intermediary powers — or “little platoons”, if we want to use Burke’s turn of phrase — in securing the separation of powers and the privileged place of liberties is an important part of the history of the Founding of the new political order. Debates about the role of the Senate brought this to the fore. It was, in fact, the Anti-Federalists who were anxious for the Senate to hold the “natural aristocracy”. The Founding Fathers were swayed by the pragmatic pluralism of this. Such a well-ordered diffusion — favoured by Montesquieu, Hume and Burke — promotes the general welfare within the States, the integrity of the Republic, and the soundness of the laws. It is a conservative position.

Of course, Montesquieu is supportive of something even further down the road than this: a separate and self-protecting upper house with a suite of unique powers. Needless to say, this is also something which would be forbidden by the contemporary understanding of the Constitution. Clearly, the separation of powers was more nuanced in the mind of its most famous formulator. A powerful and self-concerned “upper house” of the legislature would represent the nobility. More importantly for modern political theory, it would serve a functional purpose: a body counterbalancing the fads, errors and careerism of unrestricted democracy. This house would also exercise judicial powers in cases involving peers of the realm — just as such bodies had done in Europe. The nobility was allowed the privilege of protecting itself; they could not be subjected to popular magistrates. Montesquieu is no democrat. It is only when taken out of context, can Montesquieu be said to support either pure monarchy or democracy. Montesquieu is a pluralist, yes — but he is a conservative also. On this latter point, Boulainvilliers before him can likewise and a fortiori be called a conservative.

Both of these men — Boulainvilliers and Montesquieu — may be tentatively placed into a particular tradition of thought. Both men take the position of the thèse nobiliaire, although their arguments take slightly different forms — Montesquieu gives almost utilitarian reasons, because it makes for a workable mixed government and yields the best results, but Boulainvilliers establishes that it is customary and it enshrines the prerogatives of the founding stock of France’s political and legal order. In any case, both men adduce proof in a fundamentally conservative way — by showing evidence that there are inherited rights, liberties and so on belonging to the aristocracy as such, and independent from the Crown. At least in this — that is, in considering their most sacred rights and franchises as an inheritance — they are as one with Edmund Burke. Even if it were only in that, this is still sufficient to prove their conservative temperaments.

The Bourbons seriously invoked the ‘divine’ right of kings, while failing to consider the actual nature of this right and its legal origins. Nietzsche wrote, incidentally, that there is no right that is not granted from some other source (in other words, were there are rights there are relationships); we only regard a right as inherent once we have forgotten who granted it and even that it was granted. (Again, regarding rights as inherent necessitates a misunderstanding of the very nature of rights.) In the case of the Bourbon kings, they forgot that it was the nobility who granted their ancestors and predecessors rights as extraordinary arbiters in settling disputes between noblemen. The monarch is an instrument of an aristocratic form of social organization. Once this is forgotten, he becomes a tyrant — and an enemy of aristocracy. Such a tyrant must rely on popular support, or at the very least, the contentment of the masses. He must provide them with bread and circuses, offices and (unjustified) titles.

Tyranny reliant upon popular support has a name: despotism. Note that this is the distinction which Montesquieu makes in his L’esprit des lois. Additionally, it is the only definition of despotism which really meaningfully distinguishes it. (This is a distinction so obvious that even a Marxist — namely Althusser — can admit it!) The House of Bourbon, especially from Louis the XIV onward, was engaged in a continuous campaign to circumscribe and enervate the nobility. This was a concerted effort between the monarch and the commoners to dispossess the nobility of that which was righ2tfully theirs. Absolute monarchy, therefore, is just another name for despotism — and democracy is a hair’s breadth from despotism. Montesquieu is at pains to show that both are harmful — and to show something else which they have in common. This factor is the nobility. There is no ability to protect the mixed government without a class system. Nor, for that matter, is it possible to hold the state and civil society apart — without an aristocratic component in each.

Of course, this is what has been learned throughout the twentieth century. Popular government is accountable to itself — i.e. to no-one. (One sees the same problem in libertarianism. In this respect, the doctrine is identical to liberalism. Libertarians, like liberals, are so busy looking for ways to secure civil society against interference from the State, that they forget to do vice versa and secure the State against such interference from the masses. Libertarianism provides a despotic model for government. This is invariably the case for libertarianism — unless taking an outright anarchistic form, in which case the divorce from reality is complete.) This unmoderated government derives from the French — or, as Nietzsche insisted, English — error. The Bourbon absolutism was dynastic, but it paved the way for dictatorship. To put this in Carl Schmitt’s terms, the framework for political decisions is completely accessible to the fickle masses, and therefore inefficient, beleaguered and compromised. In such a situation, there is a kind of “short-circuit” so to speak, in civil society. Unprotected, the circuit dies — and with it, the realm of liberty. When dealing with the public and private spheres, there is a distinction and a distance between them which must be respected in both directions.

The nexus of these two spheres is the class-system which maintains both. It is the aristocracy which alone can hold these spheres apart and maintain their mutual integrity, like Atlas holding the sky and the earth apart from one another. So long as this distance is maintained, there shall be no tyranny — popular or otherwise. Liberty thrives within a genuine class-system. This brings us to our problem. The absolute monarchy of France destroyed liberty only and precisely insofar as it destroyed the class-system. This point cannot be emphasized enough, given its importance.

In modern liberalism, we see the same divorce from origins as in the latter-day ancien régime. The French Revolution was the turning point, as we have seen, at which the emboldened commoners (the same bureaucratic bourgeoisie which the absolutist monarchs of France had artificially and illegally empowered) took the remainder of the power which the Kings had not already granted them. Maistre wrote that the French Revolution happened as if it could not be stopped. Indeed, the Revolution occurred like a force of nature — precisely because the heedless Bourbon dynasty had injudiciously prepared the way for it. The existence of the Parti de l’Ordre in the Second French Republic is an echo of the spirit which led to France’s bloody and ignorant democracy in the first place. In actuality, it enabled the same bourgeois bureaucracy which had been enabled by Kings since Louis the XIV. What we see throughout is the steady disenfranchisement of the nobility, with much more continuity than would at first appear.

What is sure is that from Louis the XIV, the “Sun King with his unprecedented, unrestricted political power and his massive State bureaucracy, down through his dynastic successors, to the French Revolution and beyond, the ancient privileges, rights, liberties and prerogatives of the French have been under continuous assault.

So, there are lessons to be learned from France, in the lead-up to the Revolution. One’s answer must not exclude other such events, however.

Our modern understanding of ‘rights’ is flawed. Human rights (civil rights, individual rights, social rights and so on) are an obstacle to, not a foundation for, liberty. The bias behind this is slave envy. It goes without saying that appeals to ‘social justice’ arise from the same motivation. There is a whole slant which runs through all of these misunderstandings, whether wilful or not. The slave-revolt accounts for this perversion — or, more accurately, inversion — of our deepest values.

Clearly, the Judeo-Christian (also the Jacobinliberaldemocraticsocialistsocial-democraticlibertarian and so on, ad nauseam) understanding of legal/political concepts, like rights and liberties — not to mention, of actual freedom — is both limited and flawed.

Nothing cut off from its roots lives long afterwards. It is not assuming too much to extend this, by way of metaphor, to our liberties. The species of ancient rights and liberties to which I refer may grow in other climes — as in the Vedic class-system which prevailed in the Indo-European civilization in the Indus Valley — but it must ever be in the same kind of soil. There must be a value-system, a class-system and a background amiable to their growth. Moreover, they must have an aristocratic provenance, just like the men who were for so long their guarantors and protectors.

In short, our rights and liberties must have nourishing roots.


Our treatment so far has clarified where these terms ‘stand’ in their contexts.

To clarify, we may separate the three terms into two groups. We misunderstand the meanings of ‘freedom’ and ‘justice’, but reasonably think them good; on the other hand, we understand largely what is required for revolution, but should accordingly think it bad. Yet it is thought good — and that is most probably because we mis-recognize the first two terms.

So, there is a profound méconnaissance here — it is singular, but has a twofold significance. It affects how we view the words ‘freedom’ and ‘justice’ on the one hand; and, on the other, the word ‘revolution’. This is, of course, the inversion of values mentioned above. In our depraved efforts to abolish aristocratic prerogatives — the only political approximation of freedom — we, as Westerners, have not brought ourselves any closer to achieving freedom for ourselves. Rather, as revolutionaries — that is, as reactionary killjoys — we are the enemies of liberty and justice. Our Revolution is an Inversion.

This leaves us Westerners, then, with a sobering thought. We are not only unfree; we are unjust.

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