Counter-Currents Publishing Books Against Time Fri, 31 Oct 2014 21:30:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Counter-Currents Publishing Q & A to “Western Civilization Bites Back” Fri, 31 Oct 2014 21:03:38 +0000 1,970 words

leopardEditor’s Note:

This is the transcript by V. S. of the question and answer session after Jonathan Bowden’s speech “Western Civilization Bites Back,” delivered at a Counter-Currents event in California on February 25, 2012.  

Greg Johnson: Are there questions?

Q: What was the specific context of Trotsky coining the term “racism”?

Jonathan Bowden: It wasn’t a specific context. He was trying to formulate an anthropological term that could be used for any form of group prejudice. He was thinking about anti-Semitism in the Bolshevik USSR principally, but he wanted a term that could be used if anyone says, “The English are better than other groups.” You can immediately say, “That’s a racist statement.” So, he wanted something that was a put-down, a sort of hammer blow. Somebody says something: “Racist!” Retreat under the table.

Q: And was this when he was still in power or was this after the purge?

JB: This was when he was still in power, but the purge was coming.

Q: Did you ever meet Enoch Powell? Do you have any understanding why Powell could never really move towards . . . the race realism he had towards certain groups, he could never apply to one particular group?

JB: Yes, I knew Enoch Powell very vaguely. I heard him speak a couple of times. He was an extraordinarily gifted man. I think the short order was that Powell wanted to be a member of the establishment in Britain at the time and saw himself as an establishment rebel, and the term “rebel” and the term “establishment” were as important the one as the other. He always saw himself as a member of the Tory hierarchy, the hierarchy of the Conservative and Unionist Party, the major center-Right party in the British state. He always saw himself as putting forth a rival prospectus of goods that conservatives could choose over Heath and other more accommodating centrist and center-Left Tory leaders. Bbut he never saw himself as an outsider. He was always proud of his role in the Second World War. He never saw himself as going outside the conventional Right-wing box in Britain or anywhere else.

So, my honest answer to your question is that despite the radicalism of his mind, despite the ability to speak ten languages fluently, despite the poetry that he wrote, despite the outsider status that he enjoyed mentally, he was an insider and he was an establishment man at the core of his being. That’s why he never moved in the direction that you stated.

Q: I’d like to ask you where did this [white] self-loathing begin?

JB: Well, I think self-loathing is part of human nature, really, but it only becomes politically important and decisive for a group rather than as a pathology of an individual when you allow yourself to be captured by ideas which are very much to your own detriment as a matter of course. If you say, “We’re responsible for Black slavery, and we’re responsible for everything that went with that, and I feel personally guilty for this, and I must expiate this guilt that I feel all the time, particularly when I’m in the proximity of an African-American, particularly when I’m in the proximity of an affirmative or self-identifying African-American,” then that becomes a debility of all life.

Where does it come from? I think it comes from within, it comes from without, but it comes more from without when your group has adopted abnegation as a prejudice. I think a lot of people enjoy a degree of masochism. That’s what it is.

Q: How did it go from Rudyard Kipling in your country to this multicultural mangling? I don’t understand it, personally. You’re imperialist and happy with it and the rest of us seemed to be marching along behind you in it, and now you’re whipping yourselves.

JB: Yes, I know. It’s an odd one, isn’t it? In the Medieval period, there was a cult called the Flagellants who used to go around with large crosses and Christian banners whipping themselves and saying, “Woe is me! Woe is me!” It’s rather psychoneurotic, really. The British Empire has gone from being top dog to bottom dog with such extraordinary rapidity that it’s difficult to get your mind around it. It’s only a generation or two, really.

Q: Is America following you or are you following America?

JB: You’re following us and yet, in our decline, we’ve adopted certain standards from you.

Q: Because you’re from Britain, I’d like if you could say a little bit about the nationalist movement in Britain. What do you think the situation and prospects of it are?

JB: Yes, given the support that has existed electorally and in the society, the nationalist movement has been far less successful than its continental brethren. The organization of importance in the last 20 to 25 years was the British National Party, which did break through and did make gains, particularly amongst Right-wing, center-Left voters, if you know what I mean. Reagan Democrat type voters, working class Whites who wanted a party that would stand up for them, but otherwise had the economic profile of the old Labour Party.

However, that cycle seems to have come to an end, and that organization, without engaging in internal dissent and back-biting, has bankrupted itself by attempting to be all things to all people and also projecting a sense of strength which was not commensurate with its resources. Don’t forget that in Britain, as in the United States and elsewhere, big capital aligns itself with the center-Right party, the conservatives, big labor and labor’s money orient themselves around the center-Left parties, the Labour Party in Britain, the Democrats here, whereas it’s extraordinarily difficult for these parties to finance themselves. There’s also the extraordinarily hostile media space in which such parties operate.

My object lesson for what can be done in Europe is the Front National in France, which on any register is the most successful of all the groups. It’s true that the Front National has moderated a whole section, a whole [unintelligible], under Le Pen’s daughter, and is increasing support by doing so. But of all of the nationalist groups I’ve ever met in Europe, on the continent, they were the slickest, they were the best arranged. Even their feuds were more successfully conducted, so that gives the idea that they were of a higher order all the way around.

Q: But more specifically, I suppose, does that mean that you think there’s a prospect for some success, putting it delicately, if the present leadership of the British National Party is replaced by someone else? What’s the prospects for the future in Britain?

JB: Yes, without being too indelicate about it, and I’m known to have views on this matter. Yes, I think that under its current leadership that group can’t go forwards any more. There are elements in it that could take you forward despite its indebtedness, because many parties are in debt, let’s face it. It’s become stuck under its present leadership and, as in all things, there needs to be a bit of renewal. Although you can’t blame everything on one individual, but there’s a degree to which leaders are always problematical when they don’t break through and win.

I remember when I attended [a conference in the U.S.] there was a debate about whether David Duke should be included, and I was slightly surprised with the vehemence at which people spoke against Duke being included, and maybe Don Black, the Stormfront man, as well. I suddenly realized that this is the tension which exists between the membership of such groups and the would-be leaders of such groups, particularly if the leaders have been not as successful as they and their initial supporters would have wanted.

Johnson: Two more questions.

Q: I have a few questions, actually. I heard you mention the Front National just now, and I’m sure that you know that François Hollande is ahead in the polls, so I wonder what you think of the future of the FN given a Hollande win in the election.

JB: I think the FN has a good future because it’s so well organized and it’s so resilient in relation to shocks. One of the difficulties for nationalist parties is they find it very difficult to come back after shocks. So, if they have a very negative electoral performance as the British National Party did in the last general election in Britain. This sends them in a cycle for about a year to two years before they can come back and they’re also emotionally and economically exhausted from such a tournament. But the Front National seems to have sources of funding laid down and sources of inner resilience. It’s basically when you have membership that’s not in the thousands but is in the tens of thousands, you develop extra skin and extra ramparts, and you become that much more resilient and you become much more like a mainstream party despite the fact you might have an anti-system ideology. So, I think that although a day in which the FN can become a power broker in the present Fifth Republic is remote, I think the FN has a good future. I also think people, particularly in this room, should realize that part of the FN’s moderation or its neo-moderatism is tactical as much as anything else.

Q: And my second question, I’d like to go back to Trotsky. I wonder if you have a citation for Trotsky coining the term “racism.” A second question related to that would be does the name Magnus Hirschfeld mean anything to you?

JB: Isn’t Magnus Hirschfeld a Weimar sexologist?

Q: Precisely. And he wrote a book in, I believe, 1928 called Der Rassismus and so far as I’ve been able to ascertain I haven’t been able to find in Trotsky any citation for the word racism that predates that.

JB: I believe Trotsky did use the term. Of course, it’s like the Beat movement developed the cut-up method in literature, but lots of other people were doing it at the same time. Yes, ideas have a confluence and converge at a particular time. I know for a fact that Trotsky did use the term “racism” in an quasi-anthropological essay in some Soviet journal in 1924/25/26/27. My knowledge is that’s the first time it was used in this generic, propagandistic way, but I’m sure many others used it in and around the same time and largely for the same purpose as well.

Q: Let me toss one idea at you and then I’ll shut up. This Magnus Hirschfeld, of course, he was a typical Weimar agitator, right?

JB: Yes.

Q: And he instituted the first sexology study.

JB: Yes, that’s right. He had an institute for the study of human sexuality.

Q: Indeed. And his book Der Rassismus, its first English edition was actually translated by a man and wife couple in England. They were a pair of English communists. I think that’s very significant in the history of this magic word in the West and I think it should loom larger in the history of this than Trotsky. That’s just my personal opinion.

JB: Yes, you may well be right, but the debate about who originated the word can be unduly . . . Maybe in the future in my talks I’ll say Trotsky and Hirschfeld.

Q: I appreciate it.

Q: You used the term “the managed blank of blank in decline.” I just wanted to get those two terms that I missed. It was right after the Henry Miller quote. You said, “The managed blank of blank in decline.”

JB: I can never remember what I say.[1]

Johnson: We’ll get it with the transcript. Thank you very much!


1. The phrase in question is “the managed expectation of mediocrity in decline.”


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The Counter-Currents 2014 Summer Fundraiser An Appeal from Our Writers Fri, 31 Oct 2014 06:45:46 +0000 tigerpumpkin1,016 words

During last year’s Counter-Currents Summer Fundraiser, a number of our writers issued statements of support. They are just as valid now as then, so we are reprinting them here. 

Leo Yankevich:

What was there before Greg Johnson and Counter-Currents? Go back 4 years and recall. It costs to run a website of such high-quality. It also costs to put out books of such fine printing, paper and quality.

Dr. Johnson is not a hobbyist who runs a website on the side. He is a professional who dedicates his time and energy to editing Counter-Currents, translating rightist tracts, and to publishing books that edify and fortify the initiated and uninitiated alike. This requires the support of all of us, whether we can donate only a single dollar, or a million.

The struggle continues. The numbers do not lie, neither demographically, nor financially.

Support Counter-Currents!

Tito Perdue:

As if we weren’t already in the most serious civilizational crisis in the whole history of The West, consider how much more serious would be our plight in the absence of Counter-Currents and the sort of unafraid people like Greg Johnson. Fast forward a couple of generations and your grandchildren’s textbooks (assuming our demographic actually survives), will cite this publisher as one of those who were willing to stand against the diseases of our dwindling age

John Morgan:

Since its inception, Counter-Currents has offered a unique forum to the English-speaking world where political and cultural non-conformists of many different persuasions can meet and exchange ideas. I can think of no other site where the New Right, the Old Right, traditionalism, literature, pop culture, Eurasianism, postmodernism, and even anti-natalism all rub elbows. And yet, for all this diversity, Counter-Currents is always focused upon a single aim: the regeneration and restoration of our civilization, toward which all of these approaches ultimately strive, albeit in radically different ways. At the same time, the breadth of its scope and the brilliance and wit of its authors makes it a visceral pleasure to read on a daily basis. Such originality is irreplaceable. If the forces that oppose liberalism in all its forms are ever to emerge from the morass they have been stuck in for decades, new styles and new ways of thinking must be developed to convey the eternal truths. It is from the colorful stir-fry of something like Counter-Currents that the intellectual and ideological weapons that will challenge the prevailing paradigm will emerge. As such, it should be supported by anyone who favors original and dangerous thinking.

Andy Nowicki:

There are many excellent reasons to help support Counter-Currents financially, but I would like to relate what I find to be the most salient and compelling one. Simply put, out of the vast myriad of contemporary media organs, outlets, and institutions, Counter-Currents is only one of a handful that manfully resist the oppressive, relentless homogenization of ideas, ethics, and aesthetics taking place in our sadly decaying, gangrenously blighted, cancerously degenerate culture today.

Week after week, Greg Johnson’s online journal provides thoughtful, provocative, intellectually fearless articles from writers who are engaged, informed, and unabashedly nonconformist in orientation. A reader needn’t agree with everything, and may strongly disagree with a great deal, while still at the same time appreciating the fierce counter-blast that Counter-Currents defiantly delivers to the ever-sneering and insufferably censorious face of a know-nothing contemporary Zeitgeist as arrogant as it is decadent.

Johnson’s print company, meanwhile, has published an impressive catalogue of books: both fiction and non-fiction, which, while dizzying in their diversity of topics (and I use this often irritating buzzword in its ironically best possible sense), nevertheless uphold standards of literary excellence even as they challenge contemporary norms on matters of genuine significance.

I am proud to have two books published by Counter-Currents, with a third on the way. I count myself blessed to be among such a talented stable of authors, both old and new, established and current. As adept wordsmith and Counter-Currents-published poetess Juleigh Howard-Hobson wrote recently, the works put out by this publisher aren’t likely to receive much mainstream support. Thus, it is up to us—the vanguard, if you will, those ahead of the proverbial curve, to look after one another and make sure that our own are taken care of.

I make a similar point in my piece “Alt Right Art”; in order to fight the depredations of political correctness, we must insure that “our” artists have space to operate, free from pressure to conform to what our adversaries find to be palatable or “acceptable.” In short, we need the freedom to be determinedly and implacably UNacceptable wherever and whenever we deem it appropriate to do so. We need, that is a degree of clout, and clout can only be assured through our seeing to the continued financial independence of our benefactors.

Therefore a donation to Counter-Currents is a very real vote for all of our continued artistic and editorial liberty. It is an investment in our future as freethinkers. Please consider making a contribution to the cause of true intellectual liberty.

Gregory Hood: “It’s Good Business

Juleigh Howard-Hobson: “There We Go

Jeff Costello: “Let Us be Comrades

Andrew Hamilton: “Why I Support Counter-Currents

* * *

If you have not made a donation to our Summer fundraiser yet, now is a good time. You can make two different types of donations:

  • A single donation of any size.
  • A recurring donation of any size.

Recurring donations are particularly helpful, since they allow us better to predict and plan for the future. We have several levels for recurring donations. Please visit our Donations page for more information.

We can also customize the amount of a monthly donation.

There are several ways to make one-time donations:

  • The easiest is through Paypal. For a one-time donation, just use the following button:
  • You can send check, money order, or credit card payment by mail. Just print out our donation form in Word or PDF.
  • You can make a secure credit card donation direct from our Donation page.

Please give generously!

Thank you for your loyal readership and support.

Greg Johnson


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Sestina: Altaforte Fri, 31 Oct 2014 04:58:40 +0000 king-richard-the-lionheart-5-x-3-flag-1520-p382 words

LOQUITUR: En Bertrans de Born.
Dante Alighieri put this man in hell for that he was a stirrer up of strife.
Judge ye!
Have I dug him up again?
The scene is at his castle, Altaforte. “Papiols” is his jongleur. “The Leopard,” the device of Richard Coeur de Lion.


Damn it all! all this our South stinks peace.
You whoreson dog, Papiols, come! Let’s to music!
I have no life save when the swords clash.
But ah! when I see the standards gold, vair, purple, opposing
And the broad fields beneath them turn crimson,
Then howls my heart nigh mad with rejoicing.


In hot summer have I great rejoicing
When the tempests kill the earth’s foul peace,
And the lightnings from black heav’n flash crimson,
And the fierce thunders roar me their music
And the winds shriek through the clouds mad, opposing,
And through all the riven skies God’s swords clash.


Hell grant soon we hear again the swords clash!
And the shrill neighs of destriers in battle rejoicing,
Spiked breast to spiked breast opposing!
Better one hour’s stour than a year’s peace
With fat boards, bawds, wine and frail music!
Bah! there’s no wine like the blood’s crimson!


And I love to see the sun rise blood-crimson.
And I watch his spears through the dark clash
And it fills all my heart with rejoicing
And pries wide my mouth with fast music
When I see him so scorn and defy peace,
His lone might ‘gainst all darkness opposing.


The man who fears war and squats opposing
My words for stour, hath no blood of crimson
But is fit only to rot in womanish peace
Far from where worth’s won and the swords clash
For the death of such sluts I go rejoicing;
Yea, I fill all the air with my music.


Papiols, Papiols, to the music!
There’s no sound like to swords swords opposing,
No cry like the battle’s rejoicing
When our elbows and swords drip the crimson
And our charges ‘gainst “The Leopard’s” rush clash.
May God damn for ever all who cry “Peace!”


And let the music of the swords make them crimson!
Hell grant soon we hear again the swords clash!
Hell blot black for always the thought “Peace!”


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The Counter-Currents 2014 Summer Fundraiser In My Grandiose Moments . . . Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:11:18 +0000 ozymandias21,699 words

Since yesterday’s update on our Summer Fundraiser, we have received donations totaling $450. Our total is now $37,387. We are now $2,613 from our goal of $40,000 with just 2 days to go. Again, I want to thank all of our donors for your generous support.

* * *

A reader suggested that I reprint last year’s fundraiser “In My Grandiose Moments . . .” I wrote back, “What are you talking about?” Then she sent me a link to the piece below, which I had completely forgotten. I am too young for Alzheimers, so I attribute this senior moment to frequently having too much on my mind. Not all of it gets filed into long-term memory. In any case, I think it bears reprinting. If it is new to me, surely it will be new to most of you as well.

Audio Version:

One of our readers asked me, ever so gently, if I did not think it a bit grandiose to try to raise $40,000 this year. My answer was simple: compared to our ultimate goals, no, it doesn’t seem grandiose at all . . .

There is a poetic moment in Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers when Johnny Rico, who has just washed out of the Mobile Infantry, is leaving base. Suddenly, he sees people on the parade ground breaking formation and running. And, perhaps out of curiosity, perhaps out of a kind of herding or schooling instinct, he starts running along with them. “War! We’re going to war!” one of his former comrades shouts.

The scene beautifully communicates the feeling of being caught up in events, of being a tiny piece of driftwood carried along by the great surge of history. Of course, this is not something that only happens in times of war. Indeed, it happens all the time. It is like gravity, like the air we breathe. It is child’s play to put bubble-headed aliens on screen. It takes a masterful filmmaker to make us experience and wonder at what is utterly close and commonplace.

All of us, all the time, are subjected to historical forces we cannot control. We are objects, not agents. Things are done to us, not by us. Most of our actions are piddling, reactive, and entirely ineffectual — at least if we try to go against the current. Somebody else establishes the pace, and we try to catch up. Somebody else sinks the ship, and we try to tread water. Somebody else tanks the economy, and we end up bailing them out. Somebody else opened the borders, and we just have to cope with the depressed wages and increased crime, corruption, ugliness, and alienation. That’s life — for most people, most of the time.

But there are people who exercise power and bear responsibility. The system does not just run itself. What would it be like to be a historical agent, not just one of their pawns? What would it be like to be the master of one’s own destiny, rather than a plaything of the powerful? What would it be like to live in a system that advances our individual and group interests rather than subordinates and sacrifices them? What would be like to belong to a people that has a sense of destiny — and is in control of how that destiny unfolds?

The purpose of White Nationalism is for whites to regain control of our destiny as a race, to make us collectively masters of our own fate. We are not egalitarians. We are not individualists. We understand that our powers and responsibilities differ. We understand that not everyone can exercise agency all the time. But our goal is to create a system in which the few govern in the interests of all, in which the limited agency of each individual is amplified rather than smothered by the social order.

It seems like a tall order. But such systems are not utopias. We know they are possible, because they have been actual. They have existed in history. They even exist in the present day in the Far East. We can, of course, improve upon them. But the blueprints already exist. The real question is: How do we get there from here? A related question is: How can one experience, in the present day, the world we are trying to create in the future? Because some of us will never live to see the Promised Land.

Both questions have the same answer: by acting to bring about a White Nationalist society, by participating in the White Nationalist cause in whatever way possible, to whatever extent possible, we can create an ideal world and have a taste of it in the present day.

I am fond of the phrase that those who fight for the Golden Age live in it today. I do not mean this in a merely symbolic sense. It is a very real phenomenon: the world we are fighting for is one in which whites are masters of our fate, in which we have control of our destiny, in which we are agents not objects of history. Acting to create that world is taking control of your own destiny and working for the freedom of our people. Each white who moves from being a passive spectator to being an active agent of our cause brings us one step closer to victory. Working to create a White Nationalist society is to participate in some way in the society we wish to create.

But what is to be done?

Counter-Currents has always stood for pluralism. There is not “one right way” to do this. I have consistently argued that our movement will function best if we (1) try new approaches, (2) seek to tailor our message to every different white constituency, and (3) allow each individual to determine his own level of explicitness and involvement.

But, by the same token, I am always encouraging people to become more explicit and more involved, to get people outside their comfort zones, to become more radical, and not just in the sense of understanding things to their roots, but in the sense of being increasingly active, committed, and fanatical.

The best thing is to be an explicit White Nationalist. We need a lot more of them.

The next best thing is to be a secret agent, working actively within the system to undermine it.

The next best thing after that is to actively support those who are willing to do more than you.

If you are not willing to do any of those things, then please, at least do no harm.

But, for the love of everything good and beautiful in this world, you have to stop being passive consumers of free information on the internet, or mere kibitzers on online forums. That was the beginning for most of us, but it is only the beginning, and if it is the end of your involvement, then our race is going to die.

One of the secrets of Communism is that it mobilized enormous energy and dedication from people because its goals demanded them. They promised themselves the world, and they went about delivering it.

Although manic grandiosity and malignant narcissism are the two more destructive personality disorders in our circles, we have to risk grandiosity. We have to put aside our humility, put aside our modesty, and entertain the possibility that we can become world-historical individuals: that we can change the course of history, that we can save our race, that we can turn it from the path to extinction and return it to the path of godhood.

And it is not just about saving the white race. It is about saving all life on earth — the only life in the cosmos as far as we know — because if our enemies win, this blue planet will someday be reduced to a dead cinder in space. You can save all the other endangered species by saving the most important one, our own.

Yes, this cause is that important, and by moving our cause forward, you share in that importance. If your life lacks meaning and purpose, this is where you find them.

There have been times when I wished that I had never gotten involved with White Nationalism. I tend to focus on the negative and forget about the positive. Sometimes I brood over the fact that the craziest, crookedest, most loathsome people I have ever encountered have been White Nationalists — forgetting that the finest people I know are White Nationalists as well.

My complaining finally angered a good friend, a secret agent who does as much as he can for the cause. He told me that I lead an enviable life, that I work full time for the most important cause in the cosmos, that I can speak the truth as I see it for the rest of my days. Then he reminded me of the basic premise of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy has super-powers and is part of a secret initiatic society doing battle with the forces of evil. Night after night, she is literally saving the world. And yet . . . all she wants to be is an ordinary high school cheerleader.

Well, when you put it that way, I choose to fight evil and save the world. Allow yourself a grandiose moment, and then choose to join us.

* * *

If you have not made a donation to our Summer fundraiser yet, now is a good time. You can make two different types of donations:

  • A single donation of any size.
  • A recurring donation of any size.

Recurring donations are particularly helpful, since they allow us better to predict and plan for the future. We have several levels for recurring donations. Please visit our Donations page for more information.

We can also customize the amount of a monthly donation.

There are several ways to make one-time donations:

  • The easiest is through Paypal. For a one-time donation, just use the following button:
  • You can send check, money order, or credit card payment by mail. Just print out our donation form in Word or PDF.
  • You can make a secure credit card donation direct from our Donation page.

Please give generously!

Thank you for your loyal readership and support.

Greg Johnson


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Remembering Ezra Pound: October 30, 1885 to November 1, 1972 Thu, 30 Oct 2014 15:34:07 +0000 Pound2691 words

“A slave is one who waits for someone else to free him.” — Ezra Pound

One of the ongoing projects of the North American New Right is the recovery of our tradition. One does not have to go too far back before one discovers that every great European thinker and artist is a “Right Wing extremist” by today’s standards.

What is even more remarkable is the number of great 20th century figures who belong in our camp as well. And among these figures, Ezra Loomis Pound is one of the most illustrious and one of the most radical. 

Pound is lauded even by his enemies as one of the giants of modernist poetry. Speaking personally, however, Pound’s poetry long stood in the way of appreciating his genius as a critic, a translator, an essayist, an economist, and a political commentator.

I like a lot of modern literature, but to my ear Pound pushes its intellectualist and reflexive characteristics to the extreme and offers very little with immediate naive and sensuous appeal. For instance, as far as I have been able to determine, he never wrote anything in danger of being set to music by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Appreciating Pound’s poetry presupposes a vast humanistic education of the sort long unavailable in American universities. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have such an education, even if one does not end up liking Pound. A good place to begin such an education is Pound himself, through reading his many volumes of essays and criticism, which I find absolutely compelling. Pound’s art is very long, and life very short. But you owe it to yourself to try. In the end, you have nothing to lose but your ignorance.

I suggest you begin where I did, with Impact: Essays on Ignorance and the Decline of American Civilization (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1960), which brings together all of Pound’s central interests, cultural, historical, artistic, political, and economic. A similar overview is provided by Selected Prose 1909-1965 (New York: New Directions, 1973). After that, read his Guide to Kulchur (New York: New Directions, 1970).

For Pound’s political views, seek out Jefferson and/or Mussolini (1935) (New York: Liveright, 1970). Then read his WWII radio broadcasts: Ezra Pound Speaking: Radio Speeches of World War II (Contributions in American Studies) (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1978), a sample of which is printed below.

Finally, read his economic pamphlets, reprinted below, the ideas of which are ably summarized by Carolina Hartley in “Ezra Pound on Money.”

For Pound’s views on literature, see his Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, ed. T. S. Eliot (New York: New Directions, 1968), The Spirit of Romance (New York: New Directions, 1968), and ABC of Reading (1934) (New York: New Directions, 1960).

To tackle Pound’s poetry, all you need is two books: The Library of America’s massive volume Ezra Pound: Poems and Translations (New York: Library of America, 2003), which contains everything except Pound’s magnum opus The Cantos (New York: New Directions, 1971).

I also wish to draw your attention to works on this website:

By Pound:

Poetic Tributes to Pound:

About Pound:

Pound is also frequently tagged in Counter-Currents articles dealing with art and economics.


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Ur-Fascism Thu, 30 Oct 2014 04:01:35 +0000 Roman Lictor, from the Cancelleria Reliefs; the fasces is carried on the shoulder.

Roman Lictor, from the Cancelleria Reliefs; the fasces is carried on the shoulder.

2,441 words

The following amplifies the concept of ur-fascism advanced by Umberto Eco.

Ur-fascism is both unity and multiplicity, like life itself: Unity in its embodiment of a single phenomenon and multiplicity because of the diversity and disparity within that phenomenon. “Ur” means primal or primordial: For example, in the form of Heidegger’s “ur-grund” (“primal ground”) or ur-volk (“primeval people”) as well as Goethe’s “ur-phenomenon” (“archetypal pattern”).

“Fascism” comes from the Latin, fasces, meaning “bundle”: politically, a people unified. Ur-fascism is the primordial wellspring of all fascist aspirations and movements. This has many roots: Nation, race, ethnicity, heritage, lineage, culture, tradition, language, history, ideals, aims, and values. When a group has emerged, organically and historically, with its own identity, fate, and interests, a people has come into existence.[1]

A people that is integrated genealogically, linguistically, and institutionally at the highest level forms a nation. At higher levels, peoples may be fused together under empires. At lower levels, a people could comprise a family, community, or local state.

Ur-fascism is the primordial foundation of all fascist movements and governments, historically or potentially, that unify peoples at distinct levels. Another term for “people” is the modern English “folk” and the German “Volk.” The former comes from the Old English “folc,” meaning “common people.” “Folk” was diffused through the introduction of the compound “folklore” by antiquarian and demographer, William Thoms. Peoples are distinct and diverse entities, reflected in the history of fascism. Ur-fascism is the primordial origination in archetypal organic patterns, residing in all living things, of a fascistic impulse toward a primeval will to life that has exhibited itself historically in many political, social, and institutional morphologies, ultimately as the differentiation and coagulation of diverse tendencies, traits, and movements.

Ur-fascism metaphysically privileges the people. It accentuates the disparity of interests between peoples, while Marxism emphasizes the disparity of interests between classes. A people is prior to its classes, metaphysically, and its interests take precedence over its classes, ethically.

The founder and leader of the Iron Guard of Romania, Corneliu Codreanu, held that “A people becomes aware of its existence when it becomes aware of its entirety, not only of its component parts and their individual interests.”[2] Ur-fascism grounds the interests of a people or community above that of the individuals and classes that belong to it. As such, it transcends revolutionary socialism and reactionary conservatism. The interests of the community in its entirety take precedence over the interests of individuals and classes that belong to it. Nonetheless, ur-fascism is both revolutionary and conservative: revolutionary in its readiness to overturn structures that are toxic to the life of a people, and once conservative in its insistence on retaining and preserving what is vital to a given people.

On the basis of a view of society as a social organism that is organized, directed, and governed by a vital social organ in the form of the state, Giovanni Gentile maintained that the state “interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of people.”[3]

Ur-fascism does not eventuate in the elimination of social classes, hierarchy, or inequality, but rather folds these in to the service of a people as a whole. In a developing plant or animal, cells undergo differentiation and become structurally and functionally suited to certain roles. The Marxist aspiration to end inequality and ultimately dissolve hierarchy is as futile as a revolt among the cells of an organism that is organically suited and required for the weal of the organism as a whole. Equality among an organism’s cells would mean death for the organism. This does not mean that injustice should not be addressed, and inequality and hierarchy are not ends in and of themselves. Neither the aristocratic nor proletarian socialist solution is desirable. Inequality and hierarchy exist to elevate the community as a whole, not any one part of it.

Ur-fascism forms the primeval basis of the fascistic political response and will to life of a people as a whole, rather than any segment within it. If authentic in its embryonic and developmental forms, it will grow to maturity and enable a whole people to persist over time.

A genuine fascist movement or government first exists (a) in embryo, as a nascent political organism or coalescent forces in a government and (b) reaches mature development, around it a variety of explicit aims and goals are embellished and solidified as policies.

In embryonic form, fascist movements and governments originate as phenomena that arise from within a community. According to Umberto Eco, this embryonic form may arise as one, two, or several of the phenomena below, at once or else separately, in orderly or disorderly succession. Ur-fascism is the organic origination of a fascistic movement or government. Just as complex organisms arise from but one, two, or but a few cells, so too does an authentic fascist movement or government. Only one or handful of the phenomena below is necessary, as “it is enough the one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.” At the national or local level, as nascent movements or existing governments, fascism may initially take the form of, grow from within, or else be signaled and distinguished by:

  1. Syncretic revival of tradition: reawakening to identity through an integration of disparate traditions, symbols, icons, and ideals among and across past cultures.
  2. Rejection of modernism: reaffirmation of primordial ideals and political values and a disavowal of the universalism and egalitarianism central to the Enlightenment.
  3. The necessity of action: realization of the centrality of action as an inherent aspect of a vibrant community, as well as its necessity as a response to decline.
  4. The necessity of unity: realization of the primacy of primeval truths and basic values, as against perpetual dissent, endless discussion, and disagreement.
  5. Rejection of difference: affirmation of national, racial, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, or religious identity, and as such, opposition to their erosion and decline.
  6. Appeal to class interests: repudiation of class conflict and dissention in the community, and an affirmation of the legitimate interests of distinct classes and interests.
  7. Reality of internal and external threats: drawing attention to internal and external sources of decline and threats to identity, whether ethnic, social, cultural or global in origin.
  8. Inconstancy in the enemy: the mobilizing and galvanizing reality of distinct threats, often from enemies that fluctuate quickly in strength, tenor, scale, and magnitude.
  9. Reality of life as struggle: resuscitation and renewal of the community by overcoming decline, while grasping that life is struggle and requires permanent vigilance.
  10. Populist elitism: elevating the individual as part of his distinct community, promoting its higher over its lower elements, and basing government on the leadership principle.
  11. A regard for death: realization that death is inevitable, the inculcation of heroic aspiration in everyone, and the mobilizing reality of distant or impending community death.
  12. Reaffirmation of traditional life: the preservation of traditional families and family roles.
  13. The primacy of community: recognition of the primacy of community over the individual, the nation over its classes, and the inability of democracy to preserve it.
  14. The mobilization of language: mobilization of the community is only fully possible through novel uses of language, terms, and phrases, in tandem with symbols and imagery.

The emergence of embryonic fascist movements or nascent fascist governments entails that one, two, or more of the above phenomena have clustered together to form a nucleus, which grows and develops. Ultimately, various policies, plans, and position coagulate around the nucleus. Historically, there were many such policies, plans, and positions. In many cases, they were extensions of the unique vision of the movement or government and the people or nation in question. Whether or not such policies were successful is a different matter, but metaphysically, a fascist movement or government has come to maturity when it has progressed from an embryonic stage in which a nucleus is formed to one in which that nucleus has several different policies clustered around it. These will vary among regimes, but they often include:

  1. Agrarianism and the preservation of rural life, ethnic identity that is rooted in the unique soil and geographic context of the nation — as in the NSDAP policy of blood and soil.
  2. Anti-capitalist and anti-consumerist policy that rejects economic materialism.
  3. Anti-communist policy opposing class conflict and rejecting economic reductionism.
  4. An anti-liberal domestic policy that rejects individualism as the basis of social life.
  5. An explicit foreign policy aspiring to autarky and freedom from world finance, and a local policy supporting individual and community self-sufficiency and local adaptedness.
  6. Policy reflecting support of class collaboration, reconciliation, and legitimate class interests, from basic worker’s rights but also the protection of private property.
  7. Economic policy grounded in corporatism, syndicalism, mixed economics, and Third Position economics, as was advanced in Italy, Germany, and Falangist Spain.
  8. Policy reflecting strong support of the young and youth movements, promoting youth that uphold national values and interests, and strengthening the health of the community.
  9. Environmentalist policy and advocacy of animal welfare, often in conjunction with policy supporting sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, and sound population control.
  10. Policy advancing irredentist and ethnic nationalist aims, the extension of “living space” (Lebensraum) in German policy or “vital space” (spazio vitale) in Italian policy.
  11. Familial policy advancing protections for the interests of traditional families, but also promoting the legitimate gender interests for men and women in familial contexts.
  12. Ethnic and racial policies of fecundism or eugenics, aiming for healthy populations.
  13. Policy that integrates the interests of the collective with elitist aspirations, synchronizing mass mobilization with the leadership principle, harmonizing individual and society.
  14. The aestheticizing of social, national, and community life, incorporating social symbols, utilizing rallies, drawing on social ritual and ceremony, and revitalizing traditions.

Eco only discusses the embryonic phase, since his analysis is concerned to explain how fascist movements and nascent fascist governments may emerge. In that sense, his analysis forms a kind of preventative diagnosis, as he aims to show how fascism can be identified before it is allowed to develop into a concrete fascist government.

I have developed his view into a two tiered system, with the embryonic phase representing Eco’s own analysis, and forming the basis for the initial, prenatal phase of fascist development, originating in one, two, or more of the traits I list, each of which is reworded from Eco’s traits; and the developmentally mature stage of fascism, whereby different policies cluster or coagulate around the nucleus that formed in the embryonic stage. Fascism can arise in many ways, and develop many policies.

It is not the case that fascism is a strictly national phenomenon. Instead, it is a way of life that is rooted in organic, synergistic impulse. It can emerge at low societal levels, including the local community (“local fascism”), or else at much higher levels, including the nation.

Moreover, as a response to problems in nations and the decline of communities, fascism has exhibited great historical diversity. Franco’s Spain eschewed expansion, but the pursuit of fresh living space was an important factor in German fascist policy. Italian fascism, however, stressed the pursuit of vital space, which was principally cultural and spiritual, while Mosley’s British Union advocated isolationism and protectionism. And while racial policy was central to German and Norwegian fascism, it was not a central component of Italian Fascism until after 1938, and was never a formulaic component of Portuguese or Spanish fascism. Following World War II, Perón’s Argentina allowed different parties. Catholic conservatism was a significant factor in Spain, while Quisling’s National Gathering looked back to its pagan roots.

Ur-fascism is a family of living worldviews, including past, concrete fascist movements and all possible future movements, and rooting the possibility of fascism in a plurality of different grounds. All movements spring from local conditions and native aspirations.

Understanding ur-fascism as a unique instance of family resemblance also allows us a resource by which to articulate aspects of the decline of European nations and Western Civilization in general. Ur-fascism views different forms of fascism as springing from a common pool of possible sources, and the traits which associate to form the nuclei of fascist movements and regimes have causal relationships with each other. The deconstruction of the West proceeds largely by attacking several of the traits that comprise the core of different fascist worldviews. For example, “antifa,” Leftists, and anti-nationalist advocates attack the traditional family, which is related to if not causally congruent with others traits in the first list. In other words, attacking any of the traits in the list of embryonic traits will likely impinge on several other traits.

Seventy years of consistent deconstruction of the West has largely been predicated on attacks on these features. It follows that any authentic efforts to salvage the nations of the West will require rehabilitating the aims, values, and aspirations of authentic fascism.

In this fashion, my construal of ur-fascism forms a form of prescriptive diagnosis, in contrast to Eco’s preventative diagnosis. If the traits of embryonic fascism bear causal relations of this sort, then nationalists aspiring to save their communities should upheld most of them.

Ur-fascism is a unified family of distinct fascist worldviews, forming a primordial wellspring out of which different fascist movements, historically, have emerged. Its embryonic traits personify primeval biological tendencies that have deep roots in evolutionary history. As an authentic prescription of political mobility, it hearkens back to organic permutations in the history of life that have been exhibited by organismal forms, populations, and lineages. Novel biological forms emerge in the history of life, and exhibit themselves in distinct groups and lineages, arising from underlying mechanisms that work to ensure the persistence of these groups and lineages. The primacy of community over individual is an expression of an integrative tendency in the history of life that is responsible for the diversity of life, and grounds the diversity of fascism.

It is through this conception that we can grasp Eco’s claim that ur-fascism is “primitive”: fascism is a human political system that is deeply rooted in primeval, pervasive biological impulses and patterns that lead to the emergence of distinct communities.

Understood in this way, Eco’s characterization of ur-fascism as “eternal fascism” is transparent: while fascism always manifests in certain places and times, it can always come back again in unexpected guises and different forms; it can never truly, entirely be eradicated.


1. Wiktionary defines “ur” as proto-, primitive, original. There have been several other explicit uses; Goethe employs “ur-sprung” (“origin”) in his Ueber den Ursprung der Sprache.

2. Stephen Fischer-Galati, Man, State, and Society in East European History (Pall Mall, 1971), quoted on p. 329.

3. Giovanni Gentile and Benito Mussolini, The Doctrine of Fascism.

See also the author’s blog:


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The Counter-Currents 2014 Summer Fundraiser Waiting for the Great Pumpkin . . . Wed, 29 Oct 2014 08:13:39 +0000 315 words

welcomegreatpumpkin2Since yesterday’s update on our Summer Fundraiser, we have received 5 donations totaling $580 in amounts ranging from $10 to $350, including the first of recurring donations of $10/month and $20/month. Our total is now $36,937. We are now  $3,063 from our goal of $40,000 with just 3 days to go. Again, I want to thank all of our donors for your generous support.

* * *

Why does our Summer Fundraiser end on Halloween, rather than on the Autumnal Equinox? Aside from the pragmatic reason that Halloween gives us more time to reach our goal, Hugh MacDonald points out that in Celtic pagan rites, October 31st is the end of the season of light/summer/the harvest. These Celtic rites were later fused with the rites of Roman festivals of Pomona, Lemuria, and Parentalia, and the Christian rites of the evening before All Soul’s Day to create our modern Halloween. So ending our fundraiser on Halloween is not only practical it is also traditional. We hope it is also fun.

* * *

If you have not made a donation to our Summer fundraiser yet, now is a good time. You can make two different types of donations:

  • A single donation of any size.
  • A recurring donation of any size.

Recurring donations are particularly helpful, since they allow us better to predict and plan for the future. We have several levels for recurring donations. Please visit our Donations page for more information.

We can also customize the amount of a monthly donation.

There are several ways to make one-time donations:

  • The easiest is through Paypal. For a one-time donation, just use the following button:
  • You can send check, money order, or credit card payment by mail. Just print out our donation form in Word or PDF.
  • You can make a secure credit card donation direct from our Donation page.

Please give generously!

Thank you for your loyal readership and support.

Greg Johnson


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What They Found Wed, 29 Oct 2014 07:44:39 +0000 BeholdtheWar119 words

“The dead came back from Jerusalem,
where they found not what they sought.”
—Carl Jung, Seven Sermons to the Dead, Sermon I, 1916

Beneath a leaden sky:
street merchants peddling wares,
old harlots exposing breasts,
grimaces and stares,
rats, flies and other pests.

The sun somewhere on high,
its gold not of this earth,
trees, stones and Dead Sea salt,
a fire in an open hearth,
a prayer said to a fault.

So they returned, the glow
within themselves in streams,
the mountain now ascended,
eager to walk our dreams,
knowing all is not ended.

They journey on and grow—
the shimmer of waxed oak,
the bedroom lamp reflected,
the earthquake as you woke
with inner world neglected.

15 October 2014

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Little Gidding Wed, 29 Oct 2014 07:38:02 +0000 2,673 words

TS Eliot

T. S. Eliot

T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets can be considered amongst the greatest English poetry of the 20th century, and arguably amongst the greatest English poetry ever. The four poems meditate repetitively and brilliantly on man’s relationship to time and eternity, and posit a religious solution to the problem of man’s need for meaning in the face of death. 

Eliot converted to Anglicanism and became a British subject in 1927. With this double conversion Eliot seemed to find access to a deeper and more rooted sense of spiritual identity. This provides the key to understanding the lines from Little Gidding, the last poem in the sequence: “So, while the light fails/ On a winter’s afternoon, in a secluded chapel/ History is now and England.” The Four Quartets can be read as a sort of metaphysical statement or better still as a sacred text. The great achievement of these poems is to crystallize difficult metaphysical concepts, particularly the intersection of the eternal with the temporal, in memorable and lasting images. Thus, the poems are themselves an intersection of the eternal into language, and a validation of their own theme.

The first poem of the sequence, Burnt Norton, begins by articulating the doubt that vexes the religious mind: “Time present and time past/ Are both perhaps present in time future/ And time future contained in time past./ If all time is eternally present/ All time is unredeemable.” This is the conundrum: if we escape from the narrow prison of egoic consciousness and intuit a higher sense of interconnection that transcends linear temporality then we begin to worry that everything has, in some sense, already happened, that everything is predetermined, and that free will counts for nothing. We see ourselves as, “Men and bits of paper, whirled by the cold wind/ That blows before and after time.” A larger perspective shrinks man and makes him seem like nothing more than a dead leaf blowing in the breeze. When man adopts this cosmic perspective he seems to lose all volition and meaning, the vastness of time reduces him to an unimportant and impotent detail, unworthy of note. This sense of diminishment undermines the religious imperative. Why worship God (eternity) when that very vastness itself makes us feel meaningless?

At a vulgar level religion provides simple answers and comfort for people. But Eliot is concerned here with a much higher level of understanding. It is an important issue because if religion cannot provide meaning at a serious intellectual level then it really is no more than a noble lie, fed to the masses to keep them supine. Eliot clearly senses that it is far more than this and he struggles with the question of how to read meaning into a perspective wherein “time is unredeemable.” By the final poem of the sequence, Little Gidding, he achieves a sense of resolution.

Nicholas Ferrar, 1592–1637

Nicholas Ferrar, 1592–1637

Little Gidding is a real place in Huntingdonshire and is closely associated with the English theologian Nicholas Farrar. Farrar was born in 1592 into a wealthy merchant family and he was intellectually precocious from an early age. After a short career in business and Parliament he left London and in 1625 moved to Little Gidding. At that time Little Gidding consisted of a run-down house and a chapel in a field. Farrar moved there with his mother, brother and sister, their children, and a few other people. About 30 people lived there and formed a close-knit religious community.

I was unaware of the association between Eliot’s Little Gidding and Nicholas Farrar until I read the chapter on Farrar in Colin Wilson’s Religion and the Rebel. Religion and the Rebel was Wilson’s successor to his debut book, The Outsider. Whereas the publication of The Outsider drew unbelievably glowing reviews, Religion and the Rebel was completely trashed and marked a decisive end to Wilson’s very brief moment in the critical sun. Reading the book now it is possible to understand why the critics hated it, although that is no excuse for their antipathy.

Wilson is influenced by both Oswald Spengler and Arnold Toynbee in elaborating a cyclic view of history. In The Outsider he had demonstrated how certain literary and philosophical figures from the 19th and 20th centuries had seen deeper into the problem of human existence than most artists. The “outsider” was the man who intuited a limitless sea of potential within the human psyche but who felt thwarted by the pettiness and contingency of existence.

In Religion and the Rebel, Wilson extrapolated his thesis to encompass aeonic stretches of civilizational time. This allowed him to argue that certain visionary figures who lived at a time of high civilizational health could integrate their higher sensibility into a more vigorous theological structure. Only with the decline of the civilization, and the attendant decline in religious vigor, did such men become alienated from the mainstream of spiritual life and acquire their outsider status.

Such a thesis strikes me as being not just sensible but ultimately compelling. Presumably the critics caught a sniff of metaphysical obscurantism; or perhaps they couldn’t stomach a cyclic view of history wherein Marx’s materialistic prophecies had no place. In any case, Wilson was soon suspected of some sort of ill-defined fascism, and his subsequent obsession with serial killers and the occult did nothing to return him to critical favor.


Colin Wilson

Of course, the popular backlash against Wilson’s thesis is exactly the sort of response you would expect if his thesis was correct. If Wilson and Spengler were correct, and the mid-20th century marked a period of spiritual poverty (the decline of the west), then you would expect a book like Religion and the Rebel to be met with incomprehension. Marxists would have balked at the importance given to visions and the powers of the human mind (or spirit), whilst Christians could not have accepted the ready conflation of their faith with other systems of philosophical enquiry. Wilson was falling between the cracks of 20th-century English thought and ensuring his own exile to outsider status.

Wilson’s interest in Nicholas Ferrar stems from the type of devotional community that Ferrar set up at Little Gidding. The entire community would cross the field to the chapel for worship three times a day: matins at 6 a.m., litany at 10 a.m., and evensong at 4 p.m. In addition, Ferrar set up a system of Gospel readings taking place every hour, so that the four Gospels would be read in their entirety each month. On top of all this, on a couple of nights each week after a four hour Psalter recital finishing at 1 a.m., Ferrar would spend the rest of the night in meditation and prayer.

Wilson notes, “It is true that the monastic temper is not a familiar one in the modern world and that, although millions of people may detest the routine of modern life and wish they could escape from it, they would hardly be willing to exchange it for the life of a monk.” But nonetheless, Ferrar had found one particular answer to the outsider’s problem: “he had set his own little corner of the world in order, and lived in that corner as if the rest of the world did not exist.”[1]

For Eliot, Little Gidding represented more than this. At the end of The Dry Salvages, the third poem in the sequence, he presents the solution to the problem of being in time:

The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation.
Here the impossible union
Of spheres of existence is actual,
Here the past and future
Are conquered, and reconciled,
Where action were otherwise movement
Of that which is only moved
And has in it no source of movement-
Driven by dæmonic, chthonic

Through the Incarnation of Christ, “the impossible union of spheres,” time is redeemed. The eternal is no longer an incomprehensibly vast expanse of predetermined actions but a condition of freedom and redemption that can be actualized within time:

But to apprehend
The point of intersection of the timeless
With time, is an occupation for the saint–

So, for some few holy men it is possible to actualize the eternal in time. It is with this resolution that Eliot concludes The Dry Salvages and moves on to Little Gidding.

Little Gidding begins with a description of a bright winter’s day when the hedgerow is covered in snow. The image creates a paradoxical impression of flowering in winter:

This is the spring time
But not in time’s covenant. Now the hedgerow
Is blanched for an hour with transitory blossom
Of snow

It is a momentary glimpse of temporal paradox. It serves merely as a poetic foreword to the real intention of the poem. We then approach the chapel at Little Gidding itself:

If you came by day not knowing what you came for,
It would be the same, when you leave the rough road
And turn behind the pig-sty to the dull facade
And the tombstone.

The tombstone is that of Nicholas Ferrar, blank, uninscribed, a sacred precursor to Abstract Expressionist painting. But this is not the sort of interpretation that Eliot would countenance. The value of Little Gidding the place derives from the holiness of the lives lived there and the disciplined, ordered urge to transcend the contingencies of time and place. Ferrar instituted a way of life at Little Gidding that was able to actualize the eruption of the eternal into time. And the only reason for pilgrimage to Little Gidding is to try to participate in some way in this practice of worship:

You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.

Here, Eliot is suggesting that this small and insignificant chapel is one place where the Holy Spirit descended. The language echoes Acts of the Apostles, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” In Eliot’s poem the dead speak with Pentecostal fire and actualize the timeless moment. The holy fire is the symbol of the eternal and is opposed to the fire of hell which is the destructive fire of temporality, the distracted, egoic consciousness that cannot begin to intuit the notion that there might be something more to life than material manifestation. This destructive fire devours time because it is the manifestation of a mind that can only perceive a linear progression moving towards death, each second consuming reality in an endless cremation. The fire of the Holy Spirit, on the other hand, is the voice of the dead, the triumph over mundane time and the redemption of all time in the timeless moment.

And the possibility of this intrusion of the eternal into time is predicated on the Incarnation. So, for Eliot, escape from the temporal prison is only possible because the eternal (God) manifested in history and created the possibility for actualizing this “impossible union” between distinct “spheres of existence.” Nicholas Ferrar’s solution can only be achieved through the disciplined pursuit of holiness, and even then it must take the divine Incarnation as its precondition.

At the conclusion of his chapter on Nicholas Ferrar, Wilson is critical of Ferrar’s solution: “We may feel that there is much to find fault with in the Little Gidding way of life. The objection to it is the same as the objection to Mr. Eliot’s embracing of Anglicanism: that the Outsider must not surrender his reason to some ‘historical’ fact. For ultimately, history does not matter.”[2] This objection is one with which I both agree and disagree. To insist that the possibility of redemption from time is dependent upon the Incarnation of Christ seems to me to belong to the sphere of the noble lie. In other words, whilst I have no problem with the Incarnation being an article of faith for Christian believers it cannot be an absolute and universal requirement for the possibility of transcending mundane time.

However, in stating that, “history does not matter,” Wilson overstates his case. He evidently does so because he believes so strongly that the human individual has the potential to overcome his limitations regardless of the phase of the civilizational cycle he happens to be living in. But his error is to focus too closely on the individual at the expense of the culture as a whole. This is entirely typical of Wilson’s existentialism and his interest in the potential powers of human consciousness. He is interested in what the intellectual and artistic elite are capable of achieving at the highest level and his hope seems to be for a future state of global transformation of individuals into Nietzschean overmen. As he puts it elsewhere in Religion and the Rebel the problem is, “how to make our whole civilization think like the Outsider.”[3] But this is not the problem. Trying to make all members of society think like outsiders is an inorganic solution to an organic problem. It is also teleologically similar to Christian Messianism and Marxist utopianism and, in the hope for a future state of super-empowered men, Wilson has forgotten one of Spengler’s crucial lessons: we are tied to our own particular culture or civilization.

So, history does matter in a crucial sense. As the example of Little Gidding shows, particular acts of worship in a particular place can achieve intimations of immortality. But this sense of the eternal is not a sort of free floating universalist spirit. It emerges through the sanctification of place through particular acts of worship. History is important in this sense because the discipline of religious worship creates its own special accumulation of sanctity. It is what makes certain places holy. And one thing that all religious people agree on is that certain places are holy places. But the importance of history in this sense is very different from the insistence that Christ existed historically as an intersection of different dimensions.

There is, in fact, a certain paradox for many of us here. Those who do not accept the Incarnation of Christ as a point of historical singularity have to face the fact that it was a deep article of faith for most (almost all) of our ancestors for many centuries. If we then wish to venerate the past we have to admit that a great deal of it was predicated on this belief in the Incarnation. If we choose to simply overlook this fact we are slighting the sincere beliefs of the dead whom we profess to respect, and implementing a degree of discontinuity with the past. It is not a trivial problem.

Regardless, it is useful to bear in mind the example of Little Gidding when thinking about spiritual practice. Few of us would wish to go to the extremes that Nicholas Ferrar went to and some of us in any case would not want to emulate his Christianity. But for most of us we can still, with Eliot, meditate on those intimations of the eternal that sometimes fall upon us, those,

hints and guesses,
Hints followed by guesses; and the rest
Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.


1. Colin Wilson, Religion and the Rebel (Salem: Salem House, 1984), 175.

2. Ibid., 177.

3. Ibid., 256.

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Heidegger’s Question Beyond Being Wed, 29 Oct 2014 07:10:21 +0000 6,362 words

heidegger (1)Author’s Note:

The following text was written 21 years ago when I was in graduate school. I think it is a useful synthesis of the material available at the time, but I make no claims to originality. I tried to remove the kind of preciousness and pedantry that one finds in graduate student papers, but given the subject matter, what remains is necessarily somewhat densely written. 

Everybody knows that Martin Heidegger was deeply interested in “Being,” indeed obsessed with it. If Spinoza was the “God-intoxicated philosopher,” Heidegger was surely the Being-intoxicated philosopher.

But this is not really true. Heidegger was not the least bit curious about what the word “Being” (the German “Sein”) refers to. His concern, rather, was something “beyond” Being. Heidegger’s concern was the “meaning” (Sinn) of Being. And the meaning of Being is something different from what the word “Being” refers to.

For Heidegger, “Being” is how beings (persons, places, things) disclose themselves, i.e., make themselves present, to a knower. The meaning of Being, by contrast, is how Being discloses itself to a knower. Being is the disclosure of beings. The meaning of Being is the disclosure of Being.

Heidegger claims that there is an “ontological difference” between Being and beings, meaning that there is a difference between beings and their disclosure (Being). The difference between Being and the meaning of Being is a “meta-ontological difference” between Being and its disclosure to us.

Ontology is the study of Being. And if there is a difference between Being and the meaning of Being, then studying the meaning of Being is something different from ontology. Many people mistake Heidegger for an ontologist, because they do not differentiate between Being and the meaning of Being. Indeed, the meta-ontological difference is ignored by most Heidegger scholars, Thomas Sheehan, Graeme Nicholsen, Otto Poggeler, and Mark Okrent being notable exceptions.[1]

1. The “Question of Being”

On page 1 of Being and Time, one finds the words: “Introduction. Exposition of the Question of the Meaning of Being [Frage nach dem Sinn von Sein].” This is followed by chapter 1, “Necessity, Structure, and Priority of the Question of Being [Seinsfrage].” And section one of that chapter is called “The necessity of an explicit recapitulation of the question of Being [Frage nach dem Sein].” Heidegger is not talking about three different questions here. The question of the meaning of being is the same as the “Seinsfrage”; it is the same as “der Frage nach dem Sein.”

A natural interpretation is that the question of the meaning of Being is the question of what the word “Being” refers to, namely Being. On this reading, then Heidegger is simply an ontologist. The question of the meaning of Being is, then, simply a long-winded way of saying the question of Being (“der Seinsfrage” or “der Frage nach dem Sein”). All three questions are asking about the phenomenon to which the word “Being” refers.

But it is a mistake to interpret the word “meaning” (Sinn) as simply superfluous. Rather, it is essential to the understanding of Heidegger’s project. The full, precise, and technical formulation of Heidegger’s project is the question of the meaning of Being.

Der Seinsfrage” and “der Frage nach dem Sein,” are condensations of this longer, more precise formulation. They are condensations; they are not synonyms. Information is lost, and distortion introduced, when the “question of the meaning of Being” is rendered simply the “question of Being.” The “question of the meaning of Being” is not just a long-winded way of saying the “question of Being.” Rather, the “question of Being” is just a shorthand for the “question of the meaning of Being.”

In a September 1946 text, “The Basic Question of Being Itself,” dictated by Heidegger to Jean Beaufret, Heidegger makes clear the essentially meaning-oriented nature of his quest and how it differs from classical ontology.[2]

On the basis of my own philosophical formation, which began already in the Gymnasium as I worked on Aristotle . . . the question ti to on [What is Being?] has become for me the guiding question of philosophy.[3]

Here is the Heidegger that everyone knows, the Heidegger asking about Being. The next paragraph, however, introduces several distinctions.

I recognized one day that at the beginning of Western philosophy, and consequently in the entirety of subsequent philosophy, the question “What are beings as such?” [Was ist das Seiende als solches?] is the guiding question.[4]

Here Heidegger sets out the question of traditional ontology: “What are beings—beings (Seiende), not Being (Sein)—as such?” The answer to the question “What are beings as such?” is, of course, Being. Traditional ontological inquiry is, then, directed at Being. Traditional ontological inquiry is trying to give an account of Being—Being as the Being of beings. Traditional ontological inquiry is after what the word “Being” refers to.

“But,” Heidegger continues:

a second question was never raised: “What is Being [Sein] itself, and wherein is the manifestness of Being itself and its relation to man grounded, and in what does the manifestness of Being and its relation to man consist?”[5]

First, Heidegger distinguishes the traditional ontological question of the Being of beings from his question of “Being itself.” Heidegger also calls this latter question the question of “Being as Being.” But what does it mean to think “Being itself”? Does it mean thinking Being alone, without any relation to anything other than itself, without relation to any horizon or context? Of what would such a thinking consist? Would it be some sort of unmediated intuition?

Heidegger’s first attempt to think the meaning of Being, in Being and Time, still treated the meaning of Being in relation to a particular being, Dasein. Heidegger’s turn from exploring the meaning of Being in relation to Dasein to exploring the meaning of Being in relation to “Being itself” or “Being without beings” is usually called the “turn” (Kehre) in Heidegger’s thought.

David Farrell Krell reports being puzzled by the turn and “disturbed by that expression ‘Being without beings.’ If we set off to encounter Being itself without recourse to ta onta [beings], what is to prevent our reenacting the play of metaphysics, but this time as sheer farce?”[6] When he raised this problem with Heidegger, Heidegger’s answer was:

You must remember that the attempt to think Being without reference to beings is always historical; that is to say, Being takes on varied significance in the different epochs of the history or sending of Being. That is what it means to think Being without beings.[7]

The purpose of Heidegger’s turn from Dasein to Being itself was not, then, the attempt to think about the meaning of Being without reference to any context. Rather, Heidegger’s purpose was to change the context from Dasein to the history of ontology.

Heidegger’s second question—namely, “What is the manifestness of Being itself?”—introduces the “meta-ontological” difference between Being and the meaning of Being. Heidegger makes clear the identification of the meaning of Being with the manifestness (Offenbarkeit) of Being in the following passage, which also identifies the meaning and the manifestness of Being with the famous “clearing” (Lichtung) of Being and with the “fundament” in “fundamental ontology,” i.e., the foundation for traditional ontology.

. . . insofar as Being and Time deals with ontology, it is dealing with fundamental ontology, which—to put it in traditional terms—is concerned with founding an ontology as such and thus with founding a general ontology. Strictly speaking, this question is no longer an ontological question at all, if ontology is understood as the general and special enquiry into the Being of beings and their realms—our question is no longer concerned with the Being of a being [that is: with the referent of the term “Being”].[8]

Here Heidegger distinguishes traditional ontology, which deals with the phenomenon of Being, and fundamental ontology. He then goes on to characterize the question of fundamental ontology as the inquiry into the meaning of Being.

To put it more clearly, this question is no longer concerned with a being in respect to its Being, whose “meaning” [Sinn] as such is taken for granted, already established, and never questioned anywhere, from Parmenides up to Nietzsche. Rather the question concerning Being as such—concerning the manifestness and clearing [Offenbarkeit und Lichtung] of Being (not beings)—is the only question.[9]

Heidegger later adds another word for the object of fundamental ontology: unconcealment [Unverborgenheit]:

In Being and Time this question [the question of fundamental ontology] carries the title of the question concerning the Sinn of Being [der Frage nach dem Sinn von Sein]. . . and we can say in short that “Sinn” . . . is the realm of unconcealment or clearing [Unverborgenheit oder Lichtung] (understandability [Verstehbarkeit]), wherein all understanding or projection (as bringing into the open [in Offene bringen]) is possible.[10]

Heidegger then adds yet another word: the truth (Wahrheit) of Being.

In Being and Time the question has to do exclusively with the truth [Wahrheit] of Being and not with the Being of beings—thus it is no longer concerned with ontology, whether general or special.[11]

It is clear that Heidegger distinguishes between Being and the meaning of being, between ontology and fundamental ontology: on the one side, we have traditional ontology, which looks into a phenomenon known as the Being of beings. On the other hand, we have fundamental ontology, which looks into something variously known as the meaning of Being, the manifestness of Being, and the clearing of Being, the truth of Being, and the unconcealment of Being.

2. Husserl and Heidegger on Being and Categorial Intuition

Edmund Husserl helps us make sense of the distinction between the meaning of Being and what the word “Being” refers to in his Sixth Logical Investigation. In “The Basic Question of Being Itself,” Heidegger writes:

Only after encountering Husserl—whose writings I had already studied, of course, but had only read like other philosophical writings—did I develop a lively and fruitful relation to the real carrying out of phenomenological questioning and description.

Only then could I develop philosophically the question that actually got me moving, namely the basic question concerning Being itself.[12]Husserl, in short, helped Heidegger to formulate the meta-ontological distinction between the meaning of Being and the phenomenon of Being.

In his 1963 recollection “My Way to Phenomenology,” Heidegger makes clear which of Husserl’s works helped him to formulate the question of the meaning of Being: The Sixth Logical Investigation, specifically its discussion of the distinction between sensuous and categorial intuition.[13] Husserl thought that when we verify a proposition like “The paper is white” by looking at an actual piece of paper, we not only have a sensuous intuition of paper and its whiteness but also a categorial intuition of the “is.” That is: The paper “shows up” as being articulated by acts of thinking which divide its whiteness from it, bring it into relief, and join it explicitly to it in the proposition. We move from “paper/white” to “paper taken as white” to “The paper is white,” and with each thoughtful act, the intuitional fulfillment is altered and enriched as well.[14] For Husserl, the world actually looks different when we articulate it in thought.

The development of Heidegger’s question of the meaning of Being through his engagement with Husserl’s Sixth Logical Investigation is well-documented in Heidegger’s 1925 Marburg lecture course, Prolegomena to the History of the Concept of Time.[15] In it, Heidegger offers a lengthy and sympathetic discussion of categorial intuition. In his important 1962 lecture “Time and Being,” Heidegger alludes to the doctrine of categorial intuition in the Sixth Investigation.[16] And in his last seminar at Zähringen in 1973, Heidegger again explicitly named the doctrine of categorial intuition in the Sixth Investigation as crucial to the formulation of the question of the meaning of Being.[17]

Husserl’s claim that the “is” can be categorically intuited in experience was the impetus to Heidegger’s idea that Being can be investigated by phenomenology.[18] Heidegger’s concept of Being is not just categorial intuition. But Heidegger’s understanding of Being began with categorial intuition. Then Heidegger expanded his conception of Being to include all the “phenomena of phenomenology,” i.e., the disclosure of beings to a knower (what Husserl called, in idealist language, “transcendental subjectivity”). This is, moreover, true throughout all of Heidegger’s mature philosophical works, from Being and Time to his last writings. For instance, in the Introduction to Being and Time, Heidegger clearly identifies the Being of beings with the phenomenon studied by phenomenology:

Phenomenology is our way of access to what is to be the theme of ontology, and it is our way of giving it demonstrative precision. Only as phenomenology, is ontology possible. In the phenomenological conception of “phenomenon” what one has in mind as that which shows itself is the Being of beings, its Sinn, its modifications and derivatives.[19]

Or: “. . . phenomena, understood phenomenologically, are always just what constitutes Being . . . .”[20] Or: “. . . phenomenology is the science of the Being of beings—ontology.”[21]

If the Being of beings is identical to the phenomenon studied by phenomenology, the next question is: What is the phenomenon studied by phenomenology? Heidegger offers an answer in Kantian terms:

If we remain within the horizon of the Kantian problematic, we can illustrate what is conceived phenomenologically as phenomenon, disregarding other differences, when we say that what already shows itself, though unthematically, in appearances prior to and always accompanying what we commonly understand as phenomena can be brought thematically to self-showing, and what thus shows itself in itself (“the forms of intuition”) are the phenomena of phenomenology.[22]

In Kantian language, the phenomenon of phenomenology is the “a priori synthetic”: the conditions for the possibility of experience which are always at work in allowing beings to show up to us, but which remain unnoticed because they direct our attention away from themselves and to the beings which they make present, but which can become present when we reflectively disengage ourselves from the objects of first-order, worldy experience, and turn our attention to the subjective and ideal acts and structures which allow beings to show up. Heidegger gives as an example the Kantian “forms of intuition,” but he also could have included the categories and the transcendental unity of apperception.

In Husserlian language, the phenomenon of phenomenology is transcendental subjectivity: the acts and structures of subjectivity which allow beings to become present. Described in more “objective” terms, the phenomenon of phenomenology is the presence (and the absence) of beings, as distinguished from the beings that are present and absent.

Being for Heidegger is, therefore, what Kant called the transcendental conditions for the possibility of knowledge. Being, for Heidegger, is what Husserl called transcendental subjectivity. Or, as Thomas Prufer put it with gnomic precision, for Heidegger Being is “the presence/absence (taken as such) of the present/absent, that is, of that-which-is(-present/absent).”[23]

For Heidegger, Being is the interplay of presence/absence through which beings become present to a knower. Being is the interplay of presence and absence of beings to human beings—or, to be more precise, to Dasein, which Thomas Prufer calls “the dative of manifestation,” the being for whom Being can become a question, i.e., the being which can reflect upon Being.[24] Heidegger’s famed ontological difference between Being and beings is the difference between the presence of a being and the being that is present. It is the difference between the absence of a being and the being that is absent.

Throughout his career, Heidegger does not depart from this identification of Being with the presence/absence interplay. For instance, in “The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking,” Heidegger claims that Being, which is the matter (Sache) of philosophy is “the presence of that which is present” (der Anwesenheit des Anwesenden).[25] He equates the pair “Being and thinking” (Sein und Denken) with “presence and apprehending” (Anwesenheit und Vernehmen).[26] And he equates the meta-ontological question of “Being as Being” (Sein als Sein) with the question “how can there be presence as such [Anwesenheit als solche].”[27]

In sum: Heidegger’s conception of the phenomenon of Being began with Husserlian categorial intuition and was soon expanded to include all of the phenomena of phenomenology. Heideggerian Being is the interplay of presence/absence. Now, this is true, but it is not the whole truth, and it is not the deepest account. This interpretation coheres well with the conventional understanding of the question of Being: the question “To what does the word ‘Being’ refer?” And the answer is: the interplay of presence/absence.

But this is not complete, because Heidegger’s primary focus is not Being but the meaning of Being, understood as different from Being, just as Being is different from beings.

3. Husserl on Empty and Filled Intentions

Husserl’s Sixth Logical Investigation throws light on Heidegger’s distinction between Being and the meaning of Being. Husserl discusses categorial intuition in the Second Section, “Sense and Understanding.”[28] The First Section, “Objectifying Intentions and their Fulfillments: Knowledge as a Synthesis of Fulfillments and its Gradations” offers an account of knowledge as the synthesis of “empty” and “filled” intentions.[29]

The traditional understanding of intentionality is as a real relationship. On this account, to say that consciousness is always consciousness of something is to say that on the one hand there is a subject, on the other hand there is an object, and between them is an intentional relationship. One implication of this interpretation of intentionality is that, if the object be removed, the intentional relationship lapses. If intentionality is a real relationship, then it cannot survive without both relata. Subtract one or the other, and the intentional relationship vanishes.

This conclusion, however, creates problems. If there are no intentional states without objects, then what are we to make of names like “Xanadu,” concepts like “the unicorn,” phrases such as “the gold mountain,” and propositions like “The present king of France is bald”? The hard-core naïve realist would be tempted simply to deny that they are meaningful. After all: if no referent, then no intentional relationship, then no meaning. But clearly these do have meaning. Any moderately literate native speaker knows what they mean, and it would be folly to deny it.

But how do we account for meaning without a real object? Are we to say that these concepts refer to ideas in our heads? This can’t be so—simply because it isn’t the case that when I talk about Xanadu, I am talking about an idea in my head. Rather, I am using an “idea in my head” to talk about Xanadu. If Xanadu is not, then, a place in the world or an idea in the head—if it is not an existent entity or a psychic entity—is it perhaps a subsistent entity, an ideality existing in some sort of third realm? This multiplication of posited entities has offended aesthetic sensibilities and drawn the wrath of logicians from Russell to Quine.[30]

Husserl’s distinction between empty and filled intentions allows him to neatly sidestep these problems by denying their common premise: that intentionality is a real relationship. For Husserl, an intention is a determinate, object-directed cognitive act, but Husserl does not think that intentionality is a two-term relationship between a subject and an object in the world, a relationship that lapses once the object is removed. Rather, Husserl holds that intentional relationships persist whether an object is present or absent. Whereas the old-fashioned Aristotelian would hold that a given intentional relationship derives its determinacy solely from the determinations of the object apprehended and loses its determinacy when the object is subtracted, Husserl holds that intentional acts have determinate structures built right into them, so that we can have determinate intentional states without any objects.[31]

To intend an object emptily is to intend it in its absence. Consider the Lincoln Memorial. We all probably know what the Lincoln Memorial is, what it looks like, and where it is located. Hundreds of miles from the Memorial, we can recollect a trip to the Memorial, or we can plan to take one. We can talk about its history and meaning. We can ask questions about its construction and design. We can evaluate its aesthetic and architectural merits. We can take up all of these intentional stances toward the Memorial, even though it may be hundreds of miles away, in virtue of the fact that determinate intentional states can exist without the actual physical presence of the object intended. Empty intentions allow us to speak about absent objects.

Now, if we were to go to the Memorial our empty intentional acts would be fulfilled, that is: they would be fulfilled by the actual intuitive presence of the Memorial. Some of our expectations would be fulfilled; others would be disappointed. Some of our claims would be verified; others would be falsified. A filled intention is simply an empty intention that has been fulfilled by the intuitive presence of the object intended—or cancelled by the intuitive presence of an object other than the one intended. Husserl calls the fulfillment of empty intentions “identity synthesis.”

The emptiness and filledness of intentions can vary along a number of axes.[32] What counts as a filled intention in one context can be an empty intention in another. For instance, if I try to think of someone’s name, I am intending the name emptily; when I recall the name, my empty intention is fulfilled; when I use the name to call to mind its bearer, the name is an empty intention; when I see the bearer, the intention is fulfilled.

The categorial forms and complexity of empty intentions also vary. They can be proper names, like Xanadu. They can be universals, like “unicorn.” They can be phrases, like “the gold mountain.” They can be propositions like “The present king of France is bald.” Or they can be scientific theories, paradigms, “background knowledge,” interpretive frameworks, traditions, life-forms, cultures, or world-views.

Husserl holds that there is an ontological priority of empty intentions over filled intentions, though there need not always be a chronological priority. By an “ontological” priority, I mean that empty intentions do not need intuitive fulfillments to exist and to be what they are. A determinate empty intention can exist as an empty intention, without any need for intuitive fulfillment whatsoever. Words can mean things, even though they do not refer to anything real, psychic, or subsistent. Husserl, in short, liberates semantics from the need to account for meaning in terms of reference.

Whereas empty intentions do not need intuitive fulfillments, intuitions can exist and be what they are only as the fulfillments or cancellations of empty intentions. For example, we can take a dog as a dog only in virtue of the prior possession of the concept of dog, which is a universal empty intention. Even when we encounter unfamiliar phenomena, we encounter them precisely as unfamiliar—i.e., as the cancellations of settled, habituated empty intentions.

While Husserl would agree with Kant that intuitions without concepts are blind, he would not fully agree with Kant’s claim that concepts without intuitions are empty, for Kant thinks that this emptiness is a problem, but Husserl does not. “Yes,” Husserl, would say, “Concepts without intuitions are empty; they are empty intentions. But this is not a problem, for an intention can be empty and still exist determinately.” This means that Xanadu, the unicorn, the Gold Mountain, and “The present King of France is bald” can exist as meaningful intentional states, yet not refer to anything at all.

The distinction between empty and filled intentions corresponds exactly to the distinction between Being and the meaning of Being. The phenomenon of Being is a filled intention. The meaning of Being is an empty intention. Heidegger, significantly, devotes a good deal of attention to the distinction between empty and filled intentions in the History of the Concept of Time. As in the Logical Investigations, Heidegger’s account of the synthesis of empty and filled intentions immediately precedes his discussion of categorial intuition.

Husserl’s categorial intuition is what Heidegger understands to be the phenomenon of Being. Thus to say that Heidegger’s concern is not the phenomenon of Being is to say that his concern is not with categorial intuition as such. If Heidegger’s concern were solely with categorial intuition, then his treatment of Being would not be an advance on Husserl’s. Heidegger’s concern lies elsewhere. Husserl teaches that every intuition—categorial or otherwise—is the fulfillment of an empty intention. Again: the determinate empty intention is ontologically, if not temporally prior, to all intuitive fulfillments. Heidegger’s question of the meaning of Being is, therefore: what is the empty intention that is fulfilled in categorial intuition? Thomas Sheehan, in what must be one of the most important lines in the Heidegger literature, phrases the question of the meaning of being as follows:

What is the nature of the empty intention that can be ‘filled in’ by Being? Or: What is the relative absence from out of which Being is disclosed as presence?[33]

Husserl’s categorial intuition is the referent of the word “Being.” Heidegger’s account of the empty intention fulfilled by categorial intuition is the meaning of Being.

The answers that Heidegger gives to the question of the meaning of Being changed throughout his career.

In the writings of the 1920s, particularly Being and Time, the meaning of Being is the temporal nature of Dasein. Time is the horizon in which Being becomes present.

In the 1929 text “What is Metaphysics?” Being is equated with the nothing, das Nichts, which is given through Angst. Thus Angst is the meaning of Being.[34]

In “On the Essence of Truth” the meaning of Being is renamed the truth (Wahrheit) of Being.[35]

As we have seen in “The Basic Question of Being Itself,” in the late writings, the meaning of Being is also called the manifestness (Offenbarkeit) and unconcealment (Unverborgenheit) of Being.

In “Time and Being,” the meaning of Being is identified with the “it” in “it gives being” (Es gibt Sein) which Heidegger hears not as “There is Being” but rather as “It gives Being” or “It evidences Being.”[36] Heidegger hears the verb “geben” phenomenologically, as “to make evident.” And the “it” that gives Being is its meaning.

The “it” which makes Being evident is named “Ereignis,” the contingent and unpredictable “event” by which one dominant meaning or interpretation of Being is replaced with another.

Finally, “In the End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking,” the meaning of Being receives the loftiest of all names: Lichtung, clearing. A Lichtung is a clearing in the woods which allows the sun to illuminate the forest floor. The Lichtung of Being is the clearing where Being comes to light. As Heidegger puts it: “In that [Lichtung] rests possible radiance, that is, the possible presencing of presence itself [Anwesen der Anwesenheit].”[37] And: “The Lichtung grants . . . the possibility of the path to presence [Anwesenheit] and grants the possible presencing of presence itself [Anwesen dieser selbst].”[38] And, because Being (presence/absence) is always the presence/absence of beings, the Lichtung is also, mediately, the place in which all present and absent beings come to presence. In Heidegger’s words, “The Lichtung is the open for all things present and absent.”[39] The Lichtung is “that within which alone pure space and ecstatic time and everything present and absent in them have the place which gathers and protects everything.”[40]

Heidegger, in short, gave many different answers to the question of the meaning of Being, but the question always remained one of meaning, a question beyond Being to that which makes Being present.

4. Heidegger the Phenomenologist

In “The Basic Question of Being Itself,” Heidegger claims that “With that question [the question of the meaning of Being] I have always—and from the very beginning—remained outside the philosophical position of Husserl, in the sense of a transcendental philosophy of consciousness”[41] In “The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking,” Heidegger claims that “Hegel also, as little as Husserl, as little as all metaphysics, does not ask about Being as Being, that is, does not raise the question of how there can be presence as such”[42] Heidegger claims to go beyond Husserl by raising a question that Husserl never raised: the question of the meaning of Being.

But Heidegger does not truly go beyond Husserl, for two reasons, one methodological, the other substantive.

First, the meaning of Being is that which makes Being present. Present to whom? Meaningful to whom? Presence and meaning require a “to whom,” a dative, a receiver of presence. In Husserl’s terms, the dative is transcendental subjectivity. In the early Heidegger’s terms, the dative is Dasein. Heidegger, then, is doing transcendental phenomenology from the beginning of his career to the end—although in his later writings he systematically obscures the “to whom” of manifestation.

Second, Heidegger is simply wrong to say that Husserl does not raise the question of the meaning of Being, for in his writings on internal time-consciousness, Husserl speaks of something called the “absolute time-constituting flow” of consciousness. The absolute flow is a level of consciousness more primordial than the transcendental ego and its bundle of intentional acts. It provides the “clearing” in which both transcendental subjectivity and the objects made present through transcendental subjectivity come to presence. Finally, the absolute flow accounts for the conditions for the possibility of transcendental reflection itself.[43]

Heidegger remained a phenomenologist to the end. Where Heidegger writes “Being” substitute “meaning.” The “Being of beings” means the “meaning of beings to a knower.” The “meaning of Being” means the “meaning of meaning to a knower.” For Heidegger, ontology is really what is usually called epistemology, i.e., the theory of knowledge. And Heidegger’s fundamental ontology is reflection on the history of knowledge. And Heidegger’s final word on the transformations of meaning, and of the meaning of meaning, over the history of Western philosophy is that it is ruled by inscrutable contingency.

If the trajectory of traditional metaphysics—e.g., Platonism and Aristotelianism—is toward intelligible, necessary being that exists independent of human consciousness, Heidegger’s trajectory is in the exact opposite direction: toward mind-dependent meanings ruled by inscrutable contingency. Heidegger’s insistence on cloaking what is essentially a kind of epistemological anarchism in the language of ontology strikes me as perverse at best, fraudulent at worst. Of course it does not alter the substance of his achievements as a phenomenologist. But those achievements will be better understood and appreciated once Heidegger the ontologist is unmasked.


[1] For examples of literature that explicitly discusses the meta-ontological difference, see Thomas Sheehan, “On Movement and the Destruction of Ontology,” The Monist 64 (1981): 534–42; Graeme Nicholsen, Illustrations of Being: Drawing Upon Heidegger and Upon Metaphysics (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1992), pp. 98–106; Otto Poggeler, “Heidegger’s Topology of Being,” in Joseph J. Kockelmans, ed., On Heidegger and Language (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1972); and Mark B. Okrent, “The Truth of Being and the History of Philosophy,” in Hubert L. Dreyfus and Harrison Hall, eds., Heidegger: A Critical Reader (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992).

[2] Martin Heidegger, “Die Grundfrage nach dem Sein selbst” (henceforth cited as GF), Heidegger Studies 2 (1986): 1–3. In English: “The Basic Question of Being as Such” (henceforth cited as BQ), trans. Parvis Emad and Kenneth Maly, Heidegger Studies 2 (1986): 4–6. This text not only displays the meta-ontological difference between Being and the meaning of Being, it also admirably displays the unity of Heidegger’s philosophical career—as opposed to the overly neat “Heidegger I” and “Heidegger II” division. David Krell reports that Heidegger thought that it would take “about 100 years” for scholars to get beyond this interpretation. We could try harder. See David Farrell Krell, “Work Sessions with Martin Heidegger,” Philosophy Today 26 (1982): 126-138, p. 134.

[3] GF, p. 1; BQ, p. 4.

[4] GF, p. 1; BQ, p. 4.

[5] GF, p. 1; BQ, p. 4.

[6] Krell, “Work Sessions with Martin Heidegger,” p. 135.

[7] Quoted in Krell, “Work Sessions with Martin Heidegger,” p. 135.

[8] GF, pp. 1–2; BQ, pp. 4–5, emphasis added.

[9] GF, p. 2; BQ, p. 5.

[10] GF, p. 2; BQ, p. 5.

[11] GF, p. 2; BQ, p. 5.

[12] GF, p. 1; BQ, p. 4.

[13] Martin Heidegger, “Mein Weg in die Phanomenologie,” Zur Sache Des Denkens (henceforth cited as ZD) (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1969), p. 86. In English: “My Way to Phenomenology,” in On Time and Being (henceforth cited as TB), trans. Joan Stambaugh (New York: Harper and Row, 1972), p. 78.

[14] On categorial intuition, see Edmund Husserl, Logical Investigations (henceforth cited as LU), 2 vols., trans. J. N. Findlay (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1970), vol. 2, Investigation VI, esp. ch. 1, “Sensuous and Categorial Intuitions.”

[15] Martin Heidegger, History of the Concept of Time: Prolegomena, trans. Theodore Kisiel (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985).

[16] Martin Heidegger, “Zeit und Sein,” in ZD, p. 3. In English: “Time and Being,” in TB, p. 3.

[17] In Martin Heidegger, Vier Seminare, ed. Curd Ochwaldt (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1977).

[18] See, for instance, the following articles: Robert Sokolowski, “Husserl’s Concept of Categorial Intuition,” in J. N. Mohanty, ed., Phenomenology and the Human Sciences, Supplement to Philosophical Topics 12 (1981): 127–41; Richard Cobb-Stevens, “Being and Categorial Intuition,” The Review of Metaphysics 44 (1990): 43–66; Theodore Kisiel, “Heidegger (1907–1927): The Transformation of the Categorial,” in Hugh J. Silverman, John Sallis, and Thomas M. Seebohm, eds., Continental Philosophy in America (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1983); Rudolf Bernet, “Husserl and Heidegger on Intentionality and Being,” Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 21 (1990): 136–52; Jacques Taminiaux, “Heidegger and Husserl’s Logical Investigations: In Remembrance of Heidegger’s Last Seminar (Zähringen, 1973),” in, inter alia, John Sallis, ed., Radical Phenomenology: Essays in Honor of Martin Heidegger (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1978); and Jiro Watanabe, “Categorial Intuition and the Understanding of Being in Husserl and Heidegger,” in John Sallis, ed., Reading Heidegger: Commemorations (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993).

[19] Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (henceforth cited as SZ) (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1927), p. 35; in English: Being and Time (henceforth cited as BT), trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (San Francisco: Harper, 1962), p. 60 and Introduction to Being and Time, trans. Joan Stambaugh, in Martin Heidegger, Basic Writings (henceforth cited as BW), ed. David Farrell Krell (San Francisco: Harper, 1977), p. 84.

[20] SZ, p. 37; BT, p. 61; BW, p. 85.

[21] SZ, p. 37; BT, p. 61; BW, p. 86.

[22] SZ, p. 31; BT, pp. 54–55; BW, p. 78.

[23] Thomas Prufer, “Husserl, Heidegger, Early and Late, and Aquinas,” in Recapitulations: Essays in Philosophy (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1993), p. 83. Cf. the earlier version of this essay, “Heidegger, Early and Late, and Aquinas,” in Robert Sokolowski, ed., Edmund Husserl and the Phenomenological Tradition: Essays in Phenomenology (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1989). On Being as presence/absence, see also Thomas Prufer, “Heidegger’s Dasein and the Ontological Status of the Speaker of Philosophical Discourse,” in John K. Ryan, ed., Twentieth-Century Thinkers (New York: Alba House, 1965). See also Thomas J. Sheehan, “On Movement and the Destruction of Ontology”; “On the Way to Ereignis: Heidegger’s Interpretation of Physis,” in Hugh J. Silverman, John Sallis, and Thomas M. Seebohm, eds., Continental Philosophy in America (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1983); and “Nihilism, Facticity and Economized Lethe: A Reflection of Heidegger’s Zur Seinsfrage,” in Heidegger: A Centennial Appraisal (Pittsburgh: The Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center, 1990).

[24] In Prufer’s language, Dasein is materially identical with human beings but not formally so; other beings that can question Being are at least conceivable. It is significant that Heidegger defines Dasein not as the being that “has” Being (i.e., that has beings present to it). This is true of all conscious beings—cats, dogs, mice, bugs, etc. What makes Dasein different from bugs is that Dasein not only has beings present to it, but also can reflect upon their presence. Dasein puts Being in question. Dasein can, furthermore, question the presence of presence itself, the meaning of Being. Were Heidegger’s topic the referent of Being (namely, the presence of beings) rather than its meaning, he need not have interrogated Dasein. He could just as well have begun his investigation of Being with a preparatory fundamental analytic of “bug-sein.”

[25] ZD, p. 73. In English: “The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking,” trans. Joan Stambaugh, in BW, p. 386. Also in TB, p. 66.

[26] ZD, p. 75; TB, p. 69; BW, p. 387.

[27] ZD, p. 77; TB, p. 70; BW, p. 389.

[28] LU, vol. 2, pp. 771–834, esp. ch. 1, “Sensuous and Categorial Intuitions.”

[29] LU, vol. 2, pp. 673–770, esp. ch. 1, “Meaning-Intention and Meaning-Fulfillment.”

[30] See, for example, Bertrand Russell, “Descriptions,” in, inter alia, Meaning and Reference, ed. A. W. Moore (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), and W. V. O. Quine, “On What there Is,” Review of Metaphysics 2 (1948): 21–32.

[31] Husserl’s critique of the idea of intentionality as a real relationship may be found in ch. 2 of Logical Investigations V, “Consciousness as Intentional Experience.” See LU, vol. II, pp. 552–63. An excellent discussion of this point may be found in Heidegger’s History of the Concept of Time, pp. 29–32.

[32] See Logical Investigations VI, chs. 3–5. For a number of examples of different kinds of empty and filled intentions, see Robert Sokolowski, Husserlian Meditations: How Words Present Things (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1974), pp. 18–19. According to Husserlian Meditations, p. 19, n1, Sokolowski’s account draws primarily on Husserl’s mature formulation of the relationship between empty and filled intentions in ch. 1 of his Formal and Transcendental Logic, trans. Dorion Cairns (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1969).

[33] Thomas J. Sheehan, “Heidegger’s Philosophy of Mind,” in Guttorm Fløistad, ed., Contemporary Philosophy: A New Survey, vol. 4, Philosophy of Mind (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1983), p. 292.

[34] Martin Heidegger, “Was ist Metaphysik?” in Wegmarken (Frankfurt, a.M.: Klostermann, 1967). In English: “What is Metaphysics?” trans. David Farrell Krell, in BW.

[35] Martin Heidegger, “Vom Wesen der Wahrheit,” in Wegmarken. In English: “On the Essence of Truth,” trans. John Sallis, in BW.

[36] Martin Heidegger, “Zeit und Sein,” in ZD. In English, “Time and Being,” trans. Joan Stambaugh, in TB.

[37] ZD, p. 75; TB, p. 68; BW, p. 387.

[38] ZD, p. 75; TB, p. 68; BW, p. 387.

[39] ZD, p. 72; TB, p. 65; BW, p. 384.

[40] ZD, p. 73; TB, p. 66; BW, p. 385.

[41] GF, p. 1; BQ, p. 4.

[42] ZD, p. 77; TB, p. 70; BW, p. 389.

[43] See Edmund Husserl, Zur Phänomenologie des inneren Zeitbewußtseins (1893–1917), ed. Rudolf Boehm (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1966); in English: On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time (1893–1917), trans. John Barnett Brough (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991). On absolute consciousness in relation to Heidegger’s project, see Prufer’s “Husserl, Heidegger, Early and Late, and Aquinas.”


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The Counter-Currents 2014 Summer Fundraiser The Austrian Economic Apocalypse? Tue, 28 Oct 2014 07:43:20 +0000 1,570 words

dollarImage2Since yesterday’s update on our Summer Fundraiser, we have received 5 donations totaling $540 in amounts ranging from $10 to $250, including the first of a recurring donation of $30/month. Our total is now $36,357. We are now  $3,643 from our goal of $40,000 with just 4 days to go. Again, I want to thank all of our donors for your generous support.

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Back at the beginning of 2012, I stuck my neck out a bit by writing an article on economics, “Money for Nothing” (audio version here), in which I offered my take on Social Credit theory. The subsequent discussion thread, as well as private communications with Social Credit experts, convinced me that I was on the right track. So every once and a while, I am emboldened again to offer some economic heresies for discussion. Today is one of those days.

One does not have to lurk very long at Lew Rockwell’s site, or read many articles by Paul Craig Roberts, without encountering the ideas that I will dub the Austrian theory of economic apocalypse. These ideas are not confined to Austrian school economists, but they are certainly concentrated among them. The theory has the following premises.

  1. “Sound” money is good. “Fiat” money is bad.
  2. Sound money is currency whose value is derived not from its usefulness as a medium of exchange for all manner of goods and services. Instead, what makes money sound is its exchangeability for a hoard of goods, most often precious metals, held by a bank. The amount of sound money is limited by the amount of the hoard of goods backing it up.
  3. The value of fiat money, by contrast, is not determined by its exchangeability with a fixed hoard of goods, but rather by its exchangeability with the whole world of goods and services. As long as fiat money is accepted as a means of exchange, it has value.
  4. The amount of fiat money is not limited by a fixed hoard of precious commodities, but by the entire economy of goods and services. And the amount of fiat currency can be increased proportionate to the growth of the entire economy without any negative consequences.
  5. Money is a commodity, which is subject to the laws of supply and demand, like any other commodity.
  6. Money also has a price, which is interest.
  7. When the supply of money increases while other things remain equal, the value of money will go down. This is called inflation. Inflation manifests itself in the rise of prices for goods and services, as more currency chases the same amount of goods. But not every price increase is due to inflation.
  8. When the supply of money decreases while other things remain equal, the value of money will rise. This is deflation. Deflation manifests itself in falling prices, as less currency chases the same amount of goods. But not every price decrease is due to deflation. The falling prices of computing power, for example, is not due to currency deflation but to technological progress. (Propositions 5-7 are orthodox monetary theory even outside Austrian hard money circles.)
  9. If a society dramatically increases the money supply while economic productivity remains the same, there will be inflation. However, while in the last decade, the supply of US dollars and Zimbabwe dollars has dramatically increased, there has been hyperinflation only in Zimbabwe, but not in the United States. This seems to be a clear empirical falsification of orthodox monetary theory.
  10. To explain this discrepancy, economists appeal to the status of the US dollar as the world reserve currency. After World War II, the US was in a position to dictate that international trade be priced in dollars, which creates a demand for dollars among foreign governments and individuals. Hard money economists claim that this demand is so immense and insatiable that the United States has been able to create immense amounts of fiat currency without hyperinflation.
  11. However, if the dollar is no longer the world reserve currency, then, the hard money advocates insist, the economic apocalypse will arrive, and America will be devastated by hyperinflation.
  12. Those given to conspiracy theories argue that the United States resorts to wars and assassinations to prevent political leaders from dumping the dollar in favor of other currencies. Saddam Hussein and Qaddafi, it is alleged, were destroyed because they entertained the idea of pricing oil in currencies other than the dollar. Iran, it is alleged, is a target for the same reason. (Such Judenrein explanations for US foreign policy in Israel’s neighborhood should be automatic cause for suspicion.)
  13. Hard money advocates are constantly looking for signs of imminent economic apocalypse. It is, for example, routinely predicted that China and Russia will abandon the dollar for the euro. It is even alleged that the Chinese are buying up vast amounts of gold to put the yuan on the gold standard. (Google it if you don’t believe me.)
  14. If any of these things happens, the dollar will crash and American political and economic hegemony will be destroyed, so we are urged to protect ourselves. Sound money advocates are happy to take your soon-to-be-worthless fiat currency off your hands in exchange for precious metals — even though their own theory would seem to predict the exact opposite behavior. Am I the only one who thinks this is a blatant swindle?

This all looks rather different, however, from a Social Credit point of view.

  1. Social Credit advocates the creation of a pure fiat currency that has absolutely no intrinsic value and is not backed by a fixed hoard of goods. Instead, currency’s sole value is as a medium of exchange. It is “backed” by the entire realm of economic goods and services for which it is exchangeable.
  2. Social Credit seeks the complete decommodification of money. Under a Social Credit system, money would have no price, i.e., there would be no interest. And decommodified currency would not be subject to the laws of supply and demand like other commodities. That is to say, there would be no inflation or deflation of currency.
  3. I wish to suggest that the reason that the US dollar has not gone the way of the Zimbabwe dollar is simply that it is functioning as if it were a decommodified pure fiat currency on the Social Credit model. Yes, the US dollar is still a commodity, because it is loaned out at interest. But the reason that it is not massively discounted like the Zimbabwe dollar is that international markets will not treat it like a commodified currency as long as it serves as a universal medium of exchange.
  4. It seems exceedingly unlikely that any country or group of countries can replace the dollar as world reserve currency, even if they wanted to.
  5. Logically, the dollar could only be replaced with a soft currency or a hard currency.
  6. If any country tried to replace the dollar as the world medium of exchange with a soft currency of its own devising, the likely result would go the way of the Zimbabwe dollar, i.e., it would be discounted/inflated to worthlessness. Because there would be no compelling reason for the whole world to trade a known soft currency for an unknown one.
  7. And if someone tried to replace the dollar with a hard currency — such as gold or euros — particularly for trading petroleum or agricultural commodities, the result would be the curse of deflation. And no sensible government would accept the reality of deflation to avoid the mere possibility of inflation. Of course some governments might still be irrational enough to follow hard money policies. But the consequences would eventually argue for their repeal.
  8. If the US system does collapse, it will probably not be due to the collapse of the dollar. The US economic system might well be able to continue indefinitely producing only currency. Americans might be able to consume the bounty of the globe simply because we get to spend dollars first. White Nationalists who pin their hopes on the collapse of the US dollar might be guilty of irrational optimism. Larger social forces are still on our side — particularly the social consequences of dysgenics and race replacement — but the dollar apocalypse is not among them.

The Right, particularly in the United States, desperately needs to break away from free market economic orthodoxy. Simply because it makes us stupid and evil. Along with writers like Kerry Bolton, Counter-Currents is doing its part to recover the rich tradition of Right-wing alternatives to capitalism, including Social Credit, Guild Socialism, Populism, and Distributism. Our influence will grow only with your support.

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If you have not made a donation to our Summer fundraiser yet, now is a good time. You can make two different types of donations:

  • A single donation of any size.
  • A recurring donation of any size.

Recurring donations are particularly helpful, since they allow us better to predict and plan for the future. We have several levels for recurring donations. Please visit our Donations page for more information.

We can also customize the amount of a monthly donation.

There are several ways to make one-time donations:

  • The easiest is through Paypal. For a one-time donation, just use the following button:
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Please give generously!

Thank you for your loyal readership and support.

Greg Johnson


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Kerry Bolton’s The Banking Swindle Tue, 28 Oct 2014 04:03:19 +0000 bankingswindle3,394 words

Kerry Bolton
The Banking Swindle: Money Creation and the State
London: Black House Publishing, 2013

Kerry Bolton’s The Banking Swindle is a great introduction to the economics of the true Right, which aligns itself against the forces of usury. The topic of economics is quite neglected in the discourse of the modern Right, especially in the Anglosphere. Concerns about race, immigration, multiculturalism, or historical revisionism consume far more ink than the question of money, however behind all of these issues lies money power. Indeed Bolton refers to its paramount importance:

No other policy of the Right, in whatever part of the world, is possible without the need to first secure the economic and financial sovereignty of the state, and this can only be achieved when the State or Crown assumes the prerogative over banking and credit creation. The bottom line is that no State — and hence people — are truly free while any decisions that are made can be undermined and wrecked by decisions made in the boardrooms of global corporations, by the fluctuations of the world stock market, and by the power of bankers to turn off the credit supply if a state pursues policies not in the interest of the plutocracy. . . . All other issues, including the Right’s now usually be-all issue of race and immigration, are secondary, and no Rightist government could implement Rightist policies until the sovereignty of credit creation is achieved.

The system of interest finance allows bankers to create money out of nothing and loan it at interest, which must be repaid with real production. As Gottfried Feder and Dietrich Eckart stated in their pamphlet, To All Working People, “Interest has to come from somewhere after all, somewhere these billions and more billions have to be produced by hard labour! Who does this? You do it, nobody but you! That’s right, it is your money, hard earned through care and sorrow, which is as if magnetically drawn into the coffers of these insatiable people . . .” Thus entire nations can be bound by debt and their physical assets seized to pay off the creditors who created their debt. Hence we see nations like Greece enduring austerity regimes, where the services are cut and the nation’s assets sold, to ensure that the bondholders do not lose their money. Over and over again people are told to tighten their belts, cut spending, and do without, in order to keep the financial system afloat. Yet during the Great Depression, alternatives to this system were popular and were advocated by nationalist and anti-liberal movements. Bolton illuminates this forgotten chapter in economic history.

Before addressing the various alternatives to the debt finance system, Bolton briefly discusses its history. He notes that while usury dates back to Mesopotamian times, with Babylon’s loans of seed-corn, the modern system of international finance, based in the City of London, yet loyal only to profit, emerged with the expansion of commerce Age of Exploration and the weakened position of the anti-usury Catholic Church following the Reformation. The victory of the mercantile forces of Oliver Cromwell over the agricultural, feudal interests of Charles I in the English Civil War paved the way for financial domination. Cromwell maintained good relations with Dutch, Sephardic Jewish, and Huguenot merchants, paving the way for London to become the major financial centre in Europe.

The so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688 sealed this result, with the Catholic King James II deposed and replaced with the Dutch Protestant William III, who had borrowed heavily from Amsterdam’s banks to fight his wars. Under William II the Bank of England was chartered, establishing a private bank with the purpose of lending the throne money at interest. From 1700 to 1815, the national debt of Britain grew from 12 million pounds to 850 million, funded by this bank.

The Rothschild family, originally from Frankfort and branching out to Paris, Naples, Vienna, and London, became involved in the English struggle against Napoleon under Nathan Rothschild, utilizing their international network to gather information. It is necessary to note that Napoleon’s economic system sought to achieve autarky and the Bank of France limited dividends and extended credit at low interest rates to aid manufacturers rather than leave them indebted. A victory for Napoleon would have meant a tremendous loss for the forces of finance. The victory of the British Empire and its global expansion allowed the Rothschild family to extend their influence.

Nathan’s grandson “Natty” Rothschild cultivated links with imperialist Cecil Rhodes. But Rothschild was not a British imperialist for the sake of Britain, indeed he extended loans to the anti-British Boer government in 1892, much to displeasure of Rhodes. Rothschild simply saw the British Empire as the safest means of supporting commerce. As colonial expansion slowed, they adopted an internationalist line, abandoning the antiquated Empire that now served as a barrier to free trade, forging links with New York and Tokyo following the Second World War.

In recent history, it was the events of the Great Depression awakened many to the flaws of the interest finance system. The Federal Reserve, the private bank that controls the United States’ money supply, called in the loans from its 12 regional branches, who in turn financed the various local banks of the country, at the end of this transaction the ordinary debtor was forced to pay or face foreclosure. In the midst of this crisis, farmers were ordered to destroy stockpiles of food that couldn’t be purchased for lack of funds, while people went hungry. Unlike today, the people and their political leaders did not blindly follow the solutions offered by the same people who caused the problem, rather they sought out alternatives to usury. The interrelated concepts of state credit and social credit found widespread popular support.

The idea of state credit pre-dates the concept of social credit, which was codified by Major C. H. Douglas in the 1920s and 1930s. In a state credit system, the state prints its own money and uses it to purchase goods and services or loans it to producers at zero or minimal interest, rather than borrowing money from creditors at interest and having the people of the state work to pay the interest on these outside loans.

One early example of state credit was seen in Quebec in 1685, when the colony failed to receive funding from the crown. The Intendant of the Province, Monsieur de Meulle, faced with the inability to pay his troops, and having no ability to borrow money nor a press to print it, simply collected playing cards, cut them up, and used them as currency in the place of outside funds. This action saved the French crown 13,000 livres. The cards acted as scrip: arbitrary objects such as paper or tokens that serve as legal tender.

Scrip was used on the British Isle of Guernsey in 1820, when the state could neither secure outside loans nor increase taxes to raise the funds need to maintain and improve the local infrastructure. To deal with the situation the state issued 6,000 pounds worth of State Notes, which were used to pay for needed improvements on the island. While the idea of a state printing its own money and using it to pay for goods and services directly is dismissed as “funny money,” the Isle of Guernsey subsequently prospered from the creation of debt-free currency. The only difference between this alleged “funny money” and regular money was that it was not created at a usurious interest by a private bank.

In the turbulent years of the Weimar Republic, when hyperinflation effected the value of the Mark, the Wära, issued by the Wära Barter Company, was notable example of economically successful scrip. Following the Great Depression in 1929, the employees of Hebecker in the village of Schwanenkirchen were paid in Wära, which the villagers accepted as valid currency. The resulting success in Schwanenkirchen was described as miraculous in the press and eventually 2000 corporations accepted it until it was banned in 1931. In the Austrian town of Woergl a similar currency to the Wära was implemented, where the mayor’s Local Relief Commission issued stamps to serve as scrip, which paid for new public works programs, which reduced unemployment. The Woergl stamp scrip was outlawed in 1933.

In the English-speaking countries, the events of the Great Depression fuelled interest in alternatives to the debt finance system, particularly the Social Credit system of England’s Major C. H. Douglas. The basic premise of the system is that the amount of money in circulation is never equal to the amount needed to consume the whole of what is produced. This is demonstrated by the “A+B Theorem.” Let A be the amount a producer pays his employees, and let B be the amount a producer spends on outside payments. The minimum amount needed to sustain the producer is the sum, A+B, however only A has purchasing power. Thus B is really a shortfall of purchasing power. To address the shortfall in purchasing power, Douglas proposed a “National Dividend,” paid by the state to the people, issued not as debt to be repaid, but as the birthright of the citizen.

A prominent exponent of this idea was the American poet Ezra Pound, who saw Italian Fascism as a vehicle for Social Credit. In New Zealand the poet Rex Fairburn adopted the ideas of Social Credit as well. Douglas’ tour of New Zealand also inspired Campbell Begg’s New Zealand Legion, which at one timed amassed 20,000 members. In Great Britain, the Green Shirts, an organization descended from the Anglo-Saxon and Medieval inspired Kibbo Kift scouting movement, rallied the unemployed and hungry to the idea of Social Credit. In 1936, Green Shirts founder John Hargrave was appointed an advisor to a Social Credit government in Alberta, Canada. However, the central government foiled attempts at properly implementing the system. W. K. A. J. Chambers-Hunter supported Social Credit ideas in Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, under the premise that “British credit shall be used for British purposes.” In Canada, a Catholic organization called the Pilgrims of St. Michael, founded in 1935 by Louis Even and still extant, emphasized Social Credit as an alternative to the sinful usury based finance system.

Yet there was another Catholic crusader against usury that influenced the Pilgrims of St. Michael. In America, Canadian-born Father Charles Coughlin, the host of a popular Roman Catholic radio show for children, addressed their parents on broadcast on the issue of money, his well-received attack on usury lead to the creation of the Radio League of the Little Flower. By 1932 he had an audience of up to 45 million listeners. Originally a proponent of the New Deal, Coughlin broke with Roosevelt and created the National Union for Social Justice, which distributed his paper Social Justice. He demanded the abolition of private banking and returning the ability to print and regulate the money supply to Congress, in place of the Federal Reserve. However, increasing opposition in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and changes in radio regulations caused by the outbreak of World War II forced Coughlin to cease broadcasting in 1940, and in 1942 Social Justice was banned from the US mail.

While much of the popular outrage over the injustices of the debt-finance system died with World War II, it resulted in concrete political changes in several countries. Long before the Great Depression, the Australian Labour politician King O’Malley identified the banking system as the root of the common man’s misery stating, “The present banking system was founded on the idea that the many were created for the few to prey on. Debts are contracted for land, labour, products, and other commodities. When interest rises government bonds depreciate, holders sell to secure ready money to benefit by rise in interest. High rates of interest rapidly increase the indebtedness of the people.”

His proposed solution was the creation of a Commonwealth Bank that would serve as a national bank of the issue of currency without resorting to usury. Eventually, after much struggle, the Commonwealth Bank was instituted as a state-owned, but commercial bank, and it failed to issue state credit, however it’s first governor didn’t use private capital to fund the bank and was able to fund Australia’s government without imposing usurious interest upon the nation.

In the First World War, while other nations were paying 6% on their debt, the Commonwealth Bank only charged 1%, sparing Australia the ensuing economic turmoil. Until 1924, the Commonwealth Bank financed the construction of homes, roads, railways, and other forms of infrastructure at minimum charge, resulting in great prosperity. Yet in 1924, private interests took control of the governing directorate, and this came to an end.

Another political success in the antipodes was the New Zealand’s state housing program funded by the state credit from the Reserve Bank. This project reduced unemployment in the depths of the Great Depression. An initial 5 million pounds of state credit were issued, at minimal interest, without the backing of any other private financial institution. While the state housing project is widely lauded, the unorthodox method of its financing is barely commented upon in history books. The Banking Swindle does tremendous service to financial history by recounting the success of what is far too often dismissed as “funny money.”

The pivotal figure in the struggle for state credit in New Zealand was John A. Lee, a socialist influenced by the ideas of Social Credit, who outlined his vision in Money Power for the People. He stated, “that winning complete financial power as the first move toward a new social order,” realizing that state owned interests would be powerless if they depended upon private or foreign financing, which could be manipulated to produce detrimental effects on New Zealand’s people. This lesson has been lost upon many of the self-proclaimed socialist governments of the world, like Greece, whose socialist government borrowed millions from foreign investors only have austerity forced upon it by these usurers.

The principle of freedom from the chains of international finance appealed to the nationalists of the era as well, as noted by the BUF’s endorsement of “British Credit for British purposes.” One of the founding principles of the German Worker’s Party, which later become the National Socialist German Worker’s Party, was to break the bondage of interest. The primary economic mind behind them was Gottfried Feder, a founding member of the German Worker’s Party. Recognizing that interest gave money a power to reproduce itself at a cost to productive labour, Feder advocated the abolishment of income earned without physical or intellectual labour, a concept enshrined as the 11th point of the NSDAP. While the Marxists focused their ire on private property, Feder stated that “you never hear a word about, never a syllable, and there is nothing in the world which is such a curse on humanity! I mean loan capital!” Following the National Socialist assumption of power state credit was used to fund public works projects and the interest rates were limited by law. Hitler himself remarked:

All thoughts of gold reserves and foreign exchange fade before the industry and efficiency of well-planned national productive resources. We can smile today at an age when economists were seriously of the opinion that the value of currency was determined by the reserves of gold and foreign exchange lying in the vaults of the national banks and, above all, was guaranteed by them. Instead of that we have learned to realize that the value of a currency lies in a nation’s power of production, that an increasing volume of production sustains a currency, and could possibly raise its value, whereas a decreasing production must, sooner or later, lead to a compulsory devaluation.

In the realm of international trade, Germany directly bartered their surplus commodities for the commodities of other nations, avoiding the financial system’s commodity exchanges. Through a policy of economic self-sufficiency, above all avoiding the credit market’s snares, German was able to create full employment for its people. Henry C. K. Liu, a modern economist stated, “through an independent monetary policy of sovereign credit and a full-employment public works program, the Third Reich was able to turn a bankrupt Germany, stripped of overseas colonies it could exploit, into the strongest economy in Europe within four years, even before armament spending began . . . While this observation is not an endorsement for Nazi philosophy, the effectiveness of German economic policy in this period, some of which had been started during the last phase of the Weimar Republic, is undeniable.”

Furthermore, Germany’s Axis partners also pursued nationalist alternatives to the global financial system. In 1932 the Bank of Japan was reorganised as a state bank, issuing credit based solely on the needs of Japanese producers. From 1931–1941, Japanese industrial production rose 136% and the national income grew 241%. In Italy the state assumed control over the major banks through the Instituto Mobiliare Italiano in 1931. In 1936 Banking Law made the Bank of Italy the only bank for lending credit to other banks, removed limits on state borrowing, and removed Italy from the gold standard. Moreover it declared that the issuing of credit must serve the public. The Italian Social Republic took the ideas of profit sharing and worker co-management further during its short existence from 1943–1945, actively seeking to involve the common man in the control of industry with a program developed by former Communist Nicola Bombacci.

With the defeat of the Axis and the subsequent Cold War, Rightism, which had previously opposed liberalism in the economic as well as social spheres, became synonymous with Anglo-American free market policies, which played into the hands of debt finance. In regards to the origins of this supposed Capitalist versus Communist clash, Bolton also makes it clear that the Bolshevik Revolution was welcomed by American financiers such as Jacob H. Schiff and John B. Young. Schiff himself financed The Friends of Russian Freedom, which spread revolutionary propaganda to Russian prisoners of war during the Russo-Japanese War.

The true reason for the financiers’ enmity against the Tsar was Russia’s refusal to cede sovereignty over its economy. The State Bank of the Russian Empire was under the control of the Ministry of Finance and it extended credit at minimal interest to Russian producers. Russia possessed large reserves of gold itself, so it had no need to borrow from the outside. For the most part the Tsarist economy was autarkic, beyond the grasp of international finance.

Against this false opposition between equally destructive ideologies of capitalism and communism, which have at their root atomized materialism, the real right stands for the superiority of spiritual values over profits. Bolton approvingly quotes Tsarist apologist George Knupffer, “We would feel certain that all of those who put the spirit above things material, duty above greed and love above hate and envy are in the camp of the Organic Right.” A fundamental premise of the economics of the true right must be the subordination of money to a higher cause, cultural good of a people. The people should not work to earn money to maintain their humdrum lives as cogs in the machinery of debt-finance, they should work for their greater glory. Communism and Capitalism are two sides of the same materialistic coin. As Spengler noted:

The concepts of Liberalism and Socialism are set in effective motion only by money. It was the Equites, the big-money party, which made Tiberius Gracchus’ popular movement possible at all; and as soon as that part of the reforms that were advantageous to themselves had been successfully legalized, they withdrew and the movement collapsed.

There is no proletarian, not even a communist, movement that has not operated in the interests of money, in the directions indicated by money, and for the time permitted by money — and that without the idealist amongst its leaders having the slightest suspicion of the fact.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries there were movements that fought both forms of materialism, as Bolton has chronicled in this book and others. While today’s Right devotes much time to issues of race and immigration, it is necessary to understand the economic origins of this increasingly rootless, atomized world we must fight. The Banking Swindle serves as an excellent history of the movements that sought to break the bondage of interest and as primer on the true economics of the right. In this dark age of austerity, it illuminates a way forward for the nations under the heel of global finance, and one can only hope that it inspires the actions necessary for their liberation from these golden chains.


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“Everything is Still Possible” Tue, 28 Oct 2014 04:01:20 +0000 Fortunato Depero, Skyscrapers and Tunnels (Gratticieli e tunnel), 1930

Fortunato Depero, Skyscrapers and Tunnels (Gratticieli e tunnel), 1930

2,770 words

Editor’s Note:

This text continues the transcript by V. S. of Jonathan Bowden’s interview at the Union Jack Club in London on Saturday, November 21, 2009, after his lecture/performance on Punch and Judy. The title is editorial. 

Question: Is it really viable to adopt protectionist economic policies when all our natural coal and gas reserves have been depleted for so long?

Jonathan Bowden: I think what you do is you adopt attenuated ones. Life is partly a war of position. Total autarky is completely ridiculous. That’s Hoxha’s Albania. But if you allow yourself to have no industrial base at all and you don’t make anything then you are heading for the knacker’s yard. I remember Reagan once said, “Oh, we don’t need a productive industrial base.” What does he think an economy will ultimately be based on if you don’t actually physically make anything? Somebody drove me through the industrial districts of Liverpool, and there was one factory making bouncy castles, and that was it.

So, you need a mix. You need to bring things in from outside. You need to exclude foreign influence. You need to manage and manipulate things to your own advantage. Economics is, in part, a form of warfare, and you need to take that attitude. The Japanese and the Chinese have that view. They synthetically adopt different strategies—protectionism, semi-autarky, allow things in, pump priming, militant libertarianism—if they perceive it to be in their national interest at any one time. These are tactics that you use not shibboleths.

The Friedmans of this world, the Hayeks of this world, and the Keyneses of this world believe that people will go to the barricade for a theory about how the economy should be run. These are just tactics, tactics that governments and statesmen and senior economists and industrialists and capitalists use. You know, George W. Bush has introduced militant state socialist measures to save Western fiscal capitalism. He’s adopted measures to the Left of the American Socialist Party, and he’s a Republican market militant who’s fought those Left-liberal measures all his life. But when it faced collapse the state had to take it over. So, I see economics as a matter of tactics not of morals and not really of what politics is about.

Q: In relation to the current economic, environmental, and immigration crisis in the West, if radical political change does not happen what are your predictions?

B: A mess! And dog eat dog in an unpleasant way, but then life is like that anyway, up to a point. It will be a bang or a whimper as the West moves into the next century and more. Life and mankind’s nature abhors a vacuum, so there will always be new forces coming up.

I think it’s 1909 writ large a hundred years on. If you stood in 1909, you’ve got a First World War to come (what a joy!); you’ve got the Depression to come and the Roaring Twenties before; the reaction to the first war and then the bust that follows it; you’ve got the rise of fascism and communism; you have a second war; the whole of the last half of the last century is reacting to the devastation of the Second World War, at least within the West; you then have a Cold War, which is hot in the Second and Third World, very much so, but the West is in a state of stasis with the Soviet bloc; you have the unpeeling of Soviet communism, and now we’re in a new world where we are.

I think as we sit here in 2009 we face a radical future, a radical future that has many possibilities and many dangers. There’s a book called Yockey’s Imperium written in the middle of the 20th century. I agree with some of it. I don’t agree with some of it. It’s partial. It’s written in its time. Nevertheless, the introduction is written by a man called Willis A. Carto, a veteran of the American far Right, and Carto believed with Spengler that a new authoritarianism would come after collapse, but later he revised his view, a sort of self-revisionism, and he rather worryingly said that thinks it might end in anarchy and in chaos.

And these societies are heading for anarchy. Strangely, socialism moves towards communism and communism moves back towards socialism on the Left flank, but liberalism moves towards anarchism, which is technically to the Left of communism. Forget the anarchist theory, forget even an individualist like Stirner or a social anarchist like Bakunin and [unintelligible] or Kropotkin, forget the theorists. Just sort of chaos and the attempt to keep it from one’s door.

If there is not major energies put into cultural and social and national renewal in Western societies, the reality is a sort of negative Venezuela where a rich man’s daughter goes to the shops with the blokes next to her with an AK-47, writ large. Private estates, gated estates, private areas that are guarded. It’s already well on the way to happening. You know, you swipe a card through one of these devices, and the gate opens. There are security systems all around. People have got hired heavies to go anywhere if they’ve got anything to protect, namely something to lose, that means somebody can take it off them. If you’ve got nothing to lose nobody’s going to take it off you. So, the rich are always alone and always in fear. The loneliness of the rich.

So, it’s sort of Blade Runner, really. Fantasies always tell the future. That’s what the future will be like unless there’s a move for social redemption. Put another way, the redemption will become individual, and individuals who are strong and individuals who can make money and individuals who are intelligent will just subtract, which is the process that is of course well under way. They will subtract from the rest. And they’ll just look out for themselves and their families, and they’ll be all right, at least they think they will be. And everyone else will be in a sort of pit.

Isn’t there a comic called 2000 AD?

Q: Judge Dredd.

B: And wasn’t there the rival series, the more Left-wing one, Nemesis, where the humans are the villains? The humans live in these enormous skyscrapers called termite hills . . . termitescapes . . . termite towers. And there’s a man called Torquemada, who’s a sort of fascist Catholic sort of thing who runs the whole thing with a big pointy hat. It’s all ridiculous, of course. But the idea of these humans living in great blocks milling around and, as Torquemada’s first wife says, “Their lives are so unimportant.” I think for those who are shut out of capital and great wealth it would be like those urban landscapes in Manchester with the millionaire looking down on the heroin addict.

Q: So, how does a sane person exist in a mad society like that?

B: Well, you sort of go some place else, I think, or go somewhere else within one’s own mind, but people will find a way to exist. Humans are endlessly adaptable. You find your own way. Indeed, that’s what people are doing. They’ve largely privatized their own lives. They’ve got asocial attitudes. They don’t think in political terms anymore. People aren’t interested in politics anymore. They’re sick of Labour. They just want to get them out and get a new lot in to manage what’s going on a little bit better as they perceive it. The reason they want them to better is just because it’s a change. It’s like someone needs a holiday after a lot of work. Change is as good as a rest. It’s not a brilliant way to run a country, but when you allow the masses to decide who should rule in that sort of a way I’m afraid you’ll get that.

But life’s totally open. Anything can change. A man could have an idea, not with a typewriter anymore now, but with a computer on his own in a room alone, a laptop and the world can change. Everything is possible. Our group believes that it’s all open. Everything is still possible. We’re here. We’ve had some nice wine and crisps. It’s not always totally as bad as everyone thinks. The changes that need to happen are moral and mental and spiritual. If they happen, enormous changes can occur. If they don’t happen, not much will happen.

But I’m an optimist. Most Right-wing people are pessimistic introverts, and I’m an optimistic extrovert. I’m not an individualist in the complete social and philosophical sense at all, because we’re all part of society and somebody made these shoes and this tie and even this symbol [his odal rune pendant], you know, we’re all sort of interconnected, but I do believe you live your own life, and you have a bit of pleasure on the way. I don’t believe in misery. Misery is for bores. I don’t believe in that.

Q: So, you wouldn’t say optimism is cowardice then?

B: No. I don’t agree with Spengler. Spengler’s a classical pessimist. He’s an introvert, and he’s a great thinker, but he’s nervous about the future. Of course, ontologically, the future is death, but one of the first moments in life is to overcome one’s fear of death. Most people are terrified of death. They can’t even mention it. They’re paralyzed. Religion tells you death isn’t the end. I don’t believe death is the end, but whether there’s anything conscious afterwards I don’t know, and nobody does.

I believe one’s life is a bullet passing through screens and you hit a screen you can’t pass through and it’s over. So, I believe you go on.

A bishop came to our first meeting. There was a debate afterward where he was asked questions, and somebody said, “Do you believe that God is love?” And he said, “Yes.” I wasn’t chairman of the New Right then. Jonathan B— was. I put my hand up and said, “If you want to call it God, the divine, the energy in all things, the force that created the universe, nature, whatever you call it, I believe it’s fury not love.” And he said, “I don’t agree.” And somebody else said, “But yes, where is the love in your system then?” I said, “Love is creation. If the world’s being created by a force and by a force that knows not itself as it does it that’s the greatest form of affection you could ever have, isn’t it? To create all this?”

So, I don’t believe in misery. You know, most of the other racial groups on this Earth don’t believe in misery. I believe one should go forward. It’s integration that we need. Stoicism, integration. We’ve got very miserable ones down in the mouth, and I don’t agree with all that. I know things are in quite a mess, but it’s because we’ve adopted views which are counter-productive and views which are destructive and views which can be reversed. If we really decided to reverse them it would all change very quickly. It’s whether we really want to or really wish to go through the pain that will be involved in that.

But, you know, woman goes through a lot of pain in giving birth to one child. This always has to be remembered in our male way of looking at things, that there are other forms of strength, there are other forms of power and those are good because they’re based on natural processes. There’s quite a lot of women involved in Right-wing politics, actually, and that’s because they sense there’s a danger to their group, and it’s instinctual. It’s not really theoretical, but it’s a response, and that’s a good thing.

No, I believe in the future. I’m a progressive, you see, in a strange sort of way. I just want to progress somewhere else. Nietzsche’s a progressive who wants to go on with inequality. The modern world’s happened. We’re in it.

I suppose the best answer is when somebody asked me, “Why do you like modernist art?” And I do, at least in part, whereas most Right-wing people on the whole can’t stand it. I said, “Because it’s ferocious! And because it’s here, and we’re alive now!” And because it’s non-dualist, and because it’s purely for intellectuals. That’s why the masses don’t like it. And because it’s sort of energetic and slightly horrid. They said, “Oh, that’s not very democratic, is it?” But why? Why be democratic?

If I was on the Turner Prize committee, I’d say, “Well, let’s take these ten criminals and hang them, and we’ll photograph that and we’ll make a Turner Prize exhibit with that!” Damien Hirst can stick his thumbprint on the edge of it and say, “It was my idea anyway, mate!” You know, the man who got an E in A-level art and that sort of thing. I’d give them a Turner Prize that they wouldn’t like. So, that’s my sort of attitude towards things.

Somebody once said to me, “We must blow up the Mandela monument,” outside the NFC or wherever it is on the South Bank. The one that was raised to two levels because somebody tried to do that 25 years ago and the other one that was raised by 400,000 pounds of subscription in Parliament Square because, of course, he’s become a secular saint. I said, “No, don’t do that! Just paint it white and have a dickey bow tie on it with a big red nose, and on Red Nose Day you press a button and the tie goes around and so on, and you’ve made a mockery of him, you see. You’ve engaged in détournement. You’ve turned the thing around.

The Right will only defeat the Left and the Center if it’s more creative, more energetic, more radical, more intelligent, more sassy, cooler. That’s the only way we’ll win. The trouble with Right-wing people, on the whole, is they’re sort of pessimistic, slightly unimaginative. They’re deeply conservative people. They’re very decent people, but they’re conservative. You’ve got to be more radical than that.

I’m a very conservative person, but I’m also a revolutionary. You need the two combined, you see. That’s why I call myself a revolutionary conservative, which most people think, “What is he talking about?” But it’s true. That’s what I am really. The irony is when I was in Griffin’s party I was by far one of the most Right-wing people in it, and that’s not a stupid statement at all. It was strange actually. It went from extreme Tory . . . Because when I turned up many of them thought I’d be an ultra-reactionary in their terms, and I ended up almost an ultra in that party, but in a different way to the others, because they just judge it there’s the civic nationalists, the populists, and the nativists, and the fascists. That’s the range within the party, if one speaks honestly. I didn’t entirely fit into any of those categories.

I think it’s good not to. Why do people always want to fit into these categories, these boxes that people have marked before they’ve even turned up? I don’t see the purpose of all that. They’ve got to find new syntheses, new ways of doing things, new ways of acting and thinking. The Right did that, you see. It was a totally alternative current from 1880 onwards to about 1920. It was also a counter-cultural current. The whole counter-culture in mid-Europe was on that side then. The counter-culture we understand now is the one that fed into the ’60s and the gradual movement through the institutions of the Blair generation is the ’60s coming to power. Greg Dyke in the BBC, Blair in government. It had all been prefigured by people before, but that’s the key generation who are 60 now and were 20 when it was all kicking off in the 1960s. This sort of stuff. A bit different, but that sort of range of ages. Brown is right at the edge of it in age terms. There are younger people still in the Cabinet and seeking to replace them from other parties.

But the ’60s revolution is a cultural revolution, not really an economic one, but a cultural and social revolution and it needs to be reversed or changed. The energy can be taken and changed and moved in a new direction, you see? Everything’s about energy. Master it, control it, and you can control the world.

Probably a good moment to stop actually.


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The Counter-Currents 2014 Summer Fundraiser Truth, Justice, & a Nice White Country Mon, 27 Oct 2014 07:32:05 +0000 superman1,343 words

Since our last update on our Summer Fundraiser, one week ago, we have received 21 donations totaling $1,835 in amounts ranging from $10 to $250, including the first of an ongoing series of donations. Our total is now $35,817. We are $4,183 from our goal of $40,000 with 5 days to go. I want to thank all of our donors thus far for your generous support. 

* * *

If you want to put the program of the North American New Right on a bumper sticker or a yard sign, we stand for “Truth, Justice, and a Nice White Country.” The political mainstream, by contrast, stands for lies, injustice, and mixing up every white nation into a multicultural, multiracial pigsty.

1. Truth

In what sense do we stand for truth? White Nationalists tell the truth about the differences between the races, the sexes, and national identities. We tell the truth about the differences between the normal and the abnormal, the healthy and the sick, the good and the evil, the just and the unjust.

The rest of the political spectrum, however, is premised on telling lies about these distinctions or ignoring them completely. Political correctness is just a species of lying: lying about fundamental human differences.

2. Justice

In what sense do we stand for justice? And in what sense is the rest of the political spectrum opposed to justice?

Mainstream politics today, Left and Right, is ruled by political correctness, which boils down to making false excuses for privileged groups, who aren’t responsible for their failures, and leveling false accusations against whites, who are presented as a virtually omnipotent and uniquely malevolent race that is responsible for the failings of everyone else.

So what would justice look like, if we stopped lying about human differences?

Aristotle distinguishes between retributive and distributive justice. Retributive justice deals with punishment. Distributive justice deals with rewards.

Retributive justice requires making the punishment fit the crime. Under the reign of political correctness, however, criminals are falsely excused and innocent whites are falsely accused for their crimes.

Distributive justice requires that rewards be proportionate to merits: equal people should be treated equally. Unequal people should be treated unequally. But Aristotle also pointed out that justice requires that unequal rewards be proportionate to unequal merit. There is no justice if a man who is 10 times better has 100 times more.

Justice in an unequal world means rewarding unequal people unequally. And that means that there will be hierarchies in society: some people will have more power, more responsibility, more wealth, and more honor than others. Justice means that in every field of endeavor, there will be elites: the best singers, the best athletes, the best civic leaders, etc.

3. Elitism and Hierarchy?

I think it is a mistake for people on the right to reject equality as such and to endorse “hierarchy” and “elitism” as such.

Treating unequal people equally is injustice. As William Blake says, “One law for the lion and ox is oppression.” But it is also unjust to treat equal people unequally. (Two laws for two lions is oppression as well.) In short:

  • We are not opposed to equality as such, but only to unjust equality.
  • We are not for hierarchy as such, but only just hierarchies.
  • We are not for elitism as such, but only for just and deserving elites, elites based on merit rather than money or birth or political corruption.

When White Nationalists praise hierarchy and elitism as such, it is natural for people to wonder, “What’s in their elitism for me?” After all, there can be corrupt and evil elites. There can be arbitrary and unjust hierarchies.

Thus White Nationalists should stand first and foremost for justice. With the understanding that distributive justice in an unequal world will lead inevitably to just hierarchies and merit-based elites.

4. The Common Good

White Nationalism, as I have argued, should be both populist and elitist.

White Nationalism is populist, because a social system is just only if it pursues the common good – the good of the whole people. An unjust social system is ruled for the benefit of factional interests, whether of one man, a small elite, or the majority.

White Nationalism is elitist, because the common good is best pursued in a society ruled by the best — meaning the most intelligent, idealistic, and public spirited, not merely the rich — and the best people are always a minority, an elite.

But to make sure that such an elite does not become corrupt and start to rule in its own interests at the expense of the common good, there should also be a popular, “democratic” element of government as well, to counter-balance the factional interests of the ruling elite.

5. An Elitist Strategy for a Populist Movement

The white race is currently leaderless. We have no group looking out for white interests in the political realm. If a White Nationalist society is to come into existence, it will need a leadership caste. To bring a White Nationalist society into existence, we need to start creating that leadership caste today. That means that our movement must aim at creating a racially-conscious, racially-responsible elite. We must search for whites of higher than average intelligence, morality, and taste — whites who are above average in courage and public spiritedness. But as a populist movement, we believe that this new elite can and must be recruited from all social classes within the existing society.

6. A Nice White Country

A friend of mine recently used a phrase worth stealing to describe what we want: a nice white country. Terms like the “ethnostate” are, of course, useful because they are precise: what we want is to create sovereign nations for all distinct white ethnic groups. But it is much easier for people, particularly Americans, to relate to the idea of a nice white country.

After all, Americans are constantly searching for nice white schools, nice white suburbs, nice white churches, nice white restaurants and parks and playgrounds. Many may not be willing to own up to their racial motives. Not yet, anyway. But the desire to feel comfortable among our own kind, particularly when we have children, is what has been driving half a century of suburbanization and exurbanization.

When whites finally wake up to the fact that the system will no longer let us have a separate peace — that we can no longer run away to find nice white schools and nice white communities — but that we have to finally stand and fight for a nice white country — then White Nationalism will be a political possibility.

Until then, we need to keep laying the metapolitical groundwork for that moment: we need to spread our ideas and build our community. We need to aim for the day when every American finds the idea of a nice white country at least morally and politically conceivable. We need to aim for the day when every American, if he does not know an actual White Nationalist, at least knows someone who does — preferably someone who does not correspond to negative stereotypes of our kind.

Laying those metapolitical foundations is where projects like Counter-Currents come in. And making it possible is where donors like you come in.

* * *

If you have not made a donation to our Summer fundraiser yet, now is a good time. You can make two different types of donations:

  • A single donation of any size.
  • A recurring donation of any size.

Recurring donations are particularly helpful, since they allow us better to predict and plan for the future. We have several levels for recurring donations. Please visit our Donations page for more information.

We can also customize the amount of a monthly donation.

There are several ways to make one-time donations:

  • The easiest is through Paypal. For a one-time donation, just use the following button:
  • You can send check, money order, or credit card payment by mail. Just print out our donation form in Word or PDF.
  • You can make a secure credit card donation direct from our Donation page.

Please give generously!

Thank you for your loyal readership and support.

Greg Johnson



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From the Editor Lana Lokteff interviews Greg Johnson Mon, 27 Oct 2014 05:11:41 +0000 lana89 words

Lana Lokteff interviewed me for her show Radio 3Fourteen on Red Ice Creations. You can listen here. It was a relaxed and wide-ranging discussion on the New Right, the Old Right, metapolitics, morality, justice, and the prospects for White Nationalism. Lana is an excellent interviewer, and I urge you to check out her other Radio 3Fourteen interviews as well as the other programming at Red Ice Creations.

I want to thank Lana and the very professional team at Red Ice.

Greg Johnson

P.S. Lana is happily married.


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The Donetsk Morgue (October 2014) Mon, 27 Oct 2014 04:14:10 +0000 donetskmorgue104 words

Some lie alone on carts,
while others who are new,
wait stacked up on the floor.
For you see: there’s a queue
inside the Donetsk morgue.

Death masks and private parts
here are processed and tagged,
cadavers on display,
mere torsos, arms and legs,
mouths open, nothing to say. 

They can no longer hear
the whistle of big guns,
nor feel guilt in the nude.
Outside, their blood still runs
near where they went for food.

A black crow captures a tear
in the smart phone of its eyes,
and heaven welcomes peace
established by the flies,
and calls for their release.

11 October 2014


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James O’Meara reviews TYR, vol. 4 Mon, 27 Oct 2014 04:02:36 +0000 TYR Volume 4 for webview2,057 words

TYR: Myth, Culture, Tradition, vol. 4
Ed. Joshua Buckley and Michael Moynihan
North Augusta, SC.: Ultra Press, 2014

Finally receiving the new issue of TYR, one feels torn between wishing that each volume could appear more frequently, or at least more regularly, and on the other hand, appreciation for the time and attention devoted to bringing out such unparalleled collections of articles, interviews and reviews of books and music devoted to the “Myth – Culture – Tradition” of the North by Messrs. Buckley and Moynihan.[1] 

This modern world — our world — is sick, the editors tell us, and everyone knows it. But they also have the answer:

[T]he resacralization of art and culture, of work and play, of the tribe and the community and the family and the home, of food and drink, of sex and the body. . . . Our task is to take these “human, all too human” things, and to make them sacred once again.

Hence the varied contents of TYR; such a task requires a consideration of just about everything, from ancient myth to the latest in Black Metal music, from “Garden Gnomes and House Spirits” (Claude Lecouteux) to “Traditional Time-Telling in Old England, and Modern” (Nigel Pennick).

With access to work of such wide variety and high quality, TYR is not afraid to lead off with big guns blazing: two substantial essays by Alain de Benoist and Collin Cleary.

Benoist’s “What is Religion?” (translated by our own Greg Johnson) outlines the main psychological, sociological, and, most popular these days, biological explanations of the phenomenon of religion, ultimately dismissing them all as attempts to reduce religion to a mere function, whereas “religion by definition exceeds any functionality,” being “undoubtedly what exceeds any functionality by managing gaps, uncertainties, otherness” (as Benoist quotes from Jean-Paul Willaime). He offers, “with much diffidence,” his own definition, which foregrounds religion as not only a “set of beliefs and practices” but also as, “[A] socially established worship which structures individual and collective existence by placing it in a universe of meaning, in a symbolic universe governed by an intangible reality.”

The lack of this, of course, is the cause of the social sickness the editors have called to our attention. Benoist goes on to discuss three characteristics of the current religious situation: religion no longer plays a public role, religion has been reduced to individual beliefs, chosen ad hoc and à la carte, and finally that religion has, paradoxically, attained a new “public” role, as just one special interest demanding attention from the state along with the rest.

Benoist concludes that the modern world is far from the gods, and it is questionable whether such a world is livable; as for answers, he modestly offers none, aligning himself with Heidegger’s despairing “Only a god can save us.”

Perhaps that god is . . . us? Collin Cleary, in “What is Odinism?” asks us to reflect on the uniqueness of the Northern tradition, in which the chief god, Odin, is not so much wise as a seeker of wisdom, who is consequently not worshipped himself but imitated: “[T]o be an Odinist is to be a lover of wisdom . . . Odinism is the path of divinization — the Odinist seeks to become “God” (supreme, all-powerful, all-knowing) just as Odin did.”

Dr. Cleary then embarks on a sweeping, Hegelian survey of the metaphysical underpinnings of such a task — man is the universe, the Whole, coming to self-awareness — as well as the practical steps involved, pointedly directing our attention to the controversially Traditional work of Baron Evola, as well as the decidedly un-Traditional work of Gurdjieff and some modern teachers of the practice of self-awareness as Red Hawk.

After such a bravura performance, the reviewer may feel a bit like a child interrupting the conversation of his elders. The reader may sense, however, some disconnect between the sections of “What is Odinism?,” the theoretical and the practical, or, in terms of the essay itself, the sprit that produces Wagnerian operas, space shuttles, and toasters, and on the other, the spirit that seeks, well, the Spirit; is there a Faustian spirituality, or is the Faustian precisely the non-spiritual, as is the world produced by it, the modern world that the editors of TYR proclaim to be sick?

Since Evola has been brought in to aid the seeker, we might cite Evola’s own judgment on Spengler’s Faustian idea in his autobiography, The Path of Cinnabar (which itself receives a typically erudite and fair-minded review within by Joscelyn Godwin):

[T]the ‘Faustian’ impulse — along with the drive towards exploration and unlimited expansion that manifested itself in the rise of Humanism and the Renaissance — [is] the consequence of an external and ‘horizontal’ projection of the metaphysical tension which had previously been directed upwards.

Or, as my own spiritual master, the Rev. Jesse Crawford of the MC5, would exhort us: “You must choose, brothers and sisters, you must choose!”

As Dr. Cleary points out, the Odinic tradition is unique in having a chief god who is not wise, or the personification of wisdom, but a mere seeker of wisdom; a philosopher, in short. But while this can be interpreted positively, as Cleary offers us — see, our mythology sets us a task, gives us a divine seeker to emulate! — historically, wisdom has been very low on the scale of Western values. The Gothic kings were proud to be ignorant of reading and writing, leaving that to their Greek slaves or clerics (another socially low caste, fit for weaklings and extra sons — an attitude still common among our own “elites” of the Bush family sort). As Cleary mentions, but does not elaborate on, Odin himself is mocked as womanish and effeminate. Even among the Greeks, it was proverbial that Thales was mocked for falling down a well whilst star-gazing, a story Hegel repeats and that I expected Cleary to do so as well, when he mentions Odin’s one-eyed view of mundane reality. Plato has a hard time defending the philosophic life in the Symposium or Phaedrus, and look what they did to Socrates!

The lights Cleary steers by, Schelling, Hegel, Eckhart, as well as my own dear Plotinus, are rare summits poking up now and then in the midst of the dull horizontal plane of Western thought, mocked and abused in their time, and then as now treasured by only a few Seekers. As Guénon observes, when presented with the kind of practical methods leading to enlightenment or immortality that Cleary outlines in his final part, the Western man (like the “New Atheists” Benoist discusses) demands “proof” of the reality of the “mythical” higher dimension first, rather than simply following the methods and seeing for himself: “The substitution of a theory of knowledge [philosophy!] for knowledge is the characteristic perversion of the Western mind.”

And the ultimate product of the Faustian West is science, which, as Benoist says, canonizes “the primacy of method . . . over knowledge.” Or in Zen terms, mistaking the pointing finger for the moon.

Of course, at this point, the Zen master, if not Dr. Cleary himself, would whack me on the back with his stick and shout “Stop talking, just practice!”

Perhaps the uniqueness of the West lies here: a people by nature sufficiently detached from spiritual concerns to find it more or less easy to throw aside their own autochthonous traditions in favor of a foreign creed — though Steve Harris might demur here; in “On Barbarian Suffering,” he discusses the ways that both Pagan and Christian sought to understand suffering by reference to a mythological context. The result, as Benoist says, is that

Christianity generated, in spite of itself, a society that can now leave it behind — a unique case in the history of humanity — and one cannot exclude the possibility that by doing this, it has completed its historical course, fulfilled its time.

In the same book, Evola gives his final accounting of Christianity; while Guénon and other Traditionalists sought to find, or re-activate, a supposedly lost spiritual current (to be found in some monastery or among Gurdjieff’s hidden schools), Evola ultimately denied it ever had one, being a spiritual imposture from the start, offering a fake initiation in the form of the white bread and de-natured wine of the so-called Eucharist, a substitution which Western man either couldn’t discern or didn’t care about one way or another.

Some, such as Michael Hoffman, might suggest that even the practical methods of work on self that Cleary recommends and outlines so clearly are themselves only a shadow of the real, “rockily practical” (as Alan Watts liked to say) methods of entheogenic shamanism.

To see what was lost, or thrown away, in our pagan ancestors rush into the arms of the priests and their creeds, Christian Rätsch, the world-renowned ethno-pharmacologist, discusses “The Mead of Inspiration,” while for the modern perspective Carl Abrahamson and Joshua Buckley interview a pioneering psychedelic explorer — the German-born Ralph Metzner, who, unlike the faux-Tibetanism of Leary or the Hindu guru-tripping Ram Dass, “feels a powerful personal connection to the myths and traditions of the North,” especially “the ultimate proto-shaman himself: Odin,” the “true psychedelic wanderer into the outer reaches of inner space.”

There’s much else here, but I must hurry on to mention the substantial sections devoted to book reviews and, a particular feature of TYR, music reviews. To revert to the Zen master again, I suspect he would think that reviewing reviews is “painting legs on a snake,” but I must give you some idea of the wealth found here, a useful combination of “I wonder what they’ll say about that well-known book” and “I never heard of this guy before.”

In addition to the aforementioned review of Baron Evola, Prof. Godwin also reviews John Michell’s How the World is Made: The Story of Creation According to Sacred Geometry, where he makes the fascinating point that

Unlike Perennialists in the Guénon-Schuon line, to whom religious revelation is the important thing, Michell puts the geometrical revelation first, Christianity, Islam, and Zoroastrianism . . . are authenticated by geometry, not the other way around.

Interesting in itself, one recalls Gwendolyn von Taunton’s suggestion, in “The Primordial Tradition” (in the first issue of Aristokratia, the only journal that might be compared to TYR in scope and quality) that insight into the unity of religions is an aesthetic, not metaphysical, experience, as well as the recent publications of the so-called Illuminati Conspiracy, advocating higher mathematics as the replacement for both religious faith and scientific materialism.

Godwin himself is reviewed, around his survey of Western esotericism, The Golden Thread, as is the Western esoteric historian Arthur Versluis (The Mystical State). The no-nonsense academic work of Ronald Hutton on The Pagan Folklore of the British Isles is faced up to, while Joshua Buckley exposes the hysterical “epidemiology” of Christopher B. Kreb’s New York Times-friendly attack on Tacitus’s Germania. There’s also German Appalachian folklore, and Ernst Jünger’s The Forest Passage.

Of equal size and importance to the books — and even coming first in order — is the music coverage. Although this is one of TYR’s most important services, I can’t say as I can really serve as a guide here; readers of some of my previous work may agree that I am no expert on music, especially what the kids are making. Why, even though I have several of Sequentia’s early music CDs in my collection, Joshua Buckley’s interview with Benjamin Bagby, “Finding the Voice of Our Germanic Ancestors,” revealed that I knew very little about Bagby’s long and extensive work as teacher, scholar, and performer (including memorized bardic performances of Beowulf). I was familiar with Ian Read and Fire + Ice’s heartfelt invocations of the Germanic tradition, without either sub-Tolkien twee-ness or “pretentious totalitarian bombast.” But as for the rest, I can only look forward to exploring the Lithuanian rituals of Kulgrinda, the non-metal metal of Agalloch, and the metal/neo-folk fusion of Australia’s Ironwood.

In the end, I can only hint at the challenging, thought provoking and inspiring work collected here; this is an essential purchase for anyone even remotely interested in the Northern tradition or the survival of the West.


1. The publisher, Ultra, announces within the availability of the three previous volumes in deluxe hardcover edition, including an ultra-limited slip-cased edition; well worth considering for those whose paperback copies, elegantly typeset and illustrated, are, like my own, riddled with notes and other marks of having deserved careful and frequent reading.


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Counter-Currents Radio Greg Johnson Interviews Patrick LeBrun on Entryism Sat, 25 Oct 2014 07:32:38 +0000 Fox-Among-Hounds59:15 / 204 words

To download the mp3, right-click here and choose “save target or link as.”

To subscribe to our podcasts, click here.

Patrick Le Brun is a writer and activist, who has written many articles for Counter-Currents. He has extensive experience with the French Identitarian movement. He is currently based in the United States, where he mentors racially-conscious college students who wish to engage in activism.

Greg Johnson interviews Patrick Le Brun about the concept of entryism and its applications for racially conscious whites, particularly college students. Topics include:

  • The concept of entryism
  • Different movements on the center Left and far Left that overlap with White Nationalist interests
  • The role of deception in entryism (secret agents)
  • Resources for mentoring racially-conscious college students who want to engage in entryist tactics

More reading:


Learning from the Left:

Third World Eugenics viewed by the Cognitive Elite and the Fair Trade Movement:

Jewish Demographics & the BDS Movement:

Cell-Based Organization:

Fight for a Fair Minimum Wage:

Paris-Berlin-Moscow Axis:

CIA’s version of our path to victory: “Stalled Engines”:

Further Reading for Entryists:



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Kafka: notre camarade-de-peuple Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:13:56 +0000 Franz_Kafka_joven3,648 words

English original here

James Hawes
Excavating Kafka
London: Cuercus, 2008
US edition: Why You Should Read Kafka Before You Waste Your Life
New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008

« Il s’avère que Kafka était un citoyen allemand loyal, riche et amateur de porno. Qui le savait ? » — Un commentaire sur Amazon 

Ce visage. Vous l’avez vu. Vous en avez par-dessus la tête de le voir. Le Prophète de l’Holocauste, du Goulag, et, pire que tout, des aspects orwéliens de l’Administration Bush/Obama. Le logo commercial de la Suprématie Culturelle judaïque, l’icône de l’Holochristianisme. L’emblème de tout ce que vous haïssez.

Vous voudriez le mettre en mille morceaux, puis le reconstituer et le briser à nouveau, encore et encore.

James Hawes a de bonnes nouvelles pour vous : c’est un faux. Un énorme bobard.

« …le symbole international de Prague … fut en fait emmené dans un magasin de Berlin … environ huit mois avant sa mort, alors qu’il savait logiquement qu’il était condamné. … Cet état d’esprit est … susceptible de vous donner un air profond.

Mais pas assez profond cependant. Au début des années 50 … les artistes de [la société] S. Fisher Co. retouchèrent cette image pour donner aux yeux de Kafka la brillance désirée. Le Prophétique Kafka est maintenant une icône aussi célèbre et aussi vague que le Saint Che Guevara. – et avec à peu près autant d’exactitude historique. »

Hawes hait la photo lui aussi, mais pour d’autres raisons. Pour lui, c’est l’icône beaucoup trop appropriée de ce qu’il appelle « le Mythe K » (utilisant « mythe » comme un libéral bien-pensant, signifiant « énorme bobard »). Le « Mythe K » est :

« L’idée d’un mystérieux génie, un Nostradamus solitaire d’Europe centrale, qui, presque ignoré de ses contemporains, sonda d’une manière ou d’une autre les profondeurs de sa psyché mystérieuse et quasi-sainte pour prédire l’Holocauste et le Goulag. »

En réalité,

Kafka était intégré non seulement sur le plan littéraire mais sur le plan social aussi, c’était un fils de millionnaire, un bon fonctionnaire bien payé de l’empire des Habsbourg, un membre de l’élite allemande de Prague qui voulait consciemment – et subconsciemment – que l’Allemagne et l’Autriche gagnent la Première Guerre mondiale. Un Juif parlant allemand et pensant allemand qui ne prévit les horreurs de l’Holocauste pas plus que quiconque d’autre. Un auteur qui, lorsqu’il lut pour la première fois à ses amis Le Procès, provoqua chez eux un « rire inextinguible » [1].

Oui, Ils vous ont menti depuis le début ; depuis avant le début, car comme nous le verrons, Kafka lui-même participa avec empressement aux premières parties de la mise en scène de sa carrière littéraire, comme tout jeune écrivain, bien qu’il aurait lui-même été pris d’un « rire inextinguible » s’il avait vu la croissance monstrueuse du « Mythe K ».

kafka1Hawes consacre la majeure partie de son livre à déconstruire le « Mythe K » pièce par pièce. D’abord, ce baratin sur le pauvre Kafka, travaillant de longues heures dans son bureau de travail étouffant, vivant avec ses parents, s’esquivant quelques heures pour écrire ses chef d’œuvres tard dans la nuit – le vrai Flemmard du Millénaire. « En réalité, Kafka était … un jeune cadre des années 80 ; ressemblant plus à Gordon Gekko qu’à Quentin Tarantino. Loin d’être seul et pauvre, il vivait avec sa famille dans le confort de la classe moyenne supérieure… » [2].

En fait, même cela est au-dessous de la vérité ; le père de Kafka (qui, comme nous le verrons, passionne beaucoup les créateurs du mythe) était un millionnaire, possédant non seulement un appartement à partager avec Franz mais un immeuble d’habitation entier (ressemblant plus à Proust qu’à Gregor Samsa) ainsi qu’une usine d’amiante ne fonctionnant pas très bien paraît-il.

Les logements gratuits sont particulièrement lucratifs, puisque Kafka, titulaire d’un doctorat en droit, avait trouvé un poste en or à l’Institut d’Assurance des Accidents des Travailleurs, lui rapportant l’équivalent moderne de 90.000 dollars par an pour une journée de six heures, passant la plus grande partie de son temps à discuter de Heine avec son patron [3].

Kafka écrit seulement quelques heures par jour, surtout tard dans la nuit, mais seulement parce qu’il passe tout son temps libre, comme il le reconnaît joyeusement, dans les cafés et les bordels, et qu’il a du mal à s’en arracher. Bref, un jeune homme riche assez typique avec des ambitions littéraires, mais peu d’ambition ; vraiment pas un Genet gribouillant sur des sacs en papier en prison.

why-you-should-read-kafkaMaintenant, parlons de ses écrits. Tout ce temps passé avec les citadins fut sûrement utile. Avant de publier un seul mot, son copain Max Brod – « un réseauteur de littérature classique avec des doigts dans de nombreux gâteaux littéraires » – insère, dans une recension d’un auteur établi qu’il publie dans un important journal littéraire berlinois, l’observation que ce pote de Kafka semble être un grand styliste. L’auteur présenté, un certain Franz Blei, présente ensuite les premiers tout petits textes de Kafka, favorablement bien sûr ; plus tard, l’éditeur de Kafka organisera la publication hâtive d’une nouvelle en tant que chapitre indépendant d’un livre, afin de postuler – et de gagner – au prestigieux Prix Fontane (à peu près l’équivalent du National Book Award) – jugé, cette année-là, par Franz Blei.

Ce qui ne veut pas dire que l’ouvrage lui-même était indigne d’un tel jugement ; seulement que, en faisant ainsi patiemment rouler des rondins, comme le dirait une certaine tribu bien entraînée à cela, « ça aide à monter ».

Mais revenons à ce travail quotidien ; cela va fournir à Hawes quelques-unes de ses preuves les plus puissantes, ou du moins les plus controversées (et, comme Kafka, il connaît la valeur de la controverse sur le marché des paroles) concernant le « Mythe K ».

D’abord, bien que j’ai qualifié K de « jeune cadre » pour frapper le lecteur, en fait il ne partageait pas le même genre d’individualisme obstiné caractéristique du modèle de l’ère Reagan. Non, ce pote s’identifiait étroitement à ses camarades ethniques. Malheureusement pour le « Mythe K », ces camarades n’étaient pas les Juifs pauvres, opprimés et persécutés, mais l’élite germanophone de l’Empire des Habsbourg. Bref, Kafka était un patriote allemand.

Par exemple, Kafka investit une partie considérable de ses économies – souvenez-vous, même en comptant tous les kaffee mit schlag [cafés frappés] et les entraîneuses tchèques  (l’équivalent praguois des « actrices-modèles » d’aujourd’hui), il gagnait 90.000 dollars par an, et ne payait pas de loyer – en Bons de Guerre autrichiens. C’est vrai, Kafka contribua à payer les baïonnettes sur lesquelles ces Huns empalaient paraît-il les bébés belges. Ils payaient à peu près 5% d’intérêts, garantis par l’Empire des Habsbourg, en faisant l’investissement le plus sûr du siècle. Ironiquement, cela se révéla être la chose la plus « kafkaïenne » qu’il fit jamais, un peu comme vendre les bijoux de famille en échange de monnaie confédérée, mais, comme dirait la tribu, qui le savait ? Et c’est le schlémil qui parvint soi-disant à prévoir l’Holocauste ?

Encore plus « accablant », cependant, fut son article du temps de guerre pour un appel en faveur d’un hôpital, destiné aux vétérans blessés germanophones – et seulement aux germanophones, aucune version ne fut imprimée pour la canaille tchèque ou yiddish. Je laisserai Hawes raconter l’histoire :

« Il y a eu d’innombrables tentatives pour présenter Kafka comme un crypto-socialiste, un ami des aspirations tchèques, et ainsi de suite. Le fait est que dans une proclamation publique de la fin de 1916 (pour réunir des fonds pour un hôpital exclusivement réservé aux soldats germanophones psychologiquement-choqués de l’armée multinationale de l’Empereur François-Joseph), Kafka parle explicitement en tant que « Camarade-de-peuple bohémien-allemand ». Sa pensée vis-à-vis de l’Empire des Habsbourg semble avoir été « non-politique ». Pas du tout dans un sens oppositionnel, simplement par conformisme avec la situation du moment. Comme Reiner Stach (que je fus très triste et très surpris de voir traîner mon livre dans la boue tout en reconnaissant ne pas l’avoir lu) dit des idées apparentes de Kafka sur la politique étrangère des Habsbourg : « l’aisance avec laquelle Kafka imitait le jargon officiel est déconcertant » [4].

Remarquons que Hawes tente d’insinuer que même François-Joseph (avec son armée « multinationale » anachronique) était plus en faveur de la « diversité » que le bourgeois Franz Kafka. « Déconcertant » pour la Tribu, peut-être, ou pour ceux qui « imitent » eux-mêmes la propagande de guerre britannique et la prennent pour de l’histoire [5].

Maintenant, si vous avez jeté un coup d’œil à mes notes de bas de page, vous avez remarqué les références à la « pornographie » et même à la « cachette porno de Kafka ». Oui, tout cela se ramène à une grosse bulle de scandale ; comme le dit un jour George Costanza, dans un moment plutôt kafkaïen, « La chose est comme un oignon : plus vous l’épluchez, plus ça pue ! » [6].

Car il apparaît que Kafka aimait dépenser une fraction de son salaire à s’abonner à un journal porno « artistique » assez cher. Et, comme le dit Hawes, tout en plaçant son livre ailleurs :

« …[L]’éditeur de ce porno en 1906 était le même homme qui, en 1908, devait justement devenir le premier éditeur de Kafka – et le même homme qui, en 1915, s’arrangerait pour que Kafka reçoive très publiquement les bénéfices du plus prestigieux prix littéraire allemand de l’année [7]. »

Même pour la Prague fin de siècle, le monde est vraiment petit !

Quant au porno lui-même, Hawes tente d’en faire le plat principal, en quelque sorte ; mais s’il a raison de dire qu’en dépit des millions de livres, de thèses et d’articles sur Kafka, personne d’autre n’a jamais parlé de cela, c’est loin d’être aussi horriblement obscène qu’il l’affirme ; un peu comme les parties censurées des dessins de Beardsley [8]. Bien sûr, vous avez le droit d’avoir un avis différent [9].

Oui, un par un, Hawes brise tous les trépieds qui soutiennent le « Mythe K », jusqu’à ce que celui-ci, comme l’une de ces têtes de marionnettes géantes en papier mâché que les anarchistes utilisent lors de leurs manifestations, s’effondre sur le sol.

Ou plutôt, pour utiliser une métaphore plus littéraire, c’est comme un palimpseste, et après avoir enlevé la dernière couche de gribouillis, un classique perdu apparaît. Kafka, comme je l’ai insinué tout le long, le plus grand écrivain, certainement le plus grand écrivain européen du XXe siècle – est l’Un de Nous ! Un Blanc !

Mais vous ne devriez pas penser que Hawes est l’Un de Nous. Il hait le « vrai » Kafka, le jeune cadre riche, sexuellement actif et dépensier, et surtout le patriote allemand [10].

Il argumente contre le « Mythe K » parce qu’il pense que celui-ci déforme notre compréhension des écrits, nous distrait des textes eux-mêmes. Le mythe fait cela en créant un saint séculier maladif, d’un genre typiquement judaïque.

Nous aimons tous le mythe du grand génie méconnu romantique (pour des raisons douteuses sur lesquelles je vous laisse vous interroger, cher lecteur). Mais savoir qui Kafka était vraiment – et par conséquent celui qu’il n’était pas – est la seule manière pour que nous puissions toujours lire ses merveilleux écrits dans toute leur vraie gloire d’humour noir [11]. S’il faut un peu de thérapie de choc pour dissiper le mythe, alors qu’il en soit ainsi.

« Nous » ? Et quelles « raisons douteuses » sont derrière cela ?

Pour le combattre, il construit sa contre-figure supposément historiquement exacte, pas comme une nouvelle idole, mais pour nous dégoûter complètement de Kafka comme homme réel, individuel, ne nous laissant que ses ouvrages – les choses elles-mêmes, comme dirait Husserl, membre de la tribu contemporain de Kafka. En fait, on pourrait dire sans risque que Hawes méprise le « vrai » Kafka et veut le dissocier de l’Holocauste précisément parce qu’il est indigne d’être son saint patron [12].

James Hawes

James Hawes

Nous ayant supposément libérés du « Mythe K » qui déforme notre lecture des œuvres de Kafka elles-mêmes – il ne dirait pas, d’une manière typiquement judaïque – comme étant celles d’un exclu torturé et prophétique, Hawes, sous le prétexte de nous donner une lecture des « œuvres elles-mêmes » substitue simplement une nouvelle lecture, tout aussi judaïque bien que plus laïque, comme étant des œuvres d’« humour noir ».

Si le titre britannique d’origine, Excavating Kafka, reflète la première partie du programme, le titre américain ultérieur, Read Kafka Before You Ruin Your Life [Lisez Kafka avant de ruiner votre vie] (clairement destiné à exploiter le succès de textes culturels DIY [= Do It Yourself] comme celui d’Alain de Botton, How Proust Can Change Your Life), reflète la seconde partie plus insidieuse du programme : Kafka comme le prophète, non de l’Holocauste, mais du postmodernisme. Comme il le dit clairement à un autre endroit :

« Ce qui obsède Kafka, c’est notre aptitude suicidaire à croire les grands récits de rédemption et de certitude absolue, aussi délabrés et visiblement corrompus qu’ils puissent être. L’élément vital dans ses œuvres, qui est obscurci par le ‘Mythe K’, c’est que ses héros sont absolument complices de leur propre ‘piégeage’. Ce ne sont pas des histoires de gens innocents soudainement dévorés par des erreurs de la justice cosmique. De toutes les racines philosophiques de la pensée de Kafka, la plus importante est à mon avis le fameux et terrifiant aperçu de Nietzsche concernant le ‘nihilisme’ de l’homme moderne post-religieux (ma traduction est forcément libre) : ‘l’humanité préférerait désirer le néant plutôt que n’avoir rien à désirer’. Cette analyse nietzschéenne de la raison pour laquelle les modernes font ce qu’ils font pourrait bien s’appliquer aux tueurs du 11 Septembre tout comme aux tortionnaires au regard fixe, lubrique et vide d’Abou-Ghraïb. » [13]

Remarquez l’usage habile du trope porno pour « nous » attirer vers Kafka et les extrémistes musulmans – équivalence morale, comme diraient les néocons [= néoconservateurs]. Nous sommes tous – sauf Hawes et ses cohortes académiques vaguement marxistes – des zombies sous l’emprise des « grands récits », etc.

Et pourquoi lire Kafka aujourd’hui ? Parce que son analyse de la manière dont nous sommes si fatalement, suicidairement tentés par des visions d’un passé de l’âge d’or avec toutes ses supposées certitudes et sécurités, est aujourd’hui plus nécessaire que jamais. Ses œuvres sont un grand avertissement contre la tentation de croire aux grandes illusions, une grande exigence que si nous voulons vraiment vivre, nous devons grandir et regarder la vie dans les yeux [14].

Bien sûr, on pourrait suggérer que ce sont les pourvoyeurs de ce cliché postmoderne en quelque sorte simultanément béat et défraîchi qui ont besoin de « grandir » ou du moins de dépasser les années 60. Cependant, comme le montre la référence à Nietzsche, il y a du vrai là-dedans. Mais si nous voulons assimiler Kafka à Nietzsche et le considérer comme un « bon Européen », nous devons prendre notre Nietzsche comme le faisait le baron Evola ; utile comme dissolvant du libéralisme bourgeois, mais inutile – en fait, empoisonné – lorsqu’on le prend comme guide pour l’avenir [15].

Et parlant des postmodernistes académiques, les spécialistes « orthodoxes » de Kafka eurent une réaction rapide et prévisible ; oui, Max Brod était un créateur de mythes, mais nous le savions depuis des années, bla-bla-bla. Hawes, lui-même assez bon spécialiste de Kafka, pouvait avoir ses raisons de titiller les experts. Il a peut-être simplement choisi la mauvaise cible ; il se peut que « Walter Benjamin a explosé le mythe Kafka dans les années 30 » dans un morceau assez illisible de fange européenne (après tout, si Kafka n’était pas le plus grand génie judaïque, alors c’est Benjamin qui l’était, pas vrai ?), et après ? Si Kafka, comme Dickens et Orwell, est l’un des rares écrivains à avoir son propre adjectif, et nous savons tous ce que « kafkaïen » veut dire ; voilà la vraie cible de Hawes.

La réponse la plus stupide mais la plus symptomatique est peut-être celle du membre de la tribu Sander Gilman, sans doute agacé que Hawes néglige de mentionner sa propre biographie, modestement intitulée Kafka [16]. Gilman (apparenté à Lovecraft ?) trouble les eaux avec un boniment judaïque assez typique, passé en fraude par l’intermédiaire de Stanley Fish, en disant que « tous les biographes mentent », et ainsi, modestement, craintivement et poliment, il ne peut pas vraiment se plaindre que Hawes voit Kafka comme un type régulier, plutôt que comme un type « spécial » (c’est-à-dire un génie juif juivement obsédé par sa juivitude juive). Mais ce serait sûrement bon pour les Juifs si Hawes s’occupait d’autre chose :

« Hawes présente [Kafka] sous un faux jour – mais là encore, comme le pense Fish, c’est ce que font tous les biographes. On pourrait affirmer, par exemple, que j’avais besoin de Kafka pour être malade et anxieux et créatif afin d’étayer ma lecture de la situation des Juifs européens au tournant du siècle [Non ! Qui pourrait douter de toi, mon garçon ?]. Mais la majeure différence entre cet écrivain et James Hawes est que si nous avons tous des histoires que nous disons sur les vies que nous écrivons, certains d’entre nous sont plus concernés par les nuances des recherches que nous faisons et du monde que nous tentons de décrire [ce qui veut dire : est-ce bon pour les Juifs ?]. En fin de compte, cependant, c’est la capacité de ces mensonges à être crus par la plus grande communauté qui définit le bon biographe. Nous verrons si le temps sera bienveillant envers le comique gallois de Hawes [Gilman, en bon membre de la tribu, trouve drôle que Hawes enseigne au Pays de Galles], l’intellectuel littéraire Franz Kafka.

Oh, hou, hou. Si tous les biographes mentent, alors pourquoi devrais-je croire à vos mensonges ? Je dis : baratin, baratin complet ! Assez de toutes ces foutaises judaïques ! Gilman a raison ; les « nuances » dans le portrait de Kafka par Hawes sont préoccupantes – elles encouragent les goyim, bien que cela serait sûrement la « plus grande communauté » de toutes, pourrait-on dire. Voyons le véritable Kafka, Kafka tel qu’il était, Kafka tel qu’il se voyait lui-même, Kafka tel qu’il voulait être vu, quelle que soit la manière de le dire : un fier membre de la tradition littéraire et culturelle allemande.

Kafka : notre camarade-de-peuple !


  1. James Hawes, “Tumbling the author myth: Why such anger about my revelations of Kafka’s interest in pornography? His legacy could stand a little debunking” [« Renverser le mythe de l’écrivain : pourquoi une telle colère concernant mes révélations sur l’intérêt de Kafka pour la pornographie ? Son héritage pourrait supporter un peu de démythification »], The Guardian, Friday, August 29, 2008, ici.
  2. Louis Bayard, “How Kafka-esque is Kafka? The Czech writer has become the prophet of our absurd era, but a new book intends to strip the author of his saintly reputation” [“A quell point Kafka est-il kafkaïen ? L’écrivain tchèque est devenu le prophète de notre ère absurde, mais un nouveau livre entreprend de dépouiller l’auteur de sa réputation de sainteté », Salon, Friday, August 1, 2008, ici.
  3. Apparemment une occupation typiquement allemande, partagée par Dietrich Eckart ; voir ma recension de Hitler’s Mentor, ici.
  4. Scott Horton, “In Pursuit of Kafka’s Porn Cache: Six questions for James Hawes” [« A la recherche de la cachette porno de Kafka : six questions pour James Hawes »], par Harper’s, August 19, 2008, ici.
  5. Voir encore ma recension d’Eckart dans la note 3 ci-dessus.
  6. Seinfeld, Episode no. 136 “The Soul Mate” (Original air date 26 Sept 1996), here.
  7. “The Kafka Myth” here.
  8. En parlant de cela, le livre de Mark Anderson Kafka’s Clothes [Les vêtements de Kafka] a un but similaire, mais en se limitant à révéler Kafka le Dandy, presque un métrosexuel.
  9. M’étant déjà moqué de l’« expression ouvertement sexuelle » d’Houellebecq (“The Sexual Anti-Utopia of Michel Houellebecq,” ici), je ne suis peut-être pas la bonne personne à qui adresser cet appel.
  10. On a le sentiment, par-dessus le roulement de rondins, que Hawes souhaiterait que Kafka n’ait simplement pas écrit en allemand et que, comme les prisonniers supposément résignés d’Auschwitz, il soit entré volontairement dans le ghetto de la littérature tchèque. Ou peut-être yiddish – il cultivait un goût pour le théâtre yiddish – ou même, ose-t-on espérer, hébraïque – atténuant à l’avance ce fait ennuyeux que l’Etat Juif super-talentueux n’a jamais produit un seul écrivain – ni un seul artiste – d’une certaine distinction. Peut-être que Veblen avait raison, et que le Juif ne prospère que dans l’adversité ? Voir mon article “The Eternal Outsider: Veblen on The Gentleman and the Jew” [« L’Eternel Outsider : Veblen sur Le Gentleman et le Juif »] ici et dans The Eldritch Evola.
  11. « Aucune autre œuvre d’auteur ne souffre de ce genre de préjugé », Oh ? Il y en a des douzaines qui me viennent à l’esprit : Hitler, Goebbels, Rosenberg . . .
  12. Hawes est un tel croyant de l’Eglise de l’Holochristianisme qu’il absout en fait l’Armée Rouge de « toutes les choses dont elle pourrait être coupable » en reconnaissance de sa « libération » des « camps de la mort ». Des millions de civils allemands et slaves « libérés » morts et vivants bien que brutalisés pourraient avoir un avis différent, mais je suppose que c’est un signe de progrès qu’il reconnaisse simplement « toutes les choses ».
  13. « A la recherche de la cachette porno de Kafka », note 4 ci-dessus.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Voir en particulier Ride the Tiger: A Survival Manual for the Aristocrats of the Soul [Chevaucher le tigre : un manuel de survie pour les aristocrates de l’âme] (Inner Traditions, 2001), spécialement la Partie 2 : « Dans le monde où Dieu est mort ». Il est intéressant qu’Evola reconnaît dans son autobiographie que deux de ses guides d’adolescence furent Nietzsche et Oscar Wilde, le second suggérant une connexion avec Kafka par sa cachette porno à la Beardsley ; voir The Path of Cinnabar [Le chemin du Cinabre] (Arktos, 2009), p. 8. Evola nomme aussi Otto Weininger, qui influença aussi grandement Kafka.
  16. Sander L. Gilman, “Everyman’s Kafka,” Azure: Ideas for the Jewish Nation, no. 35, Winter 5769/2009, here.



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“Did that Scarecrow Move?”Reading Matter for Halloween Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:38:20 +0000 FeastingDead2,832 words

John Metcalfe
The Feasting Dead
Sauk City, Wisconsin: Arkham House, 1954
Richmond, Virginia: Valancourt, 2014 (20th Century Classics)

Here’s a delicious Halloween treat from the folks at Valancourt. The Feasting Dead was published by Arkham House in 1954; for some reason, it was the only book they published that year, and it was a rather slim volume at that, since it’s been republished subsequently, by Arkham and others, in various anthologies.[1]

It is, in fact, a novella, what Henry James called “the dear, the blessed nouvelle,” and Constant Readers will know it’s my preferred format, longer than a short story, suitable for reading over a long afternoon and evening, without the time commitment and all too frequent padding and authorial narcissism of the Great Judeo-American Novel or the triple-decker tome of the fantasy genre (Hunger Games III: Mockingjay, Part One — WTF? Thanks, Tolkien).

It’s a format greatly suited to the horror or “weird” genre, as it allows the author to combine the unity of effect that Poe sought, with the careful building of verisimilitude and almost suffocating detail employed by Lovecraft in his late, great works. [2]

And speaking of James, we might recall that The Turn of the Screw was another Halloween treat, at least in its hardcover appearance, [3] and as we’ll see we have here another “child in danger” tale.

This time, we don’t have a pater familias who hires a (possibly) hysterical governess but rather a widowed, somewhat impoverished French nobleman who arranges a sort of exchange program; the family will send its two children to stay with a another recently widowed, somewhat impoverished Englishman (his wife was French, from the same region as the nobleman) for the school holidays during the year, while his son, Denis, will stay in provincial France and work on his accent.[4]

The father, our narrator, one Col. Hapgood, is not overly fond of the French children, whom he calls “queer, cryptic little monkeys;” Denis, however, seems to acquire a friend of the bad sort, and when, after a few years, the French father breaks off the exchange — with a cold letter filled with nonsense about family guilt and hauntings and suchlike nonsense, which the Col. attributes only to a combination of typical French rudeness and hysteria — the friend mysteriously shows up at the window, a kind of old family retainer or handyman, named Raoul, somewhat reminiscent of the Dirty French Peasant beloved of British Comedy.[5]

At first annoyed by this presumptuous intrusion,[6] then suspicious, then frightened, he eventually confronts to two in flagrante delicto (though it’s nicely vague as to what exactly goes on between the two). Raoul, whose face, eerily enough, no one has been able to really see, disappears entirely in mid-thrashing, leading Denis to run away to France, whither Hapgood follows, with predictably catastrophic results.[7]

Apart from his ability to deliver what the Col. calls the experience of “A cold grue that of the sort of surprise that is not surprise at all, but eerie confirmation.” Metcalfe delivers his tale with enough delightful linguistic trickery to repay several readings. Most notably, the father takes an instant dislike to the old retainer, which he communicates in the narrative by refusing to designate him other than with a stream of increasingly arcane or provincial derogatory term:[8]

This lay-figure, this fantoche, this hollow puppet.

That Denis’s delicately nurtured boyhood should fall prey to the appetites of an amorphous doll and become the meat of this uncanny zany seemed of all things the most abominable.

. . . looking rather like a well-fed scarecrow

The “scarecrow” image crops up again and again, preparing us for Raoul’s reappearance in France as a scarecrow stalking the boy — or is it only the father’s continued hostile imagination?

I fancied, with a start, that I saw Denis, but no . . . it was only a scarecrow, lingering purposelessly in the stubble.

The scarecrow itself is a powerful symbolic figure: “The field, containing the useless scarecrow.”

The retainer was supposedly murdered in the tower,[9] a traditional symbol of transcendence. But instead, we have his revenant, the “useless,” “purposeless” scarecrow, slowly crossing a field, symbolic of the transit through material existence, suggesting the caretaker is trapped somehow in our samsaric world, magnetically or karmic-ly to the family’s children, off which he lives, apparently, vampirically.

While the running sands of his being received their frightful recompense . . .

“’It’ is something, if you please, that ebbs and flows and that refuses to be satisfactorily dead, something that crops up and comes and goes . . .”

This is also suggested in the doll or puppet images. The colonel’s nightmare in France brings it all together, as he dreams of, among other oddities,

Vaignon addressing a meeting of puppets in the library . . . and even the ridiculous scarecrow, shifting from field to field in a continued march towards the house.

Having located the puppet of fate theme, it’s a pleasantly satisfied expectation that we find its usual accompaniment, the passing of the buck, which here adds the “turn of the screw” to James’ own turn:[10]

Could M. Vaignon . . . have asked Denis to the chateau . . . in order to — to safeguard his children? Could he, at one time, to protect them, to divert something from them and fasten it on Denis, have actually been tempted to promote and foster the disastrous intimacy between Raoul and my boy . . . ?

Ya think?

Another term of abuse, the most arcane yet, is “gaby.”

It was there, that precious gaby was, and it appeared to be more or less passably a man – and, for some revolting reason, it wore mittens.

I had to look that one up in an actual dictionary. Pronounced ˈgā-bē, it’s an archaic word for “simpleton.” Pronounced “gabby” it’s our old friend Gaby Rogers, she of the eyes like jellied fire who sets off the bomb at the end of Kiss Me, Deadly. In my review,[11] I suggested she is, like Raoul here, a revenant.

Lily/Gaby, Christina’s roommate, thus resurrects both Lily by pretense and Christina by becoming Mike’s new naked in a trench coat partner. Confronting his double, Lily/Gaby at the end is like the confrontation of Lovecraft’s “Outsider” with his mirror image in the eponymous story — Hoberman calls him “a walking corpse”; while Pat the Fed already dismissed him in the third person with “Let him go to hell” — and Mike falls dead (with some help from Gaby’s roscoe, of course).

This is Gaby’s final resurrection, the true resurrection — not the ridiculous reanimated corpse (as Alan Watts called it) of the exoteric Christian (Mike, the “walking corpse” brought “back from the dead”) but St. Paul’s Gnostic idea of the Body of Light, with all its parallels in every esoteric tradition.

Now we know why the caretaker wears mittens: to handle the hot box of nuclear destruction that Mike and Gaby seek. As I observed in my Hammer review, Gaby is not only resurrects Lily but passes for Mike with her trench coat, short hair, and, alas for Mike, gun: “passably a man” indeed. I also commented there on Gaby’s checkerboard Chanel suit, and the frequent checkerboard pattern in the set decorations, a clear reference, like the checkerboard floor in James’ ghost tale, “The Jolly Corner,” to the warp and woof of the samsaric “field”motif.[12]

Unlike the scarecrow, she has attained vertical transcendence and exits the scene in a blaze of light.

We’ve already called attention to Gaby’s checkerboard clothing, and her purer pursuit of knowledge. We can say that this Pure Fool has reached the end of the quest. As we’ve noted many times, hideous apocalyptic endings are merely a genre convention. What is important here is that Gaby has achieved a state of pure light, becoming a vertical pillar of fire, combining both the Hermetic symbol of light and verticality and the Judaic YHVH. Again, we recall the homage to the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, which presents the negative, inverted Judaic version, in which the search for knowledge and transcendence fails and is punished as sin.[56]

Our scarecrow, Raoul, however (and Denis?), is a sucker,[13] a fall guy, like Mike:

We cut to Mike, who, having been shot by Gaby, has fallen, in an oddly stiff way, like a tree falling, and now lies sprawled at length on the floor. This is the fall into horizontality, the material world of space and time. He and Velda then descend the stairs and flee horizontally across the beach.

Just as Raoul must have “descended” from the tower and now “moves across” the fields. The odd beach house on stilts in the movie is the tower of the French chateau where Raoul was dispatched: we can imagine that Mike returns to it again and again, as Raoul is drawn back to the chateau, seeking a new fall guy.

Now, for those without patience or interest in such metaphysical matters, there’s some metapolitical notions here as well; in particular, the idea of archeofuturism, the presence of the past in its future, today.

The Englishman:

On the one hand, here was the mid-twentieth century, with (even in this backwater) the trains, post, newspapers and radio (should M. Vaignon but elect to buy a set) and an occasional avion flying overhead; while, on the other, equally compulsive of assent, there lay — sheer mediaevalism, rank mythology, a weird anachronism of fantastic horror. The two worlds, though interpenetrating, were irreconcilable — and each was true.

This devil’s nook, this baleful twelfth- or thirteenth-century pocket of provincial France, where superstitions and obscene mythologies, instead of just remaining quaintly decorative, had the unpleasant trick of springing suddenly alive and driving mad all those who brooded on them overlong.

The Frenchman:

“‘Nonsense’– . . . but even nonsense can be dynamic. In its proper realm, where its writ runs and it holds sway, it isn’t nonsense. And it can, often, effectually intrude into a sphere beyond its own. It has become at least mentally real for Denis, and also, up to a point, for you.”

I do not deny that it, or the — the rumour of it, was supposed to have bothered us in the past, but it was presumed to be gone.

As you can see in the first two passages, our English squire associates all this nonsense with feudal, superstitious France. This is the origin of the “Gothic” mood, the idea, frightening to all deicidal Judaics and crypto-Judaics (i.e., Protestants) that all that “horrible” mediaeval stuff could leap out of the grave and take up residence again; Christ’s resurrection, the return of the Stuarts, etc.[14] Needless to say, this is exactly what we’ve based our hopes on.

The past is never dead. It’s not even past. (Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun, Act 1, sc. 3)

There are a number of other little delights here; for example, a foreshadowing of Kubrick’s The Shining:

The slight mishap caused him to open his mouth, aghastly, in an unuttered scream.

Such tales, from James to this one to The Shining, always seem to have an undercurrent of either adult panic over the growing sexual maturity of their children, or else outright fear of their pederastic victimization. As per usual in pre-’60s literature, one should always be on the lookout for “innocent” words, especially when they keep recurring; we’ve seen the Col. refer to the French children as “queer . . . monkeys” (foreigners are always queer animals, aren’t they?) and there’s more:

Are you tired . . . after all the camping-out . . . ? [Dennis] regarded me queerly, head cocked. . .

Something in Denis’s queer, locked [?] attitude, in his whole appearance, utterly dismayed and sickened me.

And in the finale, there’s an audaciously surreal moment:

A long box, like a coffin, cocked lewdly up and protruded slowly from [the van], flew out of it towards us, and crashed against us.

Lewdly cocked coffins flying up at us, it’s the sort of thing that would have delighted Harold Beaver, who, in his 300 page commentary on Moby Dick,[15] obsessively notes all such sly ribaldry. More specifically, it certainly recalls Queequeeg’s coffin, foreshadowed by Ishmael and Queequeeg’s snuggly bedtime at the inn run by Peter Coffin, and, as I’m sure Beaver would have suggested, it insinuates a more positive view of the “young man attached to an older foreigner” than Metcalfe allows.

Altogether, this inexpensive paperback or kindle would make an excellent work for reading in a nice comfy chair (with plenty of brandy to drink along with the concerned parents) on Halloween afternoon, or for reading aloud to frighten the younger relatives in the evening.


1. Such as When Evil Wakes, ed. August Derleth; Corgi, 1963; reviewed here.

2. See editor Klinger’s discussion in The New Annotated Lovecraft, and our review here.

3. “The Turn of the Screw” (Collier’s Weekly, January 27-April 16, 1898) appeared in The Two Magics, published in London by William Heinemann and in New York by the Macmillan Company in October 1898. – Library of America website, here.

4. Like many of the old time works reissued by Valancourt, we are in a world where all the English have at least a working knowledge of French; see my remarks on their republication of A. E. Ellis’ The Rack here. As there, and in Mann’s Magic Mountain, French is the convenient language for not saying the unsayable: “He seemed to be trying, unsuccessfully, to say something; then, changing to French, at length got out ‘. . . l’epouvantail, c’est dans . . . Zizi.’”

5. See, for example, the retainer from the chateau that Patsy mistakes for a bum and shoos away in Season 1, Episode 3 of Absolutely Fabulous. “Engle Tear!”

6. The American reader may be amused with Hapgood’s concern over how he could get this no doubt illegal alien through the hoops of the National Health Care system.

7. With all the talk about passports, secret identities, disguise and back-and-forth to France, it’s almost a mini-Bond film, if Bond were a not too bright, middle-aged English country squire.

8. Despite all his supposed erudition, Tito Perdue’s “Lee” is quite outclassed here, as he seldom gets beyond referring to the titular character of Reuben by anything more archaic than “churl” or “varlet.”

9. By who, and why, is, as far as I can determine, never revealed. For one thing, we never know if the family is haunted for their own guilt or as a continuation, post-mortem, of the caretaker’s evil; perhaps the backstory resembles Fredy Kruger’s legend?

10. See my discussion of the puppet and buck-passing themes in my film reviews on this site, and soon, I hope, in my projected volume of collected film reviews, Passing the Buck.

11. “Mike Hammer, Occult Dick: Kiss Me Deadly as Lovecraftian Tale,” here and reprinted in The Eldritch Evola . . . & Others (San Francisco: Counter Currents, 2014)

12. See my discussion, and the references to Guenon et. al., in “The Corner at the Center of the World,” here and reprinted in The Eldritch Evola.

13. References to “suckers”always reminds me of Saffy’s great explosion at Patsy (another sucker, and certainly herself a revenant): “Cesspit from hell! Stinking bag of bones that haunts this house everyday like a moldering cadaver! Leeching the life-blood out of everything it can get its filthy suckers onto. Well I’m fed up with being suckered! I will not take this anymore, this is not how it’s going to be!” Absolutely Fabulous, Season 3, Episode 6, “The End.”

14. Thus the Judaic contempt for the goy’s historical piety: “When [Gore Vidal] he was writing a play set during the American Civil War, he recalls Norman Podhoretz asking him, “Why are you writing a play about, of all things, the Civil War?” When Vidal explained that this was/is “the great, single tragic event that gives resonance to our Republic” Podhoretz replied, “To me, the Civil War is as remote and irrelevant as the War of the Roses.” – “Zionism Unbound,” here. In the same way, our neo-conned politics neurotically fears and obsesses over the return of Hitler: “Hitler is reincarnated daily in the War Party’s polemics, where it is always 1939 and the merest impulse to refrain from mass murder is ‘another Munich.'” — “It’s Always World War II,” Justin Raimondo, here.

15. Moby Dick, or The whale / Herman Melville, edited with an introduction and commentary by Harold Beaver. Published in the Penguin English Library 1972, reprinted in Penguin Classics 1986; now sadly retired. This chap found his copy in France, appropriately enough: “The book is a log, with about half as many pages of ancillary material as there are of the novel itself, but the weight and space it took in my pannier wasn’t any concern. I pedaled with it for three months; read it in bars and parks, in hostels and campgrounds; even visited the Heidelberg Tun described in Chapter LXXVII. I still consider it an excellent edition. The editor, Harold Beaver, is described as “Reader in American Literature at the University of Warwick.” It appears that he wanted to put everything needed to appreciate M-D in a single paperback package, with a dream-like Turner painting on the cover.For that first “committed” reading, Beaver’s “Commentary” section was my private tutor, greatly increasing my understanding and appreciation of Melville’s labors. There is about one page of notes for every two pages of source text.”


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