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Liberalism as the Ideology of Consummate Meaninglessness, Part 1

Martin Heidegger, 1889–1976

1,324 words

Part 2 here, Part 3 here

They’re killing us with their freedom.

Every dissolution of social order, every assault on the family, the unrelenting denigration of authority and heritage, and now our biological replacement by the Third World’s refuse–all justified, legislated, and celebrated in freedom’s hallowed name.

What, though, is this freedom whose ethnocidal ramification threatens what is arguably the greatest tyranny of all: Extinction?

The simple answer: It’s the false freedom favored by liberals, Jews, capitalists, and New Class operatives indifferent or hostile to peoples of European descent.

The philosophical/theoretical answer is somewhat more complex, but not substantially different in essence.

In both cases, the reigning “freedom” bears little relation to an authentic notion of freedom.

That the prevailing system of individual rights–“freedom”–has made a small number of people, some not of European origin, very well-off and very engaged in keeping us under their thumb, explains much of its dominance.

But there is also something in the history, culture, and declining Being of our people that disposes them to seeing themselves in ways that leave them indifferent to their survival as a race and a culture.

* * *

Most symptomatic of this identity-destroying disposition is liberalism.

As an ideology, it rejects all collective, historically-formed, and blood-based identities, privileging an individual disconnected from history, heritage, and kin–an individual who first demands to be treated in respect to his accomplishments rather than his birth–but who, eventually, becomes simply an abstract individual, neither white nor black, male or female, young or old–who exists entirely for himself, cut off from those that came before and those that might come in the future–“an atom without connection.”

On the basis of this individualistic fiction, liberalism rejects affiliations of all kind, positing a world of unrelated but homogenous private ego-subjects situated in a realm of unrestricted circulation, such as a market, where each–in the name of rationality–behaves according to his immediate benefit.

Alien to every ancient and medieval concept of communal decision-making or self-rule, liberal freedom comes to favor what John Gray calls “an assured space of individual independence”–devoted to personal and private, not familial, communal, or ethnoracial, rights.[1]

This liberal concept of freedom arose in opposition to “despotic” rulers–to monarchical regimes obstructing the development of those individualistic social forms championed by the “rising bourgeoisie.”

With the Enlightenment, the concept assumed a scientistic guise, premised on the notion that life is to be ordered according to reason, unhampered by tradition’s repressive effects or by “irrational” natural ascriptions.

From this abstraction, it was but a short step to identifying freedom with a condition in which “each lives as he likes,” irrespective of “authority and majorities, custom and opinion” (Lord Acton). Liberal freedom became thus more than a political principle: It evolved into a encompassing, totalizing way of Being, whose values, assumptions, and implicit modes of existence opposed all that has traditionally animated European life.[2]

* * *

At this point, Martin Heidegger might help us understand something of liberalism’s larger ontological ramification.

Against the main currents of modern thought, he argues that “the leading philosophical question” has nothing to do with the subjectivist imperatives of liberal individualism, but rather with Being–with the question that asks why is there something rather than nothing.[3]

This question of Being is admittedly an impossible one: In the hundred volumes of Heidegger’s collected work, he never actually answers it.

But if the question is not posed–if the difference between beings and nothing goes unexamined and if ontology gives itself over to the prevailing world view–it will lead (it has led) to indifference and from indifference to oblivion. For questioning, this “piety of thought,” “unlocks the essential in all things” and the question of Being is “the question of all questions.”[4]

To avoid it would be to avoid the essence of existence.

Even those who scoff at the question, dismissing it as an empty abstraction, all wind and water, usually already work within a set of assumptions about it. For however unanswerable, it awakens in us something of the mysteries and demands of existence–putting all else in perspective.

The important thing, moreover, is less the answer than the question, given that everything follows from it–everything, perhaps, except our recognition of its primacy.

Beginning with Plato and assuming a qualitatively more categorical character with modernity, the question either gets ignored or sidetracked, as concern with beings (entities in the world) crowds out more fundamental issues of beings as a whole (i.e., Being).[5]

Because the question of Being–the question of what it means “to be” or to exist–is a question of meaning, the failure to address it speaks to the meaninglessness of the modern world.

Not coincidentally, the preeminent exemplar of liberalism’s inherent meaninglessness is the founder of the modern philosophical project, René Descartes, who ignored the question entirely.

In his work, an altogether different issue is addressed: That of how the individual mind (ego cogito) comes to know and to establish an accurate knowledge of the world “outside” it.

Historically, Descartes’ quest for a reliable epistemology arose in reaction to the breakdown of medieval Christianity–and to the crisis this created in the European consciousness.

The alternative system of knowledge he founded was to serve as “the self-posited ground and measure for all certitude and truth.”[6] In this system–where the “consciousness of things and of beings as a whole [refers] back to the self-consciousness of the human subject as the unshakable ground of all certainty”–heaven’s sacred, but no longer believable authority, henceforth had to bow to an abstract reason, whose authority derived from certain mathematical principles.[7]

As traditional pre-reflective principles and Church doctrine retreated before a system that was to provide a new “foundation of knowledge and . . . of the truth of what is knowable,” Descartes helped lay the metaphysical foundations of the Modern Age–an age which would lead not just to a re-evaluation of Christian values, but to their eventual dethronement and to the onset of a nihilism whose stupefying and inescapable meaninglessness has come to pose the single most devastating threat posed against European Being.[8]

Ivan Turgenev, the first to popularize the term, defined this “nihilism” as the offshoot of a scientific positivism that pits experience (understood as sensuous perception) against every other thing, especially everything “grounded on tradition, authority, or any other definite value.”[9]

For Heidegger, nihilism denotes that condition in which “there is nothing to Being itself”–as immersion in beings (objects) obliterates an awareness of Being and of the higher values.[10]

For both, nihilism’s “falling away of Being” is seen as seeping into and assailing the rank, spirit, and identity of European peoples.

Key to Descartes’ nihilistic epistemology is his model of subject-object relations, which categorizes worldly entities as either res cogitans (conscious substance) or res extensa (extended, divisible, spatial substance)–that is, as mind or matter.

The obliging philosophical problem for Descartes was to determine how the subject’s conscious mind, presumed separated from and unrelated to external reality, including the body housing it, was able to know–and achieve certainty of–the world “outside” it.

Truth in this model becomes a matter of establishing an accurate correspondence between a statement (whose ideal form is mathematical) and the substance this statement endeavors to represent.

Methodologically, this notion reduces beings to perceptum or objects, with the assumption that the subject (whose domain is pure cognition) is unrelated to what it represents and that the “truth” conveyed in its mirroring representations resides in its accuracy and objectivity.

Knowledge in Descartes’ world (this realm of objective substances) is thus associated with the factually verifiable or quantifiable designations of its attributes, which are formulatable in the precise language of mathematics.[11]

But like naturalistic rationalism (science) and political rationalism (liberalism), Cartesian or philosophical rationalism “proceeds mathematically in this way only because, in a deeper sense, it is already itself mathematical.”[12] That is, the world for it is assumed to be (projected as and perceived as) mathematical.

Truth as adequation subsumes, in effect, the logical positing of the concept at the expense of the extra-logical character of existence, which means the world for it is “experienced” not as it actually is, but as it is assumed to be.

Cartesian representations are thus hardly impartial, even when numerically formulated, for they reflect the quantitative, objectifying, homogenous standards of a representing subject uprooted from the temporal event structure in which life is lived and from the qualitative designations that distinguish human being from other life forms.[13]

In contrast, then, to our ancestors’ world, Descartes’ world of res extensa is a flattened one, devoid of beings whose differences are destining and whose past, present, and future are ready at hand and beyond representation.

In its world, the Cartesian subject regards everything and everyone as an object of calculation, a means to a mensural or materialist ends. As such, it absorbs everything objective and vice versa, just as all its thought is reduced to a calculation heedless of “the meaning which reigns in everything that is.”[14]

Human beings are seen thus as “mind-matter conglomerates with peculiar causal properties,” not as life-stories that fail or succeed in realizing the possibilities inherent to the world in which they have been thrown.[15]

“What is” becomes “what is present right now,” not “what has been” or what is in the process of being.[16] Ascriptive or qualitative attributes (family, race, sex, religion, culture, etc.) are similarly treated as distractions from reason’s capacity to impartially represent the objective reality situating the subject.

Descartes’ method endeavors in this way to free the subject from such attachments, as if they were of secondary importance.

Though his calculating rationality helped empower modern science with a often miraculous facility over “the things of nature,” this technoscientific prowess came at a cost, for once its mathematical system of reason (whose pre-ontological impetus was perfectly appropriate to the scientific investigation of material or living substances) was extended to man and society, it became scientistic, leading ultimately to an understanding of human beings analogous to the biologist’s understanding of plant and animal organisms (that is, one devoid of ontological significance) and thus to an understanding devoid of meaning.

Notes

1. John Gray, Liberalism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986), 1.

2. What is here called “liberalism” is the political ideology of modernity–modernity in Heidegger’s view being “the age of consummate meaninglessness.”  Liberalism has several ideological roots, that of Locke, Smith, Benthan, and the Revolution of 1776 in the English-speaking world, the Enlightenment and the Revolution of 1789 on the Continent. Its different conceptual trajectories–as individual rights or political reform, laissez-faire or social engineering–historically converged in its rationalistic opposition to authority, tradition, religion, rank, and history, principles foundational to pre-modern or traditional societies anchored in more authentic ways of Being. The mainly Kantian-Cartesian distillation of liberalism criticized here is not the sole expression of what has become a multifaceted, intellectually incoherent ideology, but philosophically it is the dominant one and hence the main target of the above critique. For one of the better treatments of this complex subject, see Guido de Ruggerio, The History of European Liberalism, tran. R. G. Collingwood (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1981); my own view is worked out in New Culture, New Right: Anti-liberalism in Postmodern Europe (Blommington: 1stBooks, 2004).

3. Martin Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics, tran. G. Fried and R. Polt (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 1.

4. Martin Heidegger, Schelling’s Treatise on the Essence of Human Freedom, tran. J. Stambaugh (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1985), 98.

5. Following an earlier convention of English-language Heideggerian studies, “Being” is used here to designate das Sein and “being” das Seiende, with the latter referring to an entity or a presence (physical or spiritual, real or imaginary) that partakes in the “beingness” of Being (das Sein).  The capital letter in Being ought not, though, to be seen as conferring a transcendental status on the concept — which would misapprehend what Heidegger intends in his use of the term.

6. Martin Heidegger, Nietzsche: IV. Nihilism, tran. F. A. Capuzzi (San Francisco: Harper, 1982), 90.

7. Heidegger, Nietzsche: IV, 86.

8. Heidegger, Schelling’s Treatise, 20; Martin Heidegger, Parmenides, tran. A. Schuwer and R. Rojcewicz (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998), 51.

9. Heidegger, Nietzsche: IV, 3.  Turgenev’s discussion of “nihilism,” especially pertinent to my generation, can be found in his novel Fathers and Sons (1861).

10. Heidegger, Nietzsche: IV, 21 and 220.

11. Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, tran. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson (New York: Harper, 1962), §19–21.

12. Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, tran. W. Lovitt (New York: Harper, 1977), 118.

13. What about the modern discipline of history? Like other academic disciplines, history is not necessarily quantitative in its representations, but its principal concern is with verifiable “facts”–which allegedly speaks for themselves and are taken as the “essence” of what was. Facts, though, are never enough to disclose “the meaning of a happening” or how they affect man’s Being. The historian’s empirical orientation to the historical record tends thus to distort the past in presenting it objectively, ignoring how “what has been” remains present in the present. Historiographical empiricism, accordingly, sees history as something past, not something opened to the future–something in movement back and forth in time, always in question. Relatedly, the vast majority of contemporary academic historians are historiographical researchers (concerned with empirical particulars), not students of history’s historicality (except in the most abysmal PC sense).  Martin Heidegger, Basic Questions of Philosophy: Selected “Problems” of “Logic,” tran. R. Rojcewicz and A. Schuwer (Bloomington: Indiana University Press), 27–52; Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics, 45–47.

14. Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics, 148; Martin Heidegger, Discourse on Thinking, tran. J. M. Anderson (New York: Harper, 1966), 47. For liberalism’s quantitative calculous, the joining of an African or Asian Dasein to a European one leads to something greater or larger, not something corrupted or diminished.

15. Charles Guignon, “Being as Appearing,” in R. Polt and G. Fried, eds., A Companion to Heidegger’s Introduction to Metaphysics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001).

16. Martin Heidegger, The Principle of Reason, tran. R. Lilly (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996), 80.

An earlier version of this essay appeared as “Freedom’s Racial Imperative: A Heideggerian Argument for the Self-Assertion of Peoples of European Descent,” The Occidental Quarterly, vol. 6, no. 3 (Fall 2006).

Read Part 2 here.

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7 Comments

  1. Michael O'Meara
    Posted September 18, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    Though I have long criticized racial determinists for offering a reductionist account of our dispossession and have tried to develop a more credible explanation, I no longer think that our prime focus ought to be deconstructing the elites’ myths.

    If you look at the Tea Party or the militias (whose simple-minded ideology is far less important than their anti-establishment attitude), you will see that ordinary whites have categorically rejected the elites — rejected their anti-white guilt, rejected their values, rejected their leadership. “Liberalism” is now a dirty word in the white population.

    We don’t need to convince our people that there’s something wrong with the system. They see it. Our major task, I believe, is to intervene in the movements that are already stirring and will continue to stir — because things aren’t going to get better economically.

    We will never get a better chance to challenge the system than now.

    We need, thus, to start thinking politically — to give some direction to the movement that has put the entire system on the defensive. When we get our White Republic, perhaps then we can afford to spend more time on philosophical issues.

  2. ArghSD
    Posted September 18, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Notus Wind said: “My response is to defeat the metaphysical foundations of this scientific nihilism with its own most formidable tools – the same rational and empirical swords are applied inward – by rigorously demonstrating their limits in understanding the real and then building from there. Humbling the old system on its own terms strikes me as being the most satisfying, but perhaps there’s a better way of going about this.”

    This is a little, almost never, expressed tactic in our ongoing war for the sustaining values of White Western Civilization, often called the Race War by outright White Nationalists.

    But this tactic gives us our best chances. The material manifestation is that we must demand the White liberal elites first surrender to all that they impose upon us and to all the horrors they demand we embrace.

    If they want us to embrace Diversity, we have the moral right to demand that they first submit to the Diversity Curse, and then we will watch how the experiment turns out for them before we accept any prescriptions, or agree to any proscriptions. (Rhetoric, folks. We will never accept their dictates. But we will expose their venal hypocrisy.) Let them prescribe and proscribe for themselves FIRST, but until then, they have earned no right to ask or demand anything of us.

    I remember hearing Greg Johnson say on the Political Cesspool that we can use their own weapons against them, but he didn’t elaborate with examples of how to do it, or recommend tactics. I keep reading Counter Currents in hopes of finding the Greg Johnson Program, but all I find are elevated analyses that are intriguing and informative, but not instructive. Are we supposed to read everything here in hopes that some subtle or sublime message will sink in and then suddenly we reach that moment of singular criticality when we then are empowered to defeat our enemies with their own weapons? Time is ticking, Age unto Age needs our help, and we need instruments of defense and power, not just impressive intellectualism, as valuable as it is for insatiable readers in the educated set.

    So here’s my offering. The White liberal elite mandate is that “we must atone for the sins of segregation by holding ourselves accountable to people of color for our unearned White privilege.” (“Atone” is a Jewish concept. Gentile Christians who really believe in forgiveness and redemption would never fall for it, but mainline Protestant denomination preach atonement all the time, i.e. Diversity, Multicultural, Inclusion, Tolerance, Radical Hospitality, Inter-racial Marriage and Adoption, etc., proving they don’t really believe in the divinity of Jesus, and therefore their faithlessness makes them untrustworthy in all their utterances and urgings.)

    Obama’s Diversity Czar, Mark Lloyd, told us how: “This… there’s nothing more difficult than this. Because we have really, truly good white people in important positions. And the fact of the matter is that there are a limited number of those positions. And unless we are conscious of the need to have more people of color, gays, other people in those positions we will not change the problem. We’re in a position where you have to say who is going to step down so someone else can have power. ” (Glenn Beck is a race traitor, but for exposing this quotation to millions of White Americans who watch his show, he’s the kind of race traitor we can tolerate for a while. He also exposed James Cone’sBlack Liberation Theology, i.e. “Jesus Demands White People Hate Themselves, and Will Never Forgive Them Until They Obey Blacks,” just a slight exposure to which must have sent thousands into our ranks.)

    So there it is in essential clarity: Whites must step down.

    That’s our weapon, because it’s theirs. White elites say blacks should have more institutional jobs, blocking the advancement of meritorious Whites. But the upper level Whites are keeping their jobs, which is offensive.

    Our weapon is to confront White liberal elites with the Diversity Program: “When will you step down to make room for a more deserving minority.” No if, but when. If they won’t and don’t, then how can they escape charges of racism, which is the charge that they must keep putting on us in maintain their own status within the systemic and institutional establishment?

    We must make the charge of racism stick to any White who is our enemy and has not yet surrender in total to their minority pets.

    Today, I drove by Yom Kippur, which was so overwhelmingly White, it looked as White as a Klan rally. It was 100% White!

    I saw no protesters. No news media. No NAACP taking photos and videos. Nobody was accusing them of being extremist hatemonger racists.

    Until we demand that Jews “embrace Diversity and total Equality through and Inter-Racial Marriage,” we won’t be using our enemy’s weapons against him.

    Humbly submitted in honor of Savitri Devi, Revilo Oliver, and William Gayley Simpson.

    (Savitri Devi’s ashes are supposed to be in New Berlin, Michigan. Does anyone know where Oliver and Simpson are buried? Places of Pilgrimage.)

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted September 18, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      On The Political Cesspool I said that we can help defeat the enemy by deconstructing media propaganda. Once people learn how to see through the propaganda, then it ceases to reinforce the enemy’s message and begins reinforcing ours instead. Trevor Lynch’s movie reviews are an attempt to do that. Alex Kurtagic does very good work in this vein as well. We are always looking for more writers who can carry out that task.

  3. Michael O'Meara
    Posted September 18, 2010 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Notus Wind,

    These are big questions you pose and I’m not certain I can answer them. But briefly:

    Re Descartes. If you see Cartesian rationalism as the metaphysical foundations of the modern scientific age (as I do), then I think it’s hard to see Descartes as simply “an accident of history.”

    Re “the real question.” We certainly don’t want to dismiss science, but rather to learn how to see and relate to the world in ways that don’t reduce it to “a standing reserve” — i.e., to something that is to be always manipulated and exploited. Here, I think Heidegger’s “Question of Technology” — which offers a meditative rather than a calculating disposition — offers an alternative approach.

    • Posted September 19, 2010 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      Thank you for taking the time to respond.

  4. Posted September 17, 2010 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Mr. O’Meara,

    Wow, it’s hard to believe that you wrote this piece almost five years ago as it fits so perfectly with the ongoing ontological discussion at MR that’s taken place over the last few weeks.

    The only thing you wrote that didn’t take with me was your criticism of Descartes as being the founder of the modern philosophical project and, in particular, its metaphysical foundations. You rightly note that his work was in reaction to the crisis of his era – between the concepts and values of medieval Christianity and Enlightenment rationalism – so isn’t Descartes’ role just an accident of history? After all, Descartes is no Heidegger; remove the former and his era will find a replacement, remove the latter and there is no replacement. Or would you dispute this?

    Irrespective of the previous paragraph’s quibbling, here is my real question for you. How are we to respond to the metaphysical foundations of the modern world? The question is difficult because we cannot simply reject those foundations and return to those of the medieval period. Furthermore, however we might respond to them we must do so respectfully for – as you say – they have empowered modern science with miraculous facility and technological prowess. You rightly note that it is a perspective that falls into error only when it is extrapolated beyond its domain (into that of man, society, and Being); however, it is far from obvious to even the most brilliant of our people that this extrapolation can’t be done. “Look at the technological wonders all around us” they say, “do these not testify to the ultimate truth!”

    My response is to defeat the metaphysical foundations of this scientific nihilism with its own most formidable tools – the same rational and empirical swords are applied inward – by rigorously demonstrating their limits in understanding the real and then building from there. Humbling the old system on its own terms strikes me as being the most satisfying, but perhaps there’s a better way of going about this.

  5. Michael O'Meara
    Posted September 17, 2010 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    This piece, written in late 2005, already shows its age. Then, I was searching for an understanding of our passivity — especially our emasculation.

    Five years later, everything has changed. The world is about to be tipped over. The main concern now is no longer nihilism, but courage, self-assertion, and the grounding of our being in the struggle to be who we are.

    The battle against liberalism is over. We have won. The people — the remnants of European America — despise it.

    The task now is to find an alternative — before being sucked back into the system.

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