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The Moral Factor, Part 1

Rops_Félicien_-_Pornokratès_-_1878 (1) [1]

Félicien Rops, “Pornokratès,” 1878

2,109 words

Part 1 of 2

Translations: Czech [2], French [3], Polish [4]Spanish [5]

“Man does not strive for happiness, only the Englishman does.”—Nietzsche

The central questions of metapolitics deal with identity, morality, and possibility.

As Carl Schmitt argues, the political is based on the distinction between us and them. The question of identity is: Who are we? And: Who are we not? Specifically, White Nationalism requires an answer to the question: Who is white, and who is not?

The moral question is: What is the right thing to do? Is creating a white homeland a moral thing to do? Even if White Nationalism is politically meaningful, people will resist it if they think it is immoral. But they will move heaven and earth to establish white homelands if they think it is the right thing to do.

But moral idealism is not enough. For politics is the art of the possible. Thus we need to know not just that White Nationalism is morally right, but also that it is politically possible. Is the global, multicultural, multiracial utopia being proffered even possible? Is a world without important differences—and thus without enmity—possible? And, if that world is an illusion, what of the alternative? Are ethnically homogeneous homelands possible? And if they are, is it possible for our people to regain control of our destiny and establish such homelands?

Against Political Cynicism

One of the most pervasive anti-metapolitical attitudes is what I call political cynicism. Political cynics hold that morality is, in fact, irrelevant to politics, meaning that considerations of right and wrong do not enter into political decision-making on the part of rulers or the people who are ruled. On this view, the powerful make laws solely on the basis of self-interest, and the weak comply solely on the basis of self-interest. Political behavior can, in short, be understood solely in terms of calculations based on carrots and sticks, i.e., greed and fear.

Political cynicism implies that all talk of morality is just a mask for more sordid motives. For instance, powerful people promote multiculturalism because it is in their interest, and powerless people go along with them out of fear of the consequences of non-compliance. All talk of white guilt, the evils of racism, and the moral imperative for whites to give way to non-whites is just window-dressing that plays no actual role in decision-making.

Political cynicism has practical implications. If morality is bunk and politics is all about money and power, then we should dispense with moral arguments and focus entirely on pursuing money and power. These views lead some White Nationalists to place their hopes in investment schemes and political electioneering. Others, like the Order, stockpiled weapons and robbed armored cars. But the reason they have made little headway is not merely that the enemy has more money and power, but that our people overwhelmingly believe that our cause is unjust, which increases the scope and intensity of resistance to us.

One cannot deny the power of greed and fear in politics. Nor can one deny that politics requires money and power. What I deny is that they are the only factors, that politics can be reduced to them, and that morality is not a factor as well. The purpose of this essay is to argue that morality—by which I mean people’s opinions of what is right and wrong—is a political factor as well. Beyond that, I will argue that morality can be a decisive and dominant factor, capable of trumping cynical power politics, of triumphing over greed and fear.

I will argue, furthermore, that although White Nationalism is widely thought to be immoral, actually our cause is good and the enemy’s cause is evil. Moreover, we have the means to persuade people that White Nationalism—indeed, ethnonationalism for everyone—is noble and good. We cannot compete with the enemy in terms of money and power. But we can compete morally. If we can persuade enough of the people who hold the guns and checkbooks that we are right, we can win. Political cynicism, then, is the rankest folly. The cynics urge us to ignore the moral factor—where we are strongest and our enemy is weakest—and focus entirely on power politics—where we are weakest and our enemy is strongest.

Saving the Appearances

The first problem with political cynicism is that it does not explain everything about politics. If one thinks that morality plays no role in politics—that morality is merely a matter of appearances, as opposed to the sordid reality of power politics—one still needs to explain the appearances. If morality plays no role in politics, why do people persist in thinking that it does? Why do politicians feel the need to trot out moral arguments? If political morality is a sham, why is it so widespread and deemed so important?

If politics is all about power rather than morality, why do dictatorships, in which individuals have little or no political power, devote immense expenditures to education and propaganda to convince the populace that their rule is fundamentally moral? If politics is entirely about power, wouldn’t one expect the states that have the most power over their populaces to invest the least in moral propaganda?

The cynics can’t argue that moral appeals are merely meaningless residues of the past, for that would imply that there was a time when morality did matter to politics. But if moral considerations truly never did matter, wouldn’t moral appeals have disappeared long ago?

Furthermore, even if there are no moral truths, just opinions—even if morality is just a matter of passionately held falsehoods—opinion is the life-blood of politics. Even totalitarian regimes recognize this, which is why they seek to mold public opinion. Politics would only reduce to money and power if everyone thinks it does. Morality matters to politics, simply because people think it does.

The same sort of cynicism that dismisses all morality as mere falsehood could, and often does, say the same thing about religion. Even if one thinks that a particular religion is true, one must logically conclude that the rest are false. Even if one thinks that all religions are true in some Traditionalist sense, one has to grant that their exoteric doctrinal and devotional differences exist on the level of opinion. But whether one thinks that religion is entirely a matter of opinion or just mostly a matter of opinion, one cannot deny that it matters politically. And if religion—whether true or false—matters to politics, then so does morality. Indeed, although rational and secular moral systems are possible, most existing moral codes are derived from religious revelation.

In short: if morality plays no role in politics, the cynics must still explain why people think it does. And if people think that morality plays a role in politics, then it does play a role in politics, because politics is largely a matter of opinion.

Bourgeois Man and Platonic Psychology

The second and deeper problem with political cynicism is that the “amoral” model of human behavior it puts forward is actually the product of a particular moral code. Man is not “by nature” a selfish calculating creature moved by greed and fear. That’s just Bourgeois man. Bourgeois behavior has always been possible for human beings, but it was not considered normal, much less ideal, until the rise of modern liberalism.

I believe that we can best understand Bourgeois man by looking backwards to Plato’s Republic. At the core of the Republic is a systematic analogy between the structure of the city and of the individual soul. Socrates analyzes the soul into three parts: reason, spirit, and desire.

Desire is directed toward the necessities of life: food, shelter, sex, and above all self-preservation. Since we share these desires with other animals, we can call them “creature comforts.”

Spirit (thumos) does not refer to anything ethereal or ghostly. It is more akin to “team spirit.” Spiritedness is “love of one’s own,” but it is not merely selfishness, for what one regards as one’s own can extend beyond one’s person and possessions to one’s family, one’s community, one’s homeland, one’s race, etc. A particularly broadened spiritedness can lead the individual to sacrifice his life to preserve a greater good with which he identifies.

Spiritedness is very much connected with one’s sense of honor, which is offended when others deny our worth or the worth of the things we love. Furthermore, because spiritedness involves passionate attachment to one’s own and a willingness to fight for its honor and interests, it is the basis of political life. Like Carl Schmitt, Plato and Aristotle believed that politics necessarily involves the distinction between us and them and the potential for enmity, which arise from the spirited part of the soul.

Reason for Plato is not just a morally-neutral calculative or technological faculty, which deliberates about the right means to attain any given end. Reason is also a moral faculty which can discover the nature of the good and establish the proper goals of human action.

Conflict and Order in the City and the Soul

It is possible for the different parts of the soul to be in conflict with one another.

Desire vs. Reason: On a hot day, one’s desires might urge you to drink a cold beer. But one’s reason might resist the temptation because one has a drinking problem.

Desire vs. Spiritedness: One might resist the desire to drink beer because giving into temptation is incompatible with one’s sense of honor.

Reason vs. Spiritedness: If one is insulted by a much larger man, spiritedness may desire to fight, but reason may resist on the grounds that victory would be impossible or too costly. (If valor has two parts—spiritedness and reason—discretion, i.e., reason, is the better part.)

If the different parts of the soul can come into conflict, then there are three basic types of men—rational, spirited, and desiring—based on which part of the soul tends to win out. This is the sense in which the soul is like society: it can be hierarchical; different parts can rule over one another. Man’s most fundamental freedom is his choice of masters. We can choose to be ruled by our reason, our spiritedness, or our desires.

As with an individual, a society as a whole can be ruled by its rational, spirited, or desiring parts.

In the Republic, Socrates calls the city ruled by reason “kallipolis”—the fine or beautiful city. But we have no name for a rational form of government, because it does not exist (yet). But we approximate to it by designing impartial deliberative procedures to make decisions and create and apply laws.

A society ruled by spiritedness is a warrior aristocracy.

A society ruled by desire is an oligarchy, if power is in the hands of the rich, and a democracy, if it falls into the hands of the poor.

Bourgeois Man and Society

I use the term Bourgeois to refer to oligarchical and democratic man alike. The Bourgeois type is ruled by his desires. His spiritedness is constricted to the hard nub of self-love, or love of one’s self-image (vanity), and sublimated into competition for money and the status symbols money can buy. His reason is merely a technical faculty for calculating how to pursue pleasures and avoid pains. His desires basically boil down to greed and fear. His highest value is a life of comfort and security. His greatest fear is a violent death.

Bourgeois man is the source of political cynicism, for he eliminates moral considerations from politics and seeks to reduce it entirely to a calculus of greed and fear. But that itself is a moral decision: the rejection of one model of the good life for another. Bourgeois man is himself a moral type. He thinks that Bourgeois society is fundamentally good. When forced to defend it in moral terms, he lifts his head and squeals about such notions as individual rights, the sacrosanct freedom of the individual, and the moral equality and dignity of man. Then he puts his snout back in the slop.

If all men were Bourgeois men, then resistance to the system would be futile, because nobody is easier to rule than a man whose highest value is a long and comfortable life and whose greatest fear is a violent death. If a man values wealth more than honor or community or principle, he can be bought. If a man fears death more than slavery, he can be enslaved. Indeed, Bourgeois man does not need to be seized violently and sold into slavery. He will sell himself into slavery. Bourgeois man is a natural slave, whether he wears chains or a three-piece suit.