Aristokratia III: Hellas
Edited by K. Deva
Having previously devoted previous volumes to Nietzsche and to Evola, for its third incarnation, “Hellas,” Aristokratia seemingly pauses to reflect on itself: what are arête, hoi aristoi and aristokratia?
Divided in three sections, the first bears the sacred name itself, Hellas. Reviewing the recent issue of TYR, I said that it was “not afraid to lead off with big guns blazing,” The same can be said of this volume, which leads off with an essay of some 60 pages by Gwendolyn von Taunton: “What is Best in Life? The Pursuit of Excellence and the Aristocratic Principle,” no less than a history of the notion of the good life, and how it has interacted with the parallel notion of aristocracy, from pre-Homeric warriors through Aristotle and, with a bit of jump, Nietzsche. As we’ve come to expect from GvT, we find wide-ranging but up-to-date reading combined with a knack for remarkable and succinct formulations. Along the way, we find the intriguing idea that the real crime of Socrates was that he
Created a new form of aristocracy that was both palatable to the public and the old aristocracy . . . a workable standard that was to be a form of government based on morality and arête [which] negates not just Athenian democracy but the foundation of modern political science as we understand it today.
Rather than democracy, where “everyone believes they are entitled to an equal quantity of power simply by virtue of their existence,” or aristocracy as the Athenians understood it, based on money, power, or bloodline, this is “an aristocracy based on intelligence, wisdom and education,” rule by “an educated and intelligent elite which bypasses the idea of ‘class’.”
The essay ends with some sad thoughts on modern democracy, where virtue has fled and the “structure is inverted,” with an oligarchy seeking benefit from, rather than benefiting, the people. Though framed in general terms, the American, faced with the likely choice of another Clinton or another Bush, can only agree with our Australasian author that
The majority of voters in modern democracies are faced with a single choice: which of the two candidates is the least reprehensible. It is not even a true democracy, but a self-perpetuating dynasty where two parties reign unchallenged, and only the public figureheads change.
As presented by von Taunton, we could even say Socrates was the first practitioner of what’s come to be called metapolitics, eschewing the futility and danger or personal action in favor of re-educating a critical mass of the young. So it’s appropriate to find Counter-Currents own meta-politician, Greg Johnson, here as well, sharing with us the transcript of a lecture on wisdom, the good life, and the role of politics, which he delivered to some no doubt worthy and grateful students.
There follows a series of meditations on Classical themes with relevance to our own age, such as Matthew Raphael Johnson’s “The Platonic Ontology of Justice: Crafts, the Forms, and Political Leadership” — which manages to bring René Guénon and Wilfred Sellars into juxtaposition—as well as Michael Millerman’s “Herodotus on Oracles, Dreams, and Gods,” and Brett Stevens on “Plato and the Divine.”
Mark Dyal’s “Lycurgus and the Creation of the Spartan Warrior State” gives us a calm and positive account of the unique society of eugenics and hardships that lay behind the movie 300, including the interesting point that this non-family values world held women in greater esteem than did Athens.
Colin Liddell addresses the vexed question of “why did the Christians win?” in “Apollonius of Tyana and the Alternative Empire,” and reaches the perhaps counter-intuitive but instructive answer that, ill-educated and fanatical as they were, the Christians, unlike the Mithraists and other candidates, offered the Empire what it needed: a new bureaucracy, ready to step in and take over, a new aristocracy or “alternative elite.”
This symbiosis between a slave religion of passive, feudal obedience and occasional Dionysian frenzy, and the dull rationalism of bureaucratic militarism, was in its own way, a blind quest for a Nietzschean synthesis, but at a much lower level than the one that had launched the empire.
By limiting itself to the monarchical idea of the philosopher king, rather than a redeeming aristocracy, Apollonianism proved to be a non-starter; but Christianity fared little better, proving itself to be a dead end in terms of saving the empire, which survived its re-sacralization by little over a century.
After all this Hellenism, Aristokratia modules into a new section, “Aristos,” which examines our modern world and what it lacks: aristocracy. Alexander Jacob, author of many distinguished works on Aryan themes, provides two essays; the second entitled “The Bourgeoisie, Protestantism and the Protocols: The Anti-Democratic Thought of Erik Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn and Barone Giulio Cesare Evola” – which, taken along with Edwin Dyga’s “Transcendence and the Aristocratic Principle: ‘Throne And Altar’ as Essential Criteria for Civilization and National Particularism; Defence against Demotic Tyranny”—not only perform the laudable service of making better known the unjustly neglected work of der Ritter, but suggest ways that his somewhat more finely grained analyses of European religion and politics may provide a more hopeful, or just more practical, alternative to the Baron’s pessimistic view of the options open to us in the Kali Yuga.
On the other hand, Timotheus Lutz, in “Mircea Eliade’s ‘Traditionalism’: Appearance and Reality,” subjects the Romanian academic’s opinions on the Sicilian baron to scrutiny, and finds them quite unfounded, even puerile, concluding with a passage of almost Schuonian intellectual hauteur:
It could be said figuratively that if one who comprehends and adopts the traditional perspective can be said to have a view from the peaks that allows the most complete survey, then Eliade could be describes as not having completed the ascent, his vision being obscured by clouds above or distracted by objects lying along the path to the summit. If he could see individual rocks on the path more closely, we must remember that the view from [the] summit is still the most important.
In “The Beauty of Monarchy” Brett Stevens succinctly presents a dozen or so reasons for the superiority of monarchy to over the system of “public image manipulation” we call democracy. He also addresses the usual objects, such as how it could avoid a “bad king” and how it could arise; the key to both is that monarchy arises out of a “mesh of aristocracy,” the natural leaders of any society (about five percent, as Colin Wilson would say) who, if they were to agree on the need for aristocracy would naturally bring the rest of society along with them, as they always do, and would continue to guide and correct the monarch.
Again, we see the importance of metapolitics for developing or preserving aristocracy. This might be best read alongside John Maelstrom’s more practical, but still visionary, “The Great Initiative,” subtitled “An Experiment in Building Aristocracy from Nothing.”
And speaking of “nothing,” a surprising guest here is Keith Preston, anarchist. I say “surprising” because, isn’t the anarchist against government, hierarchy, aristocracy? In “Nietzsche the Visionary: A Reflection on the Nature of a Civilization Guided by Nietzschean Values,” Preston argues that with the collapse of the eminently non-Nietzschean, non-aristocratic societies of democratic modernism, the natural social bodies now “smothered” by the Leviathan State will reassert themselves, and natural aristocrats will come to the surface, leading by ability, not birth or wealth; exactly the aristocratic ideal that von Taunton expounded from Socrates and Nietzsche, combined with the Catholic subsidiarity of Kuehnelt-Leddihn.
After “Hellas” and “Aristos,” Aristokratia III turns to “Sophia” in the form of a short section of book reviews. Here again Gwendolyn von Taunton leads off, with a consideration of Lovecraft’s self-published journal The Conservative as a chance to get to know the man himself; readers might enjoy comparing this to my own humble effort.
On that same personal note, I must confess that when it comes to Azsacra Zarathustra, whose work seems to be Aristokratia’s unique discovery and project, I have never been able to really “get it.” This time around, Conor Wrigley’s review of Zarathustra’s TDAS: The Spiritual Weapon of Revolution, along with his own article, “The Great Forest of the Overman: Dismantling Illusion From Within,” which compares Zarathustra’s “Overman-beyond-man” with Jünger’s “forest rebel,” convinces me that there’s something here, and I’d better start getting with it, beginning perhaps with his essay here, “Freedom of the Overman: Revolutionary Language of the Overman Par Excellence.”
Like the previous volumes, Aristokratia III does not ignore the need to present intellectual beauty in a form of physical beauty. From the full color photo of the statue of Pallas Athene that graces the cover, to the typography, binding, layout, proof-reading, and carefully chosen line drawings and chapter “slugs” within, Aristokratia III is a triumph of the art of book production.
It can truly be said that everything here demands close and repeated reading, both for personal spiritual development (or Bildung) and for metapolitical and even practical use. As Coleridge said there was an essential poetry, that to which the reader returns with the greatest pleasure, so this is an essential collection for anyone on the alt-Right.
1. As one of Hermann Hesse’s typically oppressed schoolboys sneers, “And our dormitory is named ‘Hellas’! All this classical stuff is a big fake. If one of us tried to live a little like a Greek he’d be out on his tail.” Beneath the Wheel (Picador, 2003), p. 75.
2. Evola (Meditations on the Peaks), Coomaraswamy (“Paths that Lead to the Same Summit”), and Pink Floyd!
3. On a related cultural point, V. Caine’s “Zombies vs. Vampires: Expressions of Socio-Political Fears in Horror Film” considers how the vampire, once the avatar of an undead European Catholic aristocracy whose return terrified the shopkeepers of Great Britain, has been replaced by the zombie, image of our amorphous hordes of brainless, democratic consumers, and the vampire now embodies “power, beauty and culture.”
4. “I have founded my affair on nothing” – Goethe, but also the motto of Stirner’s The Ego and His Own. We see too little practical approaches to the likely collapse of society from an alt-Right or “White Nationalist,” rather than merely “survivalist” or hysterical “prepper” perspective; see Claus Brinker’s review of Piero San Giorgio’s Survive—The Economic Collapse: A Practical Guide (Radix/Washington Summit Publishers, 2013).
5. As the Situationists, the aristocrats of ’68, told us, “Beneath the pavement, the beach.”
6. “The First Steampunk: H. P. Lovecraft’s The Conservative,” here.
7. Zarathustra’s “dismantling of all illusions from within,” and his transcendental vector, (Lutz’s peaks not obscured by clouds) put me in mind of Emericus Durden’s much more conventionally written but equally strident Aiming Higher Than Mere Civilization: How Skeptical Nihilism Will Remind Humanity Of Its Long Forgotten Purpose (Radical Academic Press, 2014), which I recently reviewed here.