The Fundamentals

Fundamentals of a New Movement


The overarching, basic fundamentals of a New Movement are listed here. The link leads to the relevant post below. Also see "The Fundamentals" post list to the lower right. This is our new path. If you agree with this direction, then join with us.


The Old Movement is dead. Let us instead build something that works, a New Movement, a fresh start.



Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Selective Breeding and the Birth of Philosophy

Book review.

See here.

Amazon review:

This is an argument that philosophy is born with and dependent on the idea of nature; and that this idea was first discovered or manifested in the perception of biological reality, in particular the perception of hereditary transmission of physical and behavioral qualities, together with the perception that moral and legal codes are relative and contingent. It was generally only within the spiritual and intellectual horizon of certain types of aristocracies to have access to such perceptions, as well as ability and liberty to openly state or explore them. A connection is further observed, on these grounds, between philosophy and tyranny, or rather the philosopher and tyrant as closely related types that emerge during the decline of e.g., Greek and Renaissance Italian aristocratic communities. I make this case through a study of Nietzsche's reading of antiquity, in particular his reading of Plato and Pindar, or rather a Nietzschean reading of these. The first long chapter also covers George Frazer and anthropological and historical literature, as well as Homer. This is a revised version of my own doctoral dissertation, and includes a long new introduction explaining my intentions in this book. I make the case in this introduction that this same matter of selective breeding, whether sexual selection, or various societies' management of marriage and reproduction, constitutes the most important part of morality, legislation, or of the "lawgiver's art," and that a sharp awareness of this reality is what led, again, to the discovery of the standard of nature and the subsequent birth of philosophy.

The type of the tyrant is ultimately interpreted as a kind of "active philosophy," although it must be emphasized that such can only be the case for the ancient Greek or Renaissance Italian type, not what is called by the name "tyrant" indiscriminately today. Accordingly the voice of Callicles in Plato's Gorgias is interpreted as the political philosophy, or the weaponized posture of the pre-Socratic philosophical type.

The author:

Bronze Age Pervert, also known as BAP or B.A.P.,is a pseudonymous far-right Internet personality, associated with the manosphere. The media have identified Costin Vlad Alamariu (born May 21, 1980), a Romanian-American, as the person behind the pseudonym…Alamariu is of Romanian and Jewish descent…

More, see this.

The author’s alleged identity as “Bronze Age Pervert” and his ethnicity will not affect my review, which is as follows.

The book unfortunately takes HBD too seriously and positively notes execrable trash like “HBD Chick.” The book also supports the idea of steppe conquerors establishing themselves as an aristocratic class (there may be some truth in this), a variant of Hamilton’s noble barbarian thesis:

Hamilton, W.D. (1975), Innate social aptitudes of man: an approach from evolutionary genetics, in R. Fox (ed.), Biosocial Anthropology, Malaby Press, London, 133-53.

The incursions of barbaric pastoralists seem to do civilizations less harm in the long run than one might expect. Indeed, two dark ages and renaissances in Europe suggest a recurring pattern in which a renaissance follows an incursion by about 800 years. It may even be suggested that certain genes or traditions of pastoralists revitalize the conquered people with an ingredient of progress which tends to die out in a large panmictic population for the reasons already discussed. I have in mind altruism itself, or the part of the altruism which is perhaps better described as self-sacrificial daring. By the time of the renaissance it may be that the mixing of genes and cultures (or of cultures alone if these are the only vehicles, which I doubt) has continued long enough to bring the old mercantile thoughtfulness and the infused daring into conjunction in a few individuals who then find courage for all kinds of inventive innovation against the resistance of established thought and practice. Often, however, the cost in fitness of such altruism and sublimated pugnacity to the individuals concerned is by no means metaphorical, and the benefits to fitness, such as they are, go to a mass of individuals whose genetic correlation with the innovator must be slight indeed. Thus civilization probably slowly reduces its altruism of all kinds, including the kinds needed for cultural creativity (see also Eshel 1972).

I object to the “genetic correlation with the innovator must be slight indeed” statement in that it is incorrect from a global and/or group selection standpoint, although it is true with respect to the isolated population itself, which is probably how Hamilton meant it. Therefore, my objection is more how the Left/System and the HBD scum would misinterpret Hamilton’s point (“you see, members of the same group are unrelated and free riding destroys ethnic nepotism”) as opposed to the specific point that Hamilton is making about the dilution of altruism in a population. One can make arguments against Hamilton in that in a closely related population the “genetic altruism” may be widespread and that given computational modeling showing that ethnocentrists outcompete free-riders (as well as universalists), if we extend altruism into the ethnocentrism equation, things might not be as bleak as Hamilton suggests.

In any case, the book being reviewed here seems to be of the school of outside conquerors (e.g., from pastoralist/steppe settings) setting themselves up as an aristocratic ruling elite among settled farming people (e.g., “my noble position was won by my forebears wielding battle axes”) and one can view that in from the spectrum of degenerate “civilized” populations being enriched by the blood of “barbarians.”  However, there are no more White barbarians to do such enriching, and even if “suitable” non-White barbarians existed (and they do not exist – all we have are destructive low quality parasites), such “enrichment” would be racially destructive and so the EGI costs would outweigh any purported benefits. No, instead our regeneration now much come from within. Perhaps the Far Right elements of today’s degenerate and xenophilic White populations are the new barbarians. Who knows?  Or at least, a Far Right victory would allow for an enriching eugenics.

Putting the obsession with altruism aside, the following is Hamilton extending inclusive fitness beyond narrow kin:

The usefulness of the 'inclusive fitness' approach to social behavior (i.e. an approach using criteria like (b[AB]K-k)>0) is that it is more general than the 'group selection', 'kin selection', or 'reciprocal altruism' approaches and so provides an overview even where regression coefficients and fitness effects are not easy to estimate or specify. As against 'group selection' it provides a useful conceptual tool where no grouping is apparent -- for example, it can deal with an ungrouped viscous population where, owing to restricted migration, an individual’s normal neighbours and interactants tend to be his genetical kindred.

Because of the way it was first explained, the approach using inclusive fitness has often been identified with 'kin selection' and presented strictly as an alternative to 'group selection' as a way of establishing altruistic social behavior by natural selection (e.g. Maynard Smith 1964; Lewontin 1970). But the foregoing discussion shows that kinship should be considered just one way of getting positive regression of genotype in the recipient, and that it is this positive regression that is vitally necessary for altruism. Thus the inclusive-fitness concept is more general than 'kin-selection'. Haldane's suggestion about tribe-splitting can be seen in one light as a way of increasing intergroup variance and in another as a way of getting positive regression in the population as a whole by having the groups which happen to have most altruists divide most frequently. In this case, the altruists are helping true relatives. But in the assortive-settling model it obviously makes no difference if altruists settle with altruists because they are related (perhaps never having parted from them) or because they recognize fellow altruists as such, or settle together because of some pleiotropic effect of the gene on habitat preference. If we insist that group selection is different from kin selection the term should be restricted to situations of assortation definitely not involving kin. But it seems on the whole preferable to retain a more flexible use of terms; to use group selection where groups are clearly in evidence and qualify with mention of 'kin' (as in the 'kin-group ‘selection referred to by Brown 1973), 'relatedness' or 'low migration' (which is often the cause of relatedness ingroups), or else 'assortation', as appropriate. The term 'kin selection' appeals most where pedigrees tend to be unbounded and interwoven, as is so often the case with man.

Let’s get to the main thesis of the book.

The original native societies (e.g., in very early Ancient Greece) were ruled by egalitarian “totalitarian democracies” (not the same as I use that term) that had as their underlying structure a strict, absolute, dogmatic adherence to ancestral tradition and laws (”nomos”). Councils of elders held the real power, and dissent from a slavish adherence to tradition could mean death. Ethnically and culturally, these societies were non-martial farming people of a gracile phenotype.

How did things change? These lands were invaded and conquered by physically robust pastoralists of a martial nature (e.g., steppe people) who set themselves up as a ruling elite and instituted an aristocratic ethos, with a willingness to accept new ideas, and a hierarchical social structure and establishment of kings with real power and an aristocracy.  Even if the newcomers and the natives genetically melded over time (sometimes this happened, sometimes it did not), these social and cultural changes and structures persisted.

Given the aristocratic ethos, physical characteristics, pastoralist origins (e.g., animal breeding) of the newcomers and the establishment of a societal culture around newcomer values, issues like breeding came into focus as important, not only of animals, but, more importantly, of people as well. The innate heritable abilities of people come into focus. A key to the aristocratic ethos was the idea that the aristocracy were fit to rule due to their innate (heritable) superiority (but see below) and that a purpose to the understanding of nature with respect to the aristocracy was a breeding program to create superior individuals of moral and physical vigor. The author mentions the:

…observed descent of concrete physical qualities by blood and breeding as opposed to the authority of ancestral stories and laws…

And:

Nature is body and blood, and blood and is therefore heredity, Knowledge of breeding and heredity is, again, to be expected among a pastoral people who have long experience with livestock breeds. Furthermore, when war and hunting are prized, there is also an emphasis on the breeding of horses and of dogs…

This led to the “discovery of nature” – the ability to understand the natural world – as opposed to adherence to blind tradition. This in turn led to the rise of philosophy and of tyranny (sometimes supported by philosophy) – philosophy and tyranny often manifesting as important during periods of degeneration of the aristocratic regimes, when these regimes needed to better justify and fortify themselves.  The author states (italics in original): 

 …it is this element of absolute unmooring from the settled, democratic rule of the ancestral customs  that, when the actual aristocracies are in political and social decline in the late Archaic age. Is radicalized, recovered, refined, and made abstract, not only by the philosophical way of life and its discovery of nature, but by the way of life of the tyrant.

Thus, in a sense, philosophy and tyranny are used as tools to attempt to regenerate a declining aristocratic social structure, in part through the “discovery of nature.”

Note how Nietzsche associated the rise of Socrates and subsequent Geek (Apollonian) philosophy with a degeneration of the aristocratic (Dionysian) Hellenic society. The book’s author stresses that the various upheavals in (Ancient) Greek ancestry were not, as supposed, an attempt to return to an idyllic “settled” life, but rather a regeneration of the “wild” and “barbaric” unsettled martial way of life. This goes back to Hamilton (“…suggest a recurring pattern in which a renaissance follows an incursion by about 800 years. It may even be suggested that certain genes or traditions of pastoralists revitalize the conquered people”); the idea here is that the original pastoralist conquerors became too settled and a fresh infusion of pastoralist barbarism regenerates the original aristocratic attitude (in this sense, “settled” means the non-martial “democratic” farming societies while “unsettled” represents the war-like aristocratic pastoralists, including pastoralist warbands of young warriors).

The author extends his theory a bit and talks about how the radicalization of nature (e.g., with the Ancient Greeks) was associated with a decline in aristocratic power due to both external and internal influences. With respect to the external, the rule of a given aristocracy can be physically challenged as well as their legitimacy to rule deconstructed. With respect to the internal, a given aristocracy can degenerate.  The author notes a bit of a discordance between a strict adherence to (a) the aristocracy is fit to rule to their superior qualities, and (b) there exists a tradition of rule by a certain aristocracy, which leads to the question as to whether the aristocracy rules due to their currently existing innate qualities or by tradition.  Of course, part of the aristocratic tradition itself is the idea of nature and of innate superiority of the rulers, but the existence of this discordance led to the further radicalization and abstraction of the nature principle with the philosophy and tyranny manifesting during periods of decline. One can question as well whether the discordance between rule by superiority or rule by tradition became more of an issue in the event of a degenerating internal decline of the aristocracy.  The author quotes Pindar talking about strength in men manifesting in alternate generations, such as may happen with crops and fruit trees; the aristocratic apologia here is that while the sons of aristocratic heroes may be mediocre, the blood is still there, and subsequent generations may yield men of quality once again – sort of a upward progressing to the mean. The author rejects such an interpretation of Pindar’s passage as an apologia for his own time, since it seems that the passage was meant for aristocrats who did not require self-legitimacy, rather than for public propaganda purposes. I might add though that we today could interpret the meaning of Pindar’s passage in the manner described above, as our own justification for aristocracy (regardless of Pindar’s intention); however, I prefer an elite chosen on the basis of exhibited manifest personal superiority, rather than a hereditary aristocratic class from which we may merely hope for future ability.

The author stresses the Pindarian ideal of innate, biological, heritable traits being of immeasurably more value than that learned by education, training, and convention; one must be bred to be an impetuous “beast,” both fox and lion, with the manly aristocratic traits whose most refined manifestation is a result, ultimately of nature, not nurture, traits whose source is the “blood.”  It seems clear that Pindar valued heredity, nature, and blood, a theoretical basis of human understanding compatible with today’s Far Right.

There is also a discussion of Plato’s Gorgias, specifically the ideas of Callicles and how that fits in with the aristocratic idea of nature, the primacy of biology, and the link between philosophy and tyranny, with the philosopher and tyrant being “kindred types.” The author states that the “fundamental function of political philosophy on the one hand, and of tyranny on the other” is the “protection - the breeding - and training or protection of this biological specimen.”  Thus, philosophy and tyranny aim at creating “game reserves” for the “aristocratic breeding project” now abstracted into political philosophy as independent of classes or tribes.”  Plato may be attempting to hide his beliefs in this regard and conceals the kinship between philosophy and tyranny through attacks on tyranny. Given the persecution of philosophy by democratic forces (the trial and death of Socrates being just one prime example), Plato (and others) tried via apologia to deflect this animus and obscure the connection between philosophy and tyranny (as noted above).

Complaints about philosophy can come from the perspective of omission or commission. Of the former, from a Jewish/Islamic perspective, by relentlessly questioning everything, including societal conventions, philosophy can erode adherence to those conventions and cause the omission of people following conventions and traditions considered essential for societal stability. By placing doubts in the minds of men regarding fundamental principles, apathy can result. As regards the latter, the Ancient Greek complaint was more that philosophy can encourage the commission of illegal acts and the march to tyranny.

Traditionally, the interpretation of the Gorgias was that Plato was siding with Socrates in the Callicles-Socrates debate, with Socrates seemingly arguing for a more “morale, humane, proto-Christian” position while Callicles argued in favor of a more Social Darwinist “might makes right” approach, which was nature based, and that was concerned with promoting the interests of superior human specimens.  Indeed, Callicles’ thought was to support the political over the philosophical life, in the direction if tyranny to safeguard the promotion of nature and the well-being of his superior human specimens.  In a sense, Callicles was promoting the pre-Socratic philosophical position from which he derives the idea of the superior man breaking free of the stifling bounds of convention. The author however believes that Plato secretly sided with Callicles and claims that the “refutation” by Socrates of the positions of Callicles was not much of a refutation at all, and in one sense Socrates “doubled down” on some of Callicles’ ideas.  Socrates seemed to believe that Callicles was being somewhat political naïve in believing that convention suppressed the superior only through (coercive) “speech” (in modern language: memes and ideologies) while Socrates invoked the reality of a (democratic) regime resorting to physical force to restrain the ambitions of Callicles’ “Übermensch.”  Note that Callicles considered Socrates as a superior man and that the tyranny would also serve to protect philosophy from democratic persecution – a persecution that was all too real. To protect and promote philosophy in a city like Athens, Plato had to both “spiritualize” Callicles’ “aristocratic radicalism” and obscure the link between philosophy and tyranny; indeed, to make philosophy seem in opposition to tyranny.  Plato’s aims here are said to be to “advise potential philosophers on the necessity of liberation from convention, "to assure the cities that this liberation would not encourage tyranny,” and that “the philosopher is the true possessor of the political art.” Plato thus wants to leverage Greek city politics to advance the cause of philosophy. Convention cannot be openly opposed as such, but infiltrated from within, for the sake of philosophy and aristocratic natural values.

I assume that the reader is familiar with Nietzsche and his work so that I can briefly touch on some of the more novel points this book makes on Nietzsche and his work. Thus, as regards Nietzsche, the fan of Napoleon, he regarded philosophy as a way of life and had as a goal “making the world safe for philosophy,” so to speak rather than the goal of certain Greeks to focus on producing a “supreme physical specimen.” Ultimately though, the link between philosophy and tyranny remains. I agree with the author that at some point the writings of Nietzsche need to be taken at face value, and not merely interpreted as him “joking” or “making a point.”  Additional information on Nietzsche:

See this.

And this.

For Nietzsche (and philosophy/religion in general), we see a distinction between exoteric and esoteric programs; the former is the outward political and moral program and the latter is the inner spiritual meaning, such as the interests of philosophy and the life of the philosopher. Both are real, both are relevant, and it is wrong to consider the exoteric as merely a “metaphor” or “irony” or a “joke” (in the case of Nietzsche). The author gives Sufism as an example – jihad can certainly have an esoteric meaning of an inner spiritual struggle and personal warfare, but it also has an exoteric meaning as warfare against unbelievers, and it is the exoteric that provides protection for the esoteric. Likewise, if Nietzsche’s aim was the preservation of philosophy, then his exoteric objectives were not merely “metaphor” or “jokes” but need to be taken at face value as ideals for the protection of philosophy.  Both Plato and Nietzsche had the same objective of preserving philosophy, but their tactics differed due to the context of their respective eras. Plato and the Socratic school felt that they needed to obscure, to spiritualize and make abstract the aristocratic  ethos to protect philosophy from the attacks of democracy.  Nietzsche on the other hand believed that the Platonic school was all too successful, resulting in an enervation of European man, who required rebarbarization.

As part of this is an reexamination of aristocracy, emphasizing its physical aspects. Here we observe a discussion of tanning. Thus, contra to the Nordicist view, in Ancient Greece, a tanned physique was demonstration of the aristocratic warrior, and the tanned Spartan-Greek aristocracy was contrasted to the (effete) Persian-Oriental oligarchy.  This would perhaps be a surprise to those who have drunk the “movement” Kool-Aid, but you should understand by now how the Nordicists are wrong about just about everything. In any case, this focus on tanning emphasizes the “physicality” of the Greek aristocracy, resulting from a long history of breeding and training (with the latter, often outdoors, contributing to tanning, as did being on military campaigns).  We again observe the link between physicality, breeding, and training and the focus on nature as the basis of philosophy, and we observe the analogy of the philosopher and a bred and trained “athlete of the intellect.” While Plato was more direct than Nietzsche in the link between physicality and philosophy, the latter did basically agree with the former. The aristocratic ideal – that contained within it physicality, competition, breeding, and training; hence, nature – was the foundation for philosophy and high culture. Of course, physicality and training are insufficient for philosophy and high culture, as the case of Sparta makes clear.  However, Athens had a balance between the aristocratic idea and the balanced promotion of culture and philosophy. Thus, aristocratic physicality can be viewed as necessary but not sufficient for a philosophical regime.  We can consider Ancient Rome – that Nietzsche stated was a case of the stalk growing at the expense of the flower – as akin to a Latin Sparta, in that their aristocratic values (i.e., the patricians) did not result in the “flower” of a native philosophy/culture.

We also come back to the idea that philosophy can be viewed as the abstraction and spiritualization of physicality, physical beauty, competition, etc. that occurred  during a period of aristocratic decline, in which a “liberalization” allows for aristocratic energy to be focused on intellectual pursuits, which themselves can be used to defend the declining aristocratic regime. What Nietzsche saw as fundamental for establishing the aristocratic  regime were cruelty, intolerance, and the ‘pathos of distance.” The creation of the Greek polis involved citizen quality over quantity, and, at least in the beginning, a ruthless weeding out of the inferior could be considered as essential. Danger – internal, external, or both – was important for creating the context for intolerant cruelty to build and maintain the regime, and a paradox for such a system was how to both create the required “predatory beasts” (my term) while at the same time constraining their ambition to prevent them from wrecking an aristocratic society. With degeneration these “pent up” political and spiritual tensions burst forth and during periods of “liberalization” these tensions and energies can be focused on intellectual and cultural pursuits.  Indeed, the author states that ”Political weakening is good for culture” – Spengler’s distinction of culture vs. civilization comes to mind (although in his scheme culture peaked in the earlier times before centralized authority and civilization, not later during degeneration) and it is during these times of decline that Nietzsche claimed that “the most amazing specimens can emerge.”  Indeed, there must be the right types of people to take advantage of these periods, and this is when tyranny can emerge (another link between philosophy and tyranny). Tyranny emerges here not only because of the weakening of the aristocratic constraints but also because of a “strengthening” that can take place in those rare “amazing specimens” – novel, brilliant, tyrannical men (“beautiful monsters,” e.g., Caesar) - that allow them to flourish in periods of decline, in the same manner that the philosophers (“tyrants of the spirit”) can flourish.

Thus, barbarians establish an aristocratic regime over a sedentary population and under the pressure of danger establish an aristocratic regime characterized by cruelty, intolerance, pathos of distance, and the breeding program, coupled to training, to produce the requisite human material. This human material, and its training, and the background of the aristocratic ideals furnish the raw material for high culture, including philosophy.  Then during decline, political weakness, when the pent-up energies are released, “monstrous types” emerge – and akin to the concept of biological mutation, most of these types will be weak and botched (and men of mixed race and warring heredities) but a minority of the more fortunate will be stronger and these will be the “beautiful monsters” – Alcibiades, Caesar, da Vinci, and, no doubt, Napoleon. 

The Platonic project had as an exoteric meaning to fight Geek decadence and an esoteric meaning to make the cities safe for philosophy.  But as described above, to obfuscate, the abstraction and spiritualization of nature ended up reinforcing an enervating decadence that Nietzsche opposed. The Socratic-Platonic school’s attempted cure for the age of dissolution reinforced the problems.  While it made the remaining Classical World safe for philosophy it also created a breeding ground for Christianity, which the author claims led to “the misbreeding of modern European man.” Thus, the conditions for philosophy become untenable – the misbreeding eliminates even most of the “beautiful monsters” and creates a zeitgeist unsuitable for philosophy.  While Platonism – suitable for a late-stage civilizations and not for barbarians introduced to culture (in other words, suitable for Spengler’s [late] Fall and not Spring) - can be forgiven for not foreseeing the Christian threat, the Platonist tendency to ascetic “otherworldliness” was an inherent flaw that cannot be explained away. On the one hand, ascetism was a reasonable “treatment” in a age of decadence and unrestrained instincts. But the problem was that a proper understanding of nature and of the body was lost, which became disastrous when Christianity was able to enforce Platonist exoteric doctrine (morality, etc.) more powerfully than what Plato imagined. The true power of philosophy is in its inner esoteric meaning of breeding and nature; Platonist moral philosophy was “contingent” on historical circumstances and should not be broadly applied, certainly not in its Christian variant.

Nietzsche and Plato disagreed on tactics, not aims, a point made clear all above. The aims include the preservation and promotion of nature, the breeding of genius, of amazing specimens, and to make society safe for philosophy.  As the author points out, “man is a political animal, attracted to “force, power, and violence.”  The purpose of human nature is the production of genius, and the specific production of military genius is a prerequisite for the stability of a state that can allow genius more generally to flourish. Inevitably there is the association of philosophy with tyranny. The Conclusion of the book summarizes all of this.  The Appendix may be of utility to those interested in Strauss but does not alter the interpretations already discussed.

To summarize the fundamentals here: The “idea of nature” derives from aristocratic ideals, and defenders of aristocracy respond to its decline by “abstracting and radicalizing” the “idea of nature.” The author connects two strands of philosophical thought; first, Nietzsche’s thesis that philosophy and tyranny (that are linked) originate with aristocratic degeneration and, second, the Straussian idea that “nature” is a requisite precondition for the development of philosophy.

In summary, this was an interesting book.  You can argue that it is a bit “dense” and repetitive, but it is adapted from a thesis, so that needs to be considered.  The author presents sufficient evidence to support his major contentions, and the emphasis here on nature, heredity, biology, and breeding is a healthy response to those who want to strip Greek philosophy and the philosophy of Nietzsche of its biological connotations (indeed, the author critiques those who wrote that Nietzsche was “joking” or didn’t mean what people assumes he meant).  Thus, the book is a necessary corrective in response to the tendency of the Left and Center to de-biologize philosophy and merely extol its purely abstract ethical considerations. I would recommend this book for those on the Right who are more of the “intellectual type,” at least as a thought-provoking exercise in considering deeper meanings of various philosophical and historical currents of relevance to the West.  Indeed, a biology-based philosophy steeped in nature can be utilized to form an ethical defense of our genetic interests, including those interests at the group level, a topic I’ve broached at my blogs (and of course the third part of On Genetic Interests begins the discussion of such issues).

Monday, March 20, 2023

Lincoln's Electric Cord Speech

A different perspective on the origins of American multiculturalism.

There are those - and here I have in mind one Canadian commentator at Majority Rights - who will claim that American multiculturalism had its ultimate roots in the "great wave" immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries - the so-called "race replacement that dare not speak its name."

But if we shift back to a famous speech by a well known American in the year 1858, we will find that the real ultimate roots of multicultural American "constitutional patriotism" was in the first large scale "race replacement that dare not speak its name" - the migration of Germans, Irish, Frenchmen, and Scandinavians into an America whose founding population was primarily of British Protestant stock. Yes, there were some other ethnies present, but these were a decided minority of the White population and, as Lincoln suggests, had little or nothing to do with the founding of America. As of 1858, these peoples were seen as essentially foreign to the American experience, and their assimilation into America was viewed as an example of disentangling citizenship from an ethnic basis.

…Now, it happens that we meet together once every year, sometime about the 4th of July, for some reason or other. These 4th of July gatherings I suppose have their uses. If you will indulge me, I will state what I suppose to be some of them.

We are now a mighty nation, we are thirty—or about thirty millions of people, and we own and inhabit about one-fifteenth part of the dry land of the whole earth. We run our memory back over the pages of history for about eighty-two years and we discover that we were then a very small people in point of numbers, vastly inferior to what we are now, with a vastly less extent of country,—with vastly less of everything we deem desirable among men,—we look upon the change as exceedingly advantageous to us and to our posterity, and we fix upon something that happened away back, as in some way or other being connected with this rise of prosperity. We find a race of men living in that day whom we claim as our fathers and grandfathers; they were iron men, they fought for the principle that they were contending for; and we understood that by what they then did it has followed that the degree of prosperity that we now enjoy has come to us. We hold this annual celebration to remind ourselves of all the good done in this process of time of how it was done and who did it, and how we are historically connected with it; and we go from these meetings in better humor with ourselves—we feel more attached the one to the other, and more firmly bound to the country we inhabit. In every way we are better men in the age, and race, and country in which we live for these celebrations. But after we have done all this we have not yet reached the whole. There is something else connected with it. We have besides these men—descended by blood from our ancestors—among us perhaps half our people who are not descendants at all of these men, they are men who have come from Europe—German, Irish, French and Scandinavian—men that have come from Europe themselves, or whose ancestors have come hither and settled here, finding themselves our equals in all things. If they look back through this history to trace their connection with those days by blood, they find they have none, they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us, but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration, (loud and long continued applause) and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Irrational Man

Book review.

Irrational Man.  The Amazon description of the book succinctly summarizes its contents:

Widely recognized as the finest definition of existentialist philosophy ever written, this book introduced existentialism to America in 1958. Barrett speaks eloquently and directly to concerns of the 1990s: a period when the irrational and the absurd are no better integrated than before and when humankind is in even greater danger of destroying its existence without ever understanding the meaning of its existence.

Irrational Man begins by discussing the roots of existentialism in the art and thinking of Augustine, Aquinas, Pascal, Baudelaire, Blake, Dostoevski, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Picasso, Joyce, and Beckett. The heart of the book explains the views of the foremost existentialists—Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre. The result is a marvelously lucid definition of existentialism and a brilliant interpretation of its impact.

The author engages in a neo-Spenglerian discussion stating that different eras exhibit (Western) man having innate metaphysical inclinations for different forms of philosophy, literature, and art, with those era-appropriate forms resonating with the people of that time, while other forms, of past eras, would not resonate.  Further, any putative affinity for these expired forms, in the present day, would merely be artificial sentimentality. Thus, he avers that the current age (for him and I presume for us as well) is that of existentialist philosophy and literature, and of modern art. I suppose that he would beleive that a modern preference for, say, Michelangelo or Dante would be philosophical-cultural pseudomorphosis.

The author distinguishes, derived from the thought of Matthew Arnold, the Hebraic worldview of action, doing, and moralism with the Hellenic worldview of thought, intellectualism, and abstraction. While this distinction is somewhat truthful, it is also ironic that the "action-oriented, pragmatic" Hebrew was obsessed with god and the spiritual-moral world of that god, while the "intellectual, abstract" Hellene valued science, the body, and physical beauty.  So, the action-oriented Hebrews were focused on a Big Daddy in the Sky, while the abstract intellectual Hellenes were admiring the physiques of young men and formulating the first foundations of what would later become Western science. The author never recognizes, much less dissects, these contradictions and inconsistencies. The author associates the Hebraic mindset – the one he discusses, not the contradictions and inconsistences mentioned here – as being that which is being revived by existentialism.  I have problems with that thesis, given my focus on the contradictions and inconsistences noted above. 

A key point in the existentialist worldview is that existence (the fact that an entity exists) precedes essence (what that entity is). Platonism and related doctrines flips that by asserting that it are only the essences of entities that are truly real, while the particularities of existence are only ephemeral manifestations of essence. Platonism, with its prioritizing of the universal over the individual, of essence over existence, is presented as the antithesis of existentialism; indeed, it is part of the Classical/Western tradition that existentialism has attempted to overturn. But even here, Plato is said to demonstrate some existentialist characteristics, as his championing of reason as philosophy was for the redemption of the individual, as well as down-to-earth practical matters of designing a perfect polity, rather than being abstraction for the sake of abstraction.  Of course, the author attempts a bit of mind-reading, and avers that Plato’s promotion of the universal and eternal Platonic ideals was Plato’s way of defying the inevitability of change, decay, and death in the real world.  Hence, according to Plato, while the existing particular is ephemeral and not fully real, the fully real Platonic is timeless and eternal. See this for more about Platonic vs. existentialist reality.  Christianity, based as it is on faith and personal redemption, reflects its Hebraic origins, and also has some seeds of existentialist viewpoints.

I finish my summary of this part of the book by quoting the author on Blake and Nietzsche:

“Drive your plow over the bones of the dead” is not the aphorism of a man who is seeking merely to hearken back to the “green & pleasant land” of ancient Britain. If a man marries his hell to his heaven, his evil to his good, Blake holds, he will become a creature such as the earth has not yet seen.  Nietzsche put the same insight paradoxically “Mankind must become better and more evil.”

As regards the heart of the book - the analysis of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre – the summary and interpretation is fine as far as it goes (not that I agree with all of it). Of these four individuals, the only one I really value is Nietzsche (not that I agree with him on all, and, anyway, he didn’t want to be seen as a prophet, nor his views looked at as some sort of dogma). His work has power, and especially that from the second half of his career is eminently readable, unlike the pompous windbag Heidegger, the grand traditionalist who needs a book to make a point more elegantly summarized in a single page, and who can pontificate endlessly (and incomprehensibly) about “Being”. Kierkegaard’s interest in Christianity leaves me cold, and I see Sartre as an over-rated leftist polemicist.

The author’s favoritism is laughably obvious, with his lickspittle defense of, and promotion and admiration of, Kierkegaard, to the point that one wonders if Barrett spontaneously ejaculated while reading Kierkegaard’s work. Not surprisingly, (given Kierkegaard’s Christianity), Barrett also has an obvious bias in favor of God and of religion, while subtly mocking atheism.  The author doesn’t seem to grasp all of the implications of Nietzsche’s Overman and believes it is just an Olympian superman in the clouds, rather than a self-overcoming and a more practical reality (Nietzsche admired Napoleon and to an extent Cesare Borgia).  The author takes the anti-Faustian view that the well-rounded man needs to cultivate some mediocrity and “humor” (juvenile jackassery such as in the Alt-Right?).

A useful insight from the author, re: Nietzsche and the underlying theory about a will to power is as follows:

…the peculiar attraction Communism holds for the so-called backward or underdeveloped countries: it is a will to power on the part of these peoples, a will to take their fate in their own hands and make their own history. This powerful and secret appeal of Communism is something that our own statesmen do not seem in the least to understand.

Far enough. But note that like Christianity, Communism and other doctrines of the Far Left are based on resentment of the lower for the higher, the revolt of the underman, ultimately based on Bioleninism.  In contrast, when Whites, when higher men, want to take their fate in their own hands, they turn to Fascism, to doctrines of the Far Right.  Barrett writes:

…The goal of power need not be defined, because it is its own goal…

…the subject facing the object in a kind of hidden antagonism…Nature thus appears as a realm to be conquered, and man as the creature who is to be the conqueror.

For Nietzsche the era of reason and science raises the question of what is to be done with the primitive instincts and passions of man; in pushing these aside the age threatens us with a decline in vitality for the whole species.

Fair enough. I always say that science and technics – and rationality as a whole – are methods, means to an end, and not ends to themselves.  You cannot ultimately define values, ends, from means, from methods. Relate to that, see this: Racial Existentialism. Also see the role of the rational (Salter) and irrational (Yockey) in pro-White activism discussed here.

Readers of my work know that I am no fan of the pompous windbag traditionalist Heidegger.  With respect to this book the author describes Heidegger’s concept of Dasein as a “field theory” of human being that is analogous to energy field theories of matter in modern (in his day) physics. Thus, a person’s being is not only what is under their skin but encompasses all of their interactions and associations with reality; it is theirs, but it is not specifically confined to a material bodily core.

There is an amusing aside by the author in this section:

David Hume, in a moment of acute skepticism, felt panicky in the solitude of his study and had to go out and join his friends in the billiard room in order to be reassured that the external world was really there.

I am no fan of the leftist windbag Sartre either, and I see little to be gained by his philosophical perspectives. Of course, at the time this book was written, the American public strongly associated existentialism with the likes of Sartre; thus, this had to be an integral part of Barrett’s analysis. Barret describes Sartre as a hyper-masculine Cartesian dualist, whose philosophy is essential alien to nature-based women. Sartre distinguishes the object of Being-in-itself with then subject Being-for-Itself, with the former being more feminine, and the latter, acting through an always conscious act of will, being masculine, defining a life project through free will and the ability to say “no.”

Nothing in the book altered my high regard for Nietzsche, my indifference to Kierkegaard, and my negative attitude toward Heidegger and Sartre.

Conclusion

The book ends with a concluding summary The Place of the Furies (there are some subsequent appendices, but they are not essential enough to comment on in this review). Here, the author indulges in his typical atomic hysteria about man blowing up the world, and makes various insights, some truthful and amusing (Americans are non-intellectual, anti-intellectual, and unreflective by nature) and some controversial (taking the 1984-style idea that communists are Nietzscheans in the sense of caring only about the exercise of power and control – he states that communists “...have thus always exhibited a strange ambivalence: the most naively optimistic view of human nature in theory, and in practice the most brutal and cynical attitude toward human beings”). He believes that abstract rationalism is a threat to humanity; the following may be a reasonable summary of the author’s views:

Contrary to the rationalist tradition, we know now that it is not his reason that makes man man, but rather that reason is a consequence of that which really makes him man. For it is man’s existence as a self-transcending self that has forged and formed reason as one of its projects. As such, man’s reason is specifically human…

That I suppose is to be expected from a book whose title is Irrational Man.  He also states:

Today is always and for all men the digging of one’s way out of the ruins of yesterday.

In summary, he has an anti-Faustian worldview that is at odds with my own.

The book would have benefited from a clearly stated definition and dissection of what (according to the author at least) existentialist thought actually is, instead of assuming the reader already knows and/or can reconstruct the philosophical paradigms from the descriptions of examples of existentialist thought and art examined in the book. The author’s whining about nuclear weapons and the assumed atomic apocalypse around the corner – while perhaps somewhat understandable (but still somewhat hysterical) at the time the book was written - seems dated today (more than 60 years with no nuclear war, how about that?), although hysterics today are becoming breathless about Putin (some things never change).  The author’s commentary about how technology has made traditional politics and diplomacy irrelevant is just more over-heated hysteria.

All in all, despite my reservations about the author and his viewpoints, this is a good introduction to existentialism. And it is not dated, since existentialism has, if anything, declined in the past sixty years; there have been no significant advancements. In the modern age, today, all we have is “critical theory” “deconstructionism” obsessed with race and gender. And if you want a summary of that, just look into an unflushed, used stall toilet in an airport men’s room.

Friday, July 29, 2022

The Evolution of Civilizations

Book review.

See this.

What is a civilization?  How does it evolve?  How and why does it collapse?  We can consider Carroll Quigley’s ideas on these subjects, as outlined in The Evolution of Civilizations.

Quigley’s comments on science, scientific theory, and the scientific method are must reading, particularly for those on the Left (e.g., race deniers, sex/gender deniers) and the Right (HBDers, anti-vaxxers, covid deniers) who have a complete lack of understanding, or misunderstanding, of what science is (i.e., a method, not a constellation of “facts”) and how it works (see Quigley’s fine explanations).

Quigley describes the three ways of describing social groups and the consequences of each view. One approach is to view a social group as nothing more or less than a mere collection of individuals and the group being only the sum of its individual parts; this view promotes self-interested atomized individualism and intra-group competition, as here there is nothing of more importance than the individual and his needs.  This view would also be incompatible with the idea of a cultural tradition being handed down through the generations to form a civilization. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the view as the social group as an organism that is more than the sum of its parts, with individuals within the organism being non-interchangeable.  This view can lead to collectivist totalitarianism in which the rights of the individual are routinely sacrificed for the common good; after all, here the entity of importance is the societal organism, and as a non-interchangeable component of that organism, the individual must – emphasis on must – play their irreplaceable role as a key component, a required body part, of that organism.  Deviation from that role places the existence of the organism in danger, since the individual and their role are not interchangeable; hence, individual choice must be constrained.  The intermediate view is that that the social group is more than the sum of its parts, a novel entity that allows for positive group action and cultural transmission (hence, opposing atomized hyper-individualism); however, in this view individuals are interchangeable and hence to do not require their roles and choices to be tightly constrained.  Thus, if an individual chooses a different path, they can be replaced (as they are interchangeable) and the social group can survive allowing individual freedom since flexibility of social roles is compatible with group survival.  The collectivist organism view would consider the individual akin to a required organ in the social group’s body, the removal of which can kill the group body; the latter intermediate view would consider an individual to be more like a modular component of a machine that can be swapped out for another component, allowing each the flexibility to perform the role they are best suited.

As a conservative in the classic liberal tradition, Quigley seems to prefer the intermediate view that rejects atomized hyper-individualism but that embraces a more muted individualism that allows for group culture while rejecting totalitarian collectivism.  As a national socialist fascist, I prefer the collectivist organism view, and I observe evidence in history that the intermediate view inevitably degenerates into the hyper-individualist “collection of individuals” dystopia.

The basic social group, or social aggregate, can be merely a social group at its lowest level, or it can be a society or a civilization as one moves up in complexity. A (social) group is merely an aggregate of people who come together for a narrow purpose but who have more interactions with those outside the group than with those within; thus, to explain the personalities of the group will require more mention of those without than within the group.  A society on the other hand has more internal interactions than external, the individuals within a society have more interactions with each other than with those without and therefore to explain them and their personalities would predominantly require reference to those within the societal aggregation. Quigley notes that if one considers aspects of the broad culture to be interactions, then most nation states are actually groups rather than societies, since most interactions of those within those states involve concepts and entities bigger than the nation state and peoples of those larger entities.  For nation states of the West, that larger entity, the actual society, is Western Civilization. That analysis is, by the way, a major riposte to petty nationalist ethnonationalist and is supportive of Yockeyian pan-Europeanism.  One can argue that globalism has contributed to the decay of Western Civilization by degrading its exclusiveness and increasing the amount of interactions with concepts and entities outside the West, so that to explain the modern “West” reference to Western Civilization itself is no longer adequate and one must reference even more broad Universalist humanist concepts and entities.

Quigley wrote:

The essential thing about a group is that its members can say who is in it and who is not.

That's exactly what I've been saying about the "movement" for years - with its endless "Who is White?" debates and redefinitions and uncertainties, it cannot be even considered a group, much less a society. In fact, to be successful, a real movement needs to become more and more like a genuine society, to create a parallel society in which individuals interact more among themselves and can be explained predominantly by internal references.  Such a movement can save Western Civilization – or build the next European Civilization – by replacing the inclusive humanist corpse of the modern West with a self-contained exclusive society that represents a vibrant self-referenced civilizational aggregate. I note that Quigley asserts that a political unit is comprehensible – being able to be understood without reference to outside entities – only when it encompasses the entire society.  As he considered Western Civilization as a whole, and not its constituent nations (being only groups), to be a society of the West, then the only comprehensible Western political unit would be something like a Yockeyian Imperium.

Other distinctions are that of parasitical vs. productive societies, with the former using the Earth’s wealth without contributing to it (e.g., hunter gatherers), and the latter actively contributing to wealth (e.g., agriculturalists). Quigley makes a tentative preliminary (and very crude) definition of a civilization as a productive society that has writing and city life (the latter would upset the Type I “twigs and branches” “hobbit hole” “traditionalists” of the “movement”). Please note that Quigley modifies this definition to eliminate the “city life” part (to the “movement’s” relief).

Quigley notes that a “scientific” analysis of civilizations must take into account that human thoughts, opinions, and desires affect the trajectory of a civilization; hence, there will be more subjectivity involved as opposed to an analysis of physical laws, for example.

Quigley gives a digression on rational vs. irrational aspects of examining reality, and contrasts Platonic “rational” analyses that are independent of actual observation (and testing) and are hence anti-scientific to more positivist “irrational” observational analyses, which are complicated by reality being composed of continuous variables. Now, strictly speaking, that may not be true, given quantum theory, but let us assume Quigley is talking about practical real-world observations. Even so, he forgets that taking several (apparently) continuous observations at the same time can result on discrete categories as entities may be continuous on single variables taken in turn but are unlikely to be simultaneously continuous on a larger number of variables taken together, all of which can “fix” different entities into discrete spots on a multi-dimensional continuum.

Quigley makes an important distinction, relevant to us, of social instruments vs. social institutions.  A social instrument is a social organization composed of the sociopolitical (and other) technics needed to achieve the purposes of the subdivisions of a civilization’s basic needs (e.g., Intellectual, Religious, Social, Economic, Political, and Military). However, as a rule of history, “all social instruments tend to become institutions.” A social institution is a social organization that has taken on purposes independent of its original purpose and becomes less and less effective in performing its ostensible purpose. A self-interested, rent-seeking managerial elite takes over that pursues ends that dilute, or even conflict with, what the organization is supposed to be doing. Armed forces are a social instrument to achieve the military ends of a civilization.  Eventually it evolves into an institution more concerned with the career advancement of its leaders, maximizing military budgets, maintaining institutional cultures, getting involved in politics, and pursuing insane objectives like “social justice” and “equity.”  And so its effectiveness in fighting wars is compromised. Such transformations across the board in the various facets of a civilization contribute mightily to its eventual (inevitable?) collapse.  These transformations are met with attempts at reform, circumvention, or reaction. In reform, the instrument is temporarily restored to effectiveness and societal collapse is delayed. In circumvention, the institution retains its privileges but its duties are given to a more efficient new instrument, which itself inevitably degenerates into an institution (while the original institution carries on as a parasite on society).  Although circumvention is obviously less efficient and optimal than reform, it at least restores some effectiveness and can delay collapse.  In reaction, the institution resists all attempts at reform or circumvention, effectiveness and consequent societal dissatisfaction remains and collapse is hastened. These possibilities are termed “development” and so “historical development” describes the changes at one level of society; “historical morphology” describes different levels acting on one another, and “historical evolution” is the sum total the development and morphology acting simultaneously and acting upon each other.

Every civilization has an “instrument of expansion” that is manifest when the civilization is rising; when that instrument becomes an institution, and subject to all of the negatives of societal institutions, the civilization decays. The instrument of expansion is broadly concerned with three aspects of civilizational development: 1) inventing new entities, 2) producing and accumulating a surplus of wealth, and 3) leveraging that surplus to pay for and/or utilize the inventions of the civilization (i.e., using the surplus as an investment to promote progress). Note that at this point, Quigley redefines what a civilization is, since he notes that some civilizations (like the Western) had no significant city life during the early phases of their development. Thus, Quigley more refined definition of a civilization is “a producing society with an instrument of expansion.”

Unfortunately, Quigley blithely dismisses biological explanations about why some groups are more successful than others in these processes, particularly step 1(inventing) and, by extension, step 3 (leveraging surpluses to take advantage of those inventions).  Quigley’s argument basically boils down to the observation that the same peoples, at different times in their history and/or in different locations, may have been more or less inventive.  Putting aside the possibility that the “same people” may not be exactly the same over time, even if we assume that “same” really is same, then the basic problem with Quigley’s argument is that he ignored potentiality.  Yes, a people may not be inventive in a particular historical context, but if they exhibit inventiveness in another context, then we can say that they have a biological potential for invention.  What if another people, throughout their entire history, and in various historical contexts, invent nothing?  Can we not say that they lack the biological potential for invention?  And with respect to the peoples who have invented in different contexts, some may consistently invent more than others, assuming the appropriate historical contexts.  So, there is a spectrum of biological potentiality – high, medium, low, none.  Thus, for example, Europeans would be high, Asians would inhabit the medium and low range, while other groups would inhabit the low to none (e.g., Negroes) range.  Potentiality and actuality are two separate issues; however, to show evidence of potentiality, some actuality must at some point occur. We can also pass over in relative silence Quigley’s racial theories, no doubt influenced by the stupidities of “traditional physical anthropology” (and the tripartite Nordic-Alpine-Mediterranean concept) and the idea that historical round-headed stocky peoples were Homo sapiens-Neanderthal mixes, as opposed to others (in reality, in general, virtually all non-Negro peoples have Neanderthal admixture, and no way near as much as Quigley seems to imply for certain groups).  These racial theories (and all of his babbling about geography and climate) are irrelevant to his main theses, and need not concern us any further. One thing I’ll say though is that the general idea Quigley finishes this section with of Europeans as  a whole genepool being composed of hinter-gatherers, Neolithic farmers, and Indo-European steppe peoples is more or less accurate, although some of the dates he gives for some of these events and specific end results of peoples involved is “off.”

Getting back to the decline of civilizations, Quigley focuses on the problems ensuing when a civilization’s primary instrument of expansion becomes an institution, a degeneration that often occurs when self-serving managerial elites redirect society’s surplus away from investment in inventions (broadly defined) into “nonproductive” endeavors such as displays of status, conspicuous consumption, monuments, and other selfish endeavors that do not contribute to societal advancement. In this manner, the cycle of invention, surplus, and investment collapses and societal expansion ceases and stagnation and decline follow. This naturally causes tension in the society, as people in the society – who have been habituated to constant expansion – now observe a lack of expansion and downward mobility for themselves and for their posterity. Sound familiar?  Even back when Quigley wrote the book (published in 1961) he noted that “contemporary Western civilization” was exhibiting the problems consequent to a slowing down of expansion. Today of course these problems are much worse. Of course, reform or circumvention of this process can delay the inevitable, while reaction hastens the end.

Quigley notes that Western Civilization has gone through multiple cycles of reform, which seems unusual, and would seem to indicate the possibility for future renewal if the West was not destroying itself demographically (that last part is my interpretation. Thus, in 970-1270, the West has the instrument of expansion of feudalism that was institutionalized as chivalry. This problem was circumvented in 1420-1650 by the instrument of commercial capitalism (with the old feudal aristocracy being parasites keeping their old privileges even when no productive activity was derived thereof), which degenerated into the institution of mercantilism, which in turn was reformed into industrial capitalism (1725-1929), an instrument that became the institution of monopoly capitalism.  Note that these divisions are quite different from the culture vs. civilization paradigm of Spengler. Indeed, the terminology is different as well; what Quigley calls a “civilization” is analogous to the “High Culture” of Spengler/Yockey.  Thus, Quigley encompasses Spenglerian “culture” and “civilization” under the broad umbrella of “civilization.”  

Quigley divides the life of a civilization into seven phases:

1. Mixture

2. Gestation

3. Expansion

4. Age of Conflict

5. Universal Empire

6. Decay

7. Invasion

There are some correlations we can make with this to the Spengler/Yockey scheme.  Thus, phases 1-3 would be akin to the “Spring” culture phase, stage 4 to the culture to civilization crisis, moving to “Summer.” The height of civilization would be the Late Summer-Fall Universal Empire of stage 5. Late Fall is stage 6, and then we enter Winter at stage 7, as the High Culture dies.  Looking at our own situation, it seems like we are in stage 7, with mass migration into the West being the Invasion that destroys Western Civilization; further reform (or circumvention) seems unlikely, as the System’s reaction to Far Right attempts at reform is to double down on their institutionalized immigration instrument. We’ll see how that all ends. Note also that Quigley dispenses with concerns over “pseudomorphosis” and pointedly states that civilizations begin with Mixture – a mixing of elements of older civilizations, typically taking place at or near the geographical border between them. The Age of Conflict and subsequent decay typically occurs because of the institutionalization of the key instruments of expansion. In order for reform to occur, all three components of expansion need to be taken care of: invention, accumulation of surplus, and investment. The masses typically focus on redistribution of the surplus, which does nothing to enhance invention and investment, and the rent-seeking, self-interested elites resist any type of reform. More often circumvention occurs to bypass elite resistance and in many cases the emergence of a new instrument of expansion occurs by accident (to the extent that is possible). It would be optimal if institutionalization could be avoided in the first place, which is why rent-seeking, grifting, and free-riding needs to be quashed as quickly as they appear. Unfortunately, it seems almost inevitable that elites selfishly institutionalize instruments of expansion for their own benefit. Interestingly, peripheral areas of the civilization have delayed conflict and decay compared to the core area, in which it happens earlier, but eventually the elites wreck things and the masses are incapable of understanding anything beyond the fact that they are displeased with society’s direction and that they want the surpluses directed toward them in a desperate attempt to restore their lost upward mobility. Peripheral areas tend to conquer core areas during the age of empire building, not only because the core areas crisis first and are thus weakened, but because the peripheral areas tend to focus more on materialistic issues like technics and military power as compared to the cultural core that is more concerned with intellectual pursuits and abstractions.  Further, the core being more advanced on the historical timeline not only means it has entered crisis first, as mentioned before, but would be more exhausted from previous war and the population more “jaded” and less willing to endure sacrifice and more prone to “losing nerve” compared to the more vigorous peripheral areas.

A few more points about this scheme. To most people within the civilization, stage 5 seems like a “Golden Age” but this is a misleading surface prosperity.  At this point, the elites and their selfish interests have, for the most part, firmly entrenched their institutions, crushing reform through class warfare to oppress the masses, imperialism to distract from internal problems and create an artificial prosperity (e.g., substituting for a lack of internal intensive economic expansion with imperialistic extensive expansion), and irrationalism to mask discontent and distract the masses via various types of false prophets and crazy memes. Eventually, this is not sustainable and decay sets in, as living standards decline, the ability to project power diminishes, chaos increases, and the civilization loses the allegiance of the people. When then civilization is no longer able to defend itself because it is not willing to defend itself, it succumbs to some sort of invasion, and ends.  This end may result in the birth of a new civilization through mixture between the old destroyed civilization and new elements, including possibly the invaders themselves, but in some cases this does not occur. In my own opinion, I think stage 7 leads to a new stage 1 only when the new elements have innate (biological) potential for civilization and that they are biologically and culturally/spiritually not that different from the population of the destroyed civilization. I see little hope that anything useful will emerge from those destroying the West, nor would such a development be useful. 

The peoples of the West would need to build a new civilization by mixing new elements of their own making (and perhaps something borrowed from compatible people – like the Classical civilization, which was European) with the best of the West.  Also, civilizations are in danger of destruction only in their early or late stages, and a civilization in decay can even be destroyed by uncivilized “barbarians” – something that has occurred at various times in the past.  When two civilizations at or near their prime come into conflict, it is typically the one at stage 3 (or closes to that stage) that prevails, but the losing civilization is typically not destroyed (stage 7) unless it is at stage 6 (or maybe at stage 1 or early stage 2). 

A few more points of interest.  Quigley defines the Age of Conflict (stage 4) as being defined by “(1) decreasing rate of expansion, (2) imperialist wars, (3) class conflicts, and (4) irrationality.”  The parallels to today’s America and overall Western decline are obvious.  Related to this, Quigley defines capitalism as “a form of economic organization motivated by the pursuit of profit within a price structure” and that the instrument of expansion of commercial capitalism becomes institutionalized into mercantilism when the means of profits (originally meant to obtain the end of an improved standard of living and societal well-being) becomes an end to itself, to the detriment of the civilization. Again, behold America and the West. One can also find Age of Conflict parallels in the American pro-White “movement.”  Decreased expansion is evident in the collapse of the Alt Right and its consequences; imperialist wars are akin to, first, the attempt of the Alt Right to dominate the “movement” and now for the HBD-Nordicist-ethnonationalist alliance and WN 3.0 to do so; class conflict is akin to Amnats vs. Wignats; and as far as irrationality goes, while that has always been a hallmark of the American Far Right, it has gotten worse with the lunatic hysteria over the covid “death jab,” conspiritard theories (“viruses don’t exist” or “nuclear weapons are a hoax”), and the totality of hobbit hole traditionalism. With respect to how civilizations are born and die, Quigley emphasizes five practical steps: (1) law and order being established or lost, (2) long distance trade increasing or decreasing, (3) town and city life increasing or decreasing, (4) middle class prospering or disappearing, and (5) literacy increasing or decreasing – with, obviously, the increasing for each category associated with birth and decreasing with death.  In today’s West, all except #3 are decreasing (with #2 breaking down recently with supply chain disruptions); one can even question #3 as the breakdown of law and order (#1) makes city life more dangerous.  

Quigley on the Canaanite Civilization that gave us the Jews, besides being intelligent they were: “Vigorous, practical, almost crude; grasping, unesthetic…filled with sensual desires and crass superstitions…”  Sound familiar?  Oy vey!  Tribal kinship ties were important for these people (as they are today); further, Quigley suggests that the Jews originated with “Habiru” outcasts (surprise!).

The instrument of expansion for the Classical Civilization was slavery, which essentially doomed that civilization from the start.  That instrument was quickly institutionalized with absentee landlords running slave farms and misusing accumulated surpluses and even under optimal circumstances, slavery was an inefficient economic system and always stifles technological innovation.  Breaking up the large slave farming lands wouldn’t have helped in the end, since the distributed wealth wouldn’t have allowed for a concentrated accumulated surplus that could have been plowed back for invention and expansion; only a completely new instrument of expansion, from a new civilization (e.g., feudalism in the West) solved the problem. The inefficient slave economy, and other economic problems, did not allow the later (Western) Roman Empire to field the mass cavalry required to beat back barbarian invasions at a time when cavalry began to replace infantry as the cutting edge of military technology. Even earlier, slavery in Greece not only hampered innovation for the obvious reason that slave labor made technology less immediately and obviously necessary, it also discouraged simple improvements in agricultural efficiency – if agriculture became more efficient and less labor and time intensive, then what would be slaves be doing during the time they were now idle?  It seems like an inefficient economy was a price paid to maintain an aristocratic, hierarchical master-slave society (the Antebellum American South seems to have suffered from the same problems).

Quigley states what in his mind was the defining characteristics of the classical world; of these, the most important to me are its emphasis on aristocratic and hierarchical values, the willingness to sacrifice material well-being for honor, for dignitas, for all of these aristocratic and hierarchical values (as with the costs of slavery discussed above); that the Classic world was “clarid” – clear and rational without Oriental obfuscation; finally, in contrast to the Western civilization, the Classical world was pessimistic, stoic, and socially regressed – the Golden Age was in the past and current degeneration had to be heroically endured. An important point is that with the partial exception of Periclean Athens of the Socrates-Plato-Aristotle timeframe, Classical culture was understood and practiced by a relatively small elite fraction of the population, not the masses.  Thus, diminution of that aristocratic elite by various dysgenic trends would in turn eliminate the soil upon which the Classical Civilization grew.  There is no need to invoke Nordicist fantasies of mass miscegenation altering entire populations through racial panmixia. A culture that is ultimately an elite phenomenon will always be vulnerable to the fate of that elite. Quigley notes that science typically suffers as irrationalism increases in a society (such as in the West today and in Der Movement in microcosm).  However, in the Classical civilization, science suffered because of hyper-rationalism, the idea that reality can be discerned solely by rational, logical thought, with clearly distinct categories (part of the “clarid” nature of the Classical world), instead of the more messy reality derived from scientific observation of a world that at the macroscopic level is full of continua and not discrete categories at all times (Quantum theory at the microscopic level is another matter).

[Side note – I do not like Quigley’s correlating fascist states and movements to irrationality in the sense he does – while such movements were opposed to hyper-rationalism of modernity, they were not irrational in the sense of what was best for the nation and ethny and the organization of society had many positive rational aspects. I would argue that modern liberal democracy is truly irrational].

Quigley suggests that the Classical Civilization was in decay by 200 AD and that sounds reasonable.  However, decay is not the same as the end, and a decaying civilization can continue for quite a while. True enough, as well, The Roman Empire of Late Antiquity was culturally somewhat different than what was present in the Republic and the earlier (prime) Imperial Period, and of course from the earlier Greek version of the Classical. Theodosius was different from Marcus Aurelius (and earlier Roman leaders), never mind from the Greeks. Nevertheless, those differences can be ascribed to the aforementioned decay (and of course the Christian and other influences that foreshadowed the Medieval World of the West, once the interregnum of the Dark Ages was past). The (Western) Roman Empire of Late Antiquity may have been somewhat different from the past, it was a decaying Classical World, but it was still the Classical Civilization. There was sufficient similarity and continuity to fully accept the Rome of, say, 360 AD and 450 AD, etc. as part of the Classical Civilization.  Putting a precise date on the fall of a civilization is of course an imprecise business, but in the case of the Classical, it would seem that September 4, 476 AD fits better than any other, the say that Odoacer deposed emperor Romulus Augustulus and the Western Roman Empire came to an and in every meaningful sense.

The decay of the Classical world is described by Quigley thus:

As this aristocratic, clarid, urban, moderate, mundane culture was destroyed, it was replaced by a welter of unprincipled violence, grasping materialism, crass ignorance, crude illiteracy, and narrow, rural provincialism.

Sounds much like the decay of America (or perhaps of the “movement, “eh?). Further, “crass ignorance, crude illiteracy, and narrow, rural provincialism” sounds much like the “Bring Out Your Dead” ethnostate envisioned by the “traditionalists.” I can also point out the archaeogenetics data suggest that the terminal decay described by Quigley occurring in Late Antiquity was accompanied by a shift toward more “Northern” and “Western” genetic strains.  One can argue that the seeds of decay started earlier, but Quigley doesn’t ascribe racial reasons for the decline and fall of the Classical world in any case. The final collapse of the Western Roman Empire was due to a convergence of mechanisms. The Classical Idea had practically expired and the new Christian idea, although entrenched in late Rome, as essentially incompatible with the Classical world and required a new civilization to bring it to fruition.  Roman infantry could not stop barbarian cavalry, could not adopt to the new methods, and the inefficient Roman economy could not support mass cavalry even if they adopted it. The Mediterranean climate and soil was ill suited for the agricultural techniques required to support mass cavalry; Europe north of the Alps was much better suited. Not specifically mentioned by Quigley is that the loss of North Africa to the Vandals undercut the vitality of the West’s economy and the split of the West from the richer East deprived the former of the resources of the latter. Thus, fell the Western Roman Empire and the Classical Civilization ended with it.

The question of the Byzantine civilization is addressed in the book. Quigley notes that the Byzantine and Classical Civilizations are different enough so that the former cannot be simply viewed as a renewed and altered version of the latter, but yet some similarities and continuity exist and the Byzantine doesn’t seem to be its own independent civilization. Quigley raises the possibility that the Byzantine was the forerunner of an upcoming (Russian) Orthodox Civilization, which I agree is a possibility.  Another [possibility is that the Byzantine was a fusion of the Classical and Magian Civilizations, but with some novel aspects that had obviously had influence on Orthodox Europe.  Regardless, I believe that the consensus is that the Byzantine Empire was not a continuation of the Classical, it was quite distinct from even the decaying Western Roman Empire of Late Antiquity, which itself ended with the Fall of that Western Roman Empire.  From the wreckage if the Classical Civilization, Quigley states that three new civilizations grew on its periphery, the Western (in France), the Russian/Orthodox (to the north and east and linked to Byzantium) and the Islamic (to the south and east). We will focus in the West.

With respect to our current Western Civilization (or what is left of it), Quigley subscribes to the theory that the (pessimistic - Golden Age perceived to be in the past) Classical civilization was distinct and different from the (optimistic – Golden Age is perceived to be something that can be achieved in the future) Western Civilization.  Now, when I first came across this idea in the work of Spengler and Yockey I more or less was hostile to it and essentially rejected it.  However, these days I see the point and am willing to recognize that the fundamental differences between the Classical and Western Civilizations are profound enough to consider them separate.  

So, when Cola di Rienzi pondered the ruins of Rome nearly 900 years after the Fall of the Western Roman Empire, this was a man of one civilization pondering the material remains of a previous distinct one that had occupied the same territory in the past.  Where I part with the Spengler-Yockey (and Quigley?) view is that while I note that the Classical and Western are distinct civilizations, I reject the idea that there is no organic, real connection between the two – not a civilizational continuity but a racial-historical one. Both civilizations arose in Europe among European peoples. Italians were a core population factor in both civilizations. There is a historical link between the two, via Christianity, the memories of the Roman empire and its model for attempted empires to come, and, of course the Renaissance and the overall study of antiquity. While we can recognize the Classical as different and distinct, it is not alien, as are other distinct civilizations that arise from non-European races. It would be wrong to view the relation between the Classical and Western to be the same as that between, say, the Western and non-European civilizations (the Chinese for example). The Classical resonated with Rienzi (and with other Men of the West) in a way that other civilizations did not and could not.  The rise of two civilizations from Europeans is a fundamental point, pointing to this race’s cultural fertility and ability to give rise to more civilizations in the future.  I have written of this in the past. We cannot blind ourselves to the important associations between the Classical and the Western Civilizations even if we recognize their distinctiveness. By the way, if optimism about the future is characteristic of the West, then given the pessimism and malaise of today, can we not see that this civilization is in terminal decay, at least in its present form?

In any case, we have, originating in France, an optimistic West, based on Christian ethos, with an economy and technology originally founded on animal power, centered around castles and military cavalry as opposed to the pessimistic, aristocratic Classical world with its clarid pagan rationality, an economic technology build around slavery, centered on cities, and with a military focused on infantry. Spengler would of course cite the “Faustian” nature of the West, which is linked to what Quigley describes as optimism and future orientation.

Quigley states that the essence of the West is the idea that:

Truth unfolds through a communal process.

Thus, truth is not some final definitive entity that is known or becomes known and that’s that – instead, we have a continual process of striving toward truth, achieving ever-closer approximations, but without ever really knowing that “this is it.” This process is achieved through a group, communal, societal process that is both cooperative and competitive, achieved through observation, experimentation, and debate, not through any person, god, or other type of entity, handing down a final, truth to us. Thus, this is opposed to the Classical, where an aristocratic elite arrives at a final truth through rational processes (but the process of dialectic debate is adopted by the West from the Classical) and the Islamic, where truth is what is in the Koran. This Western idea is manifested in the scientific method, in which there is no final truth but only hypotheses that are tested and that – so far and so far only – have survived falsification, and the Western political tendency toward liberalism as opposed to authoritarianism, since truth is strived for by group activity not imposed in final form by a higher authority. Thus, the Western ideal is marked by pluralism and moderation, finding a balanced effective compromise position to keep society on the upward track toward the truth.  For this reason, Quigley states that the “extremist fanatic” Hitler was not part of the Western tradition. Of course, a counter-argument would be that at times “extremist fanaticism” is required to save a civilization under threat and the only way to save Western pluralism from truly non-Western fanaticism is through Western fanaticism (i.e., in my opinion, National Socialism).  When pluralistic moderation fails to protect a High Culture from fanatical enemies, then, to paraphrase Goldwater – extremism in defense of civilization is no vice.

There is much talk of economics in the book, particularly in the section about the West; this is useful, but too detailed to discuss here and I don’t want this review to be as long as the book itself. One thing Quigley notes is that capitalism is an instrument when it attempts to increase profits by reducing costs (e.g., of production, trade, etc.) and becomes an institution when profits are only (or predominantly) obtained by increasing prices. With today’s inflation, guess which of those two exist; and, after all, costs have been reduced through outsourcing our entire productive economy to China, a move that, regardless of what Quigley may have believed, seems to me more of a destructive institutionalization of the economy than it working as a healthy instrument.  I would like to cite the following equations Quigley provides. Total prices = total costs and profits.  Because those costs and profits go to pay those in the firms, we can say Total incomes = total costs and profits. That means that Total prices = total incomes. But savings are held back from incomes so that Available purchasing power = incomes minus savings plus investment.  Unless all savings are plowed back into investment that means that the available purchasing power is not adequate to pay for goods sold at the given process. If there is an inefficient distribution of income so goods cannot be bought then there is no incentive to invest savings and the problems worsen, as in The Great Depression. Quigley’s entire analysis is very economics-oriented and seems to make economics the major causative factor in the ups and downs of civilizations. One wonders though whether economics is a cause or an effect; probably both – it exerts an influence and it is influenced upon by other factors, such as race and culture. In the midst of a deep demographic and cultural decline, economics-based solutions will be both ineffective and, in the case of temporary alleviation of superficial problems, counter-productive, by delaying the inevitable and the real underlying problems worse.

A careful reading of Quigley makes clear his belief that authoritarian forms of government tend to be associated with eras in which the tools of force and coercion – military weapons and tactics – are expensive enough and specialized enough that they require smaller forces of expert professional soldiers rule by an elite that uses this instrument of force to control the population. On the other hand, democracy and various forms of political pluralism are associated with eras in which military weapons are cheap enough, mass produced enough, and easy to use to the extent there can be a mass army and as general armed citizenry; thus, small elite groups cannot monopolize the tools and tactics of force and thus use coercion to impose their will on the masses. This leads to nationalism mass armies of patriots fighting ideological wars of annihilation, sustaining mass causalities through high morale (as opposed to mercenaries fighting small scale set piece battles and relatively unwilling to sacrifice their lives for whomever is paying them). 

Today in the West (and in general) while we still have relatively cheap weapons, they cannot compete with nuclear bombs, ICBMs, tanks, fighter jets, etc. – assuming of course an equal will to fight.  Thus, there will be some who say “stone age Afghans beat off the Soviets and the USA, and look at the Vietnam war” – well, yes, if the “big boys” want to “win hearts and minds” and/or the “big boys” have fat and stupid hedonistic populations with low morale, then, yes, high morale peoples with nothing to lose and who are willing to sacrifice may beat foreign invaders.  But what about a nation controlling its own people, particularly when that people have become coddled hot house plants?  Can Billy Bob stand off against the US Army here in America the same way Afghan tribesmen can do thousands of miles away (and even there, the USA could nuke the Afghans out of existence if they wanted to, and the Soviets were the same). “Movement” Turner Diaries fantasies aside, I wonder if the new age of military technology, as well as surveillance technology, is enabling authoritarianism – meaning that dissidents either must politically obtain power or hope for a collapse that equalizes the forces to a low level in which the dissidents have more of a chance. In any case, Quigley notes that the rise of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes in the 20th century had much to do with the increasing specialization and technical advances of the military, which once again concentrated the power of coercion to specialists and their elite leadership. Further, increased communication coupled with increased power projection means that nationalism is no longer sufficient and we now have ideological struggles spanning continents (The Cold War in Quigley’s time, which followed the two World Wars).  As far as the future of democracy, Quigley believes that would require new weapons and tactics that would make guerrilla warfare and other small scale force projection viable against weapons of mass destruction.  Some may think that the tactic used in Vietnam and Afghanistan would qualify, but as I have stated, I do not see that applying for internal struggles within Western nations.

So, more than 60 years ago, Quigley described the then state of the West as an army of specialists in an ideological state, with a pluralistic planned economy, ruled by managers.  That is similar to today, but can be modified to – an army of incompetents in a Far Left ideological state, with a crumbling economy, ruled by hysterical social justice warriors.  Quigley’s question as to whether the West will be mired in an Age of Conflict leading to inevitable decay or whether it can revive to another era of expansion has, I believe, been answered in favor of the former. That may well be for the best.  The West has become so degenerate demographically and culturally that some sort of economics-based revival will only make the inevitable Fall all the worse.  It’s time for a new civilization for the European peoples.

As regards the book itself, the author could have invested sometime contrasting his views with that of Spengler more than the brief mention “The Philosopher of History” received in this work. I actually found Quigley’s book more informative than The Decline of the West, although the latter was more entertaining and certainly less “dry” than Quigley’s more “scientific” effort.

In summary, Quigley’s work is a useful and thought-proving book; it is recommended reading.

Addendum

One of the most insightful comments about Hitler that I have ever read was made by Quigley in this book:

The inability of Hitler to make such a shift from a nationalist to an ideological (or other wider) basis at a time when his factual power was so much wider geographically than the area of Germanism was but one of his fatal errors.

Thus, Hitler’s narrow German nationalism and hegemonic desires and the Germanocentric Nordicism of Hitlerian National Socialism did not have an appeal in the wider non-Germanic Europe that he expanded into at the height of his powers. Hence, he failed to appeal to Europeans as a whole and to the broad Western Civilization, which helped doom his efforts. If he had instead made National Socialism into a true pan-European movement aimed at a regeneration of Western Civilization, instead of Deutschland Uber Alles, he would have been more successful. This view is supported by the fact that when, after Stalingrad, the Nazis moved a bit – at least superficially – in a more pan-European direction there was a bit more support from rightist, anti-communist, and fascistic elements in Europe, some of which joined a Waffen SS that was then somewhat more relaxed in its Nordicist racial standards.  One can also consider how the Germans were originally hailed as liberators in Ukraine before they alienated the native population with Germanocentric Nordicist anti-Slav attitudes. Quigley is therefore correct. While Hitler latched onto National Socialism as an ideological antidote to Marxism, he made an error in restricting it to Germanics, an error that became fatal when he conquered and/or gained influence over, most of continental Europe. He had little to offer non-Germans in his embryonic empire.