The need for religion – a craving for tyranny 2

Why do tens of millions in the West prostrate themselves before advancing, conquering, oppressive Islam?

Why do millions of Americans still vote for the Democratic Party?

This essay offers a chilling explanation.

It is from Jihad Watch, by Alexander Maistrovoy:

“Progressive man” refuses to recognize the crimes of Islam, not because he is naive, fine-tempered or tolerant. He does it because, unconsciously or subconsciously, he has already accepted Islam as a religion of salvation. As he accepted Stalinism, Hitlerism, Maoism and the “Khmer Rouge” before it 

Joseph de Maistre, a French aristocrat of the early 19th century, argued that man cannot live without religion, and not religion as such, but the tyrannical and merciless one. He was damned and hated, they called him an antipode of progress and freedom, even a forerunner of fascism; however, progressives proved him right again and again.

It may be true of most people that they “cannot live without religion”, but it is not true of all. We wonder how, since the Enlightenment, and especially now in our Age of Science, people can live with a religion. We agree, however, that those who need a religion are not put off by its being “tyrannical and merciless”.

Is there a religion, whether deity-worshiping or secular, that is not tyrannical and merciless?  

In their nihilistic ecstasy, Homo progressicus threw God off the pedestal, trampled upon the humanistic ideal of Petrarch, Alberti and Leonardo Bruni, who relied on Reason and strove for virtue, and … found themselves in complete and gaping emptiness. They realized that they could not live without the God-man — the idol, the leader, the ruler, who would rely on the unshakable, ruthless idea of salvation — not in the other world, but in this real world here and now. And with all the passion so inherent to their shallow, unstable, infantile nature, they rushed out in search of their “prince on a white horse”.

The idols of the progressives were tyrants armed with the most progressive ideology: Robespierre, and after him Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and finally — Islam.

Islam does not, of course, claim to be “progressive”. It derives from – and is stuck in – the Dark Ages. But the self-styled progressives of the West are welcoming it and submitting to it.

In the 20th century, the Western intelligentsia was infected with red and brown bacilli.

Walter Duranty ardently denied the Holodomor.

That is Stalin’s forced famine in the Ukraine that killed many millions. Walter Duranty denied that it was happening in his New York Times reports.

Bernard Shaw and Romain Rolland justified OGPU terror and the kangaroo court in Moscow; Aragon, Barbusse (the author of the apologetic biography of Stalin: Stalin. A New World Seen Through the Man) and Jean-Richard Bloch glorified “the Father of nations”.

“I would do nothing against Stalin at the moment; I accepted the Moscow trials and I am prepared to accept those in Barcelona,” said Andre Malraux during the massacre of anarchists from POUM [the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification] by Communists in Barcelona in 1937.

Let’s guess: who is writing about whom? “Lonely overbearing man … damned disagreeable”, “friendly and commonplace”, possessing “an intelligence far beyond dogmatism” … “sucked thoughtfully at the pipe he had most politely asked my permission to smoke  I have never met a man more fair, candid, and honest”. Got it? It was Stalin, as portrayed by H. G. Wells.

How many sufferings – Solzhenitsyn recalled — were caused by progressive Western journalists, who after having visited the GULAG, praised Potemkin villages with allegedly heated barracks where political prisoners used to read Soviet newspapers sitting at clean neat tables? Indeed, Arthur Ransome (The Guardian), an American journalist and a fan of Mao, Agnes Smedley, New York reporter Lincoln Steffens (after the meeting with Lenin he wrote,“I have seen the future and it works”), Australian-British journalist Leonore Winter (the author of the book  called Red Virtue: Human Relations in the New Russia) and many others sympathized with the Bolsheviks and the Soviet Union. Juan Benet, a famous Spanish writer, suggested “strengthening the guards (in GULAG), so that people like Solzhenitsyn would not escape”. The Los Angeles Times published Alexander and Andrew Cockburn, who were Stalin’s admirers.

Hitler? Knut Hamsun, Norwegian novelist who won the Nobel Prize, described Hitler in an obituary as a “fighter for humanity and for the rights of all nations”. The “amorousness” of Martin Heidegger for the “leader of the Third Reich” is well known. In the 1930s, the Führer was quite a respectable person in the eyes of the mass media. Anne O’Hare McCormick – a foreign news correspondent for the New York Times (she got a Pulitzer Prize) — described Hitler after the interview with him: he is “a rather shy and simple man, younger than one expects, more robust, taller … His eyes are almost the color of the blue larkspur in a vase behind him, curiously childlike and candid … His voice is as quiet as his black tie and his double-breasted black suit … Herr Hitler has the sensitive hand of the artist.”

The French elites were fascinated by Hitler. Ferdinand Celine said that France would not go to “Jewish war”, and claimed that there was an international Jewish conspiracy to start the world war. French Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet rendered honors to Ribbentrop, and novelist, essayist and playwright Jean Giraudoux said that he was “fully in agreement with Hitler when he states that a policy only reaches its highest form when it is racial”.

The Red Guards of Chairman Mao caused deadly convulsions in China and ecstatic [sympathetic] rage in Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Jan Myrdal, Charles Bettelheim, Alain Badiou and Louis Pierre Althusser. In Paris, Barbusse and Aragon created “the pocket monster” — Enver Hoxha [Communist dictator of Albania]; at Sorbonne University, Sartre worked out “the Khmer Rouge Revolution” of Pol Pot, Hu Nima, and Ieng Sary. Noam Chomsky characterized the proofs of Pol Pot’s genocide as “third rate” and complained of a “vast and unprecedented propaganda campaign against the Khmer Rouge”. Gareth Porter, winner of the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, said in May 1977: “The notion that the leadership of Democratic Kampuchea adopted a policy of physically eliminating whole classes of people was … a myth.”

In the 70’s, the whole world already knew the truth about the Red Guards. However, German youth from the Socialist Union of German Students went out  on demonstrations with portraits of the “Great Helmsman” and the song “The East is Red”.

In the USA, they went into the streets holding red flags and portraits of Trotsky and Che Guevara, and dream of “Fucking the System” like their idol Abbie Hoffman. The hatred of “petty bourgeois philistines”, as Trotsky named ordinary people, together with the dream of guillotines, bayonets, and “red terror”, keep inspiring Western intellectuals like Tariq Ali, the author of the revolutionary manual Trotsky for Beginners.

“The middle class turned out to be captured by ‘bourgeois-bohemian Bolshevism’,” Pascal Bruckner wrote.

Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot passed away, but new heroes appeared in their places. Leading employees of CNN – reporter Peter Arnett, producer Robert Wiener and director of news department Eason T. Jordan – had excellent relations with close associates of Saddam Hussein, pretending they didn’t know anything about his atrocities. Hollywood stars set up a race of making pilgrimages to Castro and Chavez. Neo-Marxist professors and progressive intellectuals, such as Dario Fo, Jean Baudrillard and Martin Amis, welcomed the triumph of al-Qaeda on September 11.

The romanticization of  the “forged boot” and “iron hand”, the worship of “lonely overbearing” men with “the sensitive hand of the artist” — this explains the amazing easiness with which recent anarchists, pacifists, Marxists, atheists, after having changed a couple  of ideologies, burden themselves with the most primitive, barbaric and despotic religion of our time: Islam.

Atheists of the Left only, being atheists who dispense with belief in the supernatural but still need a religion.

What they crave for is not religion as such. They don’t want Buddhism, Bahaism, Zoroastrianism, or even the mild Islam of the Sufi or Ahmadiyya version. They want a religion that would crush them, rape their bodies and souls, and destroy their ego — one that would terrify them and make them tremble with fear, infirmity and impotence.

Only bloodthirsty medieval Islam is able to do this today. It alone possesses unlimited cruelty and willingness to burn everything on its way. And they  gather like moths flying to the flame: communists Roger Garaudy, “Carlos the Jackal”, Trond Ali Linstad, Malcolm X, Alys Faiz; human rights defenders Jemima Goldsmith, Keith Ellison, and Uri Davis, the fighter against Zionism for the rights of the Palestinians. Fathers favor Castro, such as Oliver Stone; their sons accept Islam, such as Sean Stone. According to a public opinion poll conducted in August 2014 (Madeline Grant, Newsweek), “16% of French citizens support ISIS”. There are 7% to 8% of Muslims living in France. Who makes up the rest 8% to 9%?

Ken Livingstone, Jeremy Corbyn, John Brennan, Hollywood stars, Ylva Johansson, Sweden’s Integration Minister, who like her boss Stefan Löfven claimed that “there was no connection between crime and immigration”; Michael Fabricant, a former vice-chair of the Tory party, who said that “some conservative Anglicans are the same as ISIS”; German politicians that established a media watchdog to “instruct the press to censor ethnicity and religion in crime reports” (a modification of Soviet censure); the Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Phillips, who believes that it is inevitable to recognize Sharia courts in Great Britain; atheist-apologist for Islam (O my God!) CJ Werleman; Canadian Liberals, who support  the anti-Islamophobia motion; Georgetown professor Jonathan Brown, who justifies slavery and raping of female slaves; Wendy Ayres-Bennett, a UK professor who is urging Brits to learn Urdu and Punjabi to make Muslim migrants feel welcome; Ohio State University, that offered a course on “how Muslims helped build America”; the Swedish state-owned company Lernia encouraging the replacement of standard Swedish with the “migrant-inclusive accent”; American feminists with the slogans “Allahu akbar” and “I love Islam”, who endorse the BDS movement; Swedish feminists wearing burkas in Iran; “proud  feminists” such as Elina Gustafsson and Gudrun Schyman defending Muslim criminals who raped Swedish girls – all of them and thousands of others have already converted to Islam, if not de jure, then de facto.

They appeal to Islam to escape from their fears, complexes, helplessness, and uselessness. They choose the despotism of body and spirit to deprive themselves of their freedom – the freedom that has always been an unbearable burden for their weak souls full of chimeras. They crave slavery.

They are attracted by Islam today, but it’s not about Islam. It’s about them. If Islam is defeated tomorrow and a new Genghis Khan appears with the “religion of the steppe”, or the kingdom of the Aztecs rises with priests tearing hearts from the chest of living people, they will passionately rush into their embrace. They are yearning for tyranny, and will destroy everything on their way for the sake of it. Because of them, “we shall leave this world here just as stupid and evil as we found it upon arrival”. (Voltaire)

Posted under Anarchy, Anti-Semitism, Atheism, Britain, Buddhism, Cambodia, Canada, China, Christianity, Collectivism, communism, Cuba, Environmentalism, Europe, Feminism, France, genocide, Germany, Hinduism, History, Islam, jihad, Judaism, Leftism, Marxism, media, Muslims, nazism, Norway, Pakistan, Palestinians, Progressivism, Race, Religion general, Russia, Slavery, Socialism, Soviet Union, Sweden, Terrorism, Theology, Totalitarianism, tyranny, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela by Jillian Becker on Sunday, April 9, 2017

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The cultivation of evil, the sickness of Europe 12

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) is widely known as the inventor of the phrase ‘the banality of evil’. Apparently the idea was intended to be the main point of her book Eichmann in Jerusalem, as its subtitle is A Report on the Banality of Evil.

Adolf Eichmann was tried and sentenced to death in Jerusalem forty-eight years ago. He was the arch administrator during the Second World War of Hitler’s ‘final solution of the Jewish problem’ by systematic murder. When Hitler’s Reich was defeated in 1945, Eichmann sought refuge from justice under another name in South America. In 1948 part of Palestine became the Jewish state of Israel, and some twelve years later the Israeli secret service traced Eichmann, captured him, smuggled him out of Argentina, and delivered him to Israel. There he was humanely imprisoned, politely interrogated, brought before a legally constituted tribunal, judged, and condemned. The proceedings were conducted with scrupulous regard to law and all the safeguards it provides: due process, evidence, cross examination of witnesses, argument for the defense. He was found guilty of multiple crimes against the Jewish people and against humanity; of persecution, plunder, and war crimes (and was acquitted on certain parts of the indictment where proof was considered inadequate). He was sentenced to death, permitted to appeal, and had his sentence confirmed. The appeal judges declared: ‘In deciding to confirm both the verdict and the sentence passed on Adolf Eichmann, we know only too well how utterly inadequate is the death sentence when we consider the millions of deaths for which he was responsible. Even as there is no word in human speech to describe his deeds, so there is no punishment in human law to match his guilt.’ He was hanged on 31 May 1962.

Hannah Arendt considered the proceedings to be flawed. She questioned whether the Israeli court had jurisdiction to try the crimes of which Eichmann stood accused. She argued that the Nazi policy of discrimination against the Jews was a ‘national issue’, so persons accused of implementing it should be tried in a German court. Deportations, however, (she said) affect other countries, so those accused of organizing them should be brought before an international court; and so should those accused of genocide, because it is ‘a crime against humanity’. The particular human genus marked down for extermination in this case was the Jewish people, but it was nevertheless, in her view, a crime against all humankind: therefore, she argued, the world, not the Jewish state, should call its perpetrators to account. The fact that the world had shown little interest in tracking down Nazi fugitives was no discouragement to her optimism that it would see justice done.

She was not alone in having doubts on the question of jurisdiction. Legal opinion had been divided over the legitimacy of the court which had tried Nazi leaders at Nuremberg. Argument over type of tribunal, applicable law, and definition of the crimes was necessary, and the Jerusalem court itself examined such questions and gave reasoned answers to them.

But Arendt’s criticism was not limited to those debated issues. She also objected to the terms of the judgment. She accepted that the ‘guilty’ verdict was just, and even agreed that Eichmann deserved the death sentence (unlike some other liberal critics, such as the British publisher Victor Gollancz, who recommended that he be acquitted with the words, ‘Go, and sin no more.’ (1)) What she cavilled at was the judges’ reasons for their verdict. They should, she thought, have ‘dared to address their defendant’ in these terms:

Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that it was nothing more than misfortune [Eichmann’s defence being chiefly that he too was a victim of the Nazi regime, forced to obey immoral orders] that made you a willing instrument in the organization of mass murder; there still remains the fact that you have carried out, and therefore actively supported, a policy of mass murder. For politics is not like the nursery; in politics obedience and support are the same. And just as you supported and carried out a policy of not wanting to share the earth with the Jewish people and the people of a number of other nations – as though you and your superiors had any right to determine who should and who should not inhabit the world – we find that no one, that is, no member of the human race, can be expected to want to share the earth with you. This is the reason, and the only reason, you must hang.

In other words, what Arendt thought Eichmann most guilty of, what she identified as his chief and most appalling offense, what she thought his judges should be hardest on, what alone would justify his being put to death, was – hubris.

This peculiar, not to say eccentric view is, however, not the point to which she most urgently directs her readers’ attention. Her most important conclusion she encapsulated in the famous generalization on the nature of evil. She leads up to it in the last two paragraphs (before the Epilogue and a Postscript), and to keep it in context I shall quote them almost in full:

Adolf Eichmann went to the gallows with great dignity. He had asked for a bottle of red wine and had drunk half of it. He refused the help of the Protestant minister — who offered to read the Bible with him — He walked the fifty yards from his cell to the execution chamber calm and erect, with his hands bound behind him. When the guards tied his ankles and knees, he asked them to loosen the bonds so that he could stand straight. “I don’t need that,” he said when the black hood was offered him. He was in complete command of himself, nay, he was more: he was completely himself. Nothing could have demonstrated this more convincingly than the grotesque silliness of his last words. He began by stating emphatically that he was a Gottgläubiger [believer in God], to express in common Nazi fashion that he was no Christian and did not believe in life after death. [Yet] he then proceeded: “After a short while, gentlemen, we shall all meet again. Such is the fate of all men. Long live Germany, long live Argentina, long live Austria. I shall not forget them.” In the face of death, he had found the cliché used in funeral oratory. Under the gallows, his memory played him the last trick; he was “elated” and he forgot that this was his own funeral. It was as though in those last minutes he was summing up the lessons that this long course in human wickedness had taught us – the lesson of the fearsome, word-and-thought-defying banality of evil. [Her italics]

So in Arendt’s opinion, the story required a fascinating demon, not a bespectacled clerk. Even when he stood under the noose, when history needed him to speak pathetic or terrifying words of pride or remorse, the best he could come out with were embarrassingly trivial ‘funeral clichés’. He was simply not big enough for the evil he had committed. He was a dull man; not exactly stupid, she says, but thoughtless.

Having the mind of a philosopher, she did not leave it at that. She considered further the idea of thoughtlessness as a root of evil. It is close to a proposition by Socrates that men do evil out of ignorance of the good. She went on to write and deliver a series of lectures on how philosophers from ancient Greece to modern Germany have dealt with the subjects of thinking, willing, and the nature of evil. They were collected and published after her death in two volumes under the title The Life of the Mind. In an introduction, she refers to what she has said about Eichmann and his crimes, and makes it clear at last that the evil-doer was banal, not the evil he had done. ‘I was struck by a manifest shallowness [in him] — The deeds were monstrous, but the doer — was quite ordinary, commonplace, and neither demonic nor monstrous.

So it was the man, not his evil, which was banal, and when she had spoken of ‘the banality of evil’ she had not said quite what she had meant. She offers a kind of excuse: ‘Behind that phrase [‘the banality of evil’], I held no thesis or doctrine —- although I was dimly aware of the fact that it went counter to our tradition of thought – literary, theological, or philosophic – about the phenomenon of evil.

Dimly aware’? Was she being forgetful or disingenuous? Neither, I think – just using the wrong adverb. She was perfectly aware that ‘it went counter to our tradition of thought’. German-born, of Jewish descent, she had studied philosophy at Marburg under Martin Heidegger – with whom she had a love-affair – and at Heidelberg under Karl Jaspers. In 1933, when Hitler came to power, she had left Germany for France, and in 1941 escaped to America. Living in New York, she had worked hard at learning English, and in 1944 started writing for The Partisan Review which was then a Trotskyite organ. In the following years she wrote a number of books, one on totalitarianism in which she equated Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia under Stalin – showing a readiness to allow facts to overrule ideology to a degree unusual in Marxists, even a critical Marxist, which she increasingly became.

That she knew well the European tradition of regarding evil as a sublime power, she goes on to show in her introduction to The Life of the Mind: ‘Evil, we have learned, is something demonic; its incarnation is — the fallen angel —that superbia of which only the best are capable.’ And only in that context could her revelation that evil was ‘banal’ have any meaning. Yet that is as far as she went in dealing with the aggrandisement of evil in ‘our tradition of thought’. She does not touch on it again in the chapters that follow, though some of the philosophers she writes about notably contributed to it, such as Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Heidegger(2). Her turning away from the issue is to be regretted. She had come so close to a salutary diagnosis. Evil as an intoxicating passion; evil as a means of transcending the quotidian; evil as a high destiny; evil as power; evil as surpassing beauty; evil as a higher good – these notions have been corrupting the European mind for centuries, at least since the start of the Romantic Movement(3). Europe is sick with a dark passion, ‘a passion for the night’, as Karl Jaspers called it. It is a morbid sickness for which the shortest sufficient name is perhaps Richard Wagner’s: ‘Der Liebestod’ [‘the love-death’].

Richard Wagner, who so inspired Hitler, was one of the most infected, as Thomas Mann illustrates in a story called Tristan. Here is a slide of it: In a Swiss alpine clinic for the treatment of tuberculosis – which Thomas Mann often used as a symbol of the disease of the spirit – two patients, a pretty married woman and a young man of refined aesthetic sensibility, are singing together at the piano:

Their voices rose in mystic unison, rapt in the wordless hope of that death-in-love, of endless oneness in the wonder-kingdom of the night. Sweet night! Eternal night of love! An all-encompassing land of rapture! Once envisioned or divined, what eye could bear to open again on desolate dawn? Forfend such fears, most gentle death! Release these lovers quite from need of waking. Oh, tumultuous storm of rhythms! Oh, glad chromatic upward surge of metaphysical perception! How find, how bind this bliss so far remote from parting’s torturing pangs? Ah, gentle glow of longing, soothing and kind, ah, yielding sweet- sublime, ah, raptured sinking into the twilight of eternity! Thou Isolde, Tristan I, yet no more Tristan, no more Isolde — (4)

Their duet is Der Liebestod. Thomas Mann’s story is about sickness versus health, death versus life, healthy love versus sick love, healthy art versus sick art. These are constant themes of his. No other writer has diagnosed the European – in his view the particularly, if not peculiarly, German – sickness as surely, investigated it as thoroughly, or described it as exactly as he has done. He offers various terms and phrases for it, among them ‘sympathy with death’, ‘the fascination of decay’, the temptation of the abyss’. It inclines those infected with it to negate the value of life and whatever is life-sustaining; to turn away from light towards darkness. He shows us what results from that choice, to those who make it and through them to their world, their age, their nation, their civilization. In general, those who have the sickness revel in it, holding it to be a treasure of incomparable worth, a distinction, a glory. Not only would they not choose to be cured of it, they pity and despise the uninfected. It is understood to bring with it a superior capacity to feel and understand. It makes artists of them even if they make no art; martyrs even though they serve no cause but their own discontent. And in fact these associations are so widely accepted in Europe, so little questioned, so deeply revered, that to their own intense gratification some of the sickest – of whom I name a few in this essay – are adored by millions (if not necessarily the same millions), to whom they are heroes and saints: heroes of darkness, that is to say, or ‘demonic saints’. Dead, they are revered as ‘tragic’ figures. There are many of them, but a few examples will do.

Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt’s lover, is one . He declared emphatically that he was not concerned with ethics, and taught that ‘sin is living inauthentically’. What he was greatly concerned with was the German nation, which must, he said, ‘preserve at the deepest level those forces that are rooted in the earth and its own blood.’ It was embodied in Adolf Hitler. ‘The Führer himself and he alone is the German reality, present and future, and its law.’ Hitler, he believed, would ‘heal’ the nation.(5) Only when, contrary to this prediction, the Führer led Germany to defeat and shame, Heidegger at last discerned in its ruins something he could bring himself to call an evil. He wrote, two years after the ending of the Second World War: ‘Perhaps the distinguishing feature of the present age lies in the fact that wholeness as a dimension of experience is closed to us. Perhaps this is the only evil.’ (6) His recondite and perverse teachings continue in the twenty-first century to direct European trends in philosophy, literary criticism, historical research and even legal theory.

Very much concerned with ethics was George Lukács. The notion that the evil-doer is himself the tragic victim of his own evil deed, since in choosing to commit it he makes the ultimate spiritual self-sacrifice ‘of his purity, his morals, his very soul’, excited Lukács to the point of rapture. He was a literary critic and aesthete who became Minister of Culture in the short-lived Communist government of Hungary after the 1919 revolutionary uprising. He considered himself, as Marxists generally do, a great humanitarian. And like many of his intellectual comrades – Lenin, Trotsky, for instance (7) – he could hardly conceive of a more elevated moral deed than an act of terrorism: ‘Only he who acknowledges unflinchingly and without any reservations that murder is under no circumstances to be sanctioned can commit the murderous deed that is truly – and tragically – moral.’ (8) Such a one is the terrorist. He is a heroic martyr because when he murders ‘his brethren’ he does so with awesome courage, knowing full well that he himself must thereby suffer intense agony. So the man who kills in the full knowledge that it is ‘an absolute and unpardonable sin’ is thus sacrificing himself. There is no greater love than to lay down the life of a fellow man.

The French writer Georges Bataille, also a Marxist revolutionary, wrote that he desired human beings, as a species, to move towards ‘an ever more shameless awareness of the erotic bond that links them to death, to cadavers, and to horrible physical pain. — One of a man’s attributes is the derivation of pleasure from the suffering of others, and that erotic pleasure is not only the negation of an agony that takes place at the same instant, but also a lubricious participation in that agony.’ And: ‘The movement,’ he held, ‘that pushes a man — to give himself (in other words, to destroy himself) — completely, so that a bloody death ensues, can only be compared, in its irresistible and hideous nature, to the blinding flashes of lightning that transform the most withering storm into transports of joy.’ He looked forward to a ‘post-revolutionary phase [of human history] when an antireligious and asocial organization [has] as its goal orgiastic participation in different forms of destruction’. He acknowledged that ‘such an organization, can have no other conception of morality than the one scandalously affirmed for the first time by the Marquis de Sade’. (9) The Marquis de Sade (from whose name the word ‘sadism’ is derived) had notoriously defended and advocated the committing of incest, rape, pedophilia, torture, infanticide, necrophilia, and committed whichever of them he could whenever he could. He wrote of murder that it was ‘often necessary and never criminal’. (10)

Michel Foucault, another comrade and ‘tragic hero’ of the European political left, vastly admired Bataille’s vision and lauded his aims. He endorsed Bataille’s ‘erotic transgression’, rhapsodised over ‘the joy of torture’, and longed to carry out, with his hero, a ‘human sacrifice’; murder performed as a holy act, a spiritual thrill and a work of art. The two of them dreamt of establishing ‘a theatre of cruelty’. But even that would not be enough. Foucault went much further. Cruelty should not be only an occasional act performed for the catharsis of one’s own soul, but a constant part of everyday life; a custom for all to follow. ‘We can and must,’ he wrote, ‘make of man a negative experience, lived in the form of hate and aggression.’ (11) And he did his personal best to make life short and miserable. He contracted AIDS in the bathhouses of San Francisco, and when he knew he had it, returned to infect other men. Experiences of pain, madness, fatal illness were what he called ‘edge situations’, much to be desired because they redeemed existence from its unbearable banality. Evil, in other words, far from being banal itself, was to him a means of redemption from banality.

Jean-Paul Sartre, perhaps the most adulated of all the twentieth-century philosophers in the French pandemonium, followed Heidegger in the belief that the supreme and most necessary task for a human being was to ‘live authentically’. He tells us what we should do to avoid ‘the sin of living inauthentically’: do what is forbidden because it is forbidden; transgress, for transgression is a way to ‘transcendence’. In other words, do evil to achieve the higher good. All Sartre’s heroes were on the side of the demonic. He proclaimed that the poet Charles Baudelaire’s soul was ‘an exquisite blossom’ because he ‘desired Evil for Evil’s sake’; and because he ‘saw in Satan the perfect type of suffering beauty. Satan, who was vanquished, fallen, guilty — crushed beneath the memory of an unforgivable sin, devoured by insatiable ambition, transfixed by the eye of God — nevertheless prevailed against God, his master and conqueror, by his suffering, by that flame of non-satisfaction which — shone like an unquenchable reproach.’ (12)

One of Baudelaire’s poems in Flowers of Evil lyrically celebrates the ravishment of a putrefying corpse. (An image highly suitable as a logo for the Europe of the ‘love-death’.) Elsewhere he declared: ‘In politics, the true saint is the man who uses his whip and kills the people for their own good.

This rottenness was what Thomas Mann showed Europe in the mirrors he held up, among them the long novel The Magic Mountain, set like Tristan in a Swiss clinic for the treatment of tuberculosis. One of its chief characters, Naphta, a religious voluptuary with a passion for terrorism, is partly modelled on Georg Lukács. There is also his novel Dr Faustus in which the Faust figure is a spiritually corrupt genius, a composer who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for musical genius. In mundane terms he intentionally contracts syphilis – as did Baudelaire – and again the physical sickness symbolizes the spiritual one. (Incidentally, syphilis was the disease that killed Hannah Arendt’s father.)

Is Europe redeemable? Goethe’s Faust, who personifies European Romanticism with his longing ‘to explore the heights and the depths’, is redeemed; snatched back from the brink of eternal doom when he has a last minute change of heart and renounces evil (though this of course makes nonsense of the myth, as decisively as Oedipus would make nonsense of his if he failed to kill his father and marry his mother). But Europe – no: Auschwitz doomed Europe beyond any hope of recovery.

NOTES

1. Victor Gollancz, the British publisher, in his own book on the trial.

2. For Hegel’s’ ‘ethics of domination and submission’, and what the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard called his ‘brilliant spirit of putridity’ and ‘infamous splendour of corruption’ see Karl Popper The Open Society and its Enemies Volume 1 Hegel & Marx esp. pp 275, 276. For Marx on terrorism, see ref. in note 6 below, and for Marx’s and Engels’s view that certain nations – Poles, Czechs, Slavs – were fit only to be used as canon-fodder or enslaved, see Leopold Schwarzschild The Red Prussian, Pickwick Books, London 1986 p 81, and Nathaniel Weyl Karl Marx, Racist, Arlington House 1980. Nietzsche famously praised evil and the infliction of pain, and recommended the annihilation of millions of ‘botched’ human beings in order to expedite the spiritual strengthening of the emerging Superman. For Heidegger see later in the text and notes 4 & 5 below.

3. The inversion of moral values, orgiastic ritual sinning, and defiance of the law as means to a higher good, characterized Gnostic religious cults in the Roman Empire and throughout the Middle Ages.

4. Trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter

5. Hugo Ott Martin Heidegger: A Political Life trans. Allan Blunden, HarperCollins, 1993 p 167, quoting Heidegger’s rectorial address at the University of Freiburg, May 27, 1933.

6. Letter on Humanism by Martin Heidegger, 1946.

7. For a succinct account of the views of Marx, Trotsky and Lenin on the virtue of terrorism, see Roberta Goren The Soviet Union and Terrorism, ed. Jillian Becker, George Allen & Unwin, London and Boston, 1984.

8. Georg Lukács Tactics and Ethics. He wrote this as an approving summary of an idea expressed by Boris V. Savinkov (who wrote under the name of Ropshin) in his novel The Pale Horse. Lukács admired this novelist for his ‘new manifestation of an old conflict’ between ‘duties towards social structure’ and ‘imperatives of the soul’ – the conflict with which Bataille, de Sade, Foucault, Heidegger, and Sartre were also centrally concerned.

9. Georges Bataille Visions of Excess: Selected Writing 1927-1934 ed. & trans. Allan Stoeckl, Manchester University Press, 1985 p 69

10. The Marquis de Sade Philosophy in the Boudoir.

11. James Miller The Passion of Michel Foucault, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1993 pp 204, 206.

12. Jean-Paul Sartre Baudelaire Trans. Martin Turnell

Jillian Becker July 20, 2010

Green roots: the origin of ecology 4

We recommend the full version of the following essay, where all sources are given.

One thing we do not agree with, which is to be found in the full version, is the author’s characterizing of National Socialism as a ‘right-wing’ movement. Nazism was what it said it was: national socialism. The real nature of Nazism as a derivative of left-wing ideology is little understood, and as the information in the essay itself provides a corrective to popular misconceptions, we are baffled as to why it failed to enlighten its author in this one respect.

From: “Green Wing” of the Nazi Party and its Historical Antecedents by Peter Staudenmaier.

“We recognize that separating humanity from nature, from the whole of life, leads to humankind’s own destruction and to the death of nations. Only through a re-integration of humanity into the whole of nature can our people be made stronger. That is the fundamental point of the biological tasks of our age. Humankind alone is no longer the focus of thought, but rather life as a whole . . . This striving toward connectedness with the totality of life, with nature itself, a nature into which we are born, this is the deepest meaning and the true essence of National Socialist thought.” – National Socialist professor of biology, Ernst Lehmann.

Germany is not only the birthplace of the science of ecology and the site of Green politics’ rise to prominence; it has also been home to a peculiar synthesis of naturalism and nationalism forged under the influence of the Romantic tradition’s anti-Enlightenment irrationalism. Two nineteenth century figures exemplify this ominous conjunction: Ernst Moritz Arndt and Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl…

Historians of German environmentalism mention [Arndt] as the earliest example of ‘ecological’ thinking in the modern sense.  His remarkable 1815 article On the Care and Conservation of Forests, written at the dawn of industrialization in Central Europe, rails against shortsighted exploitation of woodlands and soil, condemning deforestation and its economic causes. At times he wrote in terms strikingly similar to those of contemporary biocentrism: “When one sees nature in a necessary connectedness and interrelationship, then all things are equally important — shrub, worm, plant, human, stone, nothing first or last, but all one single unity.”

[In] Riehl, a student of Arndt, … his ‘green’ streak went significantly deeper than Arndt’s; presaging certain tendencies in recent environmental activism, his 1853 essay “Field and Forest” ended with a call to fight for “the rights of wilderness.” But even here nationalist pathos set the tone: “We must save the forest, not only so that our ovens do not become cold in winter, but also so that the pulse of life of the people continues to beat warm and joyfully, so that Germany remains German.” Riehl was an implacable opponent of the rise of industrialism and urbanization; his overtly antisemitic glorification of rural peasant values and undifferentiated condemnation of modernity established him as the “founder of agrarian romanticism and anti-urbanism.”

These latter two fixations matured in the second half of the nineteenth century in the context of the völkisch movement, a powerful cultural disposition and social tendency which united ethnocentric populism with nature mysticism. At the heart of the völkisch temptation was a pathological response to modernity. In the face of the very real dislocations brought on by the triumph of industrial capitalism and national unification, völkisch thinkers preached a return to the land, to the simplicity and wholeness of a life attuned to nature’s purity. … The movement aspired to reconstruct the society that was sanctioned by history, rooted in nature, and in communion with the cosmic life spirit …”

The emergence of modern ecology forged the final link in the fateful chain which bound together aggressive nationalism, mystically charged racism, and environmentalist predilections. In 1867 the German zoologist Ernst Haeckel coined the term ‘ecology’ and began to establish it as a scientific discipline dedicated to studying the interactions between organism and environment. Haeckel … developed a … philosophy he called ‘monism.’ The German Monist League he founded combined scientifically based ecological holism with völkisch social views. Haeckel believed in nordic racial superiority, strenuously opposed race mixing and enthusiastically supported racial eugenics. His fervent nationalism became fanatical with the onset of World War I, and he fulminated in antisemitic tones against the post-war Council Republic in Bavaria.

In this way “Haeckel contributed to that special variety of German thought which served as the seed bed for National Socialism…”.

The pioneer of scientific ecology, along with his disciples Willibald Hentschel, Wilhelm Bölsche and Bruno Wille, profoundly shaped the thinking of subsequent generations of environmentalists by embedding concern for the natural world in a tightly woven web of regressive social themes….

Thus, for the Monists, perhaps the most pernicious feature of European bourgeois civilization was the inflated importance which it attached to the idea of man in general, to his existence and to his talents

The biologist Raoul Francé, founding member of the Monist League, elaborated so-called Lebensgesetze, ‘laws of life’ through which the natural order determines the social order. He opposed racial mixing, for example, as “unnatural.” Francé is acclaimed by contemporary ecofascists as a “pioneer of the ecology movement.”

The chief vehicle for carrying this ideological constellation to prominence was the youth movement … Also known as the Wandervögel (which translates roughly as ‘wandering free spirits’), the youth movement was a hodge-podge of countercultural elements, blending neo-Romanticism, Eastern philosophies, nature mysticism, hostility to reason, and a strong communal impulse in a confused but no less ardent search for authentic, non-alienated social relations. Their back-to-the-land emphasis spurred a passionate sensitivity to the natural world and the damage it suffered. … [M]ost of the Wandervögel were eventually absorbed by the Nazis. … its members went over to the Nazis by the thousands. Its countercultural energies and its dreams of harmony with nature bore the bitterest fruit. …

The philosopher Ludwig Klages profoundly influenced the youth movement and particularly shaped their ecological consciousness. He authored a tremendously important essay titled “Man and Earth” for the legendary Meissner gathering of the Wandervögel in 1913. An extraordinarily poignant text and the best known of all Klages’ work, it is … “one of the very greatest manifestoes of the radical ecopacifist movement in Germany” …

“Man and Earth” anticipated just about all of the themes of the contemporary ecology movement. It decried the accelerating extinction of species, disturbance of global ecosystemic balance, deforestation, destruction of aboriginal peoples and of wild habitats, urban sprawl, and the increasing alienation of people from nature. In emphatic terms it disparaged Christianity, capitalism, economic utilitarianism, hyperconsumption and the ideology of ‘progress.’ It even condemned the environmental destructiveness of rampant tourism and the slaughter of whales, and displayed a clear recognition of the planet as an ecological totality. All of this in 1913 !…

“Man and Earth” … was republished as an esteemed and seminal treatise to accompany the birth of the German Greens.

Another philosopher and stern critic of Enlightenment who helped bridge fascism and environmentalism was Martin Heidegger. A much more renowned thinker than Klages, Heidegger preached “authentic Being” and harshly criticized modern technology, and is therefore often celebrated as a precursor of ecological thinking. On the basis of his critique of technology and rejection of humanism, contemporary deep ecologists have elevated Heidegger to their pantheon of eco-heroes.

Heidegger’s critique of anthropocentric humanism, his call for humanity to learn to “let things be,” his notion that humanity is involved in a “play” or “dance” with earth, sky, and gods, his meditation on the possibility of an authentic mode of “dwelling” on the earth, his complaint that industrial technology is laying waste to the earth, his emphasis on the importance of local place and “homeland,” his claim that humanity should guard and preserve things, instead of dominating them — all these aspects of Heidegger’s thought help to support the claim that he is a major deep ecological theorist.

[Heidegger] was … an active member of the Nazi party and … enthusiastically, even adoringly supported the Führer. His mystical panegyrics to Heimat (homeland) were complemented by a deep antisemitism, and his metaphysically phrased broadsides against technology and modernity converged neatly with populist demagogy. Although he lived and taught for thirty years after the fall of the Third Reich, Heidegger never once publicly regretted, much less renounced, his involvement with National Socialism, nor even perfunctorily condemned its crimes. His work, whatever its philosophical merits, stands today as a signal admonition about the political uses of anti-humanism in ecological garb.

[T]he Nazi movement’s incorporation of environmentalist themes was a crucial factor in its rise to popularity and state power.

The National Socialist “religion of nature,” … was a volatile admixture of primeval teutonic nature mysticism, pseudo-scientific ecology, irrationalist anti-humanism, and a mythology of racial salvation through a return to the land. Its predominant themes were ‘natural order,’ organicist holism and denigration of humanity: “Throughout the writings, not only of Hitler, but of most Nazi ideologues, one can discern a fundamental deprecation of humans vis-à-vis nature, and, as a logical corollary to this, an attack upon human efforts to master nature.” Quoting a Nazi educator, the same source continues: “anthropocentric views in general had to be rejected. They would be valid only ‘if it is assumed that nature has been created only for man. We decisively reject this attitude. According to our conception of nature, man is a link in the living chain of nature just as any other organism’.”

Such arguments have a chilling currency within contemporary ecological discourse: the key to social-ecological harmony is ascertaining “the eternal laws of nature’s processes” (Hitler) and organizing society to correspond to them. …

In many varieties of the National Socialist world view ecological themes were linked with traditional agrarian romanticism and hostility to urban civilization, all revolving around the idea of rootedness in nature. …

Hitler and Himmler were both strict vegetarians and animal lovers, attracted to nature mysticism and homeopathic cures, and staunchly opposed to vivisection and cruelty to animals. Himmler even established experimental organic farms to grow herbs for SS medicinal purposes. And Hitler, at times, could sound like a veritable Green utopian, discussing authoritatively and in detail various renewable energy sources (including environmentally appropriate hydropower and producing natural gas from sludge) as alternatives to coal, and declaring “water, winds and tides” as the energy path of the future. …

[Richard Walther] Darré was one of the party’s chief “race theorists” and was also instrumental in galvanizing peasant support for the Nazis during the critical period of the early 1930s. From 1933 until 1942 he held the posts of Reich Peasant Leader and Minister of Agriculture. …From this position Darré was able to lend vital support to various ecologically oriented initiatives. He played an essential part in unifying the nebulous proto-environmentalist tendencies in National Socialism. …

Darré’s most important innovation was the introduction on a large scale of organic farming methods, significantly labeled “lebensgesetzliche Landbauweise,” or farming according to the laws of life…. The impetus for these unprecedented measures came from Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy and its techniques of biodynamic cultivation.

The campaign to institutionalize organic farming encompassed tens of thousands of smallholdings and estates across Germany. … [I]t was largely Darré’s influence in the Nazi apparatus which yielded, in practice, a level of government support for ecologically sound farming methods and land use planning unmatched by any state before or since.

For these reasons Darré has sometimes been regarded as a forerunner of the contemporary Green movement. …

One account even claims that it was Darré who convinced Hitler and Himmler of the necessity of exterminating the Jews and Slavs. The ecological aspects of his thought cannot, in sum, be separated from their thoroughly Nazi framework. …

The two men principally responsible for sustaining this environmentalist commitment in the midst of intensive industrialization were Reichsminister Fritz Todt and his aide, the high-level planner and engineer Alwin Seifert…. whom Todt reportedly once called a “fanatical ecologist.” Seifert bore the official title of Reich Advocate for the Landscape, but his nickname within the party was “Mr. Mother Earth.” The appellation was deserved; Seifert dreamed of a “total conversion from technology to nature,” and would often wax lyrical about the wonders of German nature and the tragedy of “humankind’s” carelessness. As early as 1934 he wrote to Hess demanding attention to water issues and invoking “work methods that are more attuned to nature.” In discharging his official duties Seifert stressed the importance of wilderness and energetically opposed monoculture, wetlands drainage and chemicalized agriculture. He criticized Darré as too moderate, and “called for an agricultural revolution towards ‘a more peasant-like, natural, simple’ method of farming, ‘independent of capital’.”…

Reich Chancellor Rudolf Hess … provided the “green wing” of the NSDAP a secure anchor at the very top of the party hierarchy….

Hess was not only the highest party leader and second in line (after Göring) to succeed Hitler; in addition, all legislation and every decree had to pass through his office before becoming law.

An inveterate nature lover as well as a devout Steinerite, Hess insisted on a strictly biodynamic diet — not even Hitler’s rigorous vegetarian standards were good enough for him — and accepted only homeopathic medicines. It was Hess who introduced Darré to Hitler, thus securing the “green wing” its first power base. He was an even more tenacious proponent of organic farming than Darré …

With Hess’s enthusiastic backing, the “green wing” was able to achieve its most notable successes. As early as March 1933, a wide array of environmentalist legislation was approved and implemented at national, regional and local levels. These measures, which included reforestation programs, bills protecting animal and plant species, and preservationist decrees blocking industrial development, undoubtedly “ranked among the most progressive in the world at that time.” Planning ordinances were designed for the protection of wildlife habitat and at the same time demanded respect for the sacred German forest. The Nazi state also created the first nature preserves in Europe.

The Reichsnaturschutzgesetz [nature protection law] of 1935, not only established guidelines for safeguarding flora, fauna, and “natural monuments” across the Reich; it also restricted commercial access to remaining tracts of wilderness. In addition, the comprehensive ordinance “required all national, state and local officials to consult with Naturschutz authorities in a timely manner before undertaking any measures that would produce fundamental alterations in the countryside.”…

The “green wing” of the NSDAP was not a group of innocents, confused and manipulated idealists, or reformers from within; they were conscious promoters and executors of a vile program explicitly dedicated to inhuman racist violence, massive political repression and worldwide military domination. Their “ecological” involvements, far from offsetting these fundamental commitments, deepened and radicalized them. In the end, their configuration of environmental politics was directly and substantially responsible for organized mass murder.

No aspect of the Nazi project can be properly understood without examining its implication in the holocaust. Here, too, ecological arguments played a crucially malevolent role. Not only did the “green wing” refurbish the sanguine antisemitism of traditional reactionary ecology; it catalyzed a whole new outburst of lurid racist fantasies of organic inviolability … The confluence of anti-humanist dogma with a fetishization of natural ‘purity’ provided not merely a rationale but an incentive for the Third Reich’s most heinous crimes. …