Saturday, January 30, 2016

Cleaning Out the Closet. II

 
Politically, the most interesting thing that has happened to the Right has been the growth of its dissident faction, the Dissident Right(DR), a faction disgusted with what passes as the mainstream or institutional Right.  This dissident faction can be thought of as the overriding name for all the separate Right groups that are opposed to the current conservative status quo.  It's  not a unified force rather it's a collection of disparate groups that can be broadly categorised on how they approach the problems of politics and philosophy. As mentioned in my previous post the Dissident Right can be broadly divided into the "feeling Right" which is typified by the Alt-Right and the "thinking" Right which, I feel, is typified by Neoreaction.

Neoreaction, by its very nature, is an intellectual exercise  and therefore is always going to be a minority position. As Stanovich and cognitive science have previously demonstrated, the majority of men are "feels"  rather than "thought" driven. The Alt-Right, as mentioned in the previous post, is primarily a "feels" driven phenomenon and as the dissident right grows in numbers it is to be expected that the feels component will assume a greater significance. This is a problem.

Unfortunately, "feels driven solutions" are typical mob solutions, which tend to be violent,self-destructive and self-corrosive. Fascism (in all its variants) was a "feels" driven response to the problems of the early 20th Century and we all know how that ended up. The problem with the entryist invasion of the dissident right is that they are going to exert an influence on it simply by virtue of their mass, the task at hand is how to stop the mob from going stupid. This I feel is the role for NRx.

What distinguishes NRx from the Alt-Right is concern for the facts. The Alt-Right has no need for facts, it wants to embrace the myths, to be on the side of the God's  and, in that way, resembles some of the worst aspects of the Left (who were on the side of the Angels in Vietnam, for instance.) For Neoreaction, empirical observations matter and NRx forms its opinions and insights from the due consideration of the them.The critique of universal democracy, for instance, is not grounded in a "preference" or bias for for other systems of government, or the myth of aristocracy, rather it comes from a considered understanding, based upon the empirical observations of the "average voter". If Neoreaction had a motto, it would be Solzhenitsyn's, "Live not by lies".

What unites all of NRx, in my opinion, is a concern for the Truth. We may quibble on points of the truth but real problem is in what  divides NRx, and that is the scope of the truth.  I don't think many in NRx fully appreciate that contemporary NRx has a very deep metaphysical problem, which is best explained by the fact that NRx can itself be divided into two groups: Positivist (+) NRx and Non-Positivist (-)NRx. 

Positivist NRx is most typified by the Moldbuggian strain of NRx.  This issue at stake here is the understanding of Truth and Reality. In +NRx what is considered a valid truth is defined within the positivist metaphysic, a metaphysic which is shared by both the Left and +NRx . +NRx is therefore, simply, an intellectually honest, and better form, of Positivism

It needs to be understood that the Left is, in many ways, cognitively like the Alt-Right. It's largest contingent, the mainstream Left, is a culture which subordinates fact to myth,i.e the myth of radical equality, with "the feels" being the overriding imperative. However, there are a very few serious thinkers amongst the more intelligent Left, and the prevailing metaphysical system in which they operate is Positivistic.  The serious Left have always had an ambivalent attitude towards the truth, being willing to subordinate it for a greater cause, but where truth is admitted it is always done within the framework of Positivism. Therefore what distinguishes the a left positivist from a NRx positivist is the willingness to be believe in dishonest propositions.

Therefore we can define Leftism as;

(dishonest) Positivism in error = Leftism

However, and this is the kicker, error does not always have to be deliberate, sometimes its unintentional. Thinking is hard, reasoning is flawed, frequently biased and honest mistakes are made. The logic however is inescapable;

(honest) Positivism in error  = ? (hint, look above.)

See the problem?

What separates the two is malice not epistemology.

If you think about it a bit you get a bit of shudder when you realise that Moldbug is an unwitting plant.

Now, there's error and there's error. Errors in the physical sciences are unlikely to affect societal stability, errors in the our understanding of how humans interact are liable to be civilisation destroying.  Things like sexual morality may have a more profound effect on societal stability than, say, how you arrange the political governance of a country. The point being, that you have to have the capacity and intellect to see the toxicity, if you're an +NRx who can't see it, your societal prescriptions will mirror the Left, in either of its Marxist or Fascist variants when it comes to such matters.

Good quality +NRx thinkers will make few mistakes and therefore have a better grasp on reality but the "honest", poorer thinkers are the epistemological equivalents of Leftists. No matter how good any +NRx thinker is, he is still stuck within the confines of Positivism and when +NRx goes "bad" it goes Left. +NRx is unable to escape Modernism/Leftism because their underlying metaphysics are its foundations.  They are stuck in the Left Matrix and there is no way out.

The great divide between the past and modern world lay in our understanding of reality, Positivism was a reduction in recognition of the scope of it. The pre-moderns, and most of the world bar the West,  holds the view that there is more to reality than can actually be "accessed" by our biological senses. Religion was the principal access path to these other verities and hence the importance of it in non-Positivist societies. Non-Positivist NRx, (-NRx) takes religion into account by explicitly rejecting the implicit limitations of Positivism and views religious insight as akin to empirical data.  As mentioned in a long previous post, Faith is a sensory modality.

Relgious faith, particularly the religious faith of the West serves therefore as another dimension of information in the analytic of -NRx. -NRx doesn't reject  the empiricism of Positivism, rather it sees its data set as incomplete. -NRx needs to be thought of not as anti-positivist, rather it is supra-Positivist. Science still matters, but so does the "faith" data. In -NRx there is NO conflict between faith data and empirical data, rather, reason aims to find a reconciliation with both since the truth is a singularity, incapable of contradiction.

It needs to be understood that Positivism's unrelenting march throughout the late 19th and early 20th Century came about because it was the first to consistently apply the principle of the primacy of empirical data over theory, despite its simultaneous reduction of the scope of it. It insisted on reason being "calibrated" to real world findings. Tradition and custom were unable to achieve this calibration and thus were pushed aside as Positivism "delivered the goods" in the form of technological progress. The tragedy of the 20th Century has come about because traditionalism was unable to deal with Positivistic success.

-NRx takes the principal of the primacy of empirical data over theory and incorporates it into a wider data set.  -NRx is a sort of fusion between traditional concepts of the scope of empirical data with the positivist insistence on the primacy of data. It's a fusion product. This, however, puts -NRx explicitly against traditionalism, insofar as traditionalists elevate custom above the truth. This, itself is not a bad thing, given traditionalism's utter failure to combat the Left. New approaches need to be tried.

I personally don't think any political program on its own is going to work. What is needed is a spiritual renewal of the West but the traditional spiritual "institutions" have proved themselves unable to face the challenge of modernism. It is my hope that -NRx will act upon these institutions to instill a "bottom up" renewal of Western society, instead of a "top down" Franco like solution which has failed in the long run. Politics matters as well, but the primary task now is to reform the religious institutions of the West, still  I feel -NRx has a role in stopping the "feels" right from drifting and becoming too crazy.

The pathogen that is eating away at the institutions of the West is not a lack of scientific knowledge but moral decay.  Intelligent but corrupt officials destroy the efficiency of government, Hi IQ cads and whores destroy the institution of the family, Journalists lie, Doctors murder, Judges administer social justice instead of law, and everyone lies. That's why any revival of the West will primarily consist of a moral revival and not a technological solution. The excluded data set must be incorporated else there is no way out.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Cleaning out the Closet: I

I think 2015 will be seen as a watershed year for the Right. As mentioned in my previous posts, it was a year of mixed blessing and I thought I would try to take stock of the situation as now it stands now in what I would call the Dissident Right. I think it is important to distinguish between the Alt-Right and NRx since the two are different yet people seem to use the terminology interchangeably at times. The Dissident Right (DR) can be thought of as comprising of both NRx and the Alt-Right who are united, at least, in a rejection of what constitutes the post war Institutional Right(IR) . 

Now, by DR, I mean the Right that has abandoned the post war conservative institutional consensus, in other words, what counts for "mainstream Conservatism" which is currently in its death throes iacross the Western World. The recent National Review edition against Trump is an example of the conservative consensus flailing about to keep the traditional constituency in tow. There seems to be global revolt of the rank and file against the institutional conservative establishment which increasingly fails to meaningfully distinguish itself from the Left. Furthermore, I think we've reached a sociological tipping point, in that extent of foreign migration (and its media coverage) has finally started to fuel a nativist backlash and, more importantly, the economic forces of globalisation have finally started to seriously impact upon the middle class.  Globalisation, whilst it was putting out blue collar workers was not a really issue for the Right but now that its pernicious effects are being felt in Middle Class--(politically the class that matters most)--a serious revolt has begun to brew.

It is these rebels from institutional conservatism which I call the Dissident Right. Now, the DR needs to be understood as comprising of two main streams;

1) The "feeling" Right and,
2) The "thinking" Right.

The "feeling Right" is pretty much owned by the Alt-Right, by which I mean the Radix like crowd.  This group "intuits" its political position and its rejection of the IR is more a case of the "feels" rather than the "thinks". It's essentially a romantic movement. In Richard Spencer's Political Theology, myth is more important than fact. The reason this is because any factual analysis of the "White" situation leads to uncomfortable truths. Truths which stymie the "racial awareness" renewal.  In brief, the White goyim are bringing the misery down, on themselves by themselves. It needs to be pointed out that the SJW's who are currently pushing for more "diversity" are nearly all white white. Attribution of decline to external groups such as the Jews, whilst having some plausibility, are unfounded so in the end, any sustaining principle must be rooted in an intuitive myth rather than a cold hard fact.

This however is a political winner, at least in a democracy. As Sam Francis in his brilliant, From Household to Nation, observed, the average middle class person was nothing more than an affluent proletarian and therefore far more likely to be motivated by the "feels" rather than the facts. His essay is basically a statement on the importance, in a Democracy, of personal circumstances over ideology and he attributes the failure of the IR to the neglect of this fact.  What has driven the shift to the DR, in particular the Alt-Right is, that over the past decade, the circmstances of the middle class have started to decline with a subsequent rise in middle class anxiety. The Alt-Right caters for this anxiety in a way that the sheeple can grasp. It doesn't argue rationally it persuades emotively.

Years ago, the mainstream media control of information would pretty much shut down any legitimate access to the Alt-right, but given the internet, that control has been lost and groups such as Radix have been able to package themselves--somewhat--as identitarians and not as Nazi's who are able to slickly articulate the problems of the middle class. Furthermore, by providing "low brow" intuitive solutions to problems, their appeal is slowly growing and it is this segment, because of its socio-intellectual nature, has provided for the most explosive growth in the Dissident Right.

The other area where it owns the field is in the ideology of identity. Make no mistake, there is a crisis of national identity going on throughout the Western World, bough about by multiculturalism, which is being suppressed by political correctness yet which yearns to find expression and is yet another reason for the growth of the DR.  Other conservative movements simply do not come even come close to providing for coherent solutions to the problem, however its mistake is in placing the foundation of identity in biological race--with all of its Darwinian baggage and repulsive evolutionary "solutions"--instead of grounding identity in the natural biases of human nature. 

But make no mistake, the Alt-Right is still a "mass-man" movement and therefore is a spiritual heir of the French Revolution. It is anti-NRx. It's a democracy/socialism/authoritarian system where the franchise is based on color. And therefore, it brings with it all the problems to culture and society that democratic Mass-man society brings. Many forget that it was "white" democracy that bought us this current civilisational mess. Furthermore, no matter how you cut it, given its nationalist, identitarian and racial emphasis, it's intellectual underpinnings are shared with the Fascist movement. Now contrary to popular belief, Fascism was a broad "Church" ranging from the mildness of the Action Francaise to the murderous Nazi and Ustashe regimes. I'm not at all suggesting that Alt-Right are Nazi's but it needs to be remembered that even though all not all  fascists are Nazi's all Nazi's are fascists. All variants of Fascism share the same metaphyisics and what distinguishes them is in their different approaches to real world "solutions" to problems. Given this common metaphysic, the Alt-Right is a home where Identitarians and National Socialists can find common cause. As I see it, there is no corrective mechanism in the Alt-Right movement to prevent a virulent natsoc capture of it. Should this happen the movement would self destruct and drag any other associated movements down with it.

I'll deal with the "thinking" Right in my next post.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Post Worth Mentioning.


 Permissive attitudes towards morally questionable behaviour pave the way for destruction of your culture, people, and society. 
The were several good posts written last year which I hoped to comment on. One, in particularly, was by Esoterictrad: It's the Degeneracy Stupid.  It's a well written post which pretty much aligns with this blog's philosophical position.  It also think it's one of the most important posts of the year since it succinctly illustrates the mindware contamination of NRx that has come about through Alt-Right entryism. This has been the most depressing development of 2015 but unfortunately, given the rise of the dissident Right, to be expected.
This seemingly obvious truth is in fact denied by what seems like increasingly large numbers of people who use the term ‘Alt-Right’ to describe themselves. Over the course of the last few years as the ‘Alt-Right’ has grown in popularity it has attracted more and more white men disaffected with how things are going. In such a liberal age many of these men are still largely sit within the Overton Window on many issues, it is only on a few where they have directly experienced the horrors of modernity that they branch out and explore.
and 
Some of those men end up going further and head towards Truth, but the vast majority are more likely to end up making a truce towards the rest of the liberal attitudes. The Reddit subreddit “The Red Pill” which is a Game/sexual strategy forum explicitly forbids discussion of morality. There is a mod post announcing people must keep their morals to themselves.
As Esoterictrad points out, there seems to be this notion that everything will be OK if you fix up an isolated act of degeneracy whilst wallowing in an ocean of it. Let me illustrate what I mean. For years I struggled to understand why fornication was wrong. Why should God be so opposed to the private act of affection between two consenting adults, especially if no harm was done by it? It's taken me years to realise my formulation of the question was based upon a failure to understand the "extrapersonal" dimension of the sexual act. Sex is not simply an act that can be isolated to two people, but its an act with much wider sociological implications. Compartmentalising it is simply a poor way of thinking about it.

Family stability is partly a function of the prevailing sexual mores.  Acceptable promiscuity facilitates family dissolution, it facilitates abortion, it facilitates the alpha harem and alpha widowhood with the subsequent negative effects of long term pair bonding. It disincentivises socially productive beta behaviour and promotes the dark triad of traits which undermine society. It moves the locus of control of sexuality towards the female instead of the male, undermining the intended sexual dynamic between sexes. Fornication, considered from a simply personal perspective, is probably not that bad, but when considered from a global one, it is a lethal poison. Getting people to grasp the global picture is very hard. Telling people to keep "your morals to yourself" keeps the focus on the local and not the global.

People seem to have a real problem grasping the "big picture" and instead focus on small issues all the will oblivious the larger problem which brings us to the Alt-Right. Esoterictrad on the subject:
The other area where people might run into the obvious lies of the left establishment is of course demographics and race. A great many people ‘wake up’ to the reality of race but never ‘wake up’ to anything else. They are essentially what should be known as the ‘Alt-Left’ – where everything is acceptable as long as it is a whites only society. Homosexuals of course have greatly appreciated this, because it means they do not have to face up to their sins. Here is a group of people willing to accept them because they shout about Niggers and Kikes just like them, but won’t actually suggest they change their behaviour.
Bingo. These people simply can't grasp the fact that a whites only society can also implode. They're so focused on "white oppression" that they miss the bigger picture. They're essentially social justice warriors for white people only. I would urge my readers to have a look a Richard Spencer's Political Theology and tell me how his "myths" differ from the "myths' of social justice warriors.  The common thread of both parties is a believe in the power of myth over truth; oppression by whites in the case of the Left SJW's and oppression by others in the case of the Right SJW's both parties are ambivalent when it comes to the matter of truth. Indeed, as Spencer so eloquently points out.
Indeed, knowing too much truth can be a problem.
The reason why the West is in such deep shit is because it doesn't realise just how bad things are.  It doesn't help that people are openly advocating closing their eyes to the facts. Commentators are worrying about the position of the deck chairs, ignoring the hole in the Titanic's side.  No one sees the bigger picture. The problem is one of faith and morals. In other words, it's the degeneracy, stupid.



Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2015: Raisins and Turds.

Another year has passed and I think it is worthwhile, from this vantage point, to take stock of the From from the perspective of this blog it's been a mixed year.

Firstly, the positives. As much as I deplore the rabble, any change in the zietgiest is only going to come about when a lot of people come on board. The "penetration" of Right memes has always been hampered by Cathedral control of public "idea space", and until recently, the Cathedral, through it's technological monopoly, has been able to keep control of the Overton Window. While its control over it has been gradually weakening, over the past year it seems to have taken a serious hit.  Conservative bloggers have always been since the inception of the internet,  but it appears that in the last year or so, the Alt-Right has achieved critical mass, especially in the U.S.,  as to be able to influence the tone of public debate. The emergence of the "cuckservative" meme an example in point. This is good.

Secondly, the amount of perversity, like morality, a society can abide with is limited by human nature. The extreme leftward push by the Cathedral and its operatives is finally starting to initiate some homeostatic mechanisms which are favourable to the Right wing ideas.  People like to live according to their natures, and one aspect of their nature is homophily.  Having a natural disposition toward homogeneous societies, no matter what they say to the contrary, the illegal immigration debacle in Europe--with its impotent response--has done more for the furtherance of Right wing ideas by activating some primordial response than any polemic or appeal to rationality by any Right-wing intellectual.  This is good.

Furthermore, most people have an intuitive dislike towards homosexuality and an intuitive sense of protection for children. Whilst the gay agenda was orientated toward securing sexual rights I don't think many cared to push back, on the other hand, the push for the legitimisation of marriage and access to children seems to have triggered the beginnings of an "intuitive"  counter-homosexual pushback in the community, particularly in France. This is good.

Furthermore, over the last few months I've also noticed comments popping up in unexpected places which seem to be negative with regard to the sexual revolution. People seem to be sick of the sexual degeneracy about them and there is a weariness about matters sexual. This is not to say that people want to turn the sexual revolution back, but there seems to be a growing awareness of the bigger picture of sex, especially with regard to relationship stability. This is good.

2015 Seems to be the year that mainstream "Conservatism" has died. Everywhere across the Western World there seems to be a fissuring and polarisation amongst the ranks in the Right. Merkel has effectively killed the CDU and what emerges is likely not to be very unpredictable.  This is good, as the current custodians of the mainstream Right have destroyed it.

The other great development is Victor Orban.

The other development is the rise of Trump.

From a meta level, it appears that 2015 has been a year which has resulted in rightward shift in the Overton window.  Especially in Europe. 

Now the turds.

It's been great to see the explosion of the Alt-Right presence on the social media and in the blogosphere and I think 2015 has been the year of Alt-Right achieved Critical mass. But, on the other hand, a significant portion of the is growth has come about from entryism of "naturalist " Right groups. I'm using naturalism in the sense the Michel Houellebecq has used it and I think the aptness of the french terminology is particularly important given the cultural position of the Right at the moment. These entryists  who are very active, seem to be pushing a racially aware form of progressivism. This is not good.

Following up of my reading of Houellebecq, I've spent the last couple of weeks chasing a rabbit warren of ideas by early 20th Century French authors, particularly Peguy and Blondel. What's quite eerie to note is just how much contemporary right wing thought resembles that of right wing thought in France prior to WW1. And if history is a guide, serves as a warning for what is to come.

At the end of the 19th Century, French Right wing thought was broadly divided into two main streams. There was the naturalist/Integralist steam which centered around the personality of Charles Maurras and there was a rabble of Christian humanists typified by men such as Peguy, Blondel and Claudel. Group one was a curious fusion of HBD positivism and Throne and Altar Traditionalism and called itself Action Francaise.  To be fair, it had some good ideas but in the end, the organisation betrayed France by bending over and enthusiastically supporting the German occupation of it. They were active in the  persecution of the French resistance, despite calling themselves the avowed patriots of France. When all is said an done, despite their religiosity and French patriotism they were simply racially conscious progressives. This version of the right shot itself in the head.

Group 2 on the other hand, fought the Germans, and inspired men like De Gaulle. They saw that setting the clock back wasn't going to work, neither were the mass-man ideologies of the time. They saw that Western Civilisation was in deep crisis, seeing the mass de-Christianisation that was occurring in Europe prior to Vatican Two. They diagnosed the problem as being that mainly of a crisis of faith, and a failure of traditional Western civilisation to recognise that modernity had changed the operating paradigms of society. To them the fundamental task was to respond to modernity in a Christian fashion and it was a question of how to deal with modernity successfully, not adapting it uncritically. This however was too much for Church leaders at the time who tacitly supported Group 1 and mildly persecuted Group 2. These guys were the spiritual fathers of John Paul II, Benedict and Francis.  The guys who persecuted them were the Traditionalists.

Why the French situation is important is because it is being mirrored today in contemporary Right wing "idea space" and what has really depressed me is the Naturalist bent the Alt-Right has taken. The history of the times should be studied simply to show that the Naturalist trajectory is bound to end in failure. I don't want to repeat the same mistake yet it seems to be the way we're going. This is bad.

The other tragedy of 2015 has been the Catholic Church. It's this blogs primary contention that the Crisis in Western Civilisation at the moment is primarily religious in origin and nothing gets fixed until this issue is sorted out. Europe will die if Christianity is not revived and hence the Church's current "impotence" at dealing with the spiritual failure is the pressing issue of the moment. ( I know a lot of you Positivists think I'm nuts. It would be so much easier to implement a policy solution than a cultural transformation, yet it is the latter that needs to be done.) Protestantism is dying and Orthodoxy is static, incapable of change. That leaves the Church.

Vatican Two was supposed to sort this mess out, but it hasn't, primarily because the Hierarchy reformed ineptly and inappropriately. I think Francis recognises this and his hoping for some Divine solution. I think he is aware of the problem though doesn't have any solutions of his own. I think he was hoping something would come out of the Family Synod but nothing appears to have happened. The Church's spinning of the wheels is regrettable. This is bad.


For me, the overall strategic picture looks remarkably similar to late 1920's early 30's.

2016 is going to be interesting.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

More Houellebecq.



The Paris Review conducted an interview with Michael Houellebecq earlier this year upon the release of his book, Submission. The interview was quite interesting, given the nature of Houellebecq's previous novels and I thought as a follow up to the previous post  I would reprint some of the interview as I felt that Houellebecq's comments complemented my own view of the novel. Note,   I've not reprinted it in full, just some sections of it which I felt were pertinent.
...............

This is the world imagined by Michel Houellebecq in his sixth novel, Soumission (Submission), which will appear next week. Should it be read as a bad Op-Ed, as pulp fiction for an election year, or as the attempt of a great writer to air a social critique through farce? In an exclusive interview—the first he's given about this novel—Houellebecq explains what led him to write a book that has already created a scandal in France, even before its publication.
Why did you do it? 

For several reasons, I’d say. First of all, I think, it’s my job, though I don’t care for that word. I noticed some big changes when I moved back to France, though these changes are not specifically French, but rather Western [ED] As an exile you don’t take much of an interest in anything, really, neither your society of origin nor the place you live—and besides, Ireland is a slightly odd case. I think the second reason is that my atheism hasn’t quite survived all the deaths I’ve had to deal with. In fact, it came to seem unsustainable to me.
The death of your dog, of your parents?

Yes, it was a lot in a short period of time. Part of it may be that, contrary to what I thought, I never was quite an atheist. I was an agnostic. Usually that word serves as a screen for atheism but not, I think, in my case. When, in the light of what I know, I reexamine the question whether there is a creator, a cosmic order, that kind of thing, I realize that I don’t actually have an answer.
Whereas before you felt

I thought I was an atheist, yes. Now I really don’t know. So those are the two reasons I wrote the book, the second reason probably outweighing the first [ED].
It's interesting to note, that from the outset, Houellebecq raises the issue of religion as an important thematic consideration for the novel. The lumpen-proletariat can't see past the Islamic "dressing" of the novel and assume it's all about an Islamic takeover.
But my project was very different at the beginning. It wasn’t meant to be called Soumission—the first title was La Conversion. And in my original project, the narrator converted, too, but to Catholicism. Which is to say, he followed in Huysmans’s footsteps a century later, leaving naturalism to become Catholic. And I wasn’t able to do it.
Why not?
It didn’t work. In my opinion, the key scene of the book is the one where the narrator takes one last look at the Black Madonna of Rocamadour, he feels a spiritual power, like waves, and all at once she fades into the past and he goes back to the parking lot, alone and basically in despair.
Houellebecq's power as a writer seems to lay in the fact that he is able to describe the everyday banality of life so well in a world soaked with physical pleasures. If his novel is to be taken as an act of social commentary, Submission, should frighten the hell out of Christian types, since what Houellebecq is saying that contemporary Christianity has failed even those who are looking for it. Unlike the atheists who would see this a triumph, he notes this fact with a sadness and a sense of mourning.

Where did you get the idea for a presidential election, in 2022, that came down to Marine Le Pen and the leader of a Muslim party?
Well, Marine Le Pen strikes me as a realistic candidate for 2022—even for 2017 … The Muslim party is more … That’s the heart of the matter, really. I tried to put myself in the place of a Muslim, and I realized that, in reality, they are in a totally schizophrenic situation. Because overall Muslims aren’t interested in economic issues, their big issues are what we nowadays call societal issues. On these issues, obviously, they are very far from the left and even further from the Green Party. Just think of gay marriage and you’ll see what I mean, but the same is true across the board. And one doesn’t really see why they’d vote for the right, much less for the extreme right, which utterly rejects them. So if a Muslim wants to vote, what’s he supposed to do? The truth is, he’s in an impossible situation. He has no representation whatsoever. It would be wrong to say that this religion has no political consequences—it does. So does Catholicism, for that matter, even if the Catholics have been more or less marginalized. For those reasons, it seems to me, a Muslim party makes a lot of sense.

......But we can reasonably assume that for every guy like that there are several dozen who convert and don’t go off to wage jihad in Syria, who don’t do anything of the kind. After all, one doesn’t wage jihad for the fun of it, that sort of thing only interests people who are strongly motivated by doing violence, which is to say, necessarily a minority.

You could also say that what really interests those people is going to Syria, rather than converting.

I disagree. I think there is a real need for God and that the return of religion is not a slogan but a reality, and that it is very much on the rise.

That hypothesis is central to the book, but we know that it has been discredited for many years by numerous researchers, who have shown that we are actually witnessing a progressive secularization of Islam, and that violence and radicalism should be understood as the death throes of Islamism. That is the argument made by Olivier Roy, and many other people who have worked on this question for more than twenty years.

This is not what I have observed, although in North and South America, Islam has benefited less than the evangelicals. This is not a French phenomenon, it’s almost global. I don’t know about Asia, but the case of Africa is interesting because there you have the two great religious powers on the rise—evangelical Christianity and Islam. I remain in many ways a Comtean, and I don’t believe that a society can survive without religion[ED]
Some of you may want to read up on Auguste Comte because Houellebecq seems to be basis his philosophical position upon some of Comte's. Comte was an atheist, whose understanding of human society led him to the conclusion that some form of religion was necessary. But while Houellebecq does endorse some of his views, he has been critical of Comte in the past so I don't think he is some kind of objective Comtean. I get the impression  that he's more a "reactive Comtean" seeing the necessity, particularly of the Christian religion by seeing the consequences of a world without it.
But why did you decide to tell these things in such a dramatically exaggerated way when even you acknowledge that the idea of a Muslim president in 2022 is unrealistic?

That must be my mass market side, my “thriller” side.
It's here where Houellebecq pretty much admits that "Islamic" component of the book was simply to generate sales. It says a lot about he professional commentariat--even self proclaimed "intellectuals"--who can see nothing else in this book except the Islamic component of it with the occasional reference to its sexual depictions.  This book is primarily about the religious failure of the West which is the novel does not celebrate but mourns.
To go back to the question of your unrealistic exaggerations, in your book you describe, in a very blurry and vague way, various world events, and yet the reader never knows quite what these are. This takes us into the realm of fantasy, doesnt it, into the politics of fear.

Yes, perhaps. Yes, the book has a scary side. I use scare tactics.

Like imagining the prospect of Islam taking over the country?

Actually, it’s not clear what we are meant to be afraid of, nativists or Muslims. I leave that unresolved.
Very, Very interesting comment. As I said in my previous post, Houellebecq portrayal of the Right is very ambivalent.  Firstly, he recognises the existence of the cuckservative sort of conservative who would rather join with the socialists and allow Islam to win rather than unite with the Natrualists. But he certainly does not give the impression that the far Right is some kind of saviour of Europe. In fact, the man who finally convert Francoisto Islam is an apologist who had his origins in the french Far Right. Houellebecq's view of the "nativists" is not positive.  And I really got the impression reading this book that Houellebecq may have been familiar with some of the writings in Neoreaction, based upon his references to the Right and the "internet".
You rely on another dubious dichotomy, the opposition between anti-Semitism and racism, when actually we can point to many moments in history when those two things have gone hand in hand.

I think anti-Semitism has nothing to do with racism. I’ve spent time trying to understand anti-Semitism, as it happens. One’s first impulse is to connect it with racism. But what kind of racism is it when a person can’t say whether somebody is Jewish or not Jewish, because the difference can’t be seen? Racism is more elementary than that, it’s a different skin color …

No, because cultural racism has been with us for a long time.

But now you’re asking words to mean something they don’t. Racism is simply when you don’t like somebody because he belongs to another race, because he hasn’t got the same color skin that you do, or the same features, et cetera. You can’t stretch the word to give it some higher meaning.
Houellebecq is a wordsmith and his insistence for precision in language and concept is apparent here. He is quite insistent on using words in the correct context while the Cathedral Operative wants to use it in more expansive way to condemn him.
But since, from a biological point of view, races dont exist, racism is necessarily cultural.
But racism exists, apparently, all around us. Obviously it has existed from the moment when races first began mixing … Be honest, Sylvain! You know very well that a racist is someone who doesn’t like somebody else because he has black skin or because he has an Arab face. That’s what racism is.

Or because his values or his culture are

No, that’s a different problem, I’m sorry.

Because he is polygamous, for example.

Ah, well, one can be shocked by polygamy without being the least bit racist. That must be the case for lots of people who are not the least bit racist. But let’s go back to anti-Semitism, because we’ve gotten off topic. Seeing as how no one has ever been able to tell whether somebody is Jewish just by his appearance or even by his way of life, since by the time anti-Semitism really developed, very few Jews had a Jewish way of life, what could antisemitism really mean? It’s not a kind of racism. All you have to do is read the texts to realize that anti-Semitism is simply a conspiracy theory—there are hidden people who are responsible for all the unhappiness in the world, who are plotting against us, there’s an invader in our midst. If the world is going badly, it’s because of the Jews, because of Jewish banks … It’s a conspiracy theory.
Somehow I don't think he'd fit in with the Radix crowd.
I dont see it. On the contrary, the same people are often militant antiracists and fervent defenders of secularism, with both ways of thinking rooted in the Enlightenment.
Look, the Enlightenment is dead, may it rest in peace [ED]. A striking example? The left wing candidate on Olivier Besancenot’s ticket who wore the veil, there’s a contradiction for you. But only the Muslims are in an actually schizophrenic situation. On the level of what we customarily call values, Muslims have more in common with the extreme right than with the left. There is a more fundamental opposition between a Muslim and an atheist than between a Muslim and a Catholic. That seems obvious to me.
Agree with him here. It also explains why he disparages Naturalism, because it ultimately shares the same metaphysics of the Left and therefore makes it hostile to religion as well. An atheist Right is simply the Left dressing in right wing drag. What I also find interesting here is his view that he thinks the Enlightenment is dead. I agree. The Left has long since left the discipline for rationality and is now motivated as much by sentiment as the traditional Right.  The enlightenment was not the enemy of Religion, strict Positivism was. But at least the positivists made some demand on rationality, whereas the modern Left is nothing more than another Romantic movement. Romantic, in the the sense that it is driven by feelings and intuition more than rational thought.
How would you place this novel in relation to your other books?

You might say I did several things that I’d wanted to do for a long time, things I’d never done before. Like having a very important character whom one never sees, namely Ben Abbes. I also think it’s the saddest ending to a love plot that I’ve ever written, because it’s the most banal—out of sight, out of mind. They had feelings. In general, there is a much stronger feeling of entropy than in my other books. It has a somber, crepuscular side, which accounts for the sadness of its tone. For example, if Catholicism doesn’t work, that’s because it’s already run its course[ED], it seems to belong to the past, it has defeated itself. Islam is an image of the future. Why has the idea of the Nation stalled out? Because it’s been abused too long.
Houellebecq, here, explains his novel. Catholicism has failed and there is a vacuum that needs to be filled, hence the appeal of Islam.  It's not Islam's strength that is causing it to occupy Europe, but Europe's spiritual weakness. It's interesting to note that the alternative to lslam is the HBD "naturalism" of the New Right. The ideals of both the Enlightenment and Catholicism have failed. In many ways he portrays a situation reminiscent of the late 1920's.
There is no trace of romanticism here, much less lyricism. Weve moved on to decadence. 

That’s true. The fact that I started with Huysmans must have something to do with this. Huysmans couldn’t go back to romanticism, but for him it was still possible to convert to Catholicism. The clearest point of connection with my other books is the idea that religion, of some kind, is necessary[ED]. That idea is there in many of my books. In this one, too, only now it’s an existing religion.
In Submission, Francois lover, Miriam--who is nominally Jewish--decides to emigrate to Israel to escape what she sees will be the upcoming persecution of the Jews. She asks that Francois accompany her, but he finds the prospect of living in Israel unappealing and declines. Francois envies Miriam because she has a place to go to,a refuge, a home. As he contemplates his own state, he realises his essential isolation and mourns the fact that "There is no Israel for me."

I think the interview is a good guide to understanding this book what the and what unites it with his others. These are spiritual books for a decadent age, and a lament for the loss of the "Old Christian Europe" by portraying, so vividly, what an empty place the modern wold has become.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Houellebecq's Submission


All intellectual debate in the twentieth century can be summed up as the battle between Communism-- that is, "hard" humanism-- and liberal democracy, the soft version.
 (Michel Houellebecq)

This is a powerful book, though too many people won't see it's depth and with few exceptions, most of the professional commentariat don't have a clue about what this book is about.

For the literate moron, this book is about the Islamic take over of France. For the Puritan, its about the puerile expression of Sex. For the feminist it is about misogyny. But for the Christian reactionary, this book is deep.

Really deep.

Houellebecq begins his novel citing a passage by J. K Huysmans ;
A noise recalled him to Saint-Sulpice; the choir was leaving; the church was about to close. 'I should have tried to pray,' he thought. 'It would have been better than sitting here in the empty church, dreaming in my chair — but pray? I have no desire to pray. I am haunted by Catholicism, intoxicated by its atmosphere of incense and wax. I hover on its outskirts, moved to tears by its prayers, touched to the very marrow by its psalms and chants. I am thoroughly disgusted with my life, I am sick of myself but so far from changing my ways! And yet . . . and yet . . . if I am troubled in these chapels, as soon as I leave them I become unmoved and dry. 'In the end', he told himself, as he rose and followed the last ones out, shepherded by the Swiss guard, 'in the end, my heart is hardened and smoked dry by dissipation. I am good for nothing.'
As alluded to in my previous post, a superficial social analyst focuses on the symptoms, a more serious one, the disease itself, and it here where Houellebecq demonstrates his skills as a diagnostician. Much as in Orwell's 1984, which showed Socialism triumphant over the human spirit, The central theme of the book is the death of Christian Europe and the victory of materialism. The books relationship relationship with Islam is quite incidental and quite plausibly have been set in the 1940's with fascism emerging triumphant.

Houellebecq tells his story though the lens of Francois, a middle aged professor of literature at the Sorbonne. Whilst Francois is an educated professional, he is, once out of his professional milleu, a French everyman. He likes fucking young women, he finds old women repulsive, he has problems with his parents and finances, he eats cheap microwave meals, and, as he ages, he can feel his body give up on him. Houellebecq's writing style brilliantly conveys the sense of tedium and emptiness in Francois life. When Francois attempts to have anal sex with a pair of hired prostitutes, his failure at climax has a deeper meaning than first appears. It's not just that he failed at sex--something which youth would not allow--rather it was evidence of his decay and corruption. If a full human life implied the the capacity to enjoy all possible pleasures, his failure at sex meant that his potential capacity as a human being was being constrained by the aging process. He was losing both his "humanity" and his reason to live.

Nagging at Francois is a sense of emptiness. Francois literary expertise is on the subject of Joris Karl Huysmans, a fin-de-siecle author, who is not just the subject of Francois studies, but a sort of kindred spirit, debauched in sensuality, yet thirsting too, from an emptiness. Huysmans finally found his emptiness filled in the embrace of religion, something Francois tries to emulate without success.
I stayed until the reading ended, but once it was over I realised that, despite the great beauty of the text, I'd have preferred to spend my last visit alone. What this severe statue expressed was not attachment to a homeland, to a country; not some celebration of the soldier's manly courage; not even a child's desire for his mother. It was something mysterious, priestly and royal that surpassed Peguy's understanding, to say nothing of Huysmans'. The next morning, after I filled up my car and paid at the hotel, I went back to the Chapel of Our Lady, which now was deserted. The Virgin waited in the shadows, calm and timeless. She had sovereignty, she had power, but little by little I felt myself losing touch, I felt her moving away from me in space and across the centuries while I sat there in my pew, shriveled and puny. After half an hour, I got up, fully deserted by the Spirit, reduced to my damaged, perishable body, and I sadly descended the stairs that led to the car park
This I think is the pivotal point of the book. Here, where Francois was actively reaching out for God, God failed him. Despite wanting to and seeing the need for it Francois simply cannot invoke the religious impulse. Christianity is dead. And, as the Christian God is, in Francois' eyes, intrinsically tied to the idea of European civilisation so is it. It is this central premise which provides the understanding as to why Islam achieves a victory in France and makes strides into Northern Europe as well. Houellebecq's realises that Islam does not need to conquer by force, all it needs to do is fill the vacuum as the ability to resist it has gone. His genius lays is in portraying the leader of the Muslims as a technically competent, yet skillfully moderate politician, who is able to unite all through the the strength of his personality. Making the transition easier is the fact that the new regime initially interferes very little in the day to day running of the country and actually improves the running of it. What they do insist upon though, is control of the culture, by which they very slowly apply the thumbscrews. France doesn't fight back simply because it has no sense of identity which it feels is being challenged.  Houellebecq describes the transition, with a few exceptions, as being rather orderly.

It just sort of happens.

The Sorbonne becomes Islamicised with teaching positions being reserved exclusively for those of the Islamic faith. Francois, initially resists but does eventually convert. However a consideration of the conversion as portrayed by Houellebecq does nothing to honour Islam, and in fact, presents it as just another form of materialism, a back-handed insult. Although Francois hears all the arguments as to why Islam is better than Christianity, none of them really seem to move him. What finally seals the deal is the fact that he will get his old job back, at a very much higher pay rate, with a chance to have sex with younger students through organised Islamic marriage. Islam is essentially a religion which is reconciled with the world. It's a submission to hedonism.

Houellebecq is subtle and very, very good. He's not giving Islam a free pass.

It's also important to realise that Islam is essentially an irrelevancy in this book. Had the book been written in the 1930's, Houellebecq may have used the Fascists, and the 1940's the Communists. The point being that anything can invade into the cultural vacuum of modern Europe. ( Houellebecq pretty much admitted that he used Islam in this role since it would generate controversy and promote book sales.  The book needed to be a "thriller"--- Hey, a man's gotta make a living.)

The book therefore is very similar to Orwell's 1984 and another French reviewer has recognised the similarity. However, unlike in 1984, where Orwell so devastatingly demonstrates the the triumph of the party over human will, without any sense of grief, I got the impression that Houellebecq wanted to the leave the option open to the reader that a European rebirth was possible.

In the novel, the opposition-Right sort of recedes into the background without being destroyed. Furthermore, when the subject of the Right is discussed, Houellebecq seems dismissive of the HBD type Right--the "naturalists"-- whilst portraying the religious Right--except for the clergy--in a positive light. Something I found odd, given his previous writing and something I suspect reflects a change in his thinking.

What led me to this conclusion was the prominence of another literary figure, Charles Peguy,  who makes an appearances in the book which I did not feel was "organic" to the story, unless Houellebecq's aim was to somehow to draw attention to him.

Peguy is an interesting figure and I'm still not sure what to make of him except that he appeared to be a force of nature. He was a socialist who became Catholic but his was the socialism St Francis, not the socialism of Karl Marx and thus he alienated himself for the champagne-Left of his time.  He hated the capitalists for exploiting the workers but he also admonished the workers for trying to exploit the capitalists though shoddy work. He ran a bookshop and published a literary magazine and always seemed to be on the verge of financial ruin. Interestingly one of the early subscribers to this limited run magazine was a young, recently graduated, army lieutenant, Charles De Gaulle.  De Gaulle later remarked that Peguy was his most formative intellectual influence. 

Peguy was quite prophetic in that  he recognised that Christianity was in deep trouble at the turn of the 20th Century. Amongst serious Catholic thinkers, Peguy is held in awe and I'm quite surprised that Houellebecq bothered to put him in one of his novels. But I have a suspicision.

Peguy's Christianity was not of the "fluffy unicorn" variety, rather it rejoiced in soldiering and brotherly solidarity and native identity.  His was a Christianity of the "blood and soil."
Happy are they who died in great battles,
Who were laid upon the earth in the sight of God.
Happy are they who died on the last rampart
With all the trappings of great funerals.

Happy are they who died for the carnal cities,
For those are the body of the city of God.
Happy are they who died for their hearths and fires
And the meagre honours of their native homes.

For those are the image and the seed
And the body and the first taste of the house of God.
Happy are they who died in this embrace 
Bound by honour and their earthly vows.
He was killed when a bullet went through his forehead just before the first battle of the Marne. His last words were purportedly, "For God's Sake, Push on."

So "manly" was his Christianity that the Fascists claimed him as one of their own, something he would have been horrified with. Peguy was a fierce Catholic and the calculating materialism of fascism was outside of his metaphysics. I suspect the reason why Houellebecq placed him in his book was to point toward an example of a Right which did not degenerate into a form of Le Pen-ism which France has had the unfortunate experience of in the past. Could it be that Houellebecq is hoping for a "Manly Christianity" which will fight for the identity of France and Europe? It's interesting to note that Chesterton and Belloc also get a mention in the book. Reactionaries take note.

There is a lot in this book that a reactionary would like. From the descriptions of the failing erotic capital of aging women to the ugliness of Church architecture. Houllebecq seems to be cut from the same cloth as most neoreactionairies and the character of Francois seems to be personifaction of the aphorism attributed to Chesterton;
A man knocking on the Brothel door is looking for God.
Peguy, Huysmans, Chesterton and Belloc. Houellebecq has been hanging around strange intellectual circles. I haven't read enough literature to know if this is a masterpiece but it sure as hell is a good book. I would recommend it to the intelligent with trigger warnings for everyone else.

Five stars.