Friday, October 06, 2017

Leo Strauss: Inside Every Gook

Strauss's attempt to muscle out Christianity as a formative principle of Western Civilisation led him to posit an alternative.  For Strauss, that alternative was Athenian Philosophy.

Philosophy, as Strauss asserted, was categorically different to revealed faith and two could be considered as operating in separate domains: influential, but not binding on each other. While the faith could inspire or challenge, it was the role of philosophy to determine what was the correct way to live. Furthermore, Strauss asserted that there was difference between the philosophy of the "ancients" as opposed to the "moderns". The poisons of modern philosophy, according to Strauss,  found their origin in the radical reaction to the Christian synthesis of faith and reason, resulting in reason being taken  to the extremes.  Strauss saw modern philosophy--with all of its ills--as a sort of Hegelian "reactionary anti-Christianity" rather than an separate thing in itself. Ancient Greek philosophy, on the other hand,  was uncontaminated by the Christian faith and represented a purer and more universal philosophy that could stand alone outside the Hegelian Christian/Anti-Christian dialectic.

As I understand it, Strauss saw the classical world as being more moderate and prudent when it came to rationalisation and reason. The ancient world never made the mistake of the Christian West, of trying to harmonise faith and reason, nor did it make the mistake of the radical Enlightenment, in trying to eliminate the faith.  The "reasonableness' of the ancients was a sort of "check and balance" on rationality and helped stop philosophy/reason  from becoming too extreme. Strauss felt that by adopting this approach a moderate secularism could be achieved, and hence his call for a "return to the ancients."

However, if you think about this for a bit, the terms "excess", "prudence" and "radicalisation" are all relative terms which are subjectively contingent, and what Strauss was advocating in his depictions of Classical philosophy was a "moderate" or dispositionaly conservative, secularism,  i.e. "go slow secularism". Strauss may not have admired Burke but he was effectively advocating a secularism along Burkean lines; a prudent, cautious secularism which didn't push things too far. And I think that  his advocacy of a "moderate" secularism is what gave Strauss his appeal among the "feelz" based "Right" who found the radical secularism of the Left intuitively repugnant.

As mentioned in the previous post, Straussian conservatism's acknowledgement of the importance of religion, without any definite obligation to it, bought the allegiance of the cognitively-lite religious crowds. Taking Strauss at his word, it does seem that Strauss thought that religion was important, but its role seemed to be "influence' and "challenge" reason without reason having obligation to respond.  Straussian paeans to the faith reassure the relgious lambs who felt that they could lay next to the secular lions under the Straussian tent.

Perceptive readers who have suffered this blog will see that there is an automatic metaphysical tension built in the Straussian hermeneutic between it and the  Christian one. Gottfried lays it out;
Christians may appropriate for themselves bits and pieces of the Straussian method but they would be wrong to imagine that the corresponding belief system is congruent with Christian truths or with any other form of revealed religion. If devout Christians find nothing objectionable about the Straussian hermeneutic, then they should be willing to reconsider their position. They should recognize the fit between the the two worldviews is more problematic than they have been willing to admit. This reassessment may be all the more necessary give the still widespread appeal among Catholic traditionalists.

In the battle between Athenian philosophy and Christian revelation, Athens always wins. Furthermore, the practical application of Straussianism in the multi-faith environment that is America--or the Anglosphere--everyone's faith gets "respected" but no one's faith gets to put the brakes on Athenian philosophy. The end result is the relentless push of secularism, albeit at a pace slower than that advocated by the radical Left.

Furthermore, as Athenian philosophy was an exercise in abstract "reason" and "sound judgement", its cognitive operations were not really contigent upon local circumstances, tradition, or identity, something Strauss dismissed as Historicism. Being abstract and purely rational, "above" time and place, the conclusions of Athenian philosophy were transnational and trans-historical, in essence universal. Just as "one plus one equals two" is universally valid, according to Strauss, anyone, thinking like a "sound" Athenian philosopher, be they Arabic, Hindu or Japanese would come to the same conclusions as to what was the "philosophically" right way to live.  Implicit in Straussian conservatism is a universalism in its applicability. i.e. it was globalist in scope.

According to Strauss, when Greek philosophy was put to the task of politics, the "best possible" political system that resulted was Anglo-American democracy. Although I may be expressing it impolitely, it's not far off the mark to say that Straussians believe that within every Gook, Chink, Sand nigger, Wop, etc., there is an American waiting to get out.

There's a couple of important points here;

Firstly, As Strauss attempts to write out Christianity from the political history of the West, he redefines Western as being equivalent to its secular liberal manifestation. By this logic, countries like South Korea, Japan and Israel are Western. The West ceases to be a particular time, person, or place. Anyone can be part of the West provided they achieve "Athenian" illumination and embrace secular democracy.

Secondly, there is an implicit tension between the utopia of secular democracy and the forces which impede it. For the Straussian conservative,  a Christianity which imposed limits on secular democracy would be just as objectionable as a Confucianism or Islam which did the same. The uncoupling of religion, as expressed though culture, if not theocracy, means that Straussian "Conservatism" relentlessly  pushes Left, the limits only being what "reasonable" Athenian rationality deems reasonable.

Take "Gay Marriage" for instance. A Catholic, sound Protestant, or Orthodox religious culture would prohibit the political realisation of the concept, no matter how well argued a case in support of it.  The prohibition would be moral and binding. A Straussian, on the other hand,  would argue that religion is a "challenge" to our conceptions of marriage but for the good of the "polis" it may be necessary to be be flexible and magnanimous to those under the spell of the "Helenic Eros." They talk the religious talk but walk the secular walk.

Thirdly, Straussianism had its gestation in the Wiemar republic and the Cold war period, where there were real threats to the existence of secular liberal democracy. Straussian conservatism sees the aggressive defense and expansion of this type of democracy as an inherent good. The consequence being that there is an implicit expansionary dynamic in the ideology. War is a feature, and not a bug, of the system.  Making the world safe for democracy means getting rid of the threats to democracy, be they political, cultural or local. Anyone who is not with the program is a potential threat.

Fourthly, many of the factors which prevent a particular country from achieving the utopia of modern secular democracy are precisely local and historical. Straussian conservatism is inherently oppositional to them. Straussian conservatism therefore acts as a homogenising social force by hostility to the local insofar as it impedes the universal, implicitly pushing towards a global monoculture and is a facilitating factor of the current globalist agenda.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Strauss and Cthulhu

Equally disturbing to the conservative mind is Strauss's inattention to the pivotal role of Christianity in shaping the Anglo-American tradition. This lacuna in Strauss's hermeneutic has always perplexed me.
(Havers. Leo Strauss and Anglo-American Democracy: A Conservative Critique)

One of the reasons why I harp on so much about the Nazis is because a philosophical understanding of their position goes a long way towards understanding what is wrong with the Right and why it has been on a losing streak for the last century. One of my contentions is that the Right continually gets co-opted by other pseudo Right ideologies which ultimately subvert it and push the Overton window left. While this blog has elaborated on Nazism as an ideology with these features it isn't the only psuedo-Right ideology out there and it's worth turning our attention to the Neoconservative movement, of which Strauss was its premier theoretician.

As I've  mentioned previously on this blog, what differentiates the Rightist from his pseudo variants i.e. Conservatives, Traditionalists, Natsocs and Neocons is a commitment to reality calibration. Therefore the understanding of the nature of reality is fundamental to any conception or definition of the Right. For Western man, until recently, reality was considered to consist of both a physical and "spiritual" dimension.  This spiritual dimension was understood though the framework of Christian biblical revelation. It was this understanding which laid the foundation of Christian (Western) civilisation.

Implicit in this understanding of reality was the relationship between faith and reason. Aquinas was able to demonstrate that the unity of the two through the prior concept of truth. As faith was true, and reason aimed at the truth, there was a synergy between the two. In fact, the two worked together, purifying each from error. If reason led to a conclusion was contrary to the faith, then either our understanding of the faith was wrong or our reasoning was faulty. In the Christian conception of realty, faith and reason were intermeshed and constrained each other.

Christian civilisation developed upon this foundation with accretions from historical and local contingencies. Although the currents were there long before, the great turning point in Western Civilisation comes with the French Revolution, this is where the Jacobins ditch Christian understanding and go it alone with reason. While the disease first starts in France, by the end of the First World War, it has spread everywhere across European civilisation.

I think one of the great accidental disservices of Burke was to interpret the Revolution along temperamental lines. The Left being seen as innovators, imprudent and champions of novelties while the Right, their opposite. The real action was at the metaphysical level. The triumph of the Jacobins was the triumph of the secular over the Christian worldview. And what the Burkean interpretation has resulted in is the association of the Right and Left with temperamental qualities, whereas a more correct interpretation of it would be between Christian and Secular world views. The temperamental interpretation has also resulted in a conflation of Christian with Right and Secular with Left, whereas in reality, both Christian and Secular world views can have their Right and Left dispositional variants. With the near collapse of Christianity in the West and the rise of mass man politics, secularism is the only show in town, and choice for the "informed citizen" is between Right or Left secularism. If you want to know why Cthulhu always swims left it's because Cthulhu is secular.

Enter Strauss.
Nevertheless, Strauss's unhappiness with the Left in the Cold War period is not tantamount to a categorical rejection of all leftist or modern thought per se. As I argue for the remainder of this chapter, Strauss and his students largely agree with the traditional leftist dismissal of Christianity as an irrational influence on the political philosophy of the West. This fundamental consensus between Strauss and the Left, which has been neglected in most of the literature on Strauss, gravely affects their understanding of Anglo-American political thought. For Strauss was compelled to read out of this tradition any sign of a serious indebtedness to Christianity. Unlike the anti-democratic Far Right, which often faults Christianity for its universalist morality (e.g. charity) that made modern democracy possible, Strauss is ultimately critical of Christianity as a foundation for Anglo-American democracy because it is not sufficiently universalist (that is, intelligible to all human beings): it is sheer historicism to hold up one faith as the principal foundation of the West. As as result of this hermeneutical rationale, the very tradition that Strauss and his students wish to preserve as a  repository of rational accessible "eternal principles" is reinvented as a secular liberal artifice
Neoconservative thought is ultimately based on the notion that Christianity does not matter. In fact, Strauss's understanding of European civilisation rejects the notion, first given express formulation by Aquinas, that there is no incompatibility between the Christian faith and reason. For Strauss, faith and reason were incompatible, yet influential upon each other. Whatever Strauss's view of religion, it is clear that he felt that it had no obligatory right on reason: it existed in a separate domain. Sure, religion may be an influence, an inspiration, a tradition, etc.,  but if reason came to a conclusion separate to religion, reason had to be given its "latitude." At its best, Straussian Neoconservatism is a secularism that is "respectful" towards religion, at worst, it plays cynical lip service to it.

Indeed, Strauss's separation of faith and reason is contra to the Christian understanding of the two. Strauss may not have said much against Christianity, but the system he espouses is inherently incompatible with Christianity. In fact the lip service given to Christianity by the Neoconservative moment disguises the fact that that the secular agenda is still given primacy, and while attacks by an openly hostile Left may be easy to spot, the undermining of the Right goes unnoticed by an agent which talks about the importance of  "Athens and Jerusalem", while pushing the metaphysics of the Left.  Havers, and Gottfried clearly recognise the danger;
The importance of the dualistic hermeneutic in Strauss's thought is hard to overstate, since it makes any significant attempt to spy rationality in faith almost impossible. It also throws into question Strauss's respect for the tradition of Anglo-American democracy, whose main defenders, I shall argue, mightily attempted to distinguish "true religion" from superstitious dogma. If Strauss believes that no distinction is possible, does the religious basis for this civilization fall by the wayside? And, if this is the case, does the irreligious Left score the ultimate victory over the Right?
Bingo!  Athenian Secularism, Jacobin Secularism, Managerial Secularism, Socialist Secularism, Natsoc Secularism, Right secularism, Left secularism.......secularist market specialisation is still secularism. Cthulhu swims left because Cthulhu is a secularist.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Havers and Gottfried on Strauss

Strauss and the Straussians have succeeded in doing the opposite of German historian Ernst Nolte and, before him, Marxists credited the fascists with having produced in interwar Europe: "a counterrevolutionary imitation of the Left."  The Straussians have pulled of an equally enterprising feat by assuming a certain right-wing style without expressing a right-wing worldview.

Paul Gottfried, Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America.

While I was on holidays I had a chance to catch up with some reading and two books which I think are worth a mention are Paul Gottfried's, Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America, and Grant Havers's, Leo Strauss and Anglo-American Democracy: A Conservative Critique. Both are very good and I think it is safe to say that both try to be scrupulously fair to their subject.

For those of us trying to understand why the Right failed in the 20th Century, it's important to understand the various movements that were able to co-opt the Right and subvert it from the inside. In Europe, Fascism was an example of a superficially Right wing ideology that was built on a modernist ideology. However in America where because of cultural factors Fascism really couldn't get a grip, the pseudo Right ideology that subverted the native Right took the form of Neoconservatism.

One of the impressions I'm continually left with after reading Sam Francis and the other "Paleocons" is that while they recognised the malice of Neoconservatism, they really weren't able to pin down, philosophically, the source of its malignancy. These books help clarify the issue. Of the two, I was particularly fond of Havers' book, since I felt that Haver's approach to the subject more clearly raised the issue of what it means to be a conservative in the Anglo-American tradition.

In my opinion, it's important to know and understand Strauss since he was the main intellectual influence on the Neocon movement. As a consequence, the legacy of his ideas have also influenced the political Right in the U.S. and contemporary history through the application of U.S. economic and military power.

As both books attest, Strauss is unfairly blamed for a lot of things, and the slant that is given to his ideology more often than not reflects the intellectual weaknesses of his detractors rather than something Strauss is actually guilty of. In both books, the authors try to avoid this error and are scrupulously fair to Strauss, attributing to him only what he actually advocated. In their biographies, Strauss comes across as a highly intelligent man of conservative disposition,  but both authors recognise that his conservatism ends there.

Both authors do a good job describing the development of his ideas and for the purposes of this blog it is the ideas that matter. Strauss's big idea's can be summarised as follows:

1.  That there is an categorical incompatibility between reason and faith. Or as Strauss would say, "a conflict between Athens and Jerusalem"  This incompatibility arises from the fact that faith is not determined or validated by reason and therefore is not "reasonable", but something different to reason. Unlike modern Positivists, he does not actually denigrate religion for not being a product of reason, rather he sees Religion as belonging to a separate category  that is inspirational and socially utilitarian.

2.  Classical civilisation understood the world in this schema, as do Judaism and Islam to a certain degree.

3.  According to Strauss, Western Civilisation was the result of the tug of war between Athens (Reason) and Jerusalem(Faith).

4.  Christianity limited philosophy by subordinating it to faith.

5.  Modernism was a violent reaction to the Christian limitations of Reason--i.e. a reaction of reason being shackled to the faith.

6.  The solution to the crisis of Modernism was to go back to pre-Christian time, to Athenian Philosophy. Unlike the modern revolt of Reason which denied religion outright, Athenian reason was more "reasonable" and took consideration of Religion in its judgements.

7.  Philosophy helps us discern "timeless values" which while not being able to produce a perfect world may at least help us achieve the best possible one.

8.  The timeless nature of the ideals of philosophy makes philosophical insights applicable to everyone.

9.  The modern Anglo Liberal Democracy--particularly in its U.S. incarnation--is the best possible world. It is important to understand that best possible doesn't mean what Strauss would like or what would be a perfect world, it simply means the best possible given current contingencies.

Strauss's approach to the subject had enormous appeal, especially in Post WW2 America, where  a disunited Right, fearful of Communism, found an ideology which crossed sectarian divisions. By grounding Conservatism with the tradition of classical political rationalism, Straussian conservatism was open to anyone who would buy into it. Strauss's conservatism was very inclusive being global in its scope. Furthermore, Strauss's vigorous defence of liberal democracy--something which the Right was never particularly fond of-- came at at time when the free world was terrified by by the specter of Soviet totalitarianism. Strauss was literally, in the right place, at the right time, with the right product.

The problem with Strauss's approach, is that while it superficially appeared conservative, through the emphasis on the Greek Classics, Religion and Reason, anti-Communism, etc, it was anything but and a study of where Strauss goes wrong can serve as an important source of instruction or what it means to be Right and how to avoid the mistakes of the past.

Nevertheless, Strauss's unhappiness with the Left in the Cold War period is not tantamount to a categorical rejection of all leftist or modern thought per se. As I argue for the remainder of this chapter, Strauss and his students largely agree with the traditional leftist dismissal of Christianity as an irrational influence on the political philosophy of the West. This fundamental consensus between Strauss and the Left, which has been neglected in most of the literature on Strauss, gravely affects their understanding of Anglo-American political thought. For Strauss was compelled to read out of this tradition any signs of a serious indebtedness to Christianity. Unlike the anti-democratic Far Right which often faults Christianity for its universal morality (e.g. Charity) that made democracy possible, Strauss is ultimately critical of Christianity as a foundation of Anglo-American democracy because it is not sufficiently universalist. (that is, intelligible to all human beings): it is sheer historicism to hold up one faith as a principle foundation of the West. As a result of this hermeneutical rationale, that very tradition that Strauss and his students wish to preserve as a repository of rationally accessible "eternal principles" is reinvented as a secular liberal artifice whose main inspiration is Athens, not Jerusalem.

Grant Havers, Leo Strauss and Anglo-American Democracy: A Conservative Critique

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Comment Du Jour.

Posting's been light because of a variety of reasons, particularly Writer's Block. Still I saw a comment today over at Vox's blog which I felt was worth reposting.

The German National Socialists of the 1930s could only have emerged from the Weimar era - in other words, from a thoroughly pozzed and degenerate environment. That’s why they had so much degeneracy within their ranks, in spite of their public opposition to much of it. The Nazis were not a traditionalist movement, and they were not a Western movement. They were not pro-European, but were German chauvinists, at the expense of many other European ethnic groups. They were not pro-Christian, but were either outright pagans or embraced heretical versions of Christianity such as Alfred Rosenberg’s gnostic-Catharist ideas. Lastly, they were not truly based upon the Greco-Roman tradition and Western history, but upon a dubious, revisionist version of European history that was cooked up by the Ahnenerbe in order to be used as propaganda, a kind of Tacitus-inspired We Wuz Kangz pseudohistory which even Hitler found embarrassing, and wished that Himmler would knock it off already.

See the whole thing here.

I think that the important point to consider here is that reaction to degeneracy can sometimes happen within the spirit of degeneracy. Genocide is not the morally wholesome solution to whoredom.

The Marxist-Lenninsts regard Fascism as form of bourgeois reaction. That is their frame, it is how they like to position their argument as it emphasises the difference between the two, but I think it is far better to think of Socialism as Left Modernism and Fascism as being Right Modernism. With Left and Right being dispositional/temperamental distinctions. They might be different teams but they're both playing the same game.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Some Thoughts on Charlottesville

When Paul Gottfried coined the term Alt-Right, he saw it as an alternative form of Conservatism that would eventually replace the mainstream variety that was ineffective at dealing with society's drift to the Left. He never really envisaged it as Nazism or KKKv2.0.

As I see it, the Alt-Right was initially a tangential development of the manosphere where people who had been "red pilled" about sexuality connected online to discuss other issues which they had been "red pilled" on.  Eventually these people reached a critical mass and formed a coherent worldview about the nature of society's problems and started describing themselves as Alt-Right. I've been blogging for over ten years now and was there when it happened.  Sure there were nascent elements beforehand, but it was the Internet which enabled the interactions which allowed the critical mass to form.

At the outset the critical mass was racially aware but not racist. It was pro-Western civilisation, which it saw as a good, and pro tradition. It was anti Marxist, anti-PC and anti-sexual ambiguity.  And it was, in my opinion, making considerable headway into the mainstream culture. Those who have been following my blog for a while will know that my greatest fear for the movement was that it would be co-opted by the National Socialist elements, who would eventually drive the movement to ruin.

And I was right.

Prior to my warnings, I was getting a steady growth of traffic onto my blog, with about 40k views a month, after my attacks on the Natsocs, my traffic decreased dropped to about 5K views a month on my new posts. Clearly, I had pissed a lot of people off.

What concerned me most was not the drop in my readership but the realisation that many people were quite sympathetic to the ideas of National Socialism and outright Racism and it's a measure of how bad things have become when the opposition to Left evil was a variant of Right evil. Spencer, TRS and others seem to have been given a free pass by a lot of people who should have known better, and the enthusiastic repeated references to Nazism sort of nullified their "irony". The Alt Right was being transformed into American Natsoc v2.0., all with plausible deniability. Furthermore, apart from the nationalistic component of their ideology, there really wasn't much that was "Right" about them at all. They embraced sexual degeneracy, atheism and multiculti for whites only. Victor Orban--a Christian-knew what he was dealing with, cancelling their meeting and putting Spencer in jail.

A lot of other people were concerned with the co-option and hence the formation of the Alt-lite, there still however, wasn't a clear disavowal of the Natsoc element. And I think the view among many of the normies was that the Alt-Right and Alt-Light represented two poles of a spectrum rather than two discrete positions; they were still one unified body. Spencer and his ilk seemed keen not to dispel this notion. Unfortunately, this meant that whenever the Natsocs did anything stupid the rest of non-mainstream Right took the heat as well.

Now I've got my tinfoil hat on at the moment, but all to post debacle Charlottesville  data coming through seems to suggest that there may have been some behind the scenes "management" going on to paint the non-mainstream Right in the worst possible way. Spencer, may or may not be a plant but he sure as hell acts like one. How Jason Kessler was allowed to organise the rally is simply beyond me, especially given his history, and the presence of the Nazi flags gave terrible optics which was there to be captured by a waiting media who were notified of the event well in advance. (It doesn't matter if it was a plant, good organisation would have stopped it. I would have had my guys beat him up in front of the cameras.)

The point of the whole event being, as I see it, to discredit the entire non-mainstream Right and it work. It was a disaster. And justified the Twitter and internet repressions. Expect it to continue.

Furthermore, the post debacle online "agony" seemed to me to illustrate that the Right is still not aware of both the magnitude and nature of the menace it is dealing with. The Right needs to understand that Antifa is the paramilitary arm of the liberal managerial state, it becomes easier to understand events when seen through this lens. Hence the differential treatment by the media and government apparatus.

As I see it, the whole debacle illustrates several major problems with the non-mainstream Right. They are:

1) Lack of a moral compass which allows malign elements to infiltrate the group.
2) High T, Low IQ membership which favours unthinking intuitive action.
3) A lack of an understanding of what it means to be Right.
4) A lack of an understanding of what we are up against.

Still, I regard the events as a strategic victory for the Dissident Right. And by Dissident Right I mean it as Gottfried originally envisaged it. A Right that was built upon the traditions and identity of the West minus the modernistic ideologies trying to infiltrate it. The Charlottesville debacle seems to have pushed enough people to disavow themselves from the Natsocs which makes me think that future infiltration by them will be neutralised. They are now persona non grata.

Furthermore, Trump's dog whistle to the Dissident Right, legitimising the concerns of normal, decent people while criticising the nutjobs shows that there is sympathy for the dissident Right:
All of those people -- I've condemned neo-Nazis. I've condemned many different groups. Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee.
You take a look at some of the groups and you see and you would know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases, you are not. Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. This week, it is Robert E. Lee and this week, Stonewall Jackson. Is it George Washington next? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop? You take a look. The night before. They were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.
As I see it, the left has destroyed its greatest "asset" in its war against the Right, the Natsocs, and done for the non-mainstream Right what it should have done itself a long while ago. The scorecard at the end of the day was,  a tactical victory for the Alt-Left, strategic loss for the Alt Right, strategic victory for the Dissident Right.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Donald Trump's speech in Warsaw seems to have impressed a lot of people.  I thought it a good, though not exceptional speech. Still it was exception by the standards of these times in that a public leader of the West explicitly evoked  God. The Independent, in the U.K, realised its significance much to its contempt. It even impressed the National Review so much that it did a complete reversal with regards to its hostility towards him . Bill Kristol and Ben Shapiro--of formerly #NeverTrump fame--enthusiastically tweeted their support of Trump's defence of Judeo-Christian values.

Now I've had a look at the transcript of his speech and while there are definite references to God there are no references to Judeo-Christianity,  and the subtle twist in emphasis it seems to have been deliberate interpretation of his speech by the staff at the National Review. This is itself not a sign of any particular malice, since the term Judeo-Christianity is used by lots of different conservative writers but in my opinion the term is a piece of conceptual obfuscation which hampers clear thinking with regard to the cultural foundations of the West.

C.S. Lewis, in his book, The Abolition of Man, spoke about the common morality that united all civilisations that manged to achieve some level of complex enduring existence. He called this the "Tao of life" and quoted examples from a variety of temporally distributed civilisations which were remarkable for their commonality.  For example, nearly all societies have prohibitions against murder, adultery and theft. Nearly, all societies advocate care for the elderly, hospitality and kindness. His point was that despite all of the different human societies there was a common nature among them all. But the flip side of this view is that human nature, being what it is, appears to need some form of constraint for the sake of the common good if human beings are to rise above a simple stick and mud existence.  A think a lot of the current ecumenical impulse is underpinned by this recognition, it recognises the commonality in us all.

The three Abrahamic religions also share this commonality. Christianity and Islam are definitely offshoots of Judaism and can be said to have inherited some of these ideals, so in essence it would be quite right to talk about a common Judeo-Christian-Islamic ethic, and yet we never speak of the term in that way.  Islam has always been hostile to the West despite its common "tradition", and as for its love of Judaism well, that is very well documented. Despite being People of the Book, the common tradition with the Christians does not obscure the fact that there are significant differences which makes the faiths incompatible. At least with case of Islam, it appears that a common ancestry is not enough.

It's not that much different with the Jews. The New testament has quite explicit references of the persecution of the early Christians by the Jews. The point here is not to stir up any animus by this comment but to recognise that Jews of the time quite quickly recognised that the teaching of Jesus were a huge departure from the teaching of the Jewish religion, and that these ideas were incompatible. For the ancient Jews, the ethic of the Christians was not the ethic of the Jews. And for thinking Jews it still isn't.  The Christian differs from the Jew in his weltanshauung. From the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy;
Yet Strauss was not indifferent to the content of revelation and certainly not to the difference between Jewish and Christian notions of revelation. In fact, Strauss strongly criticizes what he regards as a particularly Christian view of revelation not in order to banish revelation from intellectual conversation once and for all but to suggest that modernity’s intellectual ills stem in large part from the legacy of Christian theology. Strikingly, it was on the basis of the Islamic, as opposed to the Christian, reception of classical political philosophy that Strauss turned to reconsider the meanings of philosophy, revelation, and politics. Strauss’s very attempt to move beyond modern philosophy is predicated on a distinction between the Jewish and Islamic conception of revelation on the one hand, and the Christian conception, on the other hand[ED]:

For the Christian, the sacred doctrine is revealed theology; for the Jew and the Muslim, the sacred doctrine is, at least primarily the legal interpretation of the Divine Law (talmud or fiqh). The sacred doctrine in the latter sense has, to say the least, much less in common with philosophy than the sacred doctrine in the former sense. It is ultimately for this reason that the status of philosophy was, as a matter of principle, much more precarious in Judaism and in Islam than in Christianity: in Christianity philosophy became an integral part of the officially recognized and even required training of the student of the sacred doctrine….The precarious position of philosophy in the Islamic-Jewish world guaranteed its private character and therewith its inner-freedom from supervision. The status of philosophy in the Islamic-Jewish world resembled in this respect its status in classical Greece. (PAW, pp. 18–19, 21)
Strauss problematizes the Christian view of revelation as doctrinal knowledge that must be believed. From his early to his mature writings, Strauss contends that the making of revelation into knowledge in scholastic theology ultimately led to modern philosophy’s far too over-reaching claims. As Strauss puts it rather succinctly, “On the querelle des anciens et des modernes: I do not deny, but assert, that modern philosophy has much that is essential in common with Christian medieval philosophy; but that means that the attack of the moderns is directed decisively against ancient philosophy” (CCM, p. 106). Or, as he puts it elsewhere, “modern philosophy emerged by way of transformation of, if in opposition to, Latin or Christian scholasticism” (JPCM, p. 252).
Strauss’s distinction between Judaism and Islam, on the one hand, and Christianity, on the other, is decisive for understanding his conception of the relation between Jerusalem and Athens as well as for appreciating his conception of the theologico-political problem, as a diagnosis of modernity’s philosophical, theological, and political ills. 
It is probably more correct to speak of a Judeo-Islamic ethic than an Judeo-Christian one.

Let that sink in for a moment.

And remember, this was written by the most influential man in NeoConservatism.

Strauss correctly recognises that Christianity and Judaism have totally different understandings of the relationship of revelation to Truth and Reason which are ultimately incompatible. And lest anyone think that this is some form of Christian bigotry, Jewish scholars reject the notion as well.
It is, indeed, this sense of intrinsic meaninglessness which is quite possibly a significant aspect of what has come to be regarded as the Judeo-Christian tradition. Despite the intensity and seriousness with which Jews and Christians engaged in murderous polemics from the first century until the late 19th century (and even today the thesis has been argued by the French historian, Jules Isaac, that Nazi anti-Semitism was a secular radicalization of the anti-Jewish impulses of historic Christianity), the debate was always qualified by the commonly held conviction that the manner in which a man composed his relationship to God was central and primary to his existence; that this relationship was constitutive, and therefore ontological, in character; and finally that it was a relationship which could only be regarded with absolute, albeit often dreary, seriousness...... Jews regarded Christians as at best second-best, and at worst as execrable idolaters; Christians regarded Jews as at best worthy of conversion and at worst as deicides and antichrists..
Cohen is absolutely right. Our relationship with God--or lack of it--and our understanding of the Truth are constitutive of our characters. The distinctive Jewish character is a product of the distinctive Jewish understanding of God, as it is of the Christians. So the talk of a Judeo-Christianity does the double disservice of rejecting both the distinctive Jewish and Christian characters. They are quite simple two different things. I suppose the point I'm trying to get across is the the idea of Judeo-Christian is conceptually muddled and mutually exclusive, and the idea of claiming it as a basis of European civilisation is false.

The fact of the matter is that until recently, European civilisation was a Christian civilisation and it was this feature which imparted upon it Europe's unique character. Furthermore, the Christian concepts of revelation, truth and philosophy--rejected by the Jewish and Islamic understanding-- through a long period of troubled gestation, laid the foundations of the European power and culture. Judaism was quite simply peripheral to all of this.

That's not to say the Jewish people did not contribute to European civilisation, but they did so as European Jews, marinated, unthinkingly, in European culture. As a thought experiment, ask yourself, how great has Jewish achievement been outside of European culture? Has Judaism raised a culture, independent of Europe able to compete with it? Or even with the long tradition of Jews living in Islamic cultures, have they ever achieved the prominence there that they have in Europe? In a strange way, despite all the prosecutions, European culture provided a milieu, unlike no other, where Jews could achieve quite staggering prominence. Their super-acheivement being conditional upon inhabiting a European "space", inhabiting European institutions and benefiting from the uniquely European understanding of the Truth.

So how did we get saddled with such a conceptually muddled term. Well it appears that the idea primarily originated from Liberal Christians, who were appalled at the treatment that Jews we being subjected to in Nazi Europe, and wanted to show some solidarity with them. They wanted to create a broad Church, by emphasising the commonality between the two groups.  But the idea took a life upon its own after the war, with the full horror of the German concentration camps was bought to the attention of the world. There was also a sense of among many in the West of a need to redeem themselves for the indifference they showed to the Jews prior to the War.  Indeed, so popular was the idea that the Jewish religious became concerned that Judaism would be "diluted" among  Christianity, and a push back to the idea began. However there was one complicating factor, Israel.
Many Jews tended to agree with Cohen that the "Judeo-Christian tradition" was a "myth," but they argued against him that it was a useful myth, or what Plato would have called "a noble lie." The poet Edward Kaplan responded pensively: "even the myth, so-called, of the Judeo-Christian tradition is...a powerful and expedient religious posture, valid for most people here and now, and bearing witness to a...relationship with very real meaningfulnesses." The response of Rabbi Jacob Chinitz was more pragmatic: "But what lies in store for...the Zionist venture?... The State of Israel makes sense to a world brought up on the Bible, but not to a secular, humanist world... There is, therefore, a political stake, to put it bluntly, in the retention of the concept of the Judeo-Christian tradition, even though, admittedly, it does not stand theological analysis."" In effect Chinitz was saying: As a rabbi I reject the notion of a "Judeo-Christian tradition," but as a Zionist I affirm it. As a Jewish theologian, Chinitz had no use for the notion of a "Judeo-Christian tradition," since it obscured the distinctiveness of the Jewish religion. However, as a supporter of Israel, he recognized its "political" usefulness: the reestablishment of Jewish independence in the Land of Israel was, in a real sense, a return to the Bible - and this return could be best appreciated by those who know the Bible and believe in it. Christians who perceive the modern State of Israel as part of their own biblical tradition could be expected to have sympathy for the Zionist cause.
My point here is not to question the support of Israel or to engage in some kind of anti-Semitic polemic, rather the point which I'm trying to emphasise here is that there is no rigorous conceptual basis for the notion of a specific Judeo-Christian tradition.

Why is this important?

It is this blogs contention that the decline of the West was as a consequence of the rejection of the specifically Christian understanding of the nature of things. Any attempt at restoration will fail unless this foundation is re-established. (This is much harder to achieve than people think). Any attempt to establish a West on any other foundation be that Positivism, Paganism or "Judeo Christianity" will produce a society that will not resemble the previous European world. What died around 1918 was European Christian civilisation, and what has attempted to replaced it, are variations of the Modernist European one. Part of the difficulty in restoring the West has come about from a lack of understand just what exactly the West is. The concept of Judeo-Christianity is simply another attempt to muddle our understanding of it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Don't be degenerate

I was browsing /pol this evening when I came up post which linked to the video below.

I reckon it's one of the best depictions of what life was like in "affluent" Berlin during the Weimar years.  The Berlin celebrated in movies such as Cabaret. It's very good.

Berlin was a cesspit of degeneracy and vice power primarily by the demand of rich and middle class patrons who had their services supplied by the poor, who chose this option due to their desperate poverty.  Anyone wanting to get a measure of the moral squalor of Germany during those years should look at the magazine Simplicissimus which would make comment of the social problems of Germany at that time through the medium of art. Long term sufferers of this blog will know that I am a huge fan of the work of Otto Dix and George Grosz, men whom I wouldn't of shared political affinity with but men who were nonetheless disgusted at the moral abyss which Germany had fallen into after the First World War.  Their work is profoundly disturbing, disgusting and degenerate until you realise that that was what they were trying deliberately get across in their work. Berlin, especially was a morally destitute city.

It's easy to see how the moral revulsion generated by the antics of Berlin would engender a lot of sympathy for a man like Hitler.  Purging the filth, regardless of the details, becomes very appealing. 

However, I think the important point to remember here is that the solution to Left wing degeneracy is not Right Wing Degeneracy.  The Left may be all for permissiveness and degeneracy but the evil Right can push very hard in the opposite direction, and regard life too cheaply and push moral purity with the venom of a zealot.  I think that if a man wants to do God's work, he's got to do it within the framework of God's laws.

Just saying.

Berlin got bombed by the Allies pretty badly during the Second World War. Hamburg--another cesspit of vice vying for pre-eminence with Berlin--was firestormed, in an operation rather eerily called Operation Gomorrah. Thinking about the comments of Jordan Peterson on the subject of Hurricane Katrina, I couldn't but help to think that Bomber Command was the hand of God. 

Just saying.