Camatte om franska Nya Högern
- Jacques Camattes nu nästan förtio år gamla kritik av den så kallade "Nya Högern," så som den då representerades av Alain de Benoist, har fortfarande relevans för att idag förstå strömningens arvtagare i den så kallade "althögern." Men Camatte är såklart inte den typiske vänsteristen som kritiserar en ideologisk fiende för att ha avskyvärda åsikter; kritiken är istället grundad i en förståelse av kapitalismen som produktionssätt, en historiskt specifik och historiskt dynamisk Värld som uppnått fullständig dominans. Den "Nya Högern", och dess efterföljare, förstår Camatte som ett i en lång rad av falska eller åtminstone otillräckliga rörelser emot kapitalets omslutning av allt existerande. De motsätter sig kapitalets alienerande existens, men de förstår den inte och lyckas därför inte formulera ett program som förmår att bryta med kapitalets logik. Det är i den meningen de i slutändan tjänar som dess försvarare och upprätthållare. Och det då bortsett från hur de idag försvarar Världens grundläggande principer och uttryck.
- Camattes utgångspunkt är säkert lika frapperande som provocerande för gemene vänsterist, och förmodligen fullständigt obegriplig för en stackars reaktionär som råkat irra förbi. Men det här är inte platsen för att återge Camattes teoretiska bana. Hans syfte är inte polemik (med reaktionen) och inte heller att "avslöja" någon slags ideologisk eller organisatorisk koppling med tidigare reaktionärer (som för att gillas av och bekräfta vänsterns ideologiska positionering). Camatte är ingen marxist, även om han bestämt hävdar att vi hos Marx (bortom marxisternas ideologiska inramning) kan finna förklaringen till kapitalets logik, hur kapitalet expanderar och införlivar allt i en eskalerande process utan slut. Mot denna process, denna Värld, finns en strävan efter gemenskap. En mängd rörelser har uppstått som på olika sätt har gett uttryck för denna strävan. Till skillnad från många vänsterister ser Camatte delar av reaktionen, bland annat just den "Nya Högern", som förvisso vilseledda och falska, men ändå, försök till gemenskap. De är vilseledda och falska eftersom de inte radikalt, dvs fundamentalt, trotsar kapitalets logik och därmed inte heller förmår grunda ett genuint Gemeinwesen bortom Världens identiteter.
- Camattes utmaning, om vi kan säga så, till de som verkligen önskar att förstå, utmana och gå bortom reaktionens återkommande återetablering, är att analysera hur den lyckats återknyta till och ge uttryck för den strävan efter gemenskap som trots allt är dess verkliga grund.
- De Benoist är en nominalist, något som han hävdar är en av den Nya Högerns främsta kännetecken. Men Camatte anmärker på att hans variant av nominalism reducerar bort frågan om Gemeinwesen. Det finns inget som hindrar de Benoists partikularism från att upptas i kapitalets universalism, tvärtom är den typen av selektiv nominalism perfekt för integrering i kapitalets logik:
- Another way of expressing this is to say that the knowledge we have of the world is a representation of it. At a deeper level, it is possible to see how this is related to the development of capital. Capital has in fact a dual evolution: on the one hand, it does in fact present itself as a community and a universal; but on the other hand, it actually exists only through particular capitals, suggesting that it may not be possible to speak of capital in general after all, and what we really have are single capitals firmly delineated in space and time. This duality, which is not inherent in capital but which is carried within it in an extreme form, provides the basis for the position of those who think in terms of invariants and universals (and who are preoccupied with the unity of man), but it is also the basis of the nominalists' position.
- De Benoist, och hans epigoner, hamnar därför som väntat i en mängd motsägelser som helt enkelt överslätas med ytligheter och överilningar. Nödvändighet-slump, natur-kultur, meningslöshet-mening, och så vidare, behandlas huvudsakligen som binära och cykliska eller "sfäriska." Lösningen för vår allvarliga situation idag blir, för de Benoist, att återvinna äldre sociala former, om än på ett nytt sätt. Förutom att det innebär en återetablering av separeringar och hierarkier – som de Benoist alltså anser vara naturliga och eviga – begriper han inte varför det är en återvändsgränd. Eftersom de inte överskrider kapitalets logik kommer de att dikteras av den, och därför bara återskapa (och förvärra) det Världens förfall de inbillar sig lämna.
- Utdraget är gjort från den engelska översättning Echoes of the past som finns i This world we must leave and other essays (Autonomedia, 1995). Originalet, L’écho du temps, publicerades i Invariance, serie 3, nummer 7 (1980). Eventuella stavfel och liknande är mina och kommer efter hand att rättas till, liksom möjligen tillägg för att göra mer av texten tillgänglig. Utdraget är gjort så att – vill jag tro – Camattes huvudsakliga poänger ska komma fram och vara förståeliga. Men naturligtvis rekommenderar jag att man tar sig an hela texten.
- –krigsmaskinen, augusti 2018.
Movements in Opposition to Capital
In order to judge the worth of a theory that sets out to expound a noncapitalist way, as for example the New Right (La Nouvelle Droite) pretends to do, one has to consider not just the phenomenon of capital, but also the different movements that oppose it.
The opposition presented by these movements is not as clear and distinct as our presentation of them will suggest. In fact, these opponents of capital very often fail to recognize themselves for what they are. Thus the reactionary movement, which was very powerful and virulent at the beginning of the nineteenth century, conducted a struggle primarily against the bourgeoisie and then against it and the proletariat, with the latter progressively becoming the main enemy, and all this without ever recognizing that its enemy was capital; it stood opposed to everything that would allow capital to blossom.
This movement underwent numerous variations as and when the development of bourgeois society required it. Thus in spite of being very strongly skeptical of progress, it did come to accept science. On the other hand, it maintained its opposition to democracy and its demand for an organic community, which seemed all the more necessary as the movement of capital was manifestly an expropriation affecting the society at various levels. Hence also the demand, among others, for roots, which was eventually to manifest itself in a cult of the earth and the Fatherland!
The proletarian movement was another opposition to capital, also in the basis of class and aiming to create a new community: communism. But it went further than this and it acquired fairly rapidly a knowledge of the reality of its adversary, which it saw as capital and not simply the bourgeoisie. It carried within it the necessity of bringing about the blossoming of individuality, while at the same time realizing the human community. The anarchists were particularly concerned with individuality, the marxists with community.
The vital elements in the proletarian movement were its international character and its perception of the unification of the species–which is why this concept had a real importance with people as different as Marx and Kropotkin. The proletarian movement thus went further than the bourgeois movement, which at its apogée during the French revolution had envisaged both the unification of the human race (a preoccupation that can be found in all manifestations of "humanism"), as well as the emancipation of the individual. The difference between the two movements is that the bourgeoisie thought it could attain its goal through the establishment of institutions that would have limited the development of capital, whereas the proletarian movement postulated that such a goal was unattainable as long as there were classes and the exploitation of one class by another. Thus it required the elimination of capital altogether.
But the proletarian movement unfortunately retained certain presuppositions of capital, in particular the dichotomy of interior/exterior; the vision of progress; the exaltation of science; the necessity of distinguishing the human from the animal, with the latter being considered in every case inferior; the idea of the exploitation of nature, even if Marx had proposed a reconciliation with it. All this meant that the demand for a human community was kept within the limits of capital, and, because there was to be no draconian break with it it was impossible to give a concrete vision of what the community could have been.
To make my argument easier to understand I intend to rely particularly on the viewpoint of Marx as well as my position in a forthcoming book called Marx dans son éternité humaine (if I can find a publisher!) which will enlarge upon the themes of an earlier work, Marx au-delà de Marx. Marx was a theoretician not only of the proletarian movement but also of the close of the historical phase that had begun with the Greek city, which was also the time at which the presuppositions of his thought were originally engendered. To declare that marxism has now fallen must imply therefore a rejection of the whole historical/theoretical phenomenon that underlies it.
Marx explained how the movement of democratization/massification and individuation had come to an end, and how these had involved a generalization to all people of certain attributes or privileges originally reserved for a few; how the hierarchies founded on human attributes had been eliminated and been replaced by ones founded on capital; and finally he showed that this phenomenon as a whole was truly a degradation of the species. Marx clearly demonstrated the totally limited character of democracy, and he accepted it only as a demand within the context of the struggle against feudalism. His fundamental concern was always for another community, and this is entirely consistent with his perspective that the capitalist mode of production was an altogether transitory phase in human history.
Marx elaborated the conditions under which science was produced, and the rules of "scientism," which involves the elimination of humans in their role of doing and determining. This was the foundation too of structuralism, even though the school of thought currently bearing that name was propounded by people who thought they were being original and independent with respect to Marx's work (cf. 1857 Intro. and Pref. to Crit. of Pol. Econ.).
Marx's exposition of the genesis of value and his theory of the general equivalent (cf. Capital Bk I; Contrib. to Crit. of Pol. Econ.; Grundrisse) provides the key to explain not only the phenomenon of value and the genesis of capital, but also the formation of all values (often called ideal), such as justice, liberty, equality, etc. This thought is explained as being linked to definite forms of human behaviour, and the human tendency to idealize is shown to have an equally concrete basis. This makes it possible then to understand the dynamic whereby each idea/value/general equivalent can overwhelm the whole of reality and make it submit. And here we have the very essence of the dynamic of the political racket: everybody is required to make themselves equivalent to whatever the fundamental element is that characterized the particular racket; this element determines whether one belongs or is excluded. Eventually it aims to expand outward until it becomes the whole community (either as ideas or as a people).
Marx provided all the materials necessary in order to understand the real domination of capital over the society (though he only spoke of domination within the production process), the formation of the community of capital, and the escape of capital.
Starting in the nineteenth century, there was one movement of opposition to capital that conducted itself not in the terrain of class, but on the basis of a community; this was the case of Russia. It constituted the highest expression of the revolutionary movement, because it realised the possibility of leaping over the phase of capitalism. The populists considered that this could be done, and Marx agreed. We have described already how events turned out in practice, and how this possibility was quashed (cf. Camatte: Community and Communism in Russia). Following the Russian revolution of 1917, the same perspective revealed itself afresh for the nonwhite peoples of the world. (Why it was not fully taken up by the proletarian movement is a subject we have taken up elsewhere). But after the 1939-45 war, when the revolutionary struggles for emancipation among these people could no longer be contained, the various communities both in Asia and Africa, in the 1960s, ignored the whole populist question and, as a general rule, the various liberation movements adopted a capitalist formula. As representations, the various Asiatic and African socialisms were compromises between thoroughgoing capitalism and a defense of national identity (though in reality, and whatever their intentions, they couldn't have been other than capitalist). There was no desire to leap over the capitalist phase. It is true that Julius Nyerere, for example, spoke of grafting socialism directly onto the African community, which implied that some sort of "socialism" actually already existed. For the populists, socialism would have come about as a result of western techniques being grafted onto the Russian peasant community (Obshchina). In our period, at any rate, we are beyond this. It's no longer a question of grafting anything, even supposing that the community receiving the graft retained sufficient vitality. What is required now is a questioning of western techniques, unless we want to embark on another wandering. What we are left with now is the fact that the global human community can only exist on the basis of multiple and diverse communities, founded upon the specific historical and geographical foundations of each zone.
But here again, at the moment, what we have are only echoes of the past. When the proletarian movement, which also had as a goal the liberation of women, was halted, this rendered a separate women's movement necessary. The feminist movement, which really made itself felt after the last war, has had an undeniable importance because of its critique of the shortcomings of the classical revolutionary movement, showing the degree to which revolutionaries had become infested with notions of power and domination; it has unmasked all the subtle forms of phallocracy, the degenerate but still obnoxious offspring of patriarchy. Moreover, feminism also derived from a questioning of roles: it posed very clearly the question of what women are and what men are. Feminism has provoked an extremely salutary rupture within the prevailing representation.
As the movement of opposition to capital gets progressively more fragmented and particularized, it tends to put its roots down into an older reality, seeking an identity in a more remote past, hoping thereby to recover a more abundant reality, a plenitude. In the case of the regionalists, they go back to the period of the Roman conquest, while the feminists look to neolithic times, the period of gynocracies, as Francoise d'Eaubonnes calls them, but this doesn't stop them from also making multiple incursions into the paleolithic in order to locate the beginning of women's subjugation to men. On the other hand this opposition movement, or rather certain of the people within it, tends to become radicalized and no longer satisfied with the simple reversal of power that the classical revolutionaries alone envisaged–that is, they are opposed not only to capital as it now is, but also to that which, at some time in the past, had destroyed their culture or inhibited their being. This does involve, however, a loss of universality. More profoundly, this shrinking of the Gemeinwesen means that communitarian dimension is experienced only very narrowly and exclusively. This is community as Gemeinschaft, the grouping together of people possessing a particular identity and having certain roots, which then become their domain of exclusive being, engendering apartness and exclusion of others. The famous phrase of Marx "The human being is the true Gemeinwesen of man" is a reality that can be grasped only when we also comprehend the totality of men and women and their becoming. If such movements triumph, capital would not at all be called into question and the human species would be placing itself at great risk.
The same holds true for other groups forming in rebellion against capital. They share the same roots (dissolution of the workers' movement, etc.), but they emphasize much more strongly "the biological dimension of the revolution" by their interest in rhythm, movement, etc., as with groups centered around music, and other communities we've already spoken of. A multitude of microcommunities is now growing up based on defending a modality of being that can either be opposed to capital or in complete compatibility with it. The species is being restructured in order that the despotic community of capital can be imposed and realized. This loss of substance, the disintegration of the individual, implies that another mode of being is in the process of being formed out of the liberated particles. Thus beyond the more or less stable "nuclear relationships," exclusive microcommunities form themselves, produce their own languages, and recreate a caricature caste system. They express a will to differentiate themselves in opposition to both capitalist homogenizing and the dilution of the species brought on by overpopulation. The individuals/slaves of the community of capital define themselves by their separateness from one or other microcommunity, which is something that can only aggravate the difficulties that humans have in communicating.
All the forms of rebellion have been explored. All the utopias have become impossible, particularly in view of the fact that capital now proposes a utopia of its own. There is no longer a space where human beings could once again realize a rebellion. And there can no longer be bandits or pirates constituting countersocieties.
The New Right
Having got to this point, we are now in a position to investigate the discourse of the New Right (la Nouvelle Droite). In doing this, we are not claiming that the New Right is of any great importance; rather it's because we have never properly analyzed representations of the right and what they imply for capital.
The May '68 movement reactivated all the fundamental themes that had been confronted in the 1920s by the avantgarde artists, philosophers, revolutionaries, etc. The discontinuity of May '68 found a representation in what was already to hand, a reechoing of ideas that had dominated their own earlier period. The current calling itself the New Right is a resuscitation of something that originally emerged more that fifty years ago.
The people on the left in the '20s and '30s did not really want to take account of and analyze the ideas put forward by the Nazi movement and related currents, and this was in spite of the fact that many of their number were ultimately to suffer under Nazi repression. Generally speaking, there was no serious attempt to appreciate the originality or otherwise of what was coming. They analyzed it only in its immediate manifestations, and these usually tended to be in a reduced form. More importantly, no one realized that a number of its pretensions had a real foundation. Nazism did have a claim to be revolutionary since it put an end to the old bourgeois society. People on the left justify themselves a posteriori by looking at what that movement led to and then declaring that Nazism has been definitively defeated and eliminated.
Today, when there has been a strong reemergence of these ideas, the people who espouse them are immediately disqualified and treated as Nazis. All debate, supposedly relished by democrats, is avoided. Any consideration of the existential reality of the people who reproduce and defend these ideas is feared because it would reveal that the questions raised by Nazism have not found satisfactory answers, even though that movement itself has been eliminated. Obviously, one should not forget that these ideas now operate on a new basis and within a new geosocial context. Today there are no more colonies. Peoples once taxed with infantilism, inability to govern themselves, and so on, have now been free of their masters for over twenty years and the predicted/hoped for catastrophes still haven't happened. The relationship between the sexes has been profoundly disrupted by the emergence or reemergence of the women's liberation movement in almost all countries. The notion of normality has been badly shaken by the eruption of the gay movement. And while the concentration camps in Germany have disappeared, the ones in the USSR are still there (the Gulag), which shows how difficult it is to be both racist and totalitarian–and which is why these ideas today take the form of a condemnation of egalitarianism and homogenization, and an affirmation of diversity, difference, necessity of elites, etc.
Now that the Old Right, which based its opposition to capital on a past that had totally disappeared, has either itself disappeared or been roped in as a manager of capital, who is now going to represent continuity, tradition, preservation? This role falls to the New Right, which now has to defend science against attacks by various left currents, as it must defend also the presuppositions of capital, because capital is itself already a tradition–which could mean that already capital is no longer the fundamental element in the lives of men and women who are seeking for a way to break out. The New Right shows its false historical consciousness by opposing capital while preserving its foundations.
If Nazism was a movement that allowed the passage from the formal to the real domination of capital over society, then what can the rise of these ideas correspond to, ideas that bear some resemblance to those that inspired Nazism? More generally, what do they mean within the general ensemble of representations supporting or opposing capital?
Are they able to suggest an alternative? What relationship can these ideas have to the total cycle of capital?
To answer these questions, we want to look at the work of the best-known representative of the New Right–Alain de Benoist. In general terms, we can say straight away that his position states and defines a search for a noncapitalist way of development. Not only do his ideas have an affinity with positions held by the Nazi and pre-Nazi currents of the '20s and '30s, as others have already remarked (and via them with romanticism and the early nineteenth-century reactionary movement), but also, and this has not been noted, they have an affinity with the whole of the Russian movement that struggled against the westernization of Russia–slavophilism and panslavism.
But because de Benoist has not made any analysis whatsoever of capital, and therefore can have no understanding of its presuppositions, his thought is totally immersed in the representation of capital. What is more, he seems absurdly unaware of the fact that some of his statements are in no way antagonistic to those of Marx. For example: "Man is not the master of his capacities, but he is master of how they are used. He is the demiurge of forms, der Herr des Gestalten," Vu de Droite, Editions Copernic, p. 93). Yet for Marx, what is labor if not the capacity to create forms, the activity that allows forms to be realized? Forms are engendered by the act of production, which makes something appear, and gives form to something material. The concept of production here is not at all limited to the economic domain: it also signifies a process of formation, a genesis designed to strip away all the magic from the rising of living beings, from all things and from all historical formations, etc.
Alain de Benoist is aiming to produce a global representation and then to establish it as a means of shifting intellectual power toward the Right, so that society can be transformed. Moving on the same terrain as his adversary, de Benoist wants to erect a theory that will be able to eclipse marxism by employing a method often used by others making the same attempt, that is, relying of science in order to show that marxism is not scientific. To do this, he has recourse to the most up-to-date research in biology and physics. This he uses to help ground his nominalism, which is the lynchpin of his representation, allowing him to reject all theories that he considers to be universalist, and marxism in particular.
Because he is a nominalist, he is also allowed to be an antireductionist (a term that is very fashionable now among critics of marxism), and this he presents as being the main characteristic of the New Right.
It is true that universalism is a way of bypassing the differences that exist, and de Benoist is right to refuse, as Marx does, to speak of man in himself. Thus, "there is no such thing as man in himself; there are only cultures with all their different characteristics" (Les Ideés a l'endroit, p. 39). But he himself is a reductionist to the extent that he loses completely the dimension of Gemeinwesen. He has a particularist/particulate vision of the world. His philosophical equivalent would be an aggravated existentialism; his scientific counterpart is the modern theory in physics and biology that says that knowledge of the real can be acquired from the individualization of elementary particles based on a study of phenomena seeming to be irreducible among themselves. The theory rests on a questioning of the philosophical and scientific principle of the objectivity of the universe: knowledge of the universe cannot be separated from the subject that forms this knowledge. Another way of expressing this is to say that the knowledge we have of the world is a representation of it. At a deeper level, it is possible to see how this is related to the development of capital. Capital has in fact a dual evolution: on the one hand, it does in fact present itself as a community and a universal; but on the other hand, it actually exists only through particular capitals, suggesting that it may not be possible to speak of capital in general after all, and what we really have are single capitals firmly delineated in space and time. This duality, which is not inherent in capital but which is carried within it in an extreme form, provides the basis for the position of those who think in terms of invariants and universals (and who are preoccupied with the unity of man), but it is also the basis of the nominalists' position. Thus we have two valid but partial representations each posing a separation within reality.
Universalist thought does indeed tend to autonomize general equivalents, which are themselves products of abstraction and reduction, and mediations of capital. But nominalism on the other hand, because it denies that beings and things exist in a continuum, is thought that lacks all dimension of Gemeinwesen; it is thought that is isolated and highly individualistic, and it is this solitude that causes it also to be infinitely tragic. The tragic vision of the world, which according to de Benoist is the prerogative of western society, is something that he glorifies and insists upon. "If God is dead, if the world is a chaos in which only a voluntary action can make an organized cosmos, then man is indeed alone" (Vu de Droite, p. 90).
Present-day nominalism is actually a manifestation of the process of decomposition that is affecting the social body; it is also a manifestation of the impasse affecting science: science is no longer capable of providing a coherent representation of a totality without having its own presuppositions called into question. But at the same time, universalist thought can also be an appropriate vehicle for setting up a conservative representation, as is the case with structrualism which poses the eternization of capital.
The nominalism of Alain de Benoist exists wholly within the orbit of capital's representation, because he has not made the slightest break with the mode of thought that he presupposes, thought that is binary, individualist, etc. What's more, his thought is not even radical, as the author himself admits. De Benoist brings out universals and invariants as and when he needs them to help him defend his ideas on race, justice, honor, etc. The only nominalist of any consequence in the modern period was Stirner, who wrote The Ego and Its Own, and who said: "I have founded my cause on nothing."
Nominalism has always flourished at critical moments in the evolution of philosophical and scientific thought. Marx himself was being a nominalist when he made the startling remark that there is no such thing as man in himself or justice in itself, but that human beings are determined by the mode of production in which they happen to find themselves. All of justice, he says, is tied to a given class (which evolves over time) and also to a state, etc.... This is the reason why it was so important for him to see history as the unveiling of the various magical mysteries that conceal differences.
In a similar way, it could be said of us that we are being nominalist by pointing to the phenomenon of the idea/racket.
One can recognize certainly that Marx then went against his own nominalism by making the proletariat into a universal abstract; but it was his followers who really produced that universal-operator. For Marx, the proletariat could only have a universal consciousness, able, that is, to hold forth the problems for the whole of the species. The proletariat was important because of its relationship to the Gemeinwesen that was to come: the human being. This is why when the human being has been eliminated the proletariat becomes an idea/racket, with a multitude of rackets being created in its name.
In regard to history, de Benoist says nothing that hasn't already been said by Marx and Hegel.
De Benoist declares: "History has no mening: it has mening only for those who accord a mening to it. History is about man only to the extent that it is activated by him in the first instance" (Les Idees à l'Endroit, p. 38).
What does Marx say?
- History does nothing, it "possesses no immense wealth," it "wages no battles." It is man, real, living man who does all that, who possesses and fights; "history" is not as it were, a person apart using man as a means of achieving its own aims; history is nothing but the activity of man pursuing his aims [The Holy Family]
De Benoist writes:
- The question of whether one can or cannot "relive the past" has become a dead issue. The past, when understood for what it is, always lives on in the whole of the present; it is one of the perspectives which man uses to elaborate his projects and forge a destiny [Les Idees à l'Endroit, p. 38]
Yet this is precisely what Hegel demonstrated in his historical dynamic founded on the Aufhebung.
Moreover, and in spite of what some people may think, Marx had no essential difficulty about the concept of the end of history, since it was to usher in an era of perpetual peace, where the human species would no longer have to struggle, because communism was beyond the dichotomy of war and peace; a whole historical phase is brought to a close with the communist revolution, beyond which a new human history begins.
In common with many theoreticians who find themselves on the Left, de Benoist rails against the linear view of history, he himself being a follower of the "spherical" conception. Nevertheless, certain of his statements amount to a view of history as indefinitely linear, while lacking in progress: "[Man] will survive as long as he continues, as a natural thing, to take up the challenges he hurls himself into."
Here, the linearity of history, which follows from the invariance of human nature, is a dialectic of defiance. And so where does nominalism fit in here?
This statement, like others of his on the inevitability of power and the state, constitutes the very essence of the representation that capital confers on humans: everything is questionable; happiness is impossible; struggle, work, and pain are permanently necessary; the world is inhibited by a flaw that one can only work to minimize–except that the very act of doing so only empowers the dynamic whereby human beings give themselves over to a movement that is meaningsless, inasmuch as its goal is forever unattainable.
The nominalist position of de Benoist also leads him to refuse determinism (necessity) within the human and cultural domain: "We refuse all determinism whether 'spatial' or 'temporal.' It is here that we separate ourselves from any natural 'order'" (Les Idees à l'Endroit).
We intend to explain how this attitude stems basically from a will to do two things at once: to defend a tradition whose roots must be sought in a biological debasement, and at the same time to put forward something that is outside of liberalism and marxism–both of which require determinism. But first we should call attention to the fact that his statement ("We refuse all determinism") is incoherent: how can he justify his will to take intellectual power by saying that Marx came before Lenin, and still be able to say there is no determinism?
His mode of thought is quite obviously dichotomizing and binary:
- Culture is also everything which adds itself to nature. Yet "nature" is necessity: it works upon all those who go outside of it. Whereas culture is chance; it depends on choices which are only potentially predetermined. To speak of culture is to speak of man, which means that the reality of existence is chance, and this is the only reality [Vu de Droite, p. 324].
So Nature is governed by a determinism, and man, who looks at nature from the perspective of chance, then longs to organize it so as to make it into a realm of order ( = human determinism!).
- Either there exists an order in the universe and the task of man is to conform to it (thus the establishment of public order would conform to the search for truth and the essence of politics would come down to morality) or, the universe is a chaos and man must undertake the task of giving it form [Les Idees a l'Endroit].
To use Hobbes' language: The state of nature is civil war. The world is a chaos [Vu de Droite, p. 91].
There is in reality another possibility: that the world is indeed a chaos and yet not a chaos. It's not a question of ordering or disciplining it, it's a matter of living it. It is curious that de Benoit, like so many others, is able to state on the one hand that only man is capable of conferring meaning (which is another way of providing security, as we mentioned earlier) but cannot, on the other hand, explain how this being could have been produced out of a meaningless world, if not by absolute chance–which he refuses to do. It may perhaps seem preferable to say that as the human species becomes cognizant of a given meaning this is then an expression of human thought and thus an affirmation of the life phenomenon. This reasoning, however, never gets beyond the binary opposition of meaning/meaninglessness. That world shows forth different forms is one thing, it is another thing altogheter to want to impose form on chaos–it is a presupposition of despotism, as well as being an expression of the need for security. And capital, let us not forget, is the great organizer of forms, it is an organizing.
Alain de Benoist's thinking is sometimes magical: culture appears as a given, originating with the rise of man. But where does it come from, and how is it formed? De Benoist does indeed say that "hominization is itself a rupture with nature" (Vu de Droite, p. 324), but he does not explain what the process of this rupture consists of, because man and culture are always thought of as inseparable.
- Not only is man always the subject of nature, through his transformation of it and utilization of its resources, but it is through this activity that he constitutes himself as man. It could be said then that culture is the nature which, among other possibilities, man took upon himself, and thus made himself Man [Idem, p. 324].
Here culture is made to preexist human nature !
It seems that binary thought is unable to avoid falling into the trap of anthropocentrism (as is evident from the preceding quotations), which is what Alain de Benoist claims he wants to eliminate. Yet a Latin writer, Celcus (author of The True Discourse), whom de Benoist freely quotes, had already understood that culture is not a prerogative of man. "The visible world," he wrote, "has not been ordained just for man. All things are born and perish for the common good of the whole, through an incessant transformation of elements." He goes on to say that God does not favor man over the other animals and that we are not lords; he mentions the social behavior of ants and bees and points out that it was the ants who invented breeding and cultivation.
His anthropocentrism is structural because chance is defined by him in relation to man–chance is choice–and it is from this standpoint that he then proceeds to define culture, also as choice. And only then, and by way of opposition to this, does he describe what nature is. Furthermore, he accepts as definitive the process of autonomization of man in relation to nature–as if it had no repercussions on the whole of life, and was separate from the ecological consequences that are now obvious to all. Yet the phenomenon of human culture is included in the total developmental process of nature (what defines humans is not so much culture but rather their autonomization), and what we are seeing today is a contradiction between the two. The human species' accession to thought concerns all species. Sooner or later the autonomization of our species will have to be stopped in order that the different forms of life can continue to exist: if we don't do this, men and women would, at least for this purpose, be immersed in nature.
Alain de Benoist's exposition contains a multitude of contradictions and superficialities. Exposing them here is not of great importance, since our aim is not to polemicize but rather to present what is affirmed as a body of doctrine and to see if it can really represent the development of capital or an alternative to it, as it aspires to do. As de Benoist himself says, we are in a good position to provide a foundation for that alternative because we have arrived at a singular moment, the end of the cycle that began with the neolithic. De Benoist thinks that human beings are capable of finding a solution, as they found one then, thanks to the placement of the tripartition of the Indo-Europeans. But again this reduces the scope of the problem, since the same problem is being faced by the Chinese, who were totally unaware of this tripartition (and a multitude of other peoples are in the same position). And besides, how did it happen that this tripartition was able to give birth to two different modes of evolution: that of the West, with the production of the individual, autonomization of the state and capital, and that of India, which engendered a communitarian despotism?
Alain de Benoist's solution to the grave problems we face today consists of wanting to return to ancestral social forms as models (though not a return, pure and simple, since he does desire a creation), which will permit a blossoming of human groups (he avoids speaking of races), and a flowering of cultures in all their diversity, together with social forms that will have need of hierarchies, power, a state, etc....
A representation such as this can have no future. It is of no use to capital since it cannot represent it in its entirety; nor is it able to suggest an alternative to it. I am well aware of the fact that false consciousness is able to make happen what it wants to happen, and that a theory may serve ends that are different from its avowed aim. Obviously, the contents of Mein Kampf (a deranged and superficial work, steeped in bad faith) reveal nothing of moment about what might be termed the representation necessary for the passage from the formal to the real domination of capital over society. And yet, a "community of the people" was able to provide, in an immediate way, for the needs of all the dispossessed of Europe early in this century (and of course there exists today yet another kind of "community"!)
The representation of the New Right combines elements of the representation of capital as it exists today with elements of representation produced by previous modes of production.
The New Right's fixation on the past is largely a measure of how far the notion of community has been reduced; it puts most of the emphasis on individuality, personality, and ethnic community (which is unavoidable, given the regionalist movement's concern with the necessity of communities where a certain mode of being, a difference can sustain itself). On the other hand, the total community of humans is something the New Right refuses, because it refuses to envision the species.
De Benoist speaks ironically of "speciety." Yet in my view, this is an essential acquirement that developed over the last two centuries, during which a consciousness of the species arose asserting its unity and the fact that it contained invariant elements. Moreover, this consciousness is in no way a demand for homogenization of the kind we see being realized today, and which is capital's way of unifying the species.
A reduction of the spatial and temporal dimensions of the community only invites a return to what Nazism did: it is a dead end. Capital cannot be content with a restricted community, which is why Nazism wasn't able to prolong itself – Nazism was itself done away with not by democracy, but rather by capital's despotic community, which is based on the reduction of human beings to undifferentiated particles (which is how the democratic phenomenon comes to be reabsorbed).
We've said before we find the concept of the species limiting, both because its implications are too zoological, and also because it risks acceptance of the idea that men and women are merely "animal."
Also, to use the concept is to remain within the ambit of capital, within that mode that capital in its representation uses to individualize the unification of men and women, and within which all of us are treated as objects. But on the other hand, to reject the concept of species in favor of microcommunities (especially of the kind envisaged by Alain de Benoist) is not at all a denial of capital, because they can all be integrated, thus preventing men and women moving toward an understanding of the situation in which they find themselves today.
Even assuming the realization of the unity of men and women (through their having recovered a reality they have been despoiled of) and the elimination of capital, this would not signify the end of all struggle: human beings will not live their lives enclosed in a cocoon and anchored in "security," since in order to ensure their continued existence on this earth, they will always have to face situations that require struggle. One can imagine the possibility of glacial movements, upheavals caused by subterranean shifts that will cause earthquakes and volcanoes. Great energy will be necessary because that is what is required for life to survive in the cosmos.
Those who think that a terrestrial paradise could ensue after a revolution or a catastrophe are saying that the present situation should be replaced by its negative opposite–which is reductive, because it envisages the elimination of certain essential attributes of life, in the manner of those who think that one day there will be no more pain, that suffering will be abolished and so on.
One final note on this subject: the community is almost always envisaged as a prosthesis and hence as a therapeutic. A realized community is necessary so that men and women, who have been divided, can be reunified. Community is their means of doing this. It is not to be viewed as the spontaneous result of a union at planetary level (as the totality of the species), nor at the level of actual geographical zones (as a limited grouping of human beings). And the dimension of community is definitely not to be seen as being internal to the human being, though this is a neccessary precondition for the founding of the human community.
Returning now to the question of culture (which is the principle axis of de Benoist's investigations), it is important to note that the problem really began to make itself felt under capitalism in its very early mercantilist and liberal phase, and that it was later taken up by both the reactionaries and the revoltionaries. Marx, for example, suggested and strove for their reconciliation. De Benoist however, presents us with a theorization of the autonomous development of the human species as a cultural fact–an attempt that is in perfect harmony with the representation of capital since this latter can only be the anthropomorphis of an autonomized being.
However, de Benoist cannot dispense with nature altogether, because for him nature serves a purpose by allowing him to say that certain (to him) essential determinations are perennial, like private property for example, the roots of which lie in the territorial instinct, or the incessant struggles within human societies, which are seen as indications of man's killer nature and original aggressiveness. The problem about culture echoes that which besets nominalism: it is not the operation of chance.
The exaltation of culture and chance is intended as a reaffirmation of man's importance (man here is a univeral), and as opposed to structuralism, which also postulates the primacy of culture. Yet in his desire to find a biological and scientific base for his theory of human diversity and inequality, de Benoist relies on sociobiology, which is a model of biological structuralism. The living being, the human being is of no importance; what matters is their genes, and how these interrelate.
He cites Richard Dawkins writing in Le Figaro (June 1979):
- Genes multiply within enormous colonies (ourselves) in complete security, isolated from the exterior world and manipulating it from a distance. These genes have created us, mind and body, and their preservation is the ultimate reason of our existence. We are their survival machines.
(This is a more sophisticated expression of the old formulation of Weismann on the soma and the germen.) But if genes–which, being particulars, are expressions of nominalism–do actually determine us, how does chance operate in our lives? How can we choose? Is chance contained as a possibility in a gene? True, de Benoist does have some reservations about this, and he makes some criticisms at the end of the article, but these relate to certain other exaggerated claims of sociobiology, and not at all to the present questions. He concludes:
- Dawkins is right to make the point that man, contrary to the obstinate genes which "make use of him," is alone capable of foresight. This is the reason why "we alone on this earth are capable of rebelling against the tyranny of the egotistical replicators." The struggle of the future perhaps may come down to this: the revolt of the ephemeral prevoyants against the blind immortals.
This invoking of science fiction leaves everything unanswered, for what is it that makes man see into the future and rebel? Is it certain genes? or other elements? or is this the operation of true chance?
The oscillation between nominalism, culture, and chance (which are very visibly favored) and universalism, nature, and determinism (which are left obscure) is related to the search for identity and roots. Identity is permanence; it should't be troubled by any discontinuity; which is why it needs to be firmly anchored, because identity carries with it or at least implies the need for security. De Benoist claims that the identity of western peoples is determined by their belonging to the Indo-European ethnic group, and that they have to recover this group's tradition. Further, he seeks to justify (which is another aspect of identity) the value of this culture–ruled by landed property, the individual, the state, etc–which in their turn require some incontestable foundation, to be sought in the order of nature.
The Order of Nature
The order of nature plays an essential role in justifying violence and therefore also the internecine struggles within the species. Many theoreticians accept the thesis that man has been a killer from the very beginning. Hence if there is this killer instinct within the culture, then the aim of education must be to neutralize and inhibit it. The pleasure principle is no longer that of enjoying to the full (and not only sexually speaking), but that of killing. As a consequence, social life becomes repression and sublimation, and love a diversion from the act of killing! At most, love is a general equivalent, a mediation; the lost immediacy was to be found again in Christian love, which becomes the means of reuniting what has been divided, abolishing inequalities and contradictions, uniting unlike things. Its character as a general equivalent is perfectly revealed by the way in which each particular love comes to be reflected in the love of God on which it is founded. Hence all loves are rendered compatible and operational.
The study of the ethnology of primates has led to the belief that there is an inherent human aggressiveness; yet this work has also revealed the importance of contact and touch among the members within primate groups. How can the two conclusions be reconciled?
The study of the relationship between nature and culture is most of the time constrained by the problem of having to justify a representation. Nature is apprehended both as a general equivalent and as an operative. It has lost all its immediateness; it is no longer the realm of life. It is therefore important to appreciate the way in which the relationship of nature and culture is understood here, particularly in view of the fact that we are now living through the end-time of a culture, as various theorists like Levi-Strauss have determined; we must understand that the present problem is how to stop the autonomization of culture. On the other hand, forming our perception of what the future human community will be requires an analysis of all our present-day modes of behavior and those that originally gave rise to them. Thus our behavior toward animals is to a large degree conditioned by animal husbandry, which took hold in the neolithic. It was out of this practice that there grew both the notion of private property and exchange value, and in particular their ability to become autonomous. How then is it possible, in the light of this, to preserve this activity and presupposition of capital's development? What's more, animal husbandry provided the whole basis for the rise of patriarchy. The practice enabled man in effect not only to verify the reality of his role in procreation, but also to manipulate reproduction. Thereafter it became possible for him to alter his attitude toward women. I don't believe, as Françoise d'Eaubonnes does, that animal husbandry enabled men to realize that they had a role in reproduction, but rather that it allowed them to objectify a reality and manipulate it. In a way, animal husbandry was the beginning of the scientific viewpoint, which consists of treating the other (whether it be human being, animal, vegetable, thing) or even the self, as an object. This could be seen as consciousness (which is participation) transformed into knowledge (which is manipulation).
Clearly, then, stock raising has to be abandoned, and domesticated animals should be allowed to return, as fas as they are able, to a state of nature. They are not indispensable to agriculture, contrary to the opinion of the followers of biodynamics. A cycle of elements can be realized that will regenerate the soil without recourse to manuring.
What has been said on the subject of animal husbandry applies equally to agriculture. Françoise d'Eaubonnes remarks that the desertification of large areas of the Middle East was the result of man's exploitation. But this was not solely the result of men having destroyed the ancient women's way of doing things, which had implied allowing the land to lie fallow, since the practices of ploughing and irrigation were in fact a more important cause of the exhaustion of the soils. The fact that we cultivate or grow plants has to be questioned, because a new bond with nature has to be found. It's not only a question of finishing with monoculture, which is the principle cause today of soil degradation and parasitism, but also of finding a way of producing our food that will not cause any more trouble or disequilibrium.
Animal husbandry has had yet another essential effect on humanity: humans have had a tendency to see themselves as a herd that they have to make prosper and grow. There is a continuity that runs from the biblical "Increase and multiply," to Adam Smith's conception that the fundamental element in the production process is man (i.e., what Marx called variable capital), to the aphorism of Stalin that "man is the most precious form of capital." This continuity, which is at the same time a false consciousness, rebounds on those who adopt it. The manipulation of things becomes the manipulation of people (Adorno and Horkheimer). In other words, the scientific presuppositions established in the neolithic with the development toward domestication (which we have examined at length elsewhere). And it shows up again in this vital contradiction: men always want to distinguish themselves from beasts, yet they constantly treat each other like animals. Thus artificial insemination, at first used with animals, now tends to be used for humans (resulting in a flourishing of sperm banks!).
Most of the theoretical debates as well as the various practical attempts to found another mode of life are, as we have said, merely echoes from the past; whereas capital itself is not stagnating, but on the contrary is progressing more and more clearly toward the realization of the despotic community. It does this by reactualizing certain phenomena that were operative over fifty years ago. Thus it is with the case of inflation. The rise in the price of gold to $800 an ounce ($38 in 1968), and the oil price rise are the most spectacular manifestations of this. There are indeed certain parallels with the famous inflation under the Weimar republic in the 1920s (and not surprisingly, many of the theoretical debates are an echo of this past time). Inflation in the '20s played a fundamental role as a arm of disorganization within the working class; it provoked the destruction of the old bourgeois society and enabled the passage to the real domination of capital over the society, which became politically operative thanks to Nazism. In our time, inflation (understood by reference to various phenomena that we cannot analyze here) at the world level, tends to uproot structures, whether it be the old precapitalist social structures or those of bourgeois society, or in the case of the West, the archaic economic representations that are preventing the realization of the despotic community. At a deeper level, inflation leads to an uprooting of the human species, that is, it undermines all its representations of security established originally through the various institutions of society; thus the human species becomes obliged, in the final analysis, to entrust itself to the movement of capital.
Through inflation one can see in outline an alternative solution to the energy problem. In view of the high prices of oil and gold it has become possible to finance research into the use of solar energy, geothermic energy, etc., or to invent another source of energy altogether. Paradoxically, this enormous inflation could hasten the introduction of free goods, in which case a generalized representaion of exchange will have disappeared. Yet it will, at the same time, herald a yet more powerful despotism, because it will have been arrived at by two opposing routes: the free movement of inflation leading to a disappearace of prices, and the struggle against inflation implying strict controls over wages and prices. Clearly the first way could not produce this result straightaway because of the power of ancient representations and the actual inability of capital to control everything; in this case, therefore, the 'free goods' would be assigned to each one according to his/her function in the total process of capital.
At all events, today's inflation with its extraordinarily high lending and interest rates, necessitates a worldwide restructuring, particularly in view of the fact that the Islamic countries occupying that zone that is intermediate between East and West are being convulsed by a questioning of the capitalist dynamic–regardless of whether this is being proposed by the U.S.A. or the USSR. We very much doubt that these countries will be able to find a way other than capitalism, but it's not impossible that they may arrive at some variation of it; but nor again can we exclude the possibility that capitalism will become firmly entrenched there, thus generating a vast zone of instability.
It was not for nothing then that the USSR intervened in Afghanistan, quite apart from the fact that this was also a measure of internal significance, since Russia must have an eye to its own Islamic republics.
Further, events could hasten the appearance of a form of opposition to capital in Black Africa (where the capitalist process may have been slowed down but certainly not abolished) and this would be happening in an area even less able to accomodate capitalism than the Islamic countries. The vast populations of uprooted people in Africa may also be able to launch themselves on a movement to found an identity of their own, as happened during the cultural revolution in China in the '60s when the Russian model was virulently rejected in favor of a Chinese specificity. This phenomenon, which appeared frequently during the course of Chinese history with accompanying periods of xenophobia, could very well manifest itself again and engender yet another impulse toward destabilization.
What we are seeing today is a speeding-up movement, such as is highlighted by the process of inflation, together with the first beginnings of an alternative energy path. (All decisive moments in history have been accompanied by upheavals in the field of energy.) Any stabilization is impossible under this inflationary wave: people who oppose capital are finding it difficult to fall back on some position from which they would then be able to make a compromise between their own needs and the development of capital; it is something they are finding they can no longer ignore.
Thus we have a double phenomenon: the global ensemble is being restructured and peoples not yet really controlled by capital are being domesticated. As regards the latter, the various local guerilla wars in Indochina, the Soviet intervention in Africa and Afghanistan, and the internal struggles in Iran all entail the suppression of the various communities that have raised opposition, often to the extent of totally eliminating them. The global, international community of capital is in fundamental agreement on this point: it means that the Soviet-American confrontations are nothing but political farces and an obvious covering over of their immediate divergent interests. These cannot lead to a third world war as certain revolutionaries think and as various journalists would have us believe.
The separation vis-à-vis the old representations is getting wider, along with the refusal of capital's becoming. However, in the West, this refusal is often expressed by a simple renouncement that borders on passivity, indicating a profound loss of energy among human beings. It is true that with 1980 must begin, as is being proclaimed in various quarters, the era of catastrophes. The fear of this is having a stifling effect on people, leading them to propose and then live out the attitude of "who cares?" that comes of resignation.
There are people who want to break or who are breaking with the dynamic of capital but whose thought is blocked because it is immersed in representations that are really no more than combinatives of unitary ideological elements issuing from out of the left or the right, often pale reflections of thought of the past.
We must flee from Time, we must create a life that is feminine and human–it is these imperative objectives that must guide us in this world heavy with catastrophes.
Translated by David Loneragan
Afterword on the Subject of the Anthropomorphosis and the Escape of Capital
Economicity, and the market community of which the individual is a member, are no more than images or superficial expressions of the reality of the community of capital. The same applies to the New Right's concept of the "market society," which is even more superficial:
- Market society appears essentially as a society in which the values of the market have overthrown and corrupted the non-economic and non-commercial structures. These typically market criteria of behaviour and judgement also infiltrate certain non-commercial fields of the economy such as productive investment [Pierre Vial: Pour une renaissance culturelle, Ed. Copernic, p. 56].
If one compares the two conceptions–that of the new economists and that of the New Right–one becomes aware of the compromise that the latter is seeking to realize. But it is not possible to deflect the development of capital, which will impose itself regardless: only an abandonment of the whole dynamic can provoke its end.
Thus the immediate given of the New Right comes into better perspective. It was born in opposition to May '68, which had demanded, in a confused way, a new mode of life. Not having grasped the profundity of this, the New Right sets inself up as a sort of "counterreform"; this is well explained in Vial's book Pour une renaissance culturelle. It is an indication that one can slow down a movement without being able to stop it. As an illustration of this it could be said that the May movement posed the questions for the planet as a whole, whereas the New Right envisages only Europe, for it can no longer base itself uniquely on France.
Our perception of the reality of today's world, which has been clouded by ancient representations, must become sharper. We must understand that we have arrived at an impasse, and that capital has escaped from human control. This does not exclude the onset of a deflationary situation, in the near or not too distant future (related particularly to the difficulty of reinjecting petrodollars into the productive mechanism); it is a circumstance that could engender troubles comparable to those of 1929.
We are living in a time when globally we could see any number of different developments.
One can agree with the New Right in the recognition of the importance of culture in the evolution of man, but this analysis does not exhaust the question, neither at the purely material level, nor on the spiritual plance. Thus time is indeed an invention of men to dominate women and to dominate the process of production and reproduction. It is possible to have–being man–another mode of behavior toward the other as women, and toward the other as the world; this involves the possibility of no longer needing time (bearing in mind that the autonomization of the other is a historical fact). Out of this arises a multitude of modes of behavior that will be taken up at some time in the future.
8. In fact, this phenomenon was already in operation during the French revolution but it was masked by the phenomenon of class (cf. "Les charactères du moucement ouvrier francais" Invariance Ser. I, No. 10 Kropotkin : The Great Revolution).
It is highly probable that the Vendéan revolt cannot at all be explained according to the bourgeois schema or even according to marxist traditional views (i.e., as a revolutionary movement in favor of the nobles). In fact, the Vendéans were having to defend the old community against the encroachments of the capitalist mode of production, which was politically in favor of Jacobin policy. Confirmation of this view is starting to emerge in studies devoted to this peasant movement.
12. As De Benoist himself fully realizes:
- "Nor is it a coincidence that people's continuing rediscovery of Marcuse, Adorno, Luxemburg and Reich only leads them to see that the essential ideas in contemporary debates had already been enunciated in the course of the 1920's.
- "Contemporary Europe begins to resemble a huge Weimar republic." [Le Figaro, 30/8/78]
13. Andrzej Walicki: The Slavophile Controversy: History of a Conservative Utopia in 19th Century Russia (Oxford, 1975), p. 356:
- Slavophile theology and the concept of "organic togetherness" (the doctrine of sobernost) postulated a supra-individual collective consciousness which precluded the isolation of individual human being and their "superflousness."
The "superfluous men" were all the intellectuals who had been expropriated from their community and who no longer felt involved in any process of life. They went on to form the intelligentsia.
- The slavophile theory of an integrated harmonious personality–a pre-individuation ideal–was the antithesis of the divided anxiety-ridden personality of the superfluous men; their philosophy of history represented an attempt to explain the chain of events which–in the West as well as in Russia–had produced rationalism, individualism, the disintegration of traditional communities and the alienation and "orphanization" of the individual that accompanied them.
Nazism proposed a community, the Volksgemeinschaft, to all the people uprooted and expropriated by the movement of capital when it was undergoing its mutation to the stage of real domination.
De Benoist's theory is a reflection of the disarray experienced by people who have arrived at individualization but who still long for the moment when they were immersed in a community (cf. for example, his partiality for a corps of the elite). The communitarian dimension is further and further degenerated.
As regards the German view, see Edmund Vermeil: Doctrinaires de la Révolution Allemande, p. 31.
We might recall here Thomas Mann's great dream of restoring the epoch of rising bourgeoisie (a kind of mercantile aristocracy), when there had been a great flourishing of art. We shall return to [slut i engelska översättningen.]
14. There is, as we have already noted, a possible contradiction between the will to establish a theory and the adoption of a nominalist position vis-a-vis reality. We don't, however, want to go into that here; instead, we prefer to concentrate on the present-day significance of the nominalist revival.
15. De Benoist is criticizing an ideology which is that of the bourgeoisie. Given that Marx retained elements such as the idea of progress and the necessity of the development of productive forces, it becomes possible for De Benoist to construct an amalgam.
On the other hand, we have often pointed out that universalist thought (e.g., as represented by the theoreticians of L'unite de l'Homme [Ed. Le Seuil]) is also the thought of capital; at the same time structuralism can be explained as the expression of the realization of the community of capital.
I would not want to deny in any way that the nominalist position contains an element of revolt, but there is no doubt that it remains within the capitalist problematic if only because it is included within that problematic, insofar as it is able to represent the opposition of one particular capital to the totality of capital.
Though he criticizes particular aspects of capital, De Benoist never questions the community of capital, for the simple reason that he doesn't even perceive its existence.
Historically, nominalism appears as a phenomenon of dissolution, as with scholasticism and the old rigid and dogmatic representation that once inhibited the flowering of individual thought–a necessary precondition for the development of the bourgeois phase of capitalism.
16. Cf. Marx: 1857 Intro. to Contrib. to Crit. of Pol. Econ.
17. [...] Clearly, the vision of a separate human being no longer having the dimension of the Gemeinwesen can only be the antithesis of the vision of the human being for whom the Gemeinwesen is an integral part of his/her being (as was the case for Lao Tse). But the world can no longer be considered according to the model of separation; it has to be considered under the form of totality. From this it follows that the human being must no longer be a separate being.
The essential point here seems to be that science is a representation determined by a given human behavior. It does not have the absolute universality that the scientists pretend it has and it is certainly not the only valid mode of knowledge of our species. At root, science was the expression of a dissociated whole, where the community could no longer be represented except by the state. Now that capital is progressively installing its despotic community, science can no longer be an adequate representation; from this derives the solution of Orientalism, which imports a communitarian dimension and which begins to manifest itself at every level of western society. This phenomenon was experienced at the end of the Roman Empire, during a period when a greater and more despotic community was beginning to form itself. Christianity was in part a product of this phenomenon.
This is an immense question, and we shall return to it at a future date. In the meantime, we would add the following: We have arrived at the point where two previously separated modes of thought must now converge, allowing the development of official science on the one hand, and the occult sciences on the other. The first occupies itself with necessity, with what is multiple, repeatable, reproducible in the realization of being. It has limits within which it operates. The process of knowledge implies a separation of subject and object. Science can progress but man is left unchanged. There is neither soteriology ["doctrine of salvation"–tr.] nor anxiety.
The occult sciences, on the other hand, are preoccupied with what is unique, with what can happen only once, (which is beyond the sphere of chance) in the realization of being. They do not recognize limits (hence their excessiveness), but they can reimpose necessity by introducing an element of foundation. The process of knowledge implies a union of subject/object; hence the importance of the transformation of the conscious being through activities that aim at a particular transformation of material reality. The soteriological dimension has enormous scope, since it can sometimes actuate itself to save the divinity that is immersed in the material. Anxiety is important here, because it is concerned with accomplishing a creation that no one is sure will ever be able to happen.
18. These days, a contemporary writer such as E.M. Cioran seems to take nominalism to the extreme [...]
19. What is fundamental in Hegel's thought is the idea that nothing can have happened in vain. In comparison to religious thinkers, who privilage two moments–the first, that of sin and catastrophe, the the last, that of redemption–Hegel is the thinker of the intermediary movement, which had previosly been considered as secondary. He was unable to believe that what happens might be of no consequance and could be forgotten. He could not accept that those who made errors had to disappear, since they were the representatives of the false, which is also a moment of the true. It follows that in order that truth may be and may finally reveal itself, as Heidegger would say, all of the moments of truth must be maintained as present.
In his sense, therefore, Hegel was a thinker who irreversibly eliminated God from the historical process. It was an extreme profanation of the sacred, which Marx was to develop further.
However, this cognitive approach can in fact be the means of setting into place a generalized justification, which is also a conservative aspect of Hegelian thought. Then it must also be possible to perceive the discontinuities that eliminate certain givens. But is it necessary to forget totally? Here we run into a difficulty. For if one refuses linear time, and even quite simply time itself, one still has to find a way of integrating, in a permanent and dynamic way, the totality of that which has happened, is happening, and will happen.
20. This comes about because of this invariant: struggle is perennial because history has no end, which in turn suggests that institutions are necessary and permanent (the state in particular), and that the established order must therefore persist. "The 'superhumanist' response consists of saying that man must transform himself in order to retake possession of the world that he has transformed" (Vu de Droite, p. 329).
Therefore we must adapt ourselves to the various degeneratios of animal and vegetable species, to catastrophes, destruction, various kinds of pollution and the mineralization of nature.
21. The question of chaos and the question of energy are as fundamental today as they were at the dawn of human reflection. We shall come back to this later.
24. This is why we have always emphasized the grave dangers lurking within the formula "abolition of work."
25. This is an anthropocentric "anxiety."
26. The New Right is not immune from the difficulty now facing all groups engaged in the search for an identity that can distinguish them–the will to establish a theory of the Right and the will to establish an identity are intimately related. In a future study, I want to go further into the concept of identity, which can be analyzed only in the context of related concepts, such as representation, value, etc.
27. Even Robert Vacca wants to establish a tradition that has to be strong and new, one in which knowing must prevail over having – thus providing for real efficiency:
- "The refusal of efficiency–in an overpopulated world–implies a decision to allow great masses of people to die" (Manuale per una improbabile salvezza, p. 52)
Having said this, Vacca then rejects any questioning of science and technology; he wants them developed to the maximum.
Because there exists, in his view, an inequality among people related to the possession of knowledge, he is thus unable to accept democracy in its present form, and proposes that instead of one man one vote there should be a different number of votes for each person (p. 128).
As is so often the case with people whom one could say are of the Right, the critique of democracy never gets beyond the framework of immediate operational efficiency.
28. [..] Irwin S. Berstein's studies of the ethology of primates shows the necessity of relativizing the importance of aggressiveness (cf. La Recherche No. 91, 1978) [...] It is often said that the existence of primitive peoples is no longer possible because of contamination by other social forms; it is the same with the animals. [...] As far as man is concerned, it is wrong to use the behavior of our ancestors or the social organization of baboons as models to explain ourselves, as Vernon Reynolds very justly points out in his book The Biology of Human Action. [...]
31. This must of necessity have a considerable bearing on how the other is apprehended. One can understand, then, how in places where science has never developed, it is possible to have civilizations based on the other and not on the self.
32. The slide into protectionism is another manifestation of what was seen to happen in the '20s. Beyond its significance as a purely economic phenomenon, protectionism denotes a will to preserve identity that is under threat from the international movement of capital. This is how it operated with the nazis.
33. In order to resist the two forces of westernization (i.e., the penetration of capital), the people have gone back to Islam, which is the foundation and the cement of their community; it is also about to be given a new content:
- Thus Islam has more the appearance of a social conception, a factor of national order and of evolution and the progress of peoples, than of a religion in the narrow sense of the word. This characteristic of Islam, which permeates all aspects of the society, has created a situation in which there is no place for any other philosophy–social, liberal, or modernist–which could fit with either the conception of a party of the national bourgeoisie, or with the philosophy espoused by the local descendants of Marxism.
- Both as a politic and as a civilization, Islam has actually surpassed its own teaching. This has come about because the concept of the Islamic Ummah (which is beyond civilizations, cultures, nations, societies, ethnic groups, and the peoples united under Islam) has now extended in these regions before the beginnings of Islam [Anouar Abde-Malek: "One of the Universal Civilizations" Le Figaro 18/1/80].
As regards the perception of westernization, whether this derives from the American of the Soviet side:
- Westernization, of the East as well as the West, brings a relentless struggle between two systems, both of them tending to supplant each other–whereas the Iranian, Afghan, the Muslim-Arab and perhaps all third world peoples, see but two degrees of the same process of westernization which awaits them, two moments of the same tendency of the West to impose itself universally, to deny the other.
- In this region socialism does not constitute an egalitarian response to capitalist exploitation, but on the contrary, a capitalist response to the absence of capitalism, a response to that which places itself outside of the Western economic, cultural and political universe [Salah Bechir: "Two Degrees of the Same Battle" Le Monde, 15/1/80].
This perception is part of the general maturing of understanding both of what the Russian revolution of 1917 was about, and also of the stage we are at today. It is a vital part of a new and rising representation that has nothing in common with our own, but which is a step forward.
34. The technique of diversion (detournement) realizes complementarity, thus permitting a tightening up of the combinative. It is thought that a connection is being broken, and hence that something is uprooted: "What is this knowledge, founded on the tacit assumption that one is never so badly served than by oneself..." (Vaneigem: Le livre des plaisirs [Ed. Encre, p. 13]).
From a diversion of a popular adage one can produce the symmetry of what was being propagated before. Nothing is subverted.
As a logical consequence of this, we can have a right-wing commentator like Gregory Pons writing in Le Figaro of 22/9/79:
- The constant brake which market society applies, in confiscating life and perverting man's pleasures and desires, reveals a clear convergence between Vaneigem's Le livre des plaisirs and the new currents of thought such as that of Alain de Benoist, who bases a large part of his critique of contemporary ideas on the refusal of "market imperialism" between the two poles of intellectual sphere, sparks begin to crackle which could form a flux of energy ["The New Right: Nietzsche Buries Marcuse"].