Archive | November, 2011

History as Myth and the Cult of Victimhood

Napoleon Bonaparte was reported to have once said, “History is a set of lies agreed upon”. In essence, he was correct. History is generated by consensus of individuals. The generally accepted narratives of what happened at any point in the past, and their relative importance to one another are not universal and vary from place to place. It can be said though, that written history, is not merely an objective record of events. In a deeper sense, history is myth.

In this context, myth does not imply that the narrative is completely false. Homer’s Iliad is considered to be well within the realm of myth for its larger than life characters, even though the Trojan War is regarded to have been a historical event. Such myths, which the Greeks referred to as αἴτιον (cause), serve a deeper meaning than the reporting of events. They seek to understand and explain and illustrate a deeper, underlying lesson about the world around us, and our place in it. History can therefore be a used as means for a deeper understanding of the human condition since the laws of nature and human behavior remain constant. History as myth is a tool for disseminating worldviews; a methodology of “distilling” the sacred and the universals truths.

However, while it is generally accepted that history can be studied and revised, there are certain events which remain taboo to discuss. For instance, it is “known” far and wide by every American schoolchild, that a heroic young Abraham Lincoln fought the Civil War to emancipate the slaves, despite the fact that he repeatedly said that he never intended to free the slaves. Those same children might also learn of the horrors of slavery, segregation and Jim Crow, but never get the chance to learn about the Black Liberation Army or the Black Panthers.

The mythos of victimhood among some blacks is a stereotype that is common among Americans. Some black people can blame a number of socioeconomic factors on their current state; in common parlance, it might be referred to as playing the race card. The liberal media is of course, quite willing to go along with the idea that blacks are victims of various societal factors, and can do nothing about their condition. But at least one prominent black voice Bill Cosby once opined that the victimhood mentality among his community is partly the fault of an anti-intellectual culture.

Radical feminism, too, relies on the concept of victimhood. The central dogma of feminism is that every woman is a victim, and every man is an oppressor. It does not matter that more women than men now attend college, nor that women often receive less jail time than men for similar crimes, nor that there are quotas in many companies and government jobs specifically for women, nor that divorce law often favors women; there is still oppression against women. The gay rights movement also relies on seeing homosexuals as “victims” of imagined “homophobia”.

The most sacred historical concept today is, of course, the Holocaust. Everybody “knows” that, the Nazi State, on Adolf Hitler’s orders, planned and attempted to kill all European Jews, and succeeded in killing six million of them, mainly in gas chambers in such death camps as Auschwitz and Treblinka. Everybody “knows” this, and failure to have sufficient faith in this myth is met with consternation at best, or imprisonment at worst. Moreover, so potent is this mythic concept that today’s evildoers, both great and small are compared to Hitler or, in broader terms, the “fascists”. As Orwell once stated, “I have heard it [fascism] applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, Priestley’s broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, dogs and I do not know what else.”

While it is not our intention here to debate the historicity of the Holocaust, (for there are many sites available on the internet that provide alternate views for those who feel curious or inclined to research them), we will discuss the role of the mythos of the Holocaust, as it is in no way a trivial matter when examining modernity. In such a sense, it becomes greater than the actual event, in that the Holocaust really does live up to its name: the supposed millions upon millions became the martyrs of the cult of victimhood.

Naturally, the most obvious role of the Holocaust is as the founding myth of the Israeli state. On the news, or in film, we are consistently reminded of the Holocaust, and that the “poor, persecuted Jews” must have their own state, lest they perish from the world. Fear is a powerful motivator. From the fiery depths of Auschwitz, we are told, emerged a beacon of hope, not just for Jews, but for all peoples. Zionists exploit and encourage the belief that Jews are a besieged people in a hostile world while offering the refuge of the Zionist homeland as the only chance for survival. The bogey-man specter of an ascendant anti-Semitism is bandied about – no matter what the Israeli government does, any criticism is derided as the next step towards a second Holocaust – as to the Zionist mind, there is always another “Hitler” out there desirous of finishing what the first on failed to do, so the only safe place for Jews is Israel.

While it is only natural that those who identify Judaism as a “race,” to want a state of their own, the victimhood complex is especially obvious when it comes to Israel. The status as “victims” allows for them to go beyond what any other nation would be condemned for doing. For instance, I remember at a pro-Israeli demonstration in Brooklyn, seeing signs bearing the slogan, “Keep Israel Jewish”. Could we really imagine what would be said if someone of European descent had a sign which said, “Keep Europe European” ?

"Nazis afoot!"

But, the fact is that the near-theological deference given to the Holocaust goes beyond the borders of Israel. If we were to take the Holocaust as it is known today as being factual, it would still mean different things to different people. To an American, America’s antics in its European escapade cement the role as the world’s “good guys”. The American believes sincerely, that his country rescued Europe from its dark days and liberated the camps, forever gaining the right to police the world and defeat the dark forces of fascism. To this end, the Holocaust serves as a reminder to Americans of certain evils, which can only be stopped by the “righteous Americans”. Hence, the reminder of the Holocaust is transformed into the necessity to spread the so-called ideals of “freedom” and “secular democracy” around the world, lest another “Hitler” should arise. It may be true that they do not truly believe in real democracy, but the pretext of “liberation” is often one which is welcomed enthusiastically by those who cannot see the true aims of the neoconservatives and world liberal elites. The American mentality is therefore merely a more universal version of the Israeli mentality (they, too, pay lip service to vague and lofty ideas such as “democracy”). Moreover, to modern American politicians, whether it is in Iraq or Iran, or any other nation, there are always certain “worthy victims” (usually certain ethnic minorities, women, ultra-leftist dissidents, or homosexuals) who need to be rescued from whatever regime they have chosen to deem heretical and oppressive at the moment. For instance, some propaganda surrounding the North Korean state goes to such lengths as claiming that there are gas chambers and concentration camps; propaganda against China, fabricated by the “Falun Gong” cult claims that there are secret crematoria in China (a claim debunked by even many China critics), and so on.

Naturally, groups like the Haifan Baha’i cult, “Falun Gong” cult, North Korean dissidents, Tibetan Buddhists, Iraqis, or Iranian atheists are considered “worthy victims,” worthy of invading entire countries (or at least some sabre rattling). Many others, such as Boers, white farmers in Zimbabwe, Iraqis, and others are considered “unworthy victims”. In this way, the cult of victimhood, lead by world liberal-elites, establishes a clear characteristic of cults: a polarized us-versus-them mentality.

There is no doubt that this cult of victimhood has shaped today’s world. The search for these “worthy victims” (as well as the simultaneous disregard for the “unworthy victims”) has become a way for the liberal elites to justify their interventionist policies. From the quest to “make the world safe for liberal secularist democracy,” to the social policies that they enact in our own countries, the concept of victimhood has become an important article of faith for those who ascribe to modernist, and liberal values.

Posted in Culture, Politics1 Comment

“Holy” Wars Across the Ages

In the modern era, there has always been much talk about wars which will “make the world safe for democracy,” or which will bring freedom to people in the far-flung corners of the globe. The art of combat, once the calling of the nobility such as the knights or the ksatriya, has been reduced to the hobby of the lower classes who have failed in all other endeavors, so that their respective governments only see fit to use them as cannon fodder in their next battles. This is naturally a paradoxical situation: men are to required to fight, but think that war is to be shunned, only late to contradict themselves once more when they undemocratically impose a hated democracy upon the conquered, thus reducing the heroic “warrior” archtype to a mere artefact of standardization which the modern army calls a soldier.

The “Heroic Age” of mankind looks upon war in a completely different context. War, while it may have been disliked for political reasons, was not shunned as the ultimate evil, if a just cause was a predicate for war. Furthermore, war and battle was intrinsically tied in with the religious aspects of life, and thus took on a sacred character in which people could recieve a sort of initiation. Indeed, Evola says that war viewed as trial and purification can function in the place of structures of initiation now lost to us, and may even be more suited to the current “Iron Age”.

War and Heroism: A glimpse of the traditional

Here, we will cite some examples of this phenomenon:

In the Vedic texts and the Bhagavad Gitas, the relevance of the ksatriya is expounded, and some hints are shown as to the ideal life of an ascetic warrior. In one epic scene, Krishna tells Arjuna, “the wise grieve for neither the dead nor the living” (Bhagavad Gîtâ 2.11). He also says, “in death you will gain heaven” (Bhagavad Gîtâ 2.37). Such verses explicitly describe ascetic dimension of the warrior. In verse 2.11, Arjuna has been scolded for uttering words of wisdom whilst grieving unwisely. This can be seen as a form of “initiation” into the heroic tradition, for it may be interpreted as a command to leave behind the mundane world. This is confirmed by a later saying, “the man who, giving up all objects of desires, moves about seeking nothing…wins peace” (Bhagavad Gîtâ 2.71).

The Nordic tradition, which is known for its “war-like” character, also incorporates the concept of “holy war”. To this regard, Evola writes:

According to the Nordic races, no sacrifice or cult was more cherished by the supreme god and thought to bear more supernatural fruits than the one celebrated by the hero who falls on the battlefield; from a declaration of war to its bloody conclusion, the religious element permeated the Germanic hosts and inspired the individual warrior as well. Moreover, in these traditions we find the idea that by means of a heroic death the warrior shifted from the plane of the material, earthly war to the plane of struggle of a transcendent and universal character. (Revolt Against the Modern World, p. 116-7).

With respect to Buddhism, it goes without saying that modern Buddhism is an entirely different concept in both theory and practice than traditional Buddhism. Contrary to the “peaceful” image of Buddhism that is promulgated by degenerate new-age adherents in the West, Shakyamuni’s life and teachings reveal a person raised to be a heroic warrior invested in honor. Therefore in Buddhism, there exists, the sacred Aryan concept of battle and the warrior ascetic. Evola was to note this, drawing a parallel between the ascesis of intention and the ascesis of action which is common to the Traditionalist mindset. The Pali texts, which comprise the earliest collection of Buddhist writings still in existence, emphasize the need for determination, sacrifice, and courage for Buddhists to follow the path of Buddha-dharma, to bear up under hardships in order to achieve the highest goal a human being can attain: to conquer death, fear, ignorance, evil, and thereby attain liberation. The qualities of a good warrior are exactly the qualities needed for a serious Buddhist practitioner. In this way, there is a similarity between the concept presented by King David: “He teacheth my hands to war” (Psalm 18:34). Incidentally, the historical character of David, according to Biblical exegesis was that of a warrior-king, who while being a prophet, needed to overcome the limitations of carnality!

Such ideas might be repugnant to modernists and many self-proclaimed Buddhists in the West, but this data should not be necessarily taken as an indictment of Buddhism.  These facts should make it no surprise that Evola emphasizes the “aristocratic” character of primitive Buddhism, which he defines as having the and its “virile and warrior strength”. But even in the first 24 centuries of the development of Buddhism, the warrior aspect could not be divorced from Buddhism in practice. To this end, Brian Victoria, in his book, “Zen at War,” admitted that many Buddhist sects throughout history openly supported national struggles, and ascribed to them a sacred character.  The Knights Templar of medieval Europe had their counterparts in the Sōhei warrior monks of Buddhist Japan. In Japan, in fact, both esoteric Buddhism, in the form of “onmyodo” and “mikkyo” played an important role for the warriors of the Heian period. Later on, in particular, the esoteric sects of Buddhism had a profound influence on the sōhei, and later on the samurai. For instance,  Takuan Sôhô (1573 -1645) was an influential Zen Buddhist monk of the Rinzai sect and had personal relations with Yagyû Munenori (1571 -1646), founder of the Yagyû Shinkage Ryû. Additionally, an analysis of the Tibetan Buddhist texts such as the Kalachakra Tantra, reveals both external and internal levels of battle that could easily be called “holy wars,” paralleling the Islamic duality between jihad al-ashgar and jihad al-akbar (greater and lesser jihad). Furthermore, in both religions, the main emphasis is on the internal spiritual battle against one’s own ignorance and destructive ways.

Posted in Religion1 Comment

We Must Hold Bayonets More Firmly

We Must Hold Bayonets More Firmly

If we make it we can all sit back and laugh.
But I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying…
…Yes I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying.

Note: The following is the transcript of a lecture given at National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan.  The lecture was delivered in English, with an optional Mandarin Chinese translation provided via headset.

Ladies and gentlemen, students, thank you for being here with me today, on the important occasion of what I hope will be the first in a series of many lectures in a series.  I myself am grateful to be here in Taiwan to address the professors and students in this lecture hall, and hope that what I’m going to say here can be of use to all of you, and perhaps challenges your view of the world around you.

Now then, to begin, I work in a technical field by profession. So you might be asking yourself, why me, of all people, would like to talk about Tradition and Traditionalism. But I would ask you to be patient and hear my reasons. First, I’ve always been interested in the development of new technologies, not just as isolated events, but as a continuum, so to speak. For instance, one could trace the American space program not just back to Werner von Braun, but much further to the 15th century, during which European countries started building bigger and bigger armies, requiring them to draft largely from civilian populations. During the Napoleonic Wars, this necessitated the creation of canned food rations. The quest for better food preservation lead to air conditioning and refrigeration, and in 1892 Sir James Dewar invented a container that could keep liquids hot or cold. This in turn eventually allowed people to store either liquid hydrogen or oxygen, which are key ingredients in rocket fuel.

How does this tie in with Traditionalism? In one sense, it shows the dominant paradigm of the world. Namely, the this is paradigm of progress. In 1932 English physician Montague David Eder wrote: “The myth of progress states that civilization has moved, is moving, and will move in a desirable direction.” But in another sense, it also raises some difficult questions: First, is it possible to sustain such “progress” forever? Perhaps there are some people here who will say, “Of course! Just look at where were were compared to even five years ago!” But in my opinion, given limited resources, given our lifestyles, given the occurences in the world today, it could be possible that progress might not be indefinite. This leads us to the idea that if progress may not be sustainable, can it regress? And the answer here, I think is much more certain. As we may glean from history, societies too display morbidity, and can easily collapse.

But, historical examples and current data state that this could very well turn out to be true, whatever the reasons are. Therefore we must re-think our attitude towards this idea of progress. It is true that technology has improved immensely, but what about in other fields? In third world countries, it has lead to poverty and suffering. And in the first world, what is plainly felt is the tragic way that man, a primary and supra-material essence, has been forgotten. The material “needs” that are generated every day now transform people into worshippers of consumption. Day by day, heavier burdens are imposed on a frenetic populace, so that modern technological prodigies, who ought to have freed mankind from servitude to manual labor and increased people’s leisure time, cannot do even that much. In effect, the material needs are now outpacing the tremendous speed of production technology. If progress is to be rejected then, it leads to a cyclical, rather than linear view of history, which rejects universal progress, and which is at the heart of all traditional outlooks: Egyptian, Chinese, Persian, Greek, Roman, Hindu, and so on and so forth. The Italian philosopher, Julius Evola, who was one of the foremost Traditionalists, draws upon the Cyclical model, as well.

Now if you will, the general “way of being” in the modern world can be largely divided into two main, overlapping categories: intellectual systems, and social systems. It goes without saying that the intellectual systems must precede social systems, because any social system — even an imperfect one — must have some theoretical and ideological basis. For instance, it would be impossible that we could conceive of a modern America without the deeply delusional “Americanisms” that their politicians and citizens are infamous for. Therefore, we can see that the social systems which a people ultimately come to reject or embrace inherently is a consequence of the weltanschauung of any given society. If our diagnosis that societies today are moribund and lifeless, then it should seem a matter of worldview, and not merely a matter of legal review which would be the cure, and the problems which the modern world faces – that is to say the entire world, but the West is more affected by it than other places – is a fundamentally internal and spiritual one.

There can be no doubt that we live in a confusing time of many contradictions and changing societal norms. Our intellectuals, who are engaged in the monumental struggle to uphold Tradition, find themselves not only bearing upon themselves the weight of defending it from the radical left, but also from self-professed rightists who act as the de-facto allies of the left.  You know, of course, that I refer to the American neo-conservatives, who, in reality derive their ideology from Trotsky.  This is a time when our enemies resort to unprecedented methods of viscous slander regarding those who resist globalism and liberalism.  Therefore we face the task of not only defending our line of thought from these misleading statements, but also protecting the youth from falling into the trap of adopting decadent lifestyles and espousing them among their peers.

From one perspective, we must look at this from the perspective of a mass movement which rejects the Western idea of liberalism.  Western liberalism, is, in fact the last form of imperialism, but it has nothing to offer to the peoples of the developing world.  It has even destroyed the first world and made life there unbearable, so how could anyone think that it could have the potential to improve the developing nations?  Liberalism destroys cultures and subjects those living in other nations to a desolate fate.  The imposition of liberalism has undoubtedly destroyed families, and the very fabric of those societies.  So we cannot, as those living outside the West, embrace the idea of liberalism in any form.

But also, to the established politicians today the concept of “progress” means the promotion of all manners of destructive forces: the destruction of the family, the secularization of society and standardization of its members, and the corruption of economy and intellect. As it stands today, much of this ideological confusion is due to the fact that renegades have appeared in the upper strata of all areas of academics, politics, and economics. In the historical situation in which traditional moralities had become a powerful force in the guidance of the affairs of state, liberals attached a great importance to the strategy of either undermining and infiltrating it, or by declaring war outright. In accordance with this strategy, today’s liberals make increasingly malevolent attempts to ensure the success of their failed social engineering experiments, and make attempts to force the acceptance of the force acceptance their of propaganda.

If the problem’s genesis is internal, then it would be appropriate to look at the outward appearance of society for the symptoms of societal weakness and spiritual decay. On the first front, today we are witnessing the implosion of the American system, with both the Tea Party one one hand and the Occupation of Wall Street on the other. But if we look at social systems, economic systems at the root cause then there is a dead end. Utopianism ultimately becomes the failed dream which does not become a reality. Even if we change systems, we don’t have a real solution because all the modern outlooks regard man as an economic animal; their differing contours reflect the issue of which of the two will provide more successfully for the needs of this animal.

And once we begin to allow secular ideas to determine our needs, what passes for a need is really only a carnal or material desire. The result is a disaster. Starting with the French Revolution, Humanity became more and more alienated every day. People were drowned in a whirlwind of quantity, and moral greatness or spiritual aptitude had been cast aside. Societies fragmented because each person claimed for himself authority and a certain “individualism”. However, in a communist society, things are no better. In communist society, we find a similar downward curve in human moral values. It is true that the Soviet Union had a slightly better cultural life than the Americans, but for the most part these days are over. Contemporary communism, as idealized by American and European intellectuals, embraces the same bourgeois attitudes towards social behavior and individual outlook as do their capitalist counterparts. But really, these two systems are the same, are they not? Because they actually subscribe to the notion that man is not the master of the material, but rather that material is the master of man. Whereas the traditional outlook was in fact that man occupies the pinnacle of creation, and hence is the master of his surroundings, capitalism and communism and their variants, claiming as they do to be based on contemporary science, all negate the concept of man as a primary being.

We see the result is paradoxical, yet it makes sense: people yearn for individuality, but they do so by following the crowd. In their mental lives, they are also constrained by the modern method of thinking and cannot be bothered to analyze claims which their society would deem unacceptable. The Prussian Emperor Friedrich Wilhelm IV once remarked that, “Appearances become deceptive and the consequences of clearly present causes are dismissed as superstition,” and so it is with the modern outlook, which often must resort to sophistry in order to justify its conclusions. For instance, in order to safeguard democracy and freedom, the Americans now thing that it is inevitable that they must impose democracy by might on other nations. But such an action is inherently undemocratic, and what is more sets up undemocratic regimes.

Previously I said that the modern world differs radically from the Traditional world. The differences are actually too great for me to entreat here. Actually, whole books have been written about it, so it would probably be a subject for a different lecture. Ancient society is, to use Evola’s maxim, “Upward not Forward,” meaning it seeks a fundamentally different orientation. This orientation is concerned with hierarchy, order, and moral principles. It looks to build aristocrats of the soul – people who are fearless and correct in moral bearing. It also seeks to establish the proper relationship between heaven and earth, between men and women, between kings and subjects, and so on. To illustrate the differences between now and then consider this: everywhere around the world, a wealthy merchant can today be considered a great person! Not so for the Traditional world, in which the material world does not subject mankind. Confucius placed the scholars and learned men on top, while in other societies, priests and monks were regarded as men pursuing the ideal. In ancient China, Taoism sought to remove people from the drudgery of an artificial life which tainting primordial human nature. Confucius set forth his ideas (which he said were transmitted and not invented), as the intellectual basis for a rational organization of social life, and developed into a stable society. In the Indian religions, which included Buddhism, that later was transmitted unto China, there was a clear knowledge of man coupled with a deep understanding of the unity of God, nature, and man.

When we began this lecture, I said that my interest in Traditional thought began with the simple notion of historicity and studying the progress of science. I postulated here that it might be possible for the system to collapse. The decline is especially fast in what is called the “Far West,” for a number of complex reasons which are out of the scope of this lecture. Surely, if we continue on our current path, there may be little hope for the future. There is ironically an inverted principle at play, where, although man seemingly abandons “religion” in its most formal definition, embraces a new faith: the faith of the faithless. But it is possible to at least mitigate the disaster, for those who are lucky enough to be blessed with history on their side. For those in the East, it means that you will find your own path culturally and socially, and abandon the disease that Ali Shariati, a famous Iranian philosopher once called “Weststruckness”.

We should look to the past rather than the future for the solutions to social woes. No, we do not need to abandon technology, but we need to recognize technology’s role in society and not be overcome by a so-called “machinestruckness”.  Technological advances might benefit man, but they should not be relied on for the whole of entertainment and culture.  But we need more than this. We need a reverence for traditional Culture, heritage, and language on which we can rebuild society and civilization. We must stop this insane worship of “things” and the glorification of the self: it was the revolutionary, Codreanu who said that it was necessary to kill in ourselves the lower world to recieve the blessings of the higher world. And this is the beginning of the path upward, not outward that Evola talked about.

At the national level, this means that issues should be faced with honesty and bravery. Nations can and should, develop self-sufficiency based on their own ideals, even if this means that they ultimately have to abandon democracy. The Islamic revolution in Iran is some indication, albeit not a perfect one, of how this may be carried out, as is the theory of Juche advanced by General Kim Il Sung of North Korea. Democracy is no sacred cow, and human rights is merely an illusion. Democracy merely posits that anyone’s opinion has as much merit as another’s, and from this representation may be formed merely by gleaning the opinions of the masses. Yet, it is the same system which also shapes the masses opinions – and in essence, it forms a dictatorship of idiots. But, even in a true dictatorship, as Pentti Linkola once said, there cannot ever be so incompetent a dictator that he would show more stupidity than the majority of the people. As for human rights, we need only look at those bodies which are promoting them.  Are they not, then, selective? One can have rights for group A and not group B. For instance, in Europe one may be penalized if they dispute the official history, and they call it “hate speech”.  On the other hand, it is perfectly normal to insult the beliefs of nearly 1/3 of the human population, and this is called “free speech”.  At its end, the invention of human rights furthers the cause of global imperialism.  We must categorically deny human rights as being a politically correct form of worship of the individual. It may seem cruel at first, but realize that long before the contemporary model of human rights arose, in which nearly every degenerate action suddenly became legal under the veneer of freedom, rights had already been established. This is not a call for inhumanity, it is a call for a peaceful and orderly way of living.

We must derive a proper lesson from all the various occurrences in the world, and resolutely reject the excesses of the modern world, as well as the slander levelled at the Traditionalist ideas, and hold bayonets more firmly in the fight against liberalism and modernism. In this way, we can face our problems with vigor, and display the intelligence and courage to turn misfortune into a blessing.

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