Radix Journal

Radix Journal

A radical journal

Tag: Carl Schmitt

It’s Called the Death of the West

Now that even our YouTube live streams get shadowbanned like a controversial Twitter account, you will want to use that (not-so-sweet) quarantine leisure to keep up with the latest RADIX discussions!

Now that even our YouTube live streams get shadowbanned like any truly controversial Twitter account, you will want to make sure to use that (not-so-sweet) quarantine leisure to keep up with the latest RADIX discussions!

No Comments on It’s Called the Death of the West

Keep Calm and Ride the Tiger

Islamic terrorism is the mirror image of liberal Modernity. Jihad advances on the rubble of the Post-Western Experiment, and the Post-Western Experiment needs formidable enemies like radical Islam to keep everyone in line.

This morning, when I left my hip Parisian studio to go to work, there was a parcel waiting for me at the lobby.

It wasn’t ticking, and it wasn’t a surprise either. I had been waiting for it for weeks. It was Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel, Soumission (Submission), which was released today. Soumission takes place in 2022 France. After Marine Le Pen’s close defeat in the 2017 presidential election, a vast coalition, including all mainstream parties, yet led by a French Muslim, Mohamed Ben Abbes, puts the last nail in Front National’s coffin. Now France’s Islamization will be allowed to proceed, unchallenged. (For once, I won’t make my usual — and yet never disproved… — point that Marine’s FN is not challenging it in any meaningful way.)

This was enough for the chattering class to complain for weeks that the book might be offensive and lack sensitivity, even if they couldn’t possibly have read it then. In our Age of Tweet, literary controversy, an old French tradition, doesn’t even require that one reads the book they criticize. One just has to comment on the book’s topic, or, in this case, title. As we know, the Arabic word for “submission” is… Islam.

I was reflecting on all that on my way to work, and I was already thinking about the mighty review I would post at Radix.

Later in the morning, one of my colleagues came to me and asked: “Have you seen what happened at Charlie Hebdo? There’s been a shooting. At least ten people have died.” The satirical weekly magazine’s headquarters being only 2,500 meters from where I work, my first reaction was one of surprise. I had been hearing no police or ambulance sirens. The neighborhood was quiet, at least as can be in Paris.

Once I realized what had happened, one of my first thoughts was that this shooting coincided with Houellebecq’s novel release. Another quick thought was that in Plateforme (Platform), published only days before 9/11, the story ended with an Islamic terrorist attack against a sex resort in Thailand. Houellebecq’s prophecy was that Islamic terrorists would make their last stand against Post-Western Modernity before the Islamic world, like Southeast Asia, would be absorbed and neutered in our Brave New World Order. Four years later, in La Possibilité d’une Île (The Possibility of an Island) Houellebecq developed this point and predicted that Islamism would be, much like the Beatnik or Hippie movements, a fad, waiting to be swallowed and reframed by Modernity.

I still believe this point to be correct, though there might be some upheavals in the meantime. And that’s what happened today at Charlie Hebdo.

And before I write negative things about this publication, I should state the obvious:

  • Yes, what happened today is atrocious; any decent Westerner should express solidarity with the twelve victims and their families;
  • Yes, Charlie Hebdo is free to criticize Islam, however it might upset the terrorists’ sensitivities;
  • Yes, said terrorists should be hunted down, shot dead, and turned into compost so they can be useful at last.

But have I said anything interesting here? Should I feel “brave” just because Charlie Hebdo‘s headquarters are only blocks away from where I live? Should I seek professional support to help me get over my grief?

When faced with such tragedies, the normal reaction should be the Walter White way. In the AMC series Breaking Bad, the chemistry teacher/methamphetamine “cook” unsuccesfully tries to call everyone to reason after the collision of two planes over Albuquerque, New Mexico.

A wrong analysis of this Breaking Bad scene would be that Walter White, being a sociopath, lacks empathy towards the victims and their loved ones. I would argue the exact reverse. The real sociopaths are the attention-seeking students and teachers who want to get the same sympathy as the plane crash casualties.

I am never comfortable with the inevitable public mourning when such tragedies happen. My feeling is that decency should force us to show restraint and discretion in front of the actual suffering of the victims’ families.

Instead, what we have is an outburst of sentimentalism that not only clouds the mind but also, in my opinion, is disrespectful to the people who died. The crocodile tears shed on Facebook and Twitter are not meant for the assasinated journalists and policemen. Rather, people who post “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) memes want others to look at them cry. Am I the only one to find this wrong?

Symetrical to this feminine self-obsessed digital weeping is the macho posturing political over-reaction. On Identitarian pages I stumbled across, there were guys, comfortably hidden behind their pseudonyms, who were already talking about civil war while the bodies were still warm. Drawing on their Carl Schmitt for Dummies quote collections, they were calling everyone to transcend their ideological differences, however fundamental, to defeat “the Enemy.” As if Schmitt’s analysis still applied to an atomized, disintegrated world where there are not two sides but, at the very least, three.

From the fact that everyone shall express solidarity towards the victims, it does not follow that we should seek an alliance with the likes of Charlie Hebdo.

— The Pope is pushing it too far! [pun intended] — — The Pope is pushing it too far! [pun intended] — “This is my body!”

For one cartoon criticizing Islam, Charlie Hebdo has been publishing dozens outright insulting Christians, Whites, conservatives, and men. It’s perfectly possible to defend Charlie Hebdo‘s right to publish such material without dreaming of a united “side” fighting against Islamic terrorism. Actually, it could even be argued that the latter is the mirror image of liberal Modernity. Jihad advances on the rubble of the Post-Western Experiment, and the Post-Western Experiment needs formidable enemies (Al-Qaeda and ISIS being more credible than the much-maligned “Far Right”) to keep everyone in line. It’s not our hill to die on, on either side of it.

Rather, what we should do is put our Julius Evola for Dummies manuals down and start applying to ourselves the slogans we drew from them. We are Men Among the Ruins who endeavor to Ride the Tiger, right? Then let’s see today’s West as it really is, i.e. a heap of rubble in the midst of which we must survive and whose dangers we need to overcome to create an alternative future for ourselves. There will be many tribes struggling for survival in these here ruins. The time for preservation and grand alliances is over.

No Comments on Keep Calm and Ride the Tiger

The Fourth Estate

The concept of the “middle class” is crucial for the liberal-capitalist ideology. Although it appeared later than the Marxist theory of class struggle and the famous communist doctrine of the two antagonistic classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, the very meaning of the term “middle class” has a much longer history and has its roots in the period of bourgeois revolutions and the rise of the Third Estate, which claimed henceforth a monopoly in political and economic spheres. 

 

The History and Meaning of the Middle Class


Science and Ideology: A Problem of Method

None of the words we use in the course of social and political discussions and analyses is ideologically neutral. Outside of ideology entirely, such words lose their meaning. And it is not possible to determine one’s attitude toward them unambiguously, since the content of any expression is shaped by context and semantic structures, a kind of operational system. When we live in a society with an obvious ideology, openly maintained as the dominant one, things are clear enough.

The significance of words flows directly from the ideological matrix, which is instilled through upbringing, education, and instruction and is supported by the active ideological apparatus of the state. The state forms a language, defines the meaning of discourse, and sets—most often through repressive measures, broadly understood—the limits and moral tint of the basic collection of political and sociological concepts and terms.

If we lived in a society in which communist ideology dominates, concepts such as “bourgeoisie,” “fascism,” “capitalism,” “speculation,” etc. acquire not only strictly negative connotations but specific meanings, with which capitalists, fascists, and speculators would categorically disagree. The disagreement concerns not only signs, but the very significance of words. The way a communist sees a fascist, or a capitalist seems to the fascist, might seem to a different party to be little more than a caricature or a distortion. And this, of course, works the other way around: fascism seems natural to the fascist, and communism, utterly evil.

For a capitalist, communism and fascism are equally evil. The capitalist most often does not think of himself as bourgeois. Speculation is for him a form of the realization of natural economic rights, and the system he defends he usually regards as a “free” society, an “open” society. Neither the Marxist analysis of the appropriation of surplus value, nor the fascist critique of the web of interest obligations and payments, and the international financial oligarchy, which usurps power over peoples and nations, ever convince him of anything.

Ideologies are similar to religions; hence Carl Schmitt speaks of “political theology.” Each believes sacredly in his own values and ideals, and criticism of or apology for alternative values most often has no effect (except for a few cases of confessional change, which occurs in the history of religion and in the history of political teachings).

Consequently, before speaking seriously about one or another term, it is necessary to determine in which ideological context we will be considering it. Someone will surely object: science must take a neutral position. That is impossible. In this case, science would pretend to the status of a meta-ideology, i.e. a kind of “true ideology,” of which all other ideologies are relative forms. But nobody will agree with this, even it should come into someone’s head to flaunt such ambitions.

In the religious sphere, syncretic teachings periodically arise, claiming that they are the expression of “absolute truth” and that all other historical religions are its relative manifestations. But as a rule, such tendencies do not enjoy great popularity, remaining the property of rather small circles and denied by major confessions as “heresies.” Science, likewise, cannot claim the status of a meta-ideology and remain relevant. But it differs from ordinary ideology by three features:

  1. It reflects distinctly upon the structures of the ideological paradigm it considers. (Ordinary people do not even suspect that what seems to them their “personal opinion” is a secondary or even tertiary product of ideological processing, the mechanisms of which are entirely hidden from them.)
  2. In the course of analysis of ideological discourse, it uses the techniques of classical logic (Aristotle’s laws and Leibniz’s principle of sufficient reason).
  3. It is able to build a comparative matrix of the correspondences between diverse ideologies, juxtaposing structures in their foundations and establishing symmetries and oppositions between separate discourses and their elements.

Thus, in considering any concept or term, it is possible to proceed in two ways: either to interpret it from the position of one or another ideology, not digging into its foundations and not comparing it with other interpretations (this is the level of propaganda and low-quality applied analysis/journalism), or to attend to the scientific method, which does not free us from adherence to an ideology, but forces us to reason, observing the three above-mentioned rules of the scientific approach (paradigm, logic, comparison).

We propose to consider the concept of the “middle class” in precisely this scientific spirit.

From Caste to Class

Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (15th century) Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (15th century)

The concept of the “middle class” is crucial for the liberal-capitalist ideology. Although it appeared later than the Marxist theory of class struggle and the famous communist doctrine of the two antagonistic classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, the very meaning of the term “middle class” has a much longer history and has its roots in the period of bourgeois revolutions and the rise of the Third Estate, which claimed henceforth a monopoly in political and economic spheres.

Before considering the “middle class,” let’s turn to the concept of “class” as such. Class is a concept of the social organization of modernity. Ancient orders and social-political systems were built on the caste principle. “Caste” should be understood as the doctrine that the inner nature of different people differs qualitatively: there are divine souls and earthly (feral, demonic) souls. The caste reflects precisely this nature of the soul, which man is not able to change during his life. The caste is fatal. The normal society, according to this conception, must be built so that those of a divine nature (the elite) are above, and those of an earthly (feral, demonic) nature remain below (the masses). That is how the Indian Varna system is arranged, as were ancient Jewish, Babylonian, Egyptian, and other societies.

This caste theory was replaced by a more flexible estate theory. The estate also proposes a difference in people’s natures (the existence of higher and lower), but here the fact of birth in one or another estate is not considered a final and natural factor in the determination of belonging to a certain social status. Estate can be changed if the representative of a lower estate accomplishes a great feat, demonstrates unique spiritual qualities, becomes a member of the priesthood, etc.

Here, alongside the caste principle, is the principle of meritocracy, that is, rewards for services. The meritocratic principle extends also to the descendants of the one who accomplished the feat (ennobling). Estate society was predominant in Christian civilization right to the end of the Middle Ages. In estate society, the highest estates are the priesthood (clergy) and the military (aristocracy), and the lowest is the Third Estate of peasants and craftsmen. Precisely the same way, in a caste society, priests and warriors (Brahma and Kshatriya) were highest, and lowest were peasants, artisans, and traders (Vaishya).

Modernity became the era of the overthrow of estate society. Europe’s bourgeois revolutions demanded a replacement of the estate privileges of the higher estates (the clergy and the military aristocracy, the nobility) in favor of the Third Estate. But the bearers of this ideology were not the peasants, who were connected with traditional society by the specific character of seasonal labour, religious identity, etc., but the more mobile townspeople and burghers. “Bourgeois” is itself formed from the German word “Burg” meaning “town.” Hence, modernity gave first priority to precisely the townsfolk-citizen-bourgeois as a normative unit.

The bourgeois revolutions abolished the power of the Church (clergy) and aristocracy (nobility, dynasties) and advanced the model of building society on the basis of the domination of the Third Estate, represented by the townsfolk-citizen-bourgeois. This is, essentially, capitalism. Capitalism, in its victory, replaces estate distinctions, but preserves material ones. Thus, the notion of class arises: class signifies an indicator of the measure of inequality. The bourgeoisie abolish estate inequality, but preserve material inequality. Consequently, precisely modernity’s bourgeois capitalistic society is a class society in the full sense of the word. Previously, in the Middle Ages, belonging to an estate was one’s primary social attribute. In modernity, the entire social stratification was reduced to the attribute of material riches. Class is thus a phenomenon of modernity.

Class War

Georg Grosz, Eclipse of the Sun (1926) Georg Grosz, Eclipse of the Sun (1926)

The class character of bourgeois society, however, was perceived most distinctly not by the ideology of the bourgeoisie, but by Marx. He elaborated his revolutionary teaching on the basis of the concept of class. At its foundation was the idea that class society and the material inequality characteristic of it, elevated to the highest criterion, exposes the essence of the nature of society, man, and history. In Marx’s class picture, there are always rich and poor, and the rich always get richer, and the poor, poorer. Consequently, there are two classes, the bourgeoisie and proletariat, and their struggle is the motor and meaning of history.

All of Marxism is built on this idea: when we speak of classes, we speak of two antagonistic classes, the difference between which is not relative but absolute, since each embodies in itself two irreconcilable worlds: the world of Exploitation and the world of (honest) Labor. There are two classes: the class of Labor (the proletariat) and the class of Exploitation (the bourgeoisie). In the capitalist system, the class of Exploitation dominates. The class of Labor must become conscious of itself, arise, and overthrow the class of Exploiters. They must create, at first, the Government of Labor—socialism. Then, after the last remnants of bourgeois society have been destroyed, communist society will appear, now fully classless. According to Marx, a classlessness is possible only after the victory of the proletariat and the radical destruction of the bourgeoisie.

For Marx, a “middle class” simply cannot exist. This concept has no independent semantics in Marxist ideology, since everything that is between the bourgeoisie and proletariat (for instance, the petty bourgeoisie or prosperous peasantry) relates essentially either to the bourgeoisie or the proletariat. For Marxists, the “middle class” is a fiction. It doesn’t exist, and the concept itself is nothing but an instrument of the ideological propaganda of capitalists, trying to fool the proletariat, promising a future integration into the class of the bourgeoisie (which, according to Marx, cannot happen, since the appropriation of surplus value prevents the proletariat’s enrichment).

We can draw the following conclusion: the term “middle class” is a fiction for Marxists, an artificial figure of bourgeois ideology, called upon to conceal the real picture of society and the processes occurring in it. At the same time, Marxists admit the fact of a transition from estate society to class society and, consequently, agree with the bourgeoisie that a society of material inequalities (class society) is “more progressive” than a society of estate inequality; they disagree with the bourgeoisie in that, for communists, this is not the “end of history,” but only the beginning of a full-fledged revolutionary struggle. Liberals, on the other hand, insist that material inequality is entirely moral and justified and maintain that the communists’ striving for material equality is, by contrast, amoral and pathological. For liberals, “the end of history” begins when everyone becomes “middle class.” For communists, it begins when the proletariat finally destroy the bourgeoisie and build a communist society of total equality.

The Middle Class within Liberalism

The concept of a middle class is implicitly present in liberal ideology from the very beginning. That said, it only receives full implementation in the course of the establishment of sociology, which endeavors to combine many avant-garde theses of Marxism (in particular, the centrality of the concept of class) and bourgeois conditions. Sociology is thus a hybrid form: ideologically, it is between communism and liberalism; methodologically, it emphasizes a scientific, analytic approach. We can distinguish two poles in sociology, the social (the school of Durkheim, the theories of Sorokin, etc.) and the liberal (Weber, the Chicago and “Austrian” Schools in the United States, etc.)

In any case, the specific character of the liberal understanding of class is the conviction that, in the standard bourgeois society, there is only one class, and all differences between the depths and the heights are relative and conditional. If, for Marx, there are always two classes, and they exist in implacable enmity, for liberals (Adam Smith, for instance) there is always ultimately one class—the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie nominally embraces the entire capitalist society. The poorest layers of this society are, as it were, incompletely bourgeois. The richest, on the other hand, area super-bourgeois. But the social nature of all people is qualitatively identical: all are given equal starting opportunities, setting out from which the bourgeois can either reach a certain level of success, or fail to reach it and tumble down into the incompletely bourgeois.

Hence, Adam Smith takes as a standard situation the following classical liberal narrative:

The baker hires a worker, who has recently come to the city for work. After working as an assistant to the owner, the hired worker learns to bake bread and observes the organization of processes of interaction with suppliers and customers. After some time, the hired worker borrows credit and opens a bakery. After first working independently, he eventually hires a helper, who has come to the city for work, and the cycle repeats itself.

In this model, we see the following. Not only is society thought of as middle class, but there exists the already-middle-class and the not-yet-middle-class. In this picture, the hired worker does not form a peculiar type, but represents the potentially bourgeois, while the ready baker is actually bourgeois (though even he, coming to ruin, can theoretically be in the position again of the hired worker, the not-yet-bourgeois).

According to Marx, the quantity of riches in society is a fixed quantity, and the presence of two classes is based on precisely this: those who have riches will never share them with the poor, since life in capitalist society is a zero-sum game. For Smith, on the other hand, riches constantly increase. As a result, the boundaries of the middle class continuously expand. Capitalism is based on the presumption of the constant growth of riches for all members of society; ideally, all humanity must become middle class.

At the same time, there are two approaches to the middle class in liberal ideology. The first corresponds to left liberals: they demand that the super-bourgeois (the big capitalists) consciously share a part of the profits with the middle class and petty bourgeoisie, since this will lead to the stability of the system and to an acceleration of the growth of the middle class globally.

The second approach is characteristic of right liberals: they object to the burden placed on the super-bourgeoisie by taxation and welfare projects; they believe these contradicts the spirit of “free enterprise” and slows the dynamics of the development of the capitalist system, since the super-bourgeoisie stimulates the growth of the middle-bourgeoisie, which, in turn, urges on the petty bourgeoisie and the not-yet-bourgeoisie.

Accordingly, the concept of the middle class becomes, for left liberals, a moral value and ideological slogan (as in, “We must build a stronger middle class!”). For right liberals, on the other hand, the growth of the middle class is a natural consequence of the development of the capitalist system and does not demand special attention or elevation to a value.

Class as Social Strata in Sociology

In sociology, this basic ideological attitude of liberalism concerning the primacy of the middle class manifests itself in the relativization of the model of stratification. Sociology divides society into three classes: upper, middle, and lower (to this is sometimes added the underclass of pure marginals and social deviants). These classes are not identical to Marxist, nor to strictly liberal class concepts (since liberalism knows only one class, the middle class, while the others are thought of as its variations). This division fixes the dimension of individuals along four indicators: material sufficiency, level of fame, position in administrative hierarchy, and level of education. On the basis of strictly qualitative criteria, any person can be related to one of three social strata.

Here, the concept of class does not have a direct ideological content, but, as a rule, it is applied to bourgeois society, where sociology as a science appeared. This sociological classes, identified with social strata, should be distinguished from Marxist classes and from standard liberal conceptions about the middle class as the universal and single class.

In this case, in a bourgeois framework, the struggle for the rights of the underclass or support of the lower class (in a sociological sense) can be thought of as a left continuation of the liberal approach: attention to the lower layer of bourgeois society stipulates striving to facilitate its integration into the middle class, i.e. to pull them up the level of the bourgeois. For right liberals, such an effort is “amoral,” since it contradicts the main principle of social freedom: initiative and honest competition (the strong win, the weak lose, but such are the rules of the game; all should endeavor to become strong). The extreme version of right or even far-right liberalism is the “objectivism” of Ayn Rand.

The Middle Class and Nationalism

Thomas Hart Benton, Steel in America Today (1930) Thomas Hart Benton, Steel in America Today (1930)

There is one other ideological system of modernity, which we have yet to consider—nationalism. Nationalism is a variation of bourgeois ideology, which insists that the standard horizon of bourgeois society should not be humanity (the “cosmopolitanism” and “globalism” of classical liberals) but society as defined by the borders of a nation-state. The nation or people is taken as the maximal unit of integration. The market is open within the boundaries of the nation. But in the inter-state system, economic activity transitions to the level of the state, not private actors. From here, there arises the legitimization of such instruments as tariffs, protectionism, etc.

Nationalism thinks of the middle class not abstractly but concretely, as the middle class of a given national formation of the state. Nationalism also, like liberalism, accepts as a standard figure of society the townsperson-citizen-bourgeois, but puts the accent precisely on citizen, and what’s more, the citizen of a given national state.

The “nation” as a political formation becomes a synonym of bourgeois society. For nationalists, beyond this society, there exists only a zone of national and social risk. The nation is thought of here as a community of the middle class. And the task consists in integrating the lower layers into the national whole, often with the help of welfare measures. That is why nationalism can possess numerous socialist features, though the ideological basis here is different: pulling the economically weak to the level of the middle class is a task of national integration, not a consequence of orientation towards justice and material equality. We see something similar with left liberals, who consider integrating the under-class into broader society as a condition for the stability of the development of the capitalist system.

Nationalism, as a rule, relates negatively to national minorities and especially to immigrants. This is connected with the fact that in the eyes of nationalists, these elements disturb the homogeneity of the national middle class. Moreover, some national minorities are blamed for concentrating in their hands too much material wealth, in other words, those who challenge the national middle class “from above.” Nationalist feelings of injustice are expressed in antagonism towards “oligarchs” and, often times, as “economic anti-semitism,” a sentiment that was not foreign to Marx himself. In turn, other non-nationals (usually immigrants) are blamed for increasing the numbers of the lower strata and underclass, the integration of which is complicated by national differences. A variant of anti-immigrant nationalism consists in the charge that the increase of cheap labor slows the process of enriching the “native” population and the “harmonious” (for nationalists) growth of the middle class.

The Problem of the Middle Class in Contemporary Russia

After making these necessary methodological refinements, we can finally raise the question: what is the middle class for Russia? What are its prospects? Is it important for us or, on the contrary, are discussions about it optional and secondary?

It is impossible to answer this without turning to one of the three classical ideologies (including the versions contained in each through the polarities of left and right).

If we take the position of right liberalism, the answer is this: we should not pay attention to the middle class; the most important thing is to secure maximum economic freedom (that is, complete removal of government from business, taxes approximating zero, etc.), and everything will fall into place. Right liberals and consistent globalists are convinced that the growth of the middle class in Russia is not the goal; it is a consequence of the nation’s integration into the global economy, the opening of internal markets for external competition, and the prompt dismantling of an overbearing state.

If we take the position of left liberalism, then our attitude changes substantially. The broadening of the middle class is the number one task for our society, since the successful establishment of capitalism in Russia depends on precisely this, as does its integration into the international community. A small and weak middle class facilitates the degradation of society into “lumpens” and “oligarchs” and indirectly helps nationalistic and socialistic anti-liberal tendencies capture the minds of the population. Social injustice and inequality, the volume of the underclass, and the slow growth of the middle class demand special attention and the execution of goal-directed policies, since the fate of capitalism in Russia is at stake. Again, the struggle for the middle class is a slogan of left liberals. And they are the ones who would most likely focus this topic, since it is the core of their ideological positions.

If we are contemporary Marxists by inertia or conscious choice, then any mention of a middle class must evoke our rage, since this is the ideological platform of the sworn enemies of communism—bourgeois liberals. For communists, the following is correct: the narrower the middle class, the sharper the social contradictions and the more acute the imperative of the class struggle of proletariat against bourgeoisie. Thus, the communist perceives a large lower social strata and underclass against the background of prospering oligarchs as the ideal social picture. For communists, the middle class is a lie, an evil, and its absence or underdevelopment is a chance and window of opportunity for revolution. If some “communist” thinks otherwise, then he is not a communist, but a revisionist and compromiser with the bourgeoisie.

If we are nationalists, then the middle class acquires for us an additional dimension. It is thought of as the skeleton of national society in opposition to the “immigrant underclass” and “foreign-born oligarchy.” This is the peculiar notion of the middle class in the nationalist framework. And the cutting edges of this conception of the middle class are directed against oligarchs (the upper class) and immigrants (the lower class and underclass); the middle class itself is regarded as the national class, i.e. as the Russian class, which includes Russian entrepreneurs, Russian proprietors, the Russian bourgeoisie, etc.

It is impossible to speak of the middle class as such, without adhering (consciously or not) to an ideological position. But since in Russia, according to the constitution, there is no state ideology, theoretically we can interpret the middle class however we want. The fact that this concept has become the center of discussions attests to the fact that in contemporary Russia, by the inertia of the ‘90s and early 2000s, a liberal paradigm prevails. In the absence of a state ideology, liberals nevertheless strive to impose on us their paradigm as dominant.

Let’s conduct a thought experiment: a discussion about the middle class is taking place in a socially significant platform, for instance on one of Russia’s major television stations. Representatives of all possible ideologies of modernity are participating: Russian liberals, Russian communists, and Russian nationalists.

The first, a Russian liberals, would say:

The growth of the middle class and elevation of the level of wealth for the citizens of Russia is the main task of our society and government.

The second, a Russian communist:

Illegal privatization in the ‘90s put national property in the hands of oligarchs; look how our people live in the provinces in poverty and squalor!

The third, aRussian nationalists:

Illegal immigrants are taking jobs from Russians, and they’re all led by Jewish and Caucasian oligarchs. That is a catastrophe for the Russian middle class!

Despite the fact that the viewers might like all three positions, the jury and “respected experts” will, undoubtedly, grant victory to the liberals. For ultimately, we still find ourselves in the condition of the ideological dictatorship of liberalism. This would happen despite the fact that society, recognizing the right of liberal discourse, fully and persistently denies its supremacy and absolute right. (In contrast, for the political elite, liberal dogmas remain sacred and unshakeable.)

From this, we can draw a conclusion: the middle class and discussion about it reflect the ideological order of liberals among Russia’s political and economic elite. If we do not share liberal axioms, then we might not consider this topic at all, or else offer an interpretation (Marxist, nationalistic, etc.) that liberals will vigorously reject.

The Fourth Political Theory: Beyond Class

In conclusion, we can conduct an analysis of the middle class in the context of the Fourth Political Theory. This theory is built on the imperative of overcoming modernity and all three political ideologies in order (the order has tremendous significance): (1) liberalism, (2) communism, (3) nationalism (fascism). The subject of this theory, in its simple version, is the concept “narod,”roughly, “Volk” or “people,” in the sense of “peoplehood” and “peoples,” not “masses.”

In its complex version, the subject of this theory is Heidegger’s category of Dasein. We can say, as an approximation, that narod must be thought of existentially, as the living, organic, historical presence of Russians in a qualitative spatial landscape, in the expanses of Great Russia. But if the subject is the narod and not the individual (as in liberalism), not two antagonistic classes (as in Marxism), and not the political nation (as in nationalism), then all the obligatory elements of the modern picture of the world change. There is no longer materialism, economism, recognition of the fatefulness and universality of the bourgeois revolutions, linear time, Western civilization as a universal standard, secularism, human rights, civil society, democracy, the market, or any other axioms and buzzwords of modernity. The Fourth Political Theory proposes solutions and horizons knowingly excluded by liberalism, communism, and nationalism. (More on this is found in my book The Fourth Political Theory and my new book The Fourth Way.)

On the whole, The Fourth Political Theory, when applied to the problem of the “middle class” says the following:

The transition from caste to estate and from estate to class is not a universal law. This process can occur as it did in modern Western Europe, or it can fail to occur or occur partially, as is happening today in non-Western societies. Hence, the very concept of class as applied to society has a limited applicability. Class and classes can be identified in modern Western European societies, but whether they can replace the caste inequality of the soul and human nature is not at all obvious. Western societies themselves are confident that classes do so. But an existential approach to this problematic can call this into question.

The most important thing is how the human relates to death. There are those who can look it in the face, and those who always have their backs turned to it. But the origins of the social hierarchy, the fundamental distinction between people and the superiority of some to others consists in precisely this. Material conditions are not decisive here. Hegel’s interpretation of Master and Slave is based on this criterion. Hegel thinks that the Master is the one who challenges death, who steps out to encounter it. Acting in this way, he does not acquire immortality, but he acquires a Slave, one who runs from death, lacking the courage to look it in the eye. The Master rules in societies where death stands at the center of attention. The Slave acquires political rights only where death is bracketed and removed to the periphery. So long as death remains in society’s field of vision, we are dealing with rule by the wise and heroic, philosophers and warriors. This is caste society or estate society. But not class society. Where class begins, life ends, and the alienated strategies of reification, objectivation, and mediation prevail.

Hence, the Fourth Political Theory thinks that the construction of society on the basis of the criterion of property is a pathology. The fate of man and narod is history and geography—but in no way economics, the market, or competition.

The Fourth Political Theory rejects class as a concept and denies its relevance for the creation of a political system based on the existential understanding of the narod. Even more so does it reject the concept of the “middle class,” which reflects the very essence of the class approach. The middle class, like the middle (that is, average) person, is a social figure situated at the point of maximal social illusion, at the epicenter of slumber. The representative of the middle class corresponds to Heidegger’s figure of das Man, the generalized bearer of “common sense,” which is subject to no verification or examination. (Das Man is often translated into English as “The They,” in the sense of “They say so-and-so will win the election this year…) Das Man is the greatest of illusions.

The middle, average person is not at all the same as the normal person. “Norm” is a synonym for “ideal,” that to which one should strive, that which one should become. The middle person is a person in the least degree, the most ex-individual of individuals, the most null and barren quality. The middle person isn’t a person at all; he is a parody of a person. He is Nietzsche’s “Last Man.” And he is deeply abnormal, since for a normal person, it is natural to experience horror, to think about death, to acutely experience the finitude of being, to call into question—sometimes tragically insoluble—the external world, society, and relations to another.

The middle class doesn’t think; it consumes. It doesn’t live; it seeks security and comfort. It doesn’t die, it blows out like a car tire (it emits its spirit, as Baudrillard wrote in Symbolic Exchange and Death). The middle class is the most stupid, submissive, predictable, cowardly, and pathetic of all classes. It is equally far from the blazing elements of poverty and the perverted poison of incalculable wealth, which is even closer to hell than extreme poverty. The middle class has no ontological foundation for existing at all, and if it does, then only somewhere far below, beneath the rule of the philosopher-kings and warrior-heroes. It is the Third Estate, imagining about itself that it is the one and only. This is an unwarranted pretension. Modernity and capitalism (in the sense of the universality of the middle class) is nothing more than a temporary aberration. The time of this historical misunderstanding is coming to an end.

Thus, today, when the agony of this worst of possible social arrangements still continues, you must look beyond capitalism. At the same time, we must value and take interest in both what preceded it, the Middle Ages, and in that which will come after it and that which we must create—a New Middle Ages.


Translated by Michael Millerman


4thPoliticalFront.jpeg

sold out

The Fourth Political Theory

12.00 27.00
Add To Cart

No Comments on The Fourth Estate

When the Gods Hear the Call

Black Metal shares the fate of all complex and multifaceted phenomena that transcend their narrow genre identities and, similar to Hegel’s philosopher who is able to “grasp an era through thought,” are always ahead of their time, either by affirming, or by totally rejecting the spiritual foundations of the time period in which they live. Both require an ability to examine it from a distance. As the unquestionable product of Modernity, Black Metal paradoxically issues a death sentence to the Modern world. The latter is the case not only with respect to contemporary Christianity: it is the antithesis to everything that is believed to be of any value for an average representative of today’s Western society: from the conventional notions of the good and the beautiful to the metaphysical Being itself. In other words, Black Metal, at a glance, is the very embodiment of an active-nihilistic phase in a metaphysical process of transvaluation of all values heralded by Friedrich Nietzsche.
This is the second reason why Black Metal is mostly defined apophatically, that is to say, from negation. I have already mentioned the first reason for this: despite Black Metal’s prevalent description as a subculture, it is more accurate to define it as a counterculture the goal of which is to terminate the entire Modern era. Many sociologists would disagree with my assertion, because some of them share the idea that early Christianity was the only fully successful counterculture in European history, which overthrew the values of the previous era, whereas the adherents of Black Metal, both genre creators and ordinary fans, are totally integrated into the current social system, support its cultural codes, and never question that which is truly vital for its existence axioms. 

THE CONSERVATIVE-REVOLUTIONARY POTENTIAL OF BLACK METAL ART

I. Black Metal: a Subculture or a Counterculture? Methodological Foundations

Black Metal shares the fate of all complex and multifaceted phenomena that transcend their narrow genre identities and, similar to Hegel’s philosopher who is able to “grasp an era through thought,” are always ahead of their time, either by affirming, or by totally rejecting the spiritual foundations of the time period in which they live. Both require an ability to examine it from a distance. As the unquestionable product of Modernity, Black Metal paradoxically issues a death sentence to the Modern world. The latter is the case not only with respect to contemporary Christianity: it is the antithesis to everything that is believed to be of any value for an average representative of today’s Western society: from the conventional notions of the good and the beautiful to the metaphysical Being itself. In other words, Black Metal, at a glance, is the very embodiment of an active-nihilistic phase in a metaphysical process of transvaluation of all values heralded by Friedrich Nietzsche.
This is the second reason why Black Metal is mostly defined apophatically, that is to say, from negation. I have already mentioned the first reason for this: despite Black Metal’s prevalent description as a subculture, it is more accurate to define it as a counterculture the goal of which is to terminate the entire Modern era. Many sociologists would disagree with my assertion, because some of them share the idea that early Christianity was the only fully successful counterculture in European history, which overthrew the values of the previous era, whereas the adherents of Black Metal, both genre creators and ordinary fans, are totally integrated into the current social system, support its cultural codes, and never question that which is truly vital for its existence axioms.

As attentive readers of Ernst Jünger know, almost everything — no matter how “subversive” or “irreverent” — can be incorporated back into the system as “manifestation of freedom. Therefore, Black Metal may be considered only a subculture, which is exaggerated in many infamous parodies that reveal the infantile and ultimately primitive character of the self-proclaimed “true blackers” who cannot cope even with their parents. Undoubtedly, these observations are not groundless, and are basically endorsed within the movement itself, which developed its own ways of social regulation in order to expel the so-called “untrue” posers from their community, i.e., trendies and money-makers that appeared after the scandalous events in the early history of Black Metal.

However, I would like to emphasize the fact that the given survey is not sociological; otherwise, I would have to put a full stop right after stating that the Black Metal scene degraded a long time ago, which means that there is no place for wishful thinking. In other words, I will discuss not what Black Metal currently is, but what it is supposed to be according to the pioneers of the Black Metal movement and those who stayed devoted to the latter tradition. Therefore, I consider Max Weber’s Verstehende Soziologie (Interpretative Sociology) to be the only suitable sociological method that seeks to understand a certain cultural phenomenon from within, describes it on its own terms and operates within the notion of the ideal type. The latter gives the opportunity to avoid biases of positivist thinking and legitimately apply the heuristic mental constructs derived from the empirical data for the purpose of better analyzing reality. The most famous example of the ideal type is the “Protestant ethic” used by Weber as a key for exploring the emergence and the essence of capitalism in his renowned work Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905), which provides a fruitful alternative to the popular historical-materialistic explanation of Karl Marx. Accordingly, our ideal type is called “Black Metal Art” or simply “Black Metal.”

As such, this method is quite akin to the philosophical-hermeneutical approach developed by Martin Heidegger and his disciple Hans-Georg Gadamer who rejects the very term “method” as a natural-scientific remnant in the Geisteswissenschaften (human sciences). According to Heidegger’s philosophical interpretation focused on the classic concept of the hermeneutic circle (“to understand the whole, we need to understand the parts and visa versa”), the task is not to find the way out of the circle, but rather to enter it correctly, since this circle is that of our existence. Put simply, we (“Dasein” as “Being-in-the-world”) always understand certain phenomena in this or that way, so our sole duty is to explicate our assumptions or, in Gadamer’s words, our “anticipation of perfection.” The latter is what I am going to do in this paper, although I have to admit that in some cases we deal with such a high level of self-reflection demonstrated by the Black Metal artists that the researcher gratefully turns into a mere commentator: consider the first-ever DVD “Opus Diaboli” released in May of 2012 by the Swedish band Watain to experience the difference between the interpretation of Watain’s vocalist E. and those given in most Black Metal documentaries, interviews, and thematic investigations. The vast majority of such sources still are very disappointing or insufficient.

II. Aesthetics and Metaphysics vs. Ideology and Politics of Black Metal. The Principal Directions within the Black Metal Movement

What is the starting point for this research? Since the times of Aristotle, it has been obvious that the shortest way to the essence of a thing lies in its definition. But, again, mostly negative definitions of Black Metal exist. They do reflect the greatness and intensity of this phenomenon but say little about its main idea. For example, the epochal and countercultural significance of the latter can be easily inferred from the well-known attempts to clarify the essence of Black Metal such as, “it is not another musical genre,” “it is not mere music,” and “it is not entertainment/business.” Another set of negative definitions due to the nihilistic orientation of Black Metal is also widely recognized: it is believed to be anti-religious, especially anti-Christian, antisocial, misanthropic, blasphemous, and so forth.

Likewise, all intellectual efforts to articulate what Black Metal is rather than what it is not usually end up with an appeal to a certain spectrum of moods and emotions (“dark,” “melancholic”), sometimes–to certain highly metaphoric concepts (“evil,” “ugliness,” “war”) or to Black Metal aesthetics known as part of the well-established phrase “Black Metal Art.” This expression, however, raises further questions since Black Metal is represented as l’art pour l’art only if the latter means something like Supreme Art that bears explicit occultist connotations, which is the very opposite of this approach. If not, one is welcome to enter endless debates regarding the basic principle(s) of Black Metal ideology, which are mostly centered on Satanism.

Depending on what one considers the object of negation or the enemy against whom the War is being waged (“Black Metal ist Krieg”), there exist different ideological trends within the general Black Metal movement, which regularly cause sharp disagreements between its members: radical nihilism and atheism that stand behind Satanist imagery and sometimes overlap with LaVeyan Social Darwinism; the Occultist trajectory, which is often connected with the Left-Hand Path; Theistic Satanism (the religion of Deus/Diabolus Absconditus) that borders on Gnosticism and similar teachings, on the one hand, and archaic Pagan cults, which may be linked to “Aryan Luciferianism”—on the other; variations of Heathenism, from Pantheism to Vedic hymns, which are mainly developed within such subgenres such as Folk Black Metal or Viking Black Metal, and even Christian “Unblack” Metal, not to mention other innovative Black Metal bands often focused on their own “philosophy.” Naturally, we may legitimately wonder which direction is more representative of the movement or, in contrast, should in no way not be associated with it as one that transcends the limits of this ideal type.

Another way to fill the gap between the apophatical definitions involves pointing out the mystical or even a religious feeling that is typical of the Black Metal Weltanschauung, its special “spirit.” A reference to this theophanic experience that underlies rational explanation, among others, can be found in the interview with the French Black Metal band Deathspell Omega:

Some of us had a religious upbringing indeed, and these obviously went through the initial phase of global denial, whereas others were raised under the sign of rationality. That we eventually all experienced a shattering theophany is something very hard to explain in rational terms. There’s of course cultural arguments, anyone who went through long universitarian studies has been given keys—and this despite the fact that most universities in the occidental world are actually strongholds of humanitarian egalitarianism—and we chose not to ignore these keys, whereas most people do as they prefer to remain in harmony with the current Zeitgeist.[1]

Such purely phenomenological descriptions could have dissolved genre boundaries, yet we feel that Black Metal has its positive core which strictly differentiates it from the related genres and may be formulated very simply. Therefore, even though only the National Socialist Black Metal (NSBM) scene and its rarer leftist analogues are notable for direct political involvement, Black Metal as a countercultural movement with great ambitions but carefully guarded borders is political par excellence, political in Carl Schmitt’s sense of the distinction between the friend and the enemy, which translates into the ultimate degree of association and dissociation between “us” and “them.” A highly selective approach to potential membership in the Black Metal community, of course, is more eloquent than inherent in any genuine aesthetic formation, prioritizing artistic expression and detesting the rigid and external ideological clichés, whether political or otherwise.

At the same time, such Ukrainian Black Metal bands as Nokturnal Mortum, Kroda, Drudkh, or Hate Forest, which at present comprise one of the most acclaimed NSBM scenes in the world, if not the most, even though they may introduce themselves as simply patriotic and concerned with traditional heritage preservation (another esteemed Ukrainian one-man band Lutomysl was described in a recent interview by Pavel “Lutomysl” Shishkovskiy, who envies people “whose only problems boil down to the presence of Jews or blacks,” as NEONSDSBM [2]), can hardly be regarded as such that impose restrictions on ways of expression in order to meet ideological needs. Above all, they gained recognition all over the world owing to their musical masterpieces.

In a narrow sense, Black Metal as a total war against the Modern world cannot be free of the political implications either, although most crimes in the early history of Black Metal were committed due to personal, not political reasons [3]. Similarly, one may single out both the left-wing and the right-wing tendencies since the very birth of the Black Metal movement represented accordingly by Satanist Øystein Aarseth “Euronymous” of Mayhem, who sympathized with left-wing extremism, and Varg Vikernes of Burzum as a scholar of Old Norse religion, an adherent of Paganism, and an authoritative figure in the contemporary right-wing circles (among his influences are Knut Hamsun, Oswald Spengler, and Julius Evola), who distanced himself from Satanism and the whole Black Metal scene after its newcomers had started exploiting the original ideas and aesthetics invented by the pioneers merely for their shock value or for commercial purposes. Retrospectively speaking, it is no wonder that Euronymous was killed by Vikernes in 1993, which is regarded as “the beginning of the end” followed by the split and the growing commercialization of the scene (consider Nargaroth’s song “The Day Burzum Killed Mayhem”). On the other hand, I would not say that there is an irresolvable conflict of these two tendencies, or that there is no such metaphysical position that integrates them on a higher level.

Indeed, it is possible to oppose the Modern world and its symbolic incarnation, Christianity, both “from the Left” and “from the Right.” Furthermore, although liberation, nihilism, anti-clericalism (remember the famous Norwegian church burnings), etc. are mostly associated with the Left, even those Black Metal groups that stick to the Left-Hand Path (for instance, Polish Black Metal band Behemoth) do not necessarily correspond with the political Left, both classical and Cultural Marxism. Often quite the reverse is true, or they go beyond politics. This ambivalence is also visible on an aesthetic level: the “right-wing” symbols of the Empire, King, God, etc. are no less popular than the “left-wing” concepts of Homelessness, Void, Rebellion, and so on.

Benjamin Noys, who also addressed the issue of politics in the Black Metal movement, used as a case study the interview answers by Sale Famine of the French Black Metal band Peste Noire[4] which was not an accident. Famine, who believes that left-wing Black Meal is contradictio in adjecto, underlines the chthonic and, as a result, the nationalist character of Black Metal and glorifies “the dark European past,” declared the synthesis of both approaches in a very transparent manner:

Black Metal is the musical memory of our bloodthirsty ancestors of blood, it is the marriage of Tradition, of old racial patrimony with fanaticism, with the rage and the rashness of a youth now lost.” [5]

Likewise, Famine describes his nationalism as fundamentally twofold, “temporal” and “spiritual,” which correlates with being a citizen of France (“medieval,” “rural”) and of Hell (“Sieg Hell!”)[6]. Noys fairly draws a parallel between this focus on the chthonic aspect of Black Metal and the telluric grounding of Carl Schmitt’s Partisan. Finally, searching for the roots of this ambiguity in Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy is also absolutely correct: the greatest European nihilist was simultaneously the greatest elitist, aristocrat, and traditionalist who looked ahead to the beginning of the new Golden Age. That is why Nietzsche referred to himself as “the first perfect Nihilist of Europe who, however, has even now lived through the whole of nihilism, to the end, leaving it behind, outside himself”[7], that is the first anti-nihilist as well.

In addition, Nietzsche was the greatest aesthete and stylist who erased the very distinction between form and content by making even the superficial details ideologically relevant and meaningful. The latter sheds light on the reasons why the expression “Black Metal Art” means something incomparably deeper than, for instance, “Black Metal Ideology” or “Black Metal Politics” and has the potential to reach a metaphysical level. At this point, an appeal to the Conservative Revolution—another complex cultural phenomenon that has much in common with Black Metal—becomes inevitable.

III. The Grand Invocation: the Conservative Revolution as an Act of Ushering the Gods Back into the World

Conservative Revolution and Black Metal are similar for at least two reasons. First, both have countercultural value. The only difference lies in the fact that what requires additional reconstruction in the context of Black Metal belongs to the explicit objectives of the conservative-revolutionary theory, which may be unequivocally derived from its name. Conservative Revolution was a broad ideocratic movement that evolved in Germany during the 20th century’s interwar period. It was also known under the name of the “Third Position” or the “Third Way” because it was impossible to classify it as ideologically Right or Left. Some of its principal players have already been mentioned: Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Oswald Spengler, Edgar Julius Jung, Carl Schmitt, Ernst and Friedrich Georg Jünger, Julius Evola, Ernst Niekisch, Martin Heidegger, Armin Mohler, and others. The global aim of the conservative-revolutionary movement was formulated by Hugo von Hofmannsthal in 1927 as part of his legendary speech delivered to students in Munich. He argued that the Conservative Revolution is a phenomenon previously unknown in European history that strives to terminate not only the era of the Enlightenment, but also that of Renaissance and Reformation. In other words, its goal is to construct the New Middle Ages.

This necessity of revolting against the course of history was proclaimed in Julius Evola’s work Revolt Against the Modern World: Politics, Religion, and Social Order of the Kali Yuga (1934), which, to a great extent, was nothing but a radicalized and politicized version of the major text The Crisis of the Modern World written by René Guénon, the founder of integral traditionalism, in 1927. In the chapter called “The Doctrine of the Four Ages” of his work, Evola writes:

Although modern man until recently has viewed and celebrated the meaning of the history known to him as epitomizing progress and evolution, the truth as professed by traditional man is quite the opposite. In all ancient testimonies of traditional humanity it is possible to find, in various forms, the idea of a regression or a fall: from originally higher states beings have stooped to states increasingly conditioned by human, mortal, and contingent elements. This involutive process allegedly began in a very distant past; the term that best characterizes it is the Eddic term ragna-rokkr, “the twilight of the gods”… According to Tradition, the actual sense of history and the genesis of what I have labeled, generally speaking, as the “modern world,” results from a process of gradual decadence through four cycles or ‘generations.’[8]

In his later book Men Among the Ruins: Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist (1953), Evola defined Conservative Revolution as “the return to the starting point,” “to the source.” Naturally, in order to secure this grand historical coup, one has to rely on the means available in that very Modern world. This insight gave birth to the shortest formula of fascism “René Guénon Plus Tank Divisions,” which may be found in The Morning of the Magicians written by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier in 1960. Indeed, back in 1921 Thomas Mann considered Conservative Revolution in his Russian Anthology as a political projection of Nietzscheism understood as a synthesis of “conservatism” and “revolution,” “freedom” and “bonds,” “faith” and “Enlightenment,” “God” and “the world” and compared it with the Russian messianic idea as two totally different phenomena united, although, by their common “religious nature, religious in a new vital sense that has a great future.”

Therefore, second distinctive feature of Black Metal and the Conservative Revolution comprises the fact that both movements are not only anti- and contra- but also meta-phenomena, which reject the narrow genre and political identities in favor of the higher goals. Conservative Revolution is always positioned as a metapolitical movement and, speaking in Ernst Jünger’s terms, as “the absolute revolution” that ruins tradition as form but thus realizes the sense of tradition. This is the so-called “metahistorical” and “dynamic” approach to Tradition written with a capital “T,” which was introduced by Julius Evola as an ability to sacrifice forms in the name of principles. Furthermore, another similarity between Black Metal and the Conservative Revolution is that both ideal types are portrayed as a special recognizable “style,” that is, ultimately as an aesthetic phenomenon.

The merger between the aesthetic and the political elements in the conservative-revolutionary movement, which was noted with displeasure by leftists who were always afraid of “irrationality,” Walter Benjamin, in particular, was undoubtedly carried out beyond decorative purposes in mind. It was aesthetics that was meant to be that magical key used to “re-enchant” the world and reintegrate the autonomous and disconnected fields of politics, science, religion, ethics and, again, aesthetics, which replaced the hierarchic medieval universe subordinate to one transcendental principle. However, conservative revolutionaries mostly spoke not of God but of gods in the plural; the generally acknowledged metaphor that signifies re-mythologization of the world is “the return of the gods” or “the return of the sacred,” which was especially anticipated by Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Jünger.

“Merely” waiting for re-sacralization of the world, however, is not a rule and corresponds only to the current phase of metaphysical transvaluation of all values. This phase was preceded by the active-nihilistic period of titanic domination, the reign of Prometheus, who symbolizes the elemental powers of technology. According to Ernst Jünger’s observation made in his essay “On Pain” (1934), we live in the time when the new orders have moved far ahead, but the new values have not become visible yet:

We conclude, then, that we find ourselves in a last and indeed quite remarkable phase of nihilism, characterized by the broad expansion of new social orders with corresponding values yet to be seen.[9]

This means that Übermenschals Sieger über Gott und das Nichts,” the Superman as a victor over God (the ruined old order) and Nothingness that replaced the latter, enters the final phase of the battle with Nothingness itself. At this stage, both Jünger and Evola developed the concepts of apoliteia, right-wing anarchism and the differentiated man that rejects the Modern world not out of nihilism, but because it does not meet the ideal of the new sacred order. Of course, this stage is temporary: Evola’s right-wing anarchist and Jünger’s Anarch are always ready to seize the opportunity to build a new Empire.
Structural similarities between Black Metal and the Conservative Revolution are also obvious. Armin Mohler, who published a monograph Conservative Revolution in Germany: 1918–1932 (1950), which started the tradition of academic investigation of the conservative-revolutionary movement, singled out five main directions within the latter, three of which became exemplary: Young Conservatives (Moeller van den Bruck, Edgar Jung, Oswald Spengler), National Revolutionaries (Ernst Jünger, Ernst Niekisch, Hans Freyer), and the völkische movement that made the greatest impact on National Socialism (the famous doctrine of “Blood and Soil”). Accordingly, Young Conservatives mostly developed the organic imperialist models; National Revolutionaries were on extremely good terms with the destructive forces of the industrial civilization, and the völkische resemble the contemporary Pagan Front.

In his profound examination of the conservative-revolutionary recollections in the Black Metal movement, Alex Kurtagic primarily emphasized völkisch ideas [10], which is justifiable. At the same time, I would say that the most representative of the Conservative Revolution was not the völkisch but rather the national-revolutionary movement. Its members, Ernst Jünger, in particular, elaborated on the main metaphysical sentiment of the Conservative Revolution, that is the unity of freedom and the necessity presupposed by the concept of German voluntarism, in the most detailed and accurate manner. This metaphysical standpoint corresponds with the Gnostic Anti-Cosmic trend in the Black Metal movement, which is also notable for strict dualism between one’s divine will and anything else (“Death against death”) and does not seek the sacred within the limits of this world. A well-known description of National Socialist metaphysics by Hendrik Möbus of the German NSBM group Absurd (“the most perfect synthesis of the Luciferian will to power, and neo-heathen principles and symbolism”) would also be relevant in this context, although he is more closely associated with the Pagan Front. Incidentally, his conversation with “Velesova Sloboda”[11] is the most interesting and professional discussion of the classic conservative-revolutionary topics by any Black Metal musician that I have ever read.

In conclusion, I would like to quote the words of Erik Danielsson of Watain about the revolutionary essence of true art and the necessity “to get deeper and deeper” while exploring the horizons of the genre:

If you want to do something groundbreaking in something as sinister as black metal—if you want to correspond with dark energies that exist beyond this world, you cannot have a mere interest in black metal. A passion for a music genre is not enough to change the course of musical history or the history of the world. To me, it’s not strange there aren’t more bands like us because individuals of that sort are very rare. If you have an extreme source of energy flowing inside yourself you either end up in prison, sharing a high place with a politician or you do what we do.[12]

It is difficult to disagree and overlook the parallels with the aspirations of the most devoted and bright members of the conservative-revolutionary movement. After all, Mohler’s academic research was nothing more than a way to gather the new extreme front in post-war Europe under an alternative name after discrediting the National Socialist project and any other movements dangerous for the system, including Black Metal in its purest manifestations. Is it surprising that one day the representatives of these metahistorical and countercultural directions will join their forces as the “contenders in the larger game”?[13]


  1. Ajna Offensive, Deathspell Omega Interview.  ↩
  2. Interview with Lutomysl at Orthodox Black Metal.  ↩
  3. Kevin Coogan, How Black is Black Metal?, Nachrichten Heute  ↩
  4. Benjamin Noys, “Remain True to the Earth!”: Remarks on the Politics of Black Metal, Hideous Gnosis: Black Metal Theory Symposium I; Edited by Nicola Masciandaro (Charleston: CreateSpace, 2010), p. 105–128.  ↩
  5. Nathan T. Birk, Interview with La Sale Famine of Peste Noire, Zero Tolerance  ↩
  6. Ibid.  ↩
  7. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power; Translated by Walter Kaufmann and R. J. Hollingdale; Edited by W. Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books, 1967), p. 3.  ↩
  8. Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World: Politics, Religion, and Social Order of the Kali Yuga; Translated from the Italian by Guido Stucco (Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 1995), p. 177.  ↩
  9. Ernst Jünger, On Pain (New York: Telos Press Publishing, 2008), p. 46.  ↩
  10. Alex Kurtagic, “Black Metal: Conservative Revolution in Modern Popular Culture,” The Occidental Quarterly Online, republished at Counter-Currents.  ↩
  11. Hendrik M. (Absurd) im Gespräch mit der Redaktion von “Velesova Sloboda”  ↩
  12. Darren Cowan, Interview with Erik Danielsson of Watain at Blistering.com  ↩
  13. Ibid.  ↩
No Comments on When the Gods Hear the Call

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search