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Tag: Oswald Spengler

On Conservatism, Identity, Heidegger and Archeofuturism

Conservatism cannot deliver what is needed, it is opposed to radical changes, it is opposed to radical ideas.

Conservatism cannot deliver what is needed, it is opposed to radical changes, it is opposed to radical ideas.

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Islam-The Magian Revolution

Western academics and media-types write a lot of drivel about Islam. Part of the problem is there is a dearth of good information, and a bounty of superficial, politically self-serving…

Western academics and media-types write a lot of drivel about Islam. Part of the problem is there is a dearth of good information, and a bounty of superficial, politically self-serving garbage. But the real problem is misplaced emphasis. Western experts and commenters are used to thinking of history in Hegelian terms–as the story of human progress. The model might be a good fit for Euro-American history, it is at least workable. But the progressive model falls apart when applied to the history of Islam. Islam’s heights seem to correspond to the West’s depths, and vice-versa. The “Progress” model causes Westerners to ask the wrong questions about Islamic history. “What went wrong?” “Why has the Middle East been so beset by violence?” “When will Islam adopt modern political and ethical principles?”

This misguided criticism has two faces–liberal and reactionary. Both sides share the Hegelian view of history–that millennia-long, world-wide advance of the human spirit. But each side approaches its subject with different motives. Liberals, who dominate public discourse on the subject (surprise), assume the intrinsic goodness of all people. “Islam is peace” (eye roll). They feel good when they can cite examples of seemingly precocious modernism, such as early Muslim rulers’ tolerance (in the strictest sense) for religious minorities. It makes them feel good to contrast these anecdotes with the supposedly unrelenting fanaticism of Euro-Americans throughout the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, the 19th and 20th centuries, up to and including last week. This rosy, Islamophilic picture is not really about Islam. It is just another stick with which to beat guilt into the Euro-American historical conscience.

The liberal position, while dominant, does not go unchallenged. On the other side are the reactionaries. They are “reactionaries” because they have no real position on Islam, they only know that the liberals are wrong, and reflexively counterattack. Theirs is a form of hypercriticism, given to denying long-established facts and trends of Islamic history with little or no justification other than to refute the Islamophiles. Given the current situation in the West, their excesses are understandable. But the reactionaries’ zeal leads them to stake out indefensible positions. Many of them are have ulterior motives–some are pro-Jewish fanatics or apologists for imperialism, others are democratic ideologues. But they share a defect. They lack a healthy, Faustian drive to pursue universal Truth–whether we like its conclusions or not.

Both approaches fail for two reasons. First, neither affords its subject the proper attitude of “sympathetic criticism.” The student must devote himself to understanding a culture on its own terms–learning its languages, reading its history and literature–all the while imagining things from its perspective. Once he has done this, he can render judgement on its ethics, its cultural attainments, and its overall importance to history. This was the approach of the great orientalists of the late 19th and early 20th century. They  devoted tremendous intellectual effort to comprehending Islamic civilization, yet they were unafraid to pass judgement on its shortcomings. The liberals have no aptitude for criticism, the reactionaries have none for sympathy.

Second, the liberals and reactionaries neglect the questions of philosophical history. It is from this oversight that they fall into their assumption of perpetual historical progress. But there is a better way. One hundred years ago, Oswald Spengler reframed the discussion of history by tearing down idea of progress (at least as it is commonly understood). His “Copernican revolution” in historical thought worked wonders for the study of Classical civilization and Europe, but it would prove even more effective for understanding the meaning of Middle Eastern history. Spengler shifted the emphasis away from time and toward Cultures. Following Spengler, we can understand how meaningless most of the questions posed by conventional commenters are, and begin to see Islam for what it really is.

The Magian Reformation

Spengler rejected the conventional historical focus on religions and polities. He saw these as merely superficial expressions of something deeper–the Culture. Cultures, in Spengler’s scheme, are a complex of peoples who share a world-outlook. This outlook–the spirit of a Culture–drives it to produce or adapt a religion. “Religion” is the outward expression of the world-outlook and includes such things as prayer rituals, religious architecture, calligraphy and sculpture. For example, while Euro-Americans and Korean evangelicals may both be “Christians,” they do not belong to the same Culture, because their world-outlooks differ so drastically, despite their notionally common religion. A present-day American protestant has more in common, spiritually, with a 9th-century Norse pagan than with a modern-day Korean convert, despite professing the same doctrines. Cultures are the basic unit by which to analyze history.

Islam is part of the “Magian” Culture. In his Decline of the West, Spengler defines the Magian Culture as comprising the Muslim Arabs, but also many pre-Islamic Middle Eastern groups such as the Babylonian Jews, the Zoroastrians, the Coptic and Syriac Christians, as well as syncretic/heretical gnostic groups like the Manichaeans. It arose around the time of Christ and lasted till the 12th century, when the anti-rationalist thinker Al-Ghazali dealt the deathblow to Magian philosophical speculation. All of subsequent Magian history was, in Spengler’s view,  “civilization”–grandiose, bombastic, imperial, but sterile. No new philosophical or religious ideas could arise from the Magian world outlook. It had run its course.

So the birth of Islam does not represent the foundation of a new religion. It was, rather, a revolution in Magian religious thought. As such, it is analogous to the Reformation in Western history. Like Luther, Muhammad preached a puritanical systematization of earlier currents in the spiritual thought of his Culture. Muhammad and Luther were both anti-clerical, iconoclastic reformers who exhorted their adherents to build a more personal relationship with God. They both made the scripture accessible to the masses–Luther by translating the bible into the vernacular, Muhammad by “receiving revelations” in easily memorized rhymed prose. After their deaths, their Cultures were unified the culture by marginalizing the earlier creeds and, at the same time, quickly spawning an array of heresies. The puritanical movements unleashed a storm, driving the post-reformation Europeans and post-Islam Magians to conquer half the world in a fanatical outburst of religious fervor–compare that to the religious and colonial wars of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Both movements, to a large degree, cleansed their cultures of foreign influence. Hellenistic influence on the Middle East, while not wiped out, was severely reduced in the first centuries of Islam. The Greek language, long the lingua franca of the Eastern Mediterranean, died out in Egypt and Syria, and later in Anatolia.  To use Spengler’s term, Islam ended the hellenistic pseudomorphosis (false-development) of early Magian Culture, allowing it to come into its own. Likewise Luther and his successors purged Northern Europe of the ill-fitting Greco-Roman influence imposed by the Catholic Church. More and more, the European cultural initiative drifted northward. The centers of art migrated from Florence and Rome to Nuremberg, Rotterdam and Weimar. The Italian composers of the baroque were, by degrees, superseded by the likes of Bach and Handel. Thus Muhammad is not an Islamic Jesus, but a Luther. His movement, Islam, is a puritanical systematization of earlier currents in the Magian spirit.

Islam needs a Reformation

All this flies in the face of the conventional wisdom. Lacking any deeper insight into the place of Islam in history, the Mass-Media has been promoting a meme, “Islam needs a Reformation” eg (WSJ., HuffPo.). It makes sense superficially. Based on the conventional historical assumptions, one would compare Muhammad to Jesus as founders of world-religions. It follows then that Islam, having gotten a late start, is due for a reformation. After all, it’s  been 14 centuries since Muhammad fled to Medina, and about the same duration separates Jesus from Martin Luther. The pre-Reformation Church superficially resembles current-day Islam.

But with a deeper understanding of history, comparing Jesus to Muhammad is preposterous. In contrasting the current state of the West and the Middle East, it would be ridiculous to set the two up as analogues. Jesus no longer matters to Faustian man. When the decadent West looks for myths and heroes, it looks for world-denying saints of Tolerance and Progress. New heros must spring up or be manufactured–MLK and Gandhi, Anne Frank and Mother Theresa. Jesus would seem to fit the mold, but he is too bound-up in the popular imagination with the distant past. And in the popular imagination, History is Progress, therefore the farther back you go, the more evil everything is. But the West has absolutely no need for heroic men-of-the-world like Luther, so his place in our history is undervalued.

Unlike the West, the Middle East is not in an age of decadence. It seems to be waking from its long hibernation. The reborn Islamic fury, much pondered in the West, is neither merely another episode in the Middle East’s supposedly non-stop violence, nor is it the necessary outcome of Islam’s doctrines. That its people are still “Muslims” is of less consequence than its stage of historical development. Islam has not been perennially aggressive, and the Middle East has not been a “region of conflict beset by ancient hatreds.” For centuries following the Crusades the Arabs and Persians no longer mattered. Islam’s last great conquests were not carried out by these “core-Magians,” but by the Berbers, Turks and Mughals. And these imperial peoples could only prolong the agony of Magian decline. From the 17th century to the 20th, Islam was dormant, because the Magian Culture was dead.

What Islamic History can teach us

Thus the Magians ahead of the West. Not only have they undergone a Reformation, but they have also gone through a Golden Age and the inevitable Age of Decadence. A few centuries after Muhammad, around the 1100s, Islam began to lose its vigour. It briefly lost some of its core territories–Syria and Palestine–to the new, energetic “Faustian” Culture. It mustered the strength to repulse the intruders, but continued losing ground on its peripheries. The Mongols almost dealt the coup de grace by sacking Baghdad in 1258. Here we find the best analogy.

The weakened Islam of the 1200s is where The West finds itself now–beset by external enemies, barely able to rally the strength to defend itself. In its last centuries, Islam still endured wars and changes of dynasty, but no revolutions of thought or spirit. From the end of the Crusades till WWI, not much happened. Classic histories of the Arabs recognized this–in over 750 pages of The History of the Arabs, the Lebanese Christian scholar Philip Hitti devoted less than 100 to anything after the 13th century.

Herein lies their value to our understanding of the West’s place in history. By examining the trajectory of their Culture, we can see the outlines of our own future. Neither the liberal nor the reactionary approach has any value as history, only as polemic.

What can we look forward to? If the post-Mongol Islamic history is any guide, it’s going to be a bit mixed. Islam seemingly regained the initiative in the 14th century–ejecting the Crusaders and launching counteroffensives on its Eastern and Western frontiers. But this revival only came about because Islam received infusions of fresh Turkish and Mongol blood. This barbarian people adapted the outward forms of Magian Culture–Islam–and revved up the Jihad, but the core-Magians wallowed in decrepitude.

——————————————————————————————————————————————–

Holland, Tom. In the Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire. New York: Doubleday, 2012.

Spengler, Oswald, and Charles Francis Atkinson. The Decline of the West: Perspectives of World-history. Vol. 2. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1957.

7 Comments on Islam-The Magian Revolution

Islam: The Magian Revolution

Western academics and media-types write a lot of drivel about Islam. Part of the problem is there is a dearth of good information, and a bounty of superficial, politically self-serving…

Western academics and media-types write a lot of drivel about Islam. Part of the problem is there is a dearth of good information, and a bounty of superficial, politically self-serving garbage. But the real problem is misplaced emphasis. Western experts and commenters are used to thinking of history in simplistic terms–as the story of human progress. This model might be a good fit for Euro-American history, it is at least workable. But the progressive model falls apart when applied to the history of Islam. Islam’s heights seem to correspond to the West’s depths, and vice-versa. The “Progress” model causes Westerners to ask the wrong questions about Islamic history. “What went wrong?” “Why has the Middle East been so beset by violence?” “When will Islam adopt modern political and ethical principles?”

This misguided criticism has two faces–liberal and reactionary. Both sides share a simplistic view of history–that millennia-long, worldwide advance of the human spirit. But each side approaches its subject with different motives. Liberals, who dominate public discourse on the subject (surprise), assume the intrinsic goodness of all people. “Islam is peace” (eye roll). They feel good when they can cite examples of seemingly precocious modernism, such as early Muslim rulers’ tolerance (in the strictest sense) for religious minorities. It makes them feel good to contrast these anecdotes with the supposedly unrelenting fanaticism of Euro-Americans throughout the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, the 19th and 20th centuries, up to and including last week. This rosy, Islamophilic picture is not really about Islam. It is just another stick with which to beat guilt into the Euro-American historical conscience.

The liberal position, while dominant, does not go unchallenged. On the other side are the reactionaries. They are “reactionaries” because they have no real position on Islam, they only know that the liberals are wrong, and reflexively counterattack. Theirs is a form of hypercriticism, given to denying long-established facts and trends of Islamic history with little or no justification other than to refute the Islamophiles. Given the current situation in the West, their excesses are understandable. But the reactionaries’ zeal leads them to stake out indefensible positions. Many of them are have ulterior motives–some are pro-Jewish fanatics or apologists for imperialism, others are democratic ideologues. But they share a defect. They lack a healthy, Faustian drive to pursue universal Truth–whether we like its conclusions or not.

Both approaches fail for two reasons. First, neither affords its subject the proper attitude of “sympathetic criticism.” The student must devote himself to understanding a culture on its own terms–learning its languages, reading its history and literature–all the while imagining things from its perspective. Once he has done this, he can render judgment on its ethics, its cultural attainments, and its overall importance to history. This was the approach of the great orientalists of the late 19th and early 20th century. They devoted tremendous intellectual effort to comprehending Islamic civilization, yet they were unafraid to pass judgment on its shortcomings. The liberals have no aptitude for criticism, the reactionaries have none for sympathy.

Second, the liberals and reactionaries neglect the questions of philosophical history. It is from this oversight that they fall into their assumption of perpetual historical progress. But there is a better way. One hundred years ago, Oswald Spengler reframed the discussion of history by tearing down an idea of progress (at least as it is commonly understood). His “Copernican revolution” in historical thought worked wonders for the study of Classical civilization and Europe, but it would prove even more effective for understanding the meaning of Middle Eastern history. Spengler shifted the emphasis away from time and toward Cultures. Following Spengler, we can understand how meaningless most of the questions posed by conventional commenters are, and begin to see Islam for what it really is.

The Magian Reformation

Spengler rejected the conventional historical focus on religions and polities. He saw these as merely superficial expressions of something deeper–the Culture. Cultures, in Spengler’s scheme, are a complex of peoples who share a world-outlook. This outlook–the spirit of a Culture–drives it to produce or adapt a religion. “Religion” is the outward expression of the world-outlook and includes such things as prayer rituals, religious architecture, calligraphy, and sculpture. For example, while Euro-Americans and Korean evangelicals may both be “Christians,” they do not belong to the same Culture, because their world-outlooks differ so drastically, despite their notionally common religion. A present-day American protestant has more in common, spiritually, with a 9th-century Norse pagan than with a modern-day Korean convert, despite professing the same doctrines. Cultures are the basic unit by which to analyze history.

Islam is part of the “Magian” Culture. In his Decline of the West, Spengler defines the Magian Culture as comprising the Muslim Arabs, but also many pre-Islamic Middle Eastern groups such as the Babylonian Jews, the Zoroastrians, the Coptic and Syriac Christians, as well as syncretic/heretical groups like the Manichaeans. It arose around the time of Christ and lasted until the 12th century when the anti-rationalist thinker Al-Ghazali dealt the deathblow to Magian philosophical speculation. All of subsequent Magian history was, in Spengler’s view, “civilization”–grandiose, bombastic, imperial, but sterile. No new philosophical or religious ideas could arise from the Magian world outlook. The culture had run its course.

So the birth of Islam does not represent the foundation of a new religion. It was, rather, a revolution in Magian religious thought. As such, it is analogous to the Reformation in Western history. Like Luther, Muhammad preached a puritanical systematization of earlier currents in the spiritual thought of his Culture. Muhammad and Luther were both anti-clerical, iconoclastic reformers who exhorted their adherents to build a more personal relationship with God. They both made the scripture accessible to the masses–Luther by translating the Bible into the vernacular, Muhammad by “receiving revelations” in easily memorized rhymed prose. After their deaths, their Cultures were unified the culture by marginalizing the earlier creeds and, at the same time, quickly spawning an array of heresies. The puritanical movements unleashed a storm, driving the post-reformation Europeans and post-Islam Magians to conquer half the world in a fanatical outburst of religious fervor–compare that to the religious and colonial wars of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Both movements, to a large degree, cleansed their cultures of foreign influence. Hellenistic influence on the Middle East, while not wiped out, was severely reduced in the first centuries of Islam. The Greek language, long the lingua franca of the Eastern Mediterranean, died out in Egypt and Syria, and later in Anatolia. To use Spengler’s term, Islam ended the Hellenistic pseudomorphosis (false-development) of early Magian Culture, allowing it to come into its own. Likewise after Luther, Northern Europe was free to work out its own cultural development. Free of Rome, the North underwent its own Renaissance. Florence and Rome were replaced by Nuremberg, Rotterdam, and Weimar. The Italian composers of the baroque were, by degrees, superseded by the likes of Bach and Handel. Thus Muhammad is not an Islamic Jesus, but a Luther. His movement, Islam, is a puritanical systematization of earlier currents in the Magian spirit.

Islam needs a Reformation

All this flies in the face of the conventional wisdom. Lacking any deeper insight into the place of Islam in history, the Mass-Media has been promoting a meme, “Islam needs a Reformation” eg: (WSJ and HuffPo). It makes sense superficially. Based on the conventional historical assumptions, one would compare Muhammad to Jesus as founders of world-religions. It follows then that Islam, having gotten a late start, is due for a reformation. After all, it’s been 14 centuries since Muhammad fled to Medina, and about the same duration separates Jesus from Martin Luther. The pre-Reformation Church superficially resembles current-day Islam.

But with a deeper understanding of history, comparing Jesus to Muhammad is preposterous. In contrasting the current state of the West and the Middle East, it would be ridiculous to set the two up as analogs. Jesus no longer matters to Faustian man. When the decadent West looks for myths and heroes, it looks for world-denying saints of Tolerance and Progress. New heroes must spring up or be manufactured–MLK and Gandhi, Anne Frank and Mother Theresa. Jesus would seem to fit the mold, but he is too bound-up in the popular imagination with the distant past. And in the popular imagination, History is Progress, therefore the farther back you go, the more evil everything is. But the West has absolutely no need for heroic men-of-the-world like Luther, so his place in our history is undervalued.

But the reborn Islamic fury, much pondered in the West, is not the necessary outcome of Islam’s doctrines. That the Middle East is still populated by “Muslims” is of less consequence than its stage of historical development. Islam is in winter. For centuries following the Crusades the Arabs and Persians were inactive. Islam’s last great conquests were not carried out by these “core-Magians,” but by the Berbers, Turks, and Mughals. And these imperial peoples could only prolong the agony of Magian decline. After c. 1500, the Magians had no meaningful history. They have endured wars and changes of dynasty, but no revolutions of thought or spirit. Classic histories of Middle East recognized this historical void–in over 750 pages of The History of the Arabs, the Lebanese Christian scholar Philip Hitti devoted less than 100 to anything after the 13th century.

What’s to be done

The liberal and reactionary views of Islam are shallow and polemic. They are worthless as history. Neither framework allows us to understand the relationship between Magian culture and ours because the Magians are actually ahead of us. Their decline did not begin in the 19th century, but in the 11th. Their reformation did not happen in the 16th century, but in the 7th.

Where are we now? Today’s situation resembles the era of the Crusades, with the roles reversed. Like Islam of the 1100s, the West has passed its peak. Our spirit is dying, our philosophy and art have ossified. We find ourselves beset by external enemies, barely able to summon the strength for our own preservation. Like Europe of the 1100s, the Middle East is the matrix of peoples–young, vigorous and aggressive.

What can we look forward to? If the West follows the same trajectory as Islam did after 1100, we are doomed. While Islam expelled the Crusaders and launched counteroffensives on its Eastern and Western frontiers, it only did so because it received infusions of fresh blood semi-civilized converts. These barbarian peoples adopted the outward forms of Magian Culture–Islam–but were unable to revive its spiritual vigor.

So contrary to the common view, the West does not face an ancient religious enemy. Islam died centuries ago–any invocation of its doctrines is now entirely superficial. The Arabs have for centuries wallowed in spiritual decrepitude. The “refugees” are not driven on by religious fervor, but simple greed, lust, and envy. They are not so much religious fanatics as they are zombies. Soulless and decrepit, they swarm to history’s last civilization. Do we still have the spirit to do what needs to be done?


Holland, Tom. In the Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire. New York: Doubleday, 2012.

Spengler, Oswald, and Charles Francis Atkinson. The Decline of the West: Perspectives of World-history. Vol. 2. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1957.

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“Interstellar”: Finding A New Telos

We’ve forgotten who we are: explorers, pioneers… not caretakers.” (Joseph Cooper)

We’ve forgotten who we are: explorers, pioneers… not caretakers. (Joseph Cooper)


There’s an unwritten rule with movies: the more you expect from one, the less you get from it. Another unwritten rule is that a remake is, in most cases, not as good as the original.

Christopher Nolan seems to be the great rule-breaker of today’s film industry. When he took on the project of salvaging the Batman franchise after Joel Schumacher had almost destroyed it (Batman Forever and Batman & Robin), who could have predicted he would release a trilogy that would almost completely eclipse Tim Burton’s two first opuses (Batman and Batman Returns), which were actually really good?

When Interstellar‘s trailers started to catch my attention, and it was evident that Nolan was attempting a remake of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, I thought that the stakes were too high this time. How dare Nolan challenge The Master?

Interestingly, Christopher Nolan has often been described as Kubrick’s heir, partly because of the two directors’ common propensity to cut the Gordian Knots of established filmmaking. Kubrick was one of the very first moviemakers to use a nonlinear narrative, in The Killing (1956), and Nolan went even further in Memento (2000), which recounts the fragmented story of an amnesiac whose memory is rebooted every five minutes.

The comparison between Kubrick and Nolan is even apter in the case of Interstellar. Indeed, Interstellar is more than a remake of 2001. It is 2001, only way, way better. If Kubrick was film’s Copernicus, then Nolan is its Galileo.

Before raising Radix readers’ eyebrows, I should mention that Nolan’s improvement upon Kubrick’s 1968 movie is not due to technology. Unlike many futuristic movies these days, Interstellar is two-dimensional, and though there is, of course, an important use of CGI, it is not what defines the movie (and it is worth noting that in technical terms, 2001 has aged quite well). I could go as far as saying that Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity (2013) was graphically much more audacious than Interstellar. But it would be missing the point: though Interstellar takes place in outer space, it is not about space conquest. Much like 2001, Interstellar is about biological evolution, the meaning of human existence, Mankind’s destiny, and God.

And though there is an important reflection on artificial intelligence in Interstellar, supercomputers are here reduced to the status of farm animals. There is no equivalent of “HAL,” arguably 2001‘s central character.

The prominence of humans in the scenario made the casting a matter of ultimate importance. Whereas the actors of 2001 could easily have been replaced with others, Matthew McConaughey’s performance in Interstellar already is, and will remain indispensable.

Though not as famous as Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception), and still mostly known for starring in a string of interchangeable “rom-coms,” McConaughey has recently proven as a man of both wit and emotional depth. With only a few minutes of screen time in Martin Scorcese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, released last Winter, McConaughey managed to play the movie’s most famous scene with a simple “money mantra” (or whatever it’s supposed to be).

McConaughey also appeared on TV this year. In HBO’s True Detective, he plays officer Rust Cohle. Down in Louisiana’s post-industrial rubble, he and detective Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) are investigating a series of murders committed by the local elite in a ritual, Satanic fashion, leading some website editors to analyze True Detective as a “conspiracy theory” series. Commenting on the “tomb of the American Dream” he and Hart have to muddle through, Rust Cohle has some lines that echo those of Nolan’s comic-book heroes and villains: “The world needs bad men. We keep the other bad men from the door.”

In Interstellar, McConaughey, starring as Joseph Cooper, doesn’t fail to provide the spectator with catchy lines. But before I start quoting, perhaps some contextual elements are in order.

The story takes place in the United States, or rather what used to be the United States. Joseph Cooper, a former engineer and pilot who had to retire after a crash, is now growing corn to provide for his two kids and his father-in-law. Cooper’s wife died a few years before the story begins. She had a tumor that, had it been diagnosed in time, would have been curable. But the lack of proper medical devices and qualified physicians sealed her fate.

Cooper was wise enough to plant corn instead of wheat, corn being (for now) the only crop which resists a blight that is ravaging plantations.

The earth, both with a small and a capital “e,” is dying. The rotting plants turn into dust, which, due to frequent windstorms, makes it harder and harder for people to breathe. Field fires are commonplace. Harvests hardly reach survival levels. Apocalypse has come, not with a bang but with a whimper.

Though early 21st-century technological devices keep being used as long as they work, civilization has globally reverted to a pre-Industrial Revolution level: most human activity is oriented towards food production. Cooper’s elder son, Tom, whose intelligence is only slightly above-average, will have to study how to grow corn in high school. More and more, boys learn their fathers’ trade, as it used to be before the 19th and 20th centuries’ division of labor.

Cooper’s daughter, Murph, is much more like her father. She seems to be endowed with a kind of “shine” that allows her to feel a part of reality that the five senses cannot detect. Unlike her brother, she knows that “something is wrong” in the present state of affairs. She doesn’t live by the rules, because she feels that rules are dooming her family. Though—or rather because—her intelligence is vastly above-average, she has troubles with her teachers at school. On her spare time, she tries to figure out what “ghosts” want to communicate to her. Although Cooper doesn’t believe his daughter’s “ghosts” stories, he supports her in her personal experiments. One day, she detects a signal that resembles geographical coordinates.

Cooper, who has noticed anomalies in his automatic ploughing machines’ functioning, believes it is due to a magnetic field, whose center has been located by Murph. He decides to go there, and his disobedient daughter manages to hide in his pickup truck and go with her father. (Promethean Nolan likely means that all evolutionary leaps are made by rebels, like Columbus in his time.)

It turns out that the mysterious site is nothing less than a covert NASA base. Once the pride of the world, NASA has gone underground since government credits have been cut in favor of agriculture. (But as “Paul Kersey” wrote, in today’s “real world,” space conquest has been abandoned to the benefit of “Diversity.” At least humans in Interstellar have the excuse of starvation.)

In a very short-sighted manner, what remains of the government thinks that Mankind’s dire situation justifies that “frivolities” like space exploration make way to more essential endeavors like farming. (History school books are orwellianly rewritten to describe Apollo 11 as a hoax.)

Slipping the “Surly Bonds of Earth”

Here I am reminded of an episode from TV animated series Archer. In the twelfth episode of the third season, Commander Tony Drake (with Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston’s exalted voice) explains to curvy quadrooness Lana why space colonization is the right answer to “here and now” problems:

Drake: You think space exploration is a boondoggle?!
Lana: Well, come on, in this economy?!
Drake: Exactly! Now, more than ever, is when we need to look to space for the solutions to Mankind’s problems. In just two hundred years, Earth’s population will exceed her capacity to produce enough food. And even as the famines begin, global war will erupt as fresh water becomes scarcer than gold. But if we begin now, using the lessons learned aboard Space Station Horizon, a small group of brave colonists can terraform Mars. And Mankind can finally slip the surly bonds of Earth, to live forever… AMONG THE STARS!!!

“Slipping the surly bonds of Earth” is exactly what Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a NASA researcher, has to offer Cooper. Brand wants Cooper to lead an expedition with Brand’s daughter (Ann Hathaway) to a black hole located near Saturn’s rings (which is reminiscent of 2001‘s black monolith revolving around Jupiter). Beyond this black hole is another stellar system, in a faraway galaxy, with three planets apparently similar to Earth both in gravity and atmosphere composition. The expedition’s mission is to find out whether one of these exoplanets can be terraformed.

Cooper faces Ulysses’ dilemma. Should he stay in Ithaca or should he go conquer Troy? And Penelope’s dead anyway. As painful as it is for him to leave his children and his home, Cooper decides to go. He begs his daughter to forgive him and explains to her that he has to live at last. To live, that is, to exist beyond food, shelter, and reproduction. To put the Greater Good above one’s family’s interests (or rather to understand that the latter depends on the former). To follow one’s Destiny, even if said Destiny is tragic. And, for those who have that rare power, to bring Mankind to a higher level of consciousness, mastery, and being.

Cooper knows when he leaves that his chances of seeing his family again are very thin. Not only is the journey long and dangerous, but spacetime is different on the three exoplanets: one hour there amounts to seven years on Earth.

Which means that the expedition, named Lazarus after the Christian saint who came back from the dead, is a race against time. Even if Cooper manages to make it, he might be back when there’s nothing left to save on Earth (a little like in the first Planet of Apes). And, of course, when his kids are dead.

But he accepts the challenge, which appears to be Mankind’s last chance. Pr. Brand informs Cooper that corn will also die out eventually. Even worse, the Noah’s Ark-like vessel ready to follow Cooper’s pioneer expedition is, for now, too heavy to overcome Earth’s gravity.

NASA’s calculation is that Cooper will get back when the scientists on Earth have managed to make the vessel fly, due to the spacetime difference between the two stellar systems.

If this “Plan A” doesn’t work, they’ll turn to “Plan B”: a light shuttle with fertilized eggs aboard will leave with a few colonists to the New Earth; the rest of Mankind will be left to die. (I wonder what will annoy conservatives most this time: surrogate motherhood or the idea that not all human lives have the same value?) Thanks to these eggs, a new Mankind will be recreated. As Brand puts it, “We must think not as individuals but as a species.”

Later in the movie, Cooper will throw the line that prompted me to write this review: “Mankind was born on Earth. It was never meant to die here.”

A Philosophical Challenge to Identitarians

Interstellar is problematic for Identitarians, who follow two simple principles: Blood and Soil. If the former is only shaken by Nolan (more on that below), the latter is completely crushed by the British Faust.

Indeed, space conquest means that Man will not dance around the same wooden totem pole for Eternity like Hobbits, which Identitarianism often boils down to.

But I think Instellar is a challenge rather than a stop sign to Identitarians, at least for (Pan-)European ones. As I mentioned in my debut article at Alternative Right (my very first article in the English language, by the way), this “Let’s do as our ancestors have always done” motto may suit Indian tribes, but it is unworthy of Sons of Europa, whether the “European New Right,” which is neither European in spirit nor New nor even right-wing, likes it or not. “We are the heirs of conquerors,” fellas. Our distant ancestors had to “slip the surly bonds” of the Pontic steppe so they could reach a higher stage of evolution in their millenial upward journey.

Of all people, Americans should understand that reality better than any of their European brothers, which is actually the reason why I decided to “slip the surly bonds” of my beloved Hexagone two years ago (which answers the usual question I’m asked: “Why are you doing all this?”; that’s why).

The real founding of America—when the Mayflower left Plymouth, not when the “Holy Scrap” was written down—is not even four centuries old, a period of time, in strictly evolutionary terms, that’s merely a blink-of-an-eye.

If evolution keeps its course (I think it will), there will be a Mayflower spaceship someday. Let’s just hope that it won’t be crammed with Puritans.

As for the “Blood” part of the Identitarian motto, it is also challenged by Nolan, but in a more subtle way. Viewers will have noticed that the Lazarus expedition comprises one Black man, and a woman whose name could be Jewish. Well, call me a “race traitor” (but again, traitors are firstly those who betray Europa’s spirit) if you will, but I didn’t hide under my seat in terror. Let’s not forget that Art shouldn’t be confused with Politics, something the Right has never understood, and the Left less and less understands, which is why its works of art are getting embarrassing.

The second reason why I don’t mind seeing non-Whites in a European expedition is because as Oswald Spengler put it, “those who talk too much about race no longer have it in them.” What is more traitorous: non-Whites appearing in a clearly European movie, or great-grandsons of Acheans, Romans, Franks, and Vikings placing their hopes in this or that model of car?

(“Both are equally abhorrent” is an easy, common, but… wrong answer.)

There are, in my opinion, two competing strains of Identitarianism, whose opposition can be summed up thusly:

“What is Mine is Fine” VS. “What is Fine is Mine”

(Due to Prince Harold’s history-shifting shipwreck on Picardy’s shores and the Battle of Hastings that ensued, the rhyme also works in French: “Ce qui est mien est bien” VS. “Ce qui est bien est mien.”)

I explained that in an interview at AltRight with Alexander Forrest:

We can recognize the various strengths of [other] civilizations and take inspiration from the noble and inventive things they engendered. That is exactly what the West used to do best. To use a very basic example… the Arabs produced coffee long before the West adopted it and transplanted it to the Americas. Today, the most refined coffee is brewed in Italy. It is the essence of our civilization to take what is best in other civilizations and improve upon it.

The worst aspect of “Blood and Soil” rigidity is that it deprives those who stick to it of a telos, of a final cause that would transcend their individual lives and therefore enable them to pass their dreams down to their descendants, until the time when these dreams can be put to practice.

I believe such a dream should be space conquest. I obviously won’t live it, nor will my children, and I don’t think my grandchildren or even my great-grandchildren will. And therefore, in the meantime, a European Home should be established so as to make the carrying out of this dream possible and even thinkable (the rewriting of history books about Neil Armstrong’s giant leap is one of Interstellar‘s most important scenes).

But this European Home would’t be sustainable—it wouldn’t even see the light of day, since its founding is, in itself, a project involving several generations from conception to realisation and therefore requires transcendence to survive the bite of time—if there wasn’t an idea bigger than us, an idea that will mean the same thing in one century as it now does. It is time we cultivate this idea instead of doing as if it was still “five to midnight” and we had to “act before it’s too late.”

It is not five to midnight. It is five past midnight. The night is still dark and cold. Predators of many kinds prowl around the camp. Ghastly screams echo in the void. Waiting for the Dawn, torch-bearing guards keep the fence, and poets recount glorious tales around the fire, while everybody looks to the stars.

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Why Metal is Right-Wing

I can say with confidence that heavy metal music has done far more to advance authentic right wing aesthetics, values, and yes, even philosophy, than all the failed institutions of the Beltway Right put together.

 

I grew up listening to metal. I have also had more than my fair share of interactions with various manifestations of the American Right for well over a decade.

With that in mind, I can say with confidence that heavy metal music has done far more to advance authentic right wing aesthetics, values, and yes, even philosophy, than all the failed institutions of the Beltway Right put together.

Whatever the political opinions of the artists involved (if they even have any), metal belongs to the Right. From the most simplistic party sing alongs to the highly complicated creations of serious artists, metal repeatedly stresses themes of conquest, self-overcoming, strength, and conflict. If the primary value of the Left is equality, than the primary value of the true Right is hierarchy. The common thread between an anthem about drinking with girls to the heavy drone of doom meal is the rejection of egalitarianism and the pretty lies of modernity. If leftists can “Imagine” along with John Lennon a world where the Last Men loaf about all day where there is “above us only sky,” metal provides the battle songs for those things it’s still worth to “kill or die for.”

Metal is about seeking glory and excellence–Wagner for the working man. Even a leftist who tries to channel metal will find themselves presenting an image of strength, vitality, and self-glorification. Whatever the political beliefs of a left wing headbanger, the aesthetics betray them.

The same cannot be said for what passes as the conservative movement’s “aesthetics.”

Some Christian conservatives hate metal because of the anti-Christian beliefs and symbolism of certain people involved. Obviously, this paints the genre with too broad of a brush–it’s worth noting that the “Satantic” imagery of many early artists was used to symbolize evil as something real and something to be feared. This is a far more respectful treatment of Christian theology than the contemporary Christianity–which holds faith as simply a means to fit in the occasional day at an inner city homeless shelter, stripped of any divine significance. Besides, most Christian conservatives today seem more intent on competing for who can adopt the most half-starved African children to bring to their McMansion than ensuring a promising future for their own children. So we shouldn’t be too concerned with their cries about how “evil” metal is.

Even those authentically anti-Christian metalheads attack the faith from a different perspective than your usual campus leftist. Metal is filled with critiques of the Christian religion for displacing the indigenous spiritual traditions of Europe, for allegedly promoting egalitarianism, and for serving as a force of repression on extraordinary individuals. It echoes Oswald Spengler’s charge that Christianity was “the grandmother of Bolshevism.” This is hardly the same old recycled anti-Christian tripe.

Beyond the ideology and aesthetics, metal is profoundly a “localist” genre. Bands must develop a following and work their way up, rather than simply being imposed on all of us by some record producer at age 19. This goes for a lot of the “pirate radio” that first popularized the genre as well. What was best about local metal radio shows was that they were proudly local institutions. The announcers were amateurish, half the bands were unknown, you couldn’t get a decent signal once you left the confines of the city it was based out of, and it utterly lacked the gloss and professionalism of a major radio station. It was something unique, an acquired taste. You would actually find out about new bands or new songs from it–something you can hardly get from major radio today.

When conservatism was serious, local institutions were prized for their own sake, with communities serving as the proper basis for affection–the “little platoons” in Edmund Burke’s phrase. Today, conservatism is composed of 20-somethings making 20 something a year plotting to give deracinated corporations tax breaks. For me, it’s the same conflict as listening to a new band on a metal playlist or hearing the same Rihanna “song” yet again on a “professional” station. The latter can only be called “culture” by a true cynic and serves as evidence that popular choices are imposed from above rather than the spontaneous “free market” of conservative/libertarian fantasies.

Metal as a genre, even in its lowest form, relies upon musicianship. At its best, it can sublimate profound themes within complicated melodic structures. You can’t “fake” good metal. It’s no accident that many younger metalheads find that they “graduate” to classical when they get older, in the same way that the talented musicians who pioneered the genre owe a debt to the maestros of Vienna and Bayreuth.

In today’s popular music, you can substitute Ke$ha, Katy Perry, Rihanna, the animated corpse of Britney Spears, and whatever else they are promoting in and out of any given melody. It’s hard to say if anyone would even notice–as long as you keep the autotune on. The themes are predictable, the melodies hackneyed, the “message” cliched–express yourself, even (especially) when you have nothing to say. Popular music is the soundtrack to American-style democracy, and I can think of no greater condemnation. If I can slightly borrow a famous phrase, when someone tells me the pop station is “culture,” I release the safety catch on my revolver.

Clearly, if conservatism is about upholding the established order, heavy metal music is hardly the kind of thing champions of the long extinguished Ancien Regime would be comfortable with. Of course, that’s sort of the point. We don’t live in a world where the “Establishment” is patriotic landed aristocrats defending the interests of Church and Crown. We live in a world where Fortune 500 companies fund groups that combat “white privilege,” where multiculturalism has joined hands with Goldman Sachs, where the justification for this System is outlined for you in your mandatory diversity training in the classroom and the corporate boardroom. It’s their system, not ours. Why do we want to make it more efficient or cut their taxes?

Who cares?

The Right can’t look to Burke in this context–they should look to Burzum. The System must be dismantled and metal is the soundtrack to that Revolution–even if the people playing it aren’t aware of it.

Want to do something that will make a difference? Save the money you were going to waste on supporting another huckster conservative politician promising to save America, and go buy some metal records instead.

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Like The Roman: Identitarian Youth March in Vienna

This is the first entry in a similar series to “So this is how it ends” that aims to cover positive events in the world, rather than signs of the Kali-Yuga. The name comes from this Oswald Spengler quote.

This is the first entry in a similar series to “So this is how it ends” that aims to cover positive events in the world, rather than signs of the Kali-Yuga. The name comes from this Oswald Spengler quote:

“We are born into this time and must bravely follow the path to the destined end. There is no other way. Our duty is to hold on to the lost position, without hope, without rescue, like that Roman soldier whose bones were found in front of a door in Pompeii, who, during the eruption of Vesuvius, died at his post because they forgot to relieve him. That is greatness. That is what it means to be a thoroughbred. The honorable end is the one thing that can not be taken from a man.”

The Conchita Wurst episode is arguably the lowest point in Austrian history. It must be hard for the large right-wing, nationalist community in the country to have a freak show like Wurst represent a nation with a rich cultural history like Austria.

Fortunately for that community, the group Die Identiaere Bewegung(The Identity Movement) held a large youth march in Vienna this weekend that drew hundreds of participants — the vast majority of whom were tech-savvy youth intent on preserving their culture and identity.

The Identity Movement is the German-speaking off-shoot of Generation Identitaire, which has created a great media image through events like this Subway Scum Patrol featuring normal, healthy-looking young men volunteering their time to take a stand against the rampant crime on their subway system.

Not surprisingly, that event was horrifying to leftists like Vice Magazine. Here’s to more positive demonstrations of the European Identity movement that counteracst the image of nationalists as a bunch of cranky, old men decked out in SS outfits.

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