Sunday, 11 October 2009

Radical Conservative Reaction. — All conservatism worthy of the name is radical. It is little but a name for something petty if it does not wish to preserve the roots of good and harmonious order against the mechanical rot of progressivism. [1] All reaction worthy of the name is likewise radical. Again it is little but such a name if it does not wish to uproot all those modern growths which threaten to overwhelm the very possibility of the true, the good, and the beautiful. And common to both is a strict concern for the quality of the soil.
The true historical upheavals are not those which astonish us by their grandeur and violence. The only important changes whence the renewal of civilisations results, affect ideas, conceptions, and beliefs. The memorable events of history are the visible effects of the invisible changes of human thought. [2]
One looks upon not only the political, social, and economic phenomena of modern times, but also their deeper philosophical or metaphysical roots.
And it occasionally happens that a period in which one had, hitherto, been mainly looking for the coming to birth of new things, suddenly reveals itself as an epoch of fading and decay. [3]
Rotten at the root, working in accordance with a bestial appetite rather than the rational or noble will, working solely in the interests of political power or financial gain, or conserving and cultivating nothing higher than mechanical utility, our demotic regimes and their attendant ideologies have the power to persuade the vast majority of people of the evil of many things which stand in opposition to them, of all that is not rotten and corrosive, of all that sets bounds and cultivates higher things, fostering a war in moral terms against even truth, beauty, goodness, loyalty, trust, decency, honour, and so forth: in short, against anything that is not bestial or radically evil.
The destruction of the old world, as it begins to become visible with the French Revolution, and already even with the Renaissance, is like the atrophy of organic bonds, of nerves and arteries. When the process has come to an end, men of force appear; they sew artful threads and wires into the corpse and move it to more violent but also more grotesque political play. They themselves bear the character of puppets, of a shrill, vociferous, and often horrific cast. The new states have a life-sapping tendency. They can flourish only where there is still an inheritance. When that is used up, the hunger becomes unbearable: like Saturn, they devour their own children. To plot for other orders than those of 1789 is therefore pure survival-instinct. [4]
Against the vital spirit, the deadly-decadent spirit is at war.
Ich bin der Geist der stets verneint!
Und das mit Recht; denn alles was entsteht
Ist werth daß es zu Grunde geht;
Drum besser wär’s, daß nichts entstände.
So ist denn alles was ihr Sünde,
Zerstörung, kurz das Böse nennt,
Mein eigentliches Element. [5]
If it is a lost cause, then so be it. Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlaþ. [6] One must remain faithful to it, resist all demands to participate in the progressivistic ravages of the times, and, if need be, become metaphorically what some actually became after the Norman Conquest: silvatici, forest-dwellers. [7]
The essential thing is not to let oneself be impressed by the omnipotence and apparent triumph of the forces of the epoch. [8]
One is not to compromise one’s soul with the modern world. One is to make no Faustian bargain. If nothing avails against the spirit, then one must ride the tiger, as it were, and preserve oneself in internal exile.
[T]he spirit of wickedness in high places is now so powerful and so many-headed in its incarnations that there seems nothing more to do than personally to refuse to worship any of the hydras’ heads. [9]
Nor should one throw in one’s lot with those others who call themselves conservatives but who serve the maintenance of progressivism. Whilst the progressives are out sowing decay in ever-new ground, these servant-conservatives are tending to the decadent growths of past seasons. And so it goes on with each season. But the reactionary-conservative does not wish to preserve just whatever happens to have been propagated or planted by the progressives of earlier generations, nor does he seek to preserve the status quo of liberaldom: he wishes to see it destroyed, root and branch. With the kind of conservatism that comes to accept and preserve the established depredation and deep-rooted foulness of progressivism, he is at odds; for, besides all else, he sees in it little more than faint-heartedness.

[1] On the question of whether there could be such a thing as radical conservatism, the ever-interesting Mr Dennis Mangan lends his consideration: “Radical Conservatism”, Mangan’s (weblog), 8th October 2009. Here, for my part, I am perhaps at semantic odds.
[2] Gustav Le Bon, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (New York: The MacMillan Co., 1896), p.xv.
[3] Johan Huizinga, Preface to The Waning of the Middle Ages (London: Edward Arnold & Co., 1924), p.v.
[4] [“Der Zerstörung der alten Welt, wie sie mit der französischen Revolution und eigentlich schon mit der Renaissance sichtbar zu werden beginnt, gleicht dem Absterben der organischen Verbindungen, der Nerven und Arterien. Wenn der Prozeß zu Ende gelaufen ist, treten die Gewaltmenschen auf; sie ziehen künstliche Fäden und Drähte in den Leichnam und bewegen ihn zu heftigerem, aber zugleich groteskerem politischem Spiel. Sie selbst auch tragen diesen Charakter von Hampelmännern, den grellen, marktschreierischen und oft schauerlichen Zug. Die neuen Staaten haben eine zehlrende Tendenz. Sie können nur gedeihen, wo noch Erbteil vorhanden ist. Wenn das verbraucht ist, wird der Hunger unerträglich, sie fressen wie Saturn die eigenen Kinder auf. Auf andere Ordnungen zu sinnen als die von 1789 ist daher reiner Selbsterhaltungstrieb.”] Ernst Jünger, 18. August 1944, Strahlungen (Tübingen: Heliopolis-Verlag, 1949), p.550.
[5] [“I am the spirit that always negates! And rightly so; for everything that arises is fit to perish; therefore better were it that nothing should arise. Thus, all that you call sin, destruction — in a word, evil — is my proper element.”] Mephistopheles, in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: Erster Theil (Heilbronn: Verlag von Gebr. Henninger, 1886), ll.985-91, p.87.
[6] [“Mind shall be the sterner, heart the bolder, spirit the greater as our strength lessens.”] Byrhtnoth, in The Battle of Maldon, ll. 312-13. (One might say that it is the old world’s counter-principle to the modern world’s declaration that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.)
[7] Of course, in England, it has to be metaphorical anyway, since the forests are mostly gone.
[8] Julius Evola, Ride the Tiger, tr. J. Godwin & C. Fontana (Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions, 2003), p.10.
[9] J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter to Amy Ronald, 16th November 1969, in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, ed. H. Carpenter (London: Harper Collins, 1995). p.402.

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