Totalitarian Humanism and Nietzsche

by Limbic on May 19, 2012


Came across the fascinating “Marginalia on Radical Thinking” series by The Loyal Opposition to Modernity blog.

A really loved this interview with Keith Preston, who “writes the blog Attack the System,  which attempts to tie together both left and right anarchism in a Pan-secessionism against the empire. ….his critique of the way many left anarchists are militant shock troops of liberalism to be a serious and disturbing critique as well as the Nietzschean critique of modernity to be taken seriously and not softened as it has been in French post-structuralism.”

On 4th Generation Warfare and “Totalitarian Humanism”

S.: On the Fourth generation warfare:  This seems to also seem to be used as an excuse to strengthen the state.  Do you see this is a trend that is, at root, a sign that elements of the larger culture(s) are separating and going into radically different directions?

K.P.:  Sure. I think a major part of the premise behind the US’s “war on terrorism” is awareness on the parts of the overlords of the empire that the fourth generation resistance is rising and challenging the state in many different areas. So the state is trying to strengthen its position.

At present, most serious fourth generation efforts come from the periphery and conflict between these regions and the empire which is for the most part centered in the West has existed for centuries, of course. So there’s nothing particularly new going on there. However, within the center of the empire itself there does seem to be a separation taking class due to a lack of cultural cohesion. In Europe, the conflict is fueled by mass immigration into what were until very recently mostly homogenous societies. In America, I think the conflict is largely a class conflict on two different levels. First, there is the broader widening of class divisions that has simultaneously generated a strengthened plutocracy at the top, a shrinking middle class and a growing lower prolertarian and lumpenproletarian classes. Large scale immigration has played a role in this obviously, but I don’t think it’s the principal cause. Second, there seems to be a particularly intense class struggle between the dying WASP elites and their constituents among the traditional middle class and the rising upper middle class that is informed by the values of political correctness or what I call totalitarian humanism. This is what I consider to be the source of the US culture wars.

K.P.:  I think what you call “totalitarian humanism,” I call liberalism without the gloves on.  This, however, confuses people since the term liberal is linked to the center-left, which is only one of its manifestations.  Do you see the contradictions within totalitarianhumanism leading to more or less balkanization?

S:  Oh, more balkanization. Very much so. In fact, I think the contradictions within totalitarian humanism will be what eventually brings about its demise. Totalitarian humanism will end when the PC coalition fractures and its component parts eventually turn on each other. A key fault line is going to be the incompatibility of Western liberalism with the social conservatism endemic to most non-Western cultures. For instance, I’ve seen some research that shows anti-gay attitudes are more prevalent among African-Americans than any other ethnic group in the US. Secularism is certainly far more prevalent among Western liberals than among Third world immigrants. Right now, the line that the totalitarian humanist Left takes is something along the lines of “Oppressed peoples everywhere, unite against the white bourgeoisie!” or some variation of that. But these fault lines are very real and will increasingly find their way to the surface over time.

…I consider totalitarian humanism to a very dangerous force that is on the rise in the West, and despite their professed oppositional stance, the Marxist and anarchist left have swallowed the totalitarian humanist bait hook, line, and sinker so to speak, essentially making them the useful idiots of the liberal establishment.

S.:  A friend of mine says the same thing: “Lately the rhetoric between liberals and leftist, you’d think the far left would be an alternative to a lot of PC platitudes, but it isn’t anymore.”   This leads me to some serious questions: I have noticed a lot of professed anti-Fascists using fascist-style intimidation against other forms of anarchism. I suspect you see these anarchists essentially reflecting the anarcho-liberal confusion and becoming a sort of militant-wing for liberal identity politics?

K.P.:  The “anti-fascists” are the mirror image of the Nazi stormtroopers who went about physically attacking Jews and Marxists during the Weimar period. Essentially they are the brown shirts of totalitarian humanism. The tendencies that I refer to as the “anarcho-leftoids” are a kind of parody of PC. Describing them as a “militant wing for liberal identity politics” would be apt in some ways, though perhaps too charitable. They are the new fascists in every essential aspect.

On Nietzche and anarchism

S.:  What do you think is Nietzche’s relevance to anarchism?

K.P.:  Of all the great thinkers of the modern era, Nietzsche was probably the most prescient and penetrating. He recognized that the core foundations of Western civilization-philosophical, cultural, moral, religious-had essentially been overthrown by the advancements in human knowledge that came out of the scientific revolution, the industrial revolution, and the Enlightenment. Not only had Christianity been discredited, but so had traditional Western metaphysics. What distinguishes the thought of Nietzsche is that he takes things a step further and attacks the intellectual systems that grew out of the Enlightenment and had taken hold among educated people in his own era. In particular, he understood the progressive faith associated with movements like liberalism and socialism to essentially be secular derivatives of Christianity. Nietzsche regarded the intellectuals of his time as not having really abandoned faith in God, but rather as having invented new gods to believe in like progress, utopianism, equality, universalism, nationalism, racialism, anarchism, and so forth. All of these became forms of secular millenarianism in Nietzsche’s day.

Nietzsche considered all of these trends to be efforts to come to terms, or perhaps avoiding coming to terms, with the death of the foundations of traditional values. He saw these new gods as creating a cultural powder keg that would explode in grotesque warfare in the twentieth century, which is precisely what happened. He also believed it would be the twenty-first century before Western people began to really confront the crisis generated by the erosion of the foundations of their civilization and that cultural nihilism would be the greatest obstacle that the West would have to overcome. We see this today in the self-hatred and wish for cultural self-destruction that exists among Western peoples, particularly the educated elites. For instance, it is quite obviously seen in the thrill with which Western intellectuals anticipate the potential demographic overrun and cultural dispossession of the West.

What is ironic is that the leftist fundamentalism that dominates the mainstream of the anarchist milieu is perhaps the most advanced form of this nihilism. They’ve essentially absorbed the nihilism of the Western elites and amplified it several times over. In particular, they often epitomize the slave morality Nietzsche regarded as having its roots in Christianity and having been carried over into its secular derivatives on the political left.

So I think that the thought of Nietzsche, properly understood, could contribute to an awakening in the anarchist community, and provide us with the intellectual armour necessary to effectively combat our establish overlords rather than simply parroting them as so many of us do now. It does no good to simply regurgitate the values of political correctness when these are simultaneously the legitimizing values of the ruling class.

S.:  Thank you for your time. Anything you’d like to say in closing?

K.P.: Just to say that the first principal of any authentic radicalism has to be independence of mind above all other values. It’s not about how much you agree or disagree with me. Rather, it’s about your ability to apply critical analysis to every question and to every situation. It’s about being able to see every side of every question and giving due recognition where it’s merited. Any set of ideas, no matter what they are, can become menacing when they are dogmatized to the point of becoming unquestionable articles of faith, particularly when intertwined with the authority of the state. No matter how righteous a particular crusade may seem if its presumptions are not subject to regular critical scrutiny then it becomes a potential foundation for yet another tyranny.

Read the entire interview here:

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