…the language is that of Mordor, which I will not utter here….” — Gandalf the Grey
You may have noticed it. What was once unspeakable has become speakable again. Even if not respectable or decent it has gained some measure of “legitimacy”. What was once on the margins or periphery of mainstream culture and the public discourse has insinuated itself into the mainstream. It no longer even pretends to disguise itself as something other than it is or impersonate what it is not. It’s the language of fascism which, I am very sorry to say, has become something of a fate for post-modernity and our “end of history” and is probably the instrument by which Gebser’s dreadful “law of the earth” will be fulfilled.
I once narrated to you here the vision of a Canadian aboriginal elder. He saw all the peoples of the earth in one canoe, headed for a terrible rapids. If the crew of the Earth Canoe worked together, it would be carried safely into placid waters on the other side of the cataract. If, if, if…. We are under the curse of this “If”.
This vision is the same as Blake’s (or Sri Aurobindo’s) vision of Universal Humanity as his “Albion” regained. This aboriginal elder’s vision is just the shorthand version of Blake’s “Vision of the Last Judgment“. And quite obviously today, there are now forces at work globally whose aim it is to prevent the realisation of this “Universal Humanity”. And they have the momentum.
The Last Judgment [will be] when all those are Cast away who trouble Religion with Questions concerning Good & Evil or Eating of the Tree of those Knowledges or
Reasonings which hinder the Vision of God turning all into a Consuming fire. When Imaginative Art & Science & all Intellectual Gifts, all the Gifts of the Holy Ghost, are
lookd upon as of no use & only Contention remains to Man, then the Last Judgment begins, & its Vision is seen by the Imaginative Eye of Every one according to the
situation he holds.
That’s a vision of what we are now calling “post-truth society” or what Richard Stivers refers to as “The Triumph of the Irrational”. It’s Blake’s way of rendering what Nietzsche described as “nihilism” and the devaluation of values — i.e., “all higher values devalue themselves”. Stivers’ assertion about “the triumph of the irrational” implies that what was formerly in the shadows of civilisation — on the peripheries and the margins — has become the mainstream itself, otherwise referred to as “new normal”, “post-Enlightenment”, or “post-truth society”. The logic of reductionism and fundamentalism, which has been the final outcome of Renaissance and Reformation respectively, ultimately ends in the logic, such as it is, of fascist totalitarianism and “the end of history”.
Reductionism and fundamentalism are the form of contemporary nihilism. The principle of universality becomes interpreted as uniformity; liberty becomes devalued as libertinage; equality is devalued as “sameness” or the assimilatory; the whole is devalued as a mere totality and aggregation. “Identity politics”, which arises in consequence of the post-modern “loss of self”, and which is a symptom of extreme narcissism, is chief amongst the symptoms of the disintegration of the personality structure of modern man. I insist again, narcissism has nothing to do with “self-love”. It’s rather a form of extreme self-alienation. Narcissus did not love himself. He was in love with an image of himself that he did not know was only an image.
Identity politics are the logical politics of the culture of narcissism and the collapse of perspectivist consciousness into the mere “point-of-view” which ultimately dissolves the universal into atoms. Identity politics, particularly in the form of racial identity — as “white identity” or “black identity” or the various expressions of ethno-nationalism today are all collectivist identities that attest to the disintegration of all personal or individual identity — even to the point where, with “marketing 3.0” or “holistic branding”, “identikits” can be bought and sold in the market as “lifestyle choices” or as “branded behaviours”.
There have been, recently, a few perspicuous articles in The Guardian
about this situation, despite having a few shortcomings of their own because they deal only with symptoms and effects, rather than causes for the “triumph of the irrational”, failing to see them in the greater context of the self-negation of an age and the breakdown of its consciousness structure of which external or objective events are merely symptom, and not cause. Michael White’s article about narcissism and politics
is quite good (despite some pointless and quite wrong-headed personal pot-shots at Susan Sarandon for her refusal to back Clinton against Trump). And, from a Christian perspective, Giles Fraser’s article on the so-called “alt-right
” is also very good in describing how contemporary mainstream conservatism has become almost completely reactionary.
This is a World Age in the process of consuming and devouring itself, and it’s frightful to contemplate how far it might go in this dynamic. The obligatory lip-service is still paid, of course, to “principle” even as those values and principles are emptied of meaning or perverted and corrupted in order to serve more sinister and demonic ends. This process is happening everywhere.
What’s fascism? Well, you’ll never find scholars entirely agreeing on what fascism is, since it doesn’t have an ideology per se because of its anti-intellectualism. Amongst other things like nationalistic narcissism, fascist “theory” and ontology is mythology, and fascist praxis is magic. The very words “fascism” as well as “fascination” are connected to the Latin “fascinum” as a “binding” or “bonds”, also in the sense of spell-binding or an enchantment or a trance. Fascism is a kind of voodoo. This theory as mythology and praxis as magic, combined, is what Algis Mikunas refers to as “technocratic shamanism” in his essay “Magic and Technological Culture”.
There is another mood associated with fascism — the morbid and the cult of death. If fascism represents a distorted and perverted form of “the return of the repressed” in terms of what has been denied, death is one of those things which is repressed from modern consciousness and left unintegrated. And if you watched David Loy’s video,
that Steve provided a link to, Loy makes that quite explicit.
And that’s why we must be concerned about fascism serving as the instrument for fulfilling Gebser’s dreadful “law of the earth”.