Fascism, Racism, Neo-Paganism, and Alt-Right, II

One of the pillars of the Modern Age and of Enlightenment, and therefore of the mental-rational consciousness structure, is the principle of universality. It is this core principle that has decayed into a mere sense of uniformity and unipolarity, along with a debased understanding of equality as being equivalence, which is an aspect of the deficient mode of the rational consciousness. This decay of the universal is bound up with the post-modern “end of the Grand Narrative” and has also become a focus of attack by the extreme Right.

Fascism is, essentially, an attack on the principle of universality — whether this is in terms of gender, race, or human rights, and so on, and consequently on science as well, since the notion of “universal laws” applicable everywhere and at all times is very much connected with our general ideals and values of universality. So, on the one hand, you have this decayed understanding of universality as unipolarity and the “one best way” (which informs much of neo-liberal orthodoxy) while on the other hand you have this attack on the very principle of universality, and I suppose the temptation is to fall on one side or the other, which is fairly typical of dualistic thinking. But both are symptoms of decay.

Post-modernism also challenges the idea of universality, and this decay of universality is very much tied up with issues of “chaotic transition”. Throw identity politics into the mix and you have a perfect “witches’ cauldron” of fragmentation, fermentation, and turmoil. It should be apparent that our conviction that there are “universal laws” and corresponding universal rights, principles, and values are very much conjoined issues through the medium of “Universal Reason”.

So, you have these two extremes of a neo-liberalism where “universal” has come to mean uniform, unipolar, and “the one best way” (that is, Thatcher’s “There is No Alternative” and Fukuyama’s “end of history” triumphalism) and is therefore decayed universality, while on the other hand you have this extreme reactionary attack on the whole idea of universality, along with everything in between these two extremes, in various degrees of narcissism, racism, sexism, nativism, identity politics and so on.

They are both manifestations of the dysfunctionality of the mental-rational consciousness, the disintegration of “Universal Reason”, and both are manifestations of post-modernity.

Here is where the act of “retrieval”, as Charles Taylor calls it, takes on great significance. For it is no longer a question of saving or preserving the idea of universality and Universal Reason from these debasements, degradations, and onslaughts, but of performing a “revaluation of values”, as Nietzsche would put it. The principle of universality must be retrieved and revalued as integrity or integrality. Universal Reason must become Integral Consciousness.

Recognising that the dynamics of neo-liberalism are decadence, just as much as the reactionary assault on neo-liberalism is also decadence, should keep us from identifying with either, and therefore of being drawn into the maelstrom of the negative manifestations of the deficiency of the mental-rational in the throes of its dissolution.

Is this not precisely the problem that many people have with the Trump versus Clinton political contest in the US presently? The choice only between the Dreadful and the Dreary? This contest is of great interest because it does represent the contest of the two deficient aspects of the Modern Era in its dualistic mode of consciousness, and a lot of people are having trouble with the “lesser of two evils” argument, too.  So, as much as Hermetic Philosophy must be retrieved from the Renaissance, so must the principle of universality be retrieved from Enlightenment, or the post-Enlightenment. Liberal democracy was itself based on the principle, the value, the ideal of universality, so its fate is very much connected with what happens to this core value.

We can acknowledge that there are indeed “species of consciousness”. We can hardly understand Jean Gebser’s cultural philosophy without acknowledging this diversity — the archaic, magical, mythical, and mental. This doesn’t at all preclude the realisation of an authentic universality as integrality.

In a very ironic sense, we can even thank Ms. Thatcher for her declaration of the death of society, and Mr. Fukuyama too for his end of history, which are two aspects of the same thing. “There is no such thing as society” also made it possible to re-imagine society differently, and Fukuyama’s “end of history” freed us to re-imagine history differently, so that we were really no longer bearers of its baggage or caught up in the trap of history. We are now free to re-imagine both society and history as re-visioning — the irony being, of course, that this is not what they intended. The greater irony of the conservative Fukuyama was that his “end of history” and the post-modern “end of the Grand Narrative” were precisely the same thing.

“What is now prov’d was once only imagined.” – Blake.


4 responses to “Fascism, Racism, Neo-Paganism, and Alt-Right, II”

  1. don salmon says :

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen the deficiencies of the extreme Right and Left so neatly encapsulated in one statement – the problem of universality in the present deficient-mental culture.

    I can’t remember ever being anything but horrified by the extreme right in the US. I remember having very little taste for any of the conventional socialist or Marxist proposals (the “Old Left”) back in the 60s when I first became aware of these things. But as an idealistic teenager, it seemed there was “something” in the air – something profoundly new and utterly different from anything of the previous several centuries.

    The “new Left” – the parts of it, at least, that harkened back to the anarchists of the 19th century – not the violent ones but those who had been partly inspired by the transcendentalists, appealed to me, but it seemed that a good deal of the materialist old Left still infected the new one.

    There were a few attempts at a spiritually informed (i.e. integral – Schumacher and Elgin, in particular) politics were made, but the TINA reaction of Thatcher and Reagan killed it out by the early 80s.

    It seems like the same integral impulse that was breaking through then is even more forcefully alive now. I kept thinking there were brief moments when Bernie “got” this (most notably in that “Birdie Sanders” moment); but not so much during the campaign as during his mayoral run in Burlington in the 80s. He actually kept reflexively trying to run as the old fashioned old Left socialist, but his actual practice was closer to the Catholic “Subsidiarity” movement of the early 20th century.

    There is a tremendously rich, inspiring set of groups around the world which, I think, aren’t going to be decimated by the wave of fascism that is going around the world. Something new is here to stay; which doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      “Birdie Sanders” moment. Trump had his own bird moment…when an American Bald Eagle continuously snapped at him at a photo shoot for Time last year.

      To quote Bernie: “I think there might be some symbolism here.” Our indigenous brothers and sisters might think so, too, though their interpretations likely would be more nuanced than some others.

      It seems like the same integral impulse that was breaking through then is even more forcefully alive now…. There is a tremendously rich, inspiring set of groups around the world….

      There also seems to be a concerted, if not completely conscious, effort to coordinate and synchronize that impulse. Delusional? Maybe. But there’s too much “joining forces” going on to dismiss it. That phenomenon is not receiving much attention at the moment.

      • Scott Preston says :

        I think this is the link you wanted?

        Yes. I think there is some symbolism there. One was a natural and spontaneous event, the other scripted and staged, and quite apart from the fact that one bird was remarkably curious and friendly, while the other was quite aggressive and seemingly put out.

        I have often wondered about that bird episode with Sanders. Birds don’t normally do that sort of thing, and even when the crowd erupted in roars the bird remained unflappable (literally). That’s not “normal” for a bird.

        More disturbing to me about watching Trump’s staged event with the Eagle was that it reminded me of Mussolini’s staged event of wrestling with a lion. Since Trump seems fond of quoting Mussolini at times, I wouldn’t be surprised if he got the idea there, too.

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