Alain de Benoist: A Critique of Liberal Ideology - Page 2 - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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By Fasces
#13353695
Kman, do you honestly believe that the only rationale for marriage is that it provides tax incentives to those who engage in it? That the only reason religion exists is because it occupies a tax-exempt status? That the only reason we feel attachment for our children is because they can materially provide for us in our old age?

Social relationships are biological. Economic ones are learned. It should not even be in question which is the primary motivator in human interacition.
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By Figlio di Moros
#13353708
Potemkin wrote:Indeed. The one thing which is becoming increasingly obvious is that the present status quo, based on a capitalist mode of production and a liberal ideology, is not sustainable. At some point it will inevitably collapse, either because of its own internal contradictions or because it finally burns up the last of the Earth's natural resources, or renders the planet uninhabitable through pollution or climate change.


You'll have to define "capitalist mode of production"; large swathes of capitalism are perfectly normal and necesary for improved standards of living. I wouldn't necessarily blame "capitalism" for so many problems as much as "materialism". As you pointed out, it's about "the destruction of all non-commercial values." Really, this has been coupled with an expanding sense of libertinism that further subverts normal social interactions through hedonism.

We both know that the market system isn't to blame for the environment, though. You could hardly argue that past socialist regimes have been notable for environmental policies; while it's true that bourgeosie values have undermined conservation and subverted efficiencies, the materialist values of socialist regimes has an equally poor reputation and is merely a different form of it.

Potemkin wrote:Either humanity will become extinct or descend into a new barbarism which this time will never end, or else we must develop a sustainable economic and social system which can create a truly human society for the first time in history. The problem is not 'materialism' per se (we are, after all, material beings), but the destruction of all non-commercial values under the capitalist mode of production and its utterly amoral ideology - liberalism - which leads only to nihilism and complete moral and social bankruptcy.


Agreed, although I'd stress that an ubermenschen society might be a bit more befitting for such a role; a sustainable economic and social structure requires quite a bit of organization, therefore direction and leadership. This new structure will need to be aligned to higher principles than materialism, otherwise it'll simply be a reorganization of the previous plutarchy; the more democractically aligned, and the more consumerist and less efficient it'll be.

I would, however, dispute that the collapse of capitalism will take place in a purely individualist ideological climate. The recent bailout of the financial system is merely one example of the increasing necessity of collectivist and social solutions to the internal contradictions of the capitalist system. People are not stupid - they can see that the individual appetites of the bankers has led to a crisis which only collective action could solve (for now). They are drawing their own conclusions from this. This process of socialisation can only accelerate as and when capitalism nears its final crisis.


That's not the context I meant collectivist in, however; the financial system is an entrenched part of the contemporary plutarchy, but it wasn't performed as a class-concious decision. While some socialized action will occur, it'll be at the interest of individuals, and not simply for the benefit of the "proletariat". They'll largely still want to compete as individuals.

The idea that the disempowerment of the bougeosie plutocracy would hand over the means of production to the proletariat, however, isn't necessarily true. For instance, nationalizing the banks doesn't mean that it'll be socially controlled.
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By Potemkin
#13353810
You'll have to define "capitalist mode of production"; large swathes of capitalism are perfectly normal and necesary for improved standards of living.

Capitalism is the private ownership of the means of production plus the investment of capital for profit. Under socialism, capitalism would be sublated rather than reversed. Socialism will build upon the achievements of capitalism, just as capitalism built upon the achievements of feudalism. Somebody back in the 15th century might have said to a new capitalist that large swathes of feudalism are perfectly normal and necessary for improved standards of living. ;)

I wouldn't necessarily blame "capitalism" for so many problems as much as "materialism". As you pointed out, it's about "the destruction of all non-commercial values." Really, this has been coupled with an expanding sense of libertinism that further subverts normal social interactions through hedonism.

You are taking ideas as causes rather than effects; in reality, the economic base of society is the cause and changing ideas are a side-effect of changes in the economic mode of production. And I do not regard materialism (properly understood) as a problem; it is nihilism which is a problem, and nihilism is a natural side-effect of the development of late capitalism.

We both know that the market system isn't to blame for the environment, though. You could hardly argue that past socialist regimes have been notable for environmental policies; while it's true that bourgeosie values have undermined conservation and subverted efficiencies, the materialist values of socialist regimes has an equally poor reputation and is merely a different form of it.

Indeed, and I would say that this is because of the fact that socialist regimes in the 20th century had to take on the task which Marx believed would already have been accomplished by capitalism - the rapid expansion of the forces of production. It is this which makes socialism possible, and until it is accomplished there can be no socialism.

Agreed, although I'd stress that an ubermenschen society might be a bit more befitting for such a role; a sustainable economic and social structure requires quite a bit of organization, therefore direction and leadership. This new structure will need to be aligned to higher principles than materialism, otherwise it'll simply be a reorganization of the previous plutarchy; the more democractically aligned, and the more consumerist and less efficient it'll be.

You're assuming that all proletariats are like the American proletariat - consumerist drones with no class consciousness. I foresee such an ubermenschen society arising in a post-capitalist America, but not in Britain, where proletarian class consciousness and socialist traditions are still relatively strong.

That's not the context I meant collectivist in, however; the financial system is an entrenched part of the contemporary plutarchy, but it wasn't performed as a class-concious decision. While some socialized action will occur, it'll be at the interest of individuals, and not simply for the benefit of the "proletariat". They'll largely still want to compete as individuals.

Again, this may be true for the American proletariat, but not for that of Britain or even the rest of Europe.

The idea that the disempowerment of the bougeosie plutocracy would hand over the means of production to the proletariat, however, isn't necessarily true. For instance, nationalizing the banks doesn't mean that it'll be socially controlled.

I absolutely agree, which is why the programme of nationalisation of heavy industry in Britain in the 1950, 60s and 70s was such a failure. The bourgeois state apparatus owned those industries, not the working class. Nationalisation is not socialism; it's just a rather inefficient form of state capitalism. However, following its final crisis, no form of capitalism will be viable, whether 'free market' capitalism or state capitalism. The choice will be either socialism or barbarism.
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By Ash Faulkner
#13353856
Potemkin, if ideas are merely the results of the underpinning economic reality, why is the American proletariat, who exist in a more capitalist economy, less class conscious? If the economic reality (which, let us remember, is for the American worker not an abstract idea but a day-to-day experience, and so pretty damned hard to cover up) is so poor, why do so many Americans continue to entertain ideas at odds with it? Why is it that when one set of workers respond to socialism of some sort, it is because they are in touch with reality, but when another doesn't, it is cultural conditioning, even though they are in the precise same state of economic relations? If Marx's analysis is truly scientific, should it not also be universal? Apples fall from trees in America too.
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By Potemkin
#13353912
Potemkin, if ideas are merely the results of the underpinning economic reality, why is the American proletariat, who exist in a more capitalist economy, less class conscious? If the economic reality (which, let us remember, is for the American worker not an abstract idea but a day-to-day experience, and so pretty damned hard to cover up) is so poor, why do so many Americans continue to entertain ideas at odds with it? Why is it that when one set of workers respond to socialism of some sort, it is because they are in touch with reality, but when another doesn't, it is cultural conditioning, even though they are in the precise same state of economic relations? If Marx's analysis is truly scientific, should it not also be universal? Apples fall from trees in America too.

First of all, I would dispute that America has a more capitalist economy than any other nation. It could be argued that Britain, for example, has a more developed capitalist system (since it is more skewed towards finance capitalism rather than manufacturing). There are already (even before Obama's health care bill) strongly socialised elements of American society. It's just that American workers have been conditioned to believe that these socialised elements of their society are actually an intrinsic part of capitalism. Even in Britain, this is often the case; for example, my father grew up in the 1950s and 60s, and he has always believed that he had capitalism to thank for the full employment that existed then, despite the fact that it was a direct result of Keynesian economic policies, which were designed to counter the 'natural' business cycle of capitalism. He also thanked capitalism for his relatively high wages and gave no praise for it to the unions, who had actually fought for higher wages for a century. Never underestimate the power of false consciousness, of what Althusser called 'ideology'. There is of course an element of truth in what you say - but it is false ideas which matter much more than true ideas. Engels admitted that he and Marx had overstated the primacy of the economic base over the ideological superstructure, and said that they had done so in order to counter the blatant idealism which had dominated intellectual discourse in the West since the time of Kant. However, it remains the case that, while the ideological superstructure can have a secondary influence on the economic base (if it didn't, how could there ever be a revolution?), the overwhelming direction of causality is from the economic base to the ideological superstructure. Long after Marx's death, Gramsci and Althusser did important work investigating the nature of ideology - the individual's imaginary relations with objective reality - and the precise nature of the ideological superstructure's effect on the development of the economic base. This effect means, of course, that nations with very similar economic bases might have rather different ideological superstructures, and vice versa. However, while there is not an isomorphic mapping of base onto superstructure, to a first approximation a given economic base will have a restricted range of ideological superstructures which can be associated with it. The apple never falls far from the tree. ;)
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By telluro
#13354726
Potemkin wrote:However, where I part company with him is with regard to his apparent belief that history can be reversed, that the poison of liberalism can be put back into the bottle and an organic society led by an aristocracy can be restored.

Indeed. I tend to agree.

However consider also that DeBenoist is partially influenced by the Traditionalist historiographies of Evola and Guenon, who like Hegel saw a necessary movement of history, though unlike Hegel, both believed in a perfect past where everything was One and necessary process of degradation of the connection between Geist and matter/Individuum, that human societies and cultures would progressively fragmentate themselves until such a time when the connection is fully destroyed, and history enters a new era, when the connection between Geist and human reality is suddenly or gradually renewed and the cycle of degradation restarted. DeBenoist believes in a modified form of this belief in cyclical history. All of them see reason to believe that we're somewhere at the end of this cycle of degradation.

Evola would have agreed, though, as Junger did in his Der Arbeiter, that to attempt a return to the past would only lead to false starts and false messiah, and the attempted return would itself become part of the degenerative process, whereas the proper path would be to embrace those redeemable aspects of the same technical-materialist culture one is in, and to carry them forth - which is exactly what Junger's technical-materialist utopia would seek to do. On a similar level, for example, the fiercely anti-Christian Evola would come to compromise with Catholicism.


As a materialist, I tend to agree that the way forward is to fully embrace the material and technical powers that liberal and capitalist culture have unleashed. I must admit that ultimately this was the main path through which I abandoned racism, and all other forms of organicism - the community, the nation, perhaps ultimately human nature. Liberalism and capitalism themselves stand at a very low relation to the experimentalism they think they profess. The way forth should be to sharpen and perfect this imperfect thalassocracy.



Here is another important document co-written by DeBenoist: http://home.alphalink.com.au/~radnat/de ... lain9.html
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By Potemkin
#13354758
However consider also that DeBenoist is partially influenced by the Traditionalist historiographies of Evola and Guenon, who like Hegel saw a necessary movement of history, though unlike Hegel, both believed in a perfect past where everything was One and necessary process of degradation of the connection between Geist and matter/Individuum, that human societies and cultures would progressively fragmentate themselves until such a time when the connection is fully destroyed, and history enters a new era, when the connection between Geist and human reality is suddenly or gradually renewed and the cycle of degradation restarted. DeBenoist believes in a modified form of this belief in cyclical history. All of them see reason to believe that we're somewhere at the end of this cycle of degradation.

This is very similar to the Marxist view of history. Marx viewed the alienation of humanity from itself as a necessary stage of human development. We had a truly organic society only while we were hunter-gatherers (and we had a hunter-gatherer society for about 99% of our existence). This is the stage which Marx called 'primitive communism'. The development of civilisation led to a progressive alienation of humanity from itself, culminating in liberal capitalism, which is both the most efficient economic system in terms of expanding the forces of production and the most utterly alienating and atomising system. Once this process of alienation can go no further, it collapses and a more organic, non-alienated society can again develop, but building on what has been achieved during the process of alienation. Before we can find ourselves, we must first lose ourselves. Without the loss of an organic society, we would have remained stuck at the stage of a primitive hunter-gatherer society forever. History is not a circle, it is a spiral; it both returns and ascends.

Evola would have agreed, though, as Junger did in his Der Arbeiter, that to attempt a return to the past would only lead to false starts and false messiah, and the attempted return would itself become part of the degenerative process, whereas the proper path would be to embrace those redeemable aspects of the same technical-materialist culture one is in, and to carry them forth - which is exactly what Junger's technical-materialist utopia would seek to do. On a similar level, for example, the fiercely anti-Christian Evola would come to compromise with Catholicism.

Indeed. The alienated and nihilistic liberal society must not merely be reversed or abolished, but sublated; that is, transcended while its achievements are simultaneously preserved.

As a materialist, I tend to agree that the way forward is to fully embrace the material and technical powers that liberal and capitalist culture have unleashed. I must admit that ultimately this was the main path through which I abandoned racism, and all other forms of organicism - the community, the nation, perhaps ultimately human nature. Liberalism and capitalism themselves stand at a very low relation to the experimentalism they think they profess. The way forth should be to sharpen and perfect this imperfect thalassocracy.

Precisely. And this is why Marx began the Communist Manifesto with a hymn of praise to the unprecedented achievements of liberal capitalism. The Revolution will preserve and build upon those achievements, not abolish or destroy them in the name of some mystical primitivism.
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By telluro
#13354767
It seems I am an unwitting Marxist. :eh: :p

That "history is a spiral" seems a direct quote from DeBenoist. Check out that Manifesto.
By Namakemono
#13543316
Potemkin:

The spread of the liberal ideology was a natural and inevitable consequence of the development of the capitalist mode of production, and will exist so long as capitalism exists. Liberalism must therefore be sublated rather than reversed


I think this is wrong. Liberalism and capitalism do not necessarily go together. When Russia and China embraced capitalism, many people made the mistake of thinking they would soon become liberal, but no such thing has happened. Nor are any of the East Asian capitalist countries particularly liberal. Compared to Western countries, they are all very conservative.

Also, far from being indestructible, liberalism contains the seeds of its own demise: it is committed to tolerating the promotion of competing non-liberal ideologies, just as long as the advocates of those ideologies do not resort (e.g.) to terrorism. Non-liberal ideologies, on the other hand, do not reciprocate. It is always only a matter of time before one or another non-liberal ideology gains strong support either with the grassroots or the elite, and supplants liberalism by political means.Liberal society's tendendency towards atomization and anomie generates frustration as it progresses, and the further it goes, the more likely it is to trigger an extreme reaction.
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By starman2003
#13543337
Of course liberalism isn't indestructable. But at least here, its nemesis isn't toleration of non-liberal (or anti-democratic) opponents. They just can't seem to get anywhere yet, despite being free to speak and organize. It's not toleration of enemies, or "atomization," by itself but an inability to govern that IMO will wreck democracy/"freedom"--if that's what is meant by "liberalism." But the system will have to stumble very badly before there's enough of a consituency for change--even where it counts most--the armed forces.
By Preston Cole
#13543354
Namakemono wrote:Also, far from being indestructible, liberalism contains the seeds of its own demise: it is committed to tolerating the promotion of competing non-liberal ideologies, just as long as the advocates of those ideologies do not resort (e.g.) to terrorism.

Let's not victimize liberalism. Even if it was tolerant of non-democratic movements, which it certainly isn't, the reason it would collapse is because it rejects common sense: i.e., to not allow the enemies (Nazis, fascists, communists) of your kind to organize freely and pose a threat to your system. Therefore, it will get its just reward. But all this is moot, since we definitely know that the advocates of liberalism have sunken to a point of hypocrisy and sheer ignorance that their system still works, that liberal left-wing and right-wing media simply silence any competition from radical wings by throwing around words like "fascism," "Holocaust denial," "Anti-Semitism" and many others. It seeks to become totalitarian not with castor oil, but with weak shouts and ignorant mud-slinging. It's a system that promotes defense through prejudice and mouth war, and thus breeds these tactics into the people and turns them into anemic, shout-happy skeletons no longer capable of defending themselves with power and force. It has to go.
By Namakemono
#13543385
starman2003 wrote:It's not toleration of enemies, or "atomization," by itself but an inability to govern that IMO will wreck democracy/"freedom"--if that's what is meant by "liberalism." But the system will have to stumble very badly before there's enough of a consituency for change--even where it counts most--the armed forces.
Doesn't "inability to govern" fall under "anomie"? As for stumbling, it is stumbling right now, failing (due to the way it squanders human capital) to hold its own in competition with China.

Preston Cole wrote:Even if it was tolerant of non-democratic movements, which it certainly isn't, the reason it would collapse is because it rejects common sense: i.e., to not allow the enemies (Nazis, fascists, communists) of your kind to organize freely and pose a threat to your system. Therefore, it will get its just reward.
The West doesn't tolerate, but does allow? Isn't that a contradiction?
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By starman2003
#13544007
As for stumbling, it is stumbling right now, failing..


Yes but not seriously enough, yet, to wake people up. By "stumbling" I have in mind the inability to deal effectively with a host of problems for which real solutions aren't likely in a democracy, like deficits. People are aware the red ink is building up, many know democracy hinders rectification, but it'll take an economic disaster to force them to take action.
By Inexorable
#13544483
to not allow the enemies (Nazis, fascists, communists) of your kind to organize freely and pose a threat to your system. Therefore, it will get its just reward.


Late capitalism makes internal intellectual insurgencies largely impossible. Zizek once wrote a rather funny essay about a yuppie who reads Deleuze and instead of being revolted by his critique of liberalism, laughs and mocks himself for living up to his diagnosis. Deleuze's language is just co-opted to affirm the yuppie's own 'unique' lifestyle of weird sex and shopping sprees. In other words, just like the pathetic figure of Chomsky making millions off of bad mouthing capitalism and Western civilization, so the critics become silenced as their ideas are put on sale.
By Namakemono
#13544513
starman2003 wrote:Yes but not seriously enough, yet, to wake people up. By "stumbling" I have in mind the inability to deal effectively with a host of problems for which real solutions aren't likely in a democracy, like deficits. People are aware the red ink is building up, many know democracy hinders rectification, but it'll take an economic disaster to force them to take action.
If a given alternative is not attractive except in a near-apocalyptic scenario, then I would venture to say that the alternative is probably not a good one.
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By Figlio di Moros
#13544520
Except the alternative involves a metaphoric Lord of the Flies, where everyong wants immediate gratification and unrealistic expectations, and lack any tolerance for authority desiring to restrain them. Essentially, a bunch of little boys running around on a desert island.
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By Murph
#13544740
Atleast here in American, most libertarians are libertarians because they object to the forced altruism to groups that they feel will not reciprocate. I think another part of it is they are deeply suspicious of central "planners" serving themselves and making backroom deals.
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By starman2003
#13544769
If a given alternative is not attractive except in a near-apocalyptic scenario, then I would venture to say that the alternative is probably not a good one.


:lol: By its very nature, authoritarianism/wholism is not popular because of the sacrifices it imposes on people. It represents vitally needed change but is contrary to a strong democratic tradition. The latter can only be broken by major crises which force reality on people. That's the way its been since 1st century BCE Rome, when the obsolete republic finally gave way, under the impact of upheaval, to Caesarism. The result was the summit of Roman and classical civilization. Likewise, authoritarianism can bring this world to the greatest heights--literally, in space as well as on Earth--but face it, only crises can break the present system which, however stupid, remains ingrained.
#15048406
https://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/pdfs/macintyre2.pdf
Thus, the social bases of liberalism are two-fold: the raising of property to the status of the primary social relation, and the loss of community, the loss of the capacity to appeal to or rely upon shared meaning beyond the satisfaction of individual desire.
...
Maintenance of the illusion of “objectivity” is essential, and MacIntyre sees the universities as playing a crucial role in the maintenance of this illusion. Since academics rely for their livelihood on disproving each other’s theories, the resulting interminable and esoteric debate continuously re-establishes the impossibility of consensus.

“In the course of history liberalism, which began as an appeal to alleged principles of shared rationality against what was felt to be the tyranny of tradition, has itself been transformed into a tradition whose continuities are partly defined by the interminability of the debate over such principles. An interminability which was from the standpoint of an earlier liberalism a grave defect to be remedied as soon as possible has become, in the eyes of some liberals at least, a kind of virtue”. (p. 335)

Far from this failure to find any firm ground undermining liberalism, MacIntyre believes that it reinforces it, because one of the fundamental bases for liberalism is the conviction that no comprehensive idea (to use Rawls’ term) can enjoy majority, let alone unanimous, support. This then justifies the ban on governments pursuing the general good.

“Any conception of the human good according to which, for example, it is the duty of government to educate the members of the community morally, ... will be proscribed. ... liberal individualism does indeed have its own broad conception of the good, which it is engaged in imposing politically, legally, socially, and culturally wherever it has the power to do so, but also that in doing so its toleration of rival conceptions of the good in the public arena is severely limited.” (p. 336)

Such a ban on governments pursuing the social good of course serves a very definite social interest.

“The weight given to an individual preference in the market is a matter of the cost which the individual is able and willing to pay; only so far as an individual has the means to bargain with those who can supply what he or she needs does the individual have an effective voice. So also in the political and social realm it is the ability to bargain that is crucial. The preferences of some are accorded weight by others only insofar as the satisfaction of those preferences will lead to the satisfaction of their own preferences. Only those who have something to give get. The disadvantaged in a liberal society are those without the means to bargain.” (p. 336)

and consequently,

“The overriding good of liberalism is no more and no less than the continued sustenance of the liberal social and political order”. (p. 345)

In each of the historical settings that MacIntyre investigates, he is able to show that the type of justice and the type of rationality which appears to the philosophical spokespeople of the community to be necessary and universal, turns out to be a description of the type of citizens of the community in question. Accordingly, the justice of liberalism and the rationality of liberalism is simply that justice and that rationality of the “citizens of nowhere” (p. 388), the “outsiders,” people lacking in any social obligation or any reason for acting other than to satisfy their desires and to defend the conditions under which they are able to continue satisfying their desires. Their rationality is therefore that of the objects of their desire.
...
So, how to proceed against liberalism, against the way of life in which human relations are governed by the world market? As remarked above, MacIntyre advises each of his readers to look to their own tradition for the resources to take such a challenge forward. For his own part, MacIntyre will look to his own Thomist tradition of ethical and rational enquiry.
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By starman2003
#15048469
starman2003 wrote::lol: By its very nature, authoritarianism/wholism is not popular because of the sacrifices it imposes on people. It represents vitally needed change but is contrary to a strong democratic tradition. The latter can only be broken by major crises which force reality on people. That's the way its been since 1st century BCE Rome, when the obsolete republic finally gave way, under the impact of upheaval, to Caesarism. The result was the summit of Roman and classical civilization. Likewise, authoritarianism can bring this world to the greatest heights--literally, in space as well as on Earth--but face it, only crises can break the present system which, however stupid, remains ingrained.


Why bump a 9 or 10 year old thread...by now some of those who posted on it, like Figlio, may be gone for good.
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