Posts Tagged ‘Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed’

How Postmodernism Leads To Fascism (part 3)

May 3, 2008

[See Part 1 of this article here.]

[See Part 2 of this article here.]

Today, in universities across the country, we are seeing honored faculty fired for no better reason than that they disagree with one or another tenet of “political correctness.” Lawrence Summers was essentially fired from his position as president of Harvard University for raising the possibility that many factors apart from discrimination or bias could explain why there were more men than women in high-end science and engineering positions. Guillermo Gonzalez, as assistant professor at Iowa State, was denied tenure and fired for having written articles arguing that a purposive cause is the best explanation for certain features of our cosmic habitat. David Eaton said, “As alumni at ISU, we are appalled that the current Iowa State administration would stoop to expelling a brilliant young scientist and gifted instructor from the classroom, not for teaching about intelligent design or even mentioning it in his classroom, but for simply committing the thought crime of advocating it [in a research paper] as science.” The documentary film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed presents scientist after scientist who were fired merely for advocating the possibility of an intelligent cause to the universe. Ben Stein calls attention to the terrifying process of such a stifling of academic and scientific freedom. Fascists and Marxists had no qualms persecuting and stifling unwanted thought among their intellectuals; Western universities should have great qualms over such persecution, but increasingly do not.

Might similar restrictions to individual freedom spill over from the university campuses to the society as a whole? Bureaucracies, legislatures, and the courts are exhibiting similar “sensitivity” in their zeal to fight “harassment” and in their ever-widening application of civil rights laws. If we ever come to the point of “affirmative action laws” forcing churches to ordain women against church teachings; or “anti-discrimination laws” requiring Christian organizations to hire homosexuals; or “political-lobbying laws”; or the laws we’re even now seeing in Europe forcing churches to remain silent on social issues such as abortion or homosexuality; then religious freedom will have been extinguished. Already some postmodernist sects explicitly advocate and demand such measures; all they lack is the power to impose their will. Still, they are gaining more and more power every single day. Brigitte Bardot went on trial in France for the fifth time for “inciting racial hatred” for insulting Muslims. She’s hardly alone: a number of writers and journalists such as Oriana Fallaci and Michel Houellebecq have likewise been pursued by the French government over the law against “insulting Islam.” Christians there still seem to be quite fair game, however.

Postmodernist theorist Stephen Conner acknowledges that there is “a strange dialectic which pushes renunciation of authority and of unified form to a point of absolute impotence, which may then loop back into a renewed assertion of nihilistic power” (Conner, Postmodernist Culture, p. 213). In other words, for a growing number of postmodernist advocates, “There is no valid authority whatsoever, but you had still better do as we say if you know what’s good for you.” Leftist revolutions tend to follow a very predictable order: At first, the revolutionaries renounce all authority and all established structures. Once the authorities are overthrown and the structures demolished, the revolution enters a new phase. New authorities and new structures are imposed. Most revolutions, however, at least had some criteria for their new societies – the French Revolution’s Enlightenment rationalism, the Russian Revolution’s Marxist economics, the Iranian Revolution’s commitment to Islam. A postmodernist revolution, however, rejecting all such absolutes, would be completely arbitrary; self-consciously constructing a society governed only by the nihilism of power.

“Theoretical extremity,” “rage,” “nihilistic power” – such recurrent themes of postmodernism – do not bode well for maintaining a free, democratic society. Most people do not realize that the tenets of postmodernism have been tried before in a political system. Social constructivism, cultural determinism, the rejection of individual identity, the rejection of humanism, the denial of the transcendent, power reductionism, the rejection of reason, and the revolutionary critique of the existing order are tenets not only of postmodernism but of fascism. We embrace these ideas at our most deadly peril.

Many of the ideas that came together in the fascism of the 1930s survived Word War II and continued to develop in postmodernist thought, hidden away from overt identification with fascism due to a desire to put behind an ugly past. Fascists taught that reality is a social construction, that culture determines all values. Particular cultures and ethnic groups therefore constitute their own self-contained worlds, which should be kept uncontaminated, although these groups will often compete w/ each other. Individuality is a myth; particular human beings can only find fulfillment when they lose themselves in a larger group. “Humanistic values” are a myth; there are no absolute transcendent moral laws by which the culture can be judged. These are “Jewish” – i.e., Biblical – ideas that are responsible for the alienation, guilt, and instability of Western culture. Strength, not love and mercy, must be the true expression of a culture’s will to power. Collective emotion, not abstract reason (another “Jewish” contribution), must be cultivated as the culture’s source of energy.

It is interesting to ask precisely why the Nazis hated the Jews. The reflexive answer is racism, but that is not nearly adequate enough. There were many other racial groups that did not face such Nazi hatred. What did the Nazis see in the Jews that they thought was so inferior and so dangerous? What was the Jewish legacy that, in the Nazis’ minds, had so poisoned Western culture? Precisely what were the “Aryan ideals” that the Nazis sought to restore, once the Jews and their influence were purged from Western culture?

One must realize that the fascists aligned themselves not only against the Jews but against what the Jews contributed to Western culture. The idea of a transcendent God, who revealed a transcendent moral law, was anathema to the fascists. (Interestingly, it is increasingly anathema to many individuals and intellectuals again today. Political figures, actors, television personalities, and journalists routinely demonize religion as oppressive). Such transcendence, the Nazis argued, alienates human beings from nature and from themselves. Fascist intellectuals sought to forge a new spirituality, focused upon nature, human emotions, and the community as directed by the state. The fascists sought to restore the ancient pre-Christian consciousness, ancient myth sensibility, in which individuals experience unity with nature, with each other, and with their own deepest impulses and desires.

Thus fascism was essentially a spiritual revolt against the Judeo-Christian tradition and against the Bible. Those who simplistically blame Nazism on Christianity because Adolf Hitler had been baptized a Catholic as a baby could not be more wrong or – for that matter – more of an example of the very sort of propaganda that Nazis had thrived upon. Some Nazis proposed keeping Christianity as long as it was completely stripped of its “Jewishness,” but ALL Nazi intellectuals demanded a rebellion against the transcendence that is at the very heart of both Judaism and Christianity (hence the term “Judeo-Christian” to denote the worldview). George Steiner wrote, “By killing the Jews, Western culture would eradicate those who had “invented” God… The Holocaust is a reflex, the more complete for being long inhibited, of natural sensory consciousness, of instinctual polytheistic and animist needs” (In Bluebeard’s Castle: Some Notes Towards the Redefinition of Culture (New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, 1971), p. 41). And we are seeing the same profound hostility being directed against transcendent values and the Judeo-Christian tradition which upholds those values today.

As Hannah Arendt describes, when convicted Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann went to the gallows, “He was in complete command of himself, nay, he was more; he was completely himself. Nothing could have demonstrated this more convincingly than the grotesque silliness of his last words. He began by stating emphatically that he was a Gottglaubiger, to express in common Nazi fashion that he was no Christian and did not believe in life after death.” In her next sentence, she goes on to complete her thought, “He then proceeded: “After a short while, gentlemen, we shall meet again. Such is the fate of all men. Long live Germany, long live Argentina, long live Austria. I shall not forget them.” In the face of death, he had found the cliché, used in funeral oratory. Under the gallows, his memory played him the last trick; he was ‘elated’ and he forgot this was his own funeral. It was as though in those last minutes he was summing up the lesson that this long course in human wickedness had taught us – the lesson of the fearsome, word-and-thought-defying banality of evil” (Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem (New York: Viking Penguin, 1977), 252).

The fascist rebellion against transcendence restored the ancient pagan consciousness. With it came barbarism, a barbarism armed with modern technology and intellectual sophistication. The liquidation of the transcendent moral law and “Jewish” conscience allowed the resurgence of the most primitive and destructive emotions. And as we increasingly abandon the same worldview the Nazis so utterly despised and embrace in its place the same basic worldview the Nazis sought to replace it with, we will have a similar return of just such an emotive state of rage, and just such a “word-and-thought-defying banality of evil” as intellectuals unleash the monster yet again. History repeats itself, precisely because fools refuse to comprehend the lessons of history.

Many people at the time saw fascist ideology as liberating. Just as with the postmodernism of today, fascism was the favored view of both the intellectual elite and the avant garde artistic movement of yesteryear. Martin Heidegger, Paul De Man, Ezra Pound, D.H. Lawrence, W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Wyndham Lewis, T.E. Hume, Roy Campbell, T.S. Elliot, Carl Jung, Margaret Sanger are among the many who supported fascism in the 1930s. Stephen Spender acknowledged, “Some of the greatest modern writers sympathized with fascism” in his introduction to Alastair Hamilton’s book, The Appeal of Fascism: A Study of Intellectuals and Fascism, 1919-1945. These intellectuals of yesterday – just as the vast majority of our present intellectuals today – simply had no idea of the consequences of the ideas they so naively embraced. But their social constructivism and social determinism, put into practice, meant totalitarian oppression. Its rejection of the individual meant the extinction of liberty. Its rejection of objective moral values meant that there could be no restraints on the actions of the state, resulting in eugenics programs, secret-police terrorism, and the euthanasia of the handicapped and “unwanted.” Its ideological hostility to the Judeo-Christian tradition led to the co-opting of the church by syncretistic theologies, the suppression of confessional Christianity, and mass extermination of the Jews.

Ideas have consequences. The worldview that resulted in the Holocaust death camps and a war that ignited the world was born in the minds of German intellectuals and supported by intellectuals across the oceans. Postmodernism – which frighteningly shares fascist presuppositions, is far more dominant today than fascism ever was. In the United States alone, we have exterminated nearly 50,000,000 human beings out of an attitude that is eerily similar to the mindset of Lebensunwertes Leben (literally, “life unworthy of life”) that led to so much horror when the worldview captured a nation last time.

“National Socialism” would institute a controlled, state-directed economy that would work for the good of the nation. The state would solve all of the people’s problems. The organic state, conceived as the source of all values and of all good, would acquire a mystical status, taking the role of God and receiving the devotion of all of its members. As in the ancient pagan societies, before the alienation brought into the West by the Bible, the culture would be fully integrated with nature and with the gods. [Compare this with the sharia-based state dreamed of by Islamic fascist jihadists to understand the linkage between fascism and this frightening understanding of Islam]To react against modernism is in many ways to revert to the primitive, the barbaric. The fascism of the 1930s was never a conservative movement (despite Marxist propaganda that polemically defined fascism as its polar opposite), but it was a reaction against the objectivity, rationalism, and alienation of the “modern world,” a reaction structurally parallel to that of the postmodernists. Fascism, like postmodernism, had its origins in romanticism, with its primitivism and subjectivity, and existentialism, with its rejection of absolutes and with its “triumph of the will.” Hitler may have failed because he was ahead of his time. He would have a much larger and much more global following were he to return today.

Which is precisely why I believe another Hitler will return, again with the cheers of the masses.

“I am writing this from cell 24. Outside a new Germany is being created. Many millions are rejoicing. Hitler is promising everyone precisely what they want. I think when they wake to their sobering senses, they will find they have been led by the nose and duped by lies.” – Journalist Stephan Laurent, who had been imprisoned for questioning the Fuhrer.