avoiding the seductive charms of despair

“Returning form Syracuse?” ….Four hundred years ago, the French “politiques” advanced the novel, and totally subversive notion of the time that people of different religious persuasions could live together, in peace, in the same country and under the same sovereign. In our time, an equally subversive and novel idea had dawned on us, that being that all out war is nonsensical, impractical and impossible. Looking back at the twentieth century, that seems to be cold comfort. However, we are still here; and that, in the face of  Nothing, is better than the nothing that could have been. We can equally look at the rebellions through the Occupy movements, the Arab Spring uprising and other popular manifestations as problematical and perplexing to the ruling classes, but equally, rich in ambiguous and unexplored possibilities.

Daniel Ludwig. Passage. 2009---It is in Nietzsche that the counter-Enlightenment finds its real voice. And it is to this tradition that we should look in situating the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. Heidegger himself in fact recognized Nietzsche quite correctly as a kindred spirit. But whereas Nietzsche saw himself as the prophet announcing the coming of nihilism, Heidegger sees himself as the biographer of a mature nihilism. Heidegger's views were formed in the deeply pessimistic atmosphere engendered by Germany's defeat in World War I. He was influenced by the right-wing author Ernest Juenger, whose novels celebrated the steadfast, resolute soldier meeting his fate in battle. Another important influence was Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West, a hysterical rant against socialism and liberalism, which are indicted for corrupting the values of Western civilization.---Read More:http://www.wsws.org/articles/2000/apr2000/heid-a05.shtml image:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/daniel-ludwig5-17-10_detail.asp?picnum=3

The decisive question, of course, is what will we do with it all? Either we will become victims or guides. And it is here that the Enlightenment continues to have validity for us and may still exercise a significant and beneficent influence in our civilization. For what the Enlightenment did , with its championship of criticism and its insistence on the right of uncompromising examination of everything, was to show people the way of autonomy; that is, to responsible freedom. Even though many do not want it or prefer to be led or can articulate a critique of freedom that is compelling if freedom is found floating aimlessly without relation to some fixed points.

Autonomy, Kant said, speaking for the Enlightenment in the years of its close, is the freedom to obey rational laws. This dictum looks at first glance a little obscure. What freedom is there in obedience and who determines what is and is not a rational law? In its own way, and Kant’s views had many flaws, the way is summed up with splendid economy, the meaning of the Enlightenment’s critical method. It holds that to obey every fleeting impulse, to follow every whim, to surrender to every passion, is not freedom but anarchy, which is merely another form of slavery. Even if anarchists such as Chomsky, so embedded in the atheistic extreme of Enlightenment would quarrel, the Enlightenment posits that free people follow the law, but their freedom lies in the knowledge that they have freely made that law and that it is legislation that has emerged from their continuous and critical examination of their environment, possibilities, and themselves. A tall order indeed.

---The reductio ad absurdum of Heidegger is his anti-Semitism. His application of Being and Time’s concepts were the embodiment of all that was alien and evil in the German nation. Particularly, he castigated the Jews as the bearers of the Enlightenment who in their quest for equality sought to level all peoples down to their fallenness by advocating the reasons that led to a commercial and material society. They could never be part of Das Volk because of their racial impurity. Heidegger, hence, was a leading anti-Enlightenment philosopher who was reactionary in that he believed that by blood sacrifices Germany could restore itself to its former glory as the nation above all. Of course, state racism with its public policies of total exclusion led invariably to the genocide of the Jews in the name of goals of the deluded masses who were intoxicated by the omnipotence of thought. There never could be a good Jew, only a dead one. After the war, Gadamer greeted Heidegger with a pithy question: “Returned from Syracuse?” Of course, this allusion was to Plato’s two trips to Syracuse, Sicily, in his attempt to ingratiate himself to a tyrant who really was not disposed toward being enlightened; neither was Hitler so disposed to be open to new paths in thinking or rethinking ideological notions that indicated deep pathology not only in Der Fuehrer but in all his followers. ---Image:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/otto-dix3-24-10_detail.asp?picnum=2 text:http://www.rschindler.com/furtherheidegger.htm

Such law gives not merely self-control but control of one’s fate to the extent that it lies within people’s control. Only by following this method, and by rejecting easy compromises and the strangely seductive charms of despair, can people master the world they have made. The vision of the secular utopia…


In Germany especially where the bourgeoisie had still to establish its political hegemony, the birth of political Romanticism found resonance among the peasantry and the middle class, which felt most threatened by the democratic revolutions that began to challenge the old order in the Europe of the 1840s. This played into the hands of the dukes, princes and landholders who had no desire to share political power. In 1841, 10 years after Hegel’s death, the Prussian authorities brought in his former roommate and philosophical nemesis, Friedrich Schelling, to lecture in Berlin….

Frank Stella art. ---In so doing, western man's alienating and destructive dominance over nature can be arrested. Indeed, Heidegger went so far as to say that the motorization of the Wehrmacht in Nazi Germany's victory of France in 1940 was a "metaphysical act." This, of course, reduces philosophy to the realm of politics and power -- the epitome of Nazi existentialism. Nazi Germany's conquest over France represented the victory of National Socialist ideology over the international values of the French Enlightenment that exaggerated human reason over Nature. ...Heidegger is also important in understanding the ideological basis for Nazi technology even though National Socialism was a secular religion of Nature. Martin Heidegger did not become anti-technology per se until after the war when the Allies were in charge of the atom bomb. In the 1920's and 30's he spoke of the 'natural powers' of German technology that grows out of and is limited by Nature. He thus believed in an Aryan sustainable technology rooted in the soil of Germany. Technology based on the globalist forces of the Enlightenment is inauthentic and locally destructive to the native German peoples (das volk) since it has been uprooted by the 'liberal' Jewification of society. Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/07/the_green_nazi_deep_ecology_of_martin_heidegger.html#ixzz1v5h4eQBp image:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/frank-stella11-3-09_detail.asp?picnum=1

…With Schelling’s later philosophy we can say that the Romantic reaction against the Enlightenment found its first philosophical voice. Schelling sought to replace the Enlightenment’s concern with reason, political freedom and social equality with a rejection of reason in favor of revelation and elitist values. Schelling’s later system consecrated an appeal to myth and authority.

Consequent on the defeat of the 1848 revolution, the anti-rationalist tendencies expressed in the later philosophy of Schelling found fertile ground. The promise of the French Revolution, which seemed to inaugurate a new era in human history, was transformed into the nightmare of Prussian reaction. Instead of celebrating new possibilities, the prevailing spirit was one of resignation to a very narrowly circumscribed avenue of political practice. The notion of freedom was redefined subjectively, as an inner state that can be maintained despite the vicissitudes of political life. This was combined with a deep pessimism toward the ability of human agents to create a more humane society. The name of Arthur Schopenhauer will forever be linked to this strand of subjective idealism.Read More:http://www.wsws.org/articles/2000/apr2000/heid-a05.shtml

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