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I can think of only one thing which unites Adolf Hitler and Noam Chomsky: a shared contempt for and critique of capitalist mass-media democracy. Concerning Hitler’s speeches, we usually think of rapturous exhortations to his party-comrades. However, the Führer could sometimes strike a more pedagogical note. Such was the case in a December 1940 speech on what Hitler called “the so-called democracy” in the “Anglo-French world” and the United States. Listening to this speech, I was struck at how similar Hitler’s critique of capitalist democracy was to Noam Chomsky’s. For both Hitler and Chomsky, the corporate media, oligarchic influence, and an incestuous political class make a mockery of Western capitalist regime’s claims of being “democratic.”

Copies of the speech appear to have been eliminated in the recent YouTube purges, however, a copy is still available on archive.org. (The only edition left on YouTube is one uploaded by someone who has heavily spliced the speech with his own critical commentary, who was also struck by the similarities between fascist and left-wing critiques of capitalist democracy.)

Hitler observes that, in theory, the people rule in Britain, France, and America. However, as the people cannot spontaneously make and express their opinion on a mass scale, the media comes to play a critical role in shaping public opinion: “The decisive question is: Who enlightens the people? Who educates the people?” The answer is, of course, the media. In this, Hitler’s assessment is an exaggerated version of what Alexis de Tocqueville had observed a century earlier in his classic work, Democracy in America:

When a large number of press organs manage to march along the same path, their influence in the long run becomes almost irresistible, and public opinion, always struck upon the same side, ends up giving way under their blows.

In the United States, each newspaper has little power individually; but the periodical press is still, after the people, the first of powers.[1]

In Western democracies, Hitler claims: “Capital actually rules in these countries, that is, nothing more than a clique of a few hundred men who possess untold wealth.” Furthermore “freedom” refers primarily to “economic freedom,” which means the oligarchs’ “freedom from national control.” In a classic self-reinforcing cycle, the rich and powerful get richer and more powerful through influence over the political process. Today, this has culminated in the existence of the notorious “1%” so demonized by Occupy Wall Street.

The oligarchs, according to Hitler, establish and control the media:

These capitalists create their own press and then speak of “freedom of the press.” In reality, every newspaper has a master and in every case this master is the capitalist, the owner. This master, not the editor, is the one who directs the policy of the paper. If the editor tries to write something other than what suits the master, he is outed the next day. This press, which is the absolutely submissive and character slave of its owners, molds public opinions.

Hitler also emphasizes the incestuous relations and purely cosmetic differences between mainstream democratic political parties:

The difference between these parties is small, as it formerly was in Germany. You know them of course, the old parties. They were always one and the same. In Britain matters are usually so arranged so that families are divided up, one member being conservative, another liberal, and a third belonging to the Labour Party. Actually all three sit together as members of the family and decide upon their common attitude.

This cliquishness means that “on all essential matters . . . the parties are always in agreement” and the difference between “Government” and “Opposition” is largely election-time theatrics. This critique will resonate with those who fault the “Republicrats,” the “Westminster village,” or indeed the various pro-EU parties for being largely indistinguishable. This is often especially the case on foreign policy, Chomsky’s area of predilection.

Hitler goes on, with brutally effective sarcasm, to describe how it was in these democracies where the people supposedly rule that there was the most inequality: “You might think that in these countries of freedom and wealth, the people must have an unlimited degree of prosperity. But no!” Britain not only controlled “one-sixth of the world” and the impoverished millions of India, but itself had notoriously deep class divisions and suffering working classes. There was a similar situation in France and the United States: “There is poverty – incredible poverty – on one side and equally incredible wealth on the other.” These democracies had furthermore been unable to combat unemployment during the Great Depression, in contrast to Germany’s innovative economic policies.

Hitler then goes on to mock the Labour Party, which was participating in the government for the duration of the war, for promising social welfare and holidays for the poor after the war: “It is is remarkable that they should at last hit upon the idea that traveling should not be something for millionaires alone, but for the people too.” Hitlerite Germany, along with Fascist Italy, had long pioneered the organization of mass tourism to the benefit of working people. (Something which traditionalists like the Italian aristocrat Julius Evola bitterly criticized them for.)

Ultimately, in the Western democracies “as is shown by their whole economic structure, the selfishness of a relatively small stratum rules under the mask of democracy; the egoism of a very small social class.” Hitler concludes: “It is self-evident that where this democracy rules, the people as such are not taken into consideration at all. The only thing that matters is the existence a few hundred gigantic capitalists who own all the factories and their stock and, through them, control the people.”

Strikingly, Hitler does not mention Jewish media ownership or influence at all, at least in the available extract (I cannot find the full text online).

What is striking about Hitler’s critique is how little has changed since those days, almost 80 years ago. Today still, from both the left and right, one hears critiques of corporate influence in politics, of corporate ownership of the media and manipulation of public opinion, and of the minor differences between the self-serving mainstream political parties. Hitler’s attack of the oligarchic “democracy-makers” is quite similar to Chomsky’s critique of the corporate “manufacturers of consent” or Occupy Wall Street’s opposition to the “1%.”

How well has Hitler’s critique held up over the years? The fact is that, from the 1930s onward, the Western bourgeois democracies made serious efforts to reform in the face of the fascist and communist threats. They established social-democratic welfare states which redistributed vast amounts of wealth. However, since then inequality has ramped up in the era of globalization and neoliberalism.

 
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The European peoples have long thought and felt that each of them was unique, reflecting the particularly history and struggles the successive generations of their ancestors. The cultural differences of European nations have long been known, but today, genetic science is also able to quantify just how unique each nation is from a biological point of view as well.

A paper published last year in Nature observed that most Europeans descend essentially from three ancestral populations:

European hunter-gatherers who settled the continent in the Upper Paleolithic, Europe’s first farmers who expanded from Anatolia across Europe in the early Neolithic starting around 8000 years ago, and groups from the Pontic Steppe that arrived in Europe during the final Neolithic and early Bronze Age ~ 4500 years ago.

Most Europeans’ ancestry can be broken down as a mix of these three ancestral populations. However, the paper adds:

This model, however, does not fit well for present-day populations from north-eastern Europe such as Saami, Russians, Mordovians, Chuvash, Estonians, Hungarians, and Finns: they carry additional ancestry seen as increased allele sharing with modern East Asian populations. The origin and timing of this East Asian-related contribution is unknown.

Hence the existence of so many amusing and tongue-in-cheek Finns-as-Mongols and Finns-as-Elves memes (in general, Elves are generally portrayed looking like northern Europeans with a dash of Oriental).

The Finns, Hungarians, and Estonians are unique in Europe in speaking Finno-Ugric languages. Most European nations speak Indo-European languages, descending from the original language of conquerors hailing from the Pontic Steppe. Genetic studies suggest that Finns are not just uniquely linguistically, but also genetically. Similarly, the Basque are the only other nation in Europe not speaking an Indo-European language and, as I have previously written, their region too appears to be genetically distinct relative to the rest of the French population.

In fact, any East Asian contribution to the Finnish gene pool long predates the Mongols and even the spread of Uralic languages in northern Europe. The scientists estimate that Siberian DNA was present in Finland at least 3,500 years ago.

The existence of a genetically-unique Finnish people has proven beneficial to humanity. A striking example of this is a study conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine which “harnessed the unique genetic history of the people of Finland to identify variations in DNA that might predispose certain individuals to disease, whether or not they are Finnish themselves.”

The Finns, having a unique gene pool, are much more likely to have certain genes predisposing to certain diseases. By analyzing Finnish genomes, the scientists were much better able to determine the correlations between genes and diseases. These genes and diseases are also present, albeit much less frequently, among other populations and hence the study of Finns is also beneficial to humanity’s health as a whole.

The researchers identified “26 potentially harmful DNA variations relevant to cardiovascular and metabolic health,” including genes raising the risk of obesity, diabetes, or high cholesterol levels. What’s more:

Of the 26 DNA variations identified, 19 are either unique to Finnish individuals or over 20 times more frequent in Finland compared with elsewhere in Europe.

Without this unique population — isolated and relatively genetically similar – the researchers estimate they would need to sequence the DNA of hundreds of thousands to millions of people to find these same associations, rather than the relatively manageable 20,000 individuals analyzed in this study.

Adam E. Locke, one of the researchers, observes that Finland has preserved its genetic uniqueness through low historic immigration:

The small population of people who first settled this part of the world – combined with relatively little immigration that would add variation to the gene pool – has pushed important genetic variants that first existed in the founding population to expand and become much more common than they would be elsewhere. Now we can delve into the patient data – which is extremely well-characterized through Finland’s national health-care system – to understand how these genetic variants influence overall health and disease risk in the people who have them.

We can then expect that this typically Nordic combination of genetic uniqueness and quality healthcare systems will prove beneficial to humanity as a whole.

Concerning physiognomy and health, no one denies that ethnic and racial groups have genetically-determined differences. Concerning the Finns:

Finland is a relatively isolated country, and with two major population bottlenecks over its history, the Finnish people have DNA more similar to one another than people in many other parts of the world. . . . The effect has produced a set of genetic diseases – called the Finnish Disease Heritage – that can occur anywhere but are much more common in Finland than in other European populations.

The Jews are another people – because of founder effects and generations of careful, religiously-sanctioned protection of their gene pool from foreign infiltration – uniquely prone to various diseases.

Still, while everyone recognizes physical and health differences due race and ethnicity, few openly discuss differences in physical and sporting ability, let alone cognitive ability and temperament. But it would be very strange if local human evolution affected populations’ physical appearance, their health, but not, curiously, their most important organ: their brain. No less than a miracle from some particularly egalitarian-minded God would be necessary. While average IQ differences between populations are well-documented, we have only barely scratched the surface temperamental differences.

The scientists add that other genetically-unique populations could be studied in this manner: “For example, communities of people living on islands such as Sardinia in Italy, Crete in Greece or the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific also might provide similarly genetically unique populations to study, and perhaps highlight some different yet universal aspects of human health.” All this is possible only because these ethnic groups were kept relatively separate.

Human beings used to be of the opinion that homogeneous nation-states and the preservation of distinct racial/genetic identities were goods for humanity. As late as 1958, an American judge upheld segregation laws writing:

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriage. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: Finns 
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Anatoly Karlin drew my attention recently to a fascinating new study entitled “The Genetic History of France.” The authors are a collection of French medical researchers hailing from various universities and university hospitals.

The authors write:

The study of the genetic structure of different countries within Europe has provided significant insights into their demographic history and their actual stratification . Although France occupies a particular location at the end of the European peninsula and at the crossroads of migration routes, few population genetic studies have been conducted so far with genome-wide data. In this study, we analyzed SNP-chip genetic data from 2 184 individuals born in France who were enrolled in two independent population cohorts. Using FineStructure, six different genetic clusters of individuals were found that were very consistent between the two cohorts. These clusters match extremely well the geography and overlap with historical and linguistic divisions of France. By modeling the relationship between genetics and geography using EEMS software, we were able to detect gene flow barriers that are similar in the two cohorts and corresponds to major French rivers or mountains. Estimations of effective population sizes using IBDNe program also revealed very similar patterns in both cohorts with a rapid increase of effective population sizes over the last 150 generations similar to what was observed in other European countries. A marked bottleneck is also consistently seen in the two datasets starting in the fourteenth century when the Black Death raged in Europe. In conclusion, by performing the first exhaustive study of the genetic structure of France, we fill a gap in the genetic studies in Europe that would be useful to medical geneticists but also historians and archeologists.

In short, the genetic evidence appears to correlate with much of what we find in the historical record. This sort of study may be a step towards the consilience which sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson has called for between biology and the humanities.

The authors by the way summarize what is more widely known in the field of population genetics:

The study of the genetic structure of human populations is indeed of major interest in many different fields. It informs on the demographic history of populations and how they have formed and expanded in the past with some consequences on the distribution of traits. Genetic differences between populations can give insights on genetic variants likely to play a major role on different phenotypes, including disease phenotypes. . . .In the last decades, several studies were performed using genome-wide SNP data often collected for genome-wide association studies. These studies have first shown that there exist allele frequency differences at all geographic scales and that these differences increase with geographic distances. Indeed, the first studies have shown differences between individuals of different continental origins and then, as more data were collected and marker density increased, these differences were found within continents and especially within Europe. Several studies have also been performed at the scale of a single country and have shown that differences also exist within country. This was for instance observed in Sweden, where Humphreys et al. reported strong differences between the far northern and the remaining counties, partly explained by remote Finnish or Norwegian ancestry. More recent studies have shown structure in the Netherlands, Ireland, UK or Iberian peninsula. Previous studies of population stratification in France have examined only Western France (mainly Pays de le [sic] Loire and Brittany) and detected a strong correlation between genetics and geography. However, no study so far has investigated the fine-scale population structure of the entire France using unbiased samples from individuals with ancestries all over the country.

To translate this highly scientific language into plain English: genetic studies are now able to show genetic variations between populations, the fruit of the expansion, mixing, and/or extermination of particular races and ethnic groups; these genetic differences may correspond to biological differences between populations (most obviously physical and health differences but also, I make explicit, psychological ones); and these studies have been more and more able to identify not only inter-continental (which are the biggest), but also more subtle intra-continental and intra-national differences. Phew!

Interestingly, the authors find a similar pattern as in the rest of Europe, with a well-defined north-south cline of genetic variation: “The major axis of genetic differentiation runs from the south to the north of France.”

Two genomes of two sets of individuals were analyzed. These were found to correspond to 6 or 7 genetic clusters (more details in the article). The authors then showed the proportion of individuals from each cluster in each département.

Pie charts indicating the proportion of individuals from the different “départements” assigned to each cluster. Results are reported for the partition in 6 clusters obtained by running FineSTRUCTURE in the 3C dataset (left) and in SU.VI.MAX (right) independently. Geographic coordinates of three rivers of France are drawn in black: Loire, Garonne and Adour from north to south.

The authors found that geographical barriers limited gene flow and thus encouraged genetic differentiation:

We performed EEMS analysis in order to identify gene flow barriers within France; i.e; areas of low migrations. . . . The plots also reveal a gene flow barrier around Bretagne in the North-West and along the Loire River, which covers the separation of the North cluster. Finally, another barrier is also present on the South-East side that roughly corresponds to the location of the Alp Mountains at the border with Northern Italy.

The DNA of French border regions was found to be closer to that of their respective European neighbors:

As expected, the British heritage was more marked in the north than in the south of France where, instead, the contribution from southern Europe was stronger. . . . In both datasets, SW [Southwest] had the highest proportions of [Iberian DNA]. Part of this [Iberian DNA] could in fact reflect a Basque origin . . . This trend is even more pronounced in the 3C where few individuals are grouped together with Basque individuals in the first three dimensions. This SW region also corresponds to the “Aquitaine” region described by Julius Caesar in his “Commentari de Bello Gallico.”

The French genomes were found to map at their expected position in between Nordic (British and CEU), Italian and Spanish genomes from 1000 genomes project. . . .

This is in line with other studies finding their Europeans in the far south tend to be closer genetically to their North African or Middle-Eastern neighbors.

Furthermore, the DNA of French regions tends to be more differentiated insofar as these regions had distinct linguistic, ethnic, and political identities:

 
• Category: Science • Tags: France, Historical Genetics 
University Using Classics to Promote Left-Wing Agenda
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I recently stumbled on a profile of your humble servant on the Pharos website. Pharos is an academic blog which allows you to “learn about and respond to appropriations of Greco-Roman antiquity by hate groups online.” The blog’s name “refers to the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the first such beacon and the symbol of a city whose location at the crossroads between what we now call Europe and many other cultures made it for centuries the intellectual center of the Greco-Roman world.”

Pharos correctly observes that “[t]he civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome have always been attractive to European nationalist and racist movements.” The publication wishes to “expose the errors, omissions, and distortions” of said groups and “articulate a politically progressive approach to the study of Greco-Roman antiquity.”

Pharos does not explicitly say what it means by a “politically progressive approach.” However, browsing the website, one immediately sees they mean essentially left-wing identity politics, with a strong emphasis on homophilia, feminism, and multiculturalism.


Photo Credit: ©Walter Garschagen/ Vassar College

The website is run by Curtis Dozier, a professor of Greek and Roman history at Vassar College in New York. Pharos and its openly left-wing agenda enjoy “the support of the Vassar College Department of Greek and Roman Studies and the Vassar College Office of Communications.”

This is a refreshing bit of honesty: while it is widely-known that university professors overwhelmingly skew towards leftism and globalism,[1] it is not so common for them to officially declare their political leanings and goals.[2]

This begs questions however: Does Vassar College receive any public funds? If so, what do taxpayers think of the university using their money to promote a left-wing political agenda? And what do the conservative parents paying for their children to go to Vassar Collage think of this? Is this legal and common in the United States?

The editors of Pharos do not believe in dialogue, an ancient Socratic tradition, with those who are beyond the pale. They declare: “Pharos’ responses and essays are not intended to change the minds of those who use antiquity to support their racist ideologies.” Instead, the blog is meant to assuage liberal classicists’ disquiet at their field’s association with the Right:

They are intended, rather, to ensure that someone who turns to the web to learn about antiquity finds something other than the appropriations we are documenting. We hope, too, that our work will nourish those who love antiquity but are uncomfortable with the traditional association of its study with elitist and oppressive politics. You are not alone.

Pharos’ rejection of dialogue and ideological pluralism is such that the website even refuses to link to offending websites, so as to not increase their traffic, preferring to refer the reader to archived pages.

There has been a concerted effort by egalitarians to, however implausibly, ‘reclaim’ a sanitized version of the classics compatible with the various left-wing manias of the current year. Most prominent in this has been Donna Zuckerberg’s effort to preach egalitarianism . . . in another millennium.

As a rule, Pharos’ rebuttals are uneven, a mixture of fair points, qualifications, and non sequiturs. There is a lot of squid ink. For instance, the website objects to an online writer styling himself Hadrian, after the Roman emperor who built a wall on the border with Scotland, observing which “according to some but not all sources, was intended to keep ‘barbarians’ out of Roman territory.” Pray tell, what are ‘walls’ for other than helping to control (and generally, simply impede) who comes in and out of your territory?

This gives me another opportunity to comment on EU President Jean-Claude Juncker’s statement that “borders are the worst invention ever made by politicians.” It’s true that if borders were better controlled in Europe, his native Luxembourg which he headed for two decades, would not be able to thrive to the detriment of its neighbors as a tax haven. But if Juncker had paid more attention to in history class he might have avoided such a thoughtless comment: the word politician comes from polis and the polis, the city-state, was founded first as a kind of religious sanctuary, under particular gods’ protection, precisely with a sacred border between itself and the violence and lawlessness beyond. Thus, borders are in fact the first invention of politicians – symbolically affirmed in the founding myth of Rome, with Remus killing his brother Romulus for jumping over the city wall – and were integral to founding of civilization and all the comforts and advantages flowing therefrom that we so take for granted.

Anyway, back to Pharos. The website maintains a list of writers, and even a humble commenter, using classically-inspired pseudonyms. This is a useful resource. I discovered that the men’s help website Return of Kings (which used to focus on seduction and, I understand, has become some kind of Christian website) has been introducing a new generation of young men to “The Roots of Masculinity in Ancient Rome” as well as ancient Stoic wisdom (which you really must get into).

The list also includes Sargon of Akkad – a civic nationalist who rejects all identity politics, including racial identity, who recently ran as a UKIP candidate in the European elections. Pharos observes that Sargon once interviewed Steve Bannon, calling the latter a “white nationalist,” citing nothing other than an ADL article which itself does not substantiate the claim. Bannon is no more than a vague economic nationalist, who has jumped from one populist bandwagon to the next.

Something rubs me the wrong way when people accuse populists and civic nationalists of being more radical than they are. People on the right get a tremendous amount of flack – really systematic emotional abuse – for publicly affirming their beliefs and I think any honest person, in particular an academic, should really stick to the facts, rather than putting inaccurate labels.

Concerning Pharos’ post dedicated to me, while the framing is extremely inaccurate and stigmatizing, much of the content is fairly balanced. The author is fair enough to write:

 
Besieged Macron Regime Passing Legislation to Ban Free Speech on Social Media
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Despite a moderate economic recovery, President Emmanuel Macron’s government continues to flounder in unpopularity. A recent poll found only 1 in 4 people had a positive view of the French president and his government, while 66% had an outright negative view. Every regime under siege has a choice: improve its performance and unify the country or . . . crack down on critical opposition. The Macron regime has decidedly opted for the latter, proposing yet another law to destroy that pesky last bastion of free speech in France: the Internet.

The person charged with drafting this new legislation is Laetitia Avia, an MP of Togolese descent, with the support of Parliamentary Undersecretary for Digital Economy Cédric O [sic], a Franco-Korean. The law will require social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to provide “a single alert button, common to all big platform operators” for users to report “cyber-hate” (presumably more visible and uniform than what exists already).

More seriously, tech companies will be liable to massive fines if they do not immediately remove content which might be considered “hateful.” If a platform does not remove such content within 24 hours of notification, it could be fined by the French High Council for Audiovisual (Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel) to the tune of 4% of their global annual turnover. For Twitter for example, this would mean fines of up to a whopping $120 billion. Social media are also expected by the French government to artificially suppress the diffusion of hateful content, by limiting their “virality.”

This renewed push for censorship comes at a time when anti-Zionist critics like the civic nationalist Alain Soral and the comedian Dieudonné are being threatened with years of imprisonment under existing censorship legislation.

Avia defines “cyber-hate” as “any content that is manifestly an incitement to hatred or a discriminatory insult on grounds of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or disability.” But free speech watchdogs have already pointed out that French law is notoriously vague as to what constitutes “hate.” Judges have had to improvise the concept as we have gone along. The combination of the scale of the fine and the swiftness of expected response may mean a devastating chilling effect against free speech: tech operators will have a massive incentive to auto-ban any and all content which might conceivably be considered “hateful” by a CSA bureaucrat or some litigious ethnic lobby. Needless to say, much legitimate content would also be banned.


The Committee to Ban Your Memes: Gil Taïeb, Secretary of State for Digital Affairs Mounir Mahjoubi, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, Laetitia Avia, and Karim Amellal.

À propos of litigious ethnic lobbies hostile to the interests of the indigenous people of France: Avia indicates that the Macron regime prescribed two partners to co-draft the legislation with, Karim Amellal and Gil Taïeb. Karim Amellal is the son of an Algerian high civil servant who moved to France during the 1990s civil war between Islamists and the military in his country, who has become a writer specializing in diversity activism lecturing the indigenous French population on how racist they are. That is the reward the French get for being generous enough to welcoming Amellal into their country.

Gil Taïeb, hailing from Tunisia, for his part is the vice president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (CRIF), the country’s notoriously powerful, liberticidal, and well-connected Jewish-Zionist activist organization. Taïeb has reason to be pleased: even as this new law is being passed to crack down, notably, on native French ethno-nationalists, the Macron regime is also moving to criminalize anti-Zionism. The CRIF’s dream is being realized: support for Jewish ethno-nationalism and opposition to French ethno-nationalism will soon be the only authorized opinions on these issues expressible in the “French” “Republic.”

The law is also being supported by the slug-like Franco-Israeli member of parliament Meyer Habib, who far from being troubled by accusations of ‘dual loyalty,’ has always made clear that his engagement in French politics is first of all in service of his homeland of Israel. Habib recently demanded in the National Assembly that Avia’s liberticidal legislation be expanded further to cover historical revisionism as well, emotionally recalling how “as a young Zionist activist” he had received the following message from Robert Faurisson: “For this thug [nervi de choc] who in my own country is treating me like a Palestinian.” Apparently, decades later, Habib remains deeply triggered by this experience of a gentile who dares to speak up for himself.

Meyer Habib in Parliament, demanding gentiles be prosecuted for their thoughts
Meyer Habib in Parliament, demanding gentiles be prosecuted for their thoughts

Avia tells us that her proposal is driven by her own personal story:

If I have made this draft law proposal, it is because I have myself encountered this phenomenon: a wave of racist messages that I have received on social media. This law of course aims to go beyond my personal case. There is an increase in hateful content on the Internet, on social media. An increase of 30% since last year. The report by SOS Homophobia tells us that 66% of homophobic attacks [sic] take place online.

I am always struck by our official victimocratic regime’s infatuation with meaningless figures to justify its tyrannical measures, a habit that goes back at least seven or eight decades. She adds that she hopes that schoolchildren will be taught about her ‘anti-hate’ alarm button, presumably to encourage snitches and intimidate free-thinking teenagers. In France, the video game forum jeuxvideo.com saw the emergence of a whole generation of identitarian activists, race-realists, and Internet trolls – roughly the equivalent of 4chan – for only such a venue provided young men with a genuinely free space to think for themselves, rather than the tyrannical matriarchy of official schooling and HR departments of the totalitarian Nanny State.

Anyway, this whole law provides a revealing snapshot of the coalition which is ruling over the West and under whose leadership our nations are dissolving: globalist deracinated whites tied to big business (Macron), resentful and/or fearful token people of color (Avia, Amellal), and Jewish elites (Taïeb). Avia also closely collaborated with Twitter over the past 18 months and Mark Zuckerberg himself went to meet Macron at the Élysée Palace recently, the top issue of course being “cyber-hate.”

All this begs the question however: Why do the French not rule themselves? Why don’t the rulers of France rule to promote the interests and freedoms of the French? What would happen if the indigenous French majority were to awaken? I suggest that the Macron regime and its collaborators are playing a dangerous game.

 
And the Quest for a New European Spirituality
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In November 1940, a six-member delegation of Hitler Youth visited Japan, tasked by Adolf Hitler himself with a single task: “The only thing you need do is thoroughly experience the great spirit of the Japanese people that has arisen in their national polity.”[1] In honor of their visit, the Japanese composed a song entitled Banzai Hitorā Jūgento (Long Live Hitler Youth!, video here). As part of their mission of spiritual and cultural exchange, the young Germans were allowed to stay overnight at Eiheiji, one of Japan’s two most important Zen temples, to observe and get a taste of the life of the monks.

The visit was recorded in a Japanese article entitled “Hitler Youth (Blue Eyes Spend One Night as Zen Guests).”[2] The text is a fairly fluffy report. The author claims that the Japanese guests ate more skillfully with chop sticks than some visiting Chinese monks had previously. The following happened as the Germans sampled the monastery’s Buddhist vegetarian cuisine:

[Head of the Hitler Youth Delegation Heinrich] Jürgens went on to say that there were many vegetarians in Germany though not for religious reasons. While the vegetarianism of the Führer Adolf Hitler was well known, Jürgens explained that he personally leaned in that direction inasmuch as he normally ate only fruit for breakfast. Hearing this, Zen Master Katō asked, “Does that mean that Führer Hitler is a Zen priest?” With that, everyone burst out laughing.

Zen masters are famous for their sense of humor!

Jürgens went on to observe that the people of the Third Reich were seeking a new spirituality (journalist’s summary):

The people of present-day Germany are no longer satisfied with the religion they have had up to now. However, a new religion that can fully satisfy the German people has yet to be born. Therefore, until a new national religion appears, they have, albeit reluctantly, to depend on the religion they’ve had up to now. The Hitler Youth take the same position.

Hitler Youth delegation with monks at the head Zen temple of Eiheiji, Japan
Hitler Youth delegation with monks at the head Zen temple of Eiheiji, Japan

These events and documents have been unearthed by Brian Victoria, an American Zen priest who is very critical of the Japanese Zen establishment’s support for the Japanese war effort during the Second World War.[3] Whatever one thinks of Victoria’s opinions, he has done valuable work as a historian in bringing to light this perhaps surprising relationship between Japanese religion and German fascism. The present article largely draws on his pioneering work.

While the Hitlerians were notorious for their national chauvinism, they also could recognize a gifted foreign people and culture when they saw one. Victoria observes that, from both a spiritual and cultural point of view, many leading National Socialists actually were extremely admiring of Japanese society and culture, in some respects even considering them superior to Germany’s.

Hitler reportedly told his minister of armaments, Albert Speer: “You see, it’s been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn’t we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good?”[4] Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s amiable deputy-führer, argued that melding into the community came easier for the Japanese: “We, too, [like the Japanese] are battling to destroy individualism. We are struggling for a new Germany based on the new idea of totalitarianism. In Japan this way of thinking comes naturally to the people.[5]

The German people themselves came to be greatly impressed by the Japanese war effort. An August 1942 Situation Report by the SS’s Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service, the SS’s intelligence agency) worried that positive reports of the Japanese’s heroic efforts were beginning to intimidate ordinary Germans:

The former view, that the German soldier is the best in the world, has been confused by descriptions of the Japanese swimmers who removed mines laid before Hong Kong or the Japanese pilots who, with contempt for death, pounce with their bombs on enemy ships. This has partially caused something like an inferiority complex. The Japanese look like a kind of Super-Teuton [Germane im Quadrat].[6]

The Germans ultimately tied the Japanese’s exceptional capacity for patriotic self-sacrifice to their culture and spirituality, namely the legacy of Shinto, Buddhism (especially Zen), and the samurai.

German nationalists in fact often had a very conflicted view of German history and culture. Friedrich Nietzsche’s critique of Christianity as a Jewish-inspired slave religion – emphasizing meekness, humility, the righteousness of the wretched, and otherwordly salvation – had widespread currency in the Third Reich. Piously Christian National Socialists sought to purge Christianity of Jewish and slavish elements, emphasizing the religion’s Germanization in the early Middle Ages[7] and the work of German Christians like the Zen-like mystic Master Eckhart and the zealous anti-Semite Martin Luther.

Heinrich Himmler, the head of the elite military and police forces known as the SS, sought to create some kind of neo-Pagan spirituality for his men, drawing from ancient Germanic Paganism, Hinduism, and even Buddhism. If you browse the publications dedicated to the SS elite – notably the various Leithefte (“Lead-Journals” a kind of magazine) – one is struck at how ecumenical these may be in terms of their civilizational inspiration. In addition to articles on German, Viking, or ancient Germanic history and art, one may also find ones on Japan (not surprising as an ally) or indeed ancient Greece, Rome, Persia, and India. This is because the latter four civilizations were founded by the Aryan conquerors – today known under the more politically correct term “Indo-European” – which the Germans fiercely identified with (indeed, sometimes terming this people the “Indo-Germanics”). Himmler was fairly serious about this, organizing a famous 1938-39 research expedition to Tibet and carrying with him the ancient Hindu epic the Baghavad Gita, considering its ethos of perfectly willful but detached action to be perfect for the SS man.

In short, German nationalists were frustrated by the fractious nature of German cultural and spiritual history – long torn between different states, religions, and civilizational influences. Christianity in particular was often criticized as a universalist religion hailing from the Middle East, relatively indifferent to the racial struggle for survival.

In contrast, Japanese history and culture was – and is largely still – marked by a great coherence and congruity, a self-contained ethno-cultural world. Victoria notes:

By comparison, the Japanese side clearly believed they already possessed an unshakable and powerful spiritual foundation, one eminently suited to mobilizing the Japanese people in the war effort. Although not directly discussed in this article, this widespread belief in the strength of its spiritual foundation, including a divine emperor rooted in Shinto, allowed Japan to entertain the idea the country could prevail over the West, despite the recognized material superiority of the latter.[8]

 
• Category: History, Ideology • Tags: Buddhism, Japan, Nazism, World War II 
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We should not underestimate the power and logic of globalism. The fact is that, while Western nationalists lament diversity, the West’s wealthiest places are extraordinarily diverse and are growing richer: I am talking about our so-called ‘global cities’. These include such places as New York City, London, Paris, and, beyond the West, Singapore or Dubai. In some sense, we might consider the greater Bay Area in California surrounding Silicon Valley to be a kind of global city. We should try to understand the prosperity of these places and their future prospects.

Western nationalists associate ‘diversity’ with black and brown people with low average IQs and comparatively high welfare use and criminality. Western globalists however – who form a solid 20% of the white population, often the most educated and intelligent portion – associate diversity with the ‘global cities’ they live in, which are perfectly functional from an economic point of view, and that is typically enough for them. For a nationalist, ‘diversity’ might conjure up grisly images of the victims of Islamic terrorism or the treasonous mass sexual abuse by Pakistani gangs against English girls. But for a globalist, ‘diversity’ means the kebab shop down the corner, a kindly Mexican nanny, or the competent Asian guys at the office. And they can only think: Why are you being such a hater?

Global cities are typically ‘majority-minority,’ no ethnic or racial group being a majority on their own. In Paris or London, it is true, the prevalence of European migrants means that whites form a small majority, but the native British or French whites certainly form a minority.

The Île-de-France region of France has a GDP per capita 177% the EU average, for London the figure is 187%. Unemployment in such regions is typically low. Their achievement is all the more remarkable in that these regions typically have seen a growing population over the years. Note: I am not justifying global cities. I am merely observing that their ability to provide jobs and social services for their highly diverse populations is high . . . and getting higher.

Why do global cities work? The explanation I find most persuasive is that of cognitive elitism. Cities are where people get together and connect, then being able to exchange, collaborate, and specialize, thus producing wealth and innovate, in a way which would be quite impossible for individuals isolated across various villages. In a modern economy, this means intelligent people gathering in innovative, wealth-creating, and/or wealth-siphoning institutions, such as the great tech and financial services companies, or really all the multinationals whose products and services we take for granted. I for one do not dismiss the accomplishments of Google, Carrefour, and IKEA.

Within the United States of America, to simplify somewhat, educated people are leaving the often Trump-voting heartlands in favor of the West Coast (especially California), Texas, and the Northeast.[1] In Europe, the southern and eastern periphery of the European Union is being strip-mined of its human capital, Portuguese nurses and Romanian doctors preferring to move en masse to secure the better wages and public services of northwestern Europe (they move, it is true, not necessarily to the big cities, but often to more suburban settings).


Tim Ball and Ginger Hervey/POLITICO

A stark fact is that global cities seem to be getting more rather than less viable as they get more diverse. After a sharp rise in criminality in the final Obama years – partly it seems due to a loss of nerve on the part of the president, who preferred to scapegoat law enforcement officers rather than face the reality of black crime – homicide has been steadily declining over the past two years, perhaps not coincidentally, since President Donald Trump has been in office. New York City’s murder rate has been steadily declining, partly thanks to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk policies targeting black and Mestizo young men.

A point I want to make: global cities’ diversity challenges can, in large part, be managed through a regular dose of liberal hypocrisy/cognitive dissonance. New Yorkers instituting racial profiling in their police force to keep themselves safe is only one example. Another is the wider phenomenon of gentrification, whereby the more problematic minority groups can simply be priced out of wherever affluent liberals live (typically imposing said problematic minorities onto neighboring white middle or working class towns).

Another solution is racial self-segregation, a very popular practice in all global cities, particularly among white liberals. You can find innumerable maps documenting residential self-segregation: whether in the United States (notably New York and Los Angeles), London (where, interestingly, white European immigrants seem to mostly settle in white British neighborhoods), or Brussels (where European and Muslim immigrants typically settle in separate neighborhoods).

In general, the authoritarian state’s ability to manage diversity has still only been partially implemented. Mass surveillance, gun control, censorship, and welfare can do further wonders in domesticating mankind and making us almost completely docile. European blacks, while not particularly academically or socially successful, are typically much more docile the American blacks, I believe because of lack of guns, ample welfare, and, perhaps, survival of traditional African culture (is there any data comparing crime by Caribbean vs. African blacks?). In another genre, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, as authoritarian states, can manage their diversity problems very well.

In the global cities, whatever negative economic effects there are to unskilled immigration appear to be more than offset by the benefits of gifted immigration.

Beyond brains, global cities attract money, namely, Third-World money. All the wealthy people in the world – from Latin America through Africa, the former Soviet space, and much of Asia – wish for themselves and their children to enjoy an economic, personal, and legal security which can only be found in the Western world, with our attachment to fair play and the rule of law.[2] Various nouveaux-riches from China, India, Russia, the Gulf states, and elsewhere are then buying up property, media, and football clubs in the West and sending their children to our universities. This is driving up property prices and, hence, contributing to the poor-minority-removing gentrification mentioned above. The owners of Third-World money are typically not stupid but are often vicious and corrupt.

 
• Category: Economics, Ideology • Tags: Diversity, Elites, Globalism 
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Reading the letters of the young Charles de Gaulle, I recently came across an interesting passage describing life in interwar Poland. Actually, there is something charming about these letters in general. De Gaulle writes to his “bien chère Maman” (dearest mum or mummy) all the while using the formal vous. After spending half of War War I in German POW camps, he is eager to get his military career back on track, and so has volunteered to move to Poland to train the officers for the newly-formed Polish army. He complains of the cold trains and the bureaucratic inefficiency of the French military, while his mother pressures him to find a girl and get married.

Here is my translation of the letter:

Modlin, [Poland, near Warsaw,] May 23, 1919

My dearest Mum,

I have still received nothing from you! Here the postal service is nonexistent, as is everything else. Literally everything remains to be done from top to bottom. The Russians, when they occupied this country, had systematically prevented the Poles from doing anything, whether in trade, industry, administration, or the army. These people, when left to their own devices, are good for nothing, and the worst is that they think they are excellent at everything. We will need much, much effort to rebuild a country with such people. And yet we have such an interest in achieving this that it is worth making the attempt. Warsaw is a city without charm or character, yet quite pleasant and very animated, filled for now with a whole crowd of more-or-less decorated people hailing from Russia, White Russia, and Lithuania, where the Bolsheviks have occupied their lands, and who despite their misfortune are frantically enjoying themselves.

The well-off families of Warsaw, whose wealth has been chipped away at by the recent agrarian laws, war, and a profligate lifestyle, help [the Russian émigrés] with all their means and imitate them. All these people are incidentally very friendly towards us, and receive us more often than we would like. Everything is extremely expensive – about three times more expensive than in Paris – and the smart set here do not deprive themselves of anything. Lower down, the city is swarming with 500,000 impoverished people. One wonders just how they are able to get by, given that there are no working factories, nor any commercial traffic, nor any building works underway.

And in the middle of all this innumerable [. . .], hated to death by all classes of society, all enriched by the war, which they took advantage of on the backs of the Russians, the Boches,[1] and the Poles, and quite disposed to a social revolution in which they would receive a lot of money in exchange for a few dirty tricks.

Our students arrived on June 1st. We are ready to receive them.

A thousand affections for you, Dad, and all of you, my dearest Mum. I very troubled by this lack of news from you.

Your very affectionate and respectful son.

Charles de Gaulle[2]

I don’t know why the term of “Jews” has been marked “[…]” in the text. Did the publishers censor it? Or did De Gaulle bowdlerize himself? My edition containing this letter does not make this clear at all. This is however a significant marker of an educated French officer’s opinion on Eastern European Jewry as being disposed to both communism and unscrupulous business.

Much later, De Gaulle would effectively stand up for Jewish interests by moving to London during the Fall of France of 1940 and thus found ‘Free France’ as an integral member of the Allies and an unconditional enemy of Hitlerism. Raymond Aron, a liberal-conservative Jewish journalist who had also moved to London during this time and pursued the struggle against Hitler from there, later strangely wrote that at the time in that city “the Jewish question was present with a kind of obsession.”[3]

Later still, as President of the Republic – in comments spoken in the wake of the 1967 Six Day War between Israel and the Arabs, and the rising prominence of the Zionist lobby – De Gaulle would say of the founding of Israel: “Some even feared that the Jews, until then dispersed, who had remained what they had always been, an elite people, self-confident and dominating, would, once they were reassembled at the site of their former greatness, change into an ardent and conquering ambition the very touching wishes they had expressed for 19 centuries: next year in Jerusalem!”

I’ve been struck at the revulsion which Polish Jewry in particular has tended to inspire among Europeans. Among Germans, this long predates the notorious Nazi film The Eternal Jew, some of the footage of which is quite shocking.

The famous Prussian king Frederick the Great carefully maintained a policy of limiting the number of Jews in his realm and despised Polish Jewry’s way of life, despite harboring no religious sentiment against them (the king was equally contemptuous of all religions).

The great Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz would voice his disgust in a letter to his wife, with a striking premonition of a holocaust:

The whole experience of the Poles is as though bound and held together by torn ropes and rags. Dirty German Jews, swarming like vermin in the dirt and misery, are the patricians of this land. A thousand times I thought if only fire would destroy this whole anthill so that this unending filth were changed by the clean flame into clean ashes.[4]

More recently, the French anti-Zionist nationalist Alain Soral has claimed there is a unique hatred stemming from Polish Ashkenazi Jews in particular, evident in people like Bernard-Henri Lévy and Alain Finkielkraut. Certainly, there is a stereotype of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews being more laid back, sleazier, and less intelligent (represented in France by the vulgar radio jock Cyril Hanouna, the grotesque Jabba-the-Hut-like Israel-firster politician Meyer Habib, and obnoxious jeans-salesmen).

Whatever the reason, the relationship between Europeans and Jews seems to long have been the unhappiest in this eastern part of Europe.

Notes

[1] A derogatory term for German, roughly equivalent to “Krauts.”

[2] Charles de Gaulle, Lettres, Notes, Carnets: 1919-June 1940 (Paris: Plon, 1980), p. 27-28.

[3] Article in Raymond Aron, Essais sur la condition juive contemporaine (Paris: Éditions Tallandier, 2007, [originally Éditions de Fallois, 1989], p. 32.

[4] Peter Paret, Clausewitz and the State: The Man, His Theories, and His Times (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1985), pp. 212-13.

 
• Category: History • Tags: Charles De Gaulle, Jews, Poland 
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There are books that defy categorization. This is one of them.

The artist known as Bronze Age Pervert (henceforth ‘TAKABAP’) is a Twitter personality who used to lurk around the Return of Kings forums. Little else is known of him, but I am assume he is some sort of senior American political consultant, receiving large sums from Republican ‘dumb money’ with minimal effort, spending most of the day working out and chilling poolside.

TAKABAP says from the outset: “I declare to you, with great boldness, that I am here to save you from a great ugliness” (p. 4). You don’t need saving? He rejoins: “Spiritually your insides are all wet, and there’s huge hole through where monstrous powers are fucking your brain, letting loose all you life and power of focus” (p. 6).

TAKABAP has nourished himself from a steady diet of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Houellebecq, and, above all, Hellenic philosophy and weight-lifting. From this, he has produced a book of brilliantly-written essays and aphorisms, at once hilarious, bitingly perceptive, and motivational. You get a whirlwind tour of today’s world and the philosophical peaks. Themes include religion, late liberalism, the limits of Darwinism, the nature of woman, the Buddha, the impotence of science, the importance of intuition, and much more. Bronze Age Mindset is ever original, provocative, and stimulating, and will get your own creative juices going.

TAKABAP is thoroughly disgusted with the lies and faggotry of the modern world. He sees broken, domesticated men, psychological castrati everywhere. Everywhere, coalitions of women, the old, the weak, and the ugly conspire to smother the best, to destroy independent thought, beauty, and, above all, vitality and power. According to the author, much of this is not new to the modern world. The same dynamics could be seen in obese-mammy-worshipping pre-Aryan Europe, the primordial tribe, the miserable peasants stunted by vicious ‘tradition’ in the Third World, or the ‘cities’ (masses of people) of China.[1]

The parable of Mitt Romney is worth the price of the book alone.

Having observed TAKABAP over the years, the thought had occurred to me that his philosophy boiled down to “Alcibiades did nothing wrong!” This is confirmed in the book. This is a sustained argument, in classic Nietzschean mode, against the conventional ‘rational’ and altruistic morality that has prevailed since Socrates and Plato. Against a world in which the best men feel guilty for being better or for not working (hence the cultural sterility of the Anglo-American world), against a mindset in which these men no longer trust their instincts and intuition.

Perhaps TAKABAP’s most striking contribution to political philosophy is to give us a much better sense of freedom, which was Hellenic freedom, in contradistinction with the impoverished Modern concept.

Freedom is not a laundry-list of entitlements for those who submit to an effeminate society’s totalitarian demands against truth and beauty, up to the destruction of independent thought itself. Rather, freedom, both individual and collective, is something very different. Individually, freedom is a man’s honor-bound determination to prefer death to slavery, to live gloriously and well, according to his nature, rather than submit. Collectively, freedom is a coalition of such men, a band of brothers, securing a living space, establishing a sanctuary within which their people and themselves can flourish, enabling leisure and the pursuit of excellence. I cannot resist quoting TAKABAP at length:

[A]ncient “public-spiritedness” [is] free men accepting the rigors of training together so they can preserve their freedom by force against equally haughty and hostile outsiders and against racial subordinates at home. Any “racial” unity of the Greeks was therefore only the organic unity of culture or language, but never became political: such people would never tolerate losing the sovereignty in the states they and their recent ancestors had established to protect their freedom and space to move. But to draw any parallels to our time is absurd: these men would have never submitted to abstractions like “human rights,” or “equality,” or “the people”as some kind of amorphous entity encompassing the inhabitants of the territory or city in general. They would have rightly seen this as pure slavery, which is our condition today: no real man would ever accept the legitimacy of such an entity, which for all practical purposes means you must, for entirely imaginary reasons, defer to the opinion of slaves, aliens, fat childless women, and others who have no share in the actual physical power. (p. 128)

TAKABAP has no illusions about the darkness of the times we live in and yet, a rarity on the Right, is also inspirational. He wants you to live well, you must first flourish individually, and then with a band of brothers, if the West is going to be reborn. Thus, work out, do what you love, make friends, cultivate your skills, amass power. TAKABAP provides, quite lovingly, a good deal of sound life and relationship advice (particularly for budding thought-criminals), for the young men he does not want to see broken by our evil culture.

Don’t, he adds, destroy yourself in some, as of now, pointless political signaling (in America, no rallies). The real America, he points out, was not the Constitution, but the spirit of the Frontier, of the pioneers and cowboys who conquered the Wild West.

TAKABAP prophesies a time when “piratical bands and brotherhoods” will break free from the constraints of modern civilization and torch and plunder all these cities of excess, sub-par, miserable ‘life.’ There are great precedents for this: the Sea Peoples, the Germanic tribes . . .

Who knows what will come. In the meantime, all we may do is ‘flourish in the muddy water,’ like the lotus flower. TAKABAP says: “In the end, nothing can be trusted, that you can’t see and feel yourself” (p. 100). “Constrained and dependent people don’t have real thoughts” (p. 125). “All you need to do is give in to desire for great things” (p. 135). This book is a summoning, an appeal to authenticity and joyous effort, that we may live more beautifully and intensely.

I recommend you buy the book before its inevitable ban by Amazon. I foresee great things will come from the very select few that can hear his message.

Notes

[1] “Matriarchy and anonymity are the principles of these piles of biomass – never call them hives!” (p. 73)

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Feminization, Philosophy 
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I discovered Zen a few years ago. I had never encountered anything quite like it. I had been possessed by the frenetic, over-stimulated nature of life today, which we are all familiar with, particularly in the age of the Internet and social media. I was both restless and aimless, and consumed by the petty anxieties about professional life, where ultimately very little is really at stake.

And then I found Zen, where one is invited to sit down and . . . nothing. How shocking to be told that one should stare at the wall for an hour. And yet, I was not ‘bored,’ and I often came back to the meditation hall.

During zazen, seated meditation, one sits down in a particular posture (legs cross in half or full lotus, back upright, chin tucked in), one follows the breath, and one learns to let go of thoughts – not to suppress – but simply to be detached from them, to watch them go by, like clouds drifting across the sky.

If you ever meditate, you’ll soon find that you cannot repress your thoughts even if you try, that you have little control over your thoughts. The mind is ever-buzzing with our daily plans, daily worries, daily duties, daily frustrations, past memories, and future fantasies. In fact, one can be rather embarrassed at the obsessions which return again and again, surging forth from our subconscious, like strange fish regularly jumping out of the troubled waters of a pitch black lake.

‘Doing nothing’ in zazen actually then entails quite a few activities, quite a few exercises for the mind. One trains oneself in:

  1. Patience
  2. Self-control
  3. Steadiness of will (maintaining posture, returning to the breath)
  4. Detachment from our thoughts (and thereby, from all things)
  5. Self-awareness (observation of our own consciousness and glimpses of our subconscious)
  6. And, finally, the quieting of the mind

Actually, to speak of ‘training’ is in one sense improper, for zazen is practiced without any goal at all. It is a gratuitous waste of time. This is an exercise in self-lessness. The ego is not suppressed, but seen in a different light, as inseparable from the cosmos, which itself, in one sense, exists only through our particular subjective consciousness. Perfect interdependence.

There are many scientific studies claiming that meditation has beneficial effects on mental health and even certain cognitive abilities. I cannot say whether these are credible or not. Perhaps Zen meditation is a mere placebo – a ritual and exercise which can still appeal to and convince the secularized European – but then there are also plenty of studies showing that placebos, in many cases, can help people overcome pain and even depression. I have no doubt that the communal rituals and chanting of religions also can have powerful psychological effects.

All I can say for sure is that the effects for me have indeed been powerful. With regular practice, your way of being during zazen redounds on your way of being in daily life. One is more detached, more tolerant, more sovereign in the face of circumstances. One is less dispersed and has greater self-control. After one meditative retreat, I must say I felt genuinely transformed: I was no longer at war with the world, my contempt for certain colleagues subsided and I was even genuinely happy to see them, I was no longer offended by ‘wrong opinion,’ I was able to genuinely dialogue with others. When you really are happy to see someone, they will be similarly happy to see you. If you work from their starting point – rather than expecting to impose your own – you can actually converge and build something together. In short, you become again a member of your community, while keeping your individuality. You become, at your humble level, a node of positivity and power in this often senseless world.

This feeling faded after a couple weeks. Had I achieved genuine insight? Had I really been more open-minded and altruistic? Or was this a kind of mystical blindness, an indeed altered mental state which, like some drug, led to a merely superficial bliss? I cannot say.

Pythagoreans celebrating the rising sun
Pythagoreans celebrating the rising sun

I can say however that I have faith in Tradition and in the accumulated experience of our ancestors. Spiritual practice is by no means an Oriental monopoly. From the ancient Pythagoreans and Stoics to the medieval Christians, Europeans have worked to alter and train their minds to better reflect the order of the cosmos, the divine. It is only we Moderns who have faltered in this respect. Spiritual exercises gave our ancestors strength to survive and thrive, to persevere in their actions and their principles, in a world which was much more brutal than that of today.

Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy – which has invariably resonated much stronger with me than the Modern – is deeply concerned about the cultivation of the soul. As perfectible beings with a degree of agency, our mind is what we should improve, our actions (which are the only things we might otherwise control) will then necessarily improve. The rest is of no concern to us. For the Ancients, there were not ten thousand ways of producing a good human being: one needed to be well-born, to have a good education, to be socialized with the right people, and train every day. Modern science has added nothing to these insights. As Pierre Hadot has shown, ancient philosophy was deeply concerned, from Pythagoras to Julian, with self-perfection through “spiritual exercises.”

I hasten to add that, unlike many meditators, I personally have no need for any supernatural explanations for spiritual practice’s positive effects. (Which, conversely, does not mean I deny the possibility of the supernatural.)

In this I follow the ancient Stoics, whose practice did not depend on the gods existing or not. Stoic philosophers such as Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius simply observed: almost everything in this world is outside of my control, I should then focus on what is in my control, namely my own state of mind, and focus on entirely detaching myself from the rest and perfecting my own will. (The doctrine of samurai, as most powerfully expressed in the Hagakure, is by the way quite similar in this respect.) Thus, the Stoics developed spiritual exercises (usefully summarized by Massimo Piggliucci), such as premeditating on the ordeals you will face, contemplating the impermanence of things and the vastness of the cosmos, and being ever aware of our inevitable impending death.

Stoicism however always remained the private practice of a part of the Roman elite, never systematically followed, nor spread to the masses. Stoicism could not survive the emotional power and mass appeal of Christianity. Buddhism by contrast offers the strange sight of a movement, in fact a variety of different schools, which can appear either religious or philosophical. Beyond exceptional individuals, a spiritual practice cannot be systematic if it does not take on a religious form. Where the Stoic exercises remain very ‘cognitive’ and ‘cerebral,’ too diverse and wordy in a sense, in zazen there is the purest philosophical exercise: the unflinching contemplation of the void.

The pious Muslim solemnly takes time five times a day to think about his community and his fundamental values. What do you do?

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Buddhism, Philosophy, Stoicism 
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