View Full Version : De Benoist/ Ibn Khaldun/ Dugin

Thursday, July 31st, 2003, 01:30 PM
I would like further information about this personality who is apparently of the "New Right". My curiosity stems from the fact that a subscriber to his theories told me about him and upon reading a post by Thorburnulf regarding this character in the National Bolshevik thread (now situated in this Forum). Any information available?

Thursday, July 31st, 2003, 06:56 PM
I know two things about de benois: none of his books are available in English and he lives in Cork.Too much wife-swapping in France I gather.

Thursday, July 31st, 2003, 07:28 PM
It is Alain de Benoist.


http://www.lulop.com/site/appbyid.php3?id=402&SourceWell_Session=96ad2b7fd9979d5bf6057 40d4b0095b8

Taras Bulba
Thursday, December 11th, 2003, 03:18 AM

Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft: A sociological view of the decay of modern society.

Based on an original essay by Alain de Benoist, translated and interpreted by Tomislav Sunic, Juniata College Alain de Benoist is a French philosopher and the editor of the Quarterly Krisis. He is the author of several books, including Comment peut-on etrepaien Tomislav Sunic is a professor of political science who is currently affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Croatia, and is the author of The European New Right (New York, Peter Lang, 1990).
Vol. 34, Mankind Quarterly,
04-01-1994, pp 263.

Peaceful modern societies which respect the individual evolved from age-old familistic ties. The transition from band-type societies, through clan and tribal organizations, into nation-states was peaceful only when accomplished without disruption of the basic ties which link the individual to the larger society by a sense of a common history, culture and kinship. The sense of "belonging" to a nation by virtue of such shared ties promotes cooperation, altruism and respect for other members. In modern times, traditional ties have been weakened by the rise of mass societies and rapid global communication, factors which bring with them rapid social change and new philosophies which deny the significance of the sense of nationhood, and emphasize individualism and individualistic goals. The cohesion of societies has consequently been threatened, and replaced by multicultural and multi-ethnic societies and the overwhelming sense of lost identity in the mass global society in which Western man, at least, has come to conceive himself as belonging.

Sociologically, the first theorist to identify this change was the Arab scholar, Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), who emphasized the tendency for mass urban societies to break down when the social solidarity characteristic of tribal and national societies disappeared. Ibn Khaldun saw dramatically the contrast between the morality of the nationalistic and ethnically unified Berbers of North Africa and the motley collation of peoples who called themselves Arabs under Arabic leadership, but did not possess the unity and sense of identity that had made the relatively small population of true Arabs who had built a widespread and Arabic-speaking Empire. Later it was Ferdinand Tonnies (1855-1936) who introduced this thought to modern sociology. He did so in his theory of gemeinschaft and gesellschaft (Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, 1887). This theory revealed how early tribal or national (gemeinschaft) societies achieved harmonious collaboration and cooperation more or less automatically due to the common culture and sense of common genetic and cultural identity in which all members were raised. This avoided major conflicts concerning basic values since all shared a common set of mores and a common sense of destiny. However, as history progressed, larger multi-ethnic and multi-cultural societies began to develop, and these Tonnies described as being united by gesellschaft ties. These were not united by any common set of values or historical identity, and collaboration was only maintained due to the need to exchange goods and services. In short, their existence came to depend on economic relations, and as a result of the diversity of cultural values, the lack of any "family feeling," and the emphasis on economic exchange and economic wealth, conflict over wealth and basic values was likely to disrupt the harmony of such societies at any time. In political terms, liberalism developed to eulogize the freedom of individuals from claims to national loyalty and support for national destiny, while Marxism grew out of the dissatisfaction felt by those who were less successful in achieving wealth and power, which now came to represent the primary goals of the individuals who were left at the mercy of the modern mass gesellschaft society. Nationalism and any sense of loyalty to the nation as a distinct ethnic, kinship unit came to be anathomized by both liberals and Marxists.

"A specter is haunting Europe - a specter of communism" wrote Marx in the preface of The Manifesto. A century later this specter became a mere phantom, with liberalism the dominant force. Over the last several decades, liberalism used communism as a scarecrow to legitimize itself. Today, however, with the bankruptcy of communism, this mode of "negative legitimation" is no longer convincing. At last, liberalism, in the sense of the emphasis on the individual above and even against that of the nation, actually endangers the individual by undermining the stability of the society which gives him identity, values, purpose and meaning, the social, cultural and biological nexus to which he owes his very being.

Fundamentally, classical liberalism was a doctrine which, out of an abstract individual, created the pivot of its survival. In its mildest form it merely emphasized individual freedom of action, and condemned excessive bureaucratic involvement by government. But praiseworthy though its defense of individual freedom was, its claim that the ideal system is that in which there is the least possible emphasis on nationhood leads to situations which in fact endanger the freedom of the individual. In its extreme form, classical liberalism has developed into universal libertarianism, and at this point it comes close to advocating anarchy.

From the sociological standpoint, in its extreme form, modern internationalist liberalism defines itself totally in terms of the gesellschaft society of Tonnies. It denies the historical concept of the nation state by rejecting the notion of any common interest between individuals who traditionally shared a common heritage. In the place of nationhood it proposes to generate a new international social pattern centered on the individual's quest for optimal personal and economic interest. Within the context of extreme liberalism, only the interplay of individual interests creates a functional society - a society in which the whole is viewed only as a chance aggregate of anonymous particles. The essence of modern liberal thought is that order is believed to be able to consolidate itself by means of all-out economic competition, that is, through the battle of all against all, requiring governments to do no more than set certain essential ground rules and provide certain services which the individual alone cannot adequately provide. Indeed, modern liberalism has gone so far along this path that it is today directly opposed to thee goals of classical liberalism and libertarianism in that it denies the individual any inalienable right to property, but still shares with modern liberalism and with libertarianism an antagonism toward the idea of nationhood. Shorn of the protection of a society which identifies with its members because of a shared national history and destiny, the individual is left to grasp struggle for his own survival, without the protective sense of community which his forebears enjoyed since the earliest of human history.

Decadence in modern mass multi-cultural societies begins at a moment when there is no longer any discernable meaning within society. Meaning is destroyed by raising individualism above all other values because rampant individualism encourages the anarchical proliferation of egotism at the expense of the values that were once part of the national heritage, values that give form to the concept of nationhood and the nation state, to a state which is more than just a political entity, and which corresponds to a particular people who are conscious of sharing a common heritage for the survival of which they are prepared to make personal sacrifices.

Man evolved in cooperating groups united by common cultural and genetic ties, and it is only in such a setting that the individual can feel truly free, and truly protected. Men cannot live happily alone and without values or any sense of identity: such a situation leads to nihilism, drug abuse, criminality and worse. With the spread of purely egotistic goals at the expense of the altruistic regard for family and nation, the individual begins to talk of his rights rather than his duties, for he no longer feels any sense of destiny, of belonging to and being a part of a greater and more enduring entity. He no longer rejoices in the secure belief that he shares in a heritage which it is part of his common duty to protect - he no longer feels that he has anything in common with those around him. In short, he feels lonely and oppressed. Since all values have become strictly personal, everything is now equal to everything; e.g., nothing equals nothing.

"A society without strong beliefs," declared Regis Debray in his interview with J.P. Enthoven in Le Nouvel Observateur, (October 10, 1981), " is a society about to die." Modern liberalism is particularly critical of nationalism. Hence, the question needs to be raised: Can modern liberal society provide strong unifying communal beliefs in view of the fact that on the one hand it views communal life as nonessential, while on the other, it remains impotent to envision any belief - unless this belief is reducible to economic conduct?

Moreover there seems to be an obvious relationship between the negation and the eclipse of the meaning and the destruction of the historical dimension of the social corpus. Modern liberals encourage "narcissism;" they live in the perpetual now. In liberal society, the individual is unable to put himself in perspective, because putting himself in perspective requires a clear and a collectively perceived consciousness of common heritage and common adherence. As Regis Debray remarks, "In the capacity of isolated subjects men can never become the subjects of action and acquire the capability of making history." (Critique de la raison politique, op. cit. p. 207). In liberal societies, the suppression of the sense of meaning and identity embedded in national values leads to the dissolution of social cohesion as well as to the dissolution of group consciousness. This dissolution, in turn, culminates in the end of history.

Being the most typical representative of the ideology of equalitarianism, modern liberalism, in both its libertarian and socialist variants, appears to be the main factor in this dissolution of the ideal of nationhood. When the concept of society, from the sociological standpoint, suggests a system of simple 'horizontal interactions,' then this notion inevitably excludes social form. As a manifestation of solidarity, society can only be conceived in terms of shared identity - that is, in terms of historical values and cultural traditions (cf., Edgar Morin: "The communal myth gives society its national cohesion.") By contrast, liberalism undoes nations and systematically destroys their sense of history, tradition, loyalty and value. Instead of helping man to elevate himself to the sphere of the superhuman, it divorces him from all 'grand projects' by declaring these projects 'dangerous' from the point of view of equality. No wonder, therefore, that the management of man's individual well-being becomes his sole preoccupation. In the attempt to free man from all constraints, liberalism brings man under the yoke of other constraints

which now downgrade him to the lowest level. Liberalism does not defend liberty; it destroys the independence of the individual. By eroding historical memories, liberalism extricates man from history. It proposes to ensure his means of existence, but robs him of his reason to live and deprives him of the possibility of having a destiny.
There are two ways of conceiving of man and society. The fundamental value may be placed on the individual, and when this is done the whole of mankind is conceived as the sum total of all individuals - a vast faceless proletariat - instead of as a rich fabric of diverse nations, cultures and races. It is this conception that is inherent in liberal and socialist thought. The other view, which appears to be more compatible with man's evolutionary and socio-biological character, is when the individual is seen as enjoying a specific biological and culture legacy - a notion which recognizes the importance of kinship and nationhood. In the first instance, mankind, as a sum total of individuals, appears to be "contained" in each individual human being; that is, one becomes first a "human being," and only then, as by accident, a member of a specific culture or a people. In the second instance, mankind comprises a complex phylogenetic and historic network, whereby the freedom of the individual is guaranteed by the protection of family by his nation, which provide him with a sense of identity and with a meaningful orientation to the entire world population. It is by virtue of their organic adherence to the society of which they are a part that men build their humanity.

As exponents of the first concept we encounter Descartes, the Encyclopaedists, and the emphasis on "rights"; nationality and society emanate from the individual, by elective choice, and are revokable at any time. As proponents of the second concept we find J.G. Herder and G.W. Leibniz, who stress the reality of cultures and ethnicity. Nationality and society are rooted in biological, cultural and historical heritage. The difference between these two concepts becomes particularly obvious when one compares how they visualize history and the structure of the real. Nationalists are proponents of holism. Nationalists see the individual as a kinsman, sustained by the people and community. which nurtures and protects him, and with which he is proud to identify. The individual's actions represent an act of participation in the life of his people, and freedom of action is very real because, sharing in the values of his associates, the individual will seldom seek to threaten the basic values of the community with which he identifies. Societies which lack this basic sense of national unity are inherently prone to suffer from repeated situations wherein the opposing values of its egotistical members conflict with each other.

Furthermore, proponents of nationhood contend that a society or a people can survive only when: a) they remain aware of their cultural and historical origins; b) when they can assemble around a mediator, be it individual, or symbolic, who is capable of reassembling their energies and catalyzing their will to have a destiny; c) when they can retain the courage to designate their enemy. None of these conditions have been realized in societies that put economic gain above all other values, and which consequently: a) dissolve historical memories; b) extinguish the sublime and eliminate subliminal ideals; c) assume that it is possible not to have enemies.

The results of the rapid change from national or tribal-oriented societies to the modern, anti-national individualism prevalent in contemporary "advanced" societies have been very well described by Cornelius Castoriadis: "Western societies are in absolute decomposition. There is no longer a vision of the whole that could permit them to determine and apply any political action . . . Western societies have practically ceased to be [nation] states . . . Simply put, they have become agglomerations of lobbies which, in a myopic manner, tear the society apart; where nobody can propose a coherent policy, and where everybody is capable of blocking an action deemed hostile to his own interests." (Liberation, 16 and 21 December, 1981).

Modern liberalism has suppressed patriotic nationhood into a situation in which politics has been reduced to a "delivery service" decisionmaking process resembling the economic "command post," statesmen have been reduced to serving as tools for special interest groups, and nations have become little more than markets. The heads of modern liberal states have no options but to watch their citizenry being somatized by civilizational ills such as violence, delinquency, and drugs.

Ernst Junger once remarked that the act of veiled violence is more terrible than open violence. (Journal IV, September 6, 1945). And he also noted: "Slavery can be substantially aggravated when it assumes the appearance of liberty." The tyranny of modern liberalism creates the illusion inherent in its own principles. It proclaims itself for liberty and cries out to defend "human rights" at the moment when it oppresses the most. The dictatorship of the media and the "spiral of silence" appear to be almost as effective in depriving the citizenry of its freedom by imprisonment. In the West, there is no need to kill: suffice it to cut someone's microphone. To kill somebody by silence is a very elegant kind of murder, which in practice yields the same dividends as a real assassination - an assassination which, in addition, leaves the assassin with good conscience. Moreover, one should not forget the importance of such a type of assassination. Rare are those who silence their opponents for fun.

Patriotic nationhood does not target the notion of "formal liberties, " as some rigorous Marxists do. Rather, its purpose is to demonstrate that "collective liberty," i.e., the liberty of peoples to be themselves and to continue to enjoy the privilege of having a destiny, does not result from the simple addition of individual liberties. Proponents of nationhood instead contend that the "liberties" granted to individuals by liberal societies are frequently nonexistent; they represent simulacra of what real liberties should be. It does not suffice to be free to do something. Rather, what is needed is one's ability to participate in determining the course of historical events. Societies dominated by modern liberal traditions are "permissive" only in so far as their general macrostability strips the populace of any real participation in the actual decision-making process. As the sphere in which the citizenry is permitted to "do everything" becomes larger, the sense of nationhood becomes paralyzed and loses its direction.

Liberty cannot be reduced to the sentiment that one has about it. For that matter, both the slave and the robot could equally well perceive themselves as free. The meaning of liberty is inseparable from the founding anthropology of man, an individual sharing a common history and common culture in a common community. Decadence vaporizes peoples, frequently in the gentlest of manners. This is the reason why individuals acting as individuals can only hope to flee tyranny, but cooperating actively as a nation they can often defeat tyranny.

Thursday, December 11th, 2003, 05:11 PM
Thanks Pushkin, I agree with this analysis by de Benoist.

I paticularly like his characterisation of 'liberalism' [a term that covers a whole host of sins].
As a result of this liberalisation, the Racial Nation was slowly subverted;

"In short, their existence came to depend on economic relations, and as a result of the diversity of cultural values, the lack of any 'family feeling,' and the emphasis on economic exchange and economic wealth, conflict over wealth and basic values was likely to disrupt the harmony of such societies at any time".

This has much truth in it, and I do wonder at those who see 'capitalism' as an answer to the problems of the Folkish Nations.
As de Benoist writes;

"In political terms, liberalism developed to eulogize the freedom of individuals from claims to national loyalty and support for national destiny".

Whither National Destiny? Does anyone here have any sense of the Destiny of their Nation today?

"In its extreme form, classical liberalism has developed into universal libertarianism, and at this point it comes close to advocating anarchy".

As we have seen, anarchists, capitalists and libertarians are now making common cause; they have NO INTEREST in the survival of the Folk;

"By rejecting the notion of any common interest between individuals who traditionally shared a common heritage. In the place of nationhood it proposes to generate a new international social pattern centered on the individual's quest for optimal personal and economic interest".

This is undeniable.

"Within the context of extreme liberalism, only the interplay of individual interests creates a functional society - a society in which the whole is viewed only as a chance aggregate of anonymous particles".

We should not be decieved by those who maintain that this gives added 'choice'; rather it renders the atomised individual helpless - it deracinates him [see Aethrei's critique of the anarcho-capitalist movement on this forum].

"The essence of modern liberal thought is that order is believed to be able to consolidate itself by means of all-out economic competition, that is, through the battle of all against all".

This is the barbaric dystopia they have in store for us.

"Decadence in modern mass multi-cultural societies begins at a moment when there is no longer any discernable meaning within society".

This is where this individualism leads - to Nihilism.
The Nihilism is like an AIDS victim who tries to infect others before he dies - a Vampire.

"Man evolved in cooperating groups united by common cultural and genetic ties, and it is only in such a setting that the individual can feel truly free, and truly protected".

This is what we must work on reconstructing - leave destructive Nihilism to the libertarians; we must always be constructive; when we knock something down, we should always have something ready to put into its place.

"Men cannot live happily alone and without values or any sense of identity: such a situation leads to nihilism, drug abuse, criminality and worse. With the spread of purely egotistic goals at the expense of the altruistic regard for family and nation, the individual begins to talk of his rights rather than his duties, for he no longer feels any sense of destiny, of belonging to and being a part of a greater and more enduring entity".

This is a great truth; put in a nut-shell;

"Modern liberals encourage 'narcissism;' they live in the perpetual now".

This is NOT Nietzscheanism as some of the Nihilists pretend;

"Instead of helping man to elevate himself to the sphere of the superhuman, it divorces him from all 'grand projects' by declaring these projects 'dangerous' from the point of view of equality. No wonder, therefore, that the management of man's individual well-being becomes his sole preoccupation. In the attempt to free man from all constraints, liberalism brings man under the yoke of other constraints which now downgrade him to the lowest level".

Indeed, this is what Nietzsche called the 'Last Man', not the 'Super Man'.

On the other hand;

"Nationalists are proponents of holism. Nationalists see the individual as a kinsman, sustained by the people and community. which nurtures and protects him, and with which he is proud to identify. The individual's actions represent an act of participation in the life of his people, and freedom of action is very real because, sharing in the values of his associates, the individual will seldom seek to threaten the basic values of the community with which he identifies".

This is our ethos, totally at odds with liberalism, Nihilism, anarchism etc.,

"What is needed is one's ability to participate in determining the course of historical events".

Back to the concept of Destiny. Only those who have a sense of Destiny can find meaning in their lives and the lives of their kin-fellows.

Taras Bulba
Tuesday, December 30th, 2003, 09:22 PM

A slightly edited version of the following essay appeared in issue 20 of The Scorpion. The writer, James Kalb, would be grateful for any comments. The issues the essay raises can be discussed on our discussion board, Pro et Contra. Your participation is welcome. For more on Ibn Khaldun, you may visit Ibn Khaldun on the Web a comprehensive directory and guide.


Ibn Khaldun and Our Age
Political thinkers engage our attention by their presentation of the particular features of their own time and place as well as the permanent qualities of man in society. We can read Aristotle and Hobbes for general lessons, or for the politics of the Greek city-state and of European society after the wars of religion.
As times change so do the thinkers who interest us. Those of our own tradition normally interest us most since they illuminate the succeeding stages of our own social world. That world is always changing, however, sometimes in ways that are not fully continuous with its past but bring it closer in important respects to other civilizations. The conditions that are westernizing the world's East and South also affect Europe and its offspring. World dominion, which orientalized Rome, may end by doing so to us; if so, certain Eastern thinkers will become as relevant as those of the West for understanding the social setting in which we live.

Ibn Khaldun,[1] born 1332 in Tunis and died 1406 in Cairo, was a thinker who grappled with circumstances similar in important ways to the social and political situation now evolving in the West. He was superbly qualified for his task, with a vigorous and unconventional mind and a knowledge of politics and history that came from descent from an ancient family with distinguished political and scholarly traditions, profound study, and a varied life of public service and political adventure as a courtier, jurist, and statesman in Islamic centers from Spain to Damascus. He was admired by scholars and by the most ruthlessly practical of men; Pedro the Cruel and Tamerlane wished to make use of him, while Grenada's greatest writer, Ibn al-Khatib, wrote his life and honored his learning and literary skill.

His work reflects a mind attracted to practical politics, to scholarship, and to mysticism. After failing in efforts to promote the public good, he turned to scholarship in an attempt to understand the past and explain the necessity that seemed to govern events. As an intense participant in the affairs of a great civilization irreversibly in decline, he was acutely aware of what was and what should be, and neither confused the two nor attempted to encompass one in the other.

The civilization of which he wrote had arisen in a world crossroads with a long history of migrations of peoples, conflicting religious movements, and foreign conquerors ruling through mercenaries and slaves. The societies it comprised were far more diverse and fragmented than the comparatively sheltered societies of the European and Far Eastern continental margins. Since government can be responsible only to a people capable of common action, their fragmentation had political effects: "government in Muslim society ... was never, or almost never, anything other than superimposed; never, or almost never, the emanation or expression of that society."[2]

Today's mixing of peoples, cultures and ideologies, whether resulting from world trade and immigration or improved communication and social fission, is moving our world closer in important ways to the one Ibn Khaldun knew than the more cohesive one with which we have long been familiar. Such changes will affect our politics profoundly in ways his writings can illuminate for us.

If there are no strong overarching loyalties, mixing of populations causes men to lose the social cohesion required for the self-rule of a free society and to withdraw into small groups in which they can maintain a coherent and predictable way of life. Common loyalties firm enough to create the civic order of Western Europe needed time and stability to evolve. It took 40 kings to make France, and no less time to grow what Burke once called the British oak; in the parts of Europe subject to invasion from Asia or North Africa nothing similar arose.

The gifts of the past may not be ours forever. Common loyalties make a people, and the common culture and history that support a people's identity are needed to make loyalties endure. Success in transplanting a British society to America and absorbing European immigrants into it is no sign that the American civic order will survive abandonment of a common or at least dominant identity; a social setting like the one Ibn Khaldun knew will be a more likely consequence. Immigration and the end of national boundaries could bring about similar results within the European Union by replacing ordered diversity with bureaucratically- administered chaos. While such things may not be inevitable, powerful tendencies favor them, and a clearer understanding of what the resulting society would be like and how it could come about may be useful. Ibn Khaldun's thought is an aid to such an understanding.

That thought grew out of his search for historical truth; his great theoretical work, the Muqaddimah ("Introduction" or "Prolegomena"), was intended as the preface and first book of his universal history, Kitab al-Ibar. He was dissatisfied with earlier historians because of what he saw as their failure to understand basic principles, a failure that made them unable critically to evaluate the accounts they picked up from earlier historians and passed on to their readers. Without a comprehensive theory of human society that explained the relations of things, a historian could not understand events or determine what had actually happened. The most common errors, Ibn Khaldun thought, stemmed from the failure to take into account the degree to which "conditions within nations and races change with the change of periods and the passage of time."[3] He thus made it his goal to set forth a scheme that would organize as a whole our knowledge of man and set forth the sequence of social change and its consequences.

That sequence was for him a cyclical one. He wrote the Muqaddimah during a period of voluntary exile and disillusionment with public life, and it expresses a pronounced skepticism as to what can be achieved through political action: "[t]he past resembles the future more than one drop of water another."[4] History can be understood, but it has neither goal nor essential novelty. It is a repetition of similar patterns driven by the interplay of the same basic elements: human acquisitiveness and aggression, the need for cooperation and group solidarity, royal authority, and the corrupting effect of dominion and luxury.

The most distinctive feature of his thought is his emphasis on group feeling and solidarity, which he calls "asabiyah" from an Arabic root referring to paternal kinsmen. As its derivation suggests, asabiyah is found first and foremost among blood relatives. Nonetheless, its real cause is not blood but "social intercourse, friendly association, long familiarity, and the companionship that results from ... sharing the ... circumstances of life and death."[5] It is group feeling, Ibn Khaldun says, that makes possible all great social achievements, from religious reforms to the founding and defense of dynasties. Paradoxically, its necessity also ensures that social achievements never last, because success puts an end to group feeling by liberating desire and reducing the need for mutual responsibility. If fragmentation is the rule and community an exception, all human achievements become temporary deviations from chaos; Ibn Khaldun's pessimism and cyclical view of history are thus closely related to the emphasis on the rise and fall of solidarity within particular groups made necessary by the fundamental incoherence of Middle Eastern society.

The Muqaddimah analyzes in detail and in several settings the manner in which group feeling leads to dominance and centralization of power, which in turn lead to luxury, irresponsible behavior, and decline. Most typically, Ibn Khaldun says, group feeling begins with the simple life of men in remote rural or desert districts. In their isolation they maintain purity of lineage, and lacking an organized government they cultivate bravery, self-reliance and loyalty, and accept leadership only on the basis of outstanding qualities and mutual respect. The difficulty of life accustoms them to struggle, and there are no luxuries to detract from the value placed on honor.

Such men are as a rule unjust to outsiders and impatient of restraint, and therefore incapable of governing or even combining to any firm purpose. They can nonetheless become a formidable force capable of establishing a dynasty if some religious movement restrains their injustice and mutual jealousy. If inspired by such a movement they establish a new dynasty, replacing one that has become weak and vulnerable, the rulers rely at first on the group feeling of their supporters in governing, and enlist their subjects on their side through moderation and equity. When the dynasty's authority has become established and accepted as inevitable fact, however, it finds it can dispense with group feeling, popular support, and the measures necessary to maintain them. The ruler, giving free reign to natural impulses, pursues ease, luxury and a monopoly of glory. He keeps his original supporters more and more at a distance, deprives them of responsibility and opportunity to exercise their original virtues, and buys them off with allowances that allow them to dissipate themselves in luxury, retaining most of the wealth for his own projects and ruling by preference through men from unrelated groups whom he can control more easily.

The resulting rationalization of government at first increases the power of the dynasty, leading to a period of peace and prosperity. Eventually, however (Ibn Khaldun says in the third generation), the disappearance of group feeling causes the dynasty to weaken decisively. The ruler becomes licentious, forgets the requirements of his position, and finds that the cost of his pleasures and the expense of buying the respect and loyalty he can no longer inspire have increased beyond his ability to pay. He raises taxes but the more oppressive they become the less they yield. Irregular methods of increasing revenue and exacting goods and services are attempted, but only make matters worse by disrupting economic activity. Soldiers go unpaid, outlying regions establish their autonomy, and officials and court favorites usurp royal authority. The corruption extends beyond court circles to the people at large, who become dependent on the government and enslaved by unnecessary and ever-multiplying desires that cause them to forget religion, morality, and even decency. Attempts at reform at best delay the inevitable. Unsettled conditions and overpopulation lead to famine and pestilence, and eventually the dynasty falls from power.

Accepting such a view of political change, Ibn Khaldun sees only limited value in human activities: "[t]his entire world is trifling and futile. It ends in death and annihilation."[6] Westerners may place their hopes in reason or tradition, but for him there is neither a rational process by which man and society can be perfected nor a continuing overall order within which to preserve and extend the acquisitions of the past. Civilization and culture arise because we want dominion, ease and luxury, and once we attain them they destroy us. Nor can the knowledge acquired from the study of history change the world, although particular men may find it helpful, for example by teaching them not to attempt impossibilities.

Religion provides no pragmatic solutions. The disenchanted outlook natural in a fragmented social world favored an understanding of God as Wholly Other, accessible only through mysticism or arbitrary legalism. Ibn Khaldun recognizes the necessity of religion for the founding of a great state and takes the laws of Islam quite seriously; his intolerance of corruption led repeatedly to his dismissal as an Islamic jurist. However, he does not believe that religious law can be effective socially for any extended time. Like rational political principles generally, it can benefit a polity by bringing government operations to some degree into a system ordered toward stable ends, but its effect can only be secondary and cannot prevent corruption and eventual downfall. The Islamic polity was as subject to corruption as any other; as the Prophet predicted, his successors governed rightly only thirty years before sinking into tyranny.

From his discussion of Sufism, it appears that Ibn Khaldun believed that the chasm between man and God can nonetheless be bridged by disciplined cultivation of mystical experience. To the extent God is absent from this world mysticism can show us a way to another; it follows for him that realization of the "mystical experiences of the Sufis ... is the very essence of happiness." Human well-being is thus one thing; this world is quite another. Beginning with irretrievable social fragmentation, Ibn Khaldun ends with political passivity and religious mysticism.[7]

Ibn Khaldun has been called the father of modern social science, although his work was soon largely forgotten and was rediscovered and made known in the West too late for it to play a formative influence. Many issues with which he dealt had of course been treated by others. For example, the devolution he describes results largely from the loss of original moral unity and the liberation and diversification of desire, a process Plato[8] and the Hebrew prophets also describe although in a less naturalistic manner. His views draw on common experience as well; it is commonplace worldly wisdom that blood is thicker than water, that there is strength in unity, that successful men turn against those who helped them on the way up, and that a founder's successors eventually lose touch with the things that made his enterprise a success. However, his systematic and objective treatment of such matters, and especially his emphasis on the role of social solidarity, are genuine contributions to thought that give rise to what he justifiably calls a "new, extraordinary, and highly useful" science.[9]

The value of that science can be demonstrated in our own times. Ibn Khaldun's presentation reflects a time in which group feeling was found at its most intense among desert Arabs. He attributes to their tribal solidarity, a rather special affair that he says could not long survive civilized life, the success of religious movements and origin of dynasties. His theory of history is therefore most immediately a theory of Arab history. It need not be viewed that way, however; while he emphasizes common descent he recognizes that group feeling exists no less by convention than by nature.

He discusses non-tribal forms of group feeling sufficiently to guide application of his theory in a variety of settings. He is acutely conscious of their comparative weakness. For example, he rejects family solidarity as a basis for political society. While fundamental, it is not true group feeling because its strength and durability depend on the group feeling of a larger collectivity; an aristocratic family acquires its self-assurance from its position as part of the aristocracy of a people. Nor, he believes, can religious group feeling, barring a miracle, produce major and enduring social effects on its own, although it can make pre-existing tribal solidarity more effective.[10]

He touches only in passing or leaves altogether out of consideration other sources of group feeling that have been extremely important in the West, in aspiration or in fact: civic loyalty, class consciousness, national feeling growing out of common political life and place of residence, and political solidarity growing out of struggle for an ideal. Another possibility, loyalty to a universal empire, he deals with only in the case of the Caliphate, as an aspect of acceptance of a universal religion.

Some of these omissions seem unimportant. Universal empire as an object of sustaining loyalty is not an immediate prospect today, and twentieth century experience suggests that class consciousness and solidarity in struggle may enhance group feeling but are less reliable as sources of it than many once hoped. Civic consciousness and territorial nationalism are a different matter. These things have been fundamental to our history and culture, contributing enormously to making us what we are. They have enabled Western states to establish an order that is public rather than tribal or dynastic, capable to an extraordinary degree of combining freedom with stability, and (at least seemingly) progressive rather than cyclical. In addition, political ideals of nationalism and civic unity have spread far beyond the West and now exert a universal influence.

However, his neglect of these principles of solidarity affects the value of his theory less than at first appears. For reasons touched on at the beginning of this discussion, civic consciousness and territorial nationalism, however great their value or widespread their appeal, are likely to have difficulty maintaining themselves in the future. Ibn Khaldun did not need to discuss them because for him they did not and could not exist, and in a world that is increasingly like his it will be hard for them to retain their importance.[11]

A variety of trends, taking somewhat different forms in different countries, foreshadow their decline. The American situation is particularly worth noting because of the size of the country and its leadership in many aspects of modernity. The trend that has attracted the most attention and patronage in that country is multiculturalism, an attempt to embrace social fragmentation and use it to increase the power of the managerial state. However, the growth outside respectable discourse of secessionist and radical libertarian views is at least as important because of their greater theoretical and practical coherence, their greater popular appeal, and the resemblance between their aims and leading features of Middle Eastern society.

Although despotic, the traditional Middle Eastern state was very loosely organized. Government responsibilities did not go much beyond the maintenance of public order; other public functions were discharged by kinship groups, religious and ethnic communities, and so on. Educational and social welfare activities were generally carried out by religious foundations, while most functions of urban government were dealt with by local communal institutions within the separate gated quarters into which Middle Eastern cities were divided.

American society is developing in a similar direction. The long-term trend toward withdrawal from national organizations and reduced confidence in government, especially the Federal government, is clear and powerful. In education, the trend toward racial integration reversed years ago, and the official emphasis on diversity and difference has found an unlooked-for echo in the homeschooling movement. In religion, mainstream churches stressing unity with and within the larger society have long been declining, with support for their national offices declining most of all. The vital and fast-growing groups have been those with a strong congregational orientation that make serious demands on their members, and so tend to constitute them as separate societies. Religious separatists such as the Hasidim, Amish and Hutterites are thriving. Meanwhile, among political activists resorting or preparing to resort to arms, the militias and the Unabomber alike categorically reject the centralized managerial state and the ideologies and institutions that support it.

Urban and suburban neighborhoods are beginning institutionally to resemble the separate quarters of a traditional Middle Eastern city. More than thirty million Americans now live in privately-owned common- interest housing developments, increasingly equipped with walls and gates, that provide the equivalent of municipal services and often exercise extraordinary control over residents. In the South and West almost all new private residential housing is part of such communities.[12] In aging cities throughout the country existing residential neighborhoods are forming similar arrangements within municipalities that have shown themselves unable to provide services and protection, closing off streets to discourage outsiders and establishing community crime patrols or hiring private security forces for public safety.[13] Such neighborhoods are presently organized mostly for such mundane purposes as safety, maintaining property values and administering common facilities, but the Kiryas Joel case,[14] in which the Satmar Hasidim were able to establish a separate incorporated village in upstate New York and may yet succeed in constituting that village as a separate public school district, suggests the possibility of a far larger role.

These tendencies raise issues that neither libertarians nor multiculturalists grasp adequately. It may be that no adequate response is possible, but awareness of the possibilities and dangers should make political thought more realistic. Ibn Khaldun tells us that radically fragmented societies are ruled by a series of groups that become capable for a time of effective collective action through intense internal solidarity. On such a view, current trends are likely to lead to inter- group struggles for power followed by the unstable dictatorship of the strongest. The abstract order provided by the market or the bureaucratic state can provide no answer, if only because neither market nor bureaucracy can call forth the loyalty required to defend and sustain its power in the face of serious opposition.

The modern consumer welfare state can be understood as an attempt to diminish the risk of intergroup struggles by promoting individual opportunity, material prosperity, equality, and (except in relation to ruling bureaucracies) personal autonomy. Such things, Ibn Khaldun would tell us, weaken group feeling and so make a society more easily governable. Some group feeling would still be needed for government to function, but bureaucratic techniques may reduce the amount necessary, and when force is called for training and weaponry can make up to some degree for loss of the natural group feeling and bravery that distinguished the effective armies of earlier times. The necessary minimum of group feeling might be generated, consistent with fundamental social commitments, through cooperative engagement in the struggle for national prosperity and social justice.

The outlook for such societies are bleak. Universalistic ideologies can be no better than universalistic religions for grounding social order. The intended means of keeping group feeling weak will fail if it is impossible, as seems certain, to keep delivering ever-greater opportunity, prosperity and equality. Solidarity is based on connections of a sort that prosperity weakens and careerism and equality deny. We feel solidarity with those on whom we durably rely and with whom we share something specific. As a practical matter, the basis of solidarity in a modern consumer welfare state is therefore likely to be the ruling elite's will to power rather than a cooperative struggle for economic ends. However, basing solidarity on the struggle for dominion of a small ruling group that defines itself by ideology creates the risk of ever-growing radicalism, separation from the rest of society and eventual loss of power.

Even if these dangers can be avoided, Ibn Khaldun's prediction that whatever group feeling is achieved within the ruling elite will soon degenerate into individual pursuit of the perquisites of office is quite persuasive. In the current system centralization of power and individual self-seeking have already led to decline in both the ruling group and society at large. The symptoms of decay Ibn Khaldun predicted are evident: emphasis on image and display, subsidies and transfer payments increasing beyond ability to pay, revenue shortfalls, weakening property rights, economic problems due to taxes and other burdensome government obligations, falling birth rates, appointment of socially marginal incompetents to high government office, loss by the people of the capacity to defend and look after themselves, and a widespread decline in honesty and religion.

The failures of the consumer welfare society have led to renewed interest in conservative and communitarian proposals to maintain social order by renewed commitment to civic virtues and traditional values. The prospects for such proposals are doubtful. Conservatism is ill- suited for resisting general historical trends because it dislikes grand theories and strategies. It looks for isolable causes for things it dislikes, but such causes are hard to find. Self-proclaimed communitarians are more inclined toward comprehensive action to reshape society, but it is unlikely that the top-down measures they envision can promote the necessary devolution of responsibility and growth of local loyalties, especially in view of their reluctance to break decisively with welfare-state liberalism. It is hard to assess the strength of historical trends except in hindsight, however, so the possibility remains that some combination of cultural activism, elimination of government policies that promote fragmentation, and adoption of policies favorable to community will make a difference.

If all remedies fail, we will find ourselves in the world of Ibn Khaldun. In that world, history as a meaningful progression disappears, leaving behind only the rise and fall of ruling groups and the replacement of those that fail by others with more cohesion and determination. Circumstances determine the specifics. We have no Bedouins waiting to seize control; group feeling is weaker today and rises from a broader variety of sources. In recent times it has usually been found at its most intense among ideological factions, which have played a role similar to Ibn Khaldun's desert tribes. When so viewed, communist and fascist societies follow his account reasonably well; the main difference is that their collapse has been faster than the 120 years he proposes as the typical life of a dynasty, possibly because ideological group feeling is less natural than tribal solidarity. Like dedication to a pure Islamic society, dedication to socialism lasted no more than 30 years; the symptoms mentioned above suggest that the consumer welfare state is reaching the end of its life as well.

It need not follow that communism, socialism or liberalism will be replaced by other ideological movements. The age of self-confident and cohesive political movements must come to an end when repeated failure causes men to lose faith in such things, and there are signs that faith is already dead or dying. The most likely outcome may be a period in which no group is able to establish dominance. Ibn Khaldun tells us that society can continue in some form with very little group feeling. While solidarity is needed to create a dynasty, it can die out and be forgotten while the dynasty continues out of habit; as he points out, the less group feeling that exists in society the easier it is to govern.[15] In times of political dissolution, when the group feeling supporting the center weakens, what group feeling there is--typically local allegiances, family feeling, and the like--becomes the dominant force. At such times, as in Spain during the period of the reyes de ta‹fas, his theory suggests a decline in overall civilization and rule by locally important families and factions.

Accordingly, Ibn Khaldun's theory suggests that barring unforeseeable developments our world is headed toward a period of political fragmentation and drift, with occasional attempts to unify at least portions of it on an ideological, religious or ethnic basis that will not come to much. The tendency toward drift will be made all the stronger by the modern tendency toward the mixing of peoples; as he comments, dynasties have difficulty in establishing themselves firmly in lands with many different tribes and groups.[16] Factors external to politics, such as population growth, environmental degradation and epidemics, may make order yet more difficult to establish, as was indeed the case in North Africa in Ibn Khaldun's day.

Our political prospects thus seem limited. Nonetheless, our future can offer more than decline and drift. The civil order of Europe and America has shown itself remarkably adaptable and may survive and rejuvenate itself through some combination of inner strength, good luck, and cultural or political remedies. Obvious measures toward that end include restrictions on immigration and on international organizations and enterprises, and a reversal of the bureaucratization of social relations. The attempt to help a great civilization survive is worth making, especially if the civilization is one's own; only experience can show how much can be achieved by the means available to us.

If all remedies fail, and we move decisively into a post-civic political environment, all need not be lost because politics is not everything. While penetrating and perceptive, Ibn Khaldun is not infallible, and one of his errors is treating civilization and culture as wholly dependent on government. In his view, dynasties create the towns and cities that provide the only setting for civilized life, and cultural continuity exists only because subjects imitate their rulers and a new dynasty imitates its predecessors. He thus slights the extent to which civilization depends on cultural factors having little to do with political power and so can be carried forward and developed by institutions independent of the state.[17]

His outlook is colored by Islam, which, as an essentially urban faith whose beginnings coincided with its greatest worldly triumphs, treats religion, society, and state as one. A different outlook is supported by the example of the communities not dependent on politics our ancestors built to carry the traditions by which they lived. Christianity developed as a powerless and often persecuted minority faith, and for millennia Judaism has survived and often achieved great things as the same. To be an heir of either is to accept (as Ibn Khaldun did not) that the good can enter the world visibly, in communities of the faithful, with a transforming power wholly different from worldly dominion, and that the reign of necessity, although real, is not so universal as to leave room in this world only for power politics, mysticism, and very rare miracles.

Those who wish to carry a definite religious or cultural tradition forward through the coming period of political and social disarray can hope to do so if it offers sustenance and they do not rely on politics to do the job for them. The decline of government in a time of moral chaos can only make the task easier, since it will reduce the ability and ambition of the state to manage the details of ordinary social life. If Ibn Khaldun describes our future truly, it will once again, as after the fall of Rome, be politically marginal communities of faith that preserve civilization and ultimately give rise to renewed social order, and building such communities will be the most important task of those who care for those ends.

Taras Bulba
Saturday, January 10th, 2004, 10:00 PM
I just found this interesting.


Alexander DUGIN

5 Theses on the meaning of life

It's about time to call things by their own names, without paying attention to stylistical correctness and academic overtones. It becomes clear that, in any case, nobody will understand or receive us. Therefore there's no real reason to give the discourse a higher stylistical overtone. We don't play chess at the end of Kali-Yuga. Everyone should make it clear to his/herself, what we want, and what we want from you personally. The question is about the meaning of life. A typical question. During times of passage we have to face it without any laughter or beating around the bush. Our goal has several levels.

1. First level. One must understand the course of history.

Without this, several things are left unclear: the context we find ourselves in, the language we speak, the surroundings we are dealing with. Who does not understand the course of history and its models is as useless as a crow on the edge of a field. He is liable to outer forces, and his intellectual capabilities are minimal. Every single idiot should have at least some idea of the course of history. Once people didn't dare to appear in public without some certain ideas concerning the course of history. Today the very question might seem a bit too abstract for professional philosophers, historians, and presidents. Grease and television have become the brain protheses of the nation. Someone's talking about something - possibly joking, or telling a story about how he just got out of prison. The spirit of our time is against us standing for the understanding of history. Could this be just a coincidence?

2. Second level. One has to take part in the course of history.

But only after understanding it at least approximately. Otherwise we find ourselves in a situation parallel to having unknown forces drilling our teeth. Once we have obtained some kind of a model of the course of history, taking part in it becomes more qualified. Now the process of existence obtains revolting overtones. The first differentiations take place. The first existential and gnosseological experiences take place. Something and someone will stand against your strivings, something and someone will support you. Life gets a new meaning, vectorial concreteness. Taking part doesn't have to be sizeable. Sometimes little things are enough, everyday activities. For an example, you remember that you are living the end of history. As a result, you drink your coffee or take a walk in the park or beat up someone - but it's not that simple, since you are acting as a being working for the end of history. Your every move, your every condition, your every emotion gains new dimensions. Of course, you will hardly keep it on the everyday level, without trying to socialize your own experience. For this reason you are being carried to the third level, whetether you want it or not.

3. Third level. One has to change the course of history.

This is the logical consequence of the second level. If your part in the course of history does not show in its changes, be it even the smallest minor changes, your part is fictitious. This is clear. By trying to change even the smallest particles within the course of history you are testing the state of your own historical being. It's a dangerous path, and it holds many traps and pits. Here you will have to learn to distinguish between various spirits. First the laughing demon of vanity, your evil twin, comes out. He tries to persuade you to the funnel of dark whirling, and this will seem to you as if you were maturing and leaving traces in a great mass of time, but in fact your ears are circled by your own macaroni axis. Pseudodandism fricasseé. Take your macaroni axis and go impress females in some museum. Actual change in the course of history - even one degree - is an Achievement. This is very, very much. In case you have gone through the first two levels, that is. In the contrary case, all this is but hallucinations of a grey stump.

4. Fourth level. One has to turn the course of history 180 degrees.

An unanticipated move. Sshhhhh, be quiet, here we start to unveil the essence of our secret thoughts. This is the highest level of changing the course of history. If you turn the course of history completely, you are equal with the history itself, you are its doppelgänger - man-time. This means you are inside, not outside. And the cycle of events is circling you. But only heroes and saints are capable of doing this. But who said that two-legged pigs are tolerated by onthology? Whoever carries the human form should either be human or be punished. But there is no reason to lead either oneself or others astray. Our form does not exist outside transgression. Our very essence is that we lack the final definition, the final base ground. We can never say with full responsibility "Human - that's something!" There is always a place for a debator, and for a convincing, clear debator. As for not something... We're losing ground... Someone is destroyed, someone finally learns how to bathe in the fiery regions. Taking the lost seed back into oneself, sticking the uttered word back into one's throat. When you are told that something is IN, something is the talk of the day, and, finally, "something is here and now" - reply with evil laughter, blinking eyes, hissing and dancing in circles. Nothing's like that, nothing is, nothing's contemporary. Prove it, once you have acheived everything, and throw it in the sewer. Topmodels are the onthological victims of metaphysical snipers. In hell, dead Naomi Campbell plays a braindrum made of the bones of Yakubovich. The new National-Bolshevik "Field of Miracles". Vlad, he was alive a minute ago... We shall never forget you... What do you mean, "never forget"? We must make reasonable decisions with this. Time - backward!

5. Fifth level. The last one. One must stop the course of history.

This one is understood (oh, c'mon...). If we are capable of turning the course of history 180 degrees, we find ourselves in a world where everything is not like yesterday, not like today, nor tomorrow. Will there be any history after it has turned its course back? Could we call it Jordan, where Our Saviour stepped, the river that stopped flowing out of sheer terror? Or the parted waters of the Red Sea, where Moses walked, "by the sea"? Could we be called "a party"? A subtle difference remains all the same. Going back or even without a course... Seems like a distant horizon, but it's not an empty discussion. We will have to solve this important problem within this body. The body will, of course, be somewhat different, a bit more sugary, but a body nevertheless. Backwards or nowhere at all? To start again or to stay the same? To be as clear as possible, we'll answer sincerely: We will have to stop it, although some mights of this world may not agree with it. A complex, unbearable drama in a static position, the unmovable dynamic of a colossal problem.

But we will have to stop...

Translated by Henry Zalkin

Monday, January 12th, 2004, 05:37 PM
Yes, very interesting.
But does it go beyond the NEED to give meaning to life, ANY meaning, - in order to enhance one's Will?

If that is so, then the content of such theses are not of the first importance; what IS important is that one gives meaning under Will.

The levels, while they have some philosophical problems, do make some useful suggestions;

1. First level. One must understand the course of history.

This implies that there is an absolute 'god's eye view' of history.
In terms of meaning it can be said to be OUR history - how WE see things in order to enhance our Will.
The victors always write the history.
Revisionist Historians are writing OUR history at present.

2. Second level. One has to take part in the course of history.

This seems to be a truism - how can we NOT be part of history?
Again, it suggests that one should take an ACTIVE part; once more, a theory of the Will is paramount.

3. Third level. One has to change the course of history.
4. Fourth level. One has to turn the course of history 180 degrees.

This is reminiscent of Nietzsche's Transvaluation of All Values, except that here it is something like the Transvaluation of History.
There is a problem here as those that REALLY do change history are those men who act according to Destiny and Providence.

5. Fifth level. The last one. One must stop the course of history.

Is this the 'end of history'?
I cannot agree here as I see the world as an ever-turning wheel that no mere man could stop. Doesn't Dugin himself refer to the Hindu wheels when he talks of the Kali-Yuga?

Thursday, January 15th, 2004, 08:16 PM
Thanks Pushkin; I did read this before in the magazine itself, as a subscriber to the Scorpion.

After reading your post, the following comments passed my mind;

Are we to take the American 'hyper-power' [as the fashionable phrase has it] as the Empire of world-domination of the present?

Is this MOST Western of Empires being 'orientalised'?

Perhaps by its tendency to always oppose itself to some kind of 'East' [whether that of the Soviets or the Islamists], it then becomes 'easternised' itself.
But this is unlikely to be done in a positive way, with the ideas of eastern thinkers having a profound effect.
Will it not rather be the gradual assumption of aspects of Oriental despotism, albeit in western garb?
All the while a braying mantra of 'freedom' spews out the mouth of American Presidents while they tighten their grip on an increasingly formless populace.

If that Hyperpower becomes Total, then the possibility of objectivity becomes ever more rare.
Who polices the world's policeman?
As much as the West is Easternised, so then is the Orient Occidentalised.

All becomes an unreflective and solipsistic Centre.

As power becomes ever more concentrated and then transcends the generality of existence, so human beings become ever more individualistic and apolitical.
When the sense of an objective difference vanishes, then is any kind of multiculturalism/multiracialism PERCEIVED?
Do we not become like children, perceiving no differences except those at the level of the individual?
Is then SOLDARITY itself, of whatever kind, doomed ...?

I say doomed, but many would want this infantilisation of mankind.

There is a double irony that the USA and the Axis of Evil come more and more to resemble each other.

And then there's the Oil.

There is a suspicion that this vague 'Centre' resulting from a convergence of west and east will somehow be sustained well beyond its moment of Spenglerian eclipse.
By all justice it should have collapsed long ago, but it has evolved mechanisms and technologies which preserve it; just as westerners now live into their 90s - a kind of un-wished-for immortality.

The death of cultures becomes a taboo subject along with death itself - immortality at any cost.
So as its enemies make attack after attack on this hyper-power, it goes on living like a hydra growing new heads.
The sad thing is, it is so unlovely to look at that none of the living want to go, they are merely existing according to the genetic imperative.