The Hermit Gunslinger

Joyce Pensato

“Under the two-tiered moral code of the racial contract, we have been living with one set of morals for whites and another for nonwhites (Mills 1997). However, the architects and beneficiaries of this white, racialized world also benefit from obscuring how race (the system they created) works. The epistemology of ignorance is a framework that inculcates peoples with a self-deception that makes them blind to or denies the reality of how racial hierarchy materially and epistemically shapes our world. This ignorance is not accidental, but purposeful. “
Shuchen Xiang (Chinese Cosmopolitanism)

“For nineteenth-century Germans, so unsure of their own Germanness, the Jewish Question was ultimately the German Question. It was, in effect, another way of asking ‘What is German’ and receiving the satisfying answer ‘whatever is not Jewish.’”
Paul Lawrence Rose (German question/Jewish question: Revolutionary antisemitism in Germany fromKant to Wagner)

“The basic problem of development is the very concept of it.”
Xiangping Shen (Harmonious coexistence and ceaseless nourishment: The Sinicized Marxist concept of development)

“the complete victory of materialism and the waning of every sense of good and evil.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein (letter to his sister, on the topic of WW1)

“Colonialism can be described as the movement of Europeans to different parts of the world, creating new “white” nations where indigenous people had once had their own kingdoms. These nations could only be created if the settlers employed two logics: the logic of elimination— getting rid by all means possible of the indigenous people, including by genocide; and the logic of dehumanization—regarding the non-Europeans as inferior and thus as not deserving the same rights as the settlers. ”
Ilan Pappe (Ten Myths about Israel )

“(Civilization) is being completely extinguished over gigantic areas, while the Bolsheviks hop and caper like troops of ferocious baboons amid the ruins of cities.”
Winston Churchill (Martin Gilbert, This Stricken World, Churchill vol.4)

Last post I tried to talk a bit about the deranged violence of Israel as we see it in Gaza, about the sadism and fear (and Israelis are far more scared and hence more hysterical) and the roots of Zionism in western Imperialism, and the role of 20th century fascism. About the pathologized character, altogether, of Zionists. But I think there are several related matters and they dove tail and overlap with this identification with the aggressor seen today in the West, but they are also about the contours of the new society being born. And culturally this marks a pretty dramatic shift in values and psychology. So this is to look ahead, and look back.

The stunning physical ugliness of the settler leadership cannot be ignored. These are people who believe fervently that they are ‘chosen’ by God, that they are superior to everyone else. Politics is being de-aestheticized in a sense (a new contra-Benjamin position). And all of this is mediated by electronic media. I am writing this for dissemination on a laptop computer. I read most (not all) books on computer screens today. Partly because I cannot afford to buy books. And even if I could, where are the bookstores today?

Tiepolo (Punichellos, 1793 detail)

One of the most glaring absences in today’s cultural landscape is any serious discourse on art, and on culture itself. The fact that two senile old white men will run for president (probably) next election (in the US) speaks to this as much as Itamar Ben Gvir leading a very influential party in Israel but unable to keep his shirt tails tucked in. For all the commentary produced by advertising firms, and Madison Avenue, there seems to be very little actual ‘looking’ going on anymore in the populace. This is increasingly a post optical world, despite the fact everyone stares at their smartphones 24/7. Looking at your smartphone screen has replaced looking at the world.

And here one cannot avoid the trajectory of western philosophy over the last thousand years. Or two. Domenico Losurdo, writing of Adorno & Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment and the critique of the French Revolution;

“Here the subject is liberalism, but what is really meant is the French Revolution (and its moderate conclusion), now the object of the same criticism that had previously been expressed by Marx: man’s rights remain an abstraction, and they will not fulfil the promise of happiness and freedom for a class “mutilated by domination” until they directly influence economic power relationships. “
Domenico Losurdo (Heidegger and the Ideology of War)

The second world war is inescapably a marker for the fulfilment of certain historic trends and a transition point for the emergence of new ones. The following quote is pertinent to the situation of Zionism:

“Horkheimer and Adorno bitterly criticize this theme of sacrifice, ‘exalted by trendy irrationalists [and] inseparable from the deification of the victim, and the deceitful, priestly rationalization of murder, thanks to the apotheosis of the chosen ones’. What is most significant is that the rhetoric of sacrifice, this category so dear to Heidegger, is now an expression of the predominance of calculative thought and the leitmotif of history: ‘The history of civilization is the history of the introversion of sacrifice. in other words, it is the history of renunciation.'”
Domenico Losurdo (Ibid)

German West Africa, apprx. 1910. Herero and Nama prisoners.

The colonizing violence of the West led directly to Nazism, a violence against the poor and outcast housed in work houses or prison or asylums, and all of which culminated in concentration camps. That Gaza is referred, rightly, to an open air concentration camp should not be lost on anyone. Losurdo points out that such criticisms of modernity’s violence are absent in Heidegger, who while sharing similar descriptions of calculative thought, is more (or exclusively) concerned with democracy and the coming masses. It is interesting to note Husserl in this who saw in the Enlightenment the emergence of freedom, as expressed in scientific reason. A reason he traced back to Hellenic thought. That he leaves out that ancient Greece was a slave society is worth noting, at the least, but the point being made is about ‘reason’. And this is important for tracing the state of unreason found today.

“The close link between Nazism and Fascism and attempts to block the historical process of liberation of colonial peoples that began with the October Revolution did not escape the most attentive observers at the time. It was not only the Communist International that defined Fascism as the ‘terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, the most chauvinist and most imperialist elements of finance capital’. In the same years, the future leader of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru, observed that ‘a victory of fascism in Europe or elsewhere will strengthen imperialism; its retreat will weaken imperialism. Equally, the triumph of a liberation movement in a colonial or subject country is a blast against imperialism and fascism.’ Imperialism was certainly not coterminous with fascism. The then leader of an important national liberation movement ironized about Britain, ‘the greatest of the imperialist powers, posing as the defender of world peace while it bombs and ruthlessly oppresses subject peoples’. Such irony indicates an awareness that being consistently anti-fascist entailed rejecting imperialism and colonialism. It was no accident, stressed Nehru, if one of the British colonial empire’s most fervent admirers was precisely Hitler.”
Domenico Losurdo (War and Revolution)

The logic of fact driven science is important in understanding the development of electronic media and the so called attention economy. And this is why an understanding of Heidegger’s continuing popularity is important to understand. For this fact driving science cannot be separated from racism and the histories of occupation. But intersecting with the metaphysical nazism of Heidegger were thinkers such as Baudrillard.

Otto Dix (Portrait of the Photographer Hugo Erfurth with Dog, 1926)

“Hyperreality appears, for example, when the media coverage of an event becomes more important than the event itself, a phenomenon with which we have become acquainted in the coverage of some court cases. Hyperreality can also concern large scale phenomena: economies of entire countries can be liquidated because the economical system existed only as an act of simulation without being backed by anything material, letting its inhabitants one day discover with surprise that their country’s economy functioned only as a hyperreal satellite of a virtual finance world. { } It is the America that many foreigners experience as a friendly enhanced world, safely programmed , market tested, and equipped with an Oprah Winfrey self-help book (DickMeyer 2008). It is a hyperreal culture in which the actor president Ronald Reagan can slip between Hollywood and reality until the real “comes back as the double of a self that never was” (Rubinstein 1989) because the sign ofa president has become a presidential reality. It has created an America where General Schwarzkopf celebrates the Gulf War victory by throwing huge party at Disney World.”
Thorsten Botz-Bornstein (Confucianism, Puritanism, and the Transcendental: China and America)

Both Xiang and Botz-Bornstein have writtenn (recently, in both cases) not dissimilar essays (and a book on Xiang’s part) that seek to understand both the Confucian influence on Western society and culture, and to reinterpret Confucian thinking in its relationship to western metaphysics. In both cases there lurks a political shadow, a somewhat hidden appraisal of Chinese communism and western anti communism. And these questions relate to Heidegger, and to fascism, and to the dispersal of fascism after WW2 and how it has rebranded as AI and entertainment, etc. However, before expanding on these thoughts I want to return to Losurdo’s book specifically on Heidegger. The first chapter is extremely important, I think, where a description of the cultural atmosphere in Vienna and through Germany, in Berlin particularly, right at the outbreak of WW1. It is remarkable that even the sanest of thinkers in that era, native German speakers (men like Max Weber and Thomas Mann and Scheler) saw something profound in a spiritual sense, a kind of mission, ‘meditatio mortis’, in this national unity built around war. It is remarkable. As Clemenceau notes (quoted by Losurdo) …“it is human nature to love life. Germans do not have this instinct ….On the contrary, they are. imbued with a morbid, satanic nostalgia for death. How they love death, these people! Quivering, as if drunk, and with an ecstatic smile, they look upon death as a sort of divinity …. Even war for them is a pact with death.” This feels not all that far from the Settler parties in Israel at the moment, and at bit like all colonial occupying armies have felt.

That fin de siecle period (which I wrote on before, and recently), particularly in Vienna, was a site of historical forces and cultural ideas that were the legacy of the Enlightenment more than any other city and country in the West. Losurdo notes that only two voices from that era (German speakers) seems not to have been seduced: one was György Lukács, and the other was Wittgenstein. But the *Kriegsideologie* (ideology of war) that the National Socialist rode into power was besides a more veiled connection to the Enlightenment, a legacy of the German defeat and humiliation in the first world war. And it was not only Heidegger that embraced this spiritualism of a war community, but Losurdo insightfully dissects Karl Jaspers work from 1932.

Lotte Laserstein (Evening over Potsdam, detail. 1928)

“The historicity that Jaspers never tires of exalting is always concrete and relative to a specific people, and also ‘absolute and absolutely non transcendable’. It excludes the universality of values: ‘Truth, which by definition gives life to the community, is always a historical faith that can never be shared by everyone’; time and time again, ‘the spirit manifests itself as life tied to its origin’. “
Domenico Losurdo (Heiddegger and the Ideology of War)

The target again is the French Revolution. The coming of the masses.

There are tributaries that emerge out of the ruins of Auschwitz, Hiroshima, and U.S. foreign policy (anti communism). The rupture of 1917 is impossible to calculate, and later the Chinese Revolution the same. I saw recently that one of the Ramones refused to take the stage (in Germany? who can remember) until a Palestinian flag was removed (it wasn’t, he didn’t). By the mid 70s the entirety of rock and roll was soul crushingly reactionary. The sixties was a radical eruption, culturally at least. It carried with it, however, the seeds of regressive mythologies (seen previously in Germany as Hitler rose to power, and before that, in some difficult to diagnose manner, in Weimar, and later in post sixties health food communes). And before; American white supremacism, from the perspective of the smartphone era, has a clear uninterrupted presence back to the Plantation system.

Nothing accelerated the philistinism of the West as much as digital technology and the internet. The painting of ancient Greek sculpture, or the digital recreation of some (see

This is purely a digital exercise. The kitsch aspect seems utterly lost on the author here, but this is hardly surprising. I have written before on Abstract Expressionism, identifying it as the last sincere art movement. The 80s in NYC saw a input of legitimate energy, but after that a kind of diluting effect took hold. No doubt coinciding with the rise of the internet.

Walter Robinson

“Pompous Mormon symmetry. Everywhere marble: flawless, funereal (the Capitol, the organ in the Visitor Center). Yet a Los-Angelic modernity, too -all the requisite gadgetry for a minimalist, extraterrestrial comfort. The Christ-topped dome (all the Christs here are copied from Thorwaldsen’s and look like Bjorn Borg) straight out of Close Encounters: religion as special effects.”
Jean Baudrillard (America)

Computer generated faces all look like psychopaths, literally. More Ted Bundy than Bjorn Borg.

But I want to return to Losurdo’s analysis of Heidegger. One cannot escape Heidegger. (interestingly Baudrillard certainly tries to, in an argument that suggests his late writing in perilously close to self parody). But he did coin a catchy phrase for Weimar, ‘the primal scene’ of Western philosophy. Well, in a sense, yes. For modern philosophy. Maybe its Weimar one can’t escape.

“Heidegger’s later lectures also accuse the period of being incurably deaf to the “terrible cry of world war” despite the fact that it has revealed the “death of the moral God,” the Christian God, to whom both enemies appealed. But Christianity’s death also announces the death of its surrogates: democracy, “pacifism,” socialism, and “universal happiness,” or “happiness for the greatest number.” All of these ideals arc inspired by the ambition of eliminating danger, risk, and uncertainty; they are all characterized by the myth of “security” and a philistine vision of the world. The Christian sects, busy dispensing the “security of salvation” (Heilsicherheit), are another integral part of the world of security which was revealed to be frivolous and inconsistent by the First World War.”
Domenico Losurdo (Ibid)

The analysis in chapters that track Jasper’s support and admiration of Heidegger, also include admiring remarks from Hannah Arndt. Remarks entirely within the ‘ideology of war’ that Heidegger outlined and joined with from even before 1929.

Karl von Blaas (Translation of St Catherine of Alexandria to Sinai). 1860.

The humiliation of Germany in the first world war provided the emotional permission for a detestation of community, of the masses. Identification with the aggressor. In one register, thus was born the modern iteration of the ‘self made man’, the unforgiving individualist. Gordon Gecko would be right at home in 1930s Berlin. Remember Zionism and Psychoanalysis came from Vienna in the fin de siecle. Weimar was the offspring of those conflicted currents. There is no escape from Heidegger, metaphorically. None from Gaza, either, literally or metaphorically. And that means no escape from the Nakba. And that means no escape from white supremacism. The United States cannot escape its slave owning past. It cannot escape its genocidal past.

It has always struck me that there are so many good prison writers partly because prison is such an indelible and convincing metaphor for life under Capitalism. And the durability of capitalism is impossible if not driven by acute racism. They are baked into the project. The colonialism one sees in the Zionist violence and occupation of Palestine is a microcosmic mirror of all capitalism. Its only that the wide global version appears diluted. And in a sense, it ‘is’ diluted, but only in its aesthetic dimension.

The actual history of colonialism remains aesthetically diluted, both by the post colonial academics (with a couple exceptions) and by the white establishment in north america and Europe. Perhaps there is no more haunted images than those of Tasmania. The British island colony was witness to an absolute and total genocide by the European colonizers. The so called Black War (1821 to 1834) is one of the least known mass killings of the 19th century. And it was a genocide and not a war. Google search ‘Cape Grim massacre’ for a taste. I have never once seen a photograph of Van Dieman’s land that was not profoundly haunted. It is absolutely uncanny.

The Plough Inn, 1858. Stanley, in then Van Dieman’s Land.

“More than any other, it is Spengler who explains the political reasons for Burke’s popularity in Germany at that time. He himself exalts Burke for having deconstructed the image of man/ an image that appears to Spengler, an influential representative. of the *Krieqsideologic* and of the “conservative revolution,” as empty and even somewhat revolting. ‘Humanity’ is either a zoological concept or an empty term’. { } In reality, the so-called universal love of humanity serves only to “lower the value of smaller communities such as the family, the people, and the motherland.”
Domenico Losurdo (Ibid)

The collapse of the Hohenzollern and Hapsburg dynasties, along with the Bolshevik Revolution, were viewed with dismay by thinkers like Junger, and Burke, de Maistre and Schmitt. Not to mention Spengler. This was the modern world that so dismayed Heidegger (and Jaspers). The collectivization of the Russian Revolution was viewed as a regressive leveling of man’s true spirit. Behind these ideas looms the race component.

“Already in Burke, the juxtaposition of history and concrete national tradition to the universalism of the rights of man as proclaimed by the French Revolution, entails the exaltation of uniqueness. This exaltation becomes even more radical when the reclaiming of historicity demands the ability m oppose not only a threatening international lineup, but also, and within Germany, a prevailing public opinion that stems from the. ruinous uprooting that occurred in the past, and that therefore bears the mark of inauthenticity. “
Domenico Losurdo (Ibid)

Church St. 1858. Stanley. Van Dieman’s Land (courtesy Meg Eldridge)

Heidegger and those around Schmitt, or Mannheim, or Spengler, in varying ways decried the nominalism that resulted in empty abstractions. And here Heidegger sounds very much like Nietzsche. But Heidegger, and most of the others mentioned, saw the fall of western man linked to the empty universalism of man. And this was read as a misunderstanding of Hellenic thought. Never mind that this sort of lumps all Green philosophers into one bag, the point was really to attack the implications of the French revolution (and closer) the Bolshevik Revolution.

Now, I want to digress a bit (again) here, though its not really such a digression. To quote from Enzo Traverso’s book of 2018 (though published earlier in French) The End of Jewish Modernity. For this quote from the introduction is very important if one wants to track both intellectual and cultural decline in the West, but also the profound problems of U.S. imperialism and the uses made of Israel for propaganda purposes, and how this all helps elucidate the problems of contemporary culture altogether.

“I heard from Jakob Moneta (1914–2012) in Frankfurt, whose very fine autobiography I was already familiar with. He had been victim of a pogrom in Galicia as a child, and came with his family to Germany as refugees, where he became a communist towards the end of the Weimar republic. After 1933 he moved to Palestine, but returned to settle in Cologne in 1948, critical of the foundation of the Israeli state: a remarkable choice at a time when Germany was still terra non grata for the World Jewish Congress. Attached to the German embassy in Paris in the 1950s, he used his diplomatic passport to take risks in supporting the Algerian Front de Libéracione Nationale (FLN). Moneta led me to discover another remarkable figure little known outside his own country: Sal Santen (1915–98). This Jew from Holland survived Auschwitz, where most members of his family were exterminated. In Amsterdam, where he lived as a journalist and writer,he was condemned in 1960 to two years in prison for his activities in support of the Algerian national movement. He had participated along with other anti-colonial activists in a network that concocted false papers, and in the establishment in Morocco of a small arms factory for the FLN. These men did not view themselves as ‘victims’, but as militants and committed intellectuals. I always had the impression that Jewishness for them was an ethos, an experience of the world, an existential commitment on the side of the oppressed. They defined themselves as internationalists, a word that for them had nothing abstract about it, but was how they had traversed their century of fire and blood.”
Enzo Traverso (The End of Jewish Modernity)

Joseph Ducreux (Self Portrait, yawning. 1783)

The radical Jew is how I remember Jews I knew in my childhood and youth. Culturally aware and always articulate, often cynical to a degree, but almost to a one they were wonderfully generous to me, and I benefited from the free education they gave me. That began to change by the 70s even. Certainly the 80s. In the early 90s I was seeing a girl, Jewish, whose family were affluent if not wealthy. And I was invited to a Hanukkah dinner at their NYC west side apartment. Cultural elites were there, newspaper editors and advertising execs, as well as doctors and lawyers. I remember the virulent pro Zionism and their suspicion of my presence. I don’t think I said a word all night. As we were leaving one older gent said to my girlfriend’s father…’next year in Israel, eh? Back to the home base!’

I was rather shocked, I remember. This was not the intellectual pantheon I knew from my youth. This was something else. I felt suddenly something had been lost, and this is largely the thesis of Traverso’s book. But this is how I feel about many things, today. A sense of lostness. Particularly in the arts. But the emptiness I feel about culture is echoed politically. And the genocide taking place in Gaza feels like a distillation of the growing fascism around the world.

One other figure is worth noting vis a vis Heidegger, and that is Edmund Husserl. For Husserl, who was Heidegger’s teacher, saw Being and Time (Sein und Zeit ), Heidegger’s early and major work, (as Husserl put it), ‘an abandonment or surrender of reason’. But this was a decidedly minority opinion. At least at the time. Also worth noting how the Bolshevik Revolution defined the racism and its lines of demarcation in Europe. Spengler called Russia ‘ a Mongolian empire’ (and a threat). It is easier to grasp the effectiveness today of the anti Russian propaganda coming from the West in terms of the Ukraine conflict.

“The First World War witnesses the traumatic intervention of colored populations in the conflict. Even more traumatic than this is the Bolshevik Revolution: Suddenly Russia casts off what Spengler calls her white mask, and she begins pursuing alliances with colonized nations and peoples, inciting them to rebel against their rulers. Throughout Germany, a theme begins to circulate that envisions the West as a fortress under siege by a giant horde of enemies to include, with increasing frequency, the Jews.”
Domenico Losurdo (Ibid)

Even Nietzsche mentioned Jews as part of the slave revolt against morals.

Terry Winters

The revisionist writing today, from the anglo/European world sound remarkably like Schmitt or Junger. Francis Furet argued the Soviet purges (his mythical version of them) are the result of the French Revolution. And Ernst Nolte who sees the Holocaust as a result, too, of the ‘excesses’ (sic) of the Russian Revolution. But this is also the thinking one finds in those who conflate Nazism and Communism (Hannah Arendt, Karl Popper, et al). And this is important, because Heidegger remains, despite his open Nazi affiliations (more, enthusiastic support and open anti-semitism) extraordinarily popular. The forces that coalesced in Germany after WW1 were latent before that. And again, as in previous posts, it is hard to ignore the fin de siecle — and the cultural landscape of Vienna. And then of Weimar. Heidegger, and Schmitt, Spengler and Junger, were in varying ways enthusiasts of the Nazi war machine. The tone only changed as immanent defeat loomed for Germany. And before commenting on this final period of Heidegger, the idea of modernity was ambivalent in the end. Heidegger was both hugely critical of technology, or ‘over organizing’, and yet rationalized the Nazi dream of conquest with all manner of metaphysical (neo Nietzsche) obscurantism. But the support, or semi indirect support, in thinkers like Buber or even Jaspers is uncomfortably close to contemporary Western political thought. It is now written for those with a tenth grade vocabulary, but there lurks odd echoes in Zionist racism and de-humanizing of Schmitt and the super-race mythos of Heidegger.

While in Landsberg prison, an associate scribbled, literally, some observations of Hitler (quoted by Yvonne Sherratt):

“Hitler is not physically attractive. Everyone knows that . . . stories were circulated in the party and among sympathisers about his deep blue eyes. They are neither deep nor blue. His look is staring or dead. { } A receding forehead, with the lank hair falling over it; a short, unimposing stature, with limbs somehow ill-­ fitting and awkward; an expressionless mouth beneath the little brush of a moustache – such are the traits of the outer man. His only charm lies perhaps in his hands, which are strikingly well shaped and expressive.”

Nazism was never defeated. Not really. It went into semi-hiding. But if we are now living in the age of extreme normalizing (see the genocide in Gaza, or new government by decree, during the Covid protocols, etc) this is traceable to the end of the second world war. And Heidegger (and Schmitt) were important figures in setting up the sign posts to direct public discourse.

Oswald Spengler with Mother and sisters.

“If, during the course of 1940 and the first phase of the war, the incomplete nihilism of democracy, socialism and Marxism is favorably compared to the absolute nihilism of Nietzsche (and of Nazism); now, on the other hand, Hitler’s defeat and the assimilation of Marx and Nietzsche, and of communism and Nazism, in the name of the will to power, allmvs for Marx and the revolutionary tradition to also be blamed for the resultant catastrophe in the West (of which the two world war.s and Nazism are an integral part). In fact, it is now Marx himself who comes to represent “”the position of extreme nihilism” rather than incomplete nihilism. On the one hand, absolute nihilism (Nietzsche and Nazism) plays a positive role in l 940 because, by putting an end to hypocrisy and “half-measures” (democracy, socialism, and so on), it also paves the way for a “new beginning.”
Domenico Losurdo (Ibid)

Note, too, that it was Schmitt who came to be legalist of the Reich and it was during his first real action (in his new positions as Crown Jurist for the Reich) to defend a state of exception. This is stunningly close to what was seen during the Covid lockdowns. Identical logic.

“Schmitt argued that the Reich had a duty to act against parties that represented enemies of the state in order to prevent “the outbreak of civil war,” and emphasized that Article 48 of the Weimar constitution provided extremely broad powers for the Reich President to, if necessary, dissolve parliament and rule by presidential decree alone (i.e. through commissary dictatorship). Simultaneously, he would make the argument – formalized in his pamphlet Legality and Legitimacy (1932) – that preserving an “equal chance for gaining political power” in fact required that those opposition parties judged to be enemies of the constitution be legally excluded from political participation (on this, the Federal Republic of Germany to this day maintains that Schmitt was right). “
N.S.Lyons (The Temptations of Carl Schmitt)

Carl Schmitt (delivering speech 1930)

I should add an additional quote of Lyons…“A clear state of exception nonetheless did soon arrive however, if in response to a threat of an entirely different kind: the COVID-19 pandemic. In the name of protecting public safety, citizens’ normal civil liberties, up to and including bodily autonomy and freedom of association, were suspended for an indefinite duration. Normal democratic procedures were superseded. Opposition to these emergency powers was monitored and policed by the national security state. But who decided on this exception? The president? The technocratic national or international “public health” bureaucracy? A handful of specialized “experts” and their billionaire backers from around the world? For most people the answer remains rather hazy.”

The parallels with contemporary culture and government policy and law is stunning.

“Agriculture has now become a mechanized food industry; the production of corpses in gas chambers and death camps is essentially the same thing, as is the starvation that is produced in a country which is blockaded, or the production of hydrogen bombs.”
Martin Heidegger (Press Conference, 1949.Quoted by Wolfgang Schirmacher Technic and gelassenheit )

The foreshadowing in post war Europe of what would later appear in the U.S. (and Europe, in many places) is quite clear. And yet these ideas and aesthetic styles remained dormant for fifty years. U.S. imperialism strode mightily on to the world stage at the start of the 50s, fresh from their success (sic) at Hiroshima. But nothing went quite right. Including a dour pessimistic Eisenhower at the end of his second term. Vietnam was and is a tragedy and nightmare the West can’t or won’t come to terms with. Hiroshima is rarely viewed this way, in spite of an acceptance of the horror even by defenders. That was clean, death from above, no boots on the ground. But Vietnam was mediated by the antiwar movement, firstly, and a counter culture. It had the smell of defeat right from the start. The troops were stoned, strung out, and playing rock n’ roll. America was ideologically vertiginous. Pop culture likes to portray 9/11 as some moment of historical significance, but it’s not (well, unless you are a TV writer). The liberation of Saigon and then the fall of the USSR. These are the events that exceeded the comfort zone of the zeitgeist. The end of the USSR seemed to open the ideological flood gates — an acceptably bad metaphor in this case — and allowed a vision of the rising waters of revanchist fascism to appear as if by magic.

Delcy Morelos

There is another aspect to Schmitt, not without significance, even if lurid.

“Schmitt’s married life was characterized by a continuous series of passionate affairs, conducted in the form of almost daily trysts in parks, trains, “secluded paths,” and other semi-public places that he noted afforded him a particular thrill. To this was added a countless stream of prostitutes, to whom seems to have gone much of his money. Plus all of the family maids. He describes his “deranged sexuality” as having transformed him into a kind of maniac, unable to keep himself from following women around in public places “as if hypnotized.” He diligently kept an exact diary of each of his “ejaculations.” (November 3, 1926: “Ejaculation. But it wasn’t a release. No release without conquest.”) This behavior would, to his shame, continue even while his second wife was critically ill with tuberculosis. To the reader, his decision to write a doctoral thesis on the topic of guilt seems to take on new significance.”
N.S.Lyons (Ibid)

Losurdo is very good in his critique of the post war rehabilitation of Heidegger.

“…that of relegating all of his texts, even those in which the political dimension is explicit and declared, to a rarefied, politically aseptic sphere. In this way Heidegger, who not only in his letters and occasional speeches, but also in his theoretical writings, tirelessly comments upon the events of his time, is subjected to a purifying process that is supposed to cleanse him of any worldly contamination.”
Domenico Losurdo (Ibid)

This is in a nutshell the tactics of Heidegger’s academic defenders.

Losurdo also summarises Adorno and Horkheimer’s anti-modernism, which is distinctly different from Heidegger’s:

“Let us examine ‘Dialectic of Enlightenment’, the work that most harshly expresses the antimodcrnisr sentiment of the Frankfurt school: Despite appearances, this is nor a rejection of the Enlightenment and of modernity in and of themselves. Horkheimer and Adorno passionately highlight the coexistence of contradictory aspects in the development of the modern world: “The condemnation of superstition has always meant, together with the progress of domination, the unmasking of domination itself: … The progress of civilization has renovated, by way of dominion, even the possibility of placating it.”
Domenico Losurdo (Ibid)

Ross Bleckner

For Heidegger, one of the evils of modernity is the search for happiness, and democracy itself. And this brings us back to the connective threads of Heidegger (and Schmitt and Spengler), contemporary algorithmic capitalism, and even Zionism. The masses are to be feared and maybe, only maybe, corrected. And if not corrected, then eliminated. Remember it was the USSR that helped and supported African independence movements and the U.S. that aided the colonizers.

“These were not the type of conflicts envisaged by international law, ones involving states hostile to each other but eventually resolved by peace treaties. Instead they were undeclared wars of pillage and destruction that were brought to a conclusion only by the total submission of the conquered countries. The enemies were neither governments nor proper armies, but the populations themselves, which meant that no distinction was drawn between civilians and combatants. That is why France’s General Bugeaud used to tell his officers that in waging war in Algeria, they needed first to forget most of what they had learned in their French military academies and realize that their battle was “not against an enemy army, but against an enemy people.”
Enzo Traverso (Origins of Nazi Violence)

This is what we see in Gaza, now. It was in Africa that the British perfected their colonial strategy. The Battle of Omdurman, 1898, saw a few hundred British soldiers, but with machine guns, kill over eleven thousand Sudanese warriors. As Churchill (a young cadet at the time) put it, ” we shall mow them down like ripened wheat”. The populations were decimated. In Algeria the population dropped by 20%. In King Leopold’s Congo, it was 50%. In Sri Lanka roughly 7 million dropped to barely one million. In Sudan fatalities reached 75%. In Tahiti, the drop was 90%. And in Tasmania (Van Dieman’s Land) it was 100%.

The legacy of the Industrial Revolution. The German genocide, conducted under the leadership of General Von Trotha, included an official ‘annihilation order’. The Herero and Nama people were exterminated. Much the same as the Hotentots. Von Trotha, in newspaper articles declared this a ‘racial war’ against a ‘people in decline (per Traverso).

bar at Odean Cinema (Asmara, Eritrea) Giuseppe Zacche architect, finished 1938.

“The last operation of colonial conquest waged by the Italian Fascists in 1935, bridged the gap between nineteenth-century European imperialism and the Nazi war for German Lebensraum. The Ethiopian war was justified by the classic arguments of colonialist racism (Africa can never belong to the Africans”) and by demographic discourse of the social Darwinist variety (“only fertile peoples With the pride and the will to propagate their race upon this planet have the right to an empire”) and was waged with modern tools of destruction, in particular a massive use of chemical weapons.”
Enzo Traverso (Ibid)

Again, the spectre of Zionism. The Italian fascist regime’s leading slogan was Ethiopia without Ethiopians. In 1941, Traverso notes it was Carl Schmitt, in an editorial, that demanded colonial wars were bringing European civilization to uncivilized territory. In this piece he noted that Prussia was not carrying out its colonization overseas, but against its neighbors. Still, it was in keeping with the correct principle, according to Schmitt. German imperialism was only doing to the Russians and Poles what France and the U.K. did in Africa. Later, Hitler, in conversation with Martin Bormann, observed the Slavic world had to become a “German India”.

For National Socialists, a special order of ideological insanity was shaped by the metaphysical mythology of German philosophy. And in particular Heidegger

“The racist dehumanization of the enemy and the growing in- difference with regard to human life also found expression in a brutalization of political life, which now adopted the language of warfare and methods of confrontation inherited from the trenches.
In Germany and Italy, where political institutions and civilian societies underwent an overall dislocation when the conflict was over, warfare erupted into political-life through the proliferation of armed units both on the left and above all on the extreme right (ranging from the Freikorps to the SA and from the Arditi del Popolo to the fasci di combattimento). The ancient myths according to which the soldier was the embodiment of heroism and patriotism were now supplemented by the image of the “new man” forged by total warfare.”

Enzo Traverso (Ibid)

Albert Birkle (The Acrobat Schulze, 1921)

Two things, then…brutalization of political life, and really everyday life, too. And two, the invention (sort of) of the ‘new man’. One can obviously trace some of the latter back to Nietzsche. But the more significant aspect of this ideological shift is abandonment of reason, the justification for which is part of an irrational mythos that disdained community and collectivism. The ‘new man’ was the lonely gunslinger on the plaines of a ‘new land’. In service by guarding the ‘property’ of his state against those stolen from. Another brick laid in the edifice of rugged individualism.

It is easy to see Heidegger’s critique of technology in the same light as others such as Adorno, or Stigler, or de Certeau. But the distinctions are important. Stigler, both hugely insightful, and idiotic in equal parts (and perhaps the same for de Certeau) one realizes that the missing ingredient is Marx, and it is an insoluble problem. And you see this is in journalists, too. The crypto anti communism of Hedges or anyone at Jacobin, not to mention many who have been terrific on the topic of Gaza and therefor who I wont’ mention here. It is not that one needs to accept Marx or join the communist party. But you absolutely cannot understand anything about the world without having absorbed a Marxist critique of capitalism. Without knowing of the class struggle. And without Marx (or Freud) any critique of the reactionary currents of the last hundred and fifty years is going to be wrong. At least partly, significantly, wrong. Heidegger’s antimodernism is not only a rejection of the Enlightenment, but rejection of desire. Here is where it is useful to remember Heidegger’s early Catholic reading, especially Meister Eckhart

Heidegger’s supporters have suggested that Heidegger confronted Nazism through his theory of technology, or even that his theory of technology arises out of his confrontation with Nazism. Study of Heidegger’s texts presents a different, darker picture of Heidegger, a thinker stubbornly committed to the metaphysical racism he shared with Nazism and to a revised version of the supposed Nazi effort to oppose technology. Heidegger’s theory of technology is, then, not a confrontation with Nazism but a confrontation with technology from a Nazi perspective. Heidegger’s theory of technology only extends, but does not free him from, his concern with National Socialism.”
Tom Rockmore (Heidegger’s Nazism and Philosophy)

For it strikes me that Heidegger’s dislike of happiness is partly a provincial regressive Catholic hair shirt. Heidegger didn’t trust Nazi tech either.

Sculpture of Mussolini (credited to anonymous solider but actually made by Piero Malvani for Italian newspaper) 1941

As a footnote of sorts to the Zionist genocide in Gaza, Traverso, in an interview from a decade back, observes:

“In my view, the end of Jewish modernity means that after the Second World War, with the progressive decline of anti-Semitism in Western societies and the birth of Israel, the Jews have exhausted their historical role as the critical consciousness of Western culture, a subversive subject that “deconstructed” and putted into question Western culture from within, acting as one of its constitutive and at the same time disruptive elements. This transition is symbolically embodied by two antipodal figures that dominate the Jewish world in the first and the second half of the twentieth century: Leon Trotsky, the wandering Jew of world revolution, and Henry Kissinger, the strategist of US imperialism. Obviously, this does not mean that all Jews have become conservative or reactionary: hopefully, a Jewish tradition of critical thinking is still alive and produces fruitful results. But the premises for the explosion of intellectual creativity that took place at the turn of the twentieth century no longer exist.”
Enzo Traverso (Interview by George Souvlis Práticas da História, n.º 7. 2018)

I did not even get to the Xiang book in this post, but I hope next time. Still allow me to quote an excellent essay on nazism and its varying mythologies.

“Genocide during the Second World War was not imposed on the Jews in spite of their efforts to assimilate, but in response to this very attempt. The more they hid their Jewishness, the more terrifying they became to others, for the fear of the Jew was that they could unknowingly be in our midst, that someone whom appears to be a gentile is in fact a Jew.”
Shuchen Xiang (The Ghostly Other, Understanding Racism from Confucian and Enlightenment Models of Subjectivity)

This stage drama is played out in Israel today. It is played out in Gaza. And in the perverse TikTok and Instagram videos of the IDF. In particular the ones where Israeli soldiers (sometimes just Israeli citizens) dress up as Arabs to mock those they are exterminating.

“The fear of the unseen parasite, of the invisible ghost which inhabits our homes is what characterises modern anti-Semitism. Jews were perceived as a problem because, essentialised as ghosts and monsters, their otherness could not be reduced. The only political solution thereby was annihilation, either through a kind of assimilation which removed all traces, or extermination tout court. Either way, the host cannot tolerate the presence of the parasite.”
Shuchen Xiang (Ibid)

Only today it is the Arab cast in the role of parasite, and the Zionist Jew the exterminator. And Israeli leadership seemingly cannot stress enough the monstrous nature of Hamas and Palestinians themselves. And as Hitler, in his later speeches began to seem to gesture like a parody of Jewishness, so today’s Israelis have taken on the parodic qualities of the Orientalist Arab.

to be continued.

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  1. Pseudo-Nicodemus says:

    “Pop culture likes to portray 9/11 as some moment of historical significance, but it’s not (well, unless you are a TV writer).”

    Pop culture’s lie is in the nature of the significance, but not the significance itself. 9/11 was a made-for-TV-movie that changed the world with its hackneyed melodrama, introducing a level of immersion hitherto unseen in the dialectic of creeping international totalitarianism disguised as the call of destiny. In many ways the fake pandemic was the direct sequel, with “COVID-19” exploding onto our TV screens 19 years after the 19 hijackers exploded the Twin Towers on 9/11, upping the immersion factor many degrees with the LARP-infused innovations of masking, testing, distancing, et al.

    I read somewhere that the September 11, 2020 edition of the New York Times was the first one since the made-for-TV-movie aired in which not a single mention of it could be found. 9/11 had been replaced by the latest craze. Terrorists hiding in caves were no longer necessary now that we had the invisible viruses hiding in our own veins.

    9/11 looms behind all of this, including Israel’s recent “9/11” and the ongoing Gaza tragedy. I’d be interested to hear you elaborate on your assertion that it’s not significant.

  2. John Steppling says:

    its not significant for all the reasons you just elaborated. Whoever was behind it (and Im guessing its the US deep state in some form), this is some kind of political theatre. Its not real. I mean I guess if you consider advertisements significant, then one could argue this is significant in the same way that Coke commercial was significant (as presented in Mad Men). 9/11 was used, certainly. Continues to be used, as you point out. But the reality of it, not the signifier if you want, but the reality was totally irrelevant. I see it often in TV drama. Its become a stand in for actual dramatic tension or memory. its a code. Oh…i get it, its 9 11. We are meant to feel this way. Pathos. Bathos. Islamaphobia. But by itself it was insignificant. its not behind anything. The same people who made it are behind things, but 9/11 is just a prop. I suppose this is semantic at a certain point, but i think its an important distinction. If you grant 9/11 some independent meaning, some importance, then you validate the lie. Like calling the Covid pandemic theatre something meaningful. It was a prop for increasingly draconian state repression….but the virus itself was just the flu. if that. The vaccine mandates, the restrictions, the protocols….THOSE are real AND significant.

  3. Pseudo-Nicodemus says:

    Thank you for your response, John.

    I see your point, and to a certain extent agree, but there is still a lingering voice deep inside which urges me to remember that, as far as the social arena goes, all that is left is this political & social theater. It’s all we’ve got to work with these days. There is absolutely no substance whatsoever. But this being the case, are we to simply give up this kind of analysis for lack of substantive material? The way I see it, these “codes” (as you call them) are important as markers delineating the collective degradation of the soul. They are the hands on the doomsday clock, so to speak. The trick is to base the countdown on your own value system and not the one they provide for you as part of your 21st century world-citizenship starter kit.

    This degradation is real, but invisible. It must be known indirectly, through apophatic inference. The TV images come in handy that way.

    Everything you say (“Pathos. Bathos” etc.) is part of my deeply ominous feeling regarding 9/11. It was THE mass ritual pre-pandemic, a position it held for many years, but I suppose the ritual of replacing the dominant ritual with a new one will only accelerate from here on out. Now, for me, it’s the vaccine. That I’m surrounded by people who actually fell for that obvious hoodwink. Like 9/11, this has reverberations that are yet to be felt, like ripples from a pebble dropped in a pond, they go on and on. Perhaps now I’m conflating real and symbolic, but there is always a little bit of symbol in every reality and vise-versa.

    Yesterday I started reading “The Gulf War Did Not Take Place” by Baudrillard, and I quickly began to realize that this kind of theory just doesn’t do for me what it used to. I am increasingly of the opinion that it offers no real solutions, and that it’s main appeal lies in a kind of circular fascination with mental puzzles with novel solutions. Before that I read “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.” It felt much more meaningful and even useful.

    Please excuse me while I throw my computer into the river.

  4. John Steppling says:

    I think (and agree regards baurdrillard. I hadnt read him for a while until i was writing this post and I was sort of amazed how bad some of his stuff was, actually.It got worse as he got older, I think). Anyway, I think my point was that the bigger issues , the unmarketed events, were the demise of the USSR, and the liberation of Saigon. Both of which the marketing apparatus had trouble with. They were sort of forgotten. 9/11 was officially this grand event for the West. It was clearly not really so — except as material for the script writers of empire. And you’re right, that has significance. I may have been being a bit glib. But I still think the forces at work, globally, were far more deeply affected by the Vietnam debacle and the end of the USSR. The empire didnt want to tell people that, so 9 /11 became this symbolic attack on mom, apple pie and 4th of July picnics. Meanwhile, as I hope the rest of my post makes clear, there is a growing desperation in the West. And now the ‘attack on the Capital’ is trying to be sold as another ground shaking event. But its far less effective even than 9/11. It was nothing. A third generation dupe of 9/11. But the Covid story is certainly a massive move by the ruling class, globally. And not an illusion. We could spend a lot of time trying to tweeze apart all that is going on with this. Its quite terrifying, really. I saw Pierre Kory gave an interview today about the actual numbers of people dying since the roll out of the vaccines. This is a topic our podcasts have gone over a lot. I think there are factions in the billionaires and NGOs and military/industrial/media complex. Its hard to keep track of all of it, honestly. And you make a good point about the invisible effects of these manufactured narratives of doom (climate, vaccine, etc). And the fact that I think even those manufacturing them are affected by them. I should add AI to this list, too. Its endgame….but not Zugzwang.

  5. Speaking of the the psychotic derangement of right wing “catholic” religionists check out the essay Pagan Hamas in the current issue of First Things

  6. Regino Robainas says:

    After drinking your essay, I felt
    very much inside the stormy Soul
    of Das Jude Franz all schook up in
    1920’s Prague or Vienna or Berlin.

    It rendered me more awake to my
    first impression of Amerika, when
    I arrived in N.Y city as a newly
    minted 13 year old teenager(!) &
    felt the icy glare of the gigantic
    Guard all in finest priestly Blue
    question, as in austere confessional
    about my incipient Political allegiances
    re. Fidel & Che. Supressing a
    scream of fucking but troublesome Heroes,
    I followed my sister’s prudent
    exhortations & answered meekly “No Good guys”
    & got through the wall & door into the
    Anerican Dream theatre.

    I believe we have to adopt a
    dialectical attitude/posture toward Christ
    along with Christianity, Marxism, & even
    Colonialism, Imperialism and, even, Fascism,
    which neans combatting the ancient Christian
    Root of this tragic garden, while nourishing
    it with these historical soils.

    If we do this right, we shall unleash our
    suppressed Desires in an antithetical manner,
    free of violence or guilt, unlike the monster
    Karl SCHMIDT.

  7. John Steppling says:
  8. It’s Trotsky or Kissinger, is it? You’re a Kissinger, and Traverso is a Trotsky. Is that it? Or might you both be really ‘Jewdith’ Butlers?

    Forgive me, of course I understand you are exempt from the menu on account of your Anglo-Saxon individuality.

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