It is no secret now that lust is also a form of addiction. My point here is that the current regime knows this and exploits this situation to its own advantage. In other words, sexual freedom is really a form of social control….The truth, the one propagated by the regime through advertising, sex education, Hollywood films, and the university system—the truth, in other words, for general consumption—is that sexual liberation is freedom. The esoteric truth, the one that informs the operations manual of the regime—in other words the people who benefit from “liberty”—is the exact opposite, namely, that sexual liberation is a form of control, a way of maintaining the regime in power by exploiting the passions of the naïve, who identify with their passions as if they were their own and identify with the regime which ostensibly enables them to gratify these passions. ~ E Michael Jones, Libido Dominandi
These began with divine ideas by way of contemplation of the heavens with the bodily eyes. Thus in their science of augury the Romans used the verb contemplari for observing the parts of the sky whence the auguries came or the auspices were taken. ~ Giambattista Vico, The New Science
During my youth, I used to study the writings of Herbert Marcuse, sometimes called the “Julius Evola of the Left.” There is some justice in that appellation since their interests overlapped — fascism, sexuality, the drug culture, hippies, etc. — and they both opposed the modern world, particularly in the dual pincers of American capitalism and Soviet communism.
In Reason and Revolution, his study of Hegel, Marcuse opposed the monopoly of rationalism by positive science. Thus philosophy or metaphysics has a claim on truth and rationality. That has stuck with me, particularly because my fields of study were maths, physics, and chemistry.
In One Dimensional Man, he documented the deleterious effects of consumer society on human fulfillment. I was especially interested in Eros and Civilization. Marcuse combined the personal and the social in a powerful way. That technique provides a lesson for the development of a historiography of the right. For example, we’ve related Plato’s political systems to the rule of men dominated by the different soul centers.
This brief essay continues that project, albeit in a sketched-out form. For the reconstruction of the prehistory of the West, I am relying on Giambattisa Vico’s New Science as well as Fustel de Coulange’s Ancient City, as well as the studies of myths by J J Bachofen, Julius Evola and Julian Jaynes.
Eros and Civilization
At that time, it was possible to be a materialist atheist using Darwin, Freud and Marx as the foundation. Life, mind, and society could be explained without recourse to anything transcendent. Marcuse combined Freud and Marx very effectively. Marx had always claimed that consciousness was formed by the material conditions of life, without explaining how. Marcuse took the major themes of Freudian psychology to show how social structures become reflected in human psychology.
Thus Freud’s major themes of sexuality and repression could be explained in the individual by the systems of production and consumption. Since Freud’s conceptions are ultimately conservative, Marcuse had to rework his ideas quite a bit.
As is common with the left, Marcuse felt that men are born good but become repressed by society. Unlike Freud who contended that the sexual instinct (eros) had to be sublimated for civilization to develop, Marcuse claimed that unleashed sexuality is liberating and constructive. For Freud, the superego, by absorbing cultural norms, was able to repress sexuality. However, for Marcuse, the superego instead absorbed unjust social structures. This “surplus repression” was beyond anything really necessary.
The Freudian system apes the traditional view of man. The ego is the self, or rational center of consciousness. The superego is what is transcendent to the ego and the id represents desires and instincts. Of course, for Freud there is no real transcendence, hence it can be explained only by material terms; that provides the opening for Marcuse.
So if the superego is merely the result of alienated consciousness, there is no reason at all to suppress the instincts. The assumption must be that they are good in themselves, which really means that Darwinian random evolution somehow produces the good.
Freud said that we go through three stages: oral, anal, genital. In maturity, our sexuality is centered on the genital phase. Marcuse regarded that as a form of repression. Hence, in his utopian vision of human centered production based on technology, the fully developed human would become polymorphous perverse, like a child. His whole body would be sexually charged, without the repression of the oral and anal stage.
That hardly seems like a manly or worthwhile goal, but there is little doubt that such an idea resonates in contemporary culture. This is evident from the porno film Deep Throat in the 1970s which mainstreamed fellatio to more recent obsession with the ass and anal sex. A recent episode of the “edgy” HBO series Girls featured a gratuitous scene of anilingus.
This is an inversion of true Eros which is a drive to God and the transcendent. Biological sex, then, is a mere distortion and materialization of that drive.
Giambattista Vico identifies three customs of all nations:
- All have some religion
- All contract solemn marriages
- All bury the dead
These, therefore, are the basis of the first three principles of his New Science. He points out that they are reinforced by their religious practices. The consequences of not doing so are, according to Vico:
Otherwise, the world would return to a brutish state and again become a wilderness.
Now the facts of human societies can be reformulated as principles:
- Divine Providence
- The moderation of passions through marriage
- The immortality of human souls attested by burial
Just to be clear, Vico again emphasizes:
These are the boundaries of human reason and transgressing them means abandoning our humanity.
Of course, modernity in its fullness is the exact opposite:
- Man to be fully human requires freedom from God
- The free expression of passions, especially but not only sexuality, is human liberation
- Live for the moment
Thus, we have another barometer to measure the decline, or progress if you prefer, of the human race. Of course, most people do not consciously think about such things and try to steer a middle, i.e., a “lukewarm”, course; but those are the positions for those who think it through.
Providence and Religion
Vico makes Providence a principle of his New Science, so he regards Providence as a historically veribiable fact. He writes:
Providence must provide a history of the orders and institutions which providence bestowed on the great polity of humankind without the knowledge or advice of humankind, and often contrary to human planning. For although by its creation our world is temporal and particular, the orders which providence establishes in it are universal and eternal.
Thus he claims that the human race could not have survived without divine providence. The actions of men are insufficient to explain all the cultural and social benefits that accrued to them.
The modernist, on the other hand, rejects Providence. For him, the human race evolved through random processes into an environment that quite fortuitously was able to support human life. Gods and religions, therefore, are social constructs used to bolster and legitimize existing social arrangements.
Rene Guenon expressed it this way:
It is not that the order of the cosmos was conceived on the model of social institutions, but, on the contrary, these institutions were founded on the basis of analogy with the cosmic order.
Marriage and Immortality
When we discuss immortality, we must grant considerable importance to the consensus of humankind, who either fear or worship the spirits of the underworld. I follow this general belief. ~ Seneca
Vico recognized a hierarchy of allegiances. First a man cared for himself, then his wife and children. This extended to his clan, nation and so on. Marriages were solemnized not least of all for the sake of the children. Without that legal bond, the children could be left to their own devices. Vico was prescient in foreseeing that the children of unwed mothers would come to depend on public or private charity, as we see today. Any exceptions just prove the rule.
Vico simply assumes that sexual relationships are genital. In the Freudian scheme, the child advances sexually in three phases: oral, anal, and genital. Hence, the psychologically healthy and rational adult regards sex as genital-to-genital contact. Its proper use is within marriage as he describes. Obviously, this is not an arbitrary command of a totalitarian church, but rather the common experience of the human race, insofar as it is civilized and guided by divine providence. Specifically, this applies also to pagan societies pace the new age neo-pagans, and Evola alludes to it in Ancient Rome:
every offense to the sacredness of aristocratic marriage and to the lineage was considered as a crime above all in the face of the genius of the lineage
On the contrary, the revolutionary goal is to return to the childlike innocence of polymorphous perversity, for whom the entire body is sexually charged. This is considered liberation although, as E Michael Jones points out, in its actual effect it is a form of social control. Rather than the result of the overthrowing of capitalism as Marcuse had hoped, sexual control becomes just another capitalist commodity. In Marcuse’s terms, sexual liberation has been “co-opted” by the capitalist system he opposed.
So, in his reconstruction of prehistory, VIco sees the formation of society the father, as the protector of his family. The fathers gather together for mutual support and protection. Thus, at its origin, society was a patriarchy. This is not exactly the mannerbund (with is homoerotic overtones in some circles), as Evola would have it, since it was composed strictly of fathers. Evola does recognize the “son of duty”, since that is the only way that the father’s memory would continue in the burial rites.
Now each family was considered to have a divine origin as the primal father was regarded as a god. The consequence is that each family also had its own religion with rites and legends of its own. The clan also had a divine origin and its father, not necessarily biological but certainly spiritual, was likewise considered a god. The result was a hierarchy of religions and religious practices. Daily life was regulated by the rites, taboos, and rituals of the religions.
Thus, society was at its origin patriarchal and theocratic. Vico called it the age of the gods. Clients were attracted to the patriarchy for protection. They did not have the same spiritual foundation. Hence, they followed the rites of whatever family they are attached to. They were not necessarily biologically related; over time, due to endogamous marriage, racial differences between the clients and the families become more pronounced.
They didn’t have an inner center (ego in Freud’s terms) and were driven primarily by desire, or id, in Freudian sense. They may even have been pre-Adamics. Their consciousness was formed by the families. Without a strong ego, or rational capability, they are directed by command, poetry, symbolism (see Jaynes). This inner consciousness of external commands is the Freudian superego.
Over time, the age of the gods gave way to the age of the heroes. This was the result of a schism between the priestly and noble functions. In Platonic terms, it was the movement from aristocracy to timocracy. The next phase was toward democracy or popular rule. This was the result of the desire of the clients and plebeians for more political and social control.
Natural and Conventional Relationships
Oddly enough, the revolutionary and reactionary reconstructions of history are not that different, although their evaluations certainly are. This is not totally surprising, since Marx himself relied on Vico’s works. The revolutionary sees the overturning of patriarchy and theocracy as forward progress. Each stage of decline for the reactionary is progress for the revolutionary. More and more people take part in social life.
For the reactionary, the stages move downward from the rational (in the higher sense) to the emotional to desire and sensation. The latter has three substages: normal desires, excessive desires, and unnatural desires. So the aristocrat knows the divine order of the cosmos and orders social relationships in conformance to it. The democrat lacks that understanding. Originally, aristocratic knowledge came to the democrat through poetry, symbols, and divine commands. In his consciousness, it was experienced as alien and alienating, since it did not comport with the other parts of his interiority. In order to overthrow the commands of the superego, he also had to eliminate its source in religion and patriarchy.
For the reactionary, theocracy, patriarchy and hierarchy are natural and organic structures, a reflection of the divine order. For the revolutionary, they are merely conventional and social structures. They have no origin beyond the human mind. At worst, they serve to maintain existing power structures. For Marx, they are the product of economic arrangements. In a state of wild nature, a patriarchy may have made some sense. However, as economic activity became more complex, power in the hands of the few was not justifiable.
To close the circle with Marcuse: the Old Left was failing because the prosperity in the West of the working classes tended to make them more conservative rather than revolutionary. Current arrangements suited them, so they could not be easily motivated to revolt. Hence, the New Left looked for the revolutionary consciousness not in the working class, but in other groups considered to be marginalized by social arrangements.
These thus are the choices: either the arrangements are rational and supported by divine providence or they are irrational and arbitrary. There can be no middle ground.