The Return of the Reactionary (Part III)

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Part 3: Whatever Happened to Nietzsche?

This is the third part of our journey into the strange Other Wold of neo-reactionary political thought that began with an investigation into the phenomenon of the “alt right”. In the second instalment it lea into discussion of the monarcho-capitalist “NRx” movement. In this final piece we follow a rather different but not entirely unpredictable thread that seems to run through a great many “alternative” conservative ideals steadily emerging. This is the return of the right wing Nietzschean. An animal long imagined dead save among a few Neo-Nazi imbeciles and perhaps the occasional angry teenager looking for someone to read after Ayn Rand. We have already seen this right Nietzschean turn inherent in Nick Land with his desire to build posthuman elites in part two of this essay. But right now, especially in Europe, right Nietzsche is very much waking up. He is learning how to think again for the first time since the German Interwar Conservative Revolution, with its empire and technology obsessed thinkers like Ernst Jünger, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck and Oswald Spengler.

As we shall see, what is emerging is a bizarrely diverse breed of new “thinking man’s” Fascisms and National Bolshevisms. Just about all of them, as one might expect in our age, hinge upon constructing narratives to overcome Fukuyama’s liberal democratic “end of history” thesis. Nascent futuristic technologies – genetic engineering, AI and transhuman cyborgs – are central cult instruments either preventing or enabling renewed ethnonationalist and feudal “philosophies of the future” for the twenty-first century. A necessary part of our investigation also will be to investigate recent developments among left Nietzscheans in the academy and their movement towards materialistic posthumanisms. Posthumanism, that which rejects universalist Enlightenment humanity as an imperialistic rather than liberating ideology, unsurprisingly often seems little more than code for Faustian transhumanist cyborg affections, a hatred for human beings and leftover Space Age cybernetics. Some of these leftist views, as we shall see, are converging with and even being directly recycled into reactionary narratives by “outsider” thinkers. Thus, I would like to take this essay as an opportunity not merely to discuss reaction per se, but the question of what the heck is going on in continental philosophy in the early twenty-first century. We’re a long, long way from existentialism, structuralism and phenomenology, and very few people are aware of the sorts of ideas being produced that may well come to colour this century as popular left and right ideologies.

1. A Long Slumber.

People often seem to forget the fact that prior to WWII continental philosophy was filled with reactionary thinkers, most of whom were very much indebted to Friedrich Nietzsche. Hands are still endlessly wrung in the academy over the Nazi politics of the massively influential Martin Heidegger. Yet, like his hero Nietzsche, since WWII both have largely belonged to the left. In his efforts to overcome the nihilism of the touted end of history and metaphysics of Hegel and Nietzsche, Heidegger returned philosophy to the question of ontology. He eventually moved away from existentialism and attempted to escape the will to power of modern technology and humanism by embracing a kind of almost Taoist attitude about waiting upon the “openness towards Being”. However, from our current position it looks an awful lot as though it has been the recycling of Heidegger’s ideas through anthropology into the magical ontic cultural identity of human beings and not abstruse Being that seems to have had the most influence in the twentieth century. Since the 1960s we have become long accustomed to the “naked particularism” as Richard Wolin colourfully calls it, of Heidegger’s influence on articulating minority identity politics.[1] By the late twentieth century dominant left liberal academic ideologies epitomised by Richard Rorty had convinced us through Heidegger that truth was relative and based on our individual experiences and that we should all just try to get along.[2] By being more inclusive and celebrating “outsider” sexual, cultural and religious claims, especially if they possessed a strong Foucauldian victim narrative, most humanists seemed to assume that they were simply adjusting humanism for a more just and cosmopolitan world. That in the name of liberal laissez faire humanism was “progressing”, not the rejection of it as monological metaphysical domination by Heidegger. After all it was all about the magical soterical spell “diversity”. Even Heideggerian post-humanists like Peter Sloterdijk, when all the jargon is brushed aside, seem remarkably similar in their “lets share the world” and anti-Eurocentric attitude to the standard left liberal humanist.[3] One might well call this sort of globalist post-modern ideal “left Fukuyama” because all it is trying to do is make the liberal democratic one-world vision a little nicer. We must push past the nihilism of eurocentric global monoculture into multipolar diversity.

However, as we will see later in this essay, right now in Europe the far right are returning to Heidegger as “one of their own” in an effort to “repeat” his commitment he made to the “inner greatness” of German existence and National Socialism. This isn’t new: the Japanese Kyoto School of wartime imperialist philosophers and the Iranian Revolution were strongly influenced by Heidegger’s ideas – the magical power of traditionalist exceptionalism. [4] Indeed from Heidegger’s own commitment to the Mitsein (being-with) of German identity in the name of escaping the nihilism of liberalism and communism, to left and right “identarians” of the present, one might well see this all as a kind of tribal existentialism living in fear of the inauthentic dominating “they” who rule the world.If there is anything that may well break the weak equilibrium of magical “diversity” put in place by post-industrial liberalism, it may well be ontologically closed identity politics from both left and right – absolutely convinced that the other is the archon ruler of the world trying to destroy their unique ontologies. As we have seen since part one of this essay, the claim for victim status is the claim for legitimacy in our era and what drives identarianism. There is no real manifest destiny to overturn the current order of the world without it, no real guarantee of deserving the will to power to transcend the accelerating flattening of the human race and losing one’s sense of Heimat (being at home in the world). The “end of history” ever since Nietzsche’s attempt to overcome it has always been imminently threatening, from the Nazis to the hippies who read Marcuse to the accelerating globalisation and anti-globalist movements of the present.

If we are honest, it is fair to say that leftist ideologies have dominated academia for the past seventy years with little threat from conservative, let alone reactionary political philosophy. The Space Age leftist “self-psychology” of Wilhelm Reich, Norman O. Brown, Erich Fromm and other similar ideologists like Marcuse was massively indebted to Nietzsche’s imperative to be a unique liberated individual rebelling against The Man as soulless, uncreative, repressed letzte Mann. Greedily lapped up and commercialised, it backfired marvellously and practically built neo-liberal “lifestyle” marketing and consumerism.[5] So too were the French Post-Structuralists – Derrida, Baudrillard, Foucault – who came to dominate the academy in history, philosophy and literature, all left Nietzscheans. Back in the 1980s Alan Bloom, Peter Sloterdijk and Alisdair McIntyre each wrote bestselling books in which they argued in their own ways that everyone had become a cynical, mass-produced, selfish Nietzsche clone.[6] As Hermann Hesse said in the Steppenwolf, Nietzsche was once alone, now he is everywhere. Much of the second half of the twentieth century has been very Nietzschean indeed, and in a very pallid sense at that. One isn’t sure where the superman ends and the ressentiment-filled last man begins. They have become one and the same. Anything one finds distasteful is a historically bound “social construct” or control mechanism just asking to be transvaluated in the name of personal liberation.

The right Nietzschean is a naïve naturalist in comparison with the leftist deconstructionist or liberal selfist. In the past the vitalists Ludwig Klages and Oswald Spengler epitomised this figure most strongly – primordial pagan racialism on one hand and worship of technology and the Great Man in the face of “decadence” on the other.[7] The right Nietzschean grinds down everything into mere “values” except the perceived self-substantiating will to power that is somehow just magically immanent in nature for the holy elect. An act of mendacity at least equal to the left Nietzschean unchaining of the earth from the sun through deconstruction – but only for values he doesn’t value. Right Derrideans and Foucauldians would be a bizarre possibility. Post-modern academia has largely managed to perpetuate the Enlightenment’s liberal humanist myths of social progress and equality with tiny twists about Eurocentrism, identity, liminality and diversity. Why do this if there is no foundational truth and nothing but power structures? Is relativist tolerance and prioritising oppressed minorities the only logical outcome? In fact it is probably all too easy if one is born into a culture where left Nietzscheism is the elite morality, loaded with conspiratorial “hermeneutics of suspicion” about where power really lies, to flick the switch over towards right Nietzscheism. Especially when it starts to seem to some as though the left are not the magical rebels with the will to create the great “philosophy of the future”, but a doted herd-mentality trying to keep the post-nihilist Great Man down. The fallout of 1960s commercial “Selfism” fifty years on is not merely the trite groan that every kid thinks he might be a unique snowflake, but that some really believe it to the point of ridiculous power fantasies.

The fact is that since the “Great Chain of Being” broke down, conservatives have been scrambling to find something to legitimise the idea of an inherent “order of things”. Darwinism was a godsend to Herbert Spencer for grounding his “survival of the fittest” ideology. Moldbug, Land and Anissimov, as we have seen in part two of this essay, simply substitute materialist techno-capitalism for religious myths of master and servant to try to glue social “order” back together. The Nazis of course reappropriated Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence of the will to power for the genetic “blond beast” Aryan elect. Nietzsche, that despiser of nationalist and anti-Semitic ressentiment, would probably have not been very happy about this. The Nazi narrative was a victim narrative – Germany must recover what it is owed. Today “alt right” complaints about European supremacy being undercut by some evil Jewish-Communist “cultural Marxism” or “white genocide” of immigration epitomise this ongoing dissonance over whether one is really the Master or Slave. The narrative needs both to prove that a crime against nature is taking place. The right Nietzschean is all about restoring lost order because of dissatisfaction with flattening egalitarianism. Fukuyama’s fear of Nietzschean “thymos” restarting history grows, fomenting in the dark.

We may surmise that the conservative likes nature – the reactionary is obsessed with it. One must admit that after WWII “nurture” and the social certainly dominated over the idea of “nature”. Quite a great deal of this rejection of “nature” was in reaction to the racialism and eugenics of the Nazis (among others). So too the desire to break down social hierarchy that came with the shifts towards post-industrialism, post-colonialism and multiculturalism. However, since at least the 1980s a new kind of ultimate ground has emerged allowing “nature” back in as the magically most real. This is the oracle box of genetic science. Everyone wants to know who their ancestors are, which genes cause cancer, how to tame cognitive science’s chemical stash, the miracles of forensics and stem cells. And in its own way this swing towards popular scientism has perhaps helped more than a little pave the way for a new “natural law” basis for reaction.

How does it start on a mass cultural level as we see with the “alt right”? Often like this. The hordes of libertarian gamer kids come in complaining that the post-modern gender activists invading “their culture” are science-deniers. After a little “redpilling” by their friendly neighbourhood Nietzschean reactionary they come out bloated with Fight Club mythology about “hard wired” masculinity and yelling about human K and r selection modes, which supposedly explain that “progressives” and universalists are basically parasites created by an overabundant food supply.[8] Certainly no one but a true reactionary would go near the tin-pot Post-War Bluebeard’s Castle of race and IQ (now cutely called HBD – human biodiversity) or take the unscientific warrior kitsch of “alpha male” wolf myths seriously.[9] Yet, popular naïve naturalism with all its Pleistocene socio-biology genesis myths about human nature, a magic eight ball that answers all, is fundamentally central to western mass cultural cosmology and aetiology at present.[10] It is a great place to stack ideology, however ridiculous, and have it lapped up.

Perhaps the biggest myth of them all about genes and “nature”, which peaked last decade and refuses to go away is this: the legendary NBIC convergence of Nano-Bio-Info-Cognitive sciences. A magical Deus ex Machina where the Post-War fantasy of grinding down everything into manipulable systems of “information” finally becomes a reality.[11] Biopower becomes infopower. As might be expected, the cornerstone for a great deal of modern Nietzschean reaction is this fantasy toolbox of genetic engineering saturating science fiction films and computer games – a new positive eugenics for the transhuman Übermensch. In his 2003 Our Posthuman Future Fukuyama added an addendum to the infamous “end of history” thesis he had outlined ten years earlier with the collapse of the USSR.  History, he feared, might not really be over if science has yet to come to an end. A hole appears in his perfect fantasy system where someone might try to reify Brave New World or Gattaca and end sovereign, equal liberal man by turning him into multiple species – a new genetically engineered feudalism. [12] Channelling Leo Strauss’s belief that Nietzsche and Heidegger’s relativism about “values” and humanism had destroyed “natural law”, Fukuyama believed this would lay the West open and defenceless to elitist transhumanist desires. Universal “humanity” is just a naïve, passing Enlightenment idea. Strauss, who thought little of Darwinism or biological natural law, would probably have been rather unimpressed with Fukuyama’s answer to treat shared human DNA as a “nature”.[13] What higher good except mere gene hoarding and the survival of DNA for its own sake could such an answer supply? In fact this version of “natural law” is the sort of thing more likely to invite attention from crank reactionary racialist theories than anything.

2. Inside the Academy.

Back in 2003 Fukuyama had to play the devil’s advocate about Brave New World because no “baddy” wishing to end universal egalitarian humanity with genetic engineering would have dared announce himself. This was even with consolation to eccentric and still narrowly “leftist” Nietzschean eugenics enthusiast Peter Sloterdijk and his desire for everyone to become a transhuman superman.[14] Marxist Slavoj Žižek certainly got a lot of fun out of Fukuyama’s dither. He mocked him for not being Hegelian enough and realising that the forces of capital that had produced sovereign, individualistic liberal man might as easily liquidate him into a commercialised, cut and paste posthuman dividual.[15] A mere blob intersected by plug in cyborg-parts and gene hacking. Who would be up for this? Sloterdijk, a self-admitted descendant of the Gnostic belief that creation is flawed and unfinished, simply thinks that human beings are created by their environment through acts of ongoing self-taming with their tools.[16] If so, why not just keep on domesticating with the metastatic power of cyberneticians as doctors and programmers as sculptors? It may well happen in stages so subtle no one will even need say “we’re all cyborgs now and always have been” to legitimise it.[17] Both Sloterdijk and Žizek seem to believe that Heidegger’s traditionally Luddite Dasein (the being that thinks about Being) may only come to know itself for the first time when exposed to the radical “otherness” of transhuman oddities.

Certainly if the idea was pitched correctly, consumer transhumanism from designer babies to reprogrammable “fyborg” (functional cyborg) implants would probably be lapped up as easily as any other lifestyle product promising wish fulfilment and unique identity. Both the far left and right are powerless against the liberal cult of “selfist” identity and “free expression”. We must wait and see just how self-conscious people will be about reifying those old Space Age narratives about the magical twenty-first century of cyborgs, clones and mutants. There is little or no reason for such things in an already well and truly “overdeveloped” society, Sloterdijk’s discourse of the late twentieth century as an era of taming the self through a world of banal consumer “pampering”. As Kierkegaard said, perhaps the most important driving force in modern man is boredom. We desperately hang onto our nostalgia for “days of future passed”, lest the future be robbed of all signposts and meaning. Today perhaps social anxiety about increasingly mundane day to day challenges and the problem of discomfort far more than the problem of evil are what determine our current direction. Who knows whether it might end in Brave New World’s soma cult, twee positive or negative eugenics or simply becoming the Wizard of Oz – a tiny charlatan in a great big machine. One can only hope there are other options.

Thirteen years ago Sloterdijk was an exception and barely known outside of Germany except for his popular 1983 work The Critique of Cynical Reason. Today he is perhaps too normal among left Nietzschean academics, let alone some of the truly bizarre rightist thinkers we will soon be discussing. The fact is that something very odd has been happening to Nietzsche in the academy recently. Continental philosophy back in the early 2000s was still in the grips of post-structural construct-grinding – methods verging on arealism. Since then much of the cutting edge has moved on towards “New Materialisms”. Worlds of “vibrant matter” – a crass enchantment of “emergent properties” in objects, perhaps not too dissimilar, as Žižek has suggested, from the cosmos of the Lord of the Rings, where immanent magic exists but transcendental gods and powers seem absent.[18] After Nietzsche we can take power, but we cannot take God. We can be limp Dionysiac aestheticians all we like, “spiritual, but not religious”– wave after wave of gauche Futurists, Deep Ecologists, Neo-Pagans and New Agers to no avail. “New Materialism” simply seems the latest incarnation.[19] Nick Land’s vengeful spirit of nature, Gnon (see part two) perhaps epitomises this most strongly.

Central to the rise of “New Materialisms” is the fact that posthuman thinkers such as Peter Sloterdijk and Nick Land, like Gilles Deleuze before them, read Nietzsche’s concept of the “eternal return” of the will to power as a replacement for transcendental metaphysics and Enlightenment “humanity”. Monism and dualism have imploded and everything is now a writhing flux. A Being of multiplicity that precedes all human thought and relegates man to but one material formation among many. This “eternal return” is not the popular old existentialist version most commonly associated with Nietzsche, the Groundhog Day “if a demon should come to you…” challenge of living the same life over and over again if one had to. Beyond a few kids, existentialism is as dead as a doornail and perhaps only lives on in commercialised “lifestyle” individualism, the post-Heideggerian blight of ontological “identity politics” and inventing your own gender on Tumblr. Instead the “return” in question is that of the transformative experience Nietzsche had in August 1881 “6000 feet beyond man and time” at Silvaplana in Switzerland, as recounted in his work Ecce Homo.  The image of a colossal rock pushing itself out of the earth over aeons. [20] A cosmic vitalism in which man is but one thing participating in the eternal will to power of nature. As expanded upon in his Beyond Good and Evil, even will itself begins to disappear from Nietzsche’s philosophy as he takes in a cosmos he sees independent of human values:

“The world: a monster of energy, without beginning, without end; a firm iron magnitude of force that does not grow bigger or smaller, that does not expend itself but only transforms itself…This my Dionysian world of the eternally self-creating, the eternally self-destroying…my “beyond good and evil”, without goal, unless the joy of the circle is itself a goal, without will, unless a ring feels good will towards itself”.[21]

As we have already seen with Nick Land in part two of this essay, today this dehumanised “eternal return” is read as a kind of aestheticised Chaos Theory.[22] What returns is simply change itself, the doctrine of Heraclitus’s dung heap piled up at random animated by the new immanent logoi of negentropy and emergent “spontaneous order”. What returns after Deleuze is not the recurrence of the same, Nietzsche’s “forever the ring of Being remaineth true to itself… curved is the path of eternity”.[23] Instead it is the different – all is constantly changing and every entity is absolutely unique and unrepeatable. Nietzsche’s dated old vitalist Lebensphilophie can be swapped out for complex ecologies of non-linear sprawl. Deleuze and Guattari’s creeping network called the “rhizome” based on early internets and weeds; Peter Sloterdijk’s impermanent “foam” micro-worlds of social interaction strewn across the globe. Bruno Latour’s networks of equal interacting objects called “actants” (people, rocks, even imaginary ones that influence people like tooth fairies). Deleuzian Manuel DeLanda’s chaos history of “meshwork” nets of people and resources. A perfect cosmology for an era obsessed with growth and computer networks for their own sake. A universe operating like some unruly, mutating “internet of things” or individuating Von Neumann self-reproducing machines. Comparisons with that first great “Big Nietzschean History” project of reactionary Oswald Spengler, the Decline of the West, are inviting. Spengler’s closed vitalist Goethean plant societies find themselves replaced with the weedlike ever-multiple internets covering over the planet.[24] Deleuze’s Reichian imperative to be a joyous, transgressive “creative” and Sloterdijk’s to share “spaceship earth” in our networked bubbles and “clouds” of online existence are perhaps just too ideologically appropriate for the generic neo-liberal moralism of the world we live in today. [25]

For the posthumanist materialist after Nietzsche and Heidegger’s end of transcendental metaphysics, all is dynamic, interpenetrating agglomerated matter. To the challenge of becoming a “monster, a shapeless mass” Nietzsche through Deleuze answers: “we have realised this prophesy”.[26] Human perceptions of order in the world are decentred to mere “speculations” from within the ever-changing material mass. The Cartesian-Kantean transcendental subject was simply an act of mendacious terror, the body trying to keep itself from being invaded by Deleuze’s “claws of strangeness or an enmity which alone would awaken thought from its natural stupor or eternal possibility”.[27] This all sounds more than a little like Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura with his hooked atoms invading the eyes.[28] A strange universe indeed. No wonder Deleuze called his work a kind of “science fiction” akin to nineteenth century satirist Samuel Butler’s imaginary land of Erewhon. [29] Is it coincidence that in Erewhon technology evolves like living creatures? Man merely acts like some adjunct insect pollinating the development of the material ecosystem of machines. It certainly sounds to me a lot like Deleuzean posthumanism and its reduction of man to a mere part in favour of worshipping a cluttered cyborg blob world. As we have already seen with Land (see part two), the alien real of the machinery is already always imminent, trying to invade us.

Human beings and their thought are no more significant a facet in the cosmos than the hardness of a rock for our post-Deleuzian “New Materialists” and “object orientated ontologies” (OOO). A major part of this is Deleuze’s debt to and increasing academic affection for A.N. Whitehead and his largely forgotten “process theology” cosmos. A world of equal interacting objects where God or man is no more or less important than a puff of wind.[30] The only really bitter argument among all the new post-Deleuzian anti-humanist object and network obsessives is whether everything is a unique entity with its own substance hidden from itself or whether any “thing” is simply the produce of systems of interactions.[31] But why go back to Whitehead who was laughed out of town by the post-Kantians as much as the analyticals in the 1920s? Can anyone actually beat Kant and his “Copernican Revolution”? The short answer is only by pure emoting; the value of self-flagellating anti-humanism. How often does one here the doted and phatic mytheme that man is an egotistical disease, that his selfishness is ruining the planet? Not everyone hates humanity as much as Nick Land does (see part two), but in an era of climate change guilt and dull post-modern anthropocentric “cultural” obsessions, the “social construct” is indeed becoming an unfashionable burden. As Voegelin once wrote:

“The public interest has shifted from the nature of man to the nature of nature and to the prospects of domination its exploration opened; and the loss of interest even turned to hatred when the nature of man proved to be resistant to the changes dreamed up by intellectuals who want to add the lordship of society and history to the mastery of nature”.[32]

Succinctly Adam and Eve have sinned once again for not living up to the standards of their Gnostic masters wishing to remake the world. The animals will not come to them; they are their own objects now. The post-war ecological need to punish Enlightenment anthropocentrism for its environmental sins comes around one more time with some slightly different purple patches and that is that. Deleuze’s obscure ideas from the 1960s-70s, a project that set out to refute the dominant post-Kantian “three H’s” (Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger), has been risen to bolster an already bloated and accepted consolatory moralism that man doesn’t matter and that the cosmos will just keep on going without him.

As Jeffery Bell has said in relation to Voegelin and Deleuze, the latter would probably assent to the former’s metaxy that puts man always on the edge between the cosmos and his creaturely self.[33] However, Deleuze would most likely not think too kindly of Voegelin’s idea of there being a fundamental logos (comprehensible structure) shared in man and the universe. Yet, one must recall that Voegelin, like Deleuze, is utilising words and concepts only as “speculations” of order in the world that arise from direct experience in this betweenness. One might as well say the same about Deleuze’s concepts like “folds” in space and “rhizome” networks, unless we simply want to take what Deleuze is saying as actual objective science, chaos theory and fractals, in which case a foundational logos begging an implicit anthropic principle may be very hard to avoid for many of Deleuze’s modern followers such as Manuel De Landa.[34] Deleuze’s use of the differential calculus to exemplify how the cosmos is built on relations becomes stolid and not merely some ongoing thought-experiment between ideational mathematics and fields of problems.[35] The results of Deleuze’s speculative “transcendental empiricism”, that Bergsonian act of ascetically trying to push beyond the boundaries of perception towards the nature of time and space, hardens and dies down into the accepted canon of the era.[36]

The real problem is that Deleuze’s “leap in being” remains part and parcel with a now dated 1960s urge to revolt against the one, fixed ideas and humanism for its own sake. In his Freudian rebellion against Plato’s forms as dominating patriarchal rulers, Deleuze actively embraces the pseudos (false double) of the shadows on the wall of Plato’s cave. The sons in law (simulacra) disown the controlling patriarch and then pretend he never existed in the first place.[37]It’s hard to think of anything more twee outside of perhaps the rest of the Freud-Marx contingent operating at the time: Norman O. Brown, Reich, Marcuse and Fromm, all jostling to liberate the desire of Baby Boomer “Oedipus” from the morality of the patriarch. If we must speak of science fiction, then perhaps we might imagine the superego of the Deleuzian as the giant flying concrete head from film Zardoz chanting the words “the one is evil, the many is good. Go forth and kill the dualism”. [38]  How they sweat, like Jesuits scared of heresy, at the possibility that there might be some dualism left somewhere, perhaps hidden in their own ideas without them ever being able to know it. These days there is something rather dull about it all. A nagging moralistic logos of the obsessively diverse and temporary, with each entity magically unique. What will we do with Deleuze if the “leap in being” ever moves on from a post-industrial cosmos of multiplicity, sprawling chaos ecologies and the horizonless consumer desire of “let the market system work”? Fetishising complexity, difference and growth cannot last forever, as much as just so many people seem more willing to imagine fantasies about the extinction of man than the possibility of an ending to consumerism and the information age. At least Nick Land is childishly authentic in his monstrous, overblown pure ideology.

Jean-Paul Sartre once claimed that Nietzsche invented the cosmic vitalist “eternal return” to see if he could still believe in anything after he had transvaluated so much. When he could not believe in something as blatantly mystical as all the religious myths he had undermined, this drove him to insanity.[39] Perhaps this theory is just a little too silly. Yet, Deleuze’s “schizo” speculative aesthetic inherited by his children is not quite so romantic as that of Nietzsche – more of an easy going post-modern banality. Dotage is death to something as experimental as Deleuze and surely one might expect a million original and insane cosmoi all vying to dissolve and supplant that of the master. However, the majority of post-Deleuzians seem to be largely boring recyclers of leftover Space Age technology fetishism about networks and systems.[40] Much of this is due not only to contemporary pop-scientistic myths about networking everything, but to their father Deleuze’s debt to Gilbert Simondon. Until recently forgotten, Simondon was a French cybernetician who thought that by representing the world as a multiplicity of evolving and individuating machines he had brought continental philosophy and science together to cure the “two cultures” problem.[41] Presto! We can all be Newtonian polymaths again! This anti-monist “machinic phylum” found a welcome home in Deleuze’s work and especially in his and Guattari’s popular books Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus that replace man with an orgone factory of rebellious, unconscious desiring-machines all wanting to plug into each other. Welcome to Wilhelm’s Reich’s sex-robot emporium where freedom lives. Perhaps it was simply the Space Age Zeitgeist that produced kitsch like this. After all, Deleuze and Simondon’s contemporary, French historian of science Michel Serres wrote The Parasite, a rambling tirade using Aesop’s Fables as an allegoric instrument to illustrate the principles of cybernetics. Yes, Country Mouse and City Mouse is apparently about how everything is part of some “black box” of complex “noise”.[42] One wonders what philosophy is going to do when it has finally mined out everyone who wrote a book in France in the 1970s. This cybernetic bottom of the barrel almost makes one want Derrida back (but not quite).[43]

Deleuze’s version of Nietzsche has taken a long time to reach its apogee. In the early 1990s just as the Whole Earth Reichian techno-hippies of Silicon Valley were claiming that the internet was on the verge of creating a single “out of control” anarchist cyborg consciousness,[44] Pierre Levy was saying the same from a Deleuzian perspective, but hardly anyone was interested.[45] At the same time Nick Land’s pre-reactionary cyberplague “dark materialism” was coming into being, twenty years before it would become almost too cool.[46] Even before this in the Reaganite 1980s there was Donna Haraway with her “metaphoric” feminist cyborg manifesto, worshipping the rebellion of breaking down boundaries between humans, animals and matter. [47] These days with Deleuzian influence at its peak we have “Xenofeminist” manifestos rejecting gender as construct in order to focus on reengineering nature through science – “let a hundred sexes bloom!”[48] We have Deleuze with all the “arty” bits removed and replaced by lukewarm scientism in the form of Manuel De Landa with his computer simulations of emergence, military cybernetics and non-linear bursts of history. [49] As the reader might also recall from part two of this essay, we also have the leftist “Accelerationists” demanding the reification of retro 1960s futures of free dole for all and robot wombs, Brave New World’s “the tot is in the pot”. So too do we have Negri and Hardt’s vitalist third world “multitude” champing at the bit to take control of global power and the online means of informational production. So much choice!

Even a fairly brief overview like this might make it seem to someone unacquainted with these ideas as though all that chrome-painted schlock of 1960s technocracy never ended, but has somehow managed to survive. The fact is that Deleuze and Guattari (far more influential than the former on his own) made their cosmos of fold-up schizoid sex machines look so damn hip, rebellious and edgy. Surely if everyone becomes a desublimated posthuman Anti-Oedipus or a “nomad” technocrat with their own computer, the magic of the cyborg rhizome can cure the world of evil patriarchs, humanists and dualists? So what if the Israeli military uses Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus as a military guidebook or that governments have been thinking about the internet as “rhizome” at least as long as hackers?[50] To call Deleuze’s ideas merely groovy “packaging” to cover over a hollow “nonsense machine” like Roger Scruton does misses the point that packaging sells.[51] We live in an era of edgy kitsch still trying to mine the undead rebelliousness of the Space Age. Certainly both Foucault and Žižek have suspected that our age is already an ideologically “Deleuzian epoch” – one of pop Nietzscheism and the tacky fetishism of mutants, robots and banal transgression for its own sake.[52] To call what Deleuze produced an accidental neo-liberal pure ideology incapable of being alternative or “outsider” today is an understatement.

Only Andrew Culp in his recent book Dark Deleuze seems to think that in an age of mandatory desire, complexity and networking, perhaps Deleuze can be salvaged by making him a renunciate. Perhaps there is something noble in this realisation and attempt to “repeat” Deleuze differently, when so many other Deleuzians simply seem to be scholastics writing notes in his margins. But what to do with this realisation? Culp wants to push beyond what even Land and the left Accelerationists desire, to get to some Faustian “outside”. If Deleuze helped kill “man”, then, says Culp, we simply kill the concept of “the world”.[53]  This means giving up on climate change and other global ideals in order to spread some underground “conspiracy of communism”. Would anyone be interested in this? The age of Trump and Brexit may well make revolutionary leftism, if not great, at least thinkable again beyond merely academic romanticism. Yet, when it comes to killing “the world”, Spengler’s old Nietzschean image of Western man as Faust might seem to reach the stage of caricature with our Deleuzians. Keep on hacking through to the “outside” along those Deleuzian “lines of flight” away from domination. Everything must go in the name of freedom. Any concept is a potential millstone around the neck of those longing for a horizontal Gnostic transcendence.[54] The whole thing is strongly reminiscent of G.K. Chesterton’s image of the lunatic and atheist philosopher as constructors of their own monstrous overdetermined cosmoi. Both are like a man who has crawled into a box, painted stars and moons on it to make it into a world, and then like some escapologist has to try to get out of it.[55] I think Deleuze would have only been too happy that this is what his “schizo” approach to post-industrial capitalism of the 1960s-70s was. Fifty years on it is doted, dead and duller than dishwater.

However, what a great deal of “New Materialism” and its aestheticised scientism ends in is not the God-man imperative to imitate Nietzsche’s enduring rock of Ecce Homo in politics. No, it ends in writing anti-humanist screeds about what it’s actually like to be a rock.[56] That or materialist theology like Quentin Meillassoux arguing that God doesn’t exist but could come into being at some point in the future because the cosmos is forever ontologically incomplete.[57] Is this the new equivalent of the cloistered scholastic arguing about the gender of angels? Bruno Latour epitomises this passage. He rose to fame calling science a “social construct” and then changed his mind to make science “Baroque”, to return it to Alan Turing asking whether computers could ever develop ESP.[58] Surely there is enough quaint scientism out there already with the New Agers and remnant Reichians building orgone accumulators. Perhaps most cringeworthy of all is Nick Land’s sci-fi minion Reza Negarestani. Oil is a deathless Lovecraftian entity trying to colonise the world and fight the sun, says Negarestani amid a cloud of overwrought ancient Sumerian devil worship. Add to this the idea that all philosophy thus far has merely been a “simulation” leading up to the construction of AI to do its own alien thinking.[59] This is what “Dionysian materialism” means today- “man” is passé and somehow it is apparently a lot more exciting to surf along on third rate pulp horror long after the 60’s “air conditioned nightmare” of J. G. Ballard, like that of Deleuze, has well and truly had its day.

3. The Outside.

All of these children of Deleuze are leftist academics. Being a rock or a posthuman lump are apparently highly original prioritised goods. Left Nietzsche the naturalist is hip for the moment at least anyway. Yet, if it is now like this in the academy, then how bad must the right Nietzschean naturalist be, plotting in the depths of the internet and obscure publishing houses? As we have seen from “outsider” intellectual Nick Land’s reactionary turn to gated transhumans in part two of this essay, the right Nietzschean feudalist Fukuyama dreaded does exist today and much as the left Nietzschean cyborg-enthusiast. Deleuze can go “bad” and embrace the sprawl of capitalism and reactionary power. Land is not alone.

One recent thinker who seems to have curved towards similar ideas is Daniel S. Forrest. Just as Sloterdijk sees the need to move from technology as an alien for taming the other (allotechnics) towards increased consciousness about the taming of the self (homeotechnics), Forrest believes that Fukuyama’s “end of history” is merely just the ending of the other-taming character of man that began in the Neolithic with the taming of animals and subsistence farming.[60] Fukuyama offers European man no future but the “absolute miserable truth” that the world now contains nothing but money and the cowardly fear of death. As with many far right thinkers, what Forrest dreads most is the touted “white genocide” of being invaded and outbred by the immigration of “lower races” into Europe – an increasingly popular fear in certain quarters in the West as reaction grows. To Forrest, in order to break Fukuyama, man must learn to overcome the remnants of Christian universal humanist moralism, which is little more than a slave-morality parasite feeding on western man’s Faustian nature. One must become for the first time in history a self-taming entity, a Nietzsche and Wagner with bioengineering. An elite “blond beast” rulership bred and educated for arête (manly virtue). [61]

Heidegger’s Dasein, Forrest’s choice of historical subject like Sloterdijk’s, is employed to support an egotistical vision that each person has their own “sphere” of experience, a sense of space as history for self-improvement.[62]  Forrest’s Suprahumanism is intended as a kind of self-help book for elitists as much as a screed on genetic engineering and Aryanism; a shadow version of Sloterdijk’s You Must Change Your Life with its invocation to overcome post-modern lassitude and become a disciplined and generous individual. Suprahumanism even contains plenty of random pictures of renaissance art like Sloterdijk’s books all do. Forrest’s reader is a God-man in waiting – Oswald Spengler’s dynamic Faustian man extended all the way back to antiquity. Since Achilles we have compensated for our mortality with magic – pure will to change the world.  However, it is very hard indeed to take seriously the idea that Achilles is some proto-Nietzsche as Forrest does in his search for an unchanging European “essence”. To our pagan ethnonationalist, “Aryan” Europeans are of course the only race with an active “hot culture” capable of becoming a vitalist transhuman superman. Perhaps the Chinese at a pinch – echoing Land, Sloterdijk and Moldbug’s belief that this emerging authoritarian giant could do a better job at “repeating” the West.[63] America is certainly already dead to Forrest – a soulless Fukuyamean “Christian” monstrosity trying to flatten the planet into an end of history. A land where Shakespeare and Goethe must die so that mindless egalitarian popular culture and the literature of sexual and ethnic minorities might be forced on everyone. Ressentiment much?

One is left wondering whether any of Forrest’s bizarrely naive Neo-Nazi fantasies about a futuristic European imperium could ever happen. The recent renewed interest in Oswald Spengler seems proof that a hundred years on, the threatening myth of the West’s decline and collapse seems to have new relevance among the far right. A future like Forrest’s depends of course on who gets their hands on the Deus ex Machina of genetic power. Does a feudal European imperium or a left “Accelerationist” Brave New World really sound nicer than the banal liberal consumer transhumanism that is more likely than either? This may sound a rather odd, even ridiculous thing to ask. Yet it may well be the sort of battle we could find ourselves fighting later this century. Why? Because people believe in its necessity. An eternal return of the same old left and right arguments over the “means of production” are assured, whatever new magical powers turn up. Just one more technological paradigm capable of greater decimation, control and gaps between the haves, have nots and have a littles.[64] It will all depend upon how far left and right politics will diverge this century beyond the current “Overton Window” of acceptable ideologies. More importantly, how keen both sides are for ploughing ahead to find grounds where they zealously believe freedom and resistance might lie.

Another similar right Nietzschean thinker to Forrest, but far more famous, is Guillaume Faye, a French political activist and journalist. Faye has written many books, most now translated into English by increasingly popular British reactionary publishing house Arktos. Those that most commensurately outline his idea of a right Nietzschean vision are, unsurprisingly, couched in science fiction. In the late 1990s Faye began endorsing the concept of a “convergence of catastrophes”: overpopulation, global economic breakdown, climate change and mass immigration by Muslims into Europe. These, so he believed, would come together between 2010 and 2020 and plunge the world into darkness.[65] In recent years Faye has shunted this Apocalypse up to 2025, but it is the original narrative that has had the most influence. Just like our left Nietzschean naturalists, Faye’s view of the “eternal return” is one of non-linear bursts of growth and sudden collapse, based around the now largely discredited mathematical theorem “Catastrophe Theory”.[66] According to Faye, due to the West’s “incorrigible faith in miracles” about egalitarianism, the inability to master science and mindless consumption, billions will perish in but a few years when the “convergence” comes. The majority of the globe will be reduced to mediaeval technology and magically return to its essentialist traditional cultures.

To Faye these very events are what is needed to bring in a millenarian new age of renewal beyond a modernity he sees as the real “reactionary” because it refuses to abandon its superstitions about transhumanism. Genetic engineering has man’s “back against the wall” and he refuses to take the plunge.[67] We are quite close to the complaints of Forrest, Sloterdijk and Land here. Faye is, unsurprisingly, a massive fan of the Nietzschean Futurist art movements of the early twentieth century, which had strong connections to Italian Fascism. The need to exceed all the slow, tired limitations of art, life, science and sense that fin de siècle man obsessed over. In this Faye converges with Nick Land almost by mistake, because of the latter’s debt to Gilles Deleuze, who, with all his Nietzschean acceleration, creativity worship and Bergsonian vitalism may well have been the last of the Futurists.[68] The unfinished business of Futurism, whether artistically, or in relation to unimpeded science fiction futures, is perhaps the ultimate ironic nostalgia today in the desire to overcome “the end of history” Nietzscheans have feared for the last century or more.

Faye calls his ideology Archeofuturism – a perfectly typical reactionary idea. The future is a return to the best of the past nailed to high technology – just like Moldbug, Anissimov and Forrest. To Faye imminent collapse will renew the Nietzschean “vitalistic constructivism” inherent in European man’s nature, the old élan vital of the vitalists and Futurists. It is as though the white man suddenly just wakes up and remembers his magical, inherent Faustian nature. Within the space of but twenty years in Faye’s Gnostic fantasy, Europe goes from being utterly broken into a massive hi-tech Eurasian empire stretching from Britain to Vladivostok. A kind of shadow EU of democratic states formed after the Russians drive the invading Muslim hordes from Europe like some futuristic Charles Martel myth. Having cast off his bonds, the new European is augmented with transhuman technology such as genetically engineered Morlock beast slaves (!).[69] In the sort of vision that might really annoy Nick Land with his hatred for traditionalists,[70] Europeans make a return to ethnonationalist folk identities. Although Faye is a Neo-Pagan, there is something distinctly Christian in all this, a kind of punishment for colonialism and failing to control capitalism and science. The West is wicked and self-destructive, but it will get another chance at a pagan Eden.

Eurasianism, from which Faye is extensively drawing for his visions of a European-Russian superstate, was a massively influential idea during the German Conservative revolution of the interwar period, when conservatives and National Bolshevik thinkers desired for a bankrupt Germany to become like the USSR – a totally mobilised, united powerhouse.[71] Today in the post-industrial era, long after industrial production has ceased to be the centre of life, it is making a comeback. The young National Bolshevik Eugène Montsalvart dreams of a future American nation based on the principles of Ernst Jünger and Ernst Niekisch – a totally mobilised state of workers and soldier heroes where the economy is managed and distributed by a super AI.[72] An absolutely planned perpetual “war economy” that Austrian Economics enthusiasts like Moldbug and Land would despise (see part two of this essay). However, Montsalvart is perhaps the first “millennial” age thinker to have attempted to “repeat Moldbug”, one might say (though there is no ideological relation between them) in using the “Antiversity” of the internet to outline a future political philosophy in place of writing books.[73] There may well be many more such thinkers less arcane as it becomes possible to try to think seriously outside the bounds of the academy. Where else would communism still be taken seriously but the weird ivory tower of continental philosophy departments or the post-ironic meme pits of the internet? In the 1960s the “counterculture” trickled down from the universities; today it is bottom up from the depths of the internet.

4. Rasputin among the Machines.

The most well-known Neo-Eurasian thinker today is Russian philosopher Alexandr Dugin. A man often mythologised as lurking behind Vladimir Putin’s throne like some new Rasputin.[74] What separates Dugin from most contemporary reactionaries is his avowed Luddism. He even finds washing machines an underhanded liberal slippery slope paving the way towards total consumer culture and transhumanism.[75] In his fear of a cyborg end to man Dugin twists Heidegger’s Dasein subject into a very literally millenarian Russian National Bolshevik warrior.[76] The Third Reich, Third Rome of Russia and the Third International all scraped together into an Angelopolis of manifest destiny – Joachim of Fiore’s “third age” turned up to eleven.[77] Robbed of any future in order to think about its purpose but American consumer godlessness, a secret millenarian layer appears in Dasein – a “radical subject”. In some ways this is not so far from Forrest and his use of this popular entity of Heidegger’s. Trapped by a Fukuyamean loss of the future to pursue meaning and its traditions Dasein is forced to fight for its existence. Dugin’s transfigured “radical subject” has no option left but to follow Dasein’s genderless nature towards becoming an angelic being. One that will create a land empire Lebensraum for itself and other pre-modern peoples to preserve their unique cultural ontologies.[78] All those who are yet to have given in to the “post-liberal” zombiedom of the “society of the spectacle” and the internet with its Deleuzian posthuman “rhizome” mash-up of humans and machines.[79]

For Dugin the internet is nothing but a “release valve” consolation prize for those with no future. [80] A land of Lotus Eaters one might say. “Some say Fukuyama is already a robot”, sneers Dugin.[81] Fukuyama-Deleuze is the monster of the age; the terrors of Our Posthuman Future are already here and Dugin is very saturnine indeed, as only a Russian can be. There are no real political soldiers left to fight for their traditions – liberalism has killed them all. There is no work left but watching TV and moving information. The “radical subject” seems to fade into angry hopelessness unless action is taken. Nonetheless, I am quite sure that our online reactionary forces, from the “alt right” to “NRx” would totally disagree with Dugin’s anti-internet sentiment (and even Dugin has a Facebook account he regularly uses). After all it is the networks that have given reaction its ability to think outside the academy and mainstream culture. The ever-flowing internet begins to look a little like some Ernst Jünger “total mobilisation” or Deleuze and Guattari’s nomad “war machine”, a mass force of moving desire adjunct to society but never quite under its control.[82] Dugin would rather the Deleuzian “rhizome” theory of the nomadic network culled from Negri and Hardt’s Empire be turned towards a real political weapon, his soterical Eurasian land empire. Just as reactionaries have rediscovered and centralised Heidegger as “one of their own”, leftists like Negri and Hardt, Sloterdijk (Forrest) and Deleuze himself (Land) can be reappropriated by the right too.

Opinions on Dugin vary greatly. Some think that he is a religious lunatic who wants to literally “immanentise the eschaton” by blowing up the world with nuclear weapons.[83] Others that he is just an imperialist playing with pretty words and is really no more religious or dangerous than Ronald Reagan or “armchair philosopher” Leo Strauss.[84] In spite of this, no one seems to have noticed that where Dugin is resolutely coming from, and Faye too, is the same place an “NRx” thinker Michael Anissimov (see part two of this essay). This is the Italian mystic Julius Evola who demanded that Great Men “ride the tiger” of modernity to its death via any means necessary in order to restore patriarchal hierarchy and traditional religion.[85] The Nietzschean Evola, beloved of the “alt right” mob, is the point where, just as for Marx Hegel was standing on his head, in a godless egalitarian age the true Nietzschean still dares to believe in sacred order. Faye is a Neo-Pagan Evolan; Dugin is an Orthodox Christian Evolan. Yet both are absolutely Gnostic players of the game of elect identity politics. Their people contain an inherent magical essence that will be reawakened. They certainly make a godless second rate Mencius Moldbug like Michael Anissimov, who believes in little but machines and money, seem very normal indeed.[86]

5. Conclusion.

For all his desolation, after Donald Trump’s recent victory, Dugin happily declared that America had cured itself. That transhumanism and even LGBT+ politics would now be no more: “anti-americanism is over not because it was wrong but because of the opposite: because American people started itself [sic] the revolution against precisely that aspect of USA [sic] we all hated”.[87] Dugin has long believed that America could be redeemed by its traditionalist underbelly – he even has a bizarre affection for its ranting protestant televangelists, as though they are America’s equivalent of the Russian Old Believers. It does indeed seem a strangely naïve sentiment that Trump is a good enough promise, for the moment at least, that the worst of our Russian philosopher’s self-imposed Hell-Future might have passed. That a new reactionary age has begun. Many in America and elsewhere with their own private fantasies somehow seem to believe this too. I begin writing this essay towards the end of 2016, a year in which Russian and US relations have been strained to the point of nuclear threats and accusations that Russia hacked the US election and the Democrats. So too was the Russian ambassador to Turkey recently assassinated in broad daylight over military actions in Syria.[88] Reactionary site /pol/ may have also just pranked the CIA into believing that Donald Trump has been controlled by Vladimir Putin for the past five years through blackmail. Trump’s inauguration turned out protestors in the hundreds of thousands. Politics has become absurd. No one knows what is going to happen tomorrow – the future is a great big gaping hole in time that a few years ago might have seemed boorishly predictable. The old Chinese curse of living in interesting times seems increasingly to make almost too much sense.

Following the Syrian refugee crisis, the increasing instability of the EU and growing concerns about climate change, Guillaume Faye, who touted for his original “convergence of catastrophes” to begin between 2014 and 2016, is more popular than ever in Europe and among the US “alt right”. On the one hand he might simply seem to be one more millenarian purveyor of a Great Disappointment. Yet, could a hi-tech ethnonationalist EU backed by Russia not be an entirely preposterous image of the future, regardless of some Apocalypse of “catastrophes”? One is really not sure what to make of all this. The reactionaries are waking up and still learning to walk; they are ridiculous cartoon Space Nazis stumbling around. For all this, the “alt right” or whatever comes after it may well just become another subculture among many, no more dangerous than those who still take communism and anarchism seriously under Eternal Fukuyama.

Yet, the fact is that reaction has just started to think. There will be ideas weirder than Faye’s hi-tech shadow EU, Wagnerian supermen, AI controlled Nazbol empires or Moldbug’s “Stevafornia” ruled by pilots before this is all over. Some of them might not merely be weird Gnostic consolation fantasies. Some of them might be dangerously tenable and worth worrying about far more than all the current panic over the fact that a vulgar reality TV star plutocrat somehow managed to get himself elected to the office of US president by appealing to popular ressentiment. We need to be looking at the possibility of reaction in the long term because of its lust for magical technology.  Is there much to worry about twenty years after Dolly the Sheep was cloned, sparking the publication of libraries of now dated futuristic concern about imminent genetic revolutions? Add to this seventy long naïve years of ever-deferred AI and cyborg mythology. Yet our reactionaries seem to increasingly be the only ones in town selling any grand narratives with an exit to Fukuyamaland for those desperate to overcome a world they view as increasingly falling into chaos. If such numinous technology is ever realised and they are in charge, only a God can save us.

If liberal democracy is to head towards reaction on a global scale, who might oppose it? Can conservatives or libertarians do anything against reaction as it slowly supplants them? I would think not. Reaction is cool – it is soterical and exciting and thinks big about ressentiment and revenge against the popular archon of political correctness and leftist elites. How about the radical left and liberals then? All they seem to do is drink and cry about climate change and neo-liberalism. Beyond arguing and preaching about prioritised minority identity politics most just don’t seem to care at all. This is even if they can get a pretty decent turnout for a couple of days protest and rioting because Trump seems to tick all the boxes for evil, sexist plutocrat, beloved of “real existing” Nazis. How might they keep this going for four years, or perhaps eight or an entire global reactionary era without acceptance and cynicism simply taking over? Cynical tribalism and cheap moralism from comedians about dumb conservatives is a wonderful opium for the liberal masses to prove that they are symbolically on some right side of history. That is all they need – the social capital of phatic reassurance.

But there is cheaper moralism still. Perhaps all those post-Deleuzian object-orientated ontologies fantasising about what it’s like to be a rock or a piece of gold, or what it might be like in a billion years after humanity is long gone from this planet, epitomise the left’s crumbling after communism like nothing ever seen before in all the arealisms, relativisms and cynicisms of post-modernity.[89] It is bizarre at best to go around claiming that Schelling’s Naturphilosophie supplies a better leftist discourse than Marx because the former is an “ecological” thinker, or that the latter’s doctrine of commodity fetishism is anthropocentric and therefore magically bad.[90] At worst all this seems to suggest is that the thinker has been subjectivated by watching too many David Attenborough documentaries with their humanless pleromatic worlds. A realm where the elect narrator gets to sit in aesthetic judgement, exploring burrows and sea trenches no human eye is ever supposed to have seen. When all “cutting edge” academia can produce is yet another slightly more misanthropic systems theory deep ecology quackery, the academy is perhaps in a lot more trouble than it might ever fear it is.

Perhaps it is too easy to pick on the tendencies of many “New Materialists” to retreat into navel-gazing about a world of objects. What then are the real ideas? In spite of all the leftist panic and soul-searching going on at present, there aren’t a lot (and I ask to be disproved). If the only radical “big idea” left is “Accelerationist” pushing-through until neo-liberalism pays out magical hi-tech post-scarcity and vindicates Marx for free, then it is going to be a long and bitter fight for everyone, regardless of millenarian delusions.[91] One might as well believe in Faye or Land’s right wing “Acceleration”. The last big Marxian thinkers like Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek willingly admit that they are little more than literal millenarians, gutting Christianity for immanentised universal salvation. All they do is leap through endless self-imposed hoops of voodoo “theory” jargon to try to prove that Marxism is still even thinkable.[92] In comparison with this, if ideas like eradicating “whiteness” because it is inherently “white supremacy” counts among the more practical ideas on the table, then one might as well be pouring boiling water down a WASP’s nest.[93] The WASPs are conscious now as we saw in part one of this essay and this isn’t going to go away tomorrow, for all the short-lived protests, liberal white guilt confessions and Nazi-punching.

However, this is the most important factor of all. Day by day the internet is visibly becoming more and more central to life, the hearth where news and politics are forged and fought out. Television, the print media and academia are losing their cultural monopolies. After all the failed Arab Springs and Occupy Movements, the “alt right” is the first time that the internet may have begun to seem a little dangerous for many people. It doesn’t just belong to the good activists trying to repeat the Whole Earth hippy-hacker dreams of freeing the fallen world using the networks that founded the first public internet in the 1980s, the WELL (Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link). The mould from which the World Wide Web was ideologically cast.[94] None have been so keen for the subversive “infopower” of Wikileaks than the “alt right”. Back in 1979 in his now infamous Postmodern Condition, Jean-François Lyotard claimed that even by making the “data banks” of the technocrats open to all, this wouldn’t cure anything. It would simply be the start of a different kind of relativist political word game for an already fragmented society.[95] This rings almost too true in our current situation where everyone has become a Space Age technocrat with his or her own little computer trying to engineer the world. A possible future of little more than seeing who can form from the war of all against all a temporary “war machine” Leviathan of men and machines to win the internet for today. Jarring non-linear bursts of ressentiment produced by internet-addicted elects becoming “history” may well be the fate that awaits us from now on. Certainly Deleuzians like Negarestani seem to believe that it is only going to accelerate, that “the truth is that we haven’t seen anything yet”.[96] In spite of this, if no one, not even Negarestani, is even ready to critique phenomena like the neo-reaction seriously (and the academy is not at all), then we might as well go back to our insular tribal “echo chambers” and stay there playing Battleship in the dark.

Achille Mbebe in one of the few interesting articles written on these recent phenomena predicts that what is taking place at present online is the end of the post-war humanistic order. The liberal democratic system and its conception of freedom is coming undone. All that will be left is desublimated online rage and naked capitalism.[97] Perhaps he is going too far. Everyone seems to be at the moment. Humanism is long dead for many philosophers, as we have seen with our left and right naturalist Nietzscheans, but remains the cohesive “Noble Lie” of order in liberal society, the last “natural law”. A future of Nietzschean reaction contra radicalism over an ultra-capitalist transhuman landscape is not one that most people may find inviting. Mbebe’s issue, however, is that he writes as though our era of emotional “post-repression” has magically appeared out of nowhere thanks to the “computational age” of the past few years of social media. Rather, just as the information age properly began at the end of WWII with cybernetics and information theory and their obsession with making the world into a computer, so too did post-repressive market-friendly “Selfism” begin with Fromm, Reich and the rest of the Freud-Marx-Nietzsche contingent developing concurrently. These are the forces that built not only post-industrial consumer individualism, but the techno-hippy WELL and its myth of networks as a place to exercise desublimated freedom from The Man. The same major currents that built Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy. The internet has simply made this totalising networks-and- freedom-cult so visible, petty and obese that no one can miss it. At least not until they realised with the coming of “bad activists” that the internet was not some magical Terra Nullius to start afresh. Rather it looks like just a series of shiny devices to which everyone has brought all their same old problems, ressentiment and myths about the liberating future.

In a previous essay for VoegelinView, In Search of the Millenarian Kernel of Transhumanism,” I ended with the suggestion that perhaps what is needed is an individualist rebellion against the internet, something in the same league as the Renaissance rebellion against Averroesism and Nietzsche’s against Hegel’s “end of history”.[98] An exit from a world where there is no distinct resolution of master or slave or likelihood of any new magical transhuman technology that comes along being able to bandaid social disintegration (though it will of course promise that it will). However, there would seem little chance that a “drop out” like this might result in anything but more fleeting “lifestyle” identarianism. Moreover, as we have also seen in this essay, the Deleuzian rhizome blob of internet desire and thinking about what it’s like to be a rock seem to mark Nietzsche or anything like him as unequivocally flaccid among academics for the present. Nietzsche is dead and we have killed him. Far better might be attempts at a new Platonism or Hegelianism, a new “leap” of community that decentres the internet’s importance. Clearly Habermas’s “communicative reason” thesis has failed to provide anything – that old idea that the speech act between people is inherently rational if all the extraneous elements and negative influences are removed.[99] How nice the idea of an unhindered “public sphere”. Social media is the death knell of this. We are going to have to do much, much better than the endless, impenetrable bureaucratese of Habermas if we’re going to deal with ontologically closed, shrill ressentiment battles over who is the prioritised tribe of electronic victims.

And this is perhaps the rub. Nobody really wants isothymia or equality; no one wants to give up their magical victimology and selfism powers for the benefit of the evil “other”, who is always seen as the privileged Master (see part one of this essay). Without these they have no identity – they have nothing but the terror of being made resentment-filled slaves more than they already feel themselves to be. The term “warfare hypothesis” is perhaps apt here, though it is usually used to refer to discreet culture wars over the place of religion in society. What it means is the paranoia that if one gives an inch, the “other” will take a foot. The war thus may never end, simply change shape. A true flattening “end of history” in Kojève or Fukuyama’s sense terrifies that little bit of pop-Nietzsche in everyone and it is clearest of all in the online war of all against all. Hell is other people online, because it turns every introverted Johann Schmidt into a Max Stirner. There is no arguing with the ego and what it takes to be its own from behind the safety of a computer.

If we cannot find some way back to shared virtues and values beyond temporary online tribalism and fighting over who is the biggest sacred victim, then the world may well need a whole new series of “leaps in being” at least as good as anything Plato, Augustine and Hegel ever attempted during the social crises they lived through. Not many people may want to consider Mbebe’s thesis that liberalism could well be on the verge of committing suicide and letting in things far worse, any more than Land’s that the market and the death instinct Reich refused are the only things really running the show. A solvent ready to dissolve liberal man into a vicious hyper-commercialised posthuman mess. Preventing new “leaps” from becoming yet one more attempt to re-engineer an inherently evil world will be the challenge. In the worst case scenario, if we could productively turn the Gnostic “fallen world” ideal against the internet and post-war information age and “selfist” experiment as the bungled reality, to escape it and reimagine shared public spheres, then perhaps we might get somewhere. We never really needed the internet until five years ago, and it is onto this that all the mythic toys of the NBIC convergence will most likely be bolted, should they not prove to be mere post-war fairy tales: cyborg internets of things, genetic programming etc. We need to get people to think of the internet as boring, unfulfilling, simply a mundane secondary tool. If not, growing reaction (and perhaps even radicalism in resistance) is likely to offer naïve and powerful promises centred upon these cult tools that lead down into political disasters, wars and experiments that are going to make the techno-brutalism of last century look tame in comparison. Get thinking about this now.

 

Notes

 [1] Richard Wolin, The Frankfurt School Revisited and Other Essays on Politics and Society, Taylor and Francis, New York, 2006, p. 118.

[2] Richard Rorty, Philosophy and Social Hope, Penguin Books, New York and London, 1999 esp. pp. 4-5 in which he talks about how the radical left see his views as “complacent” and the right as “irresponsible”. Clearly anyone who believes anything strongly is going to find Rorty utterly vile. Rorty is a kind of generic mouthpiece articulating the typical left liberal ideals of the past forty years. When this ideology has focussed on “culture war”, it has always assumed that any leftist identity claim should be encouraged in the name of inclusiveness and any from the right shunned as inherently exclusionary. This seems reminiscent of Marcuse’s work on “repressive tolerance”. However, Rorty and Marcuse, like Francis Fukuyama, should perhaps not be granted more influence than they deserve, when they simply seem to be opportunists articulating dominant pre-existing moralisms.  See also: Gianni Vattimo and Santiago Zabala, Hermeneutic Communism: From Heidegger to Marx, Columbia University Press, New York, 2009.

[3]  I have called Sloterdijk a “cynical reactionary” before in a previous essay for Voegelin View and I stand by it.  In a way he is pretty “lite” compared with the real reactionaries we are dealing with in this essay. Everyone is only just discovering Sloterdijk’s work and seems surprised when from their leftist perspectives they discover unpalatable elements such as his dislike for welfare systems, his pursuit of a eugenics program not too dissimilar to Plato’s Republic, his links with far right politicians and his recent exhortation that Europeans need to protect their borders lest they be swamped by refugees. See on welfare states: Peter Sloterdijk, “Die Revolution der gebenden Hand,” Peter Sloterdijk blog, 18th June 2009, http://petersloterdijk.net/2009/06/die­revolution­der­gebenden­hand/ last accessed: 30th June 2016.Cf.  Axel Honneth, “Against Sloterdijk,” Die Zeit, 24th September 2009, The Great Stage Blog, 11th February 2010, http://www.cshingleton.com/2010/02/axel­honneth­against­sloterdijk­fatal.html last accessed: 30th June 2016. On political connections: Jan-Werner Müller, “Behind the New German Right,” The New York Review, 9th January 2016, http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2016/04/14/behind-new-german-right-afd/ last accessed: 12th September 2016. On the refugee crisis: Peter Sloterdijk, “Es Gibt keine moralische Pflicht zur Selbstzerstörung,” Cicero Magazin für politische Kultur, 28th January 2016.  Somehow all this doesn’t seem to gel with the popular reception of his ideas about sharing the world in a series of ontologically different and multiplicitous networks/foams. One wonders if Sloterdijk has some overall vision, or if like his fragmentary books, as enlightening as some parts often are, he just randomly commentates his most recent feelings on things.

[4] Alexander S. Duff, “Heidegger’s Ghosts,” The American Interest 11/5 25th February 2016, http://www.the-american-interest.com/2016/02/25/heideggers-ghosts/ last accessed: 17th September 2016; Hui Yuk, The Question Concerning Technology in China, Urbanomic, London, 2016, pp. 282-9 which details much of this history from Heidegger and the Kyoto School down to Alexandr Dugin in relation to the idea that one’s “home” and traditions are under threat by global techno-nihilism.

[5] Paul C. Vitz, Psychology as Religion: The Cult of Self Worship, Aslan, Lion Publishing, 1977; R. R. Reno, “Empire of Desire: Outlining the Postmodern Metaphysical Dream,” First Things, June 2014, http://www.firstthings.com/article/2014/06/empire-of-desire/ last accessed: 30th December 2016. For some Space Age god-man pretensions: Wilhelm Reich, The Murder of Christ, Simon and Schuster, New York, [1953] 1971; Erich Fromm, You Shall Be As Gods, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1955; Rollo May, Existence, Basic Books, New York, 1958; Abraham Maslow, Motivation and Personality, Harper, New York, 1970, esp. pp. 169f. Cf. Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilisation, Abacus, London, [1951] 1972, pp. 91-5 on Nietzsche and the liberation of Lust (joy/desire).

[6] Alisdair McIntyre, After Virtue, Duckworth, London, [1981] 1985; Peter Sloterdijk, The Critique of Cynical Reason, University of Minnesota Press, London and Minneanapolis, [1983] 1987; Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, Touchstone, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1987.

[7] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Alfred A. Knopf Publishers, New York, [1918] 1927; Ludwig Klages, The Biocentrist Worldview, Arktos, London, 2013.

[8] Start here if one is game for this satanic pit of garbled charts and bizarre scientistic s conspiracies: “HBD” on Reddit, http://www.reddit.com/r/HBD/, “HBD Chick,” http://hbdchick.wordpress.com, Anonymous Conservative, “r/K selection Theory,” http://anonymousconservative.comblog/the-theory/rk-selection-theory/ Cf. Scott Alexander, “Anti-Reactionary FAQ,” Slate Star Codex, 20th October 2013. http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/10/20/the-anti-reactionary-faq/ all last accessed: 7th October 2016.

[9] See this article that deals well with the discredited but popular “alpha male wolf” theory and how Trump utilised it to woo his “alt right” supporters: Matthew Rozsa, “The Alpha Dog that Wouldn’t Hunt: How Trump’s Ludicrous Alpha Male Act is Destroying Him,” Salon, 3rd October 2016, http://www.salon.com/2016/10/02/the-alpha-dog-that-wouldnt-hunt-how-trumps-ludicrous-alpha-male-act-is-destroying-him/  last accessed: 7th October 2016.

[10] For some interesting alternative perspectives on the excesses of Pleistocene evolution mythology: David Stove, Darwinian Fairytales, Encounter Books, New York, [1995] 2006; Brian Coman, “The New War of the Roses,” 16th June 2014, Quadrant https://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2014/06/war-roses-disturbances-gene-land/ last accessed: 21st October 2015.

[11] See: NBIC Science website http://www.nbic.info/ last accessed: 25th October 2016. Joachim Schummer, “From Nano-Convergence to NBIC-Convergence,” in Mario Kaiser et al eds. Governing Future Technologies: Nano-technology and the Rise of an Assesment Regime, Springer, London and New York, 2010, esp. pp. 62-9 where the writer discusses the fact that everyone keeps calling nano-tech the “next industrial revolution” in spite of the fact that it has been very slow to manifest and still remains a futurist ideology. See also on issues of convergence as a cultural trope in which science is solved: Priya Venkatesan, “Nanoselves: NBIC and the Culture of Convergence,” Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society 30.2, 2010: pp. 119-29. For some pure millenarianism in which there is nothing to be done to avoid this magical convergence and it is necessary anyway to alleviate infertility and an aging population in the first world see: William Sims Bainbridge, “Converging Technologies and Human Destiny,” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 32, 2007: pp. 196-216.

[12] Francis Fukuyama, Our Posthuman Future, Picador, New York, 2003 esp. p. 123 but also esp. p. 31 where he even gets rather reactionary about “The Bell Curve” and says the left would like to shut down conversation about links between intelligence and inheritance, but the science is just what it is. Cf. C. O. Paepke, The Evolution of Progress, Random House, New York, 1993 for the opposite idea obviously riding on the shirt-tails of Fukuyama’s End of History. Science has ended, he claims, and we are simply waiting on the payout for all our efforts in the form of AI and transhumanism, which he predicted would happen in the early 21st century.

[13] Carson Holloway, “Strauss, Darwinism and Natural Right,” in The Human Person and the Culture of Freedom, ed. Peter A. Pagan Aguir et al, Catholic University of America Press, 2009, pp. 106-29; Larry Arnhart, “Darwinian Conservatism,” Darwinian Conservatism Blogspot, 14th June 2012, http://darwinianconservatism.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/leo-strauss-and-darwinian-science-is.html last accessed: 31st October 2016.

[14] Francis Fukuyama, Our Posthuman Future, pp. 160-1. Here Sloterdijk is mentioned in the midst of a catalogue of European leftist thinkers who oppose GMOs and eugenics. As might be expected Fukuyama connects this opposition back to the legacy of Nazism. Amidst all this Sloterdijk sticks out like a sore thumb, but little is said of him. Cf. Peter Sloterdijk, Regeln für den Menschenpark, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt, 1999.

[15] Slavoj Žižek, Organs Without Bodies, Routledge, London, 2003, pp.  118-9.

[16] Peter Sloterdijk and Hans-Jürgen Heinrichs, Neither Sun Nor Death, trans. Steve Corcoran, S(e)miotexte, Pasadena CA, 2011, pp. pp. 133-4.

[17] The narrative of “we are already cyborgs” always amuses me in how it uses a bag of fantasy symbols to predetermine history. It makes about as much sense as claiming that anyone who had a prosthetic limb before the 17th c. was always, already that romantic image of the pirate.

[18] Slavoj Žižek, Absolute Recoil, Verso, New York and London, 2014, pp. 12. Tolkien’s cosmos was of course a sort of cut-down Christianity for twentieth century people, passed through Norse mythology and allegories about WWI and industrialism. The Silmarilion is full of gods in comparison. No one was unhappier than Tolkien when the hippies reappropriated his work.

[19] Is “New Materialism” just “deep ecology” all over again – German romanticism on its absolute last legs? It is hard to avoid thinking about this comparison. If one has the stomach for naff pseudo-romantic logorrhoea about objects: Graham Harman et al, Prismatic Ecology: Ecotherapy Beyond Green, ed. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2013.

[20] For the “eternal return” as the endless recurrence of the vitalist will to power in Heraclitean nature: Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, trans. Walter Kaufmann, Vintage Books, New York, 1969, sections 272-4. Cf. the individualist interpretation: idem, The Gay Science, trans. Walter Kaufmann, Vintage Books, New York, 1974, §341. Cf. Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, trans. Hugh Tomlinson, Columbia University Press, New York, 1983, pp. 68-72.

[21] Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, trans. Walter A. Kaufmann, Random House, New York and London, §1066-7.

[22] Deleuze only ever applied his ideas about emergence and multiplicity to Chaos Theory in his and Guattari’s last book, What is Philosophy?, trans. H. Tomlinson and B. Burchell, Columbia University Press, New York, [1991] 1994, esp.p. 213. Here they define vitalism as the gap between an Idea that is a force but doesn’t act and one that does. What does this mean except that it is code for a kind of dynamic relation? Until a couple of years ago vitalism still remained somewhat an archaic embarrassment, from which defenders of Bergson and Nietzsche had to try hard to distance themselves. For example by emphasising Bergson’s idea that life was merely a phenomenon of time: eg. John Mullarkey, Bergson and Philosophy, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, 1999, p. 63. Let us not forget that Nietzsche, The Gay Science, §349 despised Darwinism as the philosophy of the poor and wretched, because nature is in fact too abundant. Nietzsche’s pleromatic Naturphilosophie attitude is certainly very obviously carried over into Deleuze, though Spinoza was also a strong influence on the latter.

[23] Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra, trans. A. Tille, Heron Books, J.M. Dent and Sons, London, 1972, Part III “The Convalescent,” p. 144

[24] Note here where peter Sloterdijk says rather perspicaciously that Deleuze had a ressentiment towards hierarchies and the aesthetics of trees in general. As a result weeds and fungus obsessed him and the promise of networks that never developed any verticality: Tom Boellstorff, “Satan at the Centre and Double Rhizomes: Discussing “Spheres” and Beyond with Peter Sloterdijk,” LA Review of Books, 14th January 2014, https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/satan­center­double­rhizomes­discussing­spheres­beyond­peter­sloterdijk/ last accessed: 30th June 2016.  This interview also appears in this book: Peter Sloterdijk and Hans-Jürgen Heinrichs, Neither Sun Nor Death.

[25] Peter Sloterdijk, Spheres III: Foams, trans. Wieland Hoban, Semiotext(e), Pasadena CA, [2004] 2016. p. 261 comes very close to recognising this, comparing the different degrees of typical liberal, Austrian economic and Deleuzian beliefs in a universe of equal, self-willed individual entities in networks. Cf. pp. 235-7 in which he says that “foams” is basically a network theorem, but one requiring emphasis on individual micro-spheres of activity and multiplicity.

[26] Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, Bloomsbury, London, [1969] 2014, pp. 109-10.

[27] Idem, Difference and Repetition, Colombia University Press, New York, [1968] 1995, p. 139.

[28] Indeed Lucretius is pretty much the only thinker Deleuze never brutalised in his reading (Deleuze compared his method to sodomy). It is as though he respected him too much: Gilles Deleuze, “Lucretius and Naturalism,” [1961] reprinted as “Lucretius and Simulacra” as part of Appendix 1 in The Logic of Sense, pp. 274-86.

[29] Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, pp. xx-i, 255, 333. Note how Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, p. 10 uses a very similar metaphor about a bee being part of the evolved reproductive system of a flower that Samuel Butler uses to describe how man pollinates the reproduction and evolution of machines: Erewhon, Penguin Books, London, [1872] 1983. pp.  198-226.

[30] Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology, The Free Press, New York, [1929], 1978. Deleuze wrote individual books on Spinoza, Hume, Nietzsche, Bergson, Leibniz and even Foucault, but he never wrote one on Whitehead. See: Gilles Deleuze, The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque, Trans. T. Conley, of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis MN, [1988] 1992.

[31] For a good survey on the recent spate of object orientated ontologies and other oddities fathered by Deleuze and his posthuman “transcendental empiricism” see: Levi Bryant. et al., The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism,  Re.press, Melbourne, 2011. As one might expect the scent of guilt and powerlessness against climate change and neo-liberal globalism hangs strongly over much of this recent posthumanism. Solution? Decentralise man and turn everything to an equal object in a system. Hasn’t ecology been trying this for fifty years as an act of magical thinking to save us all from humanist hubris?

[32] Eric Voegelin, “On Classical Studies,” in Published Essays 1966-1985, ed. Ellis Sandoz, Collected Works of Eric Voegelin Vol. 12, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, [1973] 1990, p. 256.

[33] Jeffery A. Bell, “Immanence/Transcendence: Deleuze and Voegelin on the Conditions for Political Order,” in Eric Voegelin’s Dialogue with the Postmoderns: Looking for Foundations, edited by P. A. Petrakis and C. L. Eubanks, University of Missouri Press, Columbia and London, 2004.

[34] See especially: Manuel DeLanda, A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity, Continuum, New York and London, 2006, idem, Deleuze: History and Science, Atropos Press, New York, 2010.

[35] Idem, Difference and Repetition, pp. 164, 178-9,223. cf. D. W. Smith, “The Conditions of the New,” Deleuze Studies 1.1 (2007):14. Smith claims that differential calculus is “…the primary mathematical tool we have at our disposal to explain the nature of reality – the conditions of the real.”

[36] The image I have always thought most appropriate to Deleuzian philosophy and its self-imposed battle with sense was the scientists looking at Stanislaw Lem’s alien planet Solaris heaving, bubbling and sending them visions but never understanding its intentions. All science in relation to Solaris is mere speculation.

[37] Gilles Deleuze, “Reversing Platonism,” [1967] published as Appendix 1: The Simulacrum and Ancient Philosophy in The Logic of Sense, Bloomsbury, London, [1969] 2014, pp. 263-74; idem, , Difference and Repetition, esp. pp. 127-8.

[38] See: Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, Empire, pp. 139-146 where the authors realise that the cult of diversity and the witch-hunt for dualism forms an integral part of the paradigm of modern imperial power.  However, their answer, that the third world can beat this with some sort of Spinozan homogenous force of mass migration seems utterly bizarre magical thinking. As we saw in part two of this essay, a reactionary turn towards the sovereign state to keep the multitudes of the global south out is far more likely than granting one world communism.

[39] Jean Paul-Sartre, Saint Genet, trans. B. Frechtman, NAL, New York, 1964, pp. 379-0. Cf. Hannah Arendt, Life of the Mind, Harcourt Brace, New York, 1978, vol. 2, p. 166f where the eternal return is called a  mere “thought experiment” though no connection with Nietzsche’s madness is made. Also see: Ned Lukacher, Time Fetishes: The Secret History of the Eternal Recurrence, Duke University Press, Durham and London, 1998, esp. pp. 7-9, 116-9.

[40] Sometimes with these new materialisms and object orientated thinkers the technology fetishism is blatantly obvious. For a fair dollop of anti-humanism and climate change as a “hyperobject” perceived only by computers: Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World, University of Minnesota Press, London and Minneapolis, 2013. For an example of the ideas of Marshall McLuhan taken to an extreme where the electronic “medium” of computers and wiring exists for itself: Jussi Parikka, “Machinology,” WordPress https://jussiparikka.net/ Last accessed 1st December 2015. For computer sprites existing for themselves: Ian Bogost, Alien Phenomenology, Open Humanities, Ann Arbor, 2009. esp. pp. 16-8. Cf. idem, “Latour Litaniser: Generate Your Own Latour Litanies,” Ian Bogost blog, 16th December 2009 http://www.bogost.com/writing/blog/latour_litanizer/ last accessed: 20th September 2016. Here making a program that mines Wikipedia for titles of subjects is apparently good enough for showing that the cosmos is a “litany” of objects. One thinker here realises that today’s mash-up internet aesthetics and networked objects are just a little too appropriate for the sudden interest in A.N. Whitehead and “object” ontologies: Steven Shaviro, “The Actual Volcano: Whitehead, Harman, and the Problem of Relations,” in Levi Bryant et al. The Speculative Turn, pp. 289-90. Cf. Here where a critical theorist also links the same obsession with objects and networks to a fetishism for post-industrial technology: Alexander R. Galloway, “The Poverty of Philosophy: Realism and Post-Fordism,” Critical Inquiry, 39.2, 2013, p. 347.

[41] Gilles Deleuze, “On Simondon,” Desert Islands and Other Texts: 1953-1974, trans. Michael Taormina, S(e)miotexte, New York, 2004; Andrew Iliadis, “A New Individuation: Deleuze’s Simondon Connection,” Mediatropes eJournal IV.1, 2013, pp. 83-100.  Simondon was not averse to big claims such as that monism was the philosophy of tyrants, or that since the Jacquard loom man had become an appendix to his technology: Gilbert Simondon, L’individu et sa genèse physico-biologique, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 1964; idem, On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects, trans. Ninian Melamphy, University of Western Ontario, [1958]1980. For his claim of overcoming the “two cultures problem” through cybernetics: idem., introduction of Norbert Wiener in Le Concept de l’information dans la science contemporaine, Les Cahiers do Royaumont, Collection Internationale sous la direction de M. Louis Couffignal, Gautier-Villars, Paris, 1965, esp. p. 99.  

[42] Michel Serres, The Parasite, trans. Lawrence R. Schehr, University of Minesota Press, Mineapolis, [1980] 2007.

[43] Much of the interest in Simondon in particular in continental philosophy could be put down to growing boredom with post-structuralism and its semiotics, as is suggested here: Levy Bryant, “Massumi on Simondon,” Larval Subjects, 5th march 2011,  https://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2011/03/05/massumi-on-simondon/ last accessed: 27th April 2016.

[44] Kevin Kelly, Out of Control: The Rise of Neo-Biological Civilisation, Addison-Wesley, Reading, AS, 1994

[45] Pierre Lévy, Collective Intelligence: Mankind’s Emerging World in Cyberspace, Plenium Trade, New York and London, [1994] 1999, idem, Cyberculture, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2001; “Cyber-democracy: My Global Political Program,” Peter Levy blog, 15th March 2014 http://pierrelevyblog.com/2014/03/15/cyberdemocracy-my-globa-political-program/ last accessed: 22nd September 2016.

[46] “Dark Vitalism” or “Dark Materialism” refers fittingly to the anti-humanist, naturalist, entropy-obsessed scions of Nick Land’s pre-reactionary work such as: Ray Brassier, Nihil Unbound, Palgrave McMillan, London, 2007; Woodard, Slime Dynamics: Generation, Mutation and the Creep of Life, Zer0, London, 2012, idem, On An Ungrounded Earth: Towards a New Geophilosophy, Punctum, New York, 2013.

[47] Donna Haraway “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s,” in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, Routledge, New York, 1991, pp. 149-81; Note how both of these works, one by a post-Deleuzian and one by a fairly generic transhumanist, utilise the idea of a fourth wound against the idea of sovereign “humanity” in the league of those Copernicus, Freud and Darwin are seen to have inflicted on the Western psyche: Donna Haraway, When Species Meet, University of Minnesota Press, 2007, p. 12; Luciano Floridi, The Fourth Revolution: How the Infosphere Is Reshaping Human Reality, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2014.

[48] Laboria Cubonicks, Xenofeminist Manifesto, http://www.laboriacubonicks.com last accessed 20th September 2016. Is “Xenofeminism” just this old Space Age Marxist ideal of freeing women through technology, but with Deleuze instead of Dialectics? Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex: The Case For Feminist Revolution, Garrar and Strauss, Farrar, 1970.

[49] Manuel DeLanda, War in the Age of Intelligent Machines, Zone Books, New York, 1991; idem, A Thousand Years of Non-Linear History, Swerve Editions, New York, 2000; idem, Philosophy and Simulation: The Emergence of Synthetic Reason. Continuum, London, 2011.

[50] Here is a wonderful catalogue of early rhizome obsession: Anon. “Rhizomatic,” 1997  http://www.thing.net/~rdom/ecd/rhizomatic.html las accessed: 12th of March 2016. Note also the Israeli defence force’s high command utilises Deleuze and Guattari for military strategy: E. Weizman, “Walking Through Walls,” Transversal Texts 2007,  http://eipcp.net/transversal/0507/weizman/en last accessed: 12th of March 2016. Cf. James Harkin, Cyburbia, Little and Brown, London, 2009, 184f in which the Israeli military’s obsession with US Cold War cybernetician and tactician John Boyd is detailed in relation to the same experimental tactics, but Deleuze and Guattari are not mentioned. Cf. Manuel De Landa, War in the Age of Intelligent Machines for a Deleuzoguattarian history of military technology leading towards integration of man into the “machinic phylum” in futuristic cyborg wars.

[51] Roger Scruton, Fools, Frauds, Firebrands. Bloomsbury, London, 2015, p. 184. Note that Scruton seems to misunderstand Deleuze’s concept of the “eternal return”. He reads it as one of the cyclic return of the same, NOT as that the only thing that keeps coming around is change and uniqueness.

[52] Michel Foucault “Theatrum Philosophicum,” Critique 282, 1970, p. 885; Slavoj Žižek, Organs Without Bodies, pp. 163-5.

[53] Andrew Culp, Dark Deleuze, Forereunners, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2015.

[54] See e.g: Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire, p. 207 openly admit that they want to immanentise Saint Augustine’s Heavenly city in the name of communal salvation.

[55] G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Dodds & Mead, New York, 1908, p. 16.

[56] On what it’s like to be a rock and the recent revival of “panpsychism” see: Steven Shaviro, The Universe of Things: On Speculative Realism (Posthumanities), University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis MN, 2014.

[57] Quentin Meillassoux, After Finitude, After Finitude, trans. Ray Brassier, Continuum, London, 2008, esp. p. 46 “the contemporary end of metaphysics is an end, which being sceptical, could only be a religious end”. See: idem, “Deuil à venir, dieu à venir,” Critique, nos. 704-5, 2006, pp. 105-15. Cf. an attempt to build a completely alien “non philosophy” Christianity out of scientism: Francois Laruelle, Future Christ: A Lesson in Heresy, trans. Anthony Paul Smith, Continuum, London, 2011.

[58] Bruno Latour, The Pasteurisation of France, trans. Alan Sheridan and John Law, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 1993; idem, “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern,” Critical Enquiry 30, 2004, p. 248.

[59] Reza Negarestani, Cyclonopedia, Re.Press, Melbourne, 2008; idem, “A Reading By Reza Negarestani: Theory Fiction as Philosophy’s Minecraft,” UPenn Talks, 28th March 2008 http://writing.upenn.edu/wh/calendar/0313.php last accessed: 7th October 2016.  This is the forthcoming book in which the history of philosophy is “theorised” as simply the precursor for an AI program in a kind of bent anti-humanist Hegelianism: idem, Intelligence and Spirit, Urbanomic, London, 2016.  The latter seems highly reminiscent of the “fourth race of men” in the Hegelian science fiction of Olaf Stapledon, Last and First Men, Penguin Books, London,[1930] 1963. Perhaps Negarestani has been thinking about this rather undeveloped essay on Hegel’s Geist and modernity: Nick Land, “Spirit and Teeth,” in Fanged Noumena: Collected Works 1987-2007, Urbanomic, London, 2008.

[60] Daniel S. Forrest, Suprahumanism, Arktos, London, 2012.

[61]  Note that Daniel Forrest, Suprahumanism, pp. 81, 173-4 knows about Sloterdijk’s ideas and seems to have borrowed from them more than a little. Cf. Peter Sloterdijk, Regeln für der Menschenpark, idem, You Must Change Your Life, trans. Wieland Hoban, Polity Press, Cambridge, UK, [2009] 2014.

[62] Daniel Forrest, Suprahumanism,pp.  55-6. This passage is absurdly confusing. He seems to contradict himself over whether Dasein experiences the world in three dimensions or four. Is the fourth time, or are the other three simply past, present and future?! It does not seem well thought out.

[63] Ibid, p. 176 puts this down to the Chinese embrace of eugenics. On Sloterdijk’’s cynicism about the west as a failed “Jurassic Park” compared with China on the issue of utilising technology:  NPQ interviewer, “Controversial Philosopher”. Cf. Mencius Moldbug, “Open Letter,” Chapter 11: The Truth about Left and Right” where although he admits China has to crack down on dissent because its power is not absolute, its authoritarianism makes it the strongest capitalist country in the world.

[64] See: John Gray, “Humanity Mk II: Why the Future of Humanity Will Be Just as Purposeless as the past,” New Statesman, 13th October 2016, http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/books/2016/10/humanity-mk-ii-why-future-humanity-will-be-just-purposeless-past last accessed: 19th October 2016.

[65] Guillaume Faye, Archeofuturism: European Visions of the Post-Catastrophic Age, Arktos, London, 2010, Idem, L’Archéofuturisme v 2.0, Diffusion du Lore, Lore, 2012. Arktos has recently crowdfunded an English translation for this latter work, a collection of short stories by Faye. It should appear within the next year.  Note the last story in L’Archéofuturisme v 2.0 when deep in the future dolphins take over and start their own academia! For this essay we will keep to the initial, Archeofuturism, which is far more influential.

[66] Idem, Archeofuturism, pp. 74-5.

[67] Ibid, pp. 109-11.

[68] On Gilles Deleuze and how his obsession with nonsense and pushing the envelope of creativity strongly mirrors early 20th c. futurism: Helen Palmer Geisel, Deleuze and Futurism: A Manifesto for Nonsense, Bloomsbury Academic Press, London, 2014. Nick Land’s Fanged Noumena is in many places obsessed with driving language into some futuristic computer-code nonsense of numbers and symbols for its own sake. Deleuzian “Accelerationism” in general is all about fleeing into some legendary, liberated Gnostic “outside” through science fiction.

[69] Guillaume Faye, Archeofuturism, pp. 230-1 in which these slaves are described to a young Indian woman as being like monstrous multi-limbed “Hindu gods”.  Cf. pp. pp. 221-5 where America, broken by race war is split into multiple states and takes second place in the world to Europe, as though the ressentiment of the Marshall Plan era has been reversed. Perspicacious readers will also notice that Faye’s concept of future Europe exiling all its Muslims to Madagascar echoes the original Nazi plan for where to send the Jews.

[70] Against the accusation that he is an “ethnonationalist” himself see: Nick Land, “Fission II,” Outside in: Involvements with Reality blog, 6th August 2014, www.xenosystems.net/fission-ii/ last accessed: 7th October 2016.. Land simply believes in the superiority of Europeans and East Asians for building the basis of the posthuman societies he desires. Cf. Anon. “Nick Land: First Off I Was Wrong,” Clown Town blog, 9th August 2014 http://www.clowntown.co/nick-land/ last accessed: 26th August 2016.

[71] Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Germany’s Third Empire, Arktos, London, [1923] 2012; Oswald Spengler, Prussianism and Socialism, trans, Donald O. White, Henry Regnery Co, London, [1920] 2013; idem, The Hour of Decision: Germany and World Historical Evolution, University Press of the Pacific, Miami, [1933] 2002; Ernst Jünger, “Total Mobilisation,” in The Heidegger Controversy, translated by Richard Wolin, [1930], 1993, pp. 119-39.

[72] Eugène Montsalvart,” “From Worker to Partisan – Part III,” Right On, 15th January 2016, https://www.righton.net/2016/01/15/from-worker-to-partisan-part-iii/; Robin Carell, “Towards A Future Beyond Liberalism: Interview with Eugène Montsalvart,” Right On, 11th May 2016, https://www.righton.net/2016/05/11/towards-a-future-beyond-liberalism/. One should note the comments sections on Right One, where a lot of the “alt right” seem highly suspicious of and vicious towards Montsalvart’s intellectualism. Perhaps the angry Neo-Nazis who frequent this site are not the best audience. See esp.  Eugène Montsalvart, “The Alternative Right: An Autopsy,” Right On, 20th February https://www.righton.net/2016/02/20/the-alternative-right-an-autopsy/. On Montsalvart’s Niekisch translation project: https://niekischtranslationproject.wordpress.com/  all last accessed: 23rd December 2016.

[73] Moldbug once tried to unsuccessfully crowdfund a book, but never really needed to: Mencius Moldbug, “The Mencius Moldbug Babysitting Fund,” UR, 20th January 2010 http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com.au/2010/01/mencius-moldbug-babysitting-fund.html last accessed: 6th November 2016.

[74] Robert Zubrin, “Dugin’s Evil Theology,” National Review, 18th June 2014, www.nationalreview.com/article/380614/dugins-evil-theology/; Andrey Tolstoy and Edmund McCafffray, “Mind Games: Alexander Dugin and Russia’s War of Ideas,” World Affairs Journal,  March/April 2015 http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/article/mind-games-alexander-dugin-and-russia’s-war-of-ideas/ Charles Clover, “The Unlikely Origins of Russia’s Manifest Destiny,” Foreign Policy, 27th July 2016. http://www.foreginpolicy.com/2016/07/27/geopolitics-russia-mackinder-eurasia-heartland-dugin-ukraine-eurasianism-manifest-destiny-putin/ all last accessed: 7th October 2016.

[75] Alexandr Dugin, The Fourth Political Theory, Arktos, London, 2014, pp. 84-5.  One wonders what Dugin might make of rumours of  Russia’s recent plans to build  an army of war robots and drones: Staff Writer, “Russian Prime Minister Admits Russia is Developing “Intelligent” Robot and Drone Army,” American Military News, 31st October 2016, http://americanmilitarynews.com/2016/10/russian-prime-minister-admits-russia-is-developping-intelligent-robot-and-drone-army/ last accessed: 7th November 2016. This story could well be exaggeration or propaganda, however.

[76] Everyone loves Dasein from Feminazis to actual Nazis. This is because it supposedly represents a relativistic and ontologically unique “identity” base to refuse the monology of Western colonialism and scientism. For a truly generic example of contemporary post-modern limpness see: Gianni Vattimo and Santiago Zabala, Hermeneutic Communism: From Heidegger to Marx, Columbia University Press, New York, 2009. Cf. On Heidegger’s influence on Dugin and also the identity politics of the Iranian Revolution: Alexander S. Duff, “Heidegger’s Ghosts,” The American Interest 11/5 25th February 2016, http://www.the-american-interest.com/2016/02/25/heideggers-ghosts/ last accessed: 17th September 2016.

[77] Alexandr Dugin, The Fourth Political Theory, esp. pp. 144-78.

[78] Idem, The Last War of the World-Island: The Geo-Politics of Contemporary Russia, Arktos, [1999] 2009. Cf. The Fourth Political Theory, esp. pp. 144-78 where it seems to me that Dugin engages in some serious abuse of philosophy in creating his millenarian historical subject. He is reliant upon the sleight of compatibility between Husserl’s “transcendental” phenomenology of experience and time, traditional religious “transcendence” and Heidegger’s blatant abuse of “transcendence” to mean whatever he likes during different periods of his thought. For the most part Heidegger’s Dasein is “transcendent” only in reaching towards a world it is already embedded in and cannot reach beyond. It is absolutely opposed to religious transcendentalism, which to Heidegger had been killed by Nietzsche. On Heidegger see: Dermott Moran, “What Does Heidegger Mean by the Transcendence of Dasein?” International Journal of Philosophy Studies, 22.4, 2014, pp.491-514.

[79] Idem, The Fourth Political Theory, esp. pp. 162-7.

[80] Slavoj Žižek has also called the internet a Gnostic escape from reality before: “God is Dead But Doesn’t Know It,” Lacan.com 4th April 2009  http://www.lacan.com/essays/?p=184 last accessed: 14th September 2016.

[81] Alexandr Dugin, The Fourth Political Theory, pp. 166-7.

[82] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, p. 403 incorporates Jünger’s “total mobilisation” of the worker and warrior into their nomadic “war machine” entity.

[83] James Heisser, The American Empire Should Be Destroyed: Alexander Dugin and the Perils of Immanentised Eschatology, Repristination Press, 2014.

[84] Salvatore Balbones, “Russian Regret: Alexander Dugin and the Ends of History” Quadrant 60.10, October 2016, pp. 28-35.

[85] Idem, The Fourth Political Theory, pp. 27, 88-9. Note that Dugin says that the “Traditionalist” religious universalists Julius Evola and René Guénon were wrong about one thing – their disregard for the masses because they believed the nature of modernity to be the reign of the lowest castes of pure appetitive materialists. Dugin mentions how he has attempted to show Evola from the “left” and refutes the idea that Nazism was just “Guénon with tanks”.  Cf.  Julius Evola, Ride the Tiger: A Survival Manual for Aristocrats of the Soul, trans. Jocelyn Goodwin, Inner Traditions, New York, [1961] 2003; René Guénon, The Essential René Guénon, World Wisdom, Sophia Perennis, Bloomington, 2009, esp. p. 33. In some ways Guénon’s views are not so far from Heidegger’s Gestell and bestand conceptions of scientific modernity, but unlike the latter he views modern obsessions with quantification as a part of the natural cycle of cyclic cosmic decay – from the pure quality of God and no quantity, to all quantity and no quality.

[86] See: Benjamin Welton, “Darling of the Dark Enlightenment: The Aristocratic & Radical Traditionalism of Julius Evola,” The Imaginative Conservative, 18th May 2014 http://theimaginativeconservative,org/2014/05/darling-dark-enlightenment-aristocratic-radical-traditionalist-julius-evola.html.  Cf. Nick Land’s disparaging comments against Anissimov’s belief that Evola was a greater thinker than Moldbug. Someone like Land is not going to find much in Evola: “Anarchy in the NRx,” Outside In: Involvements With Reality blog, 18th February 2014, http://www.xenosystems.net/anarchy-in-the-nrx/all last accessed: 23rd December 2016. Note that Anissimov comments on this post very briefly but Land doesn’t bother to reply to him.

[87] Alexandr Dugin, Facebook post:  7pm 12th November 2016, Idem, post at 8pm 12th November 2016.

[88] Jeffrey Lewis, “The United States and Russia Are Prepping for Doomsday,” Foreign Policy, 7th October 2016, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/2016/10/07/the-united-states-and-russia-are-inching-towards-doomsday-armed-weapons-nuclear/; Anon. “An Ambassador’s Murder May Push Russia and Turkey Together,” The Economist, 24th December 2016, http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21712117-apparent-killer-was-turkish-policeman-angry-about-russian-atrocities-syria/; David E. Sanger, “Obama Strikes Back at Russia for Election Hacking,” New York Times, 29th December 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/29/us/politics/russia-election-hacking-sanctions.html?_r=0; all last accessed: 30th December 2016.

[89] For criticism of the troublingly apolitical nature of much “Speculative Realism” see: Christian Thorne, Commonplace Book blog, 10th May 2012, http://sites.williams.edu/cthorne/articles/to-the-political-ontologists/ last accessed 21st March 2016; A. R. Galloway. “A response to Graham Harman’s “Marginalia on Radical Thinking,” WordPress https://itself.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/a-response-to-graham-harmans-marginalia-on-radical-thinking/ last accessed 21st of March 2016.

[90] Ben Woodard, “Schellingan Thought for Ecological Politics,” Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies 2, 2013, pp. 95-6.  Cf. Graham Harman, “Gold,” in Prismatic Ecology: Ecotherapy Beyond Green, ed. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2013, p. 107.

[91] For Srnicek’s deep expression of hopeless about contemporary leftist thought before he launched Accelerationism: “Capitalism and the Non-Philosophical Subject,” in Levi Bryant. et al., The Speculative Turn, pp. 164-81.

[92] Alain Badiou, Saint Paul: The Foundations of Universalism, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2003; Slavoj Žižek and John Milbank, The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2009; Slavoj Žižek and Boris Gunjević, God in Pain: Inversions of Apocalypse, Seven Stories Press, New York, 2012.  Esp. note Slavoj Žižek, Living at the End of Times, Verso, London, 2010, p. xv for the use of Gnostic archons here from Ephesians 6: 12 – “the darkness in the heavens” – the Lords of This World (kosmokratoras)” to stand for the bourgeois rulers who are Nietzschean ‘Last Men”.

[93] For an increasingly influential ideal among American radicals see: Noel Ignatiev, “The Point is Not to Interpret Whiteness but Abolish It,” http://www.racetraitor.org  last accessed: 24th December 2016.  Ignatiev claims that “White studies has become an academic industry, with its own dissertation mill”. It needs to learn how to weaponise itself in the name of universalism by ending whiteness. Far less extreme variants of such ideals are of course very common, but white identity/pride = white supremacy is the standard moral belief among most educated people today, I would think.

[94] Fred Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2006.

[95] Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition, trans. G. Bennington and B. Massumi, University of Manchester Press, [1979] 1984, esp. pp. xxiv-v, 9-10, 20-25, 79 on technocracy and computers.

[96] Reza Negarestani, “A Conceptional Preliminary to Understanding Meme Warfare,” The Cyclonograph, 22nd January 2017, https://vincentgarton.com/2017/01/22/a-conceptual-preliminary-to-understanding-meme-warfare/ last accessed: 25th January 2017.

[97] Achille Mbebe, “The Age of Humanism is Ending,” Mail and Guardian, 22nd December 2016, http://www.mg.co.za/article/2016-12-22-00-the-age-of-humanism-is-ending/ last accessed: 8th January 2017.

[98] Jonathan Ratcliffe, “Voegelin Among the Machines: Teilhard de Chardin, Olaf Stapledon and the Millenarian Kernel of Transhumanism,” Voegelinview, 26th September 2016, http://www.voegelinview.com/voegelin-among-machines-teilhard-de-chardin-olaf-stapledon-millenarian-kernel-transhumanism/ last accessed: 11th November 2016.

[99]  Eg. Jürgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action, 2 vols, trans. Thomas McCarthy, Boston, [1981-5] 1984-7.

 

This is the third of three parts. Part one can be accessed here; part two here.

Jonathan Ratcliffe

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Jonathan Ratcliffe is a doctoral candidate in Asian History at the Australian National University. He is working with Chris Heggie-Brown on a history of technology and politics, provisionally titled "Voegelin Among the Machines."