What I am about to say does not concern the ordinary man of our day. On the contrary, I have in mind the man who finds himself involved in today’s world, even at its most problematic and paroxysimal points; yet he does not belong inwardly to such a world, nor will he give in to it. He feels himself, in essence, as belonging to a different race from that of the overwhelming majority of his contemporaries. ~ Julius Evola.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Juan Donoso Cortés - Negations

Juan Donoso Cortés, marqués de Valdegamas (6 May 1809 – 3 May 1853), a descendant of the conquistador Hernando Cortés, author, political theorist, and diplomat.

Influenced by the philosophes of the Enlightenment and entering politics as a liberal, Donoso's views altered radically, primarily as a response to anti-monarchical uprisings which took place while he was private secretary to Queen Maria Cristina. By the time of the revolutionary crises of 1848-49 Donoso stood as a major counter-enlightenment, traditionalist intellectual figure.

Taking the reactionary critiques of liberalism of the likes of de Bonald and de Maistre , Donoso developed his counter-revolutionary world view to take into account the then emerging socialist movement which he saw as an inverted religion, a 'satanic theology'. As much a prophet of coming disaster (he predicted a successful socialist revolution and subsequent tyranny in Russia ) as a defender of traditional religious and political authority, Donoso would influence Carl Schmitt and Julius Evola. The 1851
Essays on Catholicism, Liberalism and Socialism
: Considered in Their Fundamental Principles  is generally considered his most important work.

Now these same revolutionaries and Socialists affirm quite unconsciously by their practice the very thing they deny in theory in other people. When the French Revolution in its frenzy and blood-lust had trampled all the national glories underfoot; when, intoxicated with its triumphs, it believed final victory certain, a mysterious aristocratic pride of race took hold of it, which was in direct contradiction to all its dogmas. Then we saw the most famous of the revolutionaries, as proudly as any feudal baron of old, behave with great circumspection, so that the privilege of entering their family was only accorded with reserve and at the cost of many scruples. My readers will remember that famous question put by the doctors of the new law to those who presented themselves as candidates—" What crime have you committed ? " Who could not but sympathise with the unfortunate man who had committed no crime, for never would the gates of the Capitol, where sat the demi-gods of the Revolution, terrible in their majesty, be opened to him. Mankind had instituted the aristocracy of virtue, the revolution instituted the aristocracy of crime.

 . . . Examine all the revolutionary schools one by one and you will see that they all vie with each other in an effort to constitute themselves into a family and to claim a noble descent: Saint-Simon the aristocrat is the ancestor of one group ; the illustrious Fourier of another, and Babeuf the patriot of a third group. In each one you will find a common leader, a common patrimony, a common glory, a common mission; each group is distinct from the other, then breaks away from the others to form a splinter group, all the members of which are linked together by a narrow solidarity and seek out of the depths of the past some famous name as a rallying cry. Some have chosen Plato, the glorious personification of the wisdom of the ancients; others, and they are numerous, carrying their mad ambition to the heights of blasphemy, do not fear to profane the sacred name of the Redeemer! Poor and abandoned, they would perhaps have forgotten Him; humble they would have scorned Him; but in their insolent pride they do not forget that poor, wretched, and humble as He was, He was a King and that royal blood flowed in His veins. As for M. Proudhon, that perfect type of Socialist pride, which in its turn is the prototype of human pride—carried away by his vanity, he goes as far back as he can to the remotest ages, in an attempt to seek his ancestry in those times which bordered upon Creation, when the Mosaic institutions flourished amongst the Hebrews. As a matter of fact, his lineage and his name are still more ancient and illustrious than he thinks; to discover their origin, we must go back still further, to times beyond the pale of history, to beings who in perfection and dignity are incomparably higher than men. At present, suffice it to say that the Socialist schools of thought tend inevitably towards contradiction and absurdity; that each one of their principles contradicts those which precede or follow; and that their conduct is a complete condemnation of their theories, as their theories are a radical condemnation of their conduct.

 . . . The fundamental negation of Socialism is the negation of sin, that grand affirmation which is, as it were, the focal point of the Catholic affirmation. This denial logically implies a whole series of further negations, some of them relating to the Divine Person, others to the human person, others still to man in society. The most fundamental of them all is this: that the Socialists not only deny the fact of sin, but the possibility of sinning; from this double negation follows the negation of human liberty, which is meaningless if we ignore the power given to mankind to choose between good and evil and to fall from the state of innocence into a state of sin. The denial of free-will leads to a disclaimer of human responsibility; the responsibility of man being denied, penalties for sin are also denied, from which follows on the one hand the negation of divine government, and on the other, the negation of human governments. Therefore, as far as the question of government is concerned, the negation of sin ends in nihilism. To deny the responsibility of the individual in the domestic, political and human spheres is to deny the solidarity of the individual in the family and in the State; it is to deny unity in the species, in the State, in the family and in man himself, since there is such complete identity between the principles of solidarity and unity that one thing cannot be conceived in isolation without reference to the principle of solidarity and vice-versa. Therefore, as regards the question of unity, the negation of sin ends in nihilism. Unity being denied absolutely, the following negations are implied—that of humanity, of the family, of society and of man. The fact is that nothing exists at all except on condition of being "one," so that the existence of the family, of society and of humanity can only be postulated on condition that domestic, political and human unity is affirmed. If these unities are denied, the negation of these three things must follow; to affirm that they exist, and to deny unity between them, is a contradiction in terms. Each of these things is necessarily " one," or it cannot exist at all; therefore if they are not " one " they do not exist; their very name is absurd, for it is a name which does not describe or designate anything. The negation of individualism also follows from the negation of the principle of unity, although by a different process. Only individual man can, up to a certain point, exist without being "one" and without having any solidarity with his fellows: what is denied in this case, if his unity and solidarity with man- kind is denied, is that he is always the same person at different moments of his life. If there is no bond of union between the past and the present and between the present and the future, it follows that man exists only in the present moment. But in this hypothesis, it is clear that his existence is more phenomenal than real. If I do not live in the past, because it is past, and because there is no unity between the present and the past; if I do not live in the future, because the future does not exist and because when it will exist it will not be future ; if I only live in the present and the present does not exist, because when I am about to affirm that it exists, it has already passed, my existence is manifestly more theoretical than practical; for in reality, if I do not exist at all times, I do not exist at any time. I conceive time only in the union of its three forms and I cannot conceive it when I separate them. What is the past, unless it is something which no longer is? What is the future, unless it is something which does not yet exist ? Who can halt the present long enough to affirm that it is here, once it has escaped from the future, and before it relapses into the past? To affirm the existence of man, denying the unity of time, amounts to giving man the speculative existence of a mathematical point. Therefore the negation of sin ends in nihilism, as regards both the existence of individual man, of the family, of the body politic and of humanity. Therefore, in every sphere, all Socialist doctrines, or to be accurate, all rationalist doctrines must end inevitably in nihilism. 

From Essays on Catholicism, Liberalism and Socialism [1851]. Translation by Rev. William NT Donald [1874]