Category Archives: Decomposition

Identities vs Ideas

If identity is everything, ideas mean shit. If it is the who that counts–who thinks the thought, who makes the thing, who performs–than the idea, the thing, the performance is nothing.

Identity “politics” is the negation of politics. It is willed stupidity. More than that, it is willed bigotry covered up by the rhetoric of minority rights.

The sleep of reason produces monsters. But first, it produces idiots.

Deconstruction

The dismantling of Western masculinity has been ongoing since at least the “Enlightenment,” but was initially hidden from view by the modern heroicization of industry and industrial labor and the association of masculinity with the figures of the industrialist and the militant worker. What in recent decades appears in the West as the triumph of an emasculatory feminism is really the collapse of this modern fantasy of entrepreneurial and proletarian prowess. The oversized figure of the former “captain of industry” is now reduced to the proportions of the typical, larvally arrested Silicon Valley CEO. Old John Henry is a screen-fixated drone confined to a cubicle. The truth of modernity turns out to be the transformation of machine-worshiping and machine-reliant man into a machine, or worse, a machine appendage, with all that implies about the redundancy of gender. The myth of gender “equality” issues from this functional abolition of the gender distinction. “Equality” is predicated on sameness; it imposes sameness. But this imposition is only possible when the markers of difference, in this case sexual difference, lose their functional/social value. This liquidation of gender is masked by the myth, the ideology, of female “empowerment.” But what modernity empowers is not women but an unsexed hybrid. The “empowered” career woman is no longer a woman but a phallicized freak, a forced mutation. Likewise, the modern, accommodating, pliable, “sensitive” male is no longer a male but an equally synthetic product, a complementary modern abomination. Today, surgical transgenderism brings into the open the price of the Faustian bargain between man and machine. It becomes evident that the modern “liberation” from the cruel exigencies of nature was achieved by the wholesale artificialization of the human, the self-disfiguring transformation of both sexes into Frankensteinian oddities.

Mutants

The toxic effect modernity has had on the human organism goes largely unremarked as we focus instead on the more easily visible devastation around us. Thus, while it is readily and broadly acknowledged that modern development has poisoned the planet, the fantasy persists that it has made us, its human beneficiaries, into better, more enlightened, more tolerant, more moral beings.

We fail to see that the mutagenic effects of modernity have not spared us. Blinded by the progressive idea that our progressive notions are improvements over those of our supposedly primitive forebears, we hallucinate that our stuntedness, our degeneration, makes us tower above them.

Thus, although progressive thought openly revels in its unnaturalness, in its violation of traditional norms, in its disruption of gender, in its promotion of every form of intellectual and aesthetic aberration and deformity, it evades detection as being of a piece with the larger anthropogenic destruction of nature. We fail to notice that modern technological magic has inflicted its most deleterious effects on those closest to it, its inventors and practitioners.

In science fiction, which projects onto the future what is already in the past, mutation tends to be equated with physical disfigurement. Modernity’s most damaging effects, however, are spiritual. And of these, the least visible is the loss of the ability to judge spiritual disfigurement, to see our own degradation for what it is.

Venus Envy

One doesn’t have to puzzle too hard to understand why contemporary Western elites hate Western culture. It’s because they know that they are constitutionally incapable of producing anything that would match or even come close to the grandeur of the gifts that hardier, manlier, braver, sterner elites dispensed. The animus against the Western canon doesn’t come from below, from the “excluded” and “marginalized,” in whose name it is attacked. It comes from the privileged po-faced shrews (and their sissy allies) who want to moralize the masterpieces of a civilization, its canonical paragons, into oblivion–in order to make room, a safe space, for the reverent reception of their own shriveled droppings. The result is what goes under the rubric of postmodernism, an ideology that explicitly celebrates failure and lameness.

The barbarians cannot arrive soon enough.

Marxist Conservatism

One ought to recognize in the Marxist critique of capitalism a covert loyalty to an antecapitalist community. Marx was too sophisticated, too urbane to throw in his lot with those he dismissed as utopian socialists, yet, as his early writings show, his animus against capitalism derived, like theirs, from a reaction against capitalism’s desecration–desacralization–of traditional, patriarchal norms. He was, at heart a romantic reactionary, but forced by intellectual vanity to give his anticapitalism an avant-garde “progressive” cover, a project facilitated by the mental suppleness he absorbed from Hegelian dialectics.

If this covert nostalgia for the predeluvian past at the heart of Marxism is acknowledged, then the tendency of communist revolutions to bring to power archly paternal figures like the Man of Steel and the Great Helmsman can be appreciated as preservative of an ancient notion of regality. In effect, communism was able to give an absolutism threatened by the encroaching democratic corruption a new lease on life, thus safeguarding in distorted but still recognizable form the authority of the Great Father. Insofar as masculinity and what today is disparaged as “authoritarianism” are essentially the same thing, communism can be credited with having found a way to reinvent heroic virility as a modern virtue. This is why the monuments and edifices that remain from the Stalinist era, despite efforts to dismiss them as bombastic anachronisms or icons of “totalitarianism,” are paragons of aesthetic probity compared to the hysterically performative structures to which the postmodern cult of lameness has accustomed us.

Communism ultimately failed because, like modernism in general, it could not sustain the contradiction of attempting a modern, secular, humanist revival of a world that modernity, secularism, and humanism had destroyed. Nonetheless, the passing of modernism has left a void because modernism, for all its paradoxes, was the last heroic gesture that a senescent Western civilization was capable of before it completely surrendered to flaccidity.

Midas Touch

Art has always served power but in the premodern period, power, though associated with wealth was not its product. Contemporary power is corporate. It is the power of dead capital, which means that we are subjects not of the Sun King or the Pope but of the nameless, seemingly contingent forces that rule the global economy. This is a power that art is hard-pressed to exalt. The real story of modern art, once one gets past the self-heroicizing bluster of the avant-garde, is the story of the difficulties that had to be surmounted (the craft that had to be forgotten, the qualms that had to be allayed) before art could be sufficiently debased to serve capital.

For art to serve capital, it had to develop the means to give vacuity the appearance of effervescence. And beyond that, it had to develop means to glorify a wholesale inversion of values. Adapting to an ugly age, art learned to glorify ugliness. Adapting to a materialist age from which the sacred had been banished, it learned to glorify superficiality. Adapting to an age of diminished men, it learned to glorify stunted tastes and feelings. Adapting to an age in which the worship of technology had nullified virility, it learned to glorify effeminacy, lameness, and confusion. Adapting to an age “emancipated” from patriarchy, it learned to glorify perpetual adolescence, impotent rebellion, and formlessness. At every step, these adaptations had to overcome the resistance of artists, intellects, standards of taste and probity that retained some filiation with nobility. Finally, with the advent of postmodernism, a succession of triumphs over every lingering trace of decency was consolidated under a rubric that apotheosisized perversion and made an explicit principle out of the elevation of the marginal.

With each step forward into debasement, the diminution of quality has been accompanied by an expansion of quantity until, today, the term art is applied to the slightest affectation. We are now drowning in the excreta of swarms of “performative” mountebanks. Everything today is tainted by “art.” It is as if we are afflicted by the modern equivalent of the Midas touch–now revealed to be the curse of the total commodification of the world and the transformation of everything in it into a hectoring signifier of exchange value.

The deeper meaning of this wholesale artification of the late modern world is that it is driven by the need to aestheticize spiritual, cultural, and artistic degeneration, making the evil consequences of capital’s dominion appear deliberate, provocative, transgressive.

This is the fundamental mystication that underlies all modern “countercultural” ideologies. Thus, capital’s desecration of sex and sexuality is given the cover of a rebellion against “heteronormative” and patriarchal strictures. The destruction of tradition and the banalization of every aspect of existence are given avant-garde lustre. And, finally, every possible degeneration of taste, manners, and character is affirmed as “progressive,” so that the fatuous notion of progress becomes a synonym for civilizational putrefaction.

Senescence

One could trace the beginning of Western decline to the moment when the West becomes enamored of the notion of progress and of a conception of history that is linear. Such a conception indicates a removal from the reality that matters, a loss of contact with eternity, which is timeless and circular and knows nothing of progress. Thus, from the moment the West assumes that it possesses a history that elevates it above other progress-deprived civilizations, it is already profaned and degenerating, and the vaunted history of its progress is actually the history of its senility.

Relational Aesthetics

Why the idea of art survives: Because even a dead horse has its use. It breeds maggots. It facilitates a social occasion.

At any given art opening, the more theatrical of the attendees easily outshine the work on display. When relational aesthetics became the vogue in the ‘90s, the rubric validated what had been happening in art since the ‘60s, if not earlier: the occultation of the work of art by the art milieu. Warhol appears to have fully grasped the implications of this when, at the end of the ‘70s, he came up with Shadows, a work that once adorned the walls of Studio 54. As usual, he was ahead of his time. He did not need to wait for Bourriaud to inform him that the production of art had become ancillary to the staging of an art scene.

Identity Fetish

Modernity is anonymizing, atomizing, patricidal. It involves a vast uprooting from land and community, an unmooring from all the coordinates that used to sustain a sense of orientation and self-worth. The modern fetishization of identity is an attempt to replace by self-nomination what used to be assigned by fate, caste and tradition. It is a poor replacement, as evidenced by the violence with which these synthetic identities need to be continuously asserted.

While it is fashionable to equate contemporary identitarianism with a renewal of tribalism, the analogy does not bear examination. In the tribal unit, identity is bestowed by the tribe and marked by rituals that firmly establish the subjugation of the individual to the larger entity. In contrast, self-declared, voluntary identities are narcissistic declarations of exemption from both reality and social obligation. Nothing could be more removed from the spirit of tribalism and its reverence for tradition and ancestral authority than the glorification of childish identities cobbled together from self-aggrandizing phantasms.

Rather than a “regression” to tribalism, identitarianism symptomizes in the form of mass psychosis the advance of the social disintegration inaugurated by modernity.

Retreat

Every modern “advance,” every “emancipation,” contributes to a retreat into infantilism. Once everything formerly accepted as fated and immutable is recategorized as purely conventional, the very possibility of nobility is extinguished because the foundation of nobility, Nietzsche’s amor fati, is made meaningless. Instead of developing the rigor to face and embrace fate, one indulges in ceaseless experimentation, deferring forever the assumption of a serious attitude toward life. Whenever difficulty or discomfort present themselves, the ready availability of an alternative choice subverts any inclination to fortitude. With every obstacle, one simply veers to avoid it, until evasion becomes habitual. Thus, all the supposedly empowering advances bestowed by secularism and technology turn out to have a profoundly disempowering, diminishing effect on character and, indeed, on the human organism as a whole. We see the destructive results on multiple fronts: in the extreme reduction of attention span and concentration dubbed Attention Deficit Disorder (in actuality, a condition so pervasive that it constitutes the current cognitive norm) no less than in the mania for gender “reassignment.” What these and numerous related modern disorders attest to is the failure of the modern subject to leave behind the plasticity of childhood and its seemingly infinite but unrealized potential. Understandably, this universal affirmation of the inner child goes hand in hand with the radical negation, the nullification, of the paternal function. In a world, in which nobody is required to grow up, fatherhood in both its actual and symbolic form is redundant. The modern world is, in its essence, the world without a father.

Modern Worms

When contemporary ninnies complain of toxic masculinity, they are not entirely off the mark, even if they remain oblivious of the implications.

Masculinity becomes toxic when the complexity and attendant fragility of a society grow to the point where the male libidinal drive becomes too disruptive to accommodate. Such tightly regimented, dense, automated, networked societies require subjects that must increasingly approximate to genderless automatons.

Freud had already observed in Civilization and Its Discontents that the level of interdependence and collaboration that social life demands would be impossible without the repression of aggression. This was always true, but modernity pushes the instrumentalization of the human organism to the point where the modern subject must be completely stripped of any inclination that might ever so slightly misalign it with the Borg-like corporate hive that encloses it. Inevitably, this translates into an aversion toward every manifestation of refractory masculinity.

The early modern worshipers of the machine did not foresee this. To Marinetti, the machine promised hypermasculinzation, an amplification of the most primitive virility. What it delivered instead was a wholesale gelding of Western man, his transformation into a species of hermaphroditic worm. And it is these invertebrates who today declare that masculinity is toxic, for to them the sight of a man can only convey an intolerable rebuke.

Shoggothism

Marx’s early insights into the shoggothic power of capital were remarkably prescient.

Money, then, appears as this distorting power both against the individual and against the bonds of society, etc., which claim to be entities in themselves. It transforms fidelity into infidelity, love into hate, hate into love, virtue into vice, vice into virtue, servant into master, master into servant, idiocy into intelligence, and intelligence into idiocy.

Since money, as the existing and active concept of value, confounds and confuses all things, it is the general confounding and confusing of all things–the world upside-down–the confounding and confusing of all natural and human qualities.

He who can buy bravery is brave, though he be a coward. As money is not exchanged for any one specific quality, for any one specific thing, or for any particular human essential power, but for the entire objective world of man and nature, from the standpoint of its possessor it therefore serves to exchange every quality for every other, even contradictory, quality and object: it is the fraternisation of impossibilities. It makes contradictions embrace.

Today, the money-enabled “fraternisation of impossibilities” visible to Marx in 1844 challenges even the division of the sexes. The fact that progressives hail the overcoming of the gender “binary” as progress just confirms that they are capital’s useful idiots.

Taken on its own, the claim that gender is a social construction is a triviality. All distinctions whatsoever are ultimately social constructions. What is significant is only the moment when they begin to appear as such. When a culture begins to apprehend itself as merely a culture, its tenets and tastes as merely prejudices, it is moribund. The “deconstruction” that ensues is the labor of maggots.

It is not the constructedness of gender that the transgender fad reveals but the power of consumerism to transform anatomy into consumer choice. Everything that was default, natural, is made unnatural, subject to customization, available as paid option.

Those who would free us from the last vestiges of patriarchy are in actuality delivering us into the grasp of the mutagenic corporate Borg. Once it is removed from the patriarchal order that dignified it, the body becomes a machine whose parts can be altered at will. Transgenderism is but the logical expression of this desacralization of the body at the behest of the capitalist drive to reduce all of nature to product.

Implosion

Guénon noted that decadence brings forth forms that embody what previous civilizations had wisely left unrealized. From this perspective, modernity is the time that brings to life every monstrosity, every abomination, every perversion, every weakness, every stupidity abhorrent to tradition.

We witness all the filth that was held back by the decencies of earlier civilizations come pouring out, a veritable shit storm. And the last vestige of civilization, the last trace of sacred tradition, sacrificed to incontinence.

Dotage

The mark of a successful–all too successful–elite is that it feels so secure in its position that it can indulge in displays of moral distaste for the very means and values that enabled its ascent.

This is what we observe today in the form of a white elite cheering on campaigns against “white privilege.” On the surface, this is evidence of either altruism or masochism. But it is neither. It only indicates how well-insulated the elite is from the consequences of its moral affectations.

Nostalgia

Nothing demonstrates the bankruptcy of liberalism more clearly than the effort to turn its pieties into absolutes. In this we glimpse in distorted form a liberal longing for the restoration of what liberalism demolished.