Wednesday, April 15, 2020


There are those who complain. There are those who shame. And by so doing they believe themselves to be powerful. But the question must be asked, at what point are we actually impacting the world with our criticism? This question is vital to intellectuals. It's not enough to retreat to the subjective corner of self validation, to make ourselves feel better about the proliferation of authoritarian rule. Our criticism, in order to contain objective power, must go out into the social world and impact the narrative of the object it seeks to criticize. What does this mean? It means our polemic should deliver a blow to the object at which it is direct, and not merely in a subjective sense, not simply as a disruption of the person's image of themselves, but as a social disruption in the way the person and their ideas are viewed. This is a vital act of polemics, and it is one that is necessary to thwart tyranny from rising to power.

What do we mean, 'it should disrupt the way the person is viewed?' To be more precise, it should shatter the social respect of the person and their views. When a thinker fails to do this it means they have not risen above the level of their subjective complaint, they are still trapped in the psychology of self-validation. This polemical procedure is required because people fall into belief, not through evidence and reason, but as is most common, through emotion, through impression, through surface representation. Convictions are usually not the result of careful deliberation and evaluation, but emotion and implicit bias. No thinker is safe from this defect, which is why intellectual standards must be applied when it comes to the evaluation of information, when it comes to the procedures of thought itself.

The concrete form of criticism implies a shift in the social narrative. Where the strong man shows himself there he must be intellectually defeated, or else the masses will gravitate toward his ideology. Assertiveness comes natural to barbarians, albeit shallow and naive, but those who walk the path of careful thought have yet to learn it. We cannot permit the strong man to deceive the people with the shallow representation of his strength, it is the duty of the polemicist to shatter this false image, to explode the facade of his intellectual strength. There is only a short time to fight fascism in this way, if the window of opportunity is lost the intellectual will also lose the freedom of democratic communication, democratic resistance. And once this humane procedure of communication is lost, violence becomes the rule of the day, the means of eliminating opposition. Once power escapes the democratic realm it cannot simply be restored, when this happens the world is reduced to its most primitive state: that of physical violence. This means the power of the intellect, intelligence, has been subverted and suppressed by that which is primitive, impulsive, emotive, in every case this constitutes a regression of the species.

The duty of the intellectual is to demolish the image projected by the strong man. But this is not merely a duty, this is the requirement of intelligence. There is no way around it, precisely because intelligence discerns the danger of what happens when the strong-man's power becomes absolute, thereby suppressing all intellectual dissent.

It is a sober reality that the quality of life hinges on the power of polemics. There are those who would deny it, saying that raw power trumps polemics. Their thinking is false for one simple reason: the strong man is not a blank actor unmoved by ideas, quite the contrary, he is motivated by an ideology. And it is this intellectual domain that drives his actions in the domain of power.

A King is good or bad depending on what he believes, because his beliefs motivate his actions. If one can change the beliefs of a King, one can change the tyranny of his rule, but to do so one must win the war of ideas, one must be able to influence the thought of the King.

It's not enough to complain, our complaints must have an impact in the realm of ideas. Polemical power consists, not only in refuting error, which presupposes dialectical ability, but also in altering the public image of the strong man. Polemics are never passive, which assumes their foresight, they are deployed in the service of trying to prevent catastrophe, which is to say, social destruction and tyranny. To be a polemicist of power, as opposed to a mere, subjective complainer, one must have the ability to land a blow that reduces the social credibility of a given narrative, as well as diminish the public image of the man or woman who propagates it. To not even attempt this is simply to prove (among other things) that one is a coward. To escape into the land of theory is to evade one's responsibility as an intellectual. To never rise to this level of skill is merely to wallow in the self-delusional realm of the complainer, one proves they are lacking!

No my friends, if we want a world without physical violence, then we must use intellectual violence to destroy it before it can even begin... which is to say, we must win the war of ideas. Intellectuals who do not engage in polemics, not only abandon the hope of democratic procedure, standing idly by as it gets obliterated, but they fail to embody what it means to be an intellectual, never becoming a practitioner of its further totality. An intellectual without polemics is like a star without light.


Wednesday, April 1, 2020


"The single individual must also pass through the formative stages of universal Spirit so far as their content is concerned, but as shapes which Spirit has already left behind, as stages on a way that has been made level with toil. Thus, as far as factual information is concerned, we find that what in former ages engaged the attention of men of mature mind, has been reduced to the level of facts, exercises, and even games for children; and, in the child's progress through school, we shall recognize the history of the cultural development of the world traced, as it were, in a silhouette. This past existence is the already acquired property of universal Spirit which constitutes the Substance of the individual, and hence appears externally to him as his inorganic nature. In this respect formative education, regarded from the side of the individual, consists in his acquiring what thus lies at hand, devouring his inorganic nature, and taking possession of it for himself." Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface pg.16 (para.28), translated by A. V. Miller, Oxford University Press 1977

That this consciousness is "inorganic" is a reference to consciousness being aware of itself in contrast to external influence. In other words, this is the point where a human being becomes conscious of the fact that his being, is in large part, a product of historical culture. The most interesting question is the question of the power of this consciousness, which stands outside this cultural process. In other words, if we comprehend our unconscious integration, does this mean we have the power to defy it, or more importantly, to radically transcend it? This is a question of utmost excitement, it's also a question of philosophical revolution.

Why do we have to replicate the past? Why should we replicate it? Hegel says, in this replication consists the form of our education, and in some sense we must adhere it to, or else we will not be able to transcend it (as without culture man would have no content, being but a blank slate). So we attempt to acquire as much of culture as possible, and no doubt, there is a certain amount of necessary intelligence in this act, but I am far more interested in the point where it becomes a form of foolish conformity, restricting the potential of the development of the spirit. I, as a philosopher, am speaking of new forms! I am speaking of originality from the basis of reality's comprehension, not merely that of culture. I am talking about phenomenology, pure being coupled with intelligence, aligned toward the cultivation of quality. I am talking about liberating oneself as a conscious Creator, which is no small feat!

Hegel gives us an accurate picture of the process of social reality, but the revolutionary must think in terms of how to transcend these limitations in the name of intelligence. Above all else, is there a quicker way to obtain knowledge, to integrate just enough to transcend? The question, is how to proceed into the future, in such a way, that one escapes the burden of time-consuming-replication, without compromising quality. This is a question that must be asked. It's strange that many will not ask it; they would never even consider it; but why would they not allow the power of thought to penetrate beyond the very architecture it discerns? Further, there are those who think they ask it, but they do not take it far enough, thus it is like they never asked it at all.

We are mindless, replicating machines. This is not the secret to quality, this is the path to slow progress. I believe there is a way to proceed swiftly, and this is because the conditions of life are both contingent and absolute. In truth, idealism is the great enemy of intelligence because it distorts our perception of reality, causing unnecessary complication and confusion . And once our perception of reality is distorted, being marred by fanciful fictions and romantic ideals, man loses his ability to act intelligently toward the cultivation of his own being. This means the value of society, and the role it plays in the formation of the individual, is rejected and misunderstood. The myth of singularity circulates through the species, thereby destroying the qualitative lives of individuals.

You would be a qualitative individual? Then you must be the passive recipient of social quality, which can only come through the plurality of community. Do we want a world full of qualitative individuals? Then we must learn how to create and sustain a society that can produce qualitative individuals. The quality of the individual, and the quality of society, are bound up in each other. You cannot have one without the other, and man must have both, if he truly desires an existence of quality. 


"Impatience demands the impossible, to wit, the attainment of the end without the means. But the length of this path has to be endured, because, for one thing, each moment is necessary; and further, each moment has to be lingered over, because each is itself a complete individual shape, and one is only viewed in absolute perspective when its determinateness is regarded as a concrete whole, or the whole is regarded as uniquely qualified by that determination. Since the Substance of the individual, the World-Spirit itself, has had the patience to pass through these shapes over the long passage of time, and to take upon itself the enormous labour of world-history, in which it embodied in each shape as much of its entire content as that shape was capable of holding, and since it could not have attained consciousness of itself by any lesser effort, the individual certainly cannot by the nature of the case comprehend his own substance more easily." Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface pg.17 (para.29), translated by A. V. Miller, Oxford University Press 1977


It is not mere "impatience" that demands swifter integration, it is the cry and determination of an intelligence that comprehends its own brevity and stricture of divided energy. Hegel simply declares this to be "impossible," but is this actually the case? Hegel tells us that "the length of this path must be endured." That there is a path is not contested, but that one must pass through all the rituals of culture in order to arrive at value, is false. Intelligence has a duty to make ingenious use of time. Each moment is not "necessary," this would fallaciously presupposes that each moment has equal value. Further, it is a mistake to linger over each moment, this edict becomes its own metaphysical folly. The genius toward some moments is contained in our ability to bypass them or brush aside their ploys for attention. A wise man knows where to deploy his emphasis, which means he knows where not to apply it. It would be impossible to defend the notion that every moment contains equal value. Some things serve no other purpose than to waste the time and energy of life.

While it's true that context is vital to understanding, this fact does not condemn us to giving heed to every detail. In culture there are many confused and foolish values, many strict priorities enforced by the culture itself, rituals which are not conscious of themselves, these unconscious stupidities should be rejected in the name of intelligence. To replicate them, because idealism dictates we must, is merely to be the practitioner of mindless superstition.

Obtaining critical consciousness is, in one sense, the goal of existence. This is because life has not arrived at an ideal state, but must continue to make improvements for itself. Here progress requires critical consciousness as the key to quality. The question then, is how man can swiftly obtain unto critical consciousness? In the first place, this consciousness, above all else, entails an awareness of man's being and place in the cosmos. This truly is the vital key to quality, and the reason it's the key to quality, is because it enables man to demarcate value irrespective of the influence of culture, which is to say, in an objective sense.

What has value is the thing that increases life's quality. This fact not only drives one in the direction of community, but it also helps man to find his way through a maze of abstract confusion. Not allowing the image of life's primitive plight to dim before the comforts and ideals of culture, is vital to the persistence and survival of critical consciousness. Once this light dims man gets lost in an abstract web of cultural values. To have and keep a critical eye one must not allow the primitive context to slip; the intelligent judgment of value depends on it.

How can man swiftly obtain unto critical awareness? One must first comprehend the raw, primitive context in which life exists. (It's true that this requires a comprehension of advances in cultural knowledge, specifically cosmology, biology, neurobiology, psychology and sociology). Man must see his insignificance in contrast to the cosmos. But this should not cause him to despair, this should cause him to flee in the direction of quality, to act for himself against the indifference of the universe.

Once man has this primitive image in sight, he should use it as a criterion, as an ontology to discern value. What is necessary is the ability to be critical; what is necessary is the ability to discern value within the primitive context. This sounds abstract, but I am speaking of what is most concrete, I am trying to articulate the material foundation of non-idealistic, critical consciousness. The way to be swift in intelligence, is to learn to make use of tools; is to think by making use of primitive images, even as these images are a kind of conceptual tool.  

Hegel tells us that being cannot attain consciousness of itself by any lesser effort than to meticulously pass through culture. He tells us that the individual cannot do better than the World-Spirit. What the Spirit had to pass through, Hegel assumes the individual must pass through, but we deny it. If the point is to comprehend the substance of one's being; if the point is to obtain unto a glimpse of reality, the details of consciousness, it is true that some things must be assimilated, but it is false that all things must be assimilated. In truth, existence is a harsh reality, because the universe is contrary and hostile to life, this is a fact. However, knowledge of this indifference, and hostility, plays a large part in man's concrete integration. The problem is that man is always seeking delusion, precisely because man is always seeking comfort against the harshness of reality. But we must learn not to resist what is unpleasant, if we would obtain unto swift integration, then we must learn to embrace it. Though it seems simplistic, the ability to hold this reality forth as an image by which to judge the ideals that proceed from the desires of life, is the key to acting intelligently toward life... in this, my friends, is contained the hidden power of critical philosophy.