Thursday, April 28, 2005

Intentions and interventions

Alain de Benoist can be so incisive and startling at times:

The way in which Bodin conceives of political power is only a profane transposition of the absolutist way in which God exercises His own power—and the way in which the pope rules over Christianity. This is true even though he rejects the medieval conception of power as a simple delegation of God’s authority. With Bodin, the prince is no longer content to hold power by “divine right.” By giving himself the power to make and unmake laws, he is acting in the manner of God. He constitutes, by himself, a separate whole, which dominates the social whole as God dominates the cosmos. The same goes for the absolute rectitude of the sovereign, which simply translates into the political realm the attributes of the Cartesian god, who can do all that he wills but cannot will that which is evil

From sovereignty, it is a small, surreptitious step to the notion of infallibility. In other words, Bodin desacralizes sovereignty by taking it away from God, but he resacralizes it immediately in a profane form: He leaves the monopolistic and absolute sovereignty of God in order to end up with the monopolistic and absolute power of the state. All modernity, then in its infancy, resides in this ambiguity: On the one hand, political power is becoming secular; on the other, the sovereign—henceforth identical with the state—is becoming a person endowed with an almost divine political power. This is a perfect illustration of Carl Schmitt’s thesis that “all the pregnant concepts of the modern theory of the state are theological concepts that have been secularized.”

Read the rest of his short piece The Modern Conception of Sovereignty:A Jacobin Invention. And from his Critique of Hayek:

Hayek never explains why the liberal order and the market were not "selected" as the most adequate forms of life in any society other than in the West. He also does not explain why, in other parts of the world, social order "spontaneously" evolved in other directions ... or did not evolve at all. More generally, Hayek does not seem to realize that all forms of "spontaneous" order, including those in the West, are not necessarily compatible with liberal principles. A social system can evolve "spontaneously" toward a traditional or "reactionary" order as well as toward a liberal one. It is also by arguing for the "natural character" of traditions that the counter-revolutionary school, represented mainly by Bonald and Maistre, develops its critique of liberalism and pleads for theocracy and absolute monarchy. Hayek reasons as if common sense were spontaneously liberal, which clashes with historical experience, and as if it developed autonomously, while one of the characteristics of modem society is precisely its heteronomy. It cannot be otherwise: if the rise of the liberal order is not solely explained by "natural selection," its entire system immediately collapses.

You can like him and loath him, but don't ignore him:

If one can massacre four times more people in the name of a “generous” idea than in the name of a doctrine of hate, then it may be time to mistrust generosity. Finally, the sophistry of human unhappiness is on the side of the hangman, not of the victims. To be the victim of a beautiful idea, even if corrupted, does not make one less of a victim: for the one being hung, what is the difference? When the Inquisition burned people for their own good, they were not thereby consoled. When the means are the same, the ends are blurred.

Read carefully (pdf) his Nazism And Communism: Evil Twins?

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