Saturday, September 10, 2011

The perils of progress

I watched a 1970's BBC two-parter on Benjamin Disraeli. Not very good. At the end of a couple of hours, all I knew about his politics is that he loved the monarchy...

Anyway, he meets Bismarck at a party, before Bismarck was really Bismarck. And then later at a big international conference when Herr B has succeeded in unifying the many German princedoms, etc. into one country: Germany.

Hey, Europe, how'd that work out for ya'?

Germany under the Kaiser

It was probably inevitable, but after the two World Wars, hard to say it was a blessing.


Anonymous said...

Just thinking: Germania should have been divided 'spiritually' between accepters and rejecters of Nietzsche. Even as it was, Germans' wish to hang onto and exploit his doctrine that the lousy end that arranges for a noble means is in a way a valid end (the means justifies the end) but while holding off on the revaluation of that end by the means.

Accordingly, Steiner arranged for the wreck of the Schlieffen Plan via his mystical influence on von Moltke and Mme von Moltke that Schieffen's plan was insane.

Schlieffen's dying words: "Make the right arm strong!" That is, put everything into a strong attack on France at the beginning, conquer Paris, arrange for a treaty, then deal with Russia etc to the East more or less at leisure.

Von Moltke refused, balk'd at putting everything on the western front into a drive through the low countries and into France. Troops and materiel were station'd along the Rhine too, vs a French attack across the Rhine.

Even as it is, the Second Reich did dismantle the Russian Empire to the east more or less, and then had Germany not been exhausted by the long years of war could have fought and won a one-front war to the west (sort-of a reverse Schlieffen plan).

If la France and la civilisation fran├žaise had been totally defeated, humiliated, in 1914, then tyhe French would have abandon'd their old things, as they ought to have, and become the people to take up Nietzsche's philosophy. (Nietzsche temporized toward France in case Germany play'd hard to get, as indeed Germany did.)

But the stalemate on the western front enabled the French to sort-of pretend that they could keep their old civilisation going which de Gaulle even continued after 1945 (cf John Ralston Saul, Birds of Prey). France as the centre of a Europe of des nations et des patries. Sure. One half grab'd by the USSR and the other half sort-of superintended by the USA.

If Bismarckian Germany had prevail'd in 1914, as Schlieffen's Plan surely permitted (his plan was used with complete success in 1939; and everything was freed up for Operation Barbarossa, although this military operation was for the immolation of the older Germany and the raising up of the S.S. [the "corpses (S.S. the death's head brigades] manufactured in the death camps," of which Heidegger speaks].

So, anyway, the obtuse wish by Germans to outwit and exploit Nietzsche (the noble means justifies the ugly end) but cleverly thwart Nietzsche's purpose of revaluation) results in the gruesome stupidity of 1914-18 (which all the churches preach'd up, only finding their 'give peace a chance' message during Hitler's rise to power to implement the Mein Kampf plan for a vast new military operation to the east), and then the vast ruin of 1939-45 (genocide of unfit populations, in replacement of Nietzsche's plan for merely cultural genocide via war of spirit [not bombardments and mustard gas, or mass deportations of perfectly useful populations to death camps] of the nihilist "everything [system] that degenerates and parasitizes" (Ecce Homo, birth of tragedy ¶4). As if the S.S. is the desired royal line of kings to rule the earth.

And what remains after the collapse of totalitarian Communism and, evidently, the collapse of the American system (Jesus' kerygma even brought out of mothballs in order to find speak rhetoric to chumps with no real power yet who vote Republican and believe in Creationism)? Nietzsche's revaluation: the noble means (the son) shall revalue the ugly end or father. Or nostalgie de la boue neo-Islamique.

Pilgrimage to Mecca, and enjoyin' a good repast at sunset during Ramadan, as the purpose of Baconian method, splitting the atom, genetic engineering.

Anonymous said...

I meant to specify, that from Steiner's point of view, if France were permitted to be totally defeated by Bismarckian-Wilhelmine Germany, then the French would be freed up to take Nietzsche really seriously. And Germany would have to do so too, or be left behind historically as the technically-militarily competent but philosophically poetically irrelevant power, only to watch the French strive and stride on with the revaluation of values.

A French semi-victory (thanks to her English-speaking pals: perfidious Albion!) and a German semi-defeat was far preferable. Nietzsche could be exploited for mysticism for a while. Not a long-term solution, but what do a few million dead or maim'd, blinded, gas'd etc young boys in 1914-18 matter?

Hegel's problematics of the end of History [what is left to do but revaluation of values?] and Nietzsche's problematics of the last version of man, the man who has forsaken self-overcoming, are dismiss'd by Ernst Troeltsch as irrelevant to Germanism as mystical ongoing developingness as the purpose of fighting on and on in WW1 for Germany, vs Western progress where the goal is the well-being of mankind in liberty, purposive organization etc (p. 212, appendix to Otto Gierke, Natural Law and the Theory of Society, 1500-1800).

Determinative goals for change (progress toward the good) had to be abandon'd in order to refuse Nietzsche's questions about what the good of man really is. Thus, progress is dismiss'd as "Western" (Western authorities could let on they were hardly even aware of the obscure poet Nietzsche who seems to have been an enthusiast for Wilhelmine Germany) and ongoing changingness in developingness is the meaning of German depth or whatnot. ibid.

Human sacrifice is better in the pagan mode: the Gods and Goddesses are said by the priests to be hungry, so a few fine youths and maidens are thrown to the Nile crocodiles. But those few do "count" in a way. They're selected, the clergy say special word formulae, and the sacrifices are call'd sacrifices.

The clergy don't follow troop movement lines in newspaper stories, seated far from the 'action' (karma; cause-effect) where the individual deaths or blindings etc of youngsters have no vivid presence. They're statistics, not sacrifices! Nile crocodiles could have been satisfy'd for centuries and centuries by the immolations of 1914-18.

Anonymous said...

Alfred Schlieffen was a great strategist, but Steiner heard of his plan from Mme von Moltke and saw that he had to seriously fk up Schlieffen's plan, or Germany would win conquer the European system in 'war' but lose the future to France's dedication to Nietzsche.

Steiner thus preserved a plausible ongoingness for a while for France's old stuff and for Germany's old stuff.

But if this was so valid a purpose, why couldn't it be discuss'd in the newspapers and from the pulpits? "Let's all agree to reject Nietzsche -- a Franco-German pact of anti-Nietzsche brotherhood.« And then no need for the military violence of 1914-18. ... Just drag out and sort-of preserve all the old French stuff and German stuff in a kind of ongoingness. New techniques for french paintings that rehash Louis XIV or Romanticism. Academic publicationing in Germany in vast dense dictionaries of long dead languages, plus "studies" of this or that bit of Plato or Cicero. Sermons and homilies at church about filial duty and cultural decency.

The boringness of it all could have given mystics like Steiner plenty of opportunity for rapturing youngsters out of the absinthe of ongoingness and into the absinthe of theosophy. ... But instead they wanted the war.

And then the arm'd Fichteans of Hitler and Stalin, as Nietzsche warn'd would arrive anyway.

Anonymous said...

I should maybe have said that the ugly end is justify'd in his means if the means is kalos (fine, schoen), e.g. the courage of young soldiers sent to war. Aristotle: a moral virtue is kalon; accordingly, as Straussians argue, the crucifixion isn't kalos, since an obedience simply, and not a war. But the binding of Isaac by Abraham is also also not kalon, and Isaac's obedience is also not kalon. Yet the crucifixion and the akeda are contemplated, thus kalon, teferet?

Or the willingness of German soldiers in WW1 to fight from pure formalist duty (pflicht) in a war that they agreed was ugly, insane, purposeless -- sc except for the raising up of soldiers of pure dutifulness or pure loyalty perhaps, which is supposedly kalon.

In any case, the fine or beautiful means, the son, ennobles the original ugly end, the father, by revaluation: "thus I will'd" the routine usual everyday everynight humdrum dime-a-zillion cyclical pagan view of History etc etc). The son thus makes the ugly father gennaios, vornehm.

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