Some Philosophical and Moral Problems of National-Socialism

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Λυκοῦργος and the Ἐρινύες

Some Philosophical and Moral Problems of National-Socialism

 

Introduction

This essay is a brief analysis of the National-Socialist weltanschauung, as manifested in National-Socialist Germany, and according to the philosophical and ethical criteria of my Numinous Way, and which criteria derive from the principles of empathy, compassion, and personal honour.

Empathy, as understood by my philosophy of The Numen [1], establishes a particular ontology and epistemology; Being, the source of beings, as both causal and acausal, and of an acausal knowing distinct from the causal knowing of conventional philosophy and empirical science [2]. The ethical criteria are manifest in both compassion and honour [3], so that:

“the morality of The Numinous Way is therefore defined by a personal honour, a personal compassion, and the personal virtue of justice. For justice is not some abstract concept, but rather a personal virtue, as εὐταξία is a personal virtue. For justice is the personal virtue of fairness; the quality of balance.” War and Violence in the Philosophy of The Numinous Way

The National-Socialism evident in NS Germany was a way of life centred around concepts such as duty, kampf, nation, and race. Thus, the individual was judged by, and expected to judge others by, the criteria of race, with particular races assigned a certain value (high or low), as individuals were judged by how well they adhered to the duty they were expected to do in respect of their nation (their land, their people) and the race they were said to belong to or believed they belonged to. In addition, kampf between individuals, races, and nations was considered healthy and necessary, with such struggle revealing the worth of individuals and thus those considered fit to lead and assume positions of authority.

Collectivism, Nationalism, and Race

The National-Socialist way of life was – given such concepts as kampf, nation and race – a collective one, with one of the highest virtues being the willingness of individuals, if necessary, to sacrifice their own happiness and welfare, and even their lives, for the good of their people, their land, their race. The necessity of this virtue was explained, in part, by the belief that the German volk had an historic mission, a particular destiny, so that – coupled with the ideas of race and kampf – the individual was expected to define themselves, to understand themselves, as Germans and as having particular duties and obligations; in effect, to replace their own self-identity with the collective identity of the volk.

In order to establish, maintain, and expand this collectivism, certain measures were regarded as necessary, as morally correct, with such measures including military conscription, laws designed to criminalize certain activities, both political and personal, and harsh punishment of those contravening such laws.

In addition, the führerprinzip was applied to most aspects of life, with individuals expected to accept and obey the authority so established, since such authority was considered to manifest the will, the ethos, of the volk. Hence the loyalty individuals gave, as an expression of their recognized duty as Germans, was personal; not to ‘the State’ nor even to ‘the nation’, and certainly not to some government, but rather to individuals who were regarded as embodying the will, the identity, of the volk. In practice, this meant Adolf Hitler and those appointed by him or by his representatives, and it was this collectivism, this binding of the volk by the führerprinzip, that Heidegger tried to philosophically express in his now controversial remarks regarding the Volksgemeinschaft and by quoting some words attributed to Aeschylus [4].

There are thus six elements that, from the philosophical and ethical viewpoint of The Numinous Way, may be said to define the National-Socialism of Adolf Hitler. These are: (i) a collective identity and its acceptance; (ii) authority and its acceptance manifest in specific individuals and expected obedience to such authority; (iii) mandatory enforceable punishment of those contravening or not accepting such authority and the laws made by such authority; (iv) the use of particular abstractions (for example nation and race) as a criteria for judgement and for evaluating individual worth; (v) the use of particular abstractions as a criteria for identity; and (vi) the use and acceptance of a particular abstraction – kampf – as an embodiment and expression of human nature.

Contra The National-Socialism of Adolf Hitler

In purely practical terms, the acceptance and use of the principle of kampf together with the acceptance of Hitler as embodying the collective will of the volk, inevitably led to the military defeat of NS Germany. For all mortals are fallible and military defeat is always inevitable, given time and even if such a defeat has internal, not external, causes. For tyrants and monarchs die, are overthrown, or are killed; Empires flourish for a while – a few centuries perhaps, at most – and then invariably decline and fade away; oligarchies come and go with monotonous regularity, lasting a decade or perhaps somewhat longer; rebellions and revolutions will break out, given sufficient time, and will often succeed given even more time – decades, centuries – and even following repeated and brutal repression.

Thus, philosophically, the general error here by Hitler and his followers was the obvious one of ὕβρις. A lack of understanding, an unknowing, of the natural balance – of δίκη – as well as a lack of empathy, manifest as this unknowing, this lack, was in the arrogant belief of a personal and a volkish ‘destiny’ combined with a belief in kampf as a natural and necessary expression of human nature. And ὕβρις φυτεύει τύραννον that is, ὕβρις plants, is the seed of, the τύραννον. Thus, symbolically, we might justifiably say that the Ἐρινύες took their revenge, for Hitler and his followers had forgotten, scorned, or never known the wisdom, the truth, that their fallible mortal lives are subject to, guided by, Μοῖραι τρίμορφοι μνήμονές τ᾽ Ἐρινύες [5]. Thus their fate was destined, a fate that Sophocles expressed so well in respect of Oedipus, tyrannus:

ὦ πάτρας Θήβης ἔνοικοι, λεύσσετ᾽, Οἰδίπους ὅδε,
ὃς τὰ κλείν᾽ αἰνίγματ᾽ ᾔδει καὶ κράτιστος ἦν ἀνήρ,
οὗ τίς οὐ ζήλῳ πολιτῶν ἦν τύχαις ἐπιβλέπων,
εἰς ὅσον κλύδωνα δεινῆς συμφορᾶς ἐλήλυθεν.
ὥστε θνητὸν ὄντα κείνην τὴν τελευταίαν ἰδεῖν
ἡμέραν ἐπισκοποῦντα μηδέν᾽ ὀλβίζειν, πρὶν ἂν
τέρμα τοῦ βίου περάσῃ μηδὲν ἀλγεινὸν παθών. [6]

In effect, therefore, and in general terms, the National-Socialism of Adolf Hitler was un-wise; based on a mis-understanding of human nature, and he himself shown, despite his remarkable achievement of gaining power, as lacking a reasoned, a well-balanced, judgement [σωφρονεῖν] – since such a balanced judgement would, as Aeschylus explained in the Oresteia, reveal that πόλεμος [7] always accompanies ὕβρις and that only by acceptance of the numinous authority of πάθει μάθος (the new law presented to mortals by immortal Zeus) could the tragic cycle of ἔρις be ended.

A Numinous View of The National-Socialism of Adolf Hitler

Let us now consider the six points enumerated above, in respect of the philosophical and ethical viewpoint of The Numinous Way.

As mentioned in my essay A Brief Numinous View of Religion, Politics, and The State:

” The essence of the numinous view – of the ethical way posited by the Philosophy of The Numen – is empathy and thus the acausal (the affective and effecting) connexion we, as individuals, are to all life, sentient and otherwise, with empathy being the foundation of our conscious humanity.

The practical criteria which empathy implies is essentially two-fold: the criteria of the cessation of suffering, and the criteria of the individual, personal, judgement in the immediacy of the moment. For the Philosophy of The Numen, these two criteria manifest the natural character of rational, conscious, empathic, human beings and thus express the nature of our humanity and of human culture, and which nature is manifest in a practical way in compassion and in personal honour.

Hence these two criteria are used, by The Numinous Way – by the Philosophy of The Numen –  to judge our actions, our personal behaviour, and also all the abstractions we manufacture or may manufacture and which thus affect us, as individuals.”

(i) A collective identity and its acceptance.

Empathy, as a natural if still under-used and under-developed human faculty, is only and ever individual and of the immediacy of the living moment. [8] It is always personal, individual, and cannot cannot be abstracted out from an individual living being – that is, it cannot have any causal ideation or be represented by or expressed by someone else.

There is the personal, individual, freedom that the knowing that empathy uniquely presents to the individual, and therefore no need of, no sense of, belonging to other than one’s immediate surroundings, and no sense of identity beyond the personally known, for all human beings encountered are encountered and empathically known as they uniquely are: as individuals with their own lives, feelings, hopes, and with their own potential and their own past.

Which in essence means The Numinous Way is the way of individuals, and an individual manner of living to be accepted or rejected according to the individual. Thus such a collective identity – and a desire for and acceptance of such an identity – is contrary to this very individual numinous way.

What matters for The Numinous Way is the individual; their empathy, their honour; their personal judgement. What does not matter are supra-personal manufactured abstractions such as a ‘nation’. Consequently, the empathic, honourable, individual only has a duty to themselves, to their immediate kin, and to those personally given a pledge of loyalty: not a duty or obligations to some manufactured collective identity however such identity be expressed.

(ii) Authority and its acceptance manifest in specific individuals and expected obedience to such authority.

As I wrote in Authority and Legitimacy in the Philosophy of The Numinous Way:

” For The Numinous Way, it is the exercise of the judgement of the individual – arising from the use of empathy and the guidance that is personal honour – that is paramount, and which expresses our human nature.

That is, it is honour, the understanding that empathy provides, and the judgement of the individual, that are legitimate, moral, numinous, and thence the basis for authority. This means that authority resides in and extends only to individuals – by virtue of their honour, their empathy, and manifest in their own personal judgement, and therefore this always personal individual authority cannot be abstracted out from such personal judgement of individuals. In practical terms, this is a new type of authority – that of the individual whose concern is not power over others but over themselves, and which type of power is manifest in a living by honour, and thence in their self-responsibility and in how they interact with others.”

Thus, such non-individual authority, acceptance of and obedience to such authority, is contrary to The Numinous Way.

(iii) Mandatory enforceable punishment of those contravening or not accepting such authority and the laws made by such authority.

Given that, for The Numinous Way, authority and justice are individual and manifest in individual judgement and through personal honour, such mandatory punishment by some abstract authority is quite contrary to The Numinous Way.

(iv) The use of particular abstractions (for example nation and race) as a criteria for judgement and for evaluating individual worth.

According to both empathy and honour, such a judgement of others, such prejudice, on the basis of some abstraction such as perceived race or ‘nationality’ is immoral [9]. The only moral, honourable, criteria is to judge individuals as individuals, sans all abstractions, on the basis of a personal knowing of them extending over a duration of causal Time. To judge en masse, without such a direct, personal, extended, personal knowing of each and every individual is reprehensible.

In addition, it is immoral – unempathic, uncompasionate, dishonourable – to treat people on the basis of their assumed or alleged race or nationality. Thus, the enforced herding of people into ‘concentration camps’ on the basis of alleged, assumed, race or nationality is quite unjustifiable, inhuman.

(v) The use of particular abstractions as a criteria for identity.

Such abstractions included ‘blood’ and nationality, so that identity became a matter of individuals being classified – by themselves, others, and by the State – according to certain chosen abstract criteria based on ‘race’ and heritage. Thus there were distinct notions, distinct levels, of separateness.

Empathy, however, presents us with an acausal-knowing of life, human and otherwise, and this knowing is of ourselves as but one fallible, biologically fragile, mortal, microcosmic nexion, and thus of how our self, our perceived and singular separate self-identity, is appearance and not an expression of the true nature of our being [10], which nature is one of connexions, between living emanations, not one of separations.

Such a revealing of our nature reveals that we should act with empathy and honour in the knowledge that our actions affect others or can affect others, directly, indirectly, emotionally, and acausally. That their joy, their pain, their suffering, their fate is ours by virtue of us as a connexion to them – as a connexion to all life; as one emanation of ψυχή [11].

What abstractions do is that they conceal our true empathic, compassionate, honourable nature and, ultimately, sever the connexion we are to ψυχή, to The Numen.

As mentioned in On The Nature of Abstractions:

” The error of abstractionism – of using existing abstractions and manufacturing other abstractions and using these as the source of ethics, of judgement, and so ascribing a value to them – is the error of ὕβρις (hubris). That is, the error of unbalance: of neglecting or being unaware of empathy, and of neglecting or being unaware of or profaning the numinous. In the personal and social sense, ὕβρις is revealed in a lack of compassion, a lack of balanced reasoning, and not only ascribing to one’s self (or some other abstraction, such as a nation-State) what is assumed to be the perfection of right and of good (or the best current approximation of it) but also acting on that presumption to the detriment, the harm, of others.

This is unethical – as all abstractions are inherently unethical – because what is ethical is determined by empathy, and thus cannot be abstracted out of that direct, immediate, and personal knowing which presences empathy in us, as human beings.”

 

(vi) The use and acceptance of a particular abstraction – kampf – as an embodiment and expression of human nature.

As mentioned previously, in the Contra The National-Socialism of Adolf Hitler section, kampf as principle, as abstraction, is a manifestation of the error of ὕβρις and of a lack of empathy.

For empathy, and the cultivation of σωφρονεῖν, incline us toward – or should incline us, as individuals, toward – a letting-be; to wu-wei; to a living in the immediacy-of-the-moment. To being compassionate and honourable human beings, concerned only with our own affairs, that of our family, and that of our immediate locality where we dwell, work, and have-our-being.

In addition:

” In The Numinous Way, a distinction is made between war and combat in that combat refers to gewin – similar to the old Germanic werra, as distinct from the modern krieg. That is, combat refers to a more personal armed quarrel between much smaller factions (and often between just two adversaries – as in single combat, and trial by combat) when there is, among those fighting, some personal matter at stake or some personal interest involved, with most if not all of those fighting doing so under the leadership of someone they personally know and respect and with the quarrel usually occurring in the locality or localities where the combatants live.

Thus, war is contrary to The Numinous Way – to the Cosmic Ethic – not only because of the impersonal suffering it causes, but also because it is inseparably bound up with individuals having to relinquish their own judgement, with them pursuing some lifeless un-numinous abstraction by violent means, and with the development of supra-personal abstract and thus un-numinous notions of ‘justice’ and law.

Hence, there is, for The Numinous Way, no such thing as a ‘just war’ – for war is inherently unjust and un-numinous.  What is just and lawful are honourable individuals and their actions, and such combat as such individuals may honourably and personally undertake, and such violence as they may honourably and of necessity employ in pursuit of being fair and ensuring fairness.” War and Violence in the Philosophy of The Numinous Way

Conclusion

It should thus be quite clear why The Numinous Way is contrary to and incompatible with the National-Socialism of Adolf Hitler that was manifest in National-Socialist Germany.

David Myatt
January 2012 ce
(revised JD2455956.107)


Notes

[1] Refer, for example, to Introduction to The Philosophy of The Numen and also The Natural Balance of Honour – Honour, Empathy, and Compassion in the Philosophy of The Numinous Way, from which this is a quote:

“As used and defined by The Numinous Way, empathy – ἐμπάθεια – is a natural human faculty: that is, a noble intuition about another human being or another living being. When empathy is developed and used, as envisaged by The Numinous Way, it is a specific and extended type of συμπάθεια. That is, it is a type of and a means to knowing and understanding another human being and/or other living beings – and thus differs in nature from compassion.”

[2] See: (i) An Introduction To The Ontology of Being; (ii) Some Notes Concerning Causality, Ethics, and Acausal Knowing; (iii) Acausality, Phainómenon, and The Appearance of Causality.

[3] qv. The Natural Balance of Honour.

[4] In his 1933 speech at the University of Freiburg, where he quoted the following verse (v.514) from Prometheus Bound [my translation]

τέχνη δ᾽ ἀνάγκης ἀσθενεστέρα μακρῷ.

How so very feeble Craft is before Compulsion!

[5]

τίς οὖν ἀνάγκης ἐστὶν οἰακοστρόφος.
Μοῖραι τρίμορφοι μνήμονές τ᾽ Ἐρινύες

Who then compels to steer us?
Trimorphed Moirai with their ever-heedful Furies!

Aeschylus (attributed), Prometheus Bound, 515-6 [My translation]

[6] 

You natives of Thebes: Observe – here is Oedipus,
He who understood that famous enigma and was a strong man:
What clansman did not behold that fortune without envy?
But what a tide of problems have come over him!
Therefore, look toward that ending which is for us mortals,
To observe that particular day – calling no one lucky until,
Without the pain of injury, they are conveyed beyond life’s ending.

Oedipus Tyrannus, vv. 1524-1530 [My translation]

[7] In respect of πόλεμος see my The Abstraction of Change as Opposites and Dialectic where I suggest that as used by Heraclitus it implies neither kampf nor conflict, but rather – as a quote from Diogenes Laërtius suggests – what lies behind or beyond Phainómenon; that is, non-temporal, non-causal, Being. πόλεμος is thus that which is or becomes the genesis of beings from Being, and also that which manifests as δίκη and accompanies ἔρις because it is the nature of Πόλεμος that beings, born because of and by ἔρις, can be returned to Being (become bound together – be whole – again) by enantiodromia.

[8] Refer, for example, to Introduction to The Philosophy of The Numen

[9] See Empathy and The Immoral Abstraction of Race and also On The Nature of Abstractions.

[10] Refer for example to Acausality, Phainómenon, and The Appearance of Causality and also An Introduction To The Ontology of Being.

[11] Correctly understood – and as evident by the usage of Homer, Aeschylus, Aristotle, et al – ψυχή implies Life qua being.


Acknowledgement:

This essay had its genesis in some questions recently asked of me, by an academic, in regard to my former political involvements and how I now judge National-Socialism and Adolf Hitler given the development, over the past three or so years, of my mystical philosophy of The Numinous Way.

Article source – http://www.davidmyatt.info/myatt-problems-of-ns.html