A Comment on De Jouvenel's Prospects for Individualism
Has the feared model of equal individuals before the Total State expired?
One of the most brilliant elaborations of the development of modern power comes from the Frenchman Bertrand de Jouvenel’s book On Power.
I was looking over my notes yesterday and saw this quote:
“Where will [modern individualism] all end? In the destruction of all other command for the benefit of one alone - that of the state. In each man's absolute freedom from every family and social authority, a freedom the price of which is complete submission to the state.
In the complete equality as between themselves of all citizens, paid for by their equal abasement before the power of their absolute master - the state. In the disappearance of every constraint which does not emanate from the state, and in the denial of every pre-eminence which is not approved by the state. In a word, it ends in the atomization of society, and in the rupture of every private tie linking man and man, whose only bond is now their common bondage to the state. The extremes of individualism and socialism meet: that was their predestined course.”
This wonderfully captures what was happening in the political explosions and shifts of the nineteenth and early-twentieth century Europe. The mood in the Western world was largely about throwing off any civilizational restraints that were interpreted as unfairly holding back the freedom of the individual: religion, family, community structures, even private property (especially the aristocratic estates). All these efforts sought the emancipation of the individual. Here was a corrupted and viciously subversive ideology of that old principle of “liberty.”
Other observers of power, such as James Burnham in his Machiavellians offered similar critiques of the modern trajectory.
And yet, part of me wonders if the post-60s Western world began a different path than was originally foreseen. After all, what is happening in the world, I am increasingly convinced, is not truly individualist in the original emancipatory Rousseauian spirit. Certainly, this was there in the beginning but it seems to me that our future is— to be honest— much more akin to something out of Camp of the Saints (read this marvelous piece from First Things) and the South Africanization of the West. Where there is a new hierarchy under construction built along lines of race, cultural residues of religious expression, and things of that nature.
I’m not opposed to de Jouvenel’s understanding of world developments at the time of his writing, but I am sensing that this trajectory has actually expired somewhat. I don’t know that we have a “common bondage to the state” in an equalitarian way at all. It appears much worse than that, from the perspective of Legacy Americans. Paul Gottfried recently hinted at this (I’m going to discuss this with him soon). Rather, it seems like we are transitioning to a new phase of history in America where historical minorities are subsidized, protected, and benefitted while historical American majorities (not just ethnically, but culturally as well) are humiliated and placed on a much lower rung within the social hierarchy.
In Nathan’s article linked above, he writes:
Western multiculturalists are aware of this dynamic, which is why their activism increasingly tends toward the nihilism depicted by Raspail. The First World must be taught to be ashamed of itself, to believe that its death will be its greatest gift to the future of humanity. The new civic liturgy of Western nations must express submission to the morally superior non-Western “other.” Those in the West need to be trained to take the knee, though they are expected to rise from time to time to fight fascist phantoms.
Indeed, this description of Raspail’s themes indicate that a new dynamic is at play. There is an incredibly disconcerting dilemma that characterizes the American situation: migrants from the third world are taught to think of their group interests, their group identities, their group cohesion against a hostile White host population. At the same time, Whites are taught that group thinking is dangerous, irrational, and immoral. Whites are taught the gospel of individualism and not judging based on group identity. Think about this, please, in a politically realist way. This isn’t about the truth, this is about political dynamics and narratives.
This is the dilemma: an army is being prepared that has been given ideological armaments and inspiration, while their perceived enemies have been given ideological toxins and demoralization. Where exactly do you think this is going?
Certainly, if we were all equal in our oppression, we could find solidarity across older cultural and ethnic lines. I simply suspect that the next decade is going to prove this impossible. Whether we like it or not, whether we want to wish away this type of thinking, I believe deep down that the ideology and instincts of the masses are malleable and being shaped by media, corporations, and the administrative state and that they will produce cultural and racial hot wars. And they will do this via artificial and administered hierarchies that permeate through cultural, financial, and institutional mechanisms. This seems to be the theme going forward.