Apr 8, 2016

Ship of State

via Gornahoor

Propaganda must become as natural as air or food. It must proceed by psychological inhibition and the least possible shock. The individual is then able to declare in all honesty that no such thing as propaganda exists. In fact, however, he has been so absorbed by it that he is literally no longer able to see the truth. The natures of man and propaganda have become so inextricably mixed that everything depends not on choice or on free will, but on reflex and myth. The prolonged and hypnotic repetition of the same complex of ideas, the same images, and the same rumors condition man for the assimilation of his nature to propaganda. ~ Jacques Ellul
Those who fail to govern risk being governed by their inferiors. ~ Plato, The Republic
In the Republic, Socrates compares the democratic system to a ship. The shipowner needs to his ship to a destination. All the sailors quarrel among each other, all claiming to know how to navigate the ship safely. The even resort to currying favor with the owner. Meanwhile, the navigator, who gets his skill from gazing at the stars and is therefore the only one who really knows how to direct the ship, is ignored.

Physiognomy

Julius Evola believed that physiognomy, the study of the meaning of the human face, has an important role in the study of race: not biological race, but rather as a window into the race of the soul. In its crude form, physiognomy is a pseudoscience since it claims to determine permanent character traits from static facial features.
However, by observing facial features dynamically, they give a clue to the inner soul life of a person; this is one aspect of the Hermetic teaching on “external considering” (see Note). Evola includes an Appendix to his Summary of the Doctrine of Race which includes photographs of different types. Rather than posed pictures, he would have preferred photos taken during “one of those moments in which the deepest and most expressive elements” are revealed. Keep in mind that 80 years ago, photos were hard to come by and certainly were not as easily accessible as they are now.

There is some actual science behind this. Although there are about 43 muscles in the face, only 5 are necessary to express the six universal facial expressions: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, disgust. However, the remaining “assisting muscles” actually add the personal character to the facial expression. That is why training is required for actors. Consciously making those basic expression looks artificial and forced; that is why, for example, people can see through a fake smile. However, controlling all those other muscles is not easy. In method acting, which study I would recommend to Hermetists, the actor tries to recall a personal incident, analogous to the role he is playing, in order to relive it. In that way, the facial expression should be more natural and expressive.

NOTE: Besides facial expression, careful observation of posture, nervous movements, voice intonations, etc., are used to become attuned to another’s inner state. Beyond that, the responses to certain probing questions may be taken into consideration.

Identifying Caste Membership

One of the traditional teachings is that few of us are in our natural castes in this age. Evola had this to say about the selection of his photographic material:
The great part of the photographic material is affected by a democratic prejudice: in most cases, they are photos of people of the lower or middle classes. While it would be more important and interesting to consider the highest exponents of a people: its nobility, military and political leaders, priests, and intellectuals.
Although it takes some practice to become skilled in the art and science of physiognomy, it may be worthwhile to practice with available images. Specifically, take a look at the leaders of a nation, or a political party, or an intellectual movement, even the priests or religious leaders? Do they reflect nobility or a sense of transcendence? What do they reveal about the people who accept them? Of course, in our democratic age, the populace will gravitate towards those who look most like them.

The Purpose of Political Parties

In the USA, which is dominated by two parties, people complain about the lack of choice. In other nations, too many parties prevent governance. Suppose political parties actually stood for something. For example, a party would be committed to a particular and well-articulated intellectual tradition. Its leaders would be trained in that tradition. Office seekers would be vetted by the party before being allowed to run for a political office. That might include health records, psychological profiles, IQ or aptitude test scores, and so on. Or on the other hand, we could just keep the Ship of Fools going as is as long as possible.

That is probably not possible in a democracy. However, the situation in Tradition is different; it is similar as far as intellectual integrity goes, but there is no need for multiple parties. For Tradition, according to Rene Guenon, the spiritual leaders follow an unbroken chain and the originary spiritual impulse is passed down from generation to generation.

Similarly, the political class was based on an aristocracy of merit that embodied the highest and noblest ideals of a people.

Perhaps the many alternative movements around today could follow this pattern. They would follow a consistent philosophical, scientific, metaphysical, or political tradition. Its leaders would have to demonstrate competence in that tradition. They would post photographs exhibiting their noble bearing, as well as their qualifications. We need to identify the stargazer, not the sailors.

Polish Thought Police

Once upon a time, at a conference of Evangelical theologians, a small group went out to dinner at a nice restaurant. The pretty waitress came to the table and asked, “Would you gentlemen like a cocktail first?” The theologians looked at each other awkwardly until one of them finally spoke up. “Uhh,” he said, “we don’t drink … at least not in front of each other.”
Years ago, I had the pleasure of knowing a Polish gentleman, a physicist, who had gotten onto a train to Austria without money or possession, disembarked in Vienna, and sought asylum. Over bottles of vodka, we would discuss life behind the Iron Curtain.

The most difficult thing was the pretense. By the late 1970s, the illusion of Marxism could no longer be maintained. Nevertheless, in a university setting, no one wanted to be the first to speak up for fear of the possible repercussions. Hence, for show, they would study Marx and shout, “Power to the People”.

Paradoxically, that seems to be the situation in the West. If you are among those who are convinced that 2+2=5, then you feel no discomfort.

Gaslighting and the Authoritarian Personality

Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse in which a sociopath, for example, tries to convince the victim that he is insane. We see that at work in political discourse. Vague accusations of racism, homophobia, misogyny, and so on, are made willy-nilly, in order to impugn the mental stability of candidates or their supporters. Attitudes that well-bred men used to believe were healthy and normal—from the big bang to a couple of generations ago—are not anathemized. That is the price of progress.

A prime example of this is a recent study on the so-called “authoritarian personality” (which I saw on GPS this weekend). Now the original study was made some 70 years ago by the Frankfurt School, allegedly to identify potential fascists. The new study is even worse.

The professor claimed that the identifying mark is the desire for “Law and Order”. Now I don’t like these interview shows because the interrogators are seldom intelligent or quick-witted enough to ask the correct follow up questions. The alternative is illegality and disorder, isn’t it? That sounds absurd on its face, until you think it through and see that it is actually endemic to the modern world. The overlooking of the illegal and the use of disorder as a political tactic is abundantly clear.

Unfortunately for his case, the real authoritarian personality is not the one in favor of law and order. Under the rule of law (at least in its ideal), justice is blind and does not depend on the arbitrary whim of a “strong man”. The opposite case, however, can only be resolved by the strong man. For example, a while back Chris Rock compared the President and First Lady as the mom and dad of a country who should be obeyed.

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