Carl Schmitt, Leo Strauss Meet the Hipster

Carl Schmitt has to be understood as a guy obsessed about order. As a young conservative intellectual in the Weimar Republic he was concerned with the question how a modern state derives its legitimacy, as the influence of religion and the church had waned, monarchies had been overthrown, no consensus and self-conception of democracy had been established and (bourgeois, capitalistic) democracy was under siege from left and right – in such a turbulent age it was actually no mean question about how the modern state could actually be grounded. After the Nazis took power, Schmitt became a member of the NSDAP and although his career suffered a major setback already in 1936, he remained „Kronjurist“ of the Third Reich. After the defeat of the Reich he ruminated, somehow enigmatically, about himself and his role in history (with important writings that expose the core of his thinking been published posthumeously). At the core, Schmitt was a conservative Catholic and his central obsession was that human action had to be grounded in the divine relevation, i.e. in the law of God. He opposed relativism, liberalism and modernity and held antisemitic views. One of his best-known concepts is that the political is about the relationship between friend and foe, and therein an autonomous, and primary, sphere of human existence. In a modern, „pacified“, democratic world, the primacy of the political would easily be forgotten, but could easily break into reality again, as a principal, fundamental conflict within the community (or between communities) of what is, fundamentally, right and what is wrong (respectively about who is friend and who is foe). As tensions mount, the sovereign could call for emergency rule (and, to Schmitt, he is the actual sovereign who can impose emergency rule). Schuh once called Schmnitt a „razor-sharp“ thinker: that is actually what he was – with the apparent consequence that Schmitt was rather not very vocal when it came to think about nuances and that plurality and vagueness are things that make up reality as well (also he was not very vocal when it came to depict what a friend is, but concentrated on outlining the qualities of the foe). In such respects, liberal, postmodern thinking is a nemesis on Schmitt – but Schmitt is also a nemesis for the liberal and postmodern approach. At any rate, Schmitt was a relevant and original political thinker – and when Kojève visited Germany once he said that he would only go to Plettenberg, as Schmitt was the only person in Germany worthy of intellectual conversation. When he was examined after the second World War about his collusion with Nazism, Schmitt describd himself to be an „intellectual adventurer“.

Leo Strauss has to be understood as someone concerned about the role of philosophy and the philosopher vs the realm of the political. That is, in fact, the central question of the oeuvre of Strauss. The political/public realm is where faith and opinions (and, notably, interests) dominate and complexity is not very well understood nor welcomed – the zeal of philosophy is to find out and establish truth (which the public sphere of course also wants and needs), hence the relation between the philosopher and the political is a potentially conflictual one: And Strauss` work mainly elaborates on that conflict in its many facets. Strauss placed great emphasis on the hermeneutic principle that a thinker has to be understood the way he understood himself – and not be abused as a toy to underline one´s own peculiar opinion. Likewise, Strauss also considered the philosopher, and the role of philosophy in the political realm, as one of questioning authority in order to search for truth, to escape from a Plato´s cave of wrong our outdated concepts and perceptions – therein, Strauss also had some reservations against political philosophy as establishing conclusive theory (that somehow longs for totalitarianism of itself and may be supportive to authority) but rather was affirmative of philosophy as a permanent questioning: Socrates was an important figure for Strauss. Strauss´ works were comments on other philosophers and he refuted „originality“ in favor of adressing the great and everlasting questions and truths which are, therefore, anonymous (he said that the gravity of a thinker does not lie in his originality but in his capability to adress the great fundamental questions). Like Schmitt, Strauss was a conservative who opposed liberalism and modernity in favor of divine revelation which alone can be absolute guidance for human action. Law also had to be based on natural law, a sentiment that includes elitism. As a community is made out of individuals of different talent, Strauss voices for a meritocracy of the most talented individuals, of „gentlemen“, as democracy leads to populism and decline – the philospher is not wanted by the hostile and envious masses, so the spirit of the philosopher has to be institutionalised by enlightened leaders. The American neoconservatives drew some inspiration from Strauss, although also Strauss, like Schmitt, is a more comphrehensive guy. Strauss commented on Schmitt´s book about the political as realm of distinction between friend and foe, largely favorable (Strauss was a Jew and Schmitt a Nazi at that time) and tried a synthesis with Hobbes´ political philosophy (i.e. that order has to be imposed on a state of virtual anarchy among humans). Both Schmitt and Strauss saw conflicts between men as something unavoidable and profound, as inescapable and out of man´s control, hence as something „metaphysical“.

The hipster cannot be adequately understood. Despite it is being claimed that this phenomenon with its allegedly striking appearance is the big thing of our time (although his heyday he may have already had in the past of the last decade), I cannot sense it so easily. I deliberately walked through hipsteresque places like Neubau or the Museumsquartier recently again, and then there is also the Brunnenmarkt or the Karmelitermarkt and stuff, and although it is frequently quite fancy there, I cannot see stereotypical hipsters (supposedly with beards, undercuts etc.) there, nor even bobos (Vienna is, of course, not a hipster capital like Berlin or, as they say, Portland, Oregon, but if I understand this correct we are talking about a cultural phenomenon that has allegedly spread at least over the Western world). Of course, I do not see hipsters, nor people in general, I only see Buddhas when I look into the world =“> And it annoys me how negativistic people are of each other: Georg opens a new bar and S. and O. and, and, and… spread negativity: Look at the shitty bobo bar! – although it is a quite casual bar and not specifically boboesque! Such a thing happens all the time among humans! – Of course, upon reflection, I also do not feel completely at home in diverse fancy places, although they are not hipsteresque to me; as far as I can see it is where a younger and relatively educated audience dwells, which, however, cannot be subsumed to be bobo or hipster – with the indication that the bobo and the hipster do not actually exist. I find it sad that I do not have a true overview over the social realm, but if someone claims he has, it might just be a hallucination, for instance people complaining about other people, that they are under par where, in reality, they just do not conform to their worldview, the old generation complaining about the youth, and the like… What I hear about the young generation is that they are indeed unpolitical and quite focused about their career and their looks and their lifestyle. It is not a rebellious but quite conformist youth (which doesn´t mean that such a thing would be completely wrong). Bertl, who is a bit older than me but studies at the university now claims there isn´t much to conversate with the youngsters: Though they are pessimistic about the future, they are optimistic about their personal future (which might be accurate) and, in general, „bei denen geht´s um nichts mehr“. They are not rebels, do not adress society at all, like we did, they are private and bourgeois and they do not have any message to tell. – Then there is this thing called hipster black metal! I also cannot sense the vital ingredients of metal – like obscurity, challenging attitude, schizotypal creativity, antisocial stance, outsiderdom and individuality et al. – in there. It is (hipsteresque) independent musicians that have conquered some metal style but do not transport a metal message! It is, obviously, about individuality, but not about an obscure and rebellious, truly schizotypal individuality of the outsider! It does happen at some fancy, elitist margins of society, not outside society, like a concert of a true band like Rotten Sound or Brutal Truth. Hence, it is not actually a metal culture. (Note also that the hipster does not want to be a hipster and when he asked whether he is one, he will decline.)

If we try to understand the hipster however, we refer to the common narrative of the hipster being someone who tries to pronounce his fancy individuality in a millenial age. He is, and wants to be, socially included as well as excluded. In reality, he is socially included and has no desire for true outsiderdom although usually comes up with such a style as a means of elitist, dandyesque destinction. He is avant-gardist as he longs to be the first to spot new, fancy trends and he wants to be cool. He usually does not create art but longs to work in the „creative industry“ and likes to see himself rather like a curator or an initiated consumer of art. He embraces both high and (supposedly) low level art and culture, is heterogenous and eclectic, but not as a natural manifestation of true creativity but as a means of distinction. He opposes the „mainstream“, not because of the void it carries but because he wants to be special. He is not very political and career-motivated – which need not be a bad thing, but often is. He is flexible and, actually, gas-like, as he does not stick to anything in substance and everything becomes exchangeable and disposable to him and he does away with things when they cease to be regarded as „cool“. As he is not fundamentalist, he is ironic – in a likeable way as irony is intelligent, resisitant to a totalitarian and absolutist sentiment and pluralistic, and unlikeable as it runs against true commitment and true intelligence which is about sorting the real thing out. Despite his ironic attitude, the hipster may be quite arrogant or at least blasé (like the avant-gardist or dandy, but without creating true elite culture). He cares about quality of food and may open up fancy restaurants (which is also a plus) but may not care much about animal rights. Sociologically, the hipster may be interpreted as an expression of a homogenisation of society because of increasingly blurred traditional (class) distinctions and stratifications (i.e. the hipster actually being bourgeois, bohemian and exploited proletarian all alike) while, however, distinctions and stratifications are still in place (and are, on the one hand, denied, but also fiercely affirmed and established by the hipster). In terms of gender the somehow feminine/androgynous appearance of the hipster signifies the softening of traditional gender roles. Someone has said, with his zeal for individuality, the hipster is an expression that true individuality is less and less common (or more and more difficult to achieve, or that true or aristocratic individuality or genius is not what is wanted in our time). – As far as I can see there are friendly hipster (?) bars/shops etc. with extremely friendly hipsters (usually females) as well as there are arrogant and unfriendly ones. I recently read a book by Philipp Ikrath (Die Hipster) in which he ruminated that the hipster (who is a youngster now but may occupy positions of power in society in the future i.e. be the coming ruling class and therefore is a relevant object to study) with his non-binding nature is the end of all politics – as solidified positions do not really matter anymore and everything becomes exchangeable, politics in the traditional (and, maybe, any) sense loses its meaning or at least significance. And that was the main motive for writing this note as it sprang to my mind how this would relate to a view on politics as we have it with Schmitt (and Strauss)! 

To philosophise about the hipster, Ikrath comes up with Richard Rorty´s ideal type of the ironic. Opposed to the metaphysicist, who sticks to a concept of absolute truth that governs it all and of life being subjected to subjugate to that absolute truth, including the possibility of personal sacrifice, the ironic denies that there ever is such an absolute truth. Which does not mean that the ironic is a nihilist, just that he would refute absolutist claims. The ironic is constructivistic, embraces plurality and is lenient and tolerant. He is aware of the relativity of all being, and there is no „jargon der eigentlichkeit“ as something the metaphysicist strives for so deeply. Irony works against usurpation and absorption (Vereinnahmung), also against oneself´s possible claims of usurpation, on the other hand there may be a loss of standards, liability, resposibility and true commitment. So much for the philosophy of/about the hipster.

Think of, now, how especially Carl Schmitt would react and what he would do if confronted with someone like the hipster! – I had to smile into myself when I read Ikrath´s book, and the rumination that the hipster is the end of all politics: Indeed, Schmitt with his pronouced (and, I guess, somehow narcissistic and edgy) friend-foe dichotomy and his admiration for hard and sharp decisions! How would he try to grasp the hipster when the hipster is evaporating, or just innocently smiling to him, like a different life form, and then innocently escape like a colourful and innocent butterfly from Schmitt´s angry and nervous grasp, with his latent indecisiveness and not actually knowing pronounced friend and foe demarcations as he embraces everything that is cool at the moment and just opposes anything that is uncool, without regard to the substance so that things are all the time in flux? Schmitt was vocal against „the Romantic“ i.e. a kind of aetheste who is fond of the colourful multifacetedness of the world and his own genius subjectivity that embraces this colourful multifacetedness without, however, engaging into the realm of authentic decisions (i.e. the realm of politics) – there is some allusion to the hipster in there. While such an existence may be pleasant for itself and intense, the political life is actually more intense since it is about profound decisions. In general, the self-empowerment of man is to Schmitt the original sin, and through his eyes the constructivistic hipster with his genius subjectivity may be a false replacement of the true God (again, without however possibly the hipster ever coming up with such an idea and therefore being very confused about Schmitt). Schmitt and Strauss are „metaphysicists“ par excellence and directly opposed to the ironic (hipster). Both were opposed to modernity and the state of bourgeois „security“, i.e. that life has become merely a quest for a pleasant, consumerist life. Both thought that would deprive man of his true inner essence, and of his nobility. A central idea/sentiment of Schmitt was that there should be space for the „anspruchsvolle moralische Entscheidung“ (sophisticated/challenging ethical decision) in which the individual reveals his competence and nobility. Unfortunately, in the case of Schmitt his „anspruchsvolle ethische Entscheidung“ was joining the NSDAP, and his quest for a „Jargon der Eigentlichkeit“ made him, and others like Heidegger or Marinetti, prone to suspect that „authenticity“ and profoundness in Nazism/fascism because they thought that within modernist „confusion“ it is a „real“ thing. Strauss will not be likely to view the hipster as an elitist „gentleman“ who should govern, I guess he would be unhappy about the hipster, yet probably more interesting and open-minded in what he would have to say about the hipster. If I am correct, Schmitt admitted that modern democracy and the Weimar Republic in fact weren´t so bad after all. And, under neoliberalism, the hipster does not actually live in a state of „security“.

A Guide to Fucking Hipster Girls

A while ago I started to write my fourth work of literature, „Die Reise nach Süden“ (Journey to the South) which is about a dream-like scenario in which I, the genius writer, am commissioned by transcendent authorities to go to Ebelsberg/exurbia of the town in the south to teach the people there „the word“, some kind of ominous lesson (I have not yet figured out, and I also stopped writing on it soon thereafter since time and the book market isn´t ripe for a work like the Journey anyway – and me neither (since the message probably will be my final conclusion about life at all which I have not reached so far)). In this place, people live in three blocks of flats, there is an eternal day; it is, allegedly, the end of culture and the triumph of pleasant civilisation, where nothing meaningful about man can be said and no meaningful culture and art is possible anymore. An allusion that may be to Nietzsche´s „last man“ (and Schmitt, Strauss and others say respectively on that behalf), a type of man whose goal is to live a pleasant life, in a levelled, homogenous society, and who is culturally impotent since he does not want to transcend himself anymore and to bring sacrifices to his art; a human being that has lost his connex to a greater cause, or to a great other (be it God, the nation, communism or transcendant art), solely revolving around himself and harmless self-actualisation devoid of true substance, as the triumph of Western enlightenment (people from more collectivist societies may critisise it from a collectivist sentiment). You have „Ich-Verpanzerung“, that Schmitt depsises (and human subjectivity, for itself, if it does not relate to something bigger than itself, is actually in a number of cases quite feeble). – Nietzsche however said that the last man will be a kind of negative of the overman, and in the realm of the last man there will be the incipit Zarathustra. Let us assume that the overman will be a genius subjectivity that embraces the colourful multifacetedness of the world (the „Romantic“, as described by Schmitt) and will be above politics, yet also able of „anspruchsvolle moralische Entscheidung“ as he embodies the quasi-divine law, as he naturally sticks to what is right and opposes what is wrong, socratically, as he does not have a particular ideology and is an ironic as well as a metaphysicist all alike (since the relative and the absolute mirror each other in a multifaceted and occasionally contradictory realm of being and absolute moral asks for some moral relativism, etc.) (Kierkegaard, an overman, was both a staunch metaphysicist as well as a distinct ironic, which confused people so much that they slightly began to understand him only thirty years after his death). Concerning real dichotomies and the question of friend and foe he will acknowledge that in the human realm and as a motive and movens in history you have both (as probably metaphysical categories, as Schmitt said), but he will, as the wise man, and as the Weltgeist (= as the virtual fulfillment of history) never speak himself out of hostility (as Kojève wrote in letter to Schmitt (without however going as far as to reflect that question on the overman). He will stabilise himself in his own complexity and, as he embraces all otherness, he will be his own Great Other within himself.

Neither the hipster nor the metaphysicist nor the ironic nor the overman are completely there in reality, they are some kind of abstractions and ideal types with which we can philosophise about relationships between things and write casual-serious notes like this one.

Apology of Socrates and Crito

Like Kafka, Wittgenstein, Emily Dickinson, Bodhidharma or Heinrich von Kleist, Socrates was an overman. The overman is someone who is affected by the totality of human/existential problems – the extreme quasi-nervous affectedness and being agitated by the totality of human/existential problems is quasi the essence of the overman – and handles them at the highest level of analysis and integration (commonly referred to as the meta level). Being the conscious reflection of the totality of sets of human/existential affairs, he is the hyperset. Think of some kind of smoke emerging from the flat surface of the populated earth, in apparent serenity, and diffusing into the air, as a cloud of smoke, then gradually diffusing into ever more transparency, and you have the overman (for instance, as a mental image that may come to mind). No one will be more located and more dislocated on earth than the overman! No one will find human/existential affairs more silly and absurd and not be affected by them, and no one will clinge to them with greater sincerity and gravity and be more affected by them. No one (unfortunately) will escape the grasp/embrace of institutions and institutional logic more, but also recognise the depth and profoundness of institutions and of the law like no one else does than the overman (with Melville for instance being the only honest and uncorrupted person in his office in which he had to work after his career as a writer came to an end due to human ineptitude).  At some point there will also be some coolness towards the science, philosophical, escatological stuff, as at the overman level there is not so much anymore at stake and as he has become medium and instrument of sticking to escatological etc stuff, and that is enough – science and philosophy and the growth of knowledge will go on, fractal-like, the individual overman cannot foresee what will be 3000 years in the future, at any rate he will not be surprised by it and that is what matters. He lives both in the Weltzeit and in the Heilszeit – respectively in what I called a while ago the Continuum (of the spiritual essences of the great ideas of man). As he clinges to truth, he becomes depersonalised and objectified. As he finds out, establishes and holds truth, he becomes transpersonalised and extremely idiosyncratic in his subjectivity. The nebulousness of ego allows a much higher level of psychological integration. Due to his fluidity, the overman might clash with the man´s (intractable) world.

Socrates was put on trial at the age of seventy for „corrupting the young“ and „not believing in the gods in whom the city believes, but in other daimonia that are novel“. To understand this, specifically, one has to know that – as one of the odds that usually characterise societies and that may become contradictory in critical situations – Athens at that time was a very rational and progressive, democratic society – but also very traditional when it came to clinging to its own religion and mythology; in that respect Athens was backward to more peripheral regions of Greece or Asia Minor (which probably triggered feelings of inferiority within a superiority complex) and Socrates was not the first person to be put on trial for religious reasons, there had been examples before. Five years before Socrates´ trial, Athens had suffered defeat in the Peloponnesian War which triggered insecurity among the population, conservatism and hostility towards experiments and a challenging, adventurous spirit like that personified by Socrates. The main prosecutor, Anytos, obviously was free from mean-spirited motives, but actually believed Socrates to be a danger to religion and social cohesion. More generally, Socrates explains in his apology how his quest for truth, sincerity and human betterment had to a significant degree always been met with hostility and envy by those whose feebleness he exposed and, as such, cannot be turned into anything better („to his grief and to his heartache“ he found out that he made himself unpopular by the learned and educated as he exposed their lack of substance, and, furthermore, that the common people – whom the intellectual outsider may come to regard as more pure and authentic than the pretentious intellectuals – in reality are not any better – and neither are the artists). Socrates´ tragedy was that in his quest for grace of man he put disgrace over many people. Someone like Socrates stands in a certain opposition to society, that may become lethal. – After Socrates was sentenced to death his friend Crito tried to persuade him to flee. Socrates, however, refused. The main argument was that in doing so he would cease to be a law-abiding citizen, and even if the law may be(come) problematic or conflictual, the law is older than the individual, an order ancestral and higher to the individual that should not be refuted for egoic motives (other aspects were that Socrates would lose his dignity if, as a 70 year old philosopher, he was so obsessed with living a couple of years more, in a foreign polis, where he likely would not be taken serious and also had spilled his reputation among the people of Athens further; as at the trial he did not try to defend himself by appeasing the others but only by holding on to the truth he would now have to bear the consequences) – on the whole, Socrates` legacy as a philosopher and wise man and as an icon would not have been as powerful and uncorrupted if he had followed Crito´s advise, indeed. Socrates died as he lived, hence his spirt became immortal.

Philosophy does not mean that someone possesses all wisdom, it means love for wisdom, and with his unpersonal clinging to truth itself, Socrates is the archetype of philosopher. Finding out and holding on to truth and knowledge and being virtuous can be seen as ends in themselves and to make up for a happy (probably socially excluded, but also self-contained) life. It is an eudaemonia. Philosophy, as a quest for virtue and truth, finally is a matter of the individual, and can finally only be reached by exceptional individuals, for a personal, subjective goal as well as for a general, objective one. Philosophy is transindividual, transsocial, and transpolitical. Philosophy can make guidance for the human/political realm but, to a certain degree, is likely to be at odds with the demands of the political sphere – pure philosophy cannot be executed in matters of politics and neither can philosophy purely be attributed to the human/political/social realm without losing its edge and sincerity (as Socrates said in his apology, he could have not remained a virtuous man if he had become a politician). These are, to some degree, heterogenous realms. In the human realm, and in political entities, you have a certain primacy of people holding to faith and to opinions, to ideologies and to emotions (not only necessarily among the populace but also among those who govern), and the philosopher, with his quest for unideological truth, is a kind of intruder who may not be properly understood and, moreover, met with jealousy, envy and hostility, as he does not flatter people´s egos. The fluidity of the philosopher meets an intractable world – and probably not without reason, since it may be the philosopher who, with his colourful mind, is detached from (a drab) reality.

Politics is about regulating and managing the affairs of people that live together in a community. It means balancing the interests of individuals and groups to which they belong. The interest of people and groups usually revolves around enabling a good life for themselves, accomodating the world to their respective worldview and maximising their profit (Will to Power, as Nietzsche remarks). In doing so, individuals and groups may be at odds with each other, how they are balanced then is a matter of their respective power (where the power attributed to them can a personal one, or attributed to them due to anonymous, unpersonal matters of fact, for instance changes in technology that produce „winners“ and „losers“). A good political system is where a maximum number of people benefit, where there are just rewards and power/interest balancing is uncorrupted and impersonal. A good political system seeks to reproduce itself at a higher level of quality (and also taking the interests of foreign communities in account). Such a community will believe in itself and act in a disciplined way and the common good will be achieved. A political system is, at first, about accomodating people´s material interests – but also emotional and ideogical aspects are important and somehow „transpolitical“ or metapolitical. They are about how a community understands itself and how social cohesion can be established. A community is based on a feeling of togetherness (Wir-Gefühl), and where such a feeling of togetherness erodes it is likely to become a political problem and to undermine trust in the political system or the whole trust a society is based on (note that such an erosion of Wir-Gefühl need not be a direct problem for the individual or a social problem, as for instance the Islam of immigrants need not affect anyone in Europe but themselves, but will be articulated as a political problem of identity politics). The ancestral is a primary source of identity. Nationalism, religion, ideas like „liberté, egalité, fraternité“, communism, being a member of Nato or a neutral state, etc. are such ideological/mental brackets, whose sources need not necessarily be a simple emotion, but heavily involve emotions, amalgamate emotions, interest and rationalisation and reduce complexity. They are a substitute for the philosopher´s usual awareness of feeling integrated into a greater whole of a (transcendent) order, and they are not necessarily an extension of a person´s ego, but of the persons´s heart and mind. Therefore, such mentalities are important to people and important when it comes to political discourse (and, as rulers know (?), in the name of „religion“, „the nation“ and the like it is relatively easy to make people bring sacrifices or even sacrifice their own lives, whereas altruism or reason per se are not). Political discourse is relevant as, in a maybe-contrast to the wise man who prefers inner mono/dialogue, people like to talk, usually all day long. It is vital for them to talk and chat and make themselves feel know-all. Eventually, such attachments to mentalities/ideologies/cultures, designed to embed the individual in a greater, meaningful whole, are, to some degree, also an alienation of the individual or a diversion from his own emptiness, as the understanding of people of the ideologies they clinge to or may even defend with tooth and nail usually is feeble and shallow and phraseological: Socrates, who clinged to nothing but the truth, even at the cost of his own life, exposed that – incipit tragoedia. The philosopher, however, has the power to give new meaning to the human realm or the specific requirements of his age and plays therefore a vital role in the history of mankind, be it an asynchronous one.

All people are equal, and no one ever is (and thus Thus Spake Zarathustra a „Book for All and None“). Lacan once said in an interview the „average Joe“ would not exist to him, respectively is not something he could observe in reality – as all people that consult him as a therapist and doctor do so because of very specific and individual problems that are their own. The overman´s problems are also problems for all and none. Basically, the overman is the individual in its own idiosyncracy and trying to make sense out of it. In so far, as one never is a complete conformist, free from alienation, sorrow or things that personally matter to oneself, somehow always is a bit detached from society and is born and dies alone, and in between tries to make sense out of his own, there´s an overman quality in everyone. Eventually, the overman is the perfect individual and full realisation of human potential, hence transhuman, and very eccentrically located in society. – There may be the question about how politics among a population of overmen-geniuses would be. Contrary to what one might think, geniuses often are not particularly fond of each other if they inhabitate the same space/time. Maybe for low reasons (jealousy and the like) or disagreement, but also because they think that they have to protect their own work and their own message from the message of the fellow genius, as an act of more or less legitimate self-defense. The overman however will not be very apt to have a specific message to transmit to mankind at all, since he´s too comprehensive and transgressive. The overman will like to put intellectual things/messages at disposal. Let us say the defining characteristic of the genius is originality – i.e. there´s some self-referentiality in it which might clash with other self-referentialities. The characteristics of the overman are openness, humility and humour, i.e. characteristics that evade everything. Whether there can be war and hostility between overmen cannot be said, since they are too infrequent and hardly ever have the possibility to meet personally in their lifetime. They are alive and well in the Continuum (in the Q-Continuum of the Star Trek series btw, a habitat for some kind of overmen, there has been a civil war once nevertheless upon a question that is actually undecidable based on logics but can only be decided via personal preferences (the question whether it would make sense for the nearly divine Q to make contact with other species at all, or not) – consider that individuality seperates us from each other, hence is potentially conflitctual, and also that the persistent and hard problems usually are dilemmas, i.e. they cannot be solved but only managed, or, as Kissinger says, politics is a choice between two evils, so that there is actually not so much hope that between overmen such things would be completely absent). Great thinkers, as is usually observed, carry contradictions – and it may be the privilege of a great thinker to carry contraditions – respectively the internal consistency of their stuff is usually achieved by excluding stuff that happens in reality nevetheless (external consistency) – the overman will not carry contradictions, due to omniscience, fluid psychology and clinging to unpersonal truth (hence Socrates did not carry contradictions). As he encircles the earth however, the overman might be not very communicative and (in contrast to the example of Socrates) hate long conversations. So that a community of overmen might rather resemble Mycroft´s Diogenes Club in the Sherlock Holmes series. – Nietzsche however was right to criticise morals, the law, religion, institutions etc., not least if they may produce shit like the Socrates trial, and he was right that they require a truly fundamental critique: In his deep affection for everything that is sincere and binding and profound (in his natural, well, catholicism) the genius/overman habitually clinges to religion/the law/transcendent stuff, and may produce stuff that is alienating for him and for others. It is interesting what would have become of Nietzsche if he had not died so early. Before that, his mind and spirit was permanently evolving like hardly any other. (In Schopenhauer as Educator, a key writing to understand Nietzsche, he rumintated that in his time and age, Socrates would have not become 70 years old btw.)

 

 

Failed Note about Vegetius

A while ago I annouced that I wanted to read De Re Militari, written by Vegetius at the end of the 4th century. Meanwhile I have to announce that I do not find De Re Militari particularly interesting and that I could not concentrate on reading a lot of it. I looked through it twice over the course of some months, but I could not get into the undertow. So I am going to bring it back to the library today or tomorrow. In any case De Re Militari is more immediately practically oriented concerning military affairs of the ancient Roman Empire and not exactly of the timeless quality as the work of Sun Tzu and the like.

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I, however, have not managed to read Clausewitz either, if I remember correctly, because it also did not „take“; at least that was my impression back then. But I have read Herman Kahn´s On Thermonuclear War, and some other books by Herman Kahn. They say Herman Kahn had a 200 IQ though that got deleted from the Wikipedia article although I found that information also in an article of Germany´s Der Spiegel from the 1960s (Duell im Dunkel) a while ago (I don´t know the reason for that but it is true that IQ/intelligence testing becomes wobbly in the higher ranges). At any rate Herman Kahn was able to put a lot of things together, indeed. He (apparently) was one of the role models for Kubrick´s character of Dr. Strangelove btw (others may have been Kissinger and McNamara).

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A while ago I read something about the possibilities of using electromagnetic pulses in future warfare. Which made me think of writing a book titled „On Electromagnetic Pulse War“ myself, after I would be done with literature and art (or take a break of it), because there would be nothing left to further explore.

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I wrote this Failed Note about Vegetius due to conscientousness, to provide infomation about what has happened alongside the Vegetius project, even if nothing in particular has happened. I reiterate, due to conscientousness. Apart from that to frustrate my enemies with this who think they can spot weaknesses within me. Occasionally I confirm weaknesses of mine or do not mind if the enemies rejoice about them, as well as occasionally I may find it more appropriate to show them who´s the boss in order not to let them become overconfident or dangerous or allow them to make a mess. And in particular, this Failed Note about Vegetius gives me the opportunity to post some of my hitherto collected shotgun girl pics, which is probably the most important of its elements.

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However, I have been reading a lot more political stuff more recently than I did over the course of the last years (because politics simply appears as the management of human ineptitude and therefore loses its magic to the scholar once he has achieved Satori), or at least I collect articles for further review, especially those who are posted by the Center for Security Studies of the ETH Zürich. Conventional wisdom among scholars is is that large interstate wars are likely to be a thing of the past and the 21st century is, on the whole, going to be more peaceful than any century ever, but as I see there are also opposing views upon that. I need to read that and meditate about that.

Foresight into 21st Century Conflict: End of the Greatest Delusion?

Global Risks 2035: The Search for the New Normal

A Fractured Way Forward for a Global Peace and Security Agenda

Chinese Military Strategy: A CIMSEC Compendium

Somehow related to that I plan to write a note about stuff that has been vomited up on the global political arena in 2016 by the end of the year. I hope I can manage to do it on time. I am happy to announce that atm I am doing quite well with writing the Notes about Art and Artists. I have so far completed the notes about Duncan Wylie, Edward Hopper, H. C. Westermann and Alice Aycock; and maybe – because Duncan Wylie is interested in having that note published soon – I am going to change my original plans about in what order I would have them published. There has been a plan in my head about that, but now it gets kinda overturned (though not in a chaotic or dangerous way). That will feel good as well, I suspect.

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11/9 2016 in America

In his thirties, Blaise Pascal turned his back toward the study of pure mathematics and instead was determined to study humans, which he expected to be more promising, a much vaster and more fascinating domain, where the true infinity lies maybe (despite however, if I remember correctly, one of his main Pensées was that human existence is drab and dull and the ways most humans try to cope with that are equally drab and dull). – For some years I have now been speculating whether my own trajectory is the reverse of that of Pascal (or Grothendieck´s) since it is the study of humans which obviously does not pay off. Humans, on the whole, aren´t complex. They aren´t fascinating. They aren´t enchanting. The colourfulness of the many facets of the human experience derives from an original uninteresting white light source, egocentricity, including their neuroses, and the irrationality and unpredictability (by philosophers optimistically and overly empathetically dubbed „free will“) due to their incompetence of intellect and character. Maybe it is cooler to study minerals and mineralogy, it may basically be about the same subject, it may be less exciting though but also does not make you look at a seemingly endless chain of disappointments… So maybe I shut everything else down and switch enitirely to the study of pure mathematics.

Why Do We Pay Pure Mathematicians?

Philip Hautmann Although also pure mathematics is not where the magic lies, haha (in the end, so at least it might keep you entertained for some while).

The great mystery of mathematics is its lack of mystery

„Nation Finally Breaks Down And Begs Its Smart People To Just Fix Everything“/ The „Global Board“

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Philip Hautmann The IQ of William Pitt the Younger is estimated to have been at 164. When he was appointed Prime Minister at age 24 he solved the bulk of his country´s problems within three years, orchestrated a U-turn out of a seemingly hopeless situation. Although he subsequently became very powerful he never thought of misusing his power for personal gain or to accumulate wealth. He was an excellent rhetor. But unfortunately I could not get an anthology of his speeches so far. – Approximately one person out of 100.000 has an IQ of 164, or higher. That means they´re very scarce among the population but that there should be plenty of Brits with respective intellectual qualities and personal dimensions out of which they should be able to select a Pitt-like desaster manager now. Yet neither the ruling classes nor the general population seem to be ripe for the breaking. But it may be that our time will come soon lolroflmao. (Which of course may generate the possibility that the political management of natural interest conflicts may become greatly amplified and rivalries more intense, see (or misinterpret along these lines of thought) Pitt vs Buonaparte. I therefore suggest establishing a „Global Board“, maybe as a hybrid between a world government and an intellectual information clearing house for global affairs, making proposals, engaging the small handful of people on earth with 194 IQ who are able to understand everything and who are definitely elevated above all levels of the human rat race. Mechanisms would have to be found to prevent or mitigate rat races between them. Maybe with this we could also get Perelman out of his flat again, finding therein a new occupation for him.)

THEONION.COM
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Philip Hautmann I do not count but with Trump and everything he is affiliated with there seem to be embarrasing revelations on a daily basis, sometimes even multiple times a day. That is definitely a new, distinct and original quality. Even that old soldier finds it as something too big for him to competently figure out -> 

 UPDATE 22072016:

The Anomaly Infinite

2 hrs ·

He’s a diamond in the rough
He’s a poem without a song
He’s a hero without a mission
He’s a star if the world doesn’t beat him

My oh my
what a horrific faulty country we live in

A toast to the
saints and hidden winners

A frown at the elitists, oh but then alas;
I am found a hypocrite

which side is really winning
this horrific country we live in

plastic on billboards, plastic to buy
plastic to purchase, plastic and lies
when the real stars are dying and alive
when the real stars are unknown and invisible
– yes – potential can die

line up for a chance
at the american oblivion

my oh my
this plastic earth I am seeing

Make me President
so that I can make a difference

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(Posted by The Anomaly Infinite/Liliana Alam)

Problems and Perspectives in Contemporary World Order

(I edited some comments I made on a thread in the Polymathica group into a note, content relating to a master thesis I wrote years ago at the university. Ahhh … apart from that not much is happening inside me at the moment, before my inner eye, looking inside my mind, the current vision is a yellow-coloured space and there are three black dots in it forming some triangle, these days I keep looking at them, watching them in silence and inertia, not producing, or feeling the urge to produce, overly relevant thoughts. Incipit Zarathustra.)

 

In 2005 I wrote a pretentious Master thesis at the university titled „Problems and Perspectives in Contemporary World Order“ in which I tried to discuss all the current major world problems as well as current and prospective developments in the world regions on 50 pages. In the introduction I ruminated that a heuristic framework in which the New (post Cold War) World Order may be conceptualised is established by a coordinate system made out of the „Fukuyama Narrative“ on the one hand and of the „Huntington Narrative“ on the other.

The „Fukuyama Narrative“, established in „The End of History“, in general, argues that after the end of the Cold War respectively the system competition between capitalism and communism, with capitalism respectively free markets (and liberal democracy) having „won“, there are no principled conflicts (Grundsatzkonflikte) in the world anymore and the world is headed for (cultural, political, social and economic) „unification“. Look at science fiction movies where foreign planets with advanced civilisations are usually governed by a planetary government – the road ahead seems intuitively clear (which does not, however, mean: straight). In a globalised world respectively a world dominated by reason and by looking after the common good multilateralism or global governance and a unified spirit seem imperative (at least in the child´s eye and children are always right). The „Fukuyama Narrative“ is Hegelian and stands in the tradition of enlighenment, given at least the more blunt implications of a reading/reception of the „Fukuyama Narrative“ however it is a (probably, likely) dangerous and undialectical, naive form of enlightenment ideology. And at the time when I wrote the thesis the Bush II administration seemed to be guided by such a spirit in their (originally much more far-reaching neoconservative/PNAC) endeavours to bomb in democracy into the Middle East. (Many motives have come into play for marching into Iraq, with George W.´s inferiority complex as the family idiot trying to „get the job done where daddy didn´t“ being one of them, but more general toppling governments hostile to the USA and replacing them with friendly ones as a neoconservative agenda mixed with a genuine hope to promote democracy and progress in the world and, most important, getting a foot in the region: according to an article I read only once (in Harper´s magazine) Cheney´s idea was that with Turkey, Saudi-Arabia and Iraq being allies to the USA US global hegemony would have been secured for the next 50 years, as being the core motive for the Iraq war.) Before that the Western world was guided by such a „Fukuyman“ spirit when it promoted hardcore neoliberalism for the ex-communist countries in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet empire, with mixed results, at best. The „Fukuyama Narrative“ has become somehow prevalent or the underlying narrative among globalisation enthusiasts, another prominent label for it is e.g. the maxime about „the world is flat“ established by Thomas Friedman.

Huntington´s book „The Clash of Civilisations“ was written as a critical reaction to Fukuyama. In general, the „Huntington Narrative“ is based on the concept that principled conflicts are still in place and likely to remain indefinitely (with, however, the nature of principled conflicts shifting), where Huntington argues that the dividing lines of the nearer future lie across cultural dividing lines. Although Huntington´s thesis and argumentation was in the utmost majority of cases disapproved or modified (for instance that the actual dividing lines for conlicts will not lie along the grand cultural divides since actually different cultures like Orient and Occident are more likely to be indifferent to each other, but rather in the (seeming) „narcissism of the small differences“ e.g. between Sunna and Shia, etc.) it was a major work of reference, and, as I argued, in the light of the general implication: namely that principled conflicts are not a thing of the past, not a thing which can be, in the spirit of enlightenment, resolved within „rational discourse“ but are likely to remain. On an abstract level the „Fukuyama Narrative“ is about a world headed for community based on mutually shared values and mentality, the „Huntington Narrative“ is about idiosyncracies and (core) differences between people and peoples likely to remain indefinitely. Yet this does not mean that cooperation and becoming closer to each other and unusual, unexpected marriages are impossible or rare (among people as well as among peoples). „Huntington“ is a nemesis to „Fukuyama“ – but also it is the other way round. That may be the, somehow more complicated and diffuse, dialectics of contemporary world order.

So, made up by that coordinates, the question of new world order seems to be: is the world headed for unification and peace or for conflict and divide? And the answer is that within that practical framework complexities are likely to arise which go over the head of politicians and people. This seems to have been confirmed by the developments in the last 10 years. Note also that a defining question for world politics will be what power blocks will stand against each other and in what relationship to each other in the future, and current attempts obviously are about forging such power blocks which, by nature, does include both inclusion and exclusion (or exclusive inclusion as the West seems to try with Russia, which the West tries to weaken in order to subjugate Russia; also consider the ongoing politics to reshape the Middle East, etc.). The relationships within and between the power blocks are likely to be more flexible and fluid, yet maybe also more fragile, unstable and unpredictable, triggering additional policy errors. Concerning the prospects of a world government it was, somehow ironically, Fukuyama himself who, a decade after the publication of „The End of History“ (in 2002) called such an idea, prominent in the West, naive, also in the respect that the larger and more comphrehensive the political entities are the less are the chances that they are democratic and that the multitude can identify with them. What can be said however is that governance in the new world order will/should involve many layers and that people of very high intelligence who are usually excluded from institutions of any sort but who are able to oversee those layers should be included the respective institutions.

The question for democracy in the world is also settled within that coordinate system. It has been argued that in most world regions democracy is „not wanted“ as a perceived cultural artefact of the West, alien and inappropriate for, for instance, Russia, China, Saudi-Arabia or African countries – and not only by Russian etc. leaders but by the populace themselves. Yet democracy was alien in the Western world as well up to recently and the hostility of the insecure European elites and significant parts of the general population like the petty bourgeoisie against the democratic regimes installed after WW1 led to the dictatorships which led to WW2 (however it has to be noted that without the devastations caused by the Great Depression history would likely have gone in another direction). For the most part of history man has been reluctant or hostile to change and progress and feared it. That people are (relatively) open to progress is a new phenomenon and clusters in the industrialised world. Note that for the most time in history man struggled against nature on a day to day basis and established routines were literally held sacred as providing security, and deviations were seen as great dangers to survival, not in a few cases, because of the usual trial and error method with which innovations come into being, for justified reasons. A friend of mine once worked at a developmental project in Ethiopia. Well, it was largely about transfering money from one pocket to the other, apart from that he made the observation that the major obstacle to change and to do something against the hunger in the land was the ordinary farmer´s resistance to try out new agricultural methods, because they feared that it might lead to bad harvest. From that perspective the brutal policy in communist countries, notably under Stalin and Mao, to modernise agriculture with the intention to end the recurrent famines become apparent and, despite their horrendous execution, not the work of psychopaths (which neither Stalin nor Mao were, though they have nevetheless been highly unpleasant characters), and at least Mao was praised by Henry Kissinger as a moderniser of China, which, as should be remembered, was unable to emerge from its backwardness against the West for 300 years.

This needs to be taken into account adressing the initial question of the threat whether democracy is applicable for the Middle East or more general in many parts of the world. In order for democracy, innovation and modernisation to succeed it needs to lead to positive results in the first place. The hostility in Europe soon faded (apart from the most memorable consequence of Nazism/Fascism and WW2) when European countries became (economically) successful, however the conditions of the golden age of postwar prosperity in the Western world were in parts contingent, local and unrepeatable, we were lucky, but there are also other opportunities to be lucky, for instance being a late moderniser who initially just has to copy everything and profit from the lessons learned by predecessors in order to progress relatively smoothly and at fast pace like China. Yes, people in Russia, China or Saudi-Arabia may be unfavorable to liberal democracy, maybe also out of an inferiority complex-triggered cultural narcissism against the Occident, but this does not mean they´re right with their assessment. Time and circumstances may overcome that. Of course it has to be noted that social structures and mentalities influence a lot whether liberal democracy can be an option. Western countries were not composed of multiethnical tribal societies with clientilist structures and they were not overly corrupt. Yet China is an example for a highly corrupt and authoritarian country which is (at least at the moment) (economically) successful. In general in should be avoided to look at single factors as supposedly major determinants of how societies respectively complex systems may develop. It is the interplay of many factors which make up for it. Yeah, we are relatively helpless and incompetent foreseeing the future, but the best approach is to know all the single theoretical models and to keep your models open.