November 5, 2017 by John Bruce Leonard
The Atheistic State, Part IV
The Hollow State
EVERY SOCIETY is producer and product of that people which composes it. In all healthy societies, there is a reciprocal action between city and citizen, by which the city improves its members in their innermost fiber, and enjoys in turn those city-wide benefits and betterments which flow naturally from that improvement, in terms, for instance, of military and economic strength, but also in terms of the caliber of rulers, the prosperity and peace of the whole in the prosperity and peace of the parts, social cohesion, and the artistic and cultural flights which become possible to a people duly readied for them. Because the core is sound, the plant grows hale and vigorous. To use an Aristotelian distinction, the people are like to the matter and the city to the form. And thus, the very idea of “rule by the people” means—to substitute matter for form, to produce a formless society.
Now, life is not life in function of mass and matter. Mass and matter in and of themselves, unmitigated by any higher principle, are precisely dead, precisely non-life. It is value which makes life life, the searching, ceaselessly striving aim for something higher, greater, more beautiful. (This is why science, which is essentially value-retarded, will never comprehend life, no matter how rich it be in funds, nor how diligent in its efforts.) And it is the height of the value toward which a given form of life aims which determines and indeed constitutes its quality and its caliber. But when it ceases altogether to aim, when its “aims” become neutral, when the direction of these aims is given to be decided by the drifting masses, when these aims become dispersive, confused, arbitrary—that makes for dissolution and finally for demise. Life without an aim, a goal, a love, has already given itself over to that liquidation of forces which is called death: it is already essentially moribund.
This is the root meaning of nihilism, and it is the fundamental reason as well that nihilism is associated with valueless materialism.
Secular democracy—the atheistic state—sucks from the core of society all its highest yearning and meaning, its highest purpose, and replaces these at best with purely mechanical and animalistic goals and ambitions. The result is and cannot help but be a disanimate, dispirited, devalued society, a society which is essentially void, and which stands somewhere between a vigorous but bestial barbarism and an empty grave.
The atheistic state is therefore the hollow state. It has no raison d’être, no guiding principle or purpose, save the basest or the most negative. It is but an empty shell, destined either to collapse or to be filled with new meaning. It is a husk awaiting new vim.
Supposing that divinity is linked to creation, to inspiration, to breathing life into death—and there is surely no dearth of precedents for such a supposition—and supposing therefore that man is at his most divine when he exercises this prerogative of the gods, in the full ownership of his ambiguous state as “spirit made flesh,” in full awareness of his enigmatic position between beast and god, between soil and star—supposing all of this, it likewise appears that the atheistic state is paradoxically the best occasion for the highest deeds of humanity. The atheistic state, paradoxically, is the welcome and ready ground for the “divine madness” of which Plato wrote.
Yet it is also and by an almost tragic coincidence the least able to produce men of such heights as might profit from that golden occasion. Its movement is ever down, its force and pull are telluric. It is the enemy of form, of art; it is atomistic and individualistic—therefore relativistic—therefore unphilosophical. It opposes all greatness of soul and body, all nobility, all higher love, and vaunts this opposition as its “progress” and its superiority over all other possible forms and all past ages. As if by a secret law, it tends to make man into precisely what it believes he is: the chance assemblage of as many bits of spiritless matter, no greater than the sum of his parts, entirely comprehensible and manipulable through his pieces alone, like a machine, a computer, or a robot.
That farmer who cultivates the same crop year after year in his property will perforce exhaust the earth, and his crops will grow wan and grim. He must let his field lay fallow atimes, that the wild growth of weeds and the thickening life of insects and little beasts might rejuvenate the slackened soil and inject new vigor into the fruits of his yet hypothetic harvest. No different are the generations of human beings, who are in need atimes of a degree of laxity, repose, decline, even chaos, even decadence and degeneration, to quicken their spirits and their blood. The fallow society is democracy, in which the most marvelous assortment of forms and the most jarring and garish combination of colors and qualities is assembled and thrown together into a stew, a veritable “melting pot,” within which however many substances are combined which reject and repulse one another and which cannot be joined together. Chance and fortuitous unions arise here and there in this madness of friend and foe, of like and unlike, and some new and unheard of combination might produce a spark of greatness. Democracy is a system of government which is consigned most surely to the goddess Fortuna: from her reign, new kings may rise, and the Great Cycle of human civilization might tend upward.
But modern democracy, with its scientism and its secularism, is that system of government designed to overcome Fortuna. Its notion of progress has no place for cyclical growth; it does not conceive of the growth of humanity and society as, for instance, the growth of a tree, with its wax and its wane, but rather as a linear movement ahead, which is unnatural and therefore must be made artificial. It does not know the art of working the cycle, guiding the decline and the rise, toward a grand economy of energy and an overall favoring of the highest growth; it seeks rather to obviate this art altogether. But just as the attempt to eliminate recession in our “economies” leads sooner or later to an “economic crisis” of national or global proportions, capable of shaking everything to its very foundations, so the attempt to instate a non-faltering and non-cyclical human progress leads of a course to a moment of breakage and violent rupture which might bring the destruction of governments and the upheaval of all extant orders. One might cap the geysers as one finds them; but one thereby adds that much more power to the volcano, whose eruption cannot be suppressed by any human art.
The achievement of the atheistic state in our day, upon which we spend so much pride, as if we had happened upon the only reasonable form of society, is in fact the achievement of a society which is promised to the rifest squandering. Once that road has been chosen, there can be no turning back, for it is an ensorcelled way which appears ever to rise even as it sets one upon an unstoppable downward slide. All voyagers here, whose eyes are blinded by the spell, believe their speed is but their eagerness to climb, together with the fantastic new means they have invented to aid them in that climb. In truth they are already in free-fall.
The field is tended by the farmer, and its course is guided by him; but the atheistic state is a field without a farmer. It is a field given over therefore to an unwholesome wildness and to an ever more monstrous or mediocre humanity. No hand to guide it, no will to govern it, no unified and ordered end to give it scope and purpose, the atheistic state is masterless and unmastered, and for that reason its end will be determined by nothing other than chance. The state which wishes more than any other to eliminate accident, the society which is nothing other than the attempt to conquer Fortuna by denying her existence, is the only state, the only society, whose very destiny is given over exclusively to Fortuna’s hands. The atheistic state is naught but a grand alter in reverence to goddess it most denies, and we its citizens are naught but the sacrifices brought to garnish the offering. Well would we be counseled, then, to resurrect the worship of those deities which our state denies.