Column: The Fire Is Here

Heathen Chinese —  November 29, 2015 — 49 Comments

Five people protesting the police killing of Jamar Clark, a 24-year-old black man, are shot and injured by a group of white men in Minneapolis. A candidate for the United States Presidency says that a database for all Muslims is “certainly something we should start thinking about.” When asked the difference between such an idea and Nazi Germany’s registration of Jews and other minorities, his only reply was, “You tell me, you tell me. Why don’t you tell me.” The same candidate’s white supporters physically attack a black heckler at a rally; the candidate states in an interview, “Maybe he should have been roughed up.” In Greece, the neo-fascist political party Golden Dawn, which has no relation to the occult organization, became the third leading party in the country by winning 7% of the vote in the elections this September, approximately 500,000 votes.

[Public Domain / Wikipedia]

[Public Domain / Wikipedia]

What do Pagans and Polytheists see when they read the news; when they look at history? Do they see deviations from an inevitable progressive march from animism and polytheism to monotheism to atheism, from savagery to barbarism to civilization? Or do they see the snake of the ouroboros choking on its own tail time and time again? Do they see what Walter Benjamin described in 1940 — what the Angel of History sees? “Where we see the appearance of a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe, which unceasingly piles rubble on top of rubble and hurls it before his feet.” Or as Rhyd Wildermuth wrote recently, “History doesn’t really ‘repeat itself,’ but it’s full of repeating forms.”

Benjamin, looking at the current events of his own time, wrote that those who viewed the rise of fascism as a regression from some sort of historically-ordained “progress” only hindered the struggle against it. He wrote, “The astonishment that the things we are experiencing in the 20th century are ‘still’ possible is by no means philosophical. It is not the beginning of knowledge, unless it would be the knowledge that the conception of history on which it rests is untenable.”

When the new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau explains the demographics of his newly-appointed Cabinet by saying “Because it’s 2015,” he displays the same kind of historical blindness that Benjamin critiques. Have the Laws of History decreed that sexism, racism and fascism are not possible in 2015, that they are mere fossils from the past? Should we greet fascism’s continuity and its re-emergence with astonishment? Or with preparedness?

In a fragment from The Arcades Project, Benjamin suggested an alternate conception of history. “Marx says that revolutions are the locomotives of world history. But the situation may be quite different. Perhaps revolutions are not the train ride, but the human race grabbing for the emergency brake.” Can you hear the reverberating echo of the final prophecy of The Morrígan at the Second Battle of Mag Tuired (section 167)? Do you hear the last gasps of the Race of Iron described by Hesiod in Works and Days, as Aidos (Shame) and Nemesis (Retribution) “forsake mankind” (lines 170-201)?

An anti-progressive conception of history requires radically different ideas about death and ancestry as well. Pagans and Polytheists tend to think about these ideas frequently anyway…and what’s more, to live them, to embody them, to experience them directly. These ideas are powerful and dangerous, as can be seen by the popularity of Evola among fascists. From an anti-racist and anti-fascist position, however, we can claim James Baldwin as an Ancestor and Prophet who spoke about these same ideas with refreshing clarity.

[Public Domain / Wikipedia]

James Baldwin. [Photo Credit: Allan Warren / Wikipedia]

Tragedy

In his 1963 book The Fire Next Time, Baldwin wrote that the veneer of politics is used by white Americans to conceal the inescapable fact of death:

Behind what we think of as the Russian menace lies what we do not wish to face, and what white Americans do not face when they regard a Negro: reality—the fact that life is tragic. Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time.

The word “tragic,” of course, traces its etymology back to worship of Dionysos in ancient Greece, to the views of fate and limited human agency put forth by ancient playwrights such as Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. The philosopher Albert Camus defined the “tragic” condition as being characterized not just by death and absurdity, but by self-awareness of one’s situation: “The workman of today works everyday in his life at the same tasks, and his fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious.”

The awareness and acceptance of the inevitability of death can be seen in many different cultures, in many different traditions and texts. For example, in Homer’s Iliad:

As is the generation of leaves, so is that of humanity.
The wind scatters the leaves on the ground, but the live timber
burgeons with leaves again in the season of spring returning.
So one generation of men will grow while another
dies. (6.146-150, trans. Lattimore)

Or in Óðinn’s words in the Hávamál:

Cattle die,
kindred die,
we ourselves also die;
but I know one thing
that never dies,
judgement on each one dead (section 77, trans. Thorpe)

These themes of successive generations and enduring judgement shall return later in this essay. But first, we must look at the conclusions Baldwin draws from this basic fact. Far from despair, Baldwin exhorts his readers toward an ethic of celebration and passion and responsibility. His words read like the invocation of the Descendants that they are:

It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death—ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible to life: it is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return. One must negotiate this passage as nobly as possible, for the sake of those who are coming after us.

Baldwin sees white Americans’ collective willful refusal to acknowledge and “earn” their deaths as the underlying fear that dominates race relations in America: “But white Americans do not believe in death, and this is why the darkness of my skin so intimidates them. And this is also why the presence of the Negro in this country can bring about its destruction.” In other words, he speaks of the need to acknowledge the mortality of an entire country or civilization, not just of the individuals within its power structure.

The concept of “race,” after all, is ultimately tied to a question of power, an attempt to guarantee a certain societal and cosmological order. The link between the fear of death and the desire for control can be seen in ancient texts as ancient as the Epic of Gilgamesh, where the powerful king of Uruk searches for the plant of immortality, only to have it stolen by a serpent as he slept. Power, Baldwin reminds us, is in fact inherently unstable, even though many people think that it is a guarantor of stability:

It is the responsibility of free men to trust and to celebrate what is constant—birth, struggle, and death are constant, and so is love, though we may not always think so—and to apprehend the nature of change, to be able and willing to change. I speak of change not on the surface but in the depths—change in the sense of renewal.

But renewal becomes impossible if one supposes things to be constant that are not—safety, for example, or money, or power. One clings then to chimeras, by which one can only be betrayed, and the entire hope—the entire possibility—of freedom disappears.

Walter Benjamin might say that the possibility of freedom has in fact been betrayed time and time again throughout the history of class-stratified societies, and that “progress” is yet another “chimera.” And in the 7th century BCE, Semonides of Argos wrote of the folly of clinging to false hopes, which are always projected into the uncertain future:

There is no mortal who does not believe that next year
he will arrive as a friend to Wealth and material goods.
But one man is first overtaken by hated old age
before he reaches his goal. Other men are destroyed
by wretched disease. Others, overcome by War,
Hades sends down under the black earth. (trans. Mastronarde)

Or as Medea said in Seneca’s version of her story, “Whoso has naught to hope, let him despair of naught.” (163)

[Public Domain / Wikipedia]

Frederick Douglass. [Public Domain / Wikipedia]

Ancestors

Death, however, is constant. And so too are the dead, and the ancestors. In a 1971 conversation with the anthropologist Margaret Mead, Baldwin described the experience of drawing upon the strength and legacy of one’s ancestors, a feeling that is difficult to define but which can be recognized by anyone who has experienced it:

Baldwin: One’s ancestors have given one something, just the same. It is something difficult to get at. You know it when you are in trouble, in real trouble […] It is not exactly that you hear a voice. It’s just that you pull yourself together to confront whatever it is according to some principle which does not exactly exist in your memory but which has been given to you.
Mead: In the name of your ancestors.

Baldwin made clear that when he speaks of ancestors, he is speaking not only of those ancestors who are biologically related, “Let us say I can claim Frederick Douglass as one of my ancestors. I am very proud of him because I think he was a great man and in some way handed something down: his indignation was handed down; his clarity was handed down.” The key concept, then, is that he “handed something down,” something that future generations can draw upon.

Mead responded, “We have a term for this in anthropology: mythical ancestors. […] They are spiritual and mental ancestors, they’re not biological ancestors, but they are terribly important.” The concept is familiar to many Pagans and Polytheists, many of whom have their own terms for these types of ancestors as well: ancestors of spirit, ancestors of tradition, the Mighty Dead. And in ancient Greece, the war dead as well as certain cult heroes were honored by entire cities, not just by their immediate families. Tyrtaeus of Sparta wrote of the honors due to both warriors who died in battle and to their descendants:

This man they lament, young and old alike,
the whole city is affected with a painful longing
and his tomb and children are conspicuous for fame among men,
and his children’s children and race thereafter.
Never are his noble fame and his name forgotten,
but he is immortal, though lying under the earth. (trans. West)

This notion of fame—or infamy, or any other type of experience—being passed down a line of descent is important. This can particularly be seen when Baldwin discusses his relationship with Christianity.  He was a Christian preacher in his youth, but left the church after three and a half years. He framed his relationship to Christianity as one of personally “being there” or not in certain historical situations:

Baldwin: I wasn’t there among the early Christians in the Middle East.
Mead: That’s right.
Baldwin: But I was on those cattle boats which brought me here, brought me here in the name of Jesus Christ. […]
Mead: They did not bring you here in the name of Jesus Christ! That is a perversion.
Baldwin: One of the boats was called “The Good Ship Jesus.”

What did Baldwin mean when he said “he was there?” He didn’t mean reincarnation of an isolated individual soul. He seems to have meant a certain type of ancestral experience, a certain collapsing of time, an expanded definition of the self, and most importantly, the undeniable and ongoing impact of history on the present. “By the time I was five,” he said, he had been “handed down” his ancestors’ suffering not just by genetic descent but by his first-hand experience of that history continuing to play itself out:

Baldwin: I had to accept that I was on a slave boat once.
Mead: No.
Baldwin: But I was.
Mead: Wait, you were not. Look, you don’t believe in reincarnation?
Baldwin: But my whole life was defined by my history […] by the time I was five by the history written on my brow.

In his 1940 Dusk of Dawn, W.E.B. Du Bois similarly called skin color a “badge” of “a common history,” “a common disaster” and “one long memory.” (p. 33) Du Bois wrote that this badge symbolized an experience shared over time and space:

The physical bond is least and the badge of color relatively unimportant save as a badge; the real essence of this kinship is its social heritage of slavery; the discrimination and insult; and this heritage binds together not simply the children of Africa, but extends through yellow Asia and into the South Seas.

Though his life was “defined” by it since he was five years old, Baldwin still spoke of having to “accept” that history. And what happens when people are unable or unwilling accept their histories? In the words of Walter Benjamin, “not even the dead will be safe from the enemy, if he is victorious. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious.”

At the same time, however, Benjamin wrotes that “fine and spiritual” qualities are present in the class struggle “as confidence, as courage, as humor, as cunning, as steadfastness,” and that “they will, ever and anon, call every victory which has ever been won by the rulers into question.” Similarly, in The Fire Next Time, Baldwin described the black children who walked through hostile crowds to newly-integrated schools as “improbable aristocrats” possessed of true nobility of spirit. He wrote:

The Negro boys and girls who are facing mobs today come out of a long line of improbable aristocrats—the only genuine aristocrats this country has produced. I say “this country” because their frame of reference was totally American. They were hewing out of the mountain of white supremacy the stone of their individuality.

Walter Benjamin. [Fair Use / Wikipedia]

Walter Benjamin. [Fair Use / Wikipedia]

Responsibility

Baldwin’s ideas about “accepting” his history are closely related to his ideas about responsibility. We have seen Baldwin’s call to be “responsible to life.” Now we see the idea of taking responsibility—which is often conflated with guilt, but is in fact a different concept—for history, and for the failures of the present moment. In his conversation with Mead, Baldwin not only identified himself with the slave on the boat, but with the Africans who sold other Africans to Europeans as well:

Baldwin: I’m not guiltless, either. I sold my brothers or my sisters—
Mead: When did you?
Baldwin: Oh, a thousand years ago, it doesn’t make any difference.

Ironically but tellingly, Baldwin begins The Fire Next Time with an epigraph from Rudyard Kipling, which was originally intended to be a “measured” encouragement of U.S. imperialism in the Philippines. But subsequently it was used by Baldwin to call for a true reckoning, a true judgement:

Take up the White Man’s burden
Ye dare not stoop to less
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloak your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your Gods and you.

Taken as a justification for colonization, the “White Man’s burden” is a disgusting lie. Taken as a commentary on collective responsibility, however, it bears further thought. In his conversation with Mead, Baldwin asked, “How does a civilization distinguish from an individual? It’s a loaded question.”

Enlightenment thought has led to the glorification of the rational individual. In Benjamin and Baldwin, however, we find traces of older views of the relationship between the individual and society. Michael Löwy, for example, called Benjamin “a prophet; not like someone who tries to see the future, like a Greek oracle, but in the Old Testament sense: that is, one who calls the people’s attention to future dangers.” Baldwin willingly adopted the same term for himself:

Mead: You’re being an Old Testament person.
Baldwin: Prophet.
Mead: You’re taking an Old Testament position, that the sins of the fathers are visited on their children.
Baldwin: They are.

This position, though, is far from unique to the Old Testament. For example, the Athenian lawmaker Solon wrote in his hymn “To the Muses” that Zeus’s punishment for greed and injustice could be intergenerational as well:

Such is the vengeance of Zeus. […]
One man pays the price at once, another later on. For those who escape
In themselves, and gods’ approaching doom does not reach them,
It comes in any case thereafter. Innocents pay the price,
Either their children or their later descendants. (trans. West)

Similarly, Herodotus relates that when Gyges usurped the kingdom of Lydia, the Delphic Oracle of Apollon predicted “that the Heraclids would have their revenge on Gyges in the fifth generation: a prophecy to which neither the Lydians nor their kings paid any attention, until it was actually fulfilled,” in the reign of Croesus (1.13, trans. De Selincourt). And a Chinese prayer to Guan Di warns that those who “entice others to do evil, and do not even a bit of good” themselves will bring down consequences for their entire family: “Retribution will fall upon them, their sons, and their grandsons.”

Baldwin’s position, however, is more nuanced. He speaks of the way in which a crime committed once can be committed over and over again, by the act of forgetting, by the act of refusing to accept:

Mead: A crime that was committed a long time ago.
Baldwin: The crime that is committed until it is accepted that it was committed. If you don’t accept, if I don’t accept whatever it is I have done— […] I ‘m doomed to do it forever. If I don’t accept what I have done.

He points out the paradox of an entire system that denies personal responsibility: who is responsible for creating such a system—a system not just political or economic, but a “system of reality?” It can only be “all of us:”

We agreed this morning that guilt and responsibility were not the same thing. But we have to agree, too, that we both have produced, all of us have produced, a system of reality which we cannot in an any way whatever control; what we call history is perhaps a way of avoiding responsibility for what has happened, is happening, in time. [emphasis added]

And thus, he returns to the importance of a personal ethic, of personal honor:

What I am trying to get at is if any particular discipline—whether it be Christianity, Buddhism or LSD, God forbid—does not become a matter of your personal honor, your private convictions, then it’s simply a cloak which you can wear or throw off. If it is not interiorized, as we would say these days, then it really is meaningless.

Joshua Tree National Park, June 2015. [Public Domain / NPS]

Joshua Tree National Park, June 2015. [Public Domain / NPS]

Vengeance and Salvation

If the “system of reality” we have constructed lies beyond the responsibility of any one person or organization, if history itself is “a way of avoiding responsibility,” what can cut through this Gordian Knot? In The Fire Next Time, Baldwin warns of “historical vengeance, a cosmic vengeance.” A divine vengeance, an ancestral vengeance:

The intransigence and ignorance of the white world might make that vengeance inevitable—a vengeance that does not really depend on, and cannot really be executed by, any person or organization, and that cannot be prevented by any police force or army: historical vengeance, a cosmic vengeance, based on the law that we recognize when we say, “Whatever goes up must come down.”

Baldwin had already written these words by the time he sat down with Margaret Mead. He had written, too, of the mistake of “clinging to chimeras.” And so, Baldwin sought to slay the “chimera” of American self-importance, shocking Mead greatly:

Baldwin: From my point of view, America does not matter so very much.
Mead: What does?
Baldwin: Mexico matters.
Mead: You think—
Baldwin: Vietnam matters.
Mead: You think that Mexico and Vietnam can save the world? I mean for the future?
Baldwin: I know that we will not.
Mead: Well, if we don’t save it—
Baldwin: We won’t.
Mead: Jimmy, if we don’t save it we will destroy it.
Baldwin: We won’t. My point precisely.
Mead: And Mexico and Vietnam will have nothing to do with it.
Baldwin: My point precisely.
Mead: All right. You are saying, then, the world is going to be destroyed; there is no use doing anything about it?
Baldwin: No. I don’t intend to be passive. But America will not save us.

Like Semonides of Argos, Baldwin accepts the reality of the present without delusion about the future: “The future doesn’t exist for me. […] I am not romantic. I am not at home here and never will be.”

Let us, too, take a clear look at the time we find ourselves in. The Fire Next Time is couched as a warning of an impending apocalypse, which could perhaps be averted if the “intransigence and ignorance of the white world” are abandoned. But this has not happened. And just as the crime is committed anew until it is accepted, so is the destruction of the world an ongoing process, not a “future” one.

Let us avoid the pitfall of the Christians who are eternally trying to predict the date of the Rapture, forced to forever re-calculate as the proclaimed date arrives and passes. Time is not linear progress, but cyclical, compressed and eternal. The fire is not coming “next time,” it is already here, and it has been here.

And as we began this article with reference to the police shooting of Jamar Clark, so we end it with a final quote from James Baldwin:

I don’t care how well the cops are educated. I know what their role is in my life, and I will not accept it.

What more needs to be said?

Selected Bibliography

  • Baldwin, James. The Fire Next Time. New York: The Dial Press, 1963.
  • Baldwin, James and Margaret Mead. A Rap On Race. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1971.
  • Benjamin, Walter. “On the Concept of History.” 1940.

Heathen Chinese

Posts

Heathen Chinese writes the TWH monthly column, "Tiger's Leap." He is the son of Chinese immigrants and is a diasporic Chinese polytheist living in the San Francisco Bay Area (stolen Ohlone land). He practices ancestor veneration and worships (among others) the warrior god Guan Di, who has had a presence in California since the mid-1800s.
  • Vitrbjorn

    Sorry, but Baldwin has/had no idea what he talks about, no nation saves any other nation but its own interests. The only color that matters is the color of money.

    • Robert Mathiesen

      Nations are mere imaginal constructs, full of sound and fury, and signifying nothing. They can “save” nothing, and they have no real interests of their own outside of the imaginal sphere. (Military forces are not nations.) Ancestors, though dead, are far more real than any nation ever can or will be. But ancestors are one’s personal heritage, not one’s ethnic or national heritage at all.

    • Heathen Chinese

      That’s actually what I understand him to be saying: no “nation” is going to save the world. As Robert says below, that’s because “nations” are what Baldwin called “chimeras,” that betray any hope of connecting to what’s really real. And as you point out, they serve the interests of capitalism.

  • Maybe if we weren’t so busy slapping labels on people, we could celebrate our commonality instead of hiding behind our differences.

    • Heathen Chinese

      I think that Baldwin is saying something along those lines. He’s addressing people who accept the label of “white” (which tends to be an “acceptance” of default, of being part of an “unmarked” category, rather than “acceptance” in the sense of accepting death or fate), and saying that if they continue to project their fears onto those they label “black” (or whatever the category is–“immigrant,” “Muslim”), it destroys all possibility of finding commonality.

      • I disagree, but since I don’t want to turn this into a shouting match, I will leave it there.

  • Rosaleen Dawn Penner

    There is so much going on in this piece, that it deserves several reads and deep contemplation. This is one of the very best provocative works presented here at The Wild Hunt. Brilliant.

    • Robert Mathiesen

      I agree. It has deepened my understanding of the world.

    • Heathen Chinese

      Thank you, I’m glad it spoke to you.

  • Cara Schulz

    If I can interject something related to these concepts.
    In ancient Greece, and among modern Hellenic, there is the concept of the household. It is the people, the structure, and the items inside. But when I say people, I mean everyone -past, present, and future. All your ancestors. All those currently alive in your family. And all those generations to come. What your ancestors did impacts you and future generations. What you do affects your ancestors and future generations. What your descendants do affects you and your ancestors.

    It’s all one thread.

    • Robert Mathiesen

      This is very much my own sense of family/household (“oikos,” I think).

    • Heathen Chinese

      Yes, thank you. And what a scary thought how much capitalist “economics” disregards the ancestors and descendants, when it comes from the same word “oikos.”

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  • Christopher Scott Thompson

    This is brilliant.

    • Heathen Chinese

      Thank you very much, I’m honored you think so! Actually, I was thinking a lot of your Gods and Radicals article about “honor” when I wrote this. There’s the “personal honor” and integrity bit, which of course is a more modern usage of the word than a traditional one. But then there’s the larger social dimension as well. For example, people of color aren’t supposed to make claims to being “aristocrats” in American society, yet Baldwin does so boldly, and I for one think he’s right to do so.

      • Christopher Scott Thompson

        That pleases me greatly. In my pagan writing I try to use the lore to show other ways of seeing our world. (Rather than treating it literally as a blueprint.) I think you’ve done something like that here, only much more powerfully.

        • Heathen Chinese

          Absolutely. Even in antiquity, there was no single worldview everyone adhered to. And so looking to the past should open up new ways to look at the world, rather than restricting our field of vision.

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  • You might just be the most brilliant Polytheist writer in existence, mate.

    Also, I highly recommend Monsieur Dupont’s essay, “Class Hatred.” I read it last night in an anarchist info-shop while waiting for a dark-chamber music band (whose music is all about the dead) and all I could think was that Polytheism and Anarcho-Marxism has already merged:

    https://libcom.org/library/preamble

    • Heathen Chinese

      Thank you for the words of praise, friend, and for the link. “The class war begins in the desecration of our ancestors.” So good!

    • lyradora

      Dark-chamber music band? Interest piqued. 🙂

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  • edhubbard

    The tragedy is that White people is a fairly modern construct, developed in the United States itself. In Europe, the people were of their nationalities, and the Melting Pot we create gave birth to the overall concept of White People. As a citizen of the USA, and having dealt with racism within me, given to me by my inheritance from my parents, I recognize the fire which burns, hate, fear and anger, and its destructive power. USA is suffering deeply from a lack of roots, a lack of kinship. It is also its strength to through off shackles to which we can be better. This is a good essay, very thoughtful, and recognizes that most Americans, no matter the race or nationality, have very little idea of how they got here, or why they are here at all.

    • Robert Mathiesen

      Even in Europe, the modern “nationalities” are all, without even a single exception, fairly recent imaginal constructs. This is not to say that people didn’t share histories or identities. They certainly did. But this sharing histories and identities is a far cry from what we now understand as “nations.” Some “nations” (in our current sense of the term) were constructed as recently as the 19th and even the 20th century. Even the oldest “nations” seem to me to have been given their current construction not very long before the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), when the notion of “sovereign states/nations” was instituted as the basis for a new European system of governance and order.

      • edhubbard

        True.

  • ChristopherBlackwell

    I have watched the White culture systematically destroying itself for over forty years. I began to lose any future interest in it after my experiences in Vietnam if a building were in this and of continue we would tear it down before it fell down and hurt someone. Instead in see people trying to prop it up even while those i power continuing to gut it from the inside. That is suicide.

    Where I may differ from the radicals is I see Marxism as useless and out of date as Capitalism is, or any other Ism. We face a much more difficult world, a ravaged world with many of its systems shifting wildly back and forth without pattern for an unknown while until it slowly shifts into a new pattern somewhere centuries down the line. This is not stoppable the typing point was far back. It will hit and hurt all of us food shortage, disasters, collapse of civil structure, disease, and much dying. If any survive, if mankind does not go extinct, a rather big if of a question, then we will start much from scratch. This has happened before, whether or not mankind ever reached this technological level, he has started civilizations going back far beyond the mere 5000 years we claim for him. Just recently in Southern Africa ruins of a city of 30,000 years was discovered. I would suspect we may find off shore even far older cities. However each ad every civilizations has collapse much the same way as we are ourselves will collapse, and in fact are doing. So our survival is the question as a species ad so far nothing that we have done has worked well, or for long.

    So I suspect none of the ideas of the ancestors are going to work either. We are going to have to make a break with the past and invent something radically new, untried, perhaps something that we, as of yet, cannot imagine. I admit that I have no idea what this new thing will be. But our arrogance, our pride, and all of our alleged knowledge has brought us to exactly the place of great danger that we find ourselves so none of it will be our solution. We must dream a new dream, discover how to make it a reality, and know it may take a great many generations to make it happen if we can avoid first going extinct.

    After all extinction is the ultimate death of a species and the most common experience of most species ever existing on this planet. We have yet to proven whether this experiment of the gods, called mankind is worthy of existence. We have not yet been here long enough to show that.

    That is all. I find writing late at light is often beyond comprehension of anyone. Perhaps even my own comprehension when I look at it tomorrow.

    • Please define the “white culture.”

      I spent the other day with some Aussie friends, I guarantee you they have a different outlook than the French or the Scottish. One friend from Queensland is always telling me how vile peanut butter is (she sweats by Vegemite).

      Here in America, my family is mainly from the Southwest by way of the South. It’s very different than the “culture” in the Northeast or even California (although California is usually put in the Southwest). Southern Arizona is a completely different feel than Northern Arizona, which is completely different than New Mexico. Colorado and Texas are different still. I’m not as familiar with the Midwest, but it’s also different. It’s called “flyover country” for good reasons, and not the same reason.

      • ChristopherBlackwell

        Neowayland,
        I am aware of the different versions of culture country by country, and even in different parts of our United States y ow family was Southern from 1645 until my own generation. I was born and raised in Southern Calfornia, and I have done a it of traveling living for several years in Oregon, and now New Mexico I also spent a year in Vietnam, also in Okinawa and the Philippines, and five months of bicycling through England, both Irelands, Wales, Scotland, the Isle of Mann. I spent eighteen years mining throughout Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.

        However the United States also is a Country where many of the people cut completely from their roots as immigrants to become AMERICAN. We have isolated ourselves fro other countries and mostly are only interested in the from the stand point of how they affect Americas. If they go along with our wants they are deemed friendly and if they disagree with us they are deemed to be anti-American deserving of our scorn, and perhaps even our punishment.

        We are arrogant assuming that we are always the best in everything and that we know better than anyone else. We are also a country to has been at war most of its history whether in large wars elsewhere, or little wars against people within our own orders. We believe we have the right to meddle and eve change governments of other people in order to make our corporations more powerful and a long history of basicly only caring about the rich, famous and powerful and the only if they White Anglo Saxon, or perhaps Northern European.

        Despite our much ballyhooed diversity, we have a history of mistreating our minorities and requiring the to give up their own cultures to become imitation White, then saying they still are not and are still inferior, that we are only nice enough to bother to tolerate, even when we do not. We have them same history with almost all of our Immigrants shaming the to give up their culture in the race to become American and accepted. Often this leads to their children becoming ashamed of their parents still appearing to be foreign and not becoming America enough.

        As to our history we managed not to talk about most of it especially the negative parts of Anglo Saxon ancestors behavior preferring to mostly talk only what are is seen as things that justify our country and prove that our Anglo-Saxon ancestors alone created this country from a empty wilderness and only they were hard working, and moral with often with god holding us to be as special as we consider our selves to be.

        If any of our other people wish that some of their story be told we are insulted and feel that they are being pushy to even want to be mentioned plus that they might want to tell of some of the evil things our own ancestors have done, and we ourselves still do to them. That does not fit with our apparent need for a grand story of our White ancestors move from success to success and to greater perfection that we see to be in need of.

        Our legal system, our political system, our educational system, even medical care, all exists primarily to protect the power of White people over all others, whom we see as a threat to culture and civilization itself, if we do not maintain the control that we are rapidly losing, and will lose.

        That is what I have learned being an alleged White person and living in the pro-White Culture for the last 70 years. I do not hate this culture, but I am saddened that we have resisted evolving and adapting to the real world, preferring to live in our illusions. Now perhaps you understand what I mean by White Culture.

        • There is one very important thing that you’ve completely overlooked.

          We’re the nation that changes. We’re the nation that adapts. And if we don’t like what happens, we choose differently.

          Can you think of another nation in the history of the World where you would be allowed to say what you just said?

          Can you name another nation that would choose to be different just so others can be a part of our national experience?

          I’m a libertarian. I’m one of the first to admit that we don’t have it right yet. But we’re getting better.

          The one thing that drives me bonkers about all this is the constant political victimhood and scapegoating. My duty is not to abase myself because of “white privilege” (which I’ve never seen successfully defined). My duty is to make sure that human rights are defended.

          Because you don’t have rights if you’re “white” or “black” or transgender or female or a member of a bowling league. You have rights because you are human and the best way to keep those rights is to make sure every other human has the same rights. Allies not servants. Or as Starhawk puts it so often, power with instead of power over.

          Forget the victimhood stuff. All that says is that you believe some people can never succeed on their own. That says that some people will always need The Man to make things right. That some people are doomed to perpetual dependence no matter what they do or say.

          I don’t believe that.

          I can’t deliver perfection. All I can do is make things a little better today. And maybe leave the place a little nicer than when I found it.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            “white privilege” (which I’ve never seen successfully defined)I hope you’re not giving us circular logic, under which you never see it successfully defined because you reject each try without reflection and it is therefore unsuccessful.Assuming we’re on level ground, examples of white privilege include being able to answer the door in old, tatty clothes and not having to worry that I’m reinforcing stereotypes about my race; finding people who look like me in illustrations of books my kids bring home from school; finding “skin colored” bandages in my skin color; not being asked for ID where I work once the building security guard has seen me a few times; not having to tell my son to refrain from sassing or stare-contesting cops or he might be killed.Some might seem trivial in isolation but if one’s life is a blizzard of such slights it adds up and tells one something about one’s status.

          • Is that “white privilege” or failure to acknowledge human rights?

            Let me tell you a true story.

            Years ago, the Arizona Legislature put a proposal for Martin Luther King Day on the ballot. Almost everyone thought it was a good idea, but there was a real question of which other holiday would have to be removed to pay for it. The Legislature decided that Columbus Day would no longer be a state holiday. Of course, this made the Italian Americans upset, and they gathered enough signatures for a competing bill to add MLK day and keep Columbus Day. Still another ballot added MLK Day but did away with another holiday. No one bill got enough votes to put MLK Day on the calendar with all the contradictory proposals.

            Arizona was promptly labeled a racist state. It lost quite a few major tourism events, including the chance to host the 1993 Superbowl.

            Soon another proposal was made for MLK Day, and this time no competing proposals made it to the ballot. This time around, no one wanted to risk MLK Day not passing, so there was only one proposal on the ballot. It passed overwhelmingly.

            To my knowledge, Arizona is the ONLY state to ever put MLK Day to a public vote.

            Twice.

            And going by the raw numbers, MLK Day passed both times.

            Yet to hear many Americans, Arizona is STILL a racist state that doesn’t care about minorities because it voted down MLK Day.

            So is Arizona a racist state? The answer is not as clear as we would assume.

            The answer is also that you shouldn’t have to jump through someone else’s hoops to prove your moral worth.

          • “Is that “white privilege” or failure to acknowledge human rights?”

            Why do you think that it can only be one or the other, or that the two are even separate? We can talk about how racism is the Western manifestation of a caste system (which it is), does that make it more comprehensible in your variation of libertarian terminology?

            Also, you asked above to define “white culture”. It is the Faustian Culture/Civilization, which is described thoroughly in Spengler (Toynbee too, though not by that specific name; he prefers simply “Western Civilization”, a term also used by Spengler).

            “The answer is also that you shouldn’t have to jump through someone else’s hoops to prove your moral worth.”

            This sounds like a talking-point, rather than anything reasoned. Who is proving their moral worth to whom, and why? You exhibit virtues to whatever degree or you fail to exhibit them to whatever degree, proofs are unnecessary.

          • This goes back to my first post on this thread.

            We get so busy with the labels we forget about the things we share.

            I don’t care about “white” culture, nor do I think that culture is a restrictive thing. I live next to the Diné. I’ve heard some of the Coyote stories that aren’t written down. It’s shaped my outlook and my paganism. I share it because it part of that marvelous diverse human culture.

            I’ve heard New Orleans jazz and Flamenco guitar, and none of it has kept me from enjoying Mozart. I’ve had Chicago and NYC style pizza, that hasn’t stopped me from savoring Tex-Mex. I’ve spent hours at the Exploratorium and hours more at the Phoenix Art Museum, yet I still found joy in a solo flautist playing into a desert canyon.

            We’re human and we have culture. We should share it with each other.

            BTW, when’s the last time you let a monotheist define your morality?

          • “I don’t care about “white” culture”

            This is a demonstrably false statement. You asked about it, you keep talking about it, and you are clearly interested in it. That your interest lies in trying to deny that it exists does not lessen your demonstrated care about the subject. Also, by your examples presenting cultural artifacts as if they were the cultures themselves, you show that you haven’t actually learned yet what is meant by “culture” in a socio-historical sense. It’s not a nebulous term, it has a fairly strict meaning. I strongly suggest boning up on Spengler and Toynbee, at the very least; as historians, their cyclical models accord better with traditional understandings, in my opinion, than the linear, progressive models of Christianity and the Enlightenment. Even summaries available on the internet can help you on the subject, though that isn’t the ideal route to take.

          • I wasn’t the one who brought “white culture” up. I think it’s a divisive phrase. There are so many influences that’s it’s useless to break it out.

            Almost every time I’ve seen the phrases “white culture” or “white privilege” used, it’s been because someone needed a scapegoat.

            Even here, when I try to talk about just how amazing humanity is, people keep dragging in “white culture” to blame.

            Culture is the million different ways we touch one another. We’re letting skin color and nationality get in the way.

          • It’s a meaningful phrase, when one is focusing on the issue of caste in this place at this time. If you need to, so that you can engage with the actual content instead of a peripheral issue (which it was until you picked out that one phrase for closer examination), replace every instance of “white culture” with “Western Society” or some similar equivalent you prefer in your head. It’s substantially the same, though it lessens the rhetorical, emotional shock – perhaps that’s necessary for some to be able to find the meaning instead of being distracted by their traumatic experiences associated with the particular phrase used.

            The term “white culture” gets used in racial discussions to highlight the fact that Faustian society, for historical reasons, has people of predominantly white skin tones populating the highest caste. This is not intended to mean that every person in that caste has lighter skin tones, as there is limited mobility available in any caste system. However, because the primary marker for caste in Faustian culture is a visual, immutable signifier, those who move from lower caste to higher caste who also have darker skin tones find that they cannot enjoy all of the benefits of high caste (see, for example, Forest Whitaker attempting to purchase yogurt).

            Again! This does not mean that every person of low caste in Faustian society has darker skin color! However, due to historical reasons, nearly every person who has darker skin color was placed in the lowest caste – in the US and Australia certainly, and in Europe to a possibly lesser extent (though racial slurs against Pakistanis and others would argue that the attitudes are not really that different), and so the visual signifier of skin color became closely associated with that caste assignment.

            As is always the case, those of low caste are seen by the higher castes as having certain undesirable characteristics: the usual ones are “laziness”, “criminality”, “stupidity” – the whole gamut of slurs that every society points toward those who are congenitally poor. Because, again, of the visual signifier, those attitudes remain demonstrated in practice, so that a white cop-killer terrorist can be taken alive while an unarmed black youth who stole a cigar can be shot to death – the latter has the visual signifier of low caste, and so is perceived as inherently “criminal”, “thuggish”, and “violent”, while the former does not possess that signifier and so can be dealt with as an individual.

            By trying to pretend that there is no skin color or that skin color is meaningless, all we do is prevent ourselves from addressing the issue. Of course, I look at all of this in an historical context myself, and I see it all progressing along the cycle on schedule. The Faustian culture is in its final stages, and the population will soon melt into an undifferentiated whole (by “soon”, I mean “within a couple of centuries”, so there is still much work to do to alleviate present suffering), and the wheel will continue to turn.

          • It’s Original Sin all over again.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Alas, the kind of logic I hoped you wouldn’t use.Have a nice day.

          • ChristopherBlackwell

            The Game of Power is always played the same rules. It does not matter who is playing game. I am 70 years old. I was in the Marines and fought in Vietnam Fall of 1966 to Fall of 1967. From personal experience, I learned that there are no good guys in a war, only bad and worse.

            Of the 3.5 million Vietnamese that died, our forces killed most of them. We dropped more bombs carpet bombing South Vietnam than we dropped in all of World War I and World War II. We did not carpet bomb North Vietnam, nor did we Invade North Vietnam. We dropped over two million tons of Agent Orange. The Vietnamese have had four generations of birth defects since then. Meanwhile our VA stopped our studies on Agent Orange effects on America veterans at third Generation. We never did studies on Agents Yellow, Green, Blue, or White, so we have no idea of what damage that did to our vets and the VA does not want to now.

            That does not make the North Vietnamese good guys neither. As I said there are not any good guys in war, nor in any other branch of the Game of Power.

            We are getting better? In what way? I remember the alleged good old days of the 50s and 60s and so forth.
            Lets see they were killing Black People, American Indians and Latinos, including the police, and that is still true today. Racism is just about as bad again as it was in the 1950s and 1960s.

            Take a look a School segregation. If you look at the schools today you will see that segregation is back again for most of the minority kids. Look at the percentage of Black, Latinos, American Indians in our prison population. We have a far higher percentage of them in prison then we did even back in the 50s and 60s. They get far harsher sentences that White criminals, are far more likely to be harassed by police, beaten, and far more likely to be killed by police.

            When I was a kid through my early adult years, the majority of our middle class were Union factory workers. Thanks to all those nice free trade agreements, all of those jobs are in third World countries and our Corporations get to bring in all in without the duties and tariffs that we used to have to protect small America businesses and worker.

            The only beneficiaries are the stockholders until the next crash. The CEOs have made out far better ever. The big corporations get the majority of our business subsidies, also in the farm industry. These subsidies were supposed to go to small business that needed it and family farms, not the most successful of our corporations.

            So we the taxpayers even provide the larger Corporations with the money to buy our government and get lower taxes and more subsidies. Ninety% of our new jobs are created in small business, not Corporations who move most of their jobs overseas. Even our endless war benefits mainly our largest corporations.

            So how are we getting better? Meanwhile we have created the three major Terrorist Organizations that we are claiming are a great danger to the United States but that actually destroy Muslin countries and kill mostly Muslims, some of those countries that we went in and destroyed first. According to our ally governments that we set up in Iraq and Afghanistan America forces killed about one million civilians in each of the two countries. So the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Daesh [IS] that we created, and are well known bad guys, will have to work a lot harder to catch up with the United States.

            Meanwhile our Corporations are making money supplying and arming both sides. The only moral goal in corporate business is to make the largest possible profit, the method is not important because it is the stockholders that will take the loss, not the officers, and the CEOs running the business.

            Libertarian: cut back on Corrupt Government and turn it all over to our corrupt corporate business interests of our giant corporations. Sounds like a plan.

            We of course are not the only nation playing the game of power, not the first and not the last. It is estimated that by 2020 that the top 1% will have more wealth than the other 99%. However as few of the workers will be able to buy much of anything, I wonder how they plan to keep the world economy going?

            As this being the only country where I can say this, as I have no power to stop it, what does it matter? Not to mention as the internet is fully monitored, either by government, or its boss, the major corporations. They will know where to find me if they want to some day. but ideas once out in the public take on a life of their own. Though they may be buried for a while, they are like un-exploded anti personal mines. They can explode later on, once forgotten about.

          • If you don’t like the game, change it.

            There’s very little I can do about something that happened before I was born. I can’t be held responsible for something that happened before I reached the age of consent. And there is no way on Earth I’m going to buy into “the sins of the fathers.” Viet Nam was a tragedy. It was tragic before the U.S. got involved, and yes, I agree that the the U.S. shouldn’t have gotten involved.

            I also agree that the U.S. should not be involved in the Middle East. I also don’t think there should be restrictions on free speech when someone dissents.

    • Heathen Chinese

      “This is not stoppable the tipping point was far back.” Yes, we passed it some time ago, I think.

      “I see Marxism as useless and out of date as Capitalism:” I agree. Unfortunately, capitalism is still around, and so Marx is still useful to analyze how that system works (though not much use on suggesting what will come next). Which ties into another thing you wrote…

      “I admit that I have no idea what this new thing will be. But our arrogance, our pride, and all of our alleged knowledge has
      brought us to exactly the place of great danger that we find ourselves,
      so none of it will be our solution.” This is beautiful and crucial. I’m skeptical of anyone proposing a solution.

      • Vitrbjorn

        Marxism could work and work very well if they actually got rid of the caste system and leveled the field to where every person is no better or worse than any other person. But as long as there are people who covet money and power then it will never work.

        • Heathen Chinese

          I don’t think it’s a question of intrinsic “human nature.” Various indigenous gatherer-hunter and horticultural cultures have/had ways of keeping power and resources relatively balanced. Marx called it “primitive communism,” but that’s obviously a rather loaded term.

          I was referring to a certain reading of Marx (not necessarily what he intended) that fixates on an inevitable progression from industrial capitalism to socialism to communism. I don’t think that view of history is useful.

  • MadGastronomer

    Very well written, excellent piece. And I almost didn’t read past the introduction and putting the brakes on, because I dislike the entire idea that history has any one direction, and it seemed to me to be merely an argument that it’s really going the other way. Glad I was wrong.

    I’m going to have to stash this away for later reference. I’m working on a book about ancestor worship, and this so beautifully discusses mythic ancestors, and the ancestors of communities of practice and affinity. I love it. I only hope I can write my bit nearly so well.

    Thank you.

    • Heathen Chinese

      Thank you very much. I hope to read your book when you publish it!

      You raise a good point that the introduction can be read as uncritically accepting a “linear decline” model of history (which is just an inverted “linear progress”), especially since I’m quoting Hesiod, just as Evola does–yikes!

      But I think the idea about “putting the brakes on” is that once we get off the train, we can walk in any and all directions that might be available to us at that particular point where we get off. A “leap into the open sky of history,” as Benjamin put it. Unfortunately, it looks like a bit of a wasteland outside the train by now, but I’ll take that over where the train seems to be headed.

      • MadGastronomer

        Perhaps I’ll find your blog and let you know when it’s out, then. I seem to recall you have one.

        I do have another book out now, A Litany for the Many Dead, which does what it says on the tin, really. Sixty-five verses of prayers to honor the Dead down through the ages. I have a copy in to Terrence for review. You can get a look and some links here if you’re interested. I think you might like it. It includes verses for those who died in labor, extermination and internment camps, those who died enslaved, and many others, although not all of the verses are so sad as that. It’s got some new verses written since I finalized the copy, too, and a virtual ritual game to play. I’m planning another edition, eventually, and am working on verses for communities of practice for that.

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