Utopias and Ideologies - Intercollegiate Studies Institute



Utopias and Ideologies - Intercollegiate Studies Institute
Utopias and IdeoI ogies: A nother Chupter
in the Conservative Demonology
in Europe no less than in
the Americas and, above all, in the Englishspeaking world have developed a specific
dislike for utopias and ideologies and, at
first sight, they seem to be right. Colosseum, a very bright English conservative
journal of opinion in the 1930’s once published a special number with the words
over the cover. There can be little doubt
that utopias serve very often as secular substitutes for the religious concept of an otherworldly paradise or even for Paradise Lost
here on earth: they stand for some sort of
Edenism. The efforts to establish utopias
have, without a shred of doubt, created untold harm; oceans of blood have been the
Nor can it be questioned that such utopias, even those of a religious nature, propagated by various Christian sects between
the twelfth and eighteenth centuries, had a
strictly leftist character. “Leftist” we call
a political-social-economic concept of man
and society which is immanentist, materialistic, egalitarian, “identitarian,” i.e. imbued with a real hatred not only of inequalities, but even of variety-an outlook which
is hostile to transcendence, personality, local rights and of freedom based on order
and tradition. Needless to say that the driving motor in the transformation of most
utopian visions into reality is an ideology,
as a rule a leftist ideology, a fact which
generates the conviction that all ideologies
are leftist. We hear that the Right has no
ideology unless, of course, we consider National Socialists (and Fascists) to be representatives of the Right, which, in spite of
a popular misconception, they obviously
are not. The National Socialists (and Fascists) were supporters of collectivistic utopian mass movements: the ardent followers
of Hitler were as typically leftist
Communists. Their utopia was the millenarian “Third Reich” and they certainly had
a fixed, freedom-hating ideology. Yet it is
curious to see how so many people maintaining that they reject all extremes on
what they consider to be the right and the
left, admit the similarities between Communists and National Socialists, but derive their very obvious a5nity from the belief that “extremes always meet.”
To insist bhat “extremes meet” is a fausse
ide‘e Claire (Tocqueville’s expression) : extremely far and near, extremely hot and
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cold, certainly never “meet.” To maintain
implicitly that conservatives are gentle
“middle of the roaders” between Nazis and
Bolshies is patently blatant nonsense and,
I hope, an insult to thosc using the conservative 1abel.l Personally, I consider myself
as belonging to the extreme Right, because
right is right and left is wrong. I also claim
to be a convinced genuine liberal in the
Tocqueville-Montalembert-Acton tradition,
though not always in a literal sense.2 (The
less said about the degraded use of the term
liberal in the English-speaking world, the
better! )
A utopia, needless to say, is a product of
thought, but not only of discursive reason.
Mere phantasy is also at work. It is a piece
of imagery and requires the gift of depicting either inwardly or in precise words a
situation, an order, a state of affairs: in
short, imagination is the key to it. This
word in the languages east of the Rhine
shows another aspect of the nature of that
process. VorsteZlen in German means “to
put in front (of a person) ,” and the Russian predstavZycGtsya has the same implication. (The Greek phantasy-from phuntato
-has phain, phun, as a root: “appearance.”) Thus to “imagine” means to place
a picture in front of oneself. Imagination,
however, has in our days undergone a crisis, especially so in northern Europe and in
America which areas, already in the past,
have displayed a curious sort of contempt
for “sheer imagination”-and this in spite
of the fact that novels of very high quality
have been produced in the English-speaking countries as well as in Scandinavia.
One has only to remember the violent criticisms levelled against novels by the Reverend Richard Baxter in the seventeenth century or the disdain for “fiction” ( a very
odd expression to Continental ears!) expressed by Thomas Jefferson who said that
they produced “bloated imagination and
sickly judgment.” (Letter to N. Burnwell,
1818) Iliya Ehrenburg in his Devyaty VUZ
tells us of a French archeologist visiting a
colleague in New York. He asks the American about the great novelists of his coun-
try at the present time and gets as a reply:
“Ah, you mean fiction! You must ask my
wife: she reads novels.” All of which makes
this a pastime for frivolous females with a
lot of time on their hands. Remember in
this connection the not so infrequent frowning remark from the supervisor in the local
public library: “But you borrowed two volumes of fiction already!” There is indeed
an abyss between “fiction” and the French
expression “Belles lettres.”
Apart from the crisis of the novelgreat novels, it seems, are nowadays only
written in Latin America and Russia-one
has to realize that imagination encounters
many handicaps in the modern world. In
ages gone by novels, fairy tales, beautiful
letters and high spirited conversations
were thriving but they have made place to
television, movies, and the comics. The
ready-made picture is being fed right
through the eyes to the brain: no translation, no intellectualization is taking place.
And one also has to admit that never have
we seen an age so filled with stereotypes
and cIiches like ours whose keynote is uniformity, not variety, the popular catchword “pluralism” notwithstanding.
Imagination as a projected picture, if it
concerns one’s own life in a future statewe omit here mere memory and its recollections-has
a programmatic character.
The self, however, in this connection, is
never alone but finds itself in a specific situation which can be depressing, but usually, in a normal person, these visions denote
strength, success, happiness, if not glory.
Man sees himself and his surroundings in
a glow of perfection. The visionary’s identity tends to become an expression of selfrealization.
Yet here we have to pause. To the
Christian, aware of his fallen nature, selfrealization is not the-same thing as finding
his identity which he always has to contempIate in a spirit of humility and melancholia. We must remember here Leon
Bloy’s outcry in La Femme Pauvre: “The
only sadness which exists is not to belong
to the saints.” The Christian has to shed the
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Old Adam to become somebody else-and
not just to “realize himself” with all his
faults, shortcomings, sins and crimes. His
actual identity is not a comforting prop to
his vanity but an uncomfortable mirror in
which he has to look. As a Christian he is
not a being, but a becoming creature3 who
has constantly to undergo a metamia, a
word variably translated with “radical
change” and “penance.” Both interpretations are correct.
With the term “Old Adam” we are back
to fallen man, not to Adam in the Garden
of Eden, a lost outopos. Here two distinct
but connected dangers are looming. One:
To transfer a revived Garden of Eden into
a terrestrial future, an idle dream which
ought to be labelled “Edenism,” and two:
human delusions of grandeur be they personal or collective, referring in the latter
case to nations or to entire mankind. The
Marxian utopia, for instance, is most obviously an immanentist deification of earth
and man. Its impossible quest resting on
the illogical joint affirmation of a scientific
determinism and a revolutionary appeal to
violent action must inevitably result in
tyranny and mass-murder. Pascal’s words
come to one’s mind that man is neither
beast nor angel, but that he who wants to
play the part of the angel inevitably sinks
down to the level of the beast.
Above all, we have to remember that living in a democratic, technological and collectivistic age, where people are treated as
arithmetic and not as algebraic units,
where numbers and cyphers abound, where
personality in a crowd culture is at a severe
disadvantage, the quest for identity will
easily be thwarted. A popular sentence like
‘‘Nobody is indispensable,” in a feudal society, would have evoked an outcry of indignation. In a modem democracy where
one vote cast in complete anonymity is just
as good as any other vote, a person can
easily lose his identity. (The vote from a
19 year old practically illiterate call-girl in
this game of numerality is equal to the vote
of a 65 year old professor of government,
grandfather and patriarch of a dozen
grandchildren.) Even the goods produced
today are mass-manufactured in colossal
quantities, and the provider-state upon
whom nearly everybody depends shows a
weird mixture of concern and indifference.
Indifference? It comes from in-different
and this is no wonder because in the modem world everybody and everything has
become exchangeable and replaceable,
spare parts” which are mere statistical
items. The termite society of today hardly
cares for personality or identity and hates
diversity because it creates added expenses.
Uniformity is “economic.”
Yet what is really a utopia in a wider
context? An outopos is a place (geographical o r otherwise) in which a desirable good
political and social order can be found,
though it does not yet exist. There is a
vision involved and efforts will be made to
make this vision come true. But man, unlike the beasts, always operates with visions. (Even every abstraction is to a certain point a vision!) Unless he suffers from
a crippled imagination, he will never be entirely satisfied with a given state of affairs.
As we intimated before the believer is attracted by sanctity but the perfection of the
saint has no equivalent in the domain of the
multitudes . nations, races, classes. The
personal outopos is one thing while utopia
for the masses always involves a risk.
Rivarol has told us that a monarch might
be a Marcus Aurelius or a Nero, a crowd
can be collectively a Nero, but never Marcus Aurelius.’
This also means that one has carefully
to distinguish between a utopia which is
realistic and one which is unrealistic, one
which could be turned into a valid order
and one which never could. Of course, if
an earthly utopia of a general character
stands for perfection, it is automatically irrealizable because human beings are fallen
creatures. Unfortunately all utopias have
come to mean in popular parlance a dream
which cannot be fulfilled and therefore it
is assumed that all efforts to realize it are
bound to end in tragedy for those who
strive for it as well as for those who willy-
. .
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nilly are drawn into this vain quest. However, all this does not invalidate the legitimate concept of a utopia, of a direction and
a concrete aim-even if it is not always
easy to distinguish a priori between the two
types. Tlius we have every reason to doubt
whether the Utopia of Saint Thomas Morus
was meant to be a pattern one should strive
and I am still uncertain whether
Plato’s Ideal State was really more than a
“constructivistyyexercise in fantasy, a mixture of sound critique and fertile imagination? Still, let us agree that without imagination, without vision-the
greatest privilege of mankind-no personal outops and
no general utopia could be conceived. And
also: that without a utopian goal of something superior, nobler or better there would
be no challenge, no incentives for us. Earwigs, crocodiles, zebras or gorillas are not
“futuristic,” they have no feasible or unfeasible utopian dreams, they are not faced
with the all-too human dilemma of what is
a real improvement or what is not. One of
the definitions of man is also that he is an
which knows its grandfather.
Conversely, man is also an animal which
knows its grandchild. Man looks back-andforward, not instinctively, as some animals
do, but with his intellect.
“Progress,” whether genuine or (as so
frequently) fake, is always the result of a
utopian vision which, in turn, might be
practical or impractical, positive or negative.‘ But, let us admit in the same breath,
that a wonderful utopia might be beyond
our reach, a wicked one quite realistic. To
mention only two examples: the notion of
a truly Christian Europe where almost
everybody follows the precepts of Christ,
is a dream which never will be fulfilled and
thus remains unrealistic; dccolonialization,
a real utopia fifty years ago, could quite
easily be carried out-but with what dreadful results! Still, there is no genuine “betterment” without the utopian bend of mind.
An effective remedy against cancer, as electrically driven cars for long distance, a
truly effcient and, at the same time, libertyoriented form of government combining
honor, continuity, personal initiative and
a fair amount of national security, have today a “utopian” character. But there is no
reason why some day they might not become realities. A society, on the other hand,
where everybody is “equal,” will always remain a wishful dream or, more precisely,
a nightmare. And here it should be mentioned that equality before the law is as
much nonsense as equality before God or
“the end of all discrimination.” It would
be the grossest sort of barbarism to force
women into military combat duty, a folly
(now increasingly postulated) to employ
people regardless of their proficiency with
equal pay and a theological idiocy to
claim that Heinrich Himmler and St.
Francis were “equals in the eye of God.”
DRIVE towards a utopia, obviously, is always carried by an ideology regardless
whether the utopia is a chimera or not,
whether it offers us a desirable or undesirable picture, whether it has a personal or
a collective character. But what is an ideology? The term in all likelihood invented
by Count Destutt de Tracy and repeated in
a contemptuous manner by Napoleon who
was a rather sober and pragmatic administrator. Later it was used by Karl Marx in
a negative sense. Claiming that his version
of socialism was strictly scientific, he insisted that the burgeoisie, in order to
camouflage its egoistic aims, invented an
“ideology” which is nothing but a set of illusory tenets, abject superstitions and insincere arguments. Interestingly enough, this
sort of etymology was entirely dropped by
Lenin claiming that Communism too is an
ideology in its own right and today the
Communist publications speak freely and
in flowing terms about the “ideological
war” (ideologitoheskaya borba) waged by
the Communist Party.
In the English-speaking world the use of
the term “ideology” remained relatively restricted. At first it was only used for Destutt de Tracy’s biologistic school of sensualism: but then it became identified with
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a doctrinary irrealism. Webster’s Dictwnary (1923) gives a secondary meaning:
“Visionary speculations ; idle theorizing, also an impractical theory or system of
theories” and quotes the Dictionary of
Political Economy: “Utopias are social romances or ideologies.” Yet, in Onion’s
Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology
the “twentieth century definition” of this
term is: “A system of ideas, especially concerning social and political life.” Here we
have to keep in mind that whereas up to
World War I1 we frequently encounter the
German word Weltamchuuung it has been
gradually substituted by “ide~logy.”~
is, quite true, certain overlapping between
these two concepts: Veltamchauung is
somewhat wider and contains subjective,
personal elements, whereas an ideology is
more closely reasoned or, at least, pretends
to be a product o i dispassionate thought.
What then is an ideology in the narrower, modern sense? It is a set of coherent,
mutually confirming and supplementing
ideas which provide an all-rounded explanation of life, world, politics, society,
economics. It can have a religion as its
basic support, as its nucleus. A creed of a
very comprehensive character might be its
mainstay so that the ideological addition
appears only as a frill. Neither is an ideology with two focal points, a faith and a
philosophy, beyond imagination and the replacement of either with a science or pseudo-science is quite feasible. (But do not
ideologies involve “limitations” ? They do,
but, as a German proverb says, a master
proves himself by setting limits.) lo One can
visualize a revisionist socialist combining
his views with Freudian psychoanalysis and
some sort of deism; or a Catholic existentialist (influenced by Kierkegaard and
Gabriel Marcel) with a political outlook derived from de Maistre, Adam von MiiUer,
Ludwig von Haller, Leontyev and V5zqUm
de Mella; or an orthodox Lutheran combining the ideas of F. J. Stahl, Groen van Prinsterer, August Vilmar and Jaspers. Many
combinations are possible resulting in a
purely personal ideological synthesis. Yet
it is obvious that the various constituent
parts of an ideology cannot without impunity truly contradict each other. They must
form a harmonious whole. But there also
exists such a thing as an ideology all of one
piece created by only one or two thinkers
though it always will be inevitably affected
by preceding schools of thought. There is
nothing without antecedents except God.
There is no Marx without the Socialist
Romantics and Hegel.
Still, it must be borne in mind that the
mentality of the English-speaking world
with its traditions of commercialism, pragmatism and philosophic sensualism, its parliamentary and democratic institutions, its
readiness for compromise and its relativism in thought is almost aprioristically hostile to “ideologism.” The concept of a fixed
set of notions explaining not only the permanent burning questions of mankind but
also the problems of the day (if not, horribile dictu, envisaging utopian goals) is as
“un-American” as it is “un-English.””
Compton MacKenzie told us that
the English suspect a man who cannot
contrive a compromise whether it be
with Almighty God or with his fellow
mortals. To an Englishman compromise
savours of his so much revered fair play,
and he could never support any action
or subscribe to any opinion which suggests that half a loaf was worse than no
bread. His own national Church is the
most ingenious of compromises.12
Yet compromise is an element almost incompatible with an ideology in the accepted sense of the term and it is significant that this word is lacking in the Spanish language while it remains a borrowed
expression in German and Russian.ls Needless to say that it is a crucial factor in the
bargaining process of business. Prices are
arrived at by compromises. In the Englishspeaking world he who cannot Compromise
is either childish, a weakling hiding his
inner insecurity, a person alien to the facts.
of life or, perhaps, a real menace.
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Compton Mackenzie’s reference to Angelicanism contains a certain amount of
truth, but it must be borne in mind that
people only too often identify “Protestantism” (if not the Reformation!) with the
spirit of compromise and relativism. The
Reformation itself was essentially a spiritual and conservative revolution against strict
rationality, against Humanism and the
Renaissance, all fostered by the Catholic
Church, a situation that changed only in
the eighteenth century when the Reformed
faiths succumbed almost wholly to the impact of the Enlightenment, itself a grandchild of the (very Catholic) Renaissance.
Then, and only then, compromise, subjectivism and relativism took hold theologically of the epigones of Luther and Calvin.f4 The Catholic Church headed towards
more rigidity and infallibility,15 the Eastern
Church held fast to Orthodoxy. And this
is also the reason why “ideologism” has a
far greater hold on the nations of the “Unreformed” Church than on those of Northwestern Europe and North America-the
Gei.iiiariies belonging ratiner to the Oid
Church orbit.le
This might explain in part why in ‘‘AngloSaxonry” (a cherished Continental expression denoting the English-speaking nations) the aversion to ideas and trends
which are patently ideological is so deeply
marked. These bear the stamp not only of
the thoroughly distrusted (if not subconsciously feared) Continent,17 but also of
“Romanism’y and appear to be “unpractical” (which, admittedly, they, at times, can
be).18 They also are in a conflict with a
rather pragmatic team-spirit which distinguishes communitarian “Anglo-Saxonry”
from the anarcho-individualistic Continent. It was also the team-spirit which fostered the rise of a “progressive,” cooperative, technological civilization, of democracy and, above all, of competitive group
sports. (“Never let a fellow down!”)
Once ideologies enter the scene, they obviously manifest themselves as divisive factors and become a major obstacle to a wellfunctioning parliamentarism. Harold Laski
has pointed out that representative government rests on two premises: a two-part system and a common “language,” a common
framework of reference.ls Indeed, if the Iatter is lacking, revolutions and civil wars
will ensue and these (paraphrasing the
words of Clausewitz) are nothing but the
continuation of parliamentarism with other
means.2o This is also the reason why the
Orbis Catholicus, as opposed to the Mundw
Reformtus, today, is revolutionary and not
evolutionary. An “American Revolution,”
as a matter of fact, never took place, nor
an American “Civil War,” but merely a
“War of Independence” and a “War Between the States” (or at best a “War of Secession”) . Parties of an ideoIogica1 character, permissible within a strong monarchical framework, become dynamite in republics, democratic or otherwise. This
much also was evident to George Washington and to his ghost-writer Alexander
Hamilton in the Farewell Address where
we read:
In Go-;ewnieiits of a Moriclrciiicai cast,
Patriotism may look with indulgence if
not with favor, upon the spirit of party.
But in those of a popular character, in
Governments purely elective, it is a
spirit not to be encouraged.*l
Here we see clearly the fear of an ideological dynamite.
There is also another, an “existentialist”
view of ideology. Such a view rejects on
philosophical and, at the same time, on
elitist grounds a firm, rational, coherent set
of rules, convictions and axioms which
would facilitate action, decision and judgment. This attitude has been well expressed
by Kierkegaard when he wrote in his
diary: “Personality is aristocratic-the system a plebeian invention; with the help of
the system (that omnibus) everybody can
get about.yy22“System” again stands here
for ideology; and let us not forget that
there is a rebellious aristocrat in every
American.23 Here is another root of his antiideological attitude.
The English-speaking world ’ seems
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pledged to empiricism, to the method of
trial and error all of which, however, is
Epimethean rather than Promethean. There
is, in a deeper and more general sense, an
agnostic” element in this attitude. And
this agnosticism goes hand in hand, especially in the legal sphere, with positivism. In
facing a problem one tries to encounter it
without “prejudice,” without preconceived
notions, to solve it in one way and, if it
does not work out, in another, and perhaps
-speculatively, tentatively-in a third and
fourth one. No doubt that this offers certain
advantages over the ideological attitude
which looks at all questions in the light of
certain, usually very firm convictions. Occasionally this creates ludicrous situations
or leads to preposterous utterances. One
remembers Hegel who, when challenged by
a student that his theories did not fit the
facts, looked severely at his challenger and
replied in a stern voice: “All the worse for
the facts-umso schlimmer f u r die Tatsachen!”
All this, however, does not affect the
hard fact that man is Promethean (Le. he
thinks first and acts afterwards) and that
the method of trial and error belongs not
at all to a swift moving atomic age but to
the animal kingdom. In the laboratories exploring the psychology of animals one sees
how our dumb friends try to achieve their
purposes by precisely that method: if one
cannot get at the banana this way, one
might get it that way. The skeptical, typically “agnostic” attitude is averse to “systems of thought,” become ‘‘pragmatic,”
tends towards behaviorism and instrumentalism and denies anything smacking of
Weltanscb~ung.*~To Oliver Wendell
Holmes Jr., father of one of the most powerful schools of American legalism, the
sacredness of human life was merely the result of a local agreement, a piece of folkAnd one should not be surprised
about his reactions to a very Continental
German ideological author like Oswald
Spengler, author of The Decline of the
West whom Holmes loathed from the bottom of his soul, witness some remarks re-
corded from his correspondence: “If I
heard that the swine were dead I should
thank God
a learned, original book
written with incredible German arrogance
an odious animal which must be read
the beast had ideas
I wish he were
dead.”ze All of which sounds amusingly
temperamental from a nonagenarian, but
it is not surprising from a philosophical
point of view . nor unexpected among
people who intersperse their conversations,
debates and discussions with expressions
like “if I may say so,” “I guess so,”
“rather,” “one might be tempted to say,’’
“in a way,” “possibly,” “one might argue
that.” It is obvious that such hesitancy is
not the language of ideology. “Polite
doubt” is a locution untranslatable into
Continental idioms. It represents a mentality which is worlds apart from the dictum
of Anatole France: “I1 n’y a de supportable
que les choses extri?rnes” not to mention
Saint Teresa’s “Dios o nada.”
.. .
. .
ONE MUST, nevertheless, beware of being
fooled by the mirage of an English-speaking strictly non-ideological world devoid
of value judgments, of systematized
thought, of axioms, a world without convictions and given wholly to the worship
of relativity. Still, it is hilarious to realize
that not a few “conservatives” (most of
them terrified to be called “Rightists”)
agree with so many (though not with all)
of these “Anglo-Saxon” positions, attitudes
and tendencies, which are so far from the
magic world of ideology, rigidity, disciplined intellectuality. This is especially true
of so many self-styled conservatives west of
the Channel which also means west of the
Atlantic. No wonder: they belong integrally to their national culture.
Now, while it is perfectly true that the
Continent from Calais to Vladivostok revels
in extremism-think
only of L&n Bloy
claiming to be a pilerin de I’absolu-it
would be most erroneous to think that
people anywhere-east or west of the Atlantic-could
live a non-ideological exis269
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tence, that a stute, a nation, a country, a society could exist for nny length of time
without an ideology. Friedrich August von
Ilayek, an Austrian-born British subject,
has said rightly: “Every social order rests
on ideology. . . . Every cultural order can
oniy be maintained by an ideology.”
Hayek wrote these words debunking Hans
Kelsen’s legal positivism (reine Rechtslehre) which claims to be the only legal
theory free of ideological “prejudi~e.”‘~
Indeed, no human being, except a child
or an imbecil, is without a personal
outops or a social-political-economic utopia
which even might have geographic ramifications.z8 Nor do we know of an intelligent,
adult person without an ideology, though
in most cases it will not be carefully
thought through; it will lack a sharp profile; it will not be entirely free of certain
inner contraclictions. Beasts, as we have
said, have no outopos because they have instincts, not ideas and ideals; beasts, naturally, have no ideology either. But an
adult, even if illiterate, inevitably will have
a coherent set of ideas which show at least
a minimal harmony. The lack of such a
harmony or glaring inconsistencies cause
a certain scandal. The same is true of organized bodies and institutions. A government, for instance, which stands for discipline, law and order at home but supports
anarchy abroad; a government which proclaims personal liberty but stands economically for a socialist order (i.e. State Capitalism without competition) ; a government
which openly uses torture but has severe
laws prohibiting cruelty to animals-they
all will incur the accusation of either inconsistency, Machiavellianism or sheer hypocrisy. It is, of course, quite true that “perfidious Albion” followed on the European
Continent a most pragmatic policy quite
free from ideological ties; this was evident
in the 18th century no less than in the 19th
and 2Oth.*’ (Think, on the other hand, of
the Holy Alliance which had such a decidedly ideological character.) All which
shows that we truly expect in persons, no
less than in governments, an ideological
formation, harmony, coherence, methodical
thought, guiding ideas-whose
lack outrages us.
Some people, however, insist that a modern liberal democracy is free of all ideology, that popular representation is a mere
frame for which all sorts of ideologies
could provide a concrete picture (though
potentially even cracking the frame). This
indeed happened in Germany in 19321933 and might happen tomorrow in Italy.
Yet, democracy is already in itself an ideology, as we ought to know only too well
from studying the history of Athenian
democracy blackened by the judicial murder of so crate^,^^ or the grim details of the
French Revolution. In our century we have
seen Holy Wars, Djihads, “Crusades” to
“make the world safe for d e m ~ c r a c y . ” ~ ~
Ideologies are by no means necessarily
composed of rational or scientific ideas.
(Neither, as a matter of fact, is democracy
itself.) 32
But from all this we see that within
humanity ideology is inescapable and that
making it a shewpiece right ir. the center
of conservative demonology is complete
nonsense. All we can do is to distinguish between ideologies which are fuzzy and subconscious and those with a distinct profile,
appealing to reason, conscience and emotions. This is the only practical difference.
Even the English-speaking nations boasting
of their lack of ideology, the liberal democrats condemning it, the conservatives
vociferously rejecting it are all subject to
one or the other of its forms. And the same
is true of utopias which are either dim or
concrete visions. A bit of systematic crossquestioning would reveal in each case the
real state of affairs.
One has, furthermore, to distinguish between positive and negative utopias, positive and negative ideologies. We would reject all those which are “identitarian,”
which regard nations (or humanity) as
herds of identical animals, which are collectivistic, immanentist and materialistic.
One ideology, certainly, is not as valuable
as another; one religion is not as good as
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another; political systems are of unequal
quality. But to condemn ideologies as such
is erroneous and even unrealistic. Ideologies, we have to bear in mind, are necessary for our existence and our survivaL33
ONE NICE DAY in 1974 we woke up and
saw that in Portugal an army revolt was
taking place and that a large number of eareer officers were Marxists of all colors and
stripes. Contrary to what the typical victim
of the mass-media thinks, Portugal under
the earlier military rule (with Salazar as
a gallion figure) has never been ruled according to a distinct ideology. (Nor was
this ever the case in Spain, the Falange
notwithstanding.) Both Iberic countries
were and still are military dictatorships,
which, however, has nothing to do with
“fasci~m.~’The universities in Portugal
were always hotbeds of Leftism,34and, more
specifically, of Marxism; the reserve officers moving up directly from the universities into the officers’ corps carried the virus.
Moreover, the officers in the three African
overseas provinces, fighting an adversary
under a Marxist leadership and with the
support from Marxist countries, were made
to study Marxism methodically because it
was assumed that one has to know one’s
enemy’s doctrines. This, order made no
sense but it was faithfully carried out.
We all rubbed our eyes: officers in smart
uniforms, coming from “nice” if not from
noble families, elegant and apparently a bit
frivolous, falling prey to Marxism-to
Marxism, a despicable 19th century pseudo-religion, bankrupt and with a pitiful
economic record in East Europe, normally
discredited as a murderous political philosophy responsible for rivers of blood?
But as an ideology it had to all practical
purposes a monopoly in what was once
Christendom. Nobody and nothing opposes
it now seriously in the West. At least not
intellectually. Those who seek a comprehensive view of life and existence, unless they
receive an answer from an all-embracing
religious faith, will, in want of something
better turn to the evil and ramshackle
Marxist theory. It alone has remained “in
business” simply because man is an ideological animal and there are no competitors.
The next result of this crisis was that the
things which were bound to happen indeed happened-at least in Portugal. Nature abhors a vacuum and an ideological
vacuum is impossible in the long run.35 The
leftist officers brought Portugal to the brink
of a red tyranny. At the moment only the
worst damage has been avoided.
For Europe this is not really a unique situation. The Continent always had a strong
“intellectualistyy tradition with a specific
veneration for leading intellectuals in the
humanities, regardless whether they are
professors or not. Hence the respect, if not
the enthusiasm, for systematized thought.
To make matters worse, we also have an
added bent in the direction of government
by persons rather than by law (another
false issue, but let us leave it at that) s6 and
thus we get monsters like Lenin whose corning was clearly foreseen by Joseph de
Maistre about a century earlier when he
wrote about a coming Pougatchuf d’ uni~ e r s i t ePetty,
. ~ ~ but popular tyrants like il
professore M ~ s s o l i n iwere
~ ~ in the offing or
such a typical murderous Halbgebildeter
like Adolf Hitle~-.’~
In England no less than
in North America the dislike for a well systematized ideology is also due to a certain
anti-intellectual trend and tradition in the
masses. In Britain the professor and the
don are no less funny persons than the
bookish scholar in America. Anti-intellectualism in God’s Own Country, only feebly developed in its origins, was later fostered by low church sectarianism and the
importation of democracy/0
Thus we should not be surprised that the
Continental political scene is so strongly
characterized by an ideological element,
that the parties here showing only a minimum of ideological flavor fare worse than
those with a stronger ideological profile. In
the years 1928 to 1933 the German parties
without a very distinct ideological charac271
Modem Age
ter (democrats and liberals) were reduced
in the Reichstag from 116 to 13, while the
ideologically firm ones increased from 375
to 634 Teats (always one deputy for 60,000 votes which, incidentally, also shows
how the habitual non-voters reacled in a
crucial emergency)1: The ideologically
starved parties in Europe-none is entirely devoid of ideology!-continue
to be
small minorities: this is true of Germany,
Italy, France, Austria, even of Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands. I cannot imagine the rise of non-ideological
parties in Spain and it is significant that
in Britain the least ideology-oriented party,
the Liberal, now neither flesh nor fish, is
the weakest.
In spite of all this there remains the indisputable fact that the only ideology in the
fullest sense of the term dominating the
European landscape is Marxism and that
most of the runners-up are derivatives of
Marxism, Le. the various socialist, new-left
and anarchist groups. The rest is rather
boneless and the quondam competitors
C( _..____
C I I ~ I I I I C ~I , i h Naiionai Sociaiisis
and the Fascists, have gone down the
drain. Socialism derives a great deal of its
popular strength from the fact that it also
constitutes a fausse ideB Claire, that it can
be explained to any imbecil in simple terms
within 12 minutes whereas the intricacies
of a free market system need a whole seminar. Yet whatever the difficulties, this
Marxist monopoly has to be broken . . be
broken not by taking away that shabby intellectual shirt the poor Marxists have and
leaving them pitifully naked, but providing
ourselves with real clothes. On the Continent, at least, people realize that we are
sadly lacking in this respect and the outcry: “Europe needs an idea!” can be heard
constantly. What is meant by an idea is ohviously an ideology plus a vision to work
for, to strive for, and, if necessary, to die
for. (“Rather red than dead”? The “polite
doubters” obviously do not want to die for
a question mark! ) The conservatives in the
Old World form an intellectzml movement
and they are divided over the ideology-is-
sue. British influences, dating back to the
early nineteenth century, still are effective
and continue to foster a certain hostility
toward the creation of a rightist ideology.
Others, however, believe that the rejection
of ideology is a fake issue and that the establishment of a rightist ideology42 including an alternative to the weak democratic
“frame” is a real nece~sity?~
“Ah!” exclaimed the baron with his
wickedest leer, “what for is my conclusion good? You American believe yourselves to be excepted from the operation
of general laws. You care not for experience!”
-Henry Adams, Democracy (2882)
WHAT RELEVANCE has this state of affairs
for the United States? That nation has, so
far, something approaching an ideological
unit, but chinks have appeared in this
armour which, perhaps, has something
to do with the “ethnics” coming of age and
the re!ztive increzse nf Csrhc?!ics. There is
also a greater awareness of the fact that the
method of trial and error may not be so
ideal after all, as well as the suspicion that
a relativist anti-ideologism could be an ideology in its own right. One thinks with real
horror about the Vietnam War which could
have easily been won, but certainly not
with the artificial limitations under which
the American Army had to operate. It
ended with the betrayal of the fighting men
and of the allies-again, after all, for ideological reasons! This totering from one
principle to the other: “trying” first and
then sourly, shamefacedly withdrawing
sacrificing 56,000 young men, saying it was
all an “error.” I ask myself how do parents
react when one or two sons have been
sacrificed in such a criminally amateurish
enterprise? The case of an inevitable,
honorable defeat is different. There is nothing morally wrong about a genuine tragedyOne of the retiring U.S. secretaries of
state, a well informed man and a gentleSummer 1977
man, said to a European of renown just before his retirement: “Looking back, the
gravest problem I had to deal with, was
how to steer in an atomic age, the foreign
policy of a world power saddled with the
Constitution of a small, eighteenth century
farmers’ r e p ~ b l i c ? ~“Democracy?” Could
not tomorrow some 5 grave men in formal
dress wake up the President of the United
States at 4:15 a.m., informing him with the
help of charts and tapes of whatever crucial
event happened during the night giving
him two minutes to press or not to press a
button? “Trial and Error” then would be
out: no chance of asking Congress, ringing
up the night editors of the Vmhington
Post, mobilizing the Gallup Poll or convoking a brain-trust headed by Walter
Cronkite. Very few people are, as Raymond
Aron insists, contemporaries of their own
timeP5 The guiding ideas of Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D.
Roosevelt will surely not survive this century. Already today the President of the
United States has more power over dl mankind than Genghiskhan and Tamerlabe put
together. Yet, what sort of society and political system are we preparing for the postdemocratic age? (Or does any sensible person believe that democracy will last for ever
and ever?)
Not only does Europe ‘heed an idea” but
the entire embattled West of which, for better or worse, the United States is the leader.
But where does one “getyyan idea, a common ideal, a whole ideology as a driving
motor and a rallying point? Who should
and could provide it? Obviously the socalled conservatives who, however, would
have to jump over their shadow and partly
act in defiance of their label because,
though clinging to ancient, eternal and universal values, they would have to disown
some of their traditions and establish new
institutions. So far they have merely uttered excellent criticisms of the Left, have
bemoaned brilliantly our decadence and
have produced not much more than what
the French call de la littgrature. They have
given nothing tangible to the young: no
flag to follow, no symbols, n o vision! They
were, after all (apart from the “organizers”) only lazybones without intellectual courage. The words of Whittaker
Chambers are terribly true: “The Right
has no program. A distaste for Communism
and Socialism is not a program.
Right has no program for one reason: it
will not face historical reality.’y46 Criticisms, indeed, are easy but to set up new
programs and doctrines might expose one
painfully to ridicule and this frightens
Still, due to America’s leadership we
think that primarily Americans with wide
horizons should be the ones to contribute
effectively to a positive ideology and vision.
But is this not against the American tradition and inclination? It is. However, all
mortals are repeatedly called upon to do
something contre coeur, against their grain.
“He who wants to go back to the sources,
has to swim against the current.” (Stanislaw Lec.) And what sort of men and women should be the actual authors of the newold doctrine? Obviously the right people,
and the right people, needless to say, come
from the Right.
What sort of ideology is needed? One
which would be accepted with enthusiasm
by the best people in the Western nations
and their followersP7 It would have to be
universal and spiritual, it must try to establish some continuity with the past, even
with the remote past, it would have to represent permanent values and its Utopian vision would have to be realistic, not hedonistic or “Edenistic,” always keeping in mind
that this earth is irretrievably a vale of
tears, that while despair is avoidable, grief
and sorrow are not. But how would we
finally get our program? It would have to
be created, put down, conceived by intelligent, dedicated, hard working, sensitive
persons. Where there is a will there is a
way. Remember the Communist Manifesto
of Marx and Engels which now, 129 years
later, still stands, still acts as a menace in
spite of all its obsolete nonsense. Now for
us the hour of decision has struck.
Modern Age
The modern nations of the Christian
West, one has to admit, have grown to maturity and old age for more than a century
and a half in the framework of a liberal
democracy which is also true of America
after 1828. Egalitarianism, a petty national-
ism and an emotional amateurism were the
swaddling clothes of the New World and
the Old which now threaten to suffocate
them. These garments will become their
shrouds-unless they cast them off like the
rising Lazarus.
‘In this case I think of “libertarian” and
“traditionalist” Americans. As to the definition
of Right and Left c f . my Leftism (New Rochelle:
Arlington House 1974), passim. *I disagree, for
instance, with Acton’s famous dictum that “Powe r tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts
absolutely.” This is another false but clear idea
supporting the fear of power, a modern conservative malady. Lack of power can also be corrupting, and who would maintain that Charles
V or Otto the Great were corrupt rulers? V i d e
the intranslatable German proverb: “ Y e r glaubt,
dass er etwus ist, wird nichts.’”Cf. Jean Dutourd,
Les plus belles pages de Rivarol (Paris: Mercure
de France 19631, p. 27. ‘His Utopia is not per
se the ideal state, but an effort to show how with
the aid of pure reason without a religious foundation a rational state and society could be designed. ‘I do not wholly agree with Sir Karl
Popper’s critique of Plato’s Republic; I think
that Politeia contains also a good deal of play.
ful dreamery. ‘Cf. Gustave Thibon: “All great
things start here with a dream. Woe to him who
never dreamt. One does not rise to the skies
without passing through the clouds.” (In his
essay: L’arnour hnmain.) *Count Destutt de
Tracy was a friend of Thomas Jefferson. His
ideologie was essentially materialistic and con.
tributed t o the spirit of the French Revolution,
T h e same evolution took place in the USSR
where the older terms Mirovozzreniye and mirosozertsaniye equivalents of Yeltanschauung,
have been replaced with ideologiya. V n der
Beschriinkung zeigt sich der Meister.” pWe do
not say “un-British”; the Irish and even the
Scotch (with stronger Continental ties) are
more easily prone to patent ideologies. “Cf. his
preface t o Jane Lane, King James the Last
(London: A. Dakers 1942). pp. vii-viii. It
should be mentioned that Sir Compton Mackenzie was a Catholic convert. Tompromiso in
Spanish stands not for compromise, but for engagement. “On the true character of the Reformation Cf. my op. cit. pp. 55-56.T h e dogmatization of Papal Infallibility took place in 1870.
‘The German Evangelicals were never “among
themselves” but always in juxtaposition to the
Catholics, who by and large occupied the most
historic parts of the Germanies. For this (if for
no other) reason the Germans never became
relativists. “A large minority of English men
and women refer to the Continent as to “EUrope.” (So did, for instance, Evelyn Waugh.)
‘*Neither was National Socialism unavoidably
anti-Jewish nor Russian Communism by necessity hostiIe to the upper classes. But we must
balance these obvious limitations against the
dynamism of a specific goal. ”Cf. Harold Laski,
Parliamentary Government in England (New
York: Viking 1938), pp. 8, 36-57, 72-73. “Clausewitz said that wars are the continuation of diplomacy with other means. ”Cf.The Washington
Papers, ed. S. Padover (New York: Harper
1955), p. 317. ”Cf. The Journals of Ssren
Kierkegaard, edit. A. Dru (London: Oxford
University Press 1938)
518, No. 1339: Cf.
also A.A.C. Shaftesbu;: “The Most ingenious
way of becoming foolish is by a system.” (In:
Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions
Times.). ”Cf. Erik H. Erikson, Childhood and
Society (New York: Norton 19631, p. 333. %Behaviorism has not materially affected Europe,
but John Dewey’s instrumentalism thanks to his
lectures in Peking has profoundly influenced the
Chinese intellectuals after 1919. “Cf. The Pollock-Holmes Letters. Correspondence of Sir
Frederick Pollock and Mr. Justice Holmes 18741932, edit. M. DeWolfe Howe (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press 19421, Vol. 11, p.
36. 9 b i d . , pp. 139, 307, 309. “Cf. F. A. von
Hayek, Law, Liberty and Legislation (London:
Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975), Vol. 11. p.
54. The reader is reminded that Hayek always
disclaimed the label of a conservative and asserted his liberal convictions. He belongs to the
Vienna School of Economics founded by Menger, Bohm von Bawerk, L. von Mises, F. von
Wieser, with one exception all members of the
nobility. The inescapability of ideology is also
maintained by Karl Mannheim in his Ideologic
and Utopie (Frankfurt a.M.: Schulte-Bulmke
1952), passim. *A territorial acquisition (of an
area to be “liberated”) is a frequent outopos
serving to rally an entire nation. Thus pre-war
Lithuania was unified through the Wilno-Question, pre 1915-Italy by the Ztalia Zrredenta, Bolivia by the access to the sea, etc. ”Even conservative British governments frequently SUP.
ported leftish currents and causes on the Continent. Vide the famous Durnovo-Memorandum.
(February 1914). ”Cf. the excellent article of
Henry Jackson in the famous 11th edition of the
Summer 1977
Encyclopedia Britannica. Socrates was an antidemocrat. ”Woodrow Wilson wanted to “shoot
democracy” into the bones of the Mexicans and
so did his ambassador in London, Walter H.
Page. Cf. Burton J. Hendrick, The Life una‘
Letters of ralter H . Page (Garden City: Doubleday 19231, Vol. I. p. 88. =Which became
most evident in its modern revival, in the French
Revolution when Robespierre even wanted to
destroy all church spires: they were higher than
the other buildings and, therefore, undemocratic.
“On the necessity and the limitations of ideolog y cf. Eugen Lemherg, Zdeologie und Gesellschaft (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1971) and isdem, “Segen und Fluch der Ideologie,” in Znitiative, No. 9 (Freiburg i. Br.: Herder 1975),
pp. 54-77. “I was warned as early as 1955 that
Communism was rampant in these partly ancient
seats of learning. “Without “counter-ideologies”
the whole fight of the inner-Russian opposition
would be unthinkable. ”Cf.also F. A. von Hay.
ek, “Die Anschauungen der Mehrheit und die
zeitgenossische Demokratie,” in Ordo, XV-XVI
(1965), p. 27 n. “Cf.Joseph de Maistre, Quare
chapitres ine‘dits sur la Russie (Paris: Vaton
1859), p. 27. “This title in Italy is also given to
schoolmasters. I n his early political career he
was always referred to in that way. Cf. Renzo
de Felice, Mussolini il revoluzionario 1883-1920
(Turin: Einaudi 1965), passim. Yet his erudition was at least that of an average college professor. ”Hitler was certainly neither a scholar
nor an intellectual, but can be rated as “educated.” H e read most of the current literature
and even philosophic works. He was, indeed, the
homme moyen sensuel (Whitman’s “divine average”) which makes him so frightening. Cf. Wer-
ner Maser, Adolf Hitler. Legende, Mythos,
IBirklichkeit (Munich: Bechtle 1971), esp. pp.
166-200. “Cf. Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Zntellectualism in American Life (London: J. Cape
19631, esp. pp. 47-51. “This maximum of votes
(nearly 99 percent went to the polls) is certainly most “democratic,” but Plato tolds us
that every excess of the qualities characterizing
democracy will destroy it. Cf. his Republic,
Book VIII, 562 B. &This, for instance, is the
view of Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner in his Der
schiuierige Konserwismus (Herford : Nicolaische
Verlagsbuchhandlung 1975). p. 98 sq., p. 159.
UF. A. von Hayek, for instance, advocates that
the legislative body merely issues laws (which,
after all, is its real task) and does not direct
politics. This, perhaps, is his main proposition
in the forthcoming 3rd volume of Law, Liberty
and Legislation. ”Cf. Otto von Habsburg, “Gute
US-Aussenpolitik: Ein Vorschlag,” in Zeitbiihne,
Vol. VI1 (July 19761, p. 13. “Cf. Raymond
Aron, Le Grand Schism (Paris: Gallimard
1948), p. 336. ”Cf. Whittaker Chambers, Odyssey of a Friend, Letters to W. F. Buckley Jr.,
1954-1961 (Privately Printed: 19691, p. 69.
Chambers called himself a man of the Right,
not a conservative, a label he rejected. “When
we speak about the West we really mean what
used to be Christendom. Great American or
Spanish literature is as understandable to a
cultured Russian as the literary or artistic products of his country to the English-speaking or
the Hispanic peoples. (Does Japan truly become
an annex to Western culture? This remains to
be seen.)
Modern Age