A Heidegger study list

Heidegger is notoriously difficult, but once you decode him he is easy and there is a huge payoff.  The following is more or less what I did.

I did some study notes on Heidegger that some might find helpful.

a) Jamie Smith’s *Desiring the Kingdom,* despite all of Smith’s goofiness, does a good job explaining what Heidegger was about.
b) I read Heidegger’s *Basic Writings* first. The upshot is that you get a glimpse of his finest writing. The downside is you really don’t understand his project until you read Being and Time.
c) My intellectual mentor, Matthew Raphael Johnson, has a good lecture on Heidegger.
d) The world-class British orator Jonathan Bowden did an outstanding lecture on Heidegger. He places Heidegger as the counter-opposite of Satre

Merold Westphal has a good introductory lecture.  Here is a course he did.  The audio is awful, but you might be able to make something out of it.


Notes on Liberal Democracy

While noting that Donald Trump is most likely a horrible person, one of the good things emerging from this political season (and to a much lesser degree from the Bernie Sanders campaign) is the fact that the “party system” in particular and “liberal democracy” in general is failing to make good on its post-Enlightenment promises.  Of course, I expect left-wing outlets to attack any criticism of liberal democracy, but I was surprised to see some anti-Trump conservatives defend liberal democracy. Moreover, they see, possibly accurately, that the attacks on liberal democracy come increasingly from the so-called “Alt Right” and from monarchists like myself.

I don’t want to identify with the Alt Right simply because too many of them are vile racists and post-Nietzscheans.  Nevertheless, in many of these conversations few have actually defined and identified liberal democracy.  Taking my cue from Matthew Raphael Johnson, I’ll give it a try.  You will note that both Establishment Republicans and Establishment Democrats agree with every one of these points.  This is why “voting” rarely changes anything.

most of these points are taken from Matthew Raphael Johnson)

(1) Commitment to a market ideology which sees the world in quantified terms (and by market I don’t necessarily mean “capitalism,” though that could be included)
(2) a web of relations that depends on social credit
(3) Commitment to representative institutions, albeit with a major caveat: liberal loyalty to representative institutions only makes sense if liberalism itself is served.
(4) commitment to some abstract idea of “universal human rights.” But of course, a universal right is often too vague to be useful.

In another essay, Johnson lists these tenets as defining liberal democracy (especially in foreign politics)

1. Liberalism alone grants legitimacy.
2. Liberal values are comprehensive and self-evidently true. They require no supporting argumentation.
3. The “global community,” is a real entity, but the “nation” is the product of “myth.” It has the right to intervene wherever “democracy” is threatened.
4. Implicitly, the American taxpayer should be coerced to pay for these actions.
5. Capitalism is the sole rational mode of production.
6. Liberal democratic capitalism should be (and is) the only ideology that has the right to be imposed and enforced with American arms.
7. The only objects that exist in the universe are individuals. Collectives are only conventions.
8. Nationalism (which is undefined here) is inherently monstrous and ruinous. This includes all forms of economic nationalism such as import substitution.
9. Only the leader of global liberalism has the right to intervene in the politics of other states. Anyone else, especially if they are against the liberal consensus, does not have this right and should be obstructed by force.
10. American influence and power, if it is controlled by liberal values, is inherently just

Notes on Matt Johnson’s take on Herder

This is a highlight of Matthew Raphael Johnson’s “Some Thoughts on Johann Herder and Modernism” (originally available at www.rusjournal.com/herder.html; accessed 19 February 2009.  That website is now defunct and Johnson is slowly moving his material to the new and highly-recommended www.rusjournal.org).

These posts will try to show why the GOP utterly failed to account for the rise of  Trump and ultimately on why neoconservatism/neoliberalism not only is politically shallow, but probably mentally alienated.

  1. Herder’s Critique of the Enlightenment: the study of man is different from the study of empirical science.
    1. Peoples are distorted if they are abstracted from their whole.
  2. The idea of social contract is a false bill of goods.
    1. For such a contract to exist the civilizational apparatus would have to already be in place.
    2. This is why attempts to spread “democracy” universally fail.
  3. We are born into community and cannot exist apart from it.  Thus, the idea of autonomous man is false.
  4. Epistemological premise of Herder: the conceptualization of data must always use poetry and memory as valid modes of knowing.
    1. Epistemology is intensely social.
    2. If we divorce it from the social life in which we find it–and the historical consciousness–then we divorce knowledge from reality.
    3. We cannot remove “romance” from reason.
    4. The spirit of loyalty and tradition is what maintains loyalty, not mathematical and economic equations.  (This is why Donald Trump won the nomination.)  
      1. These are relations of family, church, village.
      2. These relations are immediate because it is these relations that make conceptual mediation (i.e., reason) possible.
  5. Aesthetics: to aestheticize nature is to imprint the general will upon it and place it within the cultural vortex.
    1. Language, tradition, memory must all form a unified whole.
    2. Failure to do this results in alienation.
  6. Organic is not pantheistic
    1. What does “organic” mean?  
    2. Simply that the whole is manifest in the part.
  7. The nation is not the State.
    1. Custom, tradition, and nationality are not things one “consents” to.
    2. They are the conditions for one to consent to anything.
    3. “Liberal” consent is a fraud.  No one consents to be economically ruled by George Soros.