PLATO AND THE 4TH POLITICAL THEORY – A BRIEF SYNTHESIS OF POSSIBILITIES
I – THE INTELLECTUAL PROBLEM OF CONSERVATISM
“Why positing a Platonic Conservatism is Vital, and Why Plato is Fundamental Towards a New Model of Intellect and Society”
We can argue concisely that the domain of the modern is by excellence the domain of immanence – in detriment to the complete removal of transcendence and anything above. This is seen for instance in Nietzsche’s philosophy. The paradigms of post-modernity are predicated mainly upon the so-called “trans-valuation of all values”, but also most centrally, we must witness that Nietzsche’s perspective is characteristically very modern in its essence and its core. The Nietzschean denial of Metaphysics, his scathing critique of Platonism, and his overvaluation of immanence and historicism together with his complete denial of Being and Truth are a result of his denial of the supra-physical aspect of reality and the human intellect. This denial works, simultaneously, with the deep Nihilism that has engulfed German philosophy during Heidegger’s days and also during our own post-modernity.
Nietzsche then, is not only the father of the postmodern, he is also ultra-modern – all of modernity taken to its most radical conclusions finds its intellectual conclusions and summary in Nietzsche’s work. This acts in coordination with Modernity’s alienation from Being and from the realm of Intellectual Principles that was first exposed in Plato and the Pythagoreans. We also see this not only in Nietzsche, but also in Heidegger and other authors of the period, like Henri Bergson or Goethe, who have effectively made nature and immanence divine and stood in radical denial of anything supra-sensible or intellectual – and it is also perhaps not a coincidence that Heidegger and Nietzsche themselves stand at the summit of post-modernity with its concurrent and total dissolution. Ahmad Fardid, perhaps one of the most enlightened Iranian Heideggerians and a devout Shia Muslim, made in view of these considerations a scathing criticism of this current within Western philosophy – that found its deepest expression on vitalism – by arguing correctly that the darkness of the natural world, of manifested reality, is taken in a genuinely inverted fashion as a “light” by the adepts of vitalism – intellectuals like Bergson, Spengler and Nietzsche.
Of course the denial of metaphysics is not only current among Nietzscheans, but also finds its innermost expression in most, if not all, currents of modern philosophy – exactly the core of the thinking that we should seek to reject in earnest. Of this, we can only say that Ahmad Fardid correctly concluded that there is no gnosis in Western civilization, especially the present day hyper-modern Western civilization – and that also, in earnest, this means that the idolatry of nature and the ego have taken over the modern mentality, all of this with perhaps the gravest consequences possible for the intellectual outlook of all those concerned.
The theme which I seek to resurrect – in conformity with the goals of the 4th political theory – is the theme of Metaphysics, of the study and acknowledgment of being qua being, which is almost forgotten in the modern intellect. Apart from a few Aristotelian disciples, we could say that A. Fardid’s own broad diagnosis that all of Western thought has become intoxicated with humanism, with idolatry, with forgetfulness, and now only talks about the actual existing reality and objects in space instead of being qua being or metaphysical principles, holds truth very consistently. Yet, we should acknowledge that our own perspective should never ever be limited by the constraints of human reason, by the profane outlook, or even the vicissitudes that are typical of the Aristotelian perspective and its inherent limitations.
We must recognize that “Philosophy” in its original inception, with Plato, had a significantly different meaning and outlook from the current one that is assigned to it; as well as the prejudices and superstitions associated with Enlightenment rationalism, liberalism, and so on, that persist among most of the minds that still tackle the deep study of philosophy. And we must seek, as per Heidegger and others, to uncover the original roots of philosophy as an exercise in unveiling – or aletheia – and recover again the lost dimension of its transcendent and practical intellect & ascesis that was current among the Ancients. This is not fundamentally incompatible with the search for mystical paradigms within the East that still preserve that which the West has lost, remarkably, in their sapient outlook. As we shall see, the East can still provide fresh ground for a Traditional renewal of Western civilization, as devised by Coomaraswamy, Guenon, and others.
“Philosophy”, as devised by Plato’s school, and before him by the Orphics and Pythagoreans, consists in a fundamental ascesis, in a fundamental actualization in which to know is fundamentally tied with being, with states of being. This understanding is vital, because once we know that precepts such as the Intelligible world, the Forms, and the Intellect, are grounded de facto in a supra-sensible reality that is independent of the ephemerality and mindless Heraclitean becoming of sensible immanence, we should be then aware of the fact that we can posit a model of civilization that is centered upon pure Being and pure Metaphysics, not on Becoming and immanence, not on individualism, not on subjective and relative opinions as the present-day civilization of modernity is mistakenly centered upon.
“Time cannot measure Eternity”. In the same vein, according to the Phaedo, we should be aware of the real, primordial, original and central meaning which was assigned to the so-called “Love of Wisdom”, by the adepts of the Platonic school:
“It really has been shown to us that, if we are ever to have pure knowledge, [e]
we must escape from the body and observe things in themselves with the soul by
itself. It seems likely that we shall, only then, when we are dead, attain that
which we desire and of which we claim to be lovers, namely, wisdom, as our
argument shows, not while we live; for if it is impossible to attain any pure
knowledge with the body, then one of two things is true: either we can never
attain knowledge or we can do so after  death. Then and not before, the soul
is by itself apart from the body. While we live, we shall be closest to knowledge
if we refrain as much as possible from association with the body and do not join
with it more than we must, if we are not infected with its nature but purify
ourselves from it until the god himself frees us. In this way we shall escape the
contamination of the body’s folly; we shall be likely to be in the company of
people of the same kind, and by our own efforts we shall know all that is pure,
which is [b] presumably the truth, for it is not permitted to the impure to attain
- Plato, Phaedo
In other words, “Philosophy” means to contemplate the Intelligible World, not to fall trap to the mindless and nearly endless abstract schemes that are proper to worldly and profane rationalism.
Unless one can contemplate the world of Being with the eyes of the soul, and of ascesis, one cannot go beyond the realm of mere opinion – except if one still at this profane and immanent reality of the body enters the realm of hard, objective mathematics that grounds our most solid and exact sciences. This sort of understanding that is proper not only to Plato but also to many mystical schools of the East is fundamental as the sort of intellectual paradigm and foundation that will underlie the new Conservatism and the new paradigms of civilization that the 4th Political Theory can offer us.
This brief schematic offers us an outline of Plato’s broad view of the hierarchy of knowledge, and how it is applicable in our broad effort to create a new model of civilization rooted upon the pure metaphysical background.
METAPHYSICAL OR INTELLIGIBLE REALM
Episteme or “True” Knowledge
Noesis or Intelligence, the Nous
Forms, ascesis, intellection
Dianoia or Discursive Understanding
Mathematics, Mathematical Structure of the Intelligible World
EMPIRICAL OR SENSIBLE (“IRRATIONAL”) REALM
Doxa or “Opinion”
Pistis or Belief, Opinion
Eikasia or Imagination
Sensible world, objects of empirical experience, imagination, emotions, desires, speculations based on empirical abstractions
II – CIVILIZATIONS OF BEING AND CIVILIZATIONS OF BECOMING
In light of what we have grasped here, we must then approach Rene Guénon, Julius Evola, AK Coomaraswamy and many others’ distillation into the subject. It would be then that given this fundamental difference, and given the absence of the sacred in modernity, there is a fundamental dichotomy between modern civilization and Traditional civilization, and that an understanding of the deeper aspects of this difference is fundamental towards the attainment of our goals of rebuilding Tradition at the expense of late Modernity.
To understand this, we must know that Rene Guénon once objectively criticized the Moderns’ infatuation with change as irrational, since according to his deep Platonic perspective, “change itself is irrational”. Now this won’t seem paradoxical, if and only if we can seek to grasp the essence of Modernity as a civilization that has sunk into immanence and becoming, while Traditional civilization retained a primordial link to Being. And if, as a result of this alienation of Being well described in Heidegger’s work, modern civilization were not to fall completely into nihilism, into meaninglessness, into epistemological anarchy, and also on a sub-lunar moral, intellectual and sentimental outlook (the logos of Cybele) that amounted precisely to the vices and the shallowness that was so despised and forbidden by the previous civilizations of Being and Tradition (who were more Apollinean, or even Dyonisian, in their proper outlook).
In order for us to rebuild Tradition, it is essential to understand this “fall”, as it were, and identify with the Renaissance, with Humanism and with Individualism, Atomism, (Logical) Positivism, broadly – but also more fundamentally, unconsciously and basically with the character of Western Christianity, which according to comrade A. Dugin (in Metafisika Blagoi Vestii), correctly identifies that there is no room for a supra-individual, esoteric understanding of the Intelligible Realm – to use the Platonic and Pythagorean terminology – within the purvey of its religious, sentimental and exoteric frame. Western or Latin Christianity and its triumph in late Antiquity did much to effect a recovery of Tradition within the ruins of the West, and the religious and spiritual decadence of the Ancient World. Yet we must be sure that this came at the cost of effacing all the genuine and more elitist strains of initiation and spirituality (like the Platonic Academy) that in themselves retained a sound intellectual understanding of the world of Principles, of the Intelligible Realm, and of “Philosophy” in the original, strict, Platonic sense – as opposed to the later decadence of such Philosophy into a purely speculative and abstract mind game of rationality focused upon the merely abstracted sensible aspects of this reality.
Or to be objective after these extensive clarifications, Traditional Civilization, or the Civilizations of Being, were centered upon the values of Permanence, of Tradition, of Objective Rules and Morality and the Sacred, Timeless World of Being that worked behind the veil of sensible and immediate appearances.
Modern Civilization, on the other hand – and this is evident within its character and its essence since its heydays and up to the present stagnation and decadence – is characterized by a deification of Becoming, of immanence, of the natural world taken in its most superficial aspects, and so on. It is also marked by a pronounced fall, by a forgetfulness of intellectual discourse, by the proliferation of meaningless and particular viewpoints, by the ontological chaos, by nihilism, and by forgetfulness – where the realm of principles becomes as a rule entirely relative, and entirely chained and enslaved to the unhinged and unlimited needs of production and materialism, of financial speculation, of usury, and the broad spectrum of needs of the now dominant plutocratic and cosmopolitan forces that despise the values of the previous, more heroic and ascetic ages and arrogate themselves the status of a so-called “enlightened” elite.
Thus we must become very much aware, using these comparisons as a vital mark, of the decadence that the Modern world has brought upon itself by its denial of Tradition and its submersion into immanence, as well as its outright denial of the Metaphysical realm perhaps best embodied in Nietzsche’s outlook. This process of decadence, must be remedied by a recovery to the link towards Being, towards the sacred, and towards the immaterial Plotinian and Neoplatonic Intellect – as a direct counter-position to the demonic processes of dissolution that plague the post-modern world and pull us away from the fundamental realities that once grounded superior civilizations fully and effectively.
And it so, perhaps, that we might begin to embody a new civilization that is absolutely centered upon the paradigms of Stability, Permanence, Truth, Sacrality, Wisdom, Tradition, Authority – while firmly and emphatically rejecting the Liberal dissolution that has deteriorated, defaced and corrupted much of Conservatism within our age. As we have laid out these considerations, Plato can give us a bright light outside of the present age, and into an age that lies outside of postmodern decay, towards the genuine values of Traditional civilization as once known by humanity in past ages and in direct counter-position to the decadence of the present-day liberal humanity.