Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Breaking The Sword

"And perhaps the great day will come when a people, distinguished by wars and victories and by the highest development of a military order and intelligence, and accustomed to make the heaviest sacrifices in these things, will exclaim of its own free will, "We break the sword", and will smash its entire military establishment down to its lowest foundations. Rendering oneself unarmed when one had been the best-armed, out of intense emotion- that is the real means to peace, which must always rest on peace of mind, whereas so-called armed peace, as it now exists in all countries, is the absence of peace of mind. One trusts neither oneself nor one's neighbor and, half from hatred, half from fear, does not lay down arms. Rather perish than hate and fear, and twice rather perish than make oneself hated and feared- this must someday become the highest maxim for every single commonwealth too."

-Friedrick Nietzsche-


  1. "Samtliche Werke: Kristische Studienausgabe, vol. 2 (Berlin: Walter de Gruter, 1980) p. 679
    cited by Slavoj Zizek in "The Parallax View", "From Surplus-Value to Surplus-Power", (Cambridge, MIT Press, 2006) p.280

    'The late work of Heidegger is to be opposed to Nietzsche: what can be more incompatible with 'Gelassenheit' than the Nietzschian celebration of war and ruthless struggle as the only path towards the greatness of man? As many perceptive readers have noticed, however, these "militaristic" injunctions- so numerous and well known that it is superfluous to quote them- are accompannied by a continuous line of "pacifistic" statements, most famous among them the call for a unilateral "breaking the sword:, the call for an act, if there ever was one."

  2. One the contrary, this was just the sort of thing Hitler liked:

    "Through extensive scientific research Riedel had determined that beyond the five known senses, the human possessed additional perceptive capacities that a gone unrecognizd and that existed in a vestigial state. By identifying and cultivating these untapped cognitive abilities, a person was able to access reserves of knowledge and insight, to connect to the deeper forces that moved the world, those universal "reservoirs" of knowledge decribed by Carl Ludwig Schleich and Ernst Schertel. (p 157)

    Hitler draws a thick line beside this passage on page 69 of Schertel's book "Magic", then traces Schertel's reflections on Schleich's observations. Schertel notes, with Hitler's pencil in train, that the great cultures of the past were unthinkable without the grand ideas that were willed into existence by individuals of " imaginative power", who were not "slaves" to empirical realities, who could imagine a world and then will it into existence through the force of their personality. Schetel describes this creative genius as the" truly ektropic", an energizing force possessed of demonic qualities that is capable of shaping the course of the world. (p160)

    "One has always said that the European has the capacity for a particularly well-developed 'sense of reality', 'sense for facts' etc." Schertel writes, "But a closer look shows that he looks right past 'reality' and 'fact' and that what he holds in his hands are empty images.The entire materialism and rationalism of our era is in complete contradiction to the deeper sense of reality and facts..."

    With the ektropic dynamic there is no such thing as "real" or "unreal", as "true" or "false", as "right" or "wrong". Only when this completely irrational, immoral, apersonal force has consumed us can we percieve these values.

    Here we glimpse at least a portion of Hitler's essential core. It was less a distillation of the philosophies of Schopenhauer or Nietzsche than a dime-store theory cobbled together from cheap, tendentious paperbacks and esoteric hardcovers, which provided the justification for a thin, calculating, bullying mendacity.

    It was Schertel's "ektropic" man, not Schopenhauer's genius of will or even Nietzsche's "new man" born beyond good and evil, who greeted Carl Burckhardt on that airy crag above the Obersalzberg in early August 1939, who seemed to have the ability to "usher in the end of civiization', and it was this same "ektropic" man who stood two weeks later in the great hall of the Berghof, framed against the imposing face of the Untersberg, and told his generals of his decision to go the war." (p. 161)

    -Hitler's Private Library: The Books That Shaped His Life by Timothy W. Ryback; Knopf, 2008-

  3. "When Goebbels handed Hitler the abridged German translation of Carlyle's biography of Fredrick The Great, a sprawling twenty-one hundred-page epic published between 1858 and 1865, he was not only fueling Hitler's lifelong preoccupation with Fredrick the Great but handing him a book by an author whose notions of leadership and history Hitler had long embraced." (p207)

    "We will never know the titles of the books Hitler had at his bedside table the day he killed himself but we do know eighty books tht were in the bunker complex at the time, some rather recent acquisitions, such as a 1943 book titled "A Prehistory of Roosevelt's War", by Hans Heinrich Dieckhoff. But there were also books he had acquired as a young man and at some point brought with him to Berlin: a 1913 treatise on Wagner's Parsifal, a tract on racial values published in 1917, a 1921 history of the swastika, and a dozen or so books on mystical and occult subjects all from the early 1920's, including a 120-page paperback called The Prophesies of Nostradamus by Carl Loog, published in 1921"-Ryback (p.217)

  4. "How Wolowitz and the Straussian neoconservatives came to their view of the world and their method of operation requires a brief venture into some of Strauss's ideas.

    There are, according to Strauss, two ways to read or write a philosophical work. There is the "exoteric" text- that is, what is on the page- and the "esoteric" text, the secret meaning that only certain careful readers can understand. The Straussian method is to see what does not exist except to a Straussian.

    The Straussians in the Bush Administration read the world as Strauss read Spinoza. They whispered what they divined into the ear of the president, and the president went to war (they divined weapons of mass destruction). Perhaps they thought they were acting according to right reason. Perhaps fear drove them to read secret meanings into what they saw in the world....

    One suspects that President Bush, with his simplistic messianic mind-set, was attracted to this line of reasoning: natural right based on the innate ability to distinguish between right and wrong irrespective of the conventions of diplomacy or international law."

    The Politics of Heaven; America in Fearful Times by Earl Shorris, Norton, N.Y. 2007

    Perhaps the President wasn't even all that concerned with right or wrong. Perhaps he was just exercising the "ektropic man within", trusting that Americans would do their utmost to convert whatever disaster arose into "a stroke of good fortune" and incontrovertable "success", being so habitually dis-inclined to identify themselves with any sort of failure or defeat in the very first instance anyway.

  5. You may note that Nietzshe has the greatest and most powerful nation "breaking the sword". Meanwhile all the pipsqueak nations like North Korea will follow our current example, and become the butt of our self-justifying blame.