Monday, 1 February 2021

Charles Maurras, “On the Classical Spirit” (1922)

“De l’esprit classique,” note 1 to “Trois idées politiques,” Romantisme et Révolution (Paris: Nouvelle Libraire Nationale, 1922), pp. 269–70. My translation. A short, lapidary exposition of Maurras’ conception of the classicism–romanticism dichotomy. His analysis owes much to Pierre Lasserre. Here Maurras represents the more straightforwardly political side of the classicist current within conservative-revolutionary thought, Lasserre and T. E. Hulme representing the middle term, and T. S. Eliot giving probably the most influential and most straightforwardly aesthetic formulation.


A deplorable error, due perhaps to the prejudices of the professor or the former student, led our master Taine to designate as classical the spirit that prepared the way for Revolution. On reflection, classical Antiquity played but a minute part in it. As far as classical books are concerned, the Revolutionary bibliography includes hardly more than Plato’s Republic and Plutarch’s Parallel Lives; nor would these be present had not the Father and Doctor of revolutionary ideas, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, borrowed from them more language than substance.

Sunday, 31 January 2021

André Breton, Surrealism and René Guénon

A little on André Breton, Surrealism and René Guénon from Patrick Lepetit, “Surréalisme et ésotérisme,” Mélusine (23 February 2020). Breton cites Guénon favourably in “Du surréalisme en ses oeuvres vives,” Manifestes du surréalisme (Gallimard, 1979), pp. 187–8, n. 1. For an English version, see Breton, Manifestoes of Surrealism, transl. Richard Seaver and Helen R. Lane (U. Michigan Press), p. 304.

After the Second World War, a whole group of discreet surrealists, among them Bernard Roger, René Alleau, Roger Van Hecke, Guy-René Doumayrou, Elie-Charles Flamand and Jean Palou belonged, under the leadership of another medical man, Dr. Hunwald, to the Thebah Lodge of the Grande Loge de France, which had briefly been the lodge of René Guénon. All of them except Jean Palou—who, passing from the Grand Loge to the Grand Orient via the Grande Loge Nationale Française, saw a glittering career, and would go on to found lodges and chapters in the Shah’s Iran, before dying prematurely—remained members until the end. Regarding René Guénon, a French esotericist who needs no introduction, it should be known that, in 1925, Breton, who admired him as did Artaud and Queneau, sent Pierre Naville to suggest that he join the surrealist movement; which the author of The Crisis of the Modern World refused, considering it the perfect expression of that counter-initiation that he condemned in all European esoteric societies. Still, in 1953, in an article entitled “René Guénon jugé par le surréalisme,” and though there is no longer any doubt as to the reactionary nature of Guénonian thought, Breton said:

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Some Maxims and Missiles of Rivarol

A few “maxims and missiles,” or “pensées et paradoxes,” by the Comte de Rivarol, translated from Rivarol: avec une notice et une portrait (Paris: Mercure de France, 1906), pp. 351–9. For something similar, see “Selections from Vauvenargues” (this blog, 17 September 2020) and “Steps upon the Sand,” Azure Bell (20 October 2020).

Men are not as wicked as you say. Twenty years it took you to write a bad book; and but a moment it took them to forget it.

“You spoke a lot with some rather annoying men.” “I spoke for fear of listening.”

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Golo Mann on the Conservative Revolution in Germany

Golo Mann’s discussion of the Conservative Revolution in The History of Germany since 1789 (Penguin, 1985) begins with Oswald Spengler, whose positions (anti-Hohenzollern, socialist, anti-progressive, militarist), mark the beginning of a novel movement, “overthrowing conventional ways of thinking in politics.” For Mann, the C.R. is “confused,” a “strange combination of words,” and yet somehow, perfectly simple: Conservative Revolutionists “rejected not certain aspects of the Republic but the whole of it, and the whole present; they [] wanted to ask completely new questions and offer completely new ideas” (p. 620).

Their temperament was unsuited to parliamentarism or the new international order, though suited to poetry and the formation of groupuscules (pp. 620–1). Mann provides a perfect, lapidary, aphoristic précis of “the conservative-revolutionary attitude” (Mohler): “They wanted a new Reich without party squabbles, a Reich of the young and of masculine virtues, a great, proud gathering around a camp-fire instead of the capital Berlin. They expected much more from the modern state than it can give them at the best of times” (p. 621). Here we have their anti-parliamentarism, the spirit of the Freikorps (“the Ideas of 1914”), the bündisch spirit. And of course “the best of times,” measured by “quality of life,” which strikes them as the coming of the Last Man: see Leo Strauss on “German Nihilism” Interpretation, 26.3 (spring, 1999), specifically p. 360.

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Kondylis on Conservatism with Notes on Conservative Revolution

Notes on Panagiotis Kondylis, “Conservatism as a Historical Phenomenon.” This is to my knowledge the only substantial excerpt from Kondylis’ Konservativismus (Stuttgart, 1986) available in English. The translation is by “C.F.” from “Ὁ συντηρητισμὸς ὡς ἱστορικὸ φαινόμενο,” Λεβιάθαν, 15 (1994), pp. 51–67, and remains unpublished, but discoverable in PDF format online. Page references below are to that PDF. I have altered the translation very slightly in some places.

Kondylis aims to understand conservatism not as a “historical” or “anthropological constant,” but as a “concrete historical phenomenon” bound to, and thus coterminous with, a time and a place (pp. 1–2). But even such historicist scholarship often takes too narrow a view, according to which conservatism is a reaction against, and thus “derivative” of, the Revolution, or, at best, against Enlightenment rationalism (pp. 2–3).

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Stefan Breuer, Panagiotis Kondylis and the Question of “Conservative Revolution”

Alain de Benoist, “Intervista sulla rivoluzione conservatrice,” Terra Insubre (2007):

Stefan Breuer disputed that one can speak of “conservatism” or of “neo-conservatism” when it comes to the Conservative Revolution. He depended for this purpose upon the works of Panagiotis Kondylis, who, in a large work published in 1986, declared that conservatism, entering into an irreversible decline in the second half of the nineteenth century, was unable to rejuvenate itself in Germany on account of its historical links with the Ancien Régime. For Kondylis, the progressive elimination of the nobility, the caste that sustained historical conservatism, doomed political conservatism, which could not survive on its own, except by accommodating liberalism, or by “aestheticizing” certain of its foundations.

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Current Projects: Giorgio Locchi and Conservative Revolution in England

I write more or less what I please on this blog; but underlying it all are two ongoing projects—one medium-term, one longer-term.

Translating Giorgio Locchi

The good people at the Rogue Scholar Press were kind enough to bring some attention to my translations of Giorgio Locchi’s essays. My thanks to them!

I’ve Englished texts by a few different authors, but Locchi most of all. You can find a number of draft (but perfectly readable and, I think, generally reliable) versions under the Giorgio Locchi tag. I’ve done some more, yet unposted, and am in the middle of a couple; but the “to translate” pile is still fairly formidable…