A review by Dr. Ojembarrena – Former professor of Literature, University of Bilbao
Subtitled “on the politics of power,” this study in power provides a radical, exacting and unique visionary analysis of the present world-wide version of reality which allows the ruling elite to govern by processes which increase their exorbitant wealth, and at the same time systematically devastate Earth’s eco-system, subjecting the largest part of the world’s population to poverty and domination.
Interweaving political theory, history, bio-politics, and literature, it recognizes and identifies first the Ur-forms instated by the French Revolution, which constitute the model of power of the modern world, and which remain constant from 1789 down to our own time. It dissects afterwards how, throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, those Ur-forms have metamorphosed and come to their final shattering shape. And finally, it shows how their deus ex machina structuralist and determinist constitution can be broken by a new community of excellence operating under a new set of Ur-forms, opening up the gates of the future with the inaugural figure of the Bedouin.
Ian Dallas strips out one by one the mythical veils of the unified sets of beliefs, the Forms of a new social system, brought out by the Revolution – the rule of the people, the efficacy of willed and legislated society, the value of the new abstract money of the Assignats, the Human Rights, the new dawn of liberty, fraternity and equality. He shows how Terror was consubstantial to the new political model; how across Europe and the United States the way was paved by legislation to exempt from legislation; how once the social contract as guarantee of the individual liberty became in certain circumstances the suspension of liberty, the populace and the government moved without resistance into the zone of Terror.
“The re-structuration of the supra-national or indeed post-national State” – he writes – “leads us to the recognition that what is at present taking place is the classical modus operandi of Revolution itself. The passivity, even indifference of the mass before the legislation that removes independence to replace it with social safety, the configuration of an exterior enemy, itself wittily named Terrorism, the appearance of a leadership that takes over the machinery of State even with the appearance of being the elected government – all these elements emerging in unison must be inescapably the event called Revolution” (p.59).
Particularly revealing and matchless is Ian Dallas’s Heideggerian psychological diagnosis of the bio-politics of the two main characters of the revolutionary drama, Robespierre and Saint-Just, patriarchs of the new ruling elite; both men with an utopian dream of the world, virile and virginal, in which women played no role. Robespierre and Saint-Just will sweep aside the clergy and open the doors to a new financial elite with a new currency, the bankers – the Sect as they were defined by Proudhon – “who had been slowly gaining power since Louis XIV, emerged with a new evaluation of money. In place of the dyad, gold and silver coin embossed with the monarch’s head, came a new currency, paper money. In place of intrinsic real wealth – gold – came the new wealth, worth in real terms only the paper it was printed on – in practice valued by the numbers on it, workable, yet doomed to fluctuation and inflation depending on what backed it up. One day it would break free of the ties of collateral and remain an abstract numerical system even from its paper form to be the world tyrannising web of a wealth system itself reduced to flashing electronic signals of information passing between computer terminals” (p.105-6).
In the next stage, the book takes the reader through an exhaustive and dazzling phenomenological analysis of the metamorphosis of the Ur-forms of the Revolution; “the Great Interregnum,” in which power passed from the State to the Market, from the political elected leaders to the leaders of the financial Sect, in such a manner that at the outcome whoever ruled the Market ruled the People – the illusory technique, the quasi magical method of the art of the financial leaders.
By the end of the twentieth century, “ the social landscape was able to reveal that power had passed to a new class openly in command. The Sect had started its archetypal Rothschild pattern from 1815 to 1915. From the Korean war to the Iraqi and Afghan invasions can be observed and recorded the new burgeoning-in-wealth and decreasing-in-membership of a ruthless and globe destroying élite before whom the world may well tremble, although it scarcely knows their names. They are the same people who over the last few decades have systematically bought up the historical castles and places of Europe” (p. 204-5).
So in fact, renovation and the re-enforcement of power appear as the true historical function of revolutions.
The final chapter six unfolds the end of “the Great interregnum” and points out to the return to a visible leadership and an open loyalty, to the inaugural figure of the Bedouin. Ian Dallas shows that the power system of the investment-banking Sect, after having reached its apogee at the turn of the 20th century, now is in process of irreversible decline and collapse. To understand properly its inevitable demise he takes the reader through the world view of a group of intellectual luminaries of world culture, which include Ibn Khaldun, Goethe, Schiller, R. Wagner, F. Dostoevsky, Henrik Ibsen, R.M. Rilke, Heisenberg, C. Schmidt, and Ernst Jünger. In this worldview, man seeks liberation from a doomed society; a liberation dependent on a rescuing woman. The new Nomos is founded on: “a liberating couple which finds the woman upholding her beloved spouse’s project for mankind and womankind” (p.272-3)
It is a Nomos that corresponds to Bedouinism, the First Stage of Ibn Khaldun’s three stages through which man, as a collective animal, passes. Bedounism is not Nomadism. The Bedouin – very much like the figure that E. Junger calls Waldganger – is simply outside the passive urban community. He does not need theories, nor laws cooked up by party legalists, in order to know what is right. He has recognized himself as an in-time creature with a beyond-time contract. From his emergence there is born a Resistance. He is able to become by the power of growth and expansion a new civic force in which emerges “the most powerful force that the social man can experience. It is kinship that transcends the tribal and the familial” (p.275), a unification of the group that takes them to the Second Stage defined by Ibn Khaldun with the term ‘Asabiyya’ “the life and death unifying bond of brotherhood without blood ties […] Asabiyya unites men to find the power to act and transform and command […] If the binding factor (religio – to bind together) is there, that is Divine religion, it is, that being its highest possibility, assured a triumph” (p.276).
Stage Three is Kingship, the appointment of a King, which transfers that authority to each of the people of the Asabiyya. Once a people, a whole people take on this charge, they become an irresistible power.
Bringing to its culmination the world view which starts with Ibn Khaldun and ends in Ernst Jünger, the last pages of the book unfold the action of the new Bedouin who “will bring to an end the long Revolution that brought down the natural system defined by Ibn Khaldun” (p. 300).
by Dr. Ojembarrena – Former professor of Literature, University of Bilbao
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