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Schopenhauer and the Perception of the Real or Surreal Postmodernity (Part 2)
October 27, 2010
Schopenhauer is a crucial source in understanding the psychopathological
impact of religions, myths and systems of beliefs. At times he labels them
“allegories” whereas in other places he describes them as the “metaphysics of
the masses” or “people’s metaphysics” (Volksmetaphysik).
Just as people have popular poetry and the popular wisdoms or proverbs, they
also need popular metaphysics. They need an interpretation of life; and
this interpretation must be suited for their comprehension. The great majority
of humans have at best a weak faculty for weighing reasons and discriminating
between the fact and the fiction.
Does this sound familiar?
No belief system, no ideology, no religion is immune from self-serving
delusional tenets linked to false perceptions of reality, although, in due time,
each of them will undergo the process of demythologization and eventually become
a laughing stock for those who see the illusions underlying these delusional
We can illustrate this changing masquerade of history repeating
itself when observing the mindset of modern opinion makers. People have always
wished, by means of different allegories, to transcend their cursed reality and
make frequent excursions into the spheres of the hyperreal, the unreal, or the
surreal — in order to offset the absurdity of their existence. It is natural
that they resort to religious and ideological devices, however aberrant or
criminal these allegorical devices may subsequently turn out to be.
Accordingly, the motor of religious mass mimicry, which
Schopenhauer describes, is again our objectified will. Consequently, the whole
course of human life is patterned along the principle of imitation, where even
the smallest thing in our perception is borrowed from that role model who is
viewed now as a path-breaking innovator or a new messiah. Mimicry is the
powerful motor of the will, the theme which was later expanded by Schopenhauer’s
disciples, such as
Gustave Le Bon.
Intelligent individuals amidst our modern rootless
masses realize that some beliefs are fraudulent and harmful, but for the sake of
social conformity they accept them. They will rather listen to others than trust
their own head. As Schopenhauer writes, the
bad thing about all religions
is that instead of being able to admit their allegorical nature, they conceal
it. Absurdities form an essential part of popular beliefs.
Schopenhauer’s teaching on religions, including his denunciation of the
will to political power, was borrowed from the religions of Hinduism and
Buddhism. He has good words for Catholicism though, which for him is a religion
World as Will and Idea,
p. 372). But it
would be a serious error, based on a fragmentary reading of his work, to
conclude that he was rejecting one religion at the expense of the other.
Although Schopenhauer may be described as an atheist or agnostic, his sense of
spirituality was very strong. Of all religions Judaism
is the worst religion, notes Schopenhauer in his famous book
The genuine religion of the Jews … is the crudest of all religions (die
roheste aller Religionen.)
The ongoing contempt for Jews, amidst their contemporary peoples, may have been
to a large degree due to the squalid (armsälig)
qualities of their religion. ... In any case the essence of any religion
consists, as such, in its persuasion that it provides for us, namely that our
actual existence is not only limited to our life, but that it remains timeless.
The appalling (erbärmlich)
Jewish region does not fulfil this; indeed, it does not even try to. ...
Therefore, this is the crudest and the worst of all religions consisting only in
an absurd and outrageous (empörend)
theism. ... While all
other religions endeavour to explain to the people by symbols and parables the
metaphysical significance of life, the religion of the Jews is entirely immanent
and furnishes nothing but a mere war-cry (Kriegsgeschrei)
in the struggle with other nations” (pp. 136–137).
Some of Schopenhauer’s words about the power of the blind will can easily be applied to our postmodern times — for example, how the will to believe in something has been hijacked by liberal political elites.
The Hyperreal: The Denial and its Double
We can now jump over to the 20th and 21st century
and observe how Schopenhauer’s ideas provide a good fit to the mass illusions
accompanying the rising tide of the democratic mystique. How does the will
objectify itself in the political arena today? As I wrote
in my essay,
Vilfredo Pareto and
inclined to project their perception of the real world into its embellished
Example: None of us is entirely happy with his looks; no political
theorist is happy with the world as it is. We all strive to be someone else; we
all wish to project either our physique or the present political order into its
loftier, distant, and more romantic substitute. As a result, the masses, but
also our politicians, assess values and objective reality not as they are, but
rather as they’d like to see them. Our passionate need for a change, as a rule,
results in inevitable disappointments and feelings of betrayal.
Following Schopenhauer’s logic, it is a serious error to assume that some
contemporary politician in the
To illustrate the will for self-delusion, one may observe contemporary
leftists and antifascist militants within Schopenhauer’s framework of analysis.
What they say is already based on their prior self-persuasions, which are the
reflections of the prevailing beliefs of their time. Pareto, as a valiant
disciple of Schopenhauer’s methods, notes that
"many people are not socialists because they have been
persuaded by reasoning. Quite the contrary; these people acquiesce to such
reasoning because they are (already) socialists."
Their will, however aberrantly it may objectify itself in the ravings for some
communistic mystique, defies any empirical argument.
Schopenhauer is of paramount importance in understanding our perception
of postmodern reality, or our hyperreality, as some authors call it. The surreal
world of the liberal dogma — that is, the world in which we live — fits
perfectly Schopenhauer’s teaching on the flawed perception of the real.
Moreover, Schopenhauer’s work is a useful tool for deciphering liberal
mendacity, which has become today the cornerstone of the new world order. The
postmodern West is enveloped in the virtual reality of the electronic age (the “videosphere”)
and media make-believe, which incessantly turn every real political event into a
How does the liberal mystique or, to use Schopenhauer’s
word, ‘allegory’, operate today? The process that started with the abstraction
of the objective, as a result of the mass media, has ended now in
reality, as the postmodern author
Jean Baudrillard writes.
The virtual itself is “negationist,” or denial-prone. The virtual takes
away the substance of the real. “We are living in a society of historical denial by virtue of its
Disbelief reigns everywhere, even if there are solid
and empirical proofs of the opposite. No longer is some historical or political
event perceived as “real” or truthful. For instance the memory of the Holocaust
functions today as the largest civic religion of the West. The Holocaust is a
system of belief serving not only a commemorative goal; it is also a cognitive
paradigm for interpreting all aspects of our contemporary society. The issue,
however, is no longer the body count of people who died in the Holocaust;
rather, the issue is the fact that the postmodern virtual world by definition
minimizes or maximizes the hyperreal at the expense of the real.
This rule of
the hyperreal or the
applies now to all grand narratives, especially those teeming with
victimological themes. Even honest historians or social theorists can no longer
be taken as real. Why? The big
postmodern question will immediately start hovering over their heads: What if
that guy is telling the lies? What if he does not tell the truth? Victimologies,
and victimhoods no longer sound persuasive as they have found their media
hyper-substitutes, which either re-enact, or deactivate the real past crime.
Therefore, the modern media and politicians must make
political decisions in a desperate attempt to dismantle the
bad decision, the
inaction by making it up to the real victim with an
overkill of repenting rhetoric and
decision making (massive security checks at airports, always new mass
commemorations, etc). If the lives of the masses of people who perished cannot
be restored, let us restore their memory by the hyperreal media! Why resuscitate
the living, when the resuscitation of the dead is a far better business?
One can analyze the postmodern wars, the so-called Gulf
War in 1991 and the war in Bosnia in 1995 using the concepts of the hyperreal
and the double. When these wars were televised and commented on by talking heads
on TV screens, their real and horrible reality was cancelled out. Spectators
were therefore much more likely to support these wars.
Neither can our history writing be a matter of academic
discussion any more. Historical narratives about real or surreal fascist crimes
or White man crimes or the current mantra on White man guilt have attained a
grotesque level of psychological saturation, to the point that for politically
conscious Whites they soon sink into oblivion — and laughter — as they are
deconstructed. Even if some past mass crimes are empirically verifiable, the
masses will start reconstructing its negative Double — after first
deconstructing its Real antecedent.
The Age of Postmodernity is basically the age of
deconstruction, where no single verity can hold sway for a long time. Here is
the vicious circle of the hyperreal. If one is encouraged to deconstruct the
real world and denounce political beliefs as a passing allegory, as Schopenhauer
did, why not deconstruct new contemporary civic religions, such the monotheism
of the capitalist market or the civic religion of victimhood?
Spectral Verities, Viral Lies
We all live the hyperreal, as the French philosopher
we all crave for the
it in its negative or the positive form.
We all wish to be something we are not; the duplicate of ourselves.
“In place of the world as it is, we
invent a ‘duplicate’ or a ‘double,’ a parallel universe which functions as a
phantom rival to the existing world.”
The disadvantage of living in the real world is that life in it is drab,
frightening, or boring; the advantage of the “doubled” life lies not only in the
fact that such life does not exist, but that such life doesn’t even have to
exist in order for us to believe it to be true and real! In other words, this
desire for a spectral world is not so much a desire for something different, as
it is a desire to get rid of the real world.
Who are the new paradigms or role models of our hyperreal postmodernity? Once upon a time the role model for Western man was a rugged individual, a Prometheus unbound, a war hero, a conqueror like Cortez, Columbus, or General Lee. Today the will for the hyperreal requires his double or his denial, or better yet the “doubled denial.” As a result, the new role models for the West are the degenerates, the retards, the non-Whites, the pederasts, the pathetic and the perverts. Baudrillard: “The Courtier was the most remarkable figure of the aristocratic order. The Militant was the most remarkable figure of the social and revolutionary order. The Penitent is the most remarkable figure of our advanced postmodern democratic politicians.”
But these degenerate role models are in turn subject to deconstruction, especially by proud, psychologically healthy White people who are being victimized by the legitimization of these role models.
Granted, we are witnessing the end of the big narratives, such as
antifascist victimology. However, the unresolved work of mourning the real (or
hyperreal) victims of fascism or racism is in full swing. In other words, the
antifascist, antiracist war (with all its political, media and legal
prohibition) continues unabated. Even if real racism and fascism are dead and
gone, they need to be resurrected in a
manner in order to give the mourners an opportunity to repent for the failed
duty to prevent it from happening.
Never again, never again!
— this is a new war cry of our
This strategy of the hyperreal “never again”, is directed not only at
preventing similar events from happening again in the future — as expressed in
the forms of a myriad of memorial
centers commemorating the Holocaust. It is also meant to be a tool of
unravelling, in a vicarious and imaginary way, of the real past historical
disaster that befell the Jews or the non-Whites. Likewise, the wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq are waged today as the
indeed, they are not just the wars for stopping the terror; they are the wars
for removing the past sins of the political class, which led to the real terror
of the dreadful 9/11! The goal is now to retroactively cancel out the inflicted
national disgrace and humiliation of the ruling elites. This is why the actual
wars and our public discourse all over the West are “non-events”. Never again,
And this is why the hyperreal or the double are pure illusions. They cannot last. The violent and the objective real is waiting in the wings and it will soon take the upper hand. Is it for real?
Tom Sunic (websites
author, translator, former
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