Joseph Maistre and the Inevitability of Evil

Joseph de Maistre (1753–1821)

Note: Below is my article I originally wrote in French for the French-Breton website of the European Identitarians, Breizh-Info

To each of us his own author, to each of us his own interpretation of the author’s work. For several reasons I chose for our discussion today a Savoyard writer and philosopher Joseph de Maistre. Maistre was a contemporary of Napoleon, although he barely ever mentions Napoleon in his work. He was also a disciple of the Enlightenment, although he was its fiercest opponent. All of us must therefore ask ourselves a question; well, what does Maistre have to do with us and how relevant is he to Europeans living now in the liberal System? I will briefly examine Maistre’s beliefs and also discuss whether he can be useful in understanding the dominant ideas of our time. Can Europeans still use portions of his teachings in the face of coming catastrophes? As to my choice of this author, there is also a personal side to it.  Understanding and interpreting any literary work often depends on the mood and character of the interpreter. Being by nature inclined towards cultural pessimism and being skeptical of the idea of progress, it should come as no surprise that I chose Maistre and his criticism of liberal happy tomorrows.  Moreover, let us also recall that this year marks the bicentenary of his death.

First of all, we must recall that Maistre’s political ideas are closely linked to his ultra-Catholic and Ultramontane beliefs, as well as his unshakeable belief in the iron fist of divine Providence. Being cursed by Original Sin, the human species, from birth onwards, is doomed to eternal Evil, as well as to being a victim of ceaseless suffering. Man cannot escape from Evil even if he is good, even if he considers himself a virtuous man, and even if he boasts of never having done any harm to his fellow man. On the contrary, the more virtuous a man is, the more likely he will be exposed to Evil, which Maistre refers to as “hereditary fault.”:  “On the other hand, it is equally possible that a man tortured for a crime he did not commit really merited punishment for an absolutely unknown crime.” [i]

Consequently, following our gratuitous birth we have irrevocably “fallen into time” —the expression coined by Emile Cioran, a prominent French-Romanian doomsday philosopher whose own work was profoundly inspired by Maistre. As a result of this Fall, all of us, without any exception, are toys of reversibility—that is to say, we are meant to atone not only for the faults and defaults of our distant ancestors, faults which they may have committed without their prior knowledge of it; but we are equally obliged to atone for crimes of those who are harming us now, and even those who had harmed either us or others, thousands and thousands of years before we were born, and whose names we will never know.

Maistre reminds us that “evil has sullied everything, and all of man is nothing but sickness.”[ii] Therefore, any pursuit of earthly happiness falls short—a pathetic endeavor doomed to failure; for he who refuses to suffer is not worthy of being called a human being.

Examples of perpetual Evil abound. Indeed, it suffices to have a quick glance at Europe’s political past. European history has been a long trajectory of conflicts, civil wars, violence and cataclysms. Therefore, a world improvement, or craving for a world ruled by reason, so much praised by the eighteenth-century encyclopedists, can never be attained.

Unhappily, history proves that war is, in a certain sense, the habitual state of mankind, which is to say that human blood must flow without interruption somewhere or other on the globe, and that for every nation, peace is only a respite. [iii]

The cult of Reason, installed by the French revolutionaries as a new secular religion, including their new Goddess of Reason, turned out to be a great historical swindle.  Subsequently, this cult resulted in the escalation of violence between individuals and between nations, as seen during the Bolshevik revolution in Russia a century after the death of Joseph de Maistre. Contrary to Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his ramblings about “the noble savage” and his beliefs in the alleged freedom of man at birth, authority always precedes reason and not the other way around. Man becomes aware of his reason, that is, his capacity to think and to reason, only within his family, his tribe, his clan, and his people, guided by wise men and their sense of tradition. The abstract reason of scientists and savants, as revered by the French revolutionaries of the eighteenth century and their liberal-communist offspring of the twentieth century, and later on their multiculturalist and globalist successors of the twenty-first century, is a giant hoax which, under the veneer of “human rights,” “multiculturalism,” and “tolerance” only augur new massacres. As a good connoisseur of classical languages ​​and modern European languages ​​of his time, during his lengthy dialogues in the course of his long walks along St. Petersburg waterfronts, Joseph Maistre was able to foresee the looming danger of the Jacobin doubletalk which was later launched by Bolsheviks and which is common today amidst the new world superclass based in Brussels and Washington DC.

But there is no such thing as ‘man’ in this world. In my lifetime I have seen Frenchmen, Italians, Russians, etc.; thanks to Montesquieu, I even know that one can be Persian. But as for man, I declare I’ve never in my lifetime met him; if he exists, he is unknown to me. [iv]

In hindsight, this passage may help us better understand the dissolution of the Soviet empire and the emergence of Ukraine and other nations whose national aspirations few knew about earlier. The same was true for the Croats and Slovenes during the dissolution of multicultural Yugoslavia in 1991.  All seems well when the preaching is about man-in-the-abstract; however, once the crisis starts, each of us, even the least nationalist-minded person, knows very well which family, i.e., ingroup he must relate to and in which language he will demonize his now-enemy neighbor. Worse, the ideas of progress and their great optimistic effusions about the best of all possible worlds, as envisaged by the philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment, such as Rousseau, inevitably lead to a new round of revolutions with their processions of massacres and sufferings. The bloody French Revolution, of which Maistre was a prime witness, was only the beginning of the Evil willed by divine Providence. If  Maistre had lived in the twentieth century, his words about the Bolshevik revolution in imperial Russia of 1917 would have sounded even more convincing.

Hence, if each revolution produces Evil, why does God allow it in the first place? Is this a divine attempt to test mankind, or is it a scam originating in a monotheistic religion of the Middle East? Maistre champions monarchical authority and the Inquisition as the sole remedy; in other words, he praises the regimes which until recently have been branded as “muscular regimes.” However, one only needs to think about the wars of religion in sixteenth-century France or the Thirty Years’ War in seventeenth-century central Europe to realize that their violence was not less than that of the Jacobin Revolution condemned by Maistre. Nor does his choice of placing government in the hands of all-knowing papists and Jesuit teachers inspire confidence.

It belongs to prelates, to noblemen, to great officers of the state to be the depositories and guardians of saving truths, to teach peoples what is good and what is bad, what is true and what is false in the moral and spiritual orders. The others have no right to reason about these sorts of things. They have the natural sciences to amuse them.[v]

Should we therefore leave it to Jesuits, to papists, and to the Catholic clergy to reestablish order in Europe and preserve the simulacrum of our small happiness? Out of the question—at least for the minority of free thinkers still remaining. In view of the pro-migration homilies of the actual pope and his high clergy in Europe and in the United States and their multicultural statements in favor of Afro-Asian migrants, there is no longer any need for communist commissars. Maistre himself would be shocked by his own ecumenical logic which has now yielded a worst-case scenario emerging daily when observing papal pronouncements. Two hundred years later, Maistre’s great disciple and admirer, Emile Cioran, also a champion of the Fall into Time, albeit pagan given his vision of the sacred, rightly warned us that we must henceforth expect nothing: neither from men nor from gods. [vi]


[i] Joseph de Maistre, St. Petersburg Dialogues (First Dialogue), trans. and edited R.A. Lebrun (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1993), p.21.

[ii] Ibid., p. 36.

[iii] J. de Maistre, Considerations on France, trans. and edited R. A. Lebrun (Montreal: McGill University Press  1994), p. 23.

[iv] Ibid, Considerations, p.53.

[v] St. Petersburg Dialogues, p. 260.

[vi] E.M. Cioran, The Fall into Time (Chicago: Quadrangle books, 1970). Also T. Sunic, „Emile Cioran and the Culture of Death“ .


13 replies
    HUGO FUERST says:

    Both “original sin” (Christian) and “evil inclination” (Jewish) are religious “tropes”. Social control of behavior is necessary to prevent crime which nevertheless has a genetic basis in many cases. Otherwise, “a war of all against all” (Hobbes).

    What is noticeable about the writings of many aristocrats of the 18th & 19th centuries in Europe and early USA is the quality of their philosophical reflections, their classical knowledge and the lucidity of their prose. This tradition continued for a time even among some Catholic and Anglican writers, even when one disagrees with them; at least one can understand clearly what they are saying (for example, Cardinal Newman and Dean Farrar). Today there is a loss not only of intellect but dignity and depth of character in their prose.

  2. Barbara
    Barbara says:

    It is clear that the Jew is very destructive and could destroy humanity. I think they were behind much of the history that resulted in so much suffering. Given what is happening right now it seems like the Devil is prowling the Earth seeking whom he may devour but it’s actually the Jew.

    If white men were the ones determining how to use the results of new scientific technology I believe that it would be used for the benefit of life on Earth. But because the Jew is controlling it they can destroy humanity. Maybe we should begin speculating about what life will be like when humans become machines which might move good men to action to stop the Jew.

  3. HamburgerToday
    HamburgerToday says:

    Wonderful essay. My position is that racial nationalism doesn’t need the intellectual baggage of thinkers like de Maistre. Racial nationalism needs to be beyond ‘left’ and ‘right’ or ‘Catholic’ and ‘Protestant’ and see these views as simply historically-accidental constituent parts of Whiteness to be transcended, not nurtured or churned until they solidify into something useful. The ‘milk’ of ‘the Right’ is sour.

    • Leon Haller
      Leon Haller says:

      That obviously won’t work for white Christians, however. Moreover, it is highly debatable whether any race can long endure without a racially perpetuating religious foundation. The genius of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy resides in the religious concept of “chosenness” – that Jews are a special People of God, a belief which strongly acts to bolster endogamy. Whites will never quite see ourselves in the same way. What we need for racial flourishing is a reformulation of Christianity which at least allows for white perpetuity; better, would be one which actually impugns white race treason (including exogamy).

  4. Jim Bowden
    Jim Bowden says:

    Another great article by Dr. Sunic, all that I can add is it’s thought provoking world view and the situation we find ourselves today.

  5. Themistokles dog
    Themistokles dog says:

    MrSunic, about the french site, you forget to add that it’s also the den of the Zionist Extreme-Right… It’s not rare to see there an article of Bat Yeor or Pipes for exemple. But who cares..

    • Jim Bowden
      Jim Bowden says:

      Even if you are correct, why is it wrong to publishing in the French ” Den of Zionism Extreme-Right ” site ? …….for as long as you not ashamed to THINK it, and are not ashamed to SAY it /or WRITE it …….you should be proud of Dr. Sunic in spreading our side/version of the TRUTH to everyone who wants to listen or read it,………. especially the Zionists…….?? mind boggels !

  6. anonym
    anonym says:

    A “conservative” psychotic, depressing Jesus dupe who wanted the pope to be the infallible dictator of Europe, who supported the degenerate Bourbon house, and who believed that simply being born is a sin. In what way is he relevant for conservatives, or for anyone, today?

    Conservatism should be the party of born leaders, the best and the brightest, with integrity, honesty and decency as leading stars. Sprung out of military leadership and stoicism, from Marcus Aurelius to Oliver Wendell Holmes.

    Non Jewish leftism and liberalism, such as espoused by Proudhon, Bakunin or Voltaire, criticized corrupt, degenerate “conservative” leadership. (And Jews, vehemently.) Leaders who’s authority was undeserved and who’s leadership was harmful to everyone. Saying no when the syphilitic king wants to raise taxes to buy another diamond tiara to Marie Antoinette, from Jewish jewellers, is just common sense. (Or when today’s Pentagon generals, some of whom hasn’t even been in a fistfight, never mind a battle, orders another Jewish war in Arabia.)
    Today’s leading conservatives – usurers and exploiters who claim to be “wealth creators” and “pillars of society”, and insane Jesus dupes obsessed with homo- and transsexuals – hasn’t deserved their position, and has nothing to with anything conservative.

    The Jews took advantage of the situation and derailed the French revolution, but that doesn’t mean that the “conservatism” of Maistre, or the powdered, deranged Bourbon class, of decadent vice ridden Jesus dupes, is worth defending. Or even contemplating.

    All we have to do is get rid of the Jewish muck and slime that today covers the real conservatism, which is simply the common sense of the most gifted. And kept honest by non Jewish socialists and liberals.

  7. Poupon Marx
    Poupon Marx says:

    Dr. Sunic, I do not disagree with anything you have written. However, while much energy and attention has been spent deconstructing the motives and actions of our {{{Enemy}}} and enemies, little has been directed to our deficits and real inventory of our present strengths, assets, weaknesses, and liabilities.

    Furthermore, very little is advanced toward a prescriptive outline and delineation of what we need to do, to initiate changes externally and internally to our people. An analogy here to clarify.

    If we are beset and made ill by a pathogen, we can focus on external forms of prophylactic and active measures. We can apprehend knowledge of the pathogen(s), formulate counter substances to mitigate the negative effects, and use defensive measures, e.g., isolation, forms of material protection, etc., etc. This is the Disease Model of Medicine. Advanced by elites in the early part of the 20th Century, funded by Rockefeller, this model emphasizes the modalities of vaccines, medicines, treatment, etc. This orientation assisted the rapid expansion of institutional medicine treatment post hoc to a malady.

    The other emphasis in on general health and natural resistance of the mind/body organism. It is axiomatic that a healthy body has a less chance of contracting external pathologies and internal disfunction, such as auto immune diseases. The overriding point here is that we have been beset by an External Pathology for thousands of years. This pathology has been consistent, unrelenting, and methodical in inflicting morbidities upon us. We have not displayed or pursued intrinsic spiritual, mental, and organization action, which is preceded by ideals, ideas, and thoughts. Our resistance has always been inadequate, disorganized, dishonest, and racked with denial or delusion.

    NOTHING WILL CHANGE, unless a concerted effort is made to improve herd resistance, fitness, and completeness-as individuals through processes that includes Individuation.

    Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) was one of the pioneers of modern depth psychology and psychoanalysis.  Born near Basle, and working mostly in Zurich, Switzerland, he first became a physician and then entered the emerging field of psychoanalytic psychiatry.  Through his personal experience, his work with patients, and copious research, Jung developed ideas and methods of inquiry that have deepened and broadened our understandings of personality, psychodynamics, and the shaping energies of social history. 
    Over time, his ideas and methods of investigation have profoundly influenced the humanities, the arts, psychotherapy, religious studies, and many other fields. Many of Jung’s concepts have entered the mainstream of our language and culture: complex, archetype, persona, shadow, introvert, extravert, typology, collective unconscious, and others.
    Jung believed that most of our questions, most of our sufferings, arise from the distresses of the human “soul,” which is the original meaning of the Greek word psyche.   His work invites a new form of dialogue between ego consciousness and the “soul,” the latter being approachable only through our effort to understand our symptoms, our inexplicable life patterns, our compensatory dreams, and so on.   This dialogue serves as a form of psycho-spiritual enlargement in which one is able to contain more opposites rather than be split by them.  
    Jungian analytic work does not remove one from the world, but brings a more differentiated consciousness to bear for participation in intimacy, parenting, social relationships, and creative responses to the challenges of life.  Jungian psychology obliges an on-going discernment of personal authority from amidst the cacophony of claims upon our lives, and a reality-based move toward living that authority in respectful but more authentic relationship to others.
    Jung’s concept of the collective unconscious describes how the timeless realm of the human psyche links us to our ancestors, and shapes our culture and our personal responses to the demands of daily life.  His work is a summons to personal accountability in the face of the complexities of life.   While wholly compatible with a secular culture, Jung also notes that our choices and their consequences constitute an operating spiritual perspective, a mode of life that may increasingly lead to a more meaningful journey.   Jungian psychology invites a deepened dialogue: with oneself, with others, with collective society, with history, and with whatever transcendent energies move us and move history.

    The decisive question for man is: Is he related to something infinite or not? That is the telling question of his life.
    Only if we know that the thing which truly matters is the infinite can we avoid fixing our interests upon futilities, and upon all kinds of goals which are not of real importance. Thus we demand that the world grant us recognition for qualities which we regard as personal possessions: our talent or our beauty. The more a man lays stress on false possessions, and the less sensitivity he has for what is essential, the less satisfying is his life. He feels limited because he has limited aims, and the result is envy and jealousy. If we understand and feel that here in this life we already have a link with the infinite, desires and attitudes change.

    – Carl Jung, “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”

  8. Joe
    Joe says:

    Maistre says the common people “have the natural sciences to amuse them”, and the communists have taken control of that situation. The communists have wrecked the basic principles in reasoning and science.

Comments are closed.