2/9/14

I'm going to start migrating here: http://shortingcivilization.blogspot.com/

But I'll leave this up.

Daniel

11/17/13

That's Incredibly Juvenal

Juvenal on women in general. Rome, 2nd cent. A.D. (Satire 6, exc. L)

Eppia, though the wife of a senator, went off with a gladiator to Pharos and the Nile on the notorious walls of Alexandria (though even Egypt condemns Rome's disgusting morals). Forgetting her home, her husband, and her sister, she showed no concern whatever for her homeland (she was shameless) and her children in tears, and (you'll be dumbfounded by this) she left the theatre and Paris the actor behind. Even though when she was a baby she was pillowed in great luxury, in the down of her father's mansion, in a cradle of the finest workmanship, she didn't worry about the dangers of sea travel (she had long since stopped worrying about her reputation, the loss of which among rich ladies' soft cushions does not matter much). Therefore with heart undaunted she braved the waves of the Adriatic and the wide-resounding Ionian Sea (to get to Egypt she had to change seas frequently). 
You see, if there's a good reason for undertaking a dangerous voyage, then women are fearful; their cowardly breasts are chilled with icy dread; they cannot stand on their trembling feet. But they show courageous spirit in affairs they're determined to enter illicitly. If it's their husband who wants them to go, then it's a problem to get on board ship. They can't stand the bilge-water; the skies spin around them. The woman who goes off with her lover of course has no qualms. She eats dinner with the sailors, walks the quarter-deck, and enjoys hauling rough ropes. Meanwhile the first woman gets sick all over her husband. 
And yet what was the glamour that set her on fire, what was the prime manhood that captured Eppia's heart? What was it she saw in him, that would compensate for her being called Gladiatrix?[1] Note that her lover, dear Sergius, had now started shaving his neck, and was hoping to be released from duty because of a bad wound on his arm. Moreover, his face was deformed in a number of ways: he had a mark where his helmet rubbed him, and a big wart between his nostrils, and a smelly discharge always dripping from his eye. But he was a gladiator. That made him look as beautiful as Apollo's friend Hyacinth. This is what she preferred to her children and her homeland, her sister and her husband. It's the sword they're in love with: this same Sergius, once released from service, would begin to seem like her husband Veiento. 
Do you care about a private citizen's house, about Eppia's doings? Turn your eyes to the gods' rivals. Hear what the Emperor Claudius had to put up with. As soon as his wife thought that he was asleep, this imperial whore [2] put on the hood she wore at night, determined to prefer a cheap pad to the royal bed, and left the house with one female slave only. No, hiding her black hair in a yellow wig she entered the brothel, warm with its old patchwork quilts and her empty cell, her very own. Then she took her stand, naked, her nipples gilded, assuming the name of Lycisca, and displayed the stomach you came from, noble Brittanicus. She obligingly received customers and asked for her money, and lay there through the night taking in the thrusts of all comers. Then when the pimp sent the girls home, at last she went away sadly, and (it was all she could do) was the last to close up her cell-she was still burning, her vagina stiff and erected; tired by men, but not yet satisfied, she left, her face dirty and bruised, grimy with lamp smoke, she brought back to her pillow the smell of the brothel. 
Isn't there anyone then in such large herds of women that's worth marrying? Let her be beautiful, graceful, rich, fertile, let her place on her porticoes her ancestors' statues; let her be more virginal than the Sabine women (the ones that with their disheveled hair brought the war with Rome to an end); [3] let her be a phoenix on earth, something like a black swan-but who could stand a wife who has every virtue? I'd rather have (much rather) a gal from Venusia than you, Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, if along with your great excellence you bring a snob's brow and count your family's triumphs as part of your dowry. [4]
All chance of domestic harmony is lost while your wife's mother is living. She gets her to rejoice in despoiling her husband, stripping him naked. She gets her to write back politely and with sophistication when her seducer sends letters. She tricks your spies or bribes them. Then when your daughter is feeling perfectly well she calls in the doctor Archigenes and says that the blankets are too heavy. Meanwhile, her lover, in hiding shut off from her, impatient at the delay, waits in silence and stretches his foreskin. Maybe you think that her mother will teach her virtuous ways-ones different from her own? It's much more productive for a dirty old lady to bring up a dirty little girl. 
There's hardly a case in court where the litigation wasn't begun by a female. If Manilia can't be defendant, she'll be the plaintiff. [5] They'll draw up indictments without assistance, and are ready to tell Celsus the lawyer how to begin his speech and what arguments he should use.
Who doesn't know about the Tyrian wrappers and the ointment for women's athletics? Who hasn't seen the wounds in the dummy, which she drills with continual stabbings and hits with her shield and works through the whole course of exercise-a matron, the sort you'd expect to blow the trumpet at the Floralia [6] -unless in her heart she is plotting something deeper still, and seriously training for the actual games? How can a woman who wears a helmet be chaste? She's denying her sex, and likes a man's strength. But she wouldn't want to turn into a man, since we men get so little pleasure. 
Yet what a show there would be, if there were an auction of your wife's stuff-her belt and gauntlets and helmet and half-armour for her left leg. Or she can try the other style of battle-lucky you, when she sells her greaves. Yet these same girls sweat even in muslin, even the thinnest little netting burns their delicacies. Look at the noise she makes when she drives home the blows her trainer showed her, at the weight of her helmet, how solidly she sits on her haunches (like the binding around a thick tree), and laugh when she puts her armour aside to pick up her chamber-pot. 
You ask where these monsters come from, the source that they spring from? Poverty made Latin women chaste in the old days, hard work and a short time to sleep and hands calloused and hardened with wool-working, and Hannibal close to the city, [7] and their husbands standing guard at the Colline Gate-that kept their humble homes from being corrupted by vice. But now we are suffering from the evils of a long peace. Luxury, more ruthless than war, broods over Rome and takes revenge for the world she has conquered. No cause for guilt or deed of lust is missing, now that Roman poverty has vanished. Money, nurse of promiscuity, first brought in foreigners' ways, and effete riches weakened the sinews of succeeding generations. What does Venus care when she's drunk? She can't tell head from tail when she eats big oysters at midnight, and when her perfume foams with undiluted wine, when she drinks her conch-shell cup dry, and when in her dizziness the roof turns round and the table rises up to meet two sets of lights. 
An even worse pain is the female who, as soon as she sits down to dinner, praises Virgil and excuses Dido's suicide: [8] matches and compares poets, weighing Virgil on one side of the scale and Homer in the other. Schoolmasters yield; professors are vanquished; everyone in the party is silenced. No one can speak, not a lawyer, not an auctioneer, not even another woman. Such an avalanche of words falls, that you'd say it's like pans and bells being beaten. Now no one needs trumpets or bronzes: this woman by herself can come help the Moon when she's suffering from an eclipse. [9] As a philosopher she sets definitions on moral behaviour. Since she wants to seem so learned and eloquent she ought to shorten her tunic up to her knees [10] and bring a pig to Sylvanus [11] and go to the penny bath with the philosophers. Don't let the woman who shares your marriage bed adhere to a set style of speaking or hurl in well-rounded sentences the enthymeme shorn of its premise. Don't let her know all the histories. Let there be something in books she does not understand. I hate the woman who is continually poring over and studying Palaemon's [12] treatise, who never breaks the rules or principles of grammar, and who quotes verses I never heard of, ancient stuff that men ought not to worry about. Let her correct her girl-friend's verses she ought to allow her husband to commit a solecism. 
Pauper women endure the trials of childbirth and endure the burdens of nursing, when fortune demands it. But virtually no gilded bed is laid out for childbirth-so great is her skill, so easily can she produce drugs that make her sterile or induce her to kill human beings in her womb. You fool, enjoy it, and give her the potion to drink, whatever it's going to be, because, if she wants to get bloated and to trouble her womb with a live baby's kicking, you might end up being the father of an Ethiopian-soon a wrong-coloured heir will complete your accounts, a person whom it's bad luck to see first thing in the morning.
Notes:
1. For female gladiators, see nos. 295-302
2. The infamous Empress Messalina, mother of Octavia and Britannicus. She was later put to death for conspiracy against Claudius
3. See no. 233 for an account of the rape of the Sabines
4. The 'triumphs' are those of her father Scipio Africanus, the hero of the Second Punic War. Cf. no. 52.
5. Cf. no. 178, Valerius Maximus on Gaia Afrania
6. At the Floralia, a particularly joyous festival in honour of the goddess Flora, celebrated from April 28 to May 3. See Ovid, Fasti 5.331 ff
7. Cf. no. 173
8. Queen of Carthage, lover of Aeneas. She committed suicide when he abandoned her.
9. Eclipses of the moon, thought by some to be caused by witchcraft, were met with loud noises to dispel the accompanying evil spirits
10. A reference to the short tunic worn by men
11. Forbidden to women
12. Palaemon, a freedman, was a grammarian of the early first century A.D.

10/6/13

Soliciting Carlyle

Back in 1852, a young man wrote Scottish writer, historian, and educator Thomas Carlyle asking for suggestions on books to read. A small Scottish provincial newspaper published Carlyle’s response.  In his response, Carlyle advises the young man to stay away from fluff, study history, and read about ideas he’s curious about. Moreover, Carlyle encourages the young man to not let failures and mistakes get him down, but to keep striving after any goal he may have set. Finally, Carlyle counsels the young man that learning does not come solely from reading books. A man must actually get out and live life if he wishes to obtain a complete education. Great advice 147 years ago; great advice today.
Dear Sir,—Some time ago your letter was delivered me; I take literally the first free half-hour I have had since to write you a word of answer. 
It would give me true satisfaction could any advice of mine contribute to forward you in your honourable course of self-improvement, but a long experience has taught me that advice can profit but little—that there is a good reason why advice is so seldom followed; this reason, namely, that it is / so seldom, and can almost never be rightly given. No man knows the state of another; it is always to some more or less imaginary man that the wisest and most honest adviser is speaking.
As to the books which you—whom I know so little of— should read, there is hardly any thing definite that can be said. For one thing, you may be strenuously advised to keep reading. Any good book, any book that is wiser than yourself, will teach you something—a great many things indirectly and directly, if your mind be open to learn. This old counsel of Johnson’s is also good, and universally applicable—”Read the book you do honestly feel a wish and curiosity to read.” The very wish and curiosity indicates that you, then and there, are the person likely to get good of it.  “Our wishes are presentiments of our capabilities;” that is a noble saying, of deep encouragement to all true men, applicable to our wishes and efforts in regard to reading as to other things. 
Among all the objects that look wonderful and beautiful to you, follow with fresh hope the one which looks wonderfullest, beautifullest. You will gradually find, by various trials (which trials see that you make honest, manful ones, not silly, short, fitful ones), what is for you the wonderfullest, beautifullest—what is your true element and province, and be able to profit by that. True desire, the monition of nature, is much to be attended to. But here, also, you are to discriminate carefully between true desire and false. The medical men tell us we should eat what we truly have an appetite for; but what we only falsely have an appetite for, we should resolutely avoid. It is very true: and flimsy desultory readers, who fly from foolish book to foolish book, and get good of none, and mischief of all—are not these as foolish, unhealthy eaters, who mistake their superficial false desire after spiceries and confectioneries for their real appetite, of which even they are not destitute, though it lies far deeper, far quieter, after solid nutritive food? With these illustrations, I will recommend Johnson’s advice to you. 
Another thing, and only one other, I will say. All books are properly the record of the history of past men—what thoughts past men had in them—what actions past men did; the summary of all books whatsoever lies there. It is on this ground that the class of books specifically named History can be safely recommended as the basis of all study of books, the preliminary to all right and full understanding of any thing we can expect to find in books. Past history, and especially the past history of one’s own native country, every body may be advised to begin with that. Let him study that faithfully; innumerable inquiries will branch out from it; he has a broad beaten highway, from which all the country is more or less visible; there traveling, let him choose where he will dwell. 
Neither let mistakes and wrong directions—of which every man, in his studies and elsewhere, falls into many—discourage you. There is precious instruction to be got by finding that we are wrong. Let a man try faithfully, manfully, to be right, he will grow daily more and more right. It is, at bottom, the condition on which all men have to cultivate themselves. Our very walking is an incessant falling—a falling and a catching of ourselves before we come actually to the pavement!—it is emblematic of all things a man does. 
In conclusion, I will remind you that it is not books alone, or by books chiefly, that a man becomes in all points a man. Study to do faithfully whatsoever thing in your actual situation, there and now, you find either expressly or tacitly laid to your charge; that is your post; stand in it like a true soldier. Silently devour the many chagrins of it, as all human situations have many; and see you aim not to quit it without doing all that it, at least, required of you. A man perfects himself by work much more than by reading. They are a growing kind of men that can wisely combine the two things—wisely, valiantly, can do what is laid to their hand in their present sphere, and prepare themselves withtal for doing other wider things, if such lie before them.
With many good wishes and encouragements, I remain, yours sincerely, 
Thomas Carlyle

3/2/11

JTR

Jewish Tribal Review is down and has been down for quite some time. Initially, I thought it might be a temporary phenomenon but now it seems that the issue has persisted long enough that suspicion is warranted.

Does anybody know what is going on? Does anybody know if and how I can put up a mirror? I have the webspace and the savvy but I need permissions and the data.

update: I emailed Michael Neumann to ask if he might know what was going on and whether or not he had any idea about who to talk with about setting up a mirror since he was "involved" with the JTR before but he had no idea what happened.

He was a very nice chap who gave me some good advice about my philosophy studies (Mr. Neumann is a philosophy professor somewhere in Canada).

3/1/11

Hegel and History



From: http://firstword.us/2008/02/hegel-on-black-history-month/


[Go show the boys at First word your appreciation and try to convince them to start writing again!]


The best argument for a liturgical calendar is that having a ceremonial calendar seems to be an inescapable concept. I am not there yet, but I have to admit that our secular civic-religious state, built on the ruins of a calendarless Protestantism, proffers a calendar that veritably bristles with memorials. February, for example, is designated Black History Month. So, to honor it in my own way, I propose to quote Hegel on Black History. After listening to his discussion, it will be possible to state rather unhesitatingly what Hegel’s view of Black History Month would be.
The quotations are from The Philosophy of History, by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Eng. tr. J. Sibree, (NY:Dover) 1956, from the section spanning pages 93-99. (I have taken the liberty to update the lexicography in minor ways.) Though the quotes are interesting enough, I intersperse a bit of my own commentary for those that might profit from it.
First, he divides the continent of Africa into three main sections: the Mediterranean coast, the Nile valley, and the Sub-Sahara. By geography and historical development, the first two couple directly into European and Asian history. The remainder of his comments on Africa pertain to the sub-Sahara.
The peculiarly African character is difficult to comprehend, for the very reason that in reference to it, we must quite give up the principle which naturally accompanies all our ideas – the category of universality. In Negro life the characteristic point is the fact that consciousness has not yet attained to the realization of any substantial objective existence – as for example, God, or Law –in which the interest of man’s volition is involved and in which he realizes his own being. This distinction between himself as an individual and the universality of his essential being the African in the uniform, undeveloped oneness of his existence has not yet attained; so that the Knowledge of an absolute Being, an Other and a Higher than his individual self, is entirely wanting.
Here, Hegel argues that a distinction between one’s own (subjective) self and an independent, objective, and universal world is necessary for there to be history. History is all about development; development implies the resolution of conflicts or difficulties in terms of underlying principles; without the basic orientation to an objective universe this is not possible.
Think of Calvin’s argument on the correlative nature of the knowledge of God and self, so that he cannot say which to begin with. Without knowledge of God, there is no knowledge of self, and without knowledge of self, there is no knowledge of God.
The Negro, as already observed, exhibits the natural man in his completely wild and untamed state. We must lay aside all thought of reverence and morality – all that we call feeling – if we would rightly comprehend him; there is nothing harmonious with humanity to be found in this type of character. The copious and circumstantial accounts of Missionaries completely confirm this, and Mohammedanism appears to be the only thing which in any way brings the Negroes within the range of culture.
This comment needs to be expanded to observe that Christian slavery such as was developing in the American South also had the ability to “bring the Negroes within the range of culture.” However, the revivals that Christianized the South were only in the process of taking place during Hegel’s productive years, and so he may be forgiven this oversight.
Next, Hegel backs up the assertion given above, by arguing that the African’s magic does not include the principle of transcendence, and thus does not rise to the level of religion properly so-called.
Religion begins with the consciousness that there is something higher than man. But even Herodotus called the Negroes sorcerers. Now in Sorcery we have not the idea of a God, of a moral faith; it exhibits man as the highest power, regarding him as alone occupying a position of command over the power of Nature. We have here therefore nothing to do with a spiritual adoration of God, nor with an empire of Right. God thunders, but is not on that account recognized as God. For the soul of man, God must be more than a thunderer, whereas among the Negroes this is not the case. Although they are necessarily conscious of dependence upon nature – for they need the beneficial influence of storm, rain, cessation of the rainy period, and so on – yet this does not conduct them to the consciousness of a Higher power: it is they who command the elements, and this they call “magic.”
In other words, trembling during the thunder storm does not necessarily involve the experience of God as God, though for some it might point in that direction. Far less does it entail knowledge of the (universal) Law of God.
In passing we should note that themes are brought out here that are with the typical conceit of the modern credited to the 20th century, such as the attribution of the need for a propitious nature as the origin of religion. Wittgenstein effortlessly exploded that thesis itself. Hegel, however, is more subtle. He continues:
The Kings have a class of ministers through whom they command elemental changes, and every place possesses such magicians, who perform special ceremonies, with all sorts of gesticulations, dances, uproar and shouting, and in the midst of this confusion commence their incantations.
Hegel’s observation of their “kings and ministers” rings true as phenomenon: we see the same thing in the west wherever large groups of Negroes gather together. If the nigger-disco is decoupled from magic, then the question to pursue is whether the Negroid urge to chaos has something more primal at its root than exercising power over nature. It is at that point, and chiefly at that point, that Hegel’s presupposition can be challenged.
In any case, returning to Africa, Hegel suggests that the instrumental creation and grasping of fetishes is a manifestation of the man regarding himself as superior to the natural order:
The second element in their religion consists in their giving an outward form to this supernatural power – projecting their hidden might in to the world of phenomena by means of images. What they conceive of as the power in question, is therefore nothing really objective – [nothing] having a substantial being and different from themselves – , but the first thing that comes in their way. This, taken quite indiscriminately, they exalt to the dignity of a “Genius.” It may be an animal, a tree, a stone, or a wooden figure. This is the Fetish – a word to which the Portuguese first gave currency, and which is derived from feitizo, magic. Here, the Fetish, a kind of objective independence contrasted with the arbitrary fancy of the individual seems to manifest itself; but as the objectivity is nothing other than the fancy of the individual projecting itself into space, the human individuality remains master of the image it has adopted. If a mischance occurs which the Fetish has not averted, if rain is suspended, if there is a failure in the crops, they bind and beat or destroy the Fetish and so get rid of it, making another immediately, and thus holding it in their own power. Such a Fetish has no independence as an object of religious worship; still less has it aesthetic independence as a work of art; it is merely a creation that expresses the arbitrary choice of its maker, and which always remains in his hands. In short there is no relation of dependence in this religion.
Undoubtedly, Hegel is a precursor to Schopenhauer’s view of religion as a sense of dependence. Wittgenstein would, I think, point out that the sense of dependence presupposes the very thing it was supposed to explain. But we should not be too reactionary in our rejection here. A sense of dependence is not sufficient to explain religion, but the converse does hold. There is an insight here. In all the world except Africa, there is some sense of the individual attaching or relating to something bigger than himself: even in contemplating a work of art. The Negro’s idol is completely in his own power: he will crush it if it fails him. Looking around for coreligionists in the rest of the world, we can perhaps see an analogy between the African fetish and the Kabalistic use of magical words. The jewish mystic has no particular reverence for words that do not “deliver the goods” as it were. On the other hand, when the jew thinks he has a word that gives power, he is not humbled before the ultimate speaker of that Word; no, he the jew is the immanent speaker, the appropriate user of that word; it is fitting that he should master the world by the use of his words. There is a strange harmony between the deepest spiritual currents of Jew and Negro that continues to stamp politics to this day.
Hegel’s insight into the aspect of images which are nothing but extensions of one’s own imagination and wielding of power may give insight into the Second Commandment. It is just this feature of autarkical and unauthorized images that is wicked when used as an access to God: it shifts the definition from the self-defining God to the self-powered man. Thus, we should probably say that all image-making has an element of the evil that Hegel identifies, but usually with a diversity of aspects. The papist bowing before his image has mixed motives: it is partly will-worship, but partly true awe before the transcendent. The remarkable thing about the African is that his image-making has reached its pure archetypal form of the one extreme, with no sense of transcendent reverence left at all.
It might in contrast be thought that there is one area where the Negro stands with an inkling of respect before a true Other:
There is however one feature that points to something beyond – the Worship of the Dead – in which their deceased forefathers and ancestors are regarded by them as a power influencing the living. Their idea in the matter is that these ancestors exercise vengeance and inflict upon man various injuries – exactly in the sense in which this was supposed of witches in the Middle Ages. Yet the power of the dead is not held superior to that of the living, for the Negroes command the dead and lay spells upon them. Thus the power in question remains substantially always in bondage to the living subject. Death itself is looked upon by the Negroes as no universal natural law: even this, they think, proceeds from evil-disposed magicians. In this doctrine is certainly involved the elevation of man over Nature, to such a degree that the chance volition of man is superior to the merely natural – that he look upon this as an instrument to which he does not pay the compliment of treating it in a way conditioned by itself, but [only in the way] which he commands.
The Oriental reverence for the dead ancestor may contain a bit of self-preservation motive: by revering our ancestors, the stage is set for my descendants to revere me, preferably by taking care of me when I am infirm. This differs with that of the African, according to Hegel’s insightful comment, in that the living “subject” actually commands and places spells on the dead.
Hegel continues with the implication for respect for self and others among the living that inevitably follows from the African’s outlook:
But from the fact that man is regarded as the Highest, it follows that he has no respect for himself; for only with the consciousness of a Higher Being does he reach a point of view which inspires him with real reverence. For if arbitrary choice is the absolute – the only substantial objectivity that is realized –, the mind cannot as such be conscious of any Universality. The Negroes indulge, therefore, that perfect contempt for humanity, which in its bearing on Justice and Morality is the fundamental characteristic of the race. They have moreover no knowledge of the immortality of the soul, although specters are supposed to appear. The undervaluing of humanity among them reaches an incredible degree of intensity. Tyranny is regarded as no wrong, and cannibalism is looked upon as quite customary and proper. Among us instinct deters from it, if we can speak of instinct at all as appertaining to man. But with the Negro this is not the case, and the devouring of human flesh is altogether consonant with the general principles of the African race: to the sensual Negro, human flesh is but an object of sense – mere flesh. At the death of a King hundreds are killed and eaten; prisoners are butchered and their flesh sold in the markets; the victor is accustomed to eat the heart of his slain foe.
By speaking of (lack of) “respect for himself,” Hegel nods a bit. In one sense, the African has nothing but “respect for himself.” I think we need to couple Hegel’s insight here to his framework alluded to earlier, namely: respect for self as instance of the broader “universal,” humanity. Self-consciousness has not arisen from the immediate animal urge to the level of regarding oneself as correlated to the broader kind. After Edwards, pure and arbitrary willfulness cannot rightly be called freedom. Here, the ego has crystallized and hardened to the point that others are seen as “mere flesh,” and there is no reflexis to the insight of “shared flesh.”
“Negroes are enslaved by Europeans,” Hegel continues, “and sold to America.” This is not quite right: in fact Negroes as already-existent slaves were purchased by Europeans and Americans, as Hegel himself must realize:
Bad as this may be, their lot in their own land is even worse, since there a slavery quite as absolute exists; for it is the essential principle of slavery, that man has not yet attained a consciousness of his freedom, and consequently sinks down to a mere Thing – an object of no value. Among the Negroes moral sentiments are quite weak, or more strictly speaking, non-existent. Parents sell their children, and conversely children their parents, as either has the opportunity. Through the pervading influence of slavery all those bonds of moral regard which we cherish towards each other disappear, and it does not occur to the Negro mind to expect from others what we are enabled to claim. The polygamy of the Negroes has frequently for its object the having many children, to be sold, every one of them into slavery; and very often naive complaints on this score are heard as for instance in the case of a Negro in London, who lamented that he was now quite a poor man because he had already sold all his relations.
Rushdoony reported that in much of Africa, the monetary unit was “man.” Hegel continues:
In the contempt of humanity displayed by the Negroes, it is not so much a despising of death as a want of regard for life that forms the characteristic feature. To this want of regard for life must be ascribed the great courage, supported by enormous bodily strength, exhibited by the Negroes, who allow themselves to be shot down by thousands in war with Europeans. Life has a value only when it has something valuable as its object.
This section bristles with insight. There is a physical courage that is not admirable. Churchill feared living in obscurity more than death.
In the sentence, “life has a value only when it has something valuable as its object” Hegel teaches that “life” is not valuable in itself, but only when correlated with something else that has value. The interpretive difficulty arises, is the “value” meant to be objective or subjective? In view of the flow of the passage, I would favor reading it as subjective value, or valuation. Then, one does not value even one’s own life if not oriented to an other. Think of the Frank Sinatra chart, Spring is Here:
Spring is here! Why doesn’t the breeze delight me?
Stars appear! Why doesn’t the night invite me?
Maybe it’s because nobody loves me.
Spring is here, I hear.
Turning to the political constitution of Africa, Hegel observes:
The standpoint of humanity at this grade is mere sensuous volition with energy of will; since universal spiritual laws (for example, that of the morality of the Family) cannot be recognized here. Universality exists only as arbitrary subjective choice. The political bond can therefore not possess such a character as that mere laws should unite the community. There is absolutely no bond, no restraint upon that arbitrary volition. Nothing but external force can hold the State together for a moment. A ruler stands at the head, for sensuous barbarism can only be restrained by despotic power. But since the subjects are of equally violent temper with their master, they keep him on the other hand within limits.
What Hegel is arguing here is that the rule of law is only possible where people achieve true recognition of principles outside themselves that are universal. To honor the prohibition of theft, more of a notion of property is required than merely, “this is mine.” That I own things is nested into a reflexive recognition that others have an analogous claim on their property, and that all these claims are mediated by a social fabric that we call universal law. Otherwise, mere arbitrary and willful assertion is all that is left, and this is the despot’s counterfeit law.
Doubtless, Hegel would want to “deduce” a law against theft rather than referring it to divine command. A major part of his analysis remains for us, however: a correlative universal/particular framework – my property/Property in general – is inherent in the meaning or sense of such a law.
Fanaticism – which, notwithstanding the yielding disposition of the Negro in other respects, can be excited – surpasses, when roused, all belief.
This statement stimulates admiration for its sententious insight. Is this not exactly what we continue to observe of the Negro even in the American city: a child-like passivity on the one hand, even complacency sinking often into indolence; and on the other, a violent rage that breaks out into mayhem that is beyond belief.
Remember Channon and Chris!
To prepare for war, “the King ordains an onslaught upon his own metropolis, as if to excite the due degree of frenzy.”
The drum beat, and a terrible carnage was begun; all who came in the way of the frenzied Negroes in the streets were stabbed. On such occasions the King has all whom he suspects killed, and the deed then assumes the character of a sacred act. Every idea thrown into the mind of the Negro is caught up and realized with the whole energy of his will; but this realization involves a wholesale destruction. These people continue long at rest, but suddenly their passions ferment, and then they are quite beside themselves. The destruction which is the consequence of their excitement, is caused by the fact that it is no positive idea, no thought which produces these commotions — a physical rather than a spiritual enthusiasm.
By “positive idea,” Hegel means a rational thought, as opposed to raw emotional response to sensory stimulus.
From these various traits it is manifest that want of self-control distinguishes the character of the Negroes. This condition is capable of no development or culture, and as we see them at this day, such have they always been. The only essential connection that has existed and continued between the Negroes and the Europeans is that of slavery. In this the Negroes see nothing unbecoming them, and the English who have done most for abolishing the slave-trade and slavery, are treated by the Negroes themselves as enemies. For it is a point of first importance with the Kings to sell their captured enemies, or even their own subjects; and viewed in the light of such facts, we may conclude slavery to have been the occasion of the increase of human feeling among the Negroes.
After a brief digression contrasting the occasional occurrences of slavery amongst the Europeans themselves, and before launching into a four hundred page History of the World, he concludes,
At this point we leave Africa, not to mention it again. For it is no historical part of the World; it has no movement or development to exhibit. Historical movements in it – that is in its northern part – belong to the Asiatic or European World….
What we properly understand by Africa, is the Unhistorical, Undeveloped Spirit, still involved in the conditions of mere nature, and which had to be presented here only as on the threshold of the World’s History.
Thus, Hegel would obviously regard “Black History Month” as absurd – a contradiction in terms.
We are talking about a people that never even invented the wheel!
Of course, where the Negro has, through colonization or slavery, intersected with the other races, at that moment and to that extent he becomes part of history. Slavery having (in white lands) ended by the hand of white men, the subsequent history has been the extracting of favors and benefits from white men, by political action of other white men. Thus, there is something that could be called Black History – a footnote or parenthesis to White History. But it only requires an hour or two, not a month – not even the shortest month – to tell that story.