DOSSIER: COUNTER-ENLIGHTENMENT, REVOLUTION, AND DISSENT
By David Edward Rose
By Christos Grigoriou
Abstract: The article focuses on Burke’s engagement with India and the Impeachment of Warren Hastings. It attempts to trace the way in which Burke, in his rhetoric on India, uses the sentimentalist vocabulary of the Scottish Enlightenment and, more particularly, the concept of sympathy. Burke, it is suggested, passes from a Humean to a Smithian understanding of sympathy, giving however, at every stage of this development, his own turn and character to the concept. Overall, Burke’s writings on India denote political reflexes that are quite advanced for his time and oblige us to reconsider the stereotypical image of Burke as an icon of conservatism.
By Charles M. Djordjevic
Abstract: This paper examines one of the most potent contemporaneous criticisms of the German Enlightenment (circa 1790) as well as the lessons that can be learned from such criticism. Specifically, it examines Kant's famous essay, “An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment,” and Hamman's objection drawn mainly from his “Letter to Christian Jacob Kraus.” It further argues Hamann’s criticisms are foresighted, especially when read against the subsequent dark imperil history of the ‘West' as seen in post-colonial theory.
By Daniel Rosenberg
Abstract: The essay analyses the development of Joseph de Maistre’s ideas on war and peace. Commonly seen as advocating militarism and bloodshed, Maistre’s insights and propositions on the nature of war are in fact highly modern and original. As a witness to the European upheaval of 1792-1815, Maistre emphasizes the indeterminacy and unpredictability of modern war, and its irreducibility to a science or a doctrine. In order to regulate and restrain warfare, Maistre argues, it is necessary to cultivate public opinion, an elusive and difficult process which can only be sustained by informal cultural institutions. The essay also examines the legacy of Maistre’s ideas on war and peace in political thought.
By Flavien Bertran de Balanda
Abstract: The Counter-Enlightenment and its corollary, the Counter-Revolution, must not be systematically reduced to some sterile philosophical denial and combat, hoping to return to the former established society, political power and thought, which would be nothing more than a mere reactionary endeavor. Counter-revolutionary authors such as Maistre and Bonald, who, at first, did favour the Enlightenment, intend to explain what seems inexplicable, notably the Terror, and, by giving a sense to it, to go beyond the dread created by the outburst of revolutionary violence. Indeed, their purpose is to understand the course of the Revolution, its causes and effects, and its infernal logic. To proceed, they develop new intellectual strategies, induced by the radical novelty of the revolutionary process itself. In order to reassign to this event such a place in History as defined by a divine purpose, they start by proving that the Revolution is evil, then, further explaining this evil from a theological point of view. Favouring internal criticism, this paper purports to analyze and compare Maistre’s and Bonald’s methodical examination of the Revolution in some of their more relevant works.
By M. Blake Wilson
Abstract: For the theorists of crisis, the revolutionary state comes into existence through violence, and due to its inability to provide an authoritative katechon (restrainer) against internal and external violence, it perpetuates violence until it self-destructs. Writing during extreme economic depression and growing social and political violence, the crisis theorists––Joseph de Maistre, Juan Donoso Cortés, and Carl Schmitt––each sought to blame the chaos of their time upon the Janus-faced post-revolutionary ideals of liberalism and socialism by urging a return to pre-revolutionary moral and religious values. They are united by three counterrevolutionary principles, all of which are purported to remedy revolutionary violence: traditional constitutional fidelity, the philosophy of the decision, and opposition to bourgeois liberalism. This essay is followed by the first complete English translation and publication of Donoso’s letter of October 24, 1851, which contains Donoso’s only reference to the “discussing class,” a political entity later popularized by Schmitt in his 1922 work Political Theology.
By Juan Donoso Cortés (1809-1853)
Abstract: This is the first complete English translation and publication of Donoso’s carta de 24 de octubre, 1851, a letter encapsulating many of his views on revolution and decision. This remarkable letter, sent as a diplomatic missive while he was serving the Spanish crown in Paris, describes how Napoleon III––stuck between the 1848 constitution’s prohibition against his election and his impending coup that will crown him emperor––must gain the support of the liberal bourgeoise middle class if he is to maintain his rule over France. The letter is also of great importance to Donoso and Schmitt scholars because it contains the first and only time Donoso uses the complete term “las clases discutidoras,” which, through Schmitt’s injudicious and repeated misspellings as “una clasa discutidora” has become famous for its characterization of the liberal bourgeoisie as the “discussing” or “disputing” class that is incapable of action at the precise historical moment when a decision is most direly needed to save the constitution from inner or outer existential threats.
By Anatole Lucet
Abstract: At the end of the 19th century, violent attacks by so-called anarchists gave the anarchist movement an increased amount of publicity. In the meantime, the success of “scientific socialism” promoted rationality to the rank of a new political doctrine. This article analyses the joint criticism of violence and materialism in the discourse of Gustav Landauer (1870-1919). The German philosopher and revolutionary made an original contribution to anarchism in theorising its incompatibility with violent means of action. He also made a crucial move for the theory of ideas in affirming that reason was not the solution, but often the cause of violence.
By Gregory Swer
Abstract: In The Decline of the West, Spengler argues that cultures have lifecycles. Although he warns that the end of Faustian (western) culture is nigh, Spengler suggests that the death of the culture might be forestalled if a rapprochement can be brought about between the technologized powers of Reason and the remains of cultural life. This portrayal of Reason as a salvific force seems to contradict Spengler’s typical depiction of Reason as a violent anti-cultural force. This paper reconstructs Spengler’s account of Reason as both killer and preserver of western culture and argues that in both roles it remains inherently violent.
By David Edward Rose
Abstract: There are two aims to the present paper. The first is to support the assertion that traditional justifications of revolution, rebellion and civil disobedience, though not wrong, are culturally inappropriate. The second is to outline, in the most basic of forms, what a “culturally appropriate” form of political resistance would require. The latter aim will be attempted by offering a counter-enlightenment model of resistance, derived in a large part from a Hegelian reading of Sartre's later work on groups, appropriate to the cultural conditions of late modernity.
By Pietro Somaini, Marco Stucchi
Abstract: In the 20th century the occurrence of revolutions, violent collective behaviours and dictatorships have shown the power of masses, raising many theoretical issues in sociology, philosophy and psychology. In this paper we will focus on four accounts in order to clarify the relation between a mass of human individuals and the role of a leader. These explanations are developed respectively by Weber, Le Bon, Freud and Girard. Even if our work is theoretical, we will briefly mention the French Revolution as solid example for a better understanding of mass-leader relation.
By Andreas Herberg-Rothe
Abstract: Auschwitz is still the greatest challenge for philosophy and reason, rather than representing their end, as Lyotard most prominently seems to imply. The article shows how the evolution of the question of dialectics from Hegel to postmodernism must be thought in relation to Auschwitz. The critics of reason and Hegel such as Lyotard, Derrida and Foucault are highlighting the break between reason and unspeakable suffering, for which Auschwitz is the most prominent symbol, but reintroduce ‘behind’ the scene much more speculative concepts than Hegel himself (Plasma by Lyotard, khora by Derrida and power as an absolute by Foucault). Adorno for his part thought that only a negative dialectics could address the problem adequately but transferred the unity of opposites just in the realm of utopia. But there is no negative (Adorno) or positive dialectics, only dialectics which mediates and posit the positive and the negative on a higher level.