Short Paul Gottfried interview on Germans, jews, Catholicism Kevin MacDonald etc.

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Paul Gottfried on Germans, Jews, Catholics, and Calvinists
Posted by Tor in Featured Articles, Interviews on Oct 23rd, 2009

You are one of the prominent popularizers of Carl Schmitt today in the United States. Is the liberal elite frightened by his theories? If so, is it because, as Alain de Benoist suggests, he correctly assesses that an amplification of the spectre of global terror (as performed by the Bush administration) destroys democracy by rendering a permanent state of exception?

I don’t think that American liberals fear or even think much about Carl Schmitt. They simply use association with his ideas or the failure of some of his exponents to attack Schmitt sufficiently as evidence of fascist sympathies. This has been done not only in my case but also to Straussians, on the basis of their teacher’s interest while in Germany in Schmitt’s Concept of the Political.

National movements are frequently associated with anti-semitism. As a Jew, have you personally experienced anti-semitism by nationalist groups? If so, please share an experience or two.

Although I have never been attacked by leaders of European nationalist movements, it is possible to see why Jews of a certain age (most of whom are dead by now) might have associated anti-Semitism with certain forms of nationalism. In Europe in the early twentieth century nationalism did carry conspicuous anti-Semitic strains but except for the Russian far Right those strains don’t seem to be integral to most European nationalisms today. But as Jews overreact to these forms of reawakened nationalism, and even line up on the side of Islamicist immigrants against the native population, nationalist movements of the Right may move again for understandable reasons in an anti-Jewish direction.

You’ve written on the campaign against the Junge Freiheit and limitations on free speech in supposedly free Germany including the virtual media blackout attending the firebombing of their offices. Can we expect something similar for independent media in the United States?

I couldn’t imagine that Americans (although this may be a failure of imagination) would ever allow themselves to be jerked around in quite the same fashion as the Germans. Americans generally feel good about their country, which they identify with human rights and democracy. Germans by contrast see themselves as the descendants of genocidal murderers, whose entire past up until the postwar American occupation was full of bigotry and belligerence. There is nothing that Germans could do, or so their media and democratically elected leaders tell them, to cleanse themselves entirely of their collective guilt toward Jews and their neighbors. The German mainstream media and academic world are far more antipatriotic than even those whom FOX commentators condemn as the “hate America” crowd.

Your Ph.D. thesis on Catholic Romanticism in Munich received scant notice in your book. Do you no longer believe in the positive potential of such an ideal (assuming you ever did, if not, why did you chose to focus on that topic)?

I simply lost interest in my dissertation topic after I expanded it into a book. This did not come about because of a philosophical decision or because of any existential turning point.

In your response to Kevin MacDonald you state that he overemphasizes “the importance assigned to Jewish efforts to ‘deethnicize’ Western Christian societies,” noting the inherent liberalism attending both Canadian Catholic and Pennsylvania Anabaptist communities. Kevin MacDonald disputes, however, that there is corresponding evidence for an internal WASP implosion. Do you find WASP culture subject to the same problems as other Christian sects?

I’ve no idea what kinds of WASPs Kevin has encountered recently. At my college the overwhelmingly WASP faculty voted last week overwhelmingly to attend diversity training classes and to require students to discuss their homophobia, sexism and racism in special classes reserved for this purpose. This seems necessary in response to outbursts of Christian bigotry directed against “religious and ethnic minorities,” incidents that never occurred.Part of the solution to our raging bigotry proposed by my WASP colleagues is to fill our college with minority students, brought from neighboring inner cities. Has Kevin, by the way, read the social statements of mainline Protestant denominations and even of Evangelicals? They are full of lamentations about lingering racism and statements identifying sin with politically incorrect attitudes.

What about Catholic culture?

I’ve always been skeptical of the view, which was widespread in the 1950s, that the Catholic Church or Catholicism is going to save the American Right from the clutches of the Left. From where I stand, it seems that the Church can’t even manage her own flock. Most American, English and Canadian Catholics hold more leftist social and cultural positions (not to mention voting patterns) than their Protestant fellow-citizens. I wish that weren’t the case but it is.

In your recent autobiography you state a personal affinity for certain aspects of Calvinism. Is there any reason why you don’t accept the religious doctrines of Calvinism?

I am indeed attracted to Calvinism as both a theological system and a formative culture for the early American Republic. It is an impressive attempt to give architectonic form to a Hebraic vision of an all-powerful God, who expresses Himself as sovereign will. It also avoids the simplistic notion of ethical rationalists, that one can teach human beings to be good by appealing to their shared reason. Calvinists understand the fallen and depraved side of the human personality, and they also grasp that doing good requires an exercise of will that can only be accomplished through divine intervention aka grace. The problem with the system is that in saving divine sovereignty , Calvinism must also attribute the presence and operation of evil and sin to a divine souce. Any other understanding of the origin of evil would infringe on the majesty of God. Calvinism is additionally predicated on the acceptance of a fundamental Christian tenet that runs counter to my understanding of God’s otherness. I am referring here to the key Christian teaching that God humbled Himself to die on the cross for our sins. Although I concede that God could act in this way, given his infinite power and total freedom of action, it is hard for me to reconcile such a belief with His dignity. Perhaps at the end of the day I’m too much of an Old Testament Jew to accept this act of divine self-debasement as a ransom for our sins.

You’ve criticized Russell Kirk’s attempts to re-appropriate an aristocratic political culture which did not exist. Even assuming you are correct, are there ‘permanent things’ worth defending and advocating for in the present time? If so, what are they?

Note that my criticism of “value conservatism” and Kirk’s appeal to aristocratic Tory ideals is never used to justify value relativism. In fact I suggest several times in Conservatism in America that I am not a value relativist and that I am scornful of those who are inconsistent enough to embrace this self-description. I also make an attempt in this book to distinguish classical and biblical virtues from modern “political values” rooted in the changing preferences or fixations of journalists. For example, I can appreciate the attempts to approximate in our communal lives such qualities as justice, truth, piety and sobriety. But such approximations arise out of the practices and traditions of communities and out of philosophical reflection. They are not journalistic slogans or the hothouse creations of modern ideologues.
Bob Dylan Roof

I'm inclined to agree with Gottfried on the implosion of WASP culture and the viability of Catholicism as a conservative bulwark against liberalism.

The WASP implosion is the most compelling recent evidence supporting Nietzsche's theory of slave morality. American WASPs transformed from the dominant natural force in the solar system in the 1950s and '60s to one of the most self-destructive populations in the west by the beginning of the 21st century. Without question, allowing jews into academia and the media accelerated the self-destruction, but as Gottfried stresses, a lot of the destructive behaviors are self-initiated now. Some other psychological or cultural mechanism must be working behind the scenes here, like Sailer's culture of white status-whoring.

Niccolo and Donkey

This is interesting:

This has its own momentum now.

Absolute truth.

So where can we locate the cause for all of this?

In an effort to contribute, here is my translation (unproofed etc. so please forgive all errors) of an interview with Paul Gottfried that appeared in Sezession 14 (July 2006). It touches on some similar themes to the above, but please move it if this is the wrong place.

Then Everything Perishes.

You describe the politics of guilt and multiculturalism as a phenomenon that exists in every western country…

Yes, but I believe that the phenomenon occurs in its pure form in Germany. It can be said that when one wants to study the type in its pure form, one has to go to Germany.

Where did the phenomenon first appear?

I believe that it was already to be found with us in the United States in the post-war period. At that time the Americans had already realised that a race problem existed in the southern states and elsewhere and thought that the government ought to intervene in order to oppose racism. The second phase came in the seventies, when it concerned the feminist movement and homosexuals ensuring social justice; including special treatment for these groups. Concurrently the Germans, off their own bat, introduced the second phase of the “re-education process”, as Casper von Schrenck-Notzing is able to beautifully demonstrate in the latest edition of his book. The Germans have also, however with special emphasis, intensified and collaborated in this fad. They have aligned themselves within the same historical process.

Where do you see the deeper causes of guilt politics in the west?

I must confess to you that I have been strongly influenced by Nietzsche. I believe that other civilisations, because of their lack of “brotherly love” could not have produced such a phenomenon. One can say that this constitutes an inherent problem solely for western civilisation. Today Christian orthodoxy is decaying and it has built itself a successor religion, which has made the legacy of Christian mentality its own and further utilised it.

Is this a sickness of western civilisation?

Yes, but it would be perhaps a bit too unchristian to say so. I believe there is lots of good to be found in Christianity and a western civilisation without Christianity would be unimaginable. Christianity has influenced and co-shaped what is best in our civilisation. It is a cornerstone of our entire civilisation. But as the Christian civilisation decays, the mental residue remains, from which the politics of guilt in general and multiculturalism in particular can nourish themselves.

But in the United States there are strong Christian movements?

The fundamentalist Christians in the United States are exploited. If one wants to espouse the Israeli cause in the Middle Eastern context then one can easily get them enthused. I believe that the neoconservatives adopt a sceptical, sober and cynical attitude against Christians. They believe that they can reconfigure Christianity such that it can be co-opted for their objective and they have done this very successfully in the United States. The majority of fundamentalist Christians championed the war in Iraq very engagedly and enthusiastically. They thought that the American soldiers were fighting for Christendom. They are very simple minded, in my view. The war was driven under the symbol of modernity, feminism and not least secularisation. They seek to kill off the theocratic states and reconfigure everything after the American and secular model. I consider the neoconservatives as bearers of late-modernity, more precisely mass-democratic post-modernity, distinct from the bourgeois modernity and bourgeois thought of which my deceased friend Panjotis Kondylis wrote in detail.

In the United States you are assigned to the intellectual current “paleoconservatism” in contrast to “neoconservativism”. The fundamental convictions of old American conservatism can hardly be stated in the German context without the suspicion of approaching the ideology of National Socialism. You come from a family of Austrian Jews, who fled to the USA precisely from this National Socialism. Do you see a contradiction there?

Certainly if there were currently a paleoconservative party in Germany, which stood against all the usual contemporary fashions, then it would surely attract all the same slander as the NPD does now. The paleoconservatives in the United States must however be considered against the backdrop of American history, which the old European aristocratic conservatism cannot. Following Panajotis Kondylis they can also be designated “old liberals”. They aren’t orientated towards nationalism, but want a spatially bound politics. They stood against state imperialism. They tried to make American take to heart, that they should keep themselves out of imperial wars. It is self-evident that they oppose the expansion of the managerial state. They attempt to the return everything to a communal level. Everything that concerns the citizen should be at best decided on this level. The only debatable exception was customs/ tariff policy. The support for tariffs was not fully reconcilable with opposition to a radical, top to bottom federal politics. However, a large portion of the old right’s sources of finance come from the South, where people live from textile production which is endangered by cheap imports from the third world.

The unavoidable question: do you see any escapes from the present crisis of western nations?

To express it frankly, for now I don’t see any escape. But I believe that sooner or later this historical process must be ended. The consequences of multiculturalism are terrible. And I am terrified when I think how our civilisation, even the residual bourgeois civilisation that I experienced as a child, has already been wrecked. I believe that we are in real hot water. But an escape must be found, a new form of government needs to be conceived. Thus I am in full agreement with Karheinz Weißmann. The isolated individuals of modern society, who attempt to continue existing without roots in a community, are exceptions in human history.

What can we intellectuals do in this situation?

One has to carry on, as a conservative, as a liberal. The present struggle must be fought through. And, I have to say that I don’t regret that I sacrificed my own career in favour of my ideals. I would do it again. What does bother me is the attempt of some conservatives - some amongst my catholic colleagues – to establish/ deploy social values and work their way out of things in a purely intellectual fashion without heeding changeable sociological foundations. This is a completely abstract, aloof endeavour, to conceive a conservatism. Or how my friend Hans Hermann Hoppe assumes a total fantasy individual in pre-history, who was already equipped with a completely modern consciousness: wanting to acquire property etc. I believe that one cannot conceive decent political concepts without pay attention to the relevant social context.

What finally will trip up the mass-democratic, multicultural, managerial state?

An excess of minorities. An excess of demands to integrate these minorities. It can’t be done. They attempt to afford minorities special treatment and ignore it when they oppress their own women, commit crime and do other things not allowed to the majority in this manner. When one tries to incorporate these minorities to the extent that the groups could be assimilated, one has to overexert oneself. As such they have overexerted themselves and I believe that on this matter the therapeutic state must necessarily collapse – however not necessarily the social democratic, welfare state. I need to highlight this difference. A welfare government has been in Germany since Bismarck. One must reckon with the handouts and I believe that the population is ever more dependent on the state and will become more so, there it is probably best not to shake the boat. Unfortunately. The government provides the German people with various benefits, pensions etc. This will be hard to change. I know that there is an imbalance between the working population and pensioners. I understand that completely. But what I cannot imagine is a termination of policy or a removal of this form of state. This is not yet conceivable. What has to collapse, or what I hope collapses, concerns the therapeutic element of this form of state.

But don’t you believe that the present majority populations of western nations will soon become minorities? And when the present minorities become majorities, who will have any interest in altering the situation?

But here the disputes must flare up. I hope, that the white majority will to a certain point put an end to this endeavour. And that they will be urged to deport the minorities, who have come illegally, soonest. This also has to happen in the United States. The two biggest parties take care not to concern themselves with this delicate problem, but they have to. For us this is the most pressing issue in American politics. I hope that in the foreseeable future that illegals, who commit crime or work illegally, are rigorously deported. And finally the other illegals to. Eventually it will be possible to get away from immigration.

What happens if this doesn’t occur?

Then everything perishes. And that can happen! I’m trying to give you an optimistic picture. But I fear that the points can’t be changed in time. Obviously I tend more towards pessimism. That comes with my German-Jewish nature.

Under which flag should the majority population gather in case of doubt?

I know that many in East Germany vote for the leftist party, because they are convinced that this party will provide for them and shower them with benefits. On the other hand they are dissatisfied with the immigration problem and are becoming more angry and incensed. What astounds me is the inability of the majority to establish a link between their commitment to voting for the left and the intensification of the immigration problem. This connection has to penetrate the public consciousness. That is why many are now voting for a rightist party afflicted with the stench of “fascism”, which really takes a stand.

Perhaps the disassembling of colonialist system - Ressentiment part deux, the slave morality of the oppressed taking hold of the ex-oppressors themselves.

As Nietzsche describes, Ressentiment quite succintly:

The problem with the other origin of the “good,” of the good man, as the person of ressentiment has thought it out for himself, demands some conclusion. It is not surprising that the lambs should bear a grudge against the great birds of prey, but that is no reason for blaming the great birds of prey for taking the little lambs. And when the lambs say among themselves, "These birds of prey are evil, and he who least resembles a bird of prey, who is rather its opposite, a lamb,—should he not be good?" then there is nothing to carp with in this ideal's establishment, though the birds of prey may regard it a little mockingly, and maybe say to themselves, "We bear no grudge against them, these good lambs, we even love them: nothing is tastier than a tender lamb."

I wonder why Russian Orthodoxy isn't factored in as a possible game changer. Russian Orthodoxy has long been the preserver of national interests for a given nation and as reality demonstrates, the most ardent opponent (on par with Islam) to changes, that emanate from Western obsession with diversity and "righting the wrongs".