Internet Fascist Cultured Thug stated in an interview with pretentious Irish twink Keith Woods (which can be seen here) that he would love to hear an honest critique of what he called “third positionism” (a gay post-war term that I hate to use). This may get one to ask how unread this man is, however it is not that Cultured Thug is unread but that he reads into things whatever he wants to read into them (as shown by his treatment of Werner Sombart citing one chapter and ignoring the ones before). There are many honest critiques of as CT calls it “third positionism” by people who have read the history and theory, just to think of a short one off the top of my head we have Varieties of Fascism by Eugen Weber. In fact I think CT would like this book as it is more about giving a history than an attack but attacks of fascism are given throughout.
It also does not help that that the attacks of anti-fascists have been so poor. The poor attacks made by anti-fascists have only strengthened fascist internet larpers. You have people like Umberto Eco who fail to attack fascism and go as far as to say things like the theory should never be looked at. Same with memes like “fascism is capitalism in decay”. All that only strengths the sewer made up of socially retarded closeted homosexuals (authoritarian fantasies being a product of pseudo-masculine repressed homosexuality). However, to say that you can’t find the honest attacks made by people who read the theory would mean that you never looked for it. The honest attack of fascism came not just from the left about also right with people like Augusto Del Noce (who was friends with fascist thinker Ugo Spirito).
It is not like Fascism or Nazism built an amazing doctrine, and so there is no need to lie to take it down. In fact as historian A. James Gregor pointed out in his study of nazi race theory for the time that Nordism was accepted it was only because they were desperate for an actual racial doctrine. The Nazis were desperate for the thing that “made National Socialism what it was: the theory of race.” The fact Nazism was desperate for an actual racial doctrine shows the quality of German National Socialism. It ended up adopting a view that was so autistic they had to reject it. Fascism also did not build any amazing doctrine. Its philosophy and its idealism was poor. Then there is also the fact that to be a “Fascist” or a “Nazi” is just a larp. Here in America calling yourself a Fascist or a Nazi has no meaning. George Lincoln Rockwell was not a Nazi, but something worse. Beyond his glowing connections he agrees with little of Nazism proper. One of Alfred Rosenberg’s few good takes is seen in his Memoirs when he speaks on Oswald Mosley, he says Nazi organizations outside Germany to be “oil on the fire of the existing propaganda against us” and also that Oswald Mosley should have not called himself a Fascist but should have built his own British movement. These were built for a specific time and place and not to be exported elsewhere.
Now, I have spent some time in online fascist circles and have come to the view that they are bad people. I have come to the view that it is nothing but a sewer full of rats. Absolutely disgusting people make up the so called movement. That is one of my motivations for making this. One problem however with attacking turd positionism as CT wants, is that you can’t. Beyond the fact it is a gay post-war term that shouldn’t be used, you can not write a take down of rightism or leftism (fascism I would say is a form of leftism). If I was to attack turd positionism for being nationalist even that would be untrue. In German National Socialism as pointed out in Hitler’s Revolution by Richard Tedor you start to get this idea of Pan-Europeanism. This was used by the Nazis to gain help for the war effort as Degrelle would state “We fought neither for Germany nor for Hitler, but for a much greater ideal; the creation of a united states of Europe,” However, also people like Himmler wanted to use the Pan-Europe idea in a Germany first way to dominate over the rest of Europe. Pan-Europeanism would become stronger post-war with people like Francis Parker Yockey and Oswald Mosley. Moreover in America they have not been nationalist; Ezra Pound sided with Italy in WWII, Yockey wanted to use the USSR to weaken America and the part-black Lawrence Dennis supported central America against US imperialism. José Antonio Primo de Rivera once attacked nationalism correctly saying that “nationalism is the individualism of the peoples.” And as I will get into there is an incompatibility between Gentile’s philosophy and Nationalism. Point is if I can’t say turd positionism is even nationalist there is not much I could ever say about it.
So, I will be mostly looking at Italian Fascism. I will also be looking more to theory than historical practice. It would be wrong to attack Marxism by first starting with the USSR, North Korea or Khmer Rouge (if anything the main problem Marxists face is not anything that happened in them but the fact they happened where they did). It would be best to start with theory as historical practice is something else. I will also be doing something like what Gentile does to Marxism. Gentile takes Marxism to its materialism and shows it to be a bad materialism almost more like an idealism. So I will be starting with its idealist base as everything else comes out of there. I will also have to explain Gentile’s philosophy as no one reads him.
2 Gentileian Revolt Against Nature
I will be doing something like what Herbert Marcuse of the Frankfurt School does in Reason and Revolution. He says things like “His philosophy, when judged by its content and not its language, has nothing to do with Hegel’s” and also stating on Hegel’s politics “There is no concept less compatible with Fascist ideology than that which founds the state on a universal and rational law that safeguards the interests of every individual, whatever the contingencies of his natural and social status” Marcuse gives what may be one of the most mixed attacks on fascism. It is good that he starts off pointing in the direction for a good honest attack on the fascist philosophy (better than most “intellectual” critics of fascism), but he could not help but take it into some absurd places and ends up accusing Gentile of similar crimes to those that he himself is guilty of. He for example states that Gentile was not truly an idealist because of his view of mind and body, and also that he was more like a positivist (without much of an explanation). For Italian Catholic Philosopher Augusto Del Noce and also the Marxist Diego Fusaro (And I will cite Fusaro as Gentile does Labriola) it is best to understand Gentile and also Fascism in relation to Marx, Hegel and Spaventa. Diego Fusaro gives in one quote an excellent description of actualism and its birth in one of his lectures (seen here);
“I agree that Gentile goes beyond Hegel, or at least does not coincide with Hegel. Gentile, following Spaventa’s steps, criticised what Spaventa had already criticised. In Hegel, the identification between thought and being is conceived in a static sense, as if it was already accomplished once and for all, as if this identity was indeed motionless, fetishised, we could almost say fixed. Whereas in Marx who is certainly an idealist but in more rigorous and radical terms, praxis considered as the foundation of reality, we nevertheless see no fixed identity of object and subject, because this identity is made dynamic through continuous renewal by praxis; praxis creates over and over a new relationship between subject and object. For this reason in ‘The Reform of Hegelian Dialectic’ Gentile’s intention is to revise Hegel by introducing the concept of action, Gentile’s version of praxis. Because the identity of being and thought cannot be seen as static, but only as dynamic; it is therefore not so much an identity of being and thought, but an identity of being and thinking in action, as there is no static identity of thought and being, but there is an identity of being and thinking in action, which by the very action of thinking defines being. So it is the action of doing that guarantees this identity of thought and being. I’m talking about the well-known distinction Gentile makes between a thought that is thought and a thinking about thought. A thought that is thought is a thought objectified, and it manifests as the objects that surround us. We never encounter any objects disconnected from the thought-action that created them; we only have objects that have been thought, objects that are the outcome of our thoughts.”
The Materialism of Marx is ironically one of the most important forms of Idealism in the creation of Actualism. So we must speak of Gentile’s work The Philosophy of Marx. I have myself edited the translation of this work from Zoltanous HN. Fusaro points to the similarity of the pure act of thinking to praxis. However, praxis for Gentile in Marx takes a much deeper meaning than the mere getoffyourassism that you hear from the Internet left on the topic of praxis. For Gentile of we give things like the Theses on Feuerbach we find that the new Materialism is in fact an Idealism. Marx says the problem with the old Materialism is “that the Object (der Gegenstand), actuality, sensuousness, are conceived only in the form of the object (Objekts), or of contemplation (Anschauung), but not as human sensuous activity, practice (Praxis), not subjectively.” Marx even says there the Materialists have to learn from the Idealists in the following sentence. Marx says in the Theses on Feuerbach that the old Materialism could not be revolutionary and so the new Materialism must take from Idealism. The problem however is that it stops being Materialism. Marx’s so called “Materialism” is like the moral subjectivist who admits to the role that reason must play in morality (Rudolf Steiner’s “ethical individualism” for example). Reason by its nature is universal, and so such moral subjectivism could not be subjectivist. And when Marx starts to bring in these ideals of a reality formed by praxis he has trouble being a Materialist.
This is more than a mere getoffyourassism, but even if it was just that it would show a level of idealism as it shows humans to have free will. It is sad that most of the online left will look to the Theses on Feuerbach as mere getoffyourassism and a belief in free will. When Marx shows Feuerbach as unable to understand human society this is not like it is for Marx the fault of the old Materialism, but in truth all Materialism. Thus for Gentile and Diego Fusaro the idea of praxis and of the pure act of thinking are similar. However, Marx still for Gentile did not take hold to that “beautiful flower of Idealism”. Me and Fusaro say they are similar but not the same as Gentile points out, Marxist Praxis “is a subjective production of man; a production, however, of sensory activity (sinnliche Tätigkeit); not of thought”. Thus, Marx for Gentile may still be said to be a Materialist and he did not swim the waters of Idealism but only got deep enough to cover his legs. To quote Gentile; “The passage, therefore, from a posteriori to a priori, as the reason for reality, is understood in idealism; but in Marx’s materialism it is inconceivable.” It is also true that Marx for Gentile did not get past “the nominalistic intuition which sees in society nothing but individuals”. There is a reason Gentile wrote The Theory of Mind as Pure Act and not The Theory of Mind as Praxis. For Gentile this praxis idea shows an Idealism in that Marx also does not get past Materialism;
“Marx does not seem to have taken the slightest care to see how praxis could be coupled with matter, as the only reality; while the whole of the preceding history of philosophy must have warned him of the irreconcilability of the two principles: of that form (praxis) with that content (matter).”
To say praxis was the only reality was the project of Gentile, and so, for this reason Augusto Del Noce puts the Gentile’s work The Philosophy of Marx as the genesis of Fascism. Augusto Del Noce is half right in doing so. Now we start to see the birth of Gentile’s Actualism. The importance of both Marx and Spaventa is not made so clear in the The Theory of Mind as Pure Act. However, we see importance of Marx still leak through at times. Like how he viewed one of the reason the Greeks did not reach views like his is that “ancient philosophy never did conceive, history, progress.” He even further in the book states that the problem with mixing history and eternity “led Plato to deny value to history”. The fact Gentile sees philosophy of history as important in this way shows the impact of Marx. Gentile also seems to agree with Karl Löwith that the Greeks did not care for history and had no philosophy of history. This view in Philosophy And Hope Fusaro himself calls “simplistic and superficial”. In Polybius we see not just a history but a circular philosophy of history. Fusaro also states “Epicurus had preferred the hope of a different future to the inexorable necessity advocated by the physicists.” Gentile’s Idealism unlike the Greek idealism however was born out of philosophy of history.
Gentile, despite what Herbert Marcuse wants you to think, was an idealist and he gives an argument for idealism that sounds a lot like the argument given by a lot of other idealists;
“Reality is conceivable only in so far as the reality conceived is in relation to the activity which conceives it, and in that relation it is not only a possible object of knowledge, it is a present and actual one. To conceive reality is to conceive, at the same time and as one with it, the mind in which that reality is represented; and therefore the concept of a material reality is absurd.”
One quote sums up his form of idealism, but needs to be explained to show how. Hegel infamously wrote a preface attacking prefaces. Like a preface in philosophy a quote makes more sense after you already know how they think;
“[…] the spirit […] is never really that pure theoretical activity that is imagined to stand in opposition to practical activity: there is no theory or contemplation of reality that is not also action and thus the creation of reality. Indeed, there is no cognitive act that does not have a value, or rather, that is not judged, precisely so far as it is a cognitive act, according to its exact conformity to its own law and whether or not it is recognized as being what it ought to be […] If we were not the authors of our ideas, or rather, if our ideas were not purely our own actions, they would not be ours, we would be unable to judge them, they would have no value: they would be neither true nor false.”
Gentile holds that reality is in our act of thinking. Thinking for him is universal, and something outside of our thinking is something outside of reality. His view has been attacked as “solipsism”, and Gentile responds to this attack. The problem for Gentile is solipsism holds to a particular and negative ego, and actualism holds on to a dialectical ego, and moreover makes itself a thing and not a spirit. It can exclude other egos. We must think about other minds and we must have unification with other minds. And without such there could be no understanding. It is not my mind or your mind but our mind. He even speaks of an “infinite unity.” Diego Fusaro that “This can be seen as an attempt to reclaim a monistic perspective, to draw everything back to the unity of the thinking though.”
“The dialectical concept of mind, then, not only does not exclude, it requires spiritual multiplicity as the essential mark of the infinite unity of mind. Infinite unity is therefore infinite unification of the multiple as it is infinite multiplication of the one.”
Hegel being an absolute idealist in contrast to the subjective idealism of Gentile. First, Gentile sees in the old “Platonic idealism, which persisted throughout Aristotelian, neo-Platonist, Scholastic and Cartesian intellectualistic metaphysics, right through to Kant” that the spirit is removed. As, mind there is more like a substance or thing or finished event. This for Gentile, is not a truly spiritual view. The idea, the Absolute, is not spirit, but the object and presupposition of spirit. It is an object that cannot be identified with the spirit without annulling itself as spirit in the process. In so doing it collapses into a simple presupposition of an ulterior spiritual position, in relation to which it becomes a knowable reality.
For Gentile our thought “is act or process, not substance”, and as for the old idealism;It declared it to be substance, by which it meant that it was the subject of an activity of which it was independent, an activity therefore which it could realize or not realize without thereby losing or gaining its own being. In our view the mind has no existence apart from its manifestations; for these manifestations are according to us its own inward and essential realization. We can also say of our mind that it is our experience, so long as we do […] By experience we must mean the act of experiencing, pure experience, that which is living and real.
Now, modern idealism starting with Kant had one important figure and that was Hegel. For Gentile Hegel started a revolution in idealism that he did not finish. As Hegel understood the impact of the Kantian view. The transcendental ego of Kant is not substance but thought. And here we say thought can not mind making the old and the new understanding of mind clear. When we are speaking of thought we are speaking of mind as an act. For Gentile not even Berkeley understood this understanding of mind as thought.
“although Berkeley identified representation with the existence of that which is perceived, his conception has nothing to do with negation. Kantian or Hegelian ‘thought’ — which is the act of the thinking activity — would also understand Berkeleian representation as something presupposed by thought. It is with Hegel, therefore, that we see the beginning of the new idealism — an idealism that can no longer be called naturalism, but something akin to spiritualism.”
Hegel as stated “did not follow his revolution through to the end”. He still had elements of the old Platonic view which he could not shake off. Thus this view for Gentile is divided: “on the one hand it presents itself as an activity that thinks, and on the other, as a reality understood as both object and presupposition of thought.” And in both we see the old Platonic view rearing its head. They both hold reality that has transcended the act of thought. In Hegel, we see the reason of the world, and also, pure nature. Thus we may say that Gentile grew out of the philosophy of Kant and Hegel. But for Gentile because of these elements in Hegel, it is Gentile’s goal to take Hegel to the next step. For Gentile the older forms of Idealism were too close to materialism, and so he wants to make a more extreme form of idealism. As he states in a his lecture The Rebirth of Idealism;
“Thus, the dominant character of the current idealism, rebelling against the naturalist movement, is to negate nature and oppose it to the Spirit: either idealist monism, which solves the problem by denying its existence; or else dualism, which acknowledges the problem but declares itself powerless to solve it. In neither case is there any real understanding of idealism. And since what is not understood is not in the Spirit, while idealism can be nowhere else but in the Spirit, I claim that real idealism is missing in both cases.”
Gentile sees the same problem in Hegel as another Hegelian, Bertrando Spaventa. Spaventa other than Gentile may be the most important think in the formation of Actualism. Reading his essay Pure Experience and Historical Reality and the lecture The Rebirth of Idealism make the importance of Spaventa clear. Like how Jakob Böhme is only spoken of once in The Science of Logic (in the remark on quality and negation in the chapter on determinate being) despite his huge impact on Hegel Gentile says little of Spaventa in The Theory of Mind as Pure Act. Gentile follows the stupid Spaventaian attack of the old Idealism and of Hegelianism. And so there must be a new idealism in which that naturalistic world is removed. The new idealism must view no reality outside of knowledge. Spaventa here was a needed upheaval of the whole Hegelian system to iron out these seeming contradictions in Hegel found by Spaventa and Gentile. One may say that we see this “contradiction” already in the preface to the Phenomenology if we take for example in §17. However, Hegel is right that the only way to grasp substance is as subject just as morality is subjective universality. It must be this way for substance can only be made “for itself only for us“. In other words so that it can not only be in self but also for self. This in self and for self is explained well by Hegel in the preface to the Phenomenology (§21 & 26) and in §124 of the Encyclopedia Hegel gives us what may be taken as a proto-feminist line relating to such things.
This does seem like an odd attack as Hegel is the master of contradictions. Hegel is the man who shows the unity of being and nothing, of the finite and the infinite. In fact in his Encyclopedia Hegel uses the things “natural being” when outlining his method (§81). In other words Hegel is after what the thing is. At the end of the Science of Logic Hegel says that “Nature and spirit are in general different modes of presenting its existence” so both exist in the absolute idea. Just as being and nothing have becoming, as the whole and the parts have force we see that nature and spirit have the absolute idea. I don’t remove fascism from the title of Hegelian because it did historically come from Hegel, but I think you can see how this one move is almost like a full rejection of Hegel.
As Enrico Corradini stated; “Fascism took the succession of Socialism and went beyond it.” Gentile in his view did the same to Hegel. Gentile found Hegelian idealism as Hegel had left it and felt to correct the mistake in Hegel’s absolute idealism. To fix it Spaventa viewed that the naturalistic element to the dialectic had to be removed. However, as I will get into after I’m done explaining Gentile he found himself in a worst unresolvable contradiction by removing nature.
His Pure Experience and Historical Reality, shows us how this idealism works speaking on The Divine Comedy. The Comedy is a creation of those who study it. It is not just some poem from 1320, as it is the Comedy that we study as the creation of those who study it that is real. A divine poem from 1320 is nothing but an abstract.Just try securing in thought something we assume to be already determined; that very act will be a new creation which will resuscitate the process. This means that self-consciousness, in its individuality, is formed in the infinite and that this individuality cannot, therefore, be divided into multiple discrete individuals, but in a continuous process of individuation. The same can be said of The Divine Comedy, for example, which is not, strictly speaking, a work of a certain individual imagination, undertaken in the narrow confines of the life of a man who died in 1321; that would be an abstraction. The real Divine Comedy is that which we read, which we interpret, and on which we cast judgment. […]
“Thus our work extends the process by which we establish that spiritual creation that we call the Comedy, is carried out across a series of centuries; it is tangled up in the whole progress of the spirit and flows into the general current of thought, or of culture.”
Pure Experience and Historical Reality is also a good text for putting Gentile into his context in the history of philosophy. However, true history for Gentile is only an abstract. The history that we make up is the true history. Is there even a point in doing history? What we believe about history is truth. Historical truth is not things as they happened way back when but what we make up now. I have an idea how Gentile would respond to my question “Why even do real history?” and I will respond soon.
With all this in mind, it is not hard to understand the relativistic nature of the proper Fascist view. And the rejection by Fascism of natural law. As in Rocco’s Political Doctrine of Fascism natural law is rejected as liberal. To attack natural law for being liberal is absurd. Natural law I would argue like many things believed to come from Greek philosophy is older and goes back to the old days of Egypt but more than feeding into liberalism it would be impossible to build a natural law under this idealism. The idea of something outside of our act of thinking is impossible here.
Now, on another note, we may speak of how Gentile views God. For the Hegelians in the anglosphere, God held an important role in their idealism. It would be hard to think of Anglos in America and England holding the same lack of belief in God as McTaggart. Gentile holds that his idealism is compatible with Christianity and Catholicism. However, he holds God to be a man-god: est Deus in Nobis (God is within us). Here there is a spiritual unity of man and God, but moreover;It is a reality which waits for us to construct, a reality which is true even now of love and will, because it is the inward effort of the soul, its living process, not its ideal and external model. It is man himself who rises above humanity and becomes God. And even God is no longer a reality who already is, but the God who is begotten in us and is ourselves in so far as we with our whole being rise to him. Here mind is no longer intellect but will. The world is no longer what is known but what is made; and therefore not only can we begin to conceive the mind as freedom or moral activity, but the world, the whole: world of the Christian is freed and redeemed. The whole world is a world which is what it would be, or a world, as we say, essentially moral.
This then brings us to his idiotic form of Christianity and Catholicism. We are starting to see how this idealism has perverted the Fascist view of Christianity and Catholicism. I will take one more quote from Gentile on the topic.
“Christianity develops through the history of modern thought; you could say that its whole development consists in gradually freeing itself from the perception of the transcendence of the Good in order either to become aware of its actual spirituality, or in order to grasp the act by which the spirit realizes itself. That is to say: it consists entirely in the progressive overcoming of the opposition between the will and the intellect, or between what is (nature) and what ought to be (spiritual reality). So being is not opposed to what ought to be, but is contained within it. And the real — the old real, that is — is not opposed to the ideal. Rather, the real is contained within the ideal, and the ideal realizes itself as the negation of the real that it comprises. So the world is idealized, spiritualized and completely illuminated in order to become a free, spiritual and moral world. The moral world in [the doctrine of the pure] act is neither some golden age nor paradise without evil. It is a contrast between good and evil, a struggle to achieve the joy of the spirit, a joy that can only be tasted through effort, as a result of hard-fought achievement. It is a world that is real only insofar as it is realized, a world that is moral in fieri: a moral act.”
Diego Fusaro points out the incompatibility with this and Christianity. And I will also later use Fusaro to show an incompatibility with Gentileianism and Gentile’s own nationalism.
“Catholic philosophy regards Gentile’s Actualism as its most dangerous enemy, because what does Gentile’s Actualism do, in practice? It doesn’t simply deny God, it also deifies man, we could almost say that it bestows upon man a certain task that the scholars attributed only to God […] transforms man into the creator of his destiny confers to man competences previously owned only by God himself. Therefore we find in Gentile this radical form of Humanism.”
Which finally brings us this last part his ethics, as both of these quotes also tie into that. I will spend less time here because I want to run into the attack on the idealism, and after the idealism falls apart so do his ethics. As stated Fascism rejects natural law, and the ideas of actuality and rationality as they are in Hegel’s ethics are impossible here. Gentile views this act of thinking as ethical (not as much as what is created). One of the greatest moral wrongs in Gentile’s eyes is hypocrite, and what is good is good thinking (weeding out the “true” from the “false”). Not engaging in the thought of others is evil. However, ended in an anti-realist constructivist morality as pointed out by James Wakefield;
“Gentile’s moral philosophy represents a radical variety of anti-realism, distinguished from other anti-realist doctrines by its rigorous adherence to the necessarily subjective standpoint of the thinker actively reflecting on the choices with which he is confronted.”
Gentile is right in agreeing with the idealism that following Jakob Böhme (Böhme was a full idealist see the fifth point if his Six Mystical Points for proof) of viewing freedom as one of the highest good. For Böhme as Robin Waterfield states “the essential nature if the undetermined Divinity is freedom.” The idealism to follow after Böhme of Hegel and Schelling freedom is the highest good. Gentile also correctly put freedom as one of the highest goods. However, his ethics are about more than freedom. And an argument is to be made that Gentile’s idealism allows more freedom than Hegel’s. After all now there is no will but the human will. However, such a brain dead argument that idealist absolutism leaves no room for individual free action were already responded to by Hegel and Schelling. Rudolf Steiner is right to say “monism is a freedom phliosophy” but he is wrong in his views on moral law. Moreover, it is not the idealism of Hegel but that of Gentile that destroys freedom. I am now done explaining (forgive me for how long it was), and so now will start the attack on the idealism then show how it destroys freedom. For Hegel;
“The basis of right is, in general, mind; its precise and point of origin is the will. The will is free, so that freedom is both the substance of right and its goal, while the system of right is the realm of freedom made actual, the world of mind brought forth out of itself forth a second nature.”
I will start by stating that this idealism was already responded to by Hegel himself. Not only that but as early as 1803 in his essay on natural law. There he says “it is the Absolute which makes philosophy a genuine science.” And in the Science of Logic he latter says “A philosophy which ascribed veritable, ultimate, absolute being to finite existence as such, would not deserve the name of philosophy” What this shows is that in a way what Gentile does may not be called philosophy. One may ask why you should debate a Fascist, and the truth is there is no point. Gentile put “truth” in a very important spot in his philosophy but his truth is not truly true. When we debate we are looking for truth. However, under subjective idealism what can be said to be true? Truth would need something more absolute and universal. Fascists have no need to be honest. If they “universalize” their thinking then it is truth. Myth can become reality. As I said speaking on Gentile’s history “Is there even a point in doing history?” Gentile would say there is, and that it is tied up with this ethical creation of reality and the weeding out of error (which for Gentile error is only abstract) to take hold of truth. However, Fascism has no room for truth. So, there is no point in debating a Fascist.
Gentile’s philosophy was used to justify fascism but it can justify just about anything in a correct context. It could be used to justify modern America, the Soviet Union. All of these are ethical creating and actualizing a myth. All is relative and the morality is anti-realist. But from this unifying of thought we create this Fascist fetish of the state. Hegel’s state is one that should obey the law of God. The Fascist state is as Eugen Weber states “something of a fraud”. Now, Eugen Weber has a point but he understood Hegel’s state (like calling it platonic is odd). Herbert Marcuse does it a bit better but I don’t think he totally got Hegel’s state or the Fascist state. Marcuse is right in making this attack on fascism in relation to Hegelianism but he is for example wrong when he speaks of Hegel’s glorification of the Prussian monarchy (Hegel’s Philosophy of Right was not in support of any existing state as Knox points out). And really the only thing Fascism takes from Hegel in the view of the state is viewing it as the actualization of consciousness and as the mind of the nation.
I do not, like Marcuse, say that Fascism is not Hegelian. I say it is Hegelian as Mormonism is Christian. Many with good reason say Mormonism is not Christian. I however do not care to say Mormonism is or is not Christian. I do not care to call Fascism Hegelian, or to remove that title from it. It grew out of Hegel and Hegel may in many ways be called a proto-fascist. Marcuse may not have the best reasoning but he does have a point (same with Adorno’s and George L. Mosse’s views on the homoerotic nature to Fascism). The rejection of nature and viewing it as a contradiction is almost a total rejection of Hegel however. Hegel views that it’s the dialect that causes the thing’s “immediate or natural being to move suddenly into its opposite.” The fact we say “immediate or natural being” is important, and must here be kept in mind. For Hegel we are after what the thing is, and in doing so it acts on us and we on it. For Gentile we create the thing. And again at the end of the Science of Logic Hegel says that “Nature and spirit are in general different modes of presenting its existence” so both exist in the absolute idea. Just as being and nothing have becoming, as the whole and the parts have force we see that nature and spirit have the absolute idea. We could just look to how Hegel describes philosophy. Already in the first paragraph of Encyclopaedia;
“The objects of philosophy, it is true, are upon the whole the same as those of religion. In both the object is Truth, in that supreme sense in which God and God only is the Truth. Both in like manner go on to treat of the finite worlds of Nature and the human Mind, with their relation to each other and to their truth in God.”
Saying that philosophy has the one true divine God as its goal is interesting. Plotinus once said “Our concern is not to be free from sin, but to be god.” Gentile in rhetoric is not too far from here (as seen in the one quote). The word philosophia is probably a rendering of an older as of now unknown Egyptian term, but likely a compound of meni (love) and rekh (wisom or knowledge). Philosophy is the love of wisdom. It is God holds eternal wisdom, and wisdom is his manifestation. Philosophy even before the days Egypt to now is seeking to reach to the heights of the one true God. I would like to quote Algis Uždavinys “This doctrine is explicitly stated circa 2060 B.C. in the wisdom text which emphasize gnosis, saying that the man of knowledge is ‘likeness (mjtj) of God’, meaning ‘a fundamental kinship of action, nature and rank.'” The Egyptians also speak of it as being sun-like as being transformed akh and to reach the heights of Ra himself. The Book of Two Ways from the early middle kingdom states that such enlightened souls can say “I have inherited the horizon of Ra. I am Atum.” The Egyptians also speak of becoming a start in the night sky. And, we can speak of a Egyptian sage like Amenhotep who started their own cult. However, Gentile is wrong in how he understands God. This moves us to more ancient views of philosophy. Algis Uždavinys describes the ancient philosopher as a “poetically enlightened person who follows his lived philsophia as a model way of living and dying, or of becoming ‘like a god'” for ancient philosophy “mythology is not excluded from philosophy”. However, I may be in a somewhat un-Hegelian way looking too much to these ancient views of philosophy. So, let us look more too Hegel himself. Hegel gives two important elements: the historic and the eternal element. Diego Fusaro explains these two elements in his book Marx Again;
“Thus, truth itself historically, although without resolving itself into the pure historical genesis. Indeed, the eternal truth of the Idea consists in the process of progression through the time in which it leaves-itself to then return-to-self enriched by the adventures of the negative, in the specific form ‘a becoming other which must be taken back’ (ein Anderswerden, das zurückgenommen werden muß) and which, therefore, ‘is a mediation’ (ist eine Vermittlung). This unity between the logical-ontological and the historical-temporal level finds its most clear formulation in the Vorrede to The Phenomenology of Spirit, which explains how that which is eternally becomes so in its historical development, as the result of mediation, as the outcome of the immanent processulity of the logical-ontological principle’s becoming truthful: ‘the truth is in the whole (das Wahre ist das Ganze). However, the whole is only the essence which is accomplished through its own development (durch seine Entwicklung). In fact, it must be said that the Absolute is essentially a result, that only at the end it is what it is what it truthfully is’.
“Truth coincides, this is the main point, with the temporally configured process of the truthful-becoming-true. Thus, we find ourselves in the presence of a transcendentalism with a historical but not a historicist basis: indeed, the Hegelian perspective offers safer title onto-historical equilibrium between the eternal element (the universal validity of philosophy) and the historical element (the place of determination of philosophical truths, and thus their particular genesis), in the context of a truthful conception of philosophy, in which validity (Geltung) is universal and genesis is particular and historically determined.”
For Gentile can’t have this unfolding of the eternal element that acts on us and us on it. That would imply that it has a part to it that is in-itself. Only the historical element that we create in our time. Diego Fusaro also speaks of that being “extended by Giovanni Gentile.” The translator of The Theory of Mind as Pure Act points to the name “actual idealism” itself and almost makes it sound like Gentile does not go beyond this view as this act of thing is for Gentile absolute, and so is eternal existing in an “eternal being” and an “eternal present”. However, Gentile attacks this Hegelian view of history in chapter 13 of The Theory of Mind as Pure Act. It must also be said that this for Gentile is the only thing that can be said to be absolute, and so we are at subjectivism. It extends it by removing an important element. If anything this is a degeneration. Gentile speaks of the “degenerate Hegelianism of the left, represented especially by Feuerbach.” However, his Hegelianism is also a degenerate Hegelianism. I will also add that Diego Fusaro in his own personal philosophy suffers from many of the same problems and incoherences of Gentile, and at least in his English translated works is even more poorly argued than Gentile. I love Diego Fusaro and recommend his books but this needs to be said.
Now, for Gentile truth is not truly true. For Fusaro there is no thing-in-itself. Gentile may say that he believes in a truth. Hell, his ethics involves finding the truth, and that is why not engaging in the thought of others is evil. But can you really call the “truth” that he speaks of true? You can’t. So the attack on subjective idealism and argument of an absolute idealism made by a man who is often falsely called a Hegelian Josiah Royce can still be used on Gentile. James Wakefield wants to emphasize how Gentile is not like the more vulgar forms of subjectivity, and moral relativism however that does not change that he still falls victim to many of the same attacks. This is what I meant when I said by removing nature he put himself in a worst spot than he accused Hegel of being in. Spaventa and his follower Gentile believed to have found the problem in Hegel and their answer was to put themselves in an even worst position than Hegel. So this must be said to be a degenerate Hegelianism.
“This paradox is wild enough if you look at it fairly. And yet many thinkers actually have maintained it under various disguises as the doctrine of what is called the Total Relativity of Truth. […] If there is no real distinction between truth and error, then the statement that there is such a difference is not really false, but only seemingly false. And then in truth there is a distinction once more. Try as you will, you come not beyond the fatal circle. If it is wrong to say that there is Absolute Truth, then the statement that there is absolute truth is itself false. […] If it is false only relatively, then it is not false absolutely. Hence the statement that it is false absolutely is itself false.”
Gentile states in The Act of Thinking as Pure Act “Error is abstract, then; only the truth is concrete.” However, Royce was using the fact of error to prove an absolute mind. For subjective idealist like Gentile error is in his words “an accidental attribute of another’s thinking or of thinking no longer our own”. To say this however is absurd and incoherent. And there is an infinite number of ways one can be wrong. Thus so that reaches the conclusion of an absolute mind which determines what is true what is false. This is simplified version of the point Royce was making. And if error is necessary although nothing more than an accidental abstract then he is a sitting duck to this attack from Royce. I call him a degenerate Hegelianism not because he modified Hegel (that is something that should be done) but because he moved it into an even worse position.
Now, we should move to how Gentile modifies the Hegelian dialectic. This has been shown a bit but it is better shown in the forth chapter to The Theory of Mind as Pure Act. Gentile sees the problem with the Hegelian dialectic as Hegel could not help but speak of fixed concepts. Being is to a degree fixed, and so too is nothing. For Gentile this makes the movement from nothing to being a bit difficult, and there “could not be that meeting together and shock of being and nothing from which Hegel thought to strike the spark of life.” Gentile then sees being and nothing as two dead things. Gentile wants to remove all concepts that are fixed in anyway. But is not the act of thing itself to a degree fixed? The Positivist can not prove Positivism with their own verifiability principle. Gentile can not escape the one thing he can say to be absolute, and this one thing shows a problem with his moderation of the Hegelian dialectic. In fact this is how Gentile shoves the problem in the Hegelian dialectic following his attack. The act of thinking is just as “fixed” as being or nothing. It must be or it is not to be the act of thinking. To remove anything that could be said to be “fixed” one would have to ontologically speaking be a nihilist, and I don’t think anyone is dumb enough to be an ontological nihilist. One would even have to remove this subjective act of thinking if we remove all that is “fixed”.
Moreover if we must remove anything fixed the natural being that passes into its other we find ourselves in an odd spot. When I speak of the tree that is out my window, that implies that the window and the tree are at least in some part in-themselves. What it also implies is that the tree and the window are in someway part of the natural world. This may not be the most sound argument against Gentile, but it is a point. Gentile himself notes in The Moral Problem how odd it is to say we set the sun. And also the tree and the window can not be said to be totally in-themselves. To only speak of them as they are in-themselves is like the immature and patriarchal state, or the seed that is not yet a plant or the infant (examples from Hegel). Also in Hegelianism we speak of the reflected absoluteness of actuality. This reflected absoluteness of actuality also can not exist in the Idealism of Gentile as it needs the thing as it is in-itself to move into an other, and back into self.
I said that Gentile’s idealism destroys freedom. Let me explain. Hegel was looking to absolute freedom and not mere abstract freedom. Abstract freedom is but a step in movement to absolute freedom. This is a freedom in relation to the absolute ethical order in which we become ourselves. Gentile too views freedom not as a mere abstract freedom. For Gentile then it is a freedom in relation to that great force unifying thought (i.e. the state). Freedom for the Fascist comes from the state and for Hegel it is in relation to a more powerful force. But freedom here is from a fake absolute. Fascism has put the ascribed veritable, ultimate, absolute being to finite existence. So its freedom is merely subjective, so the truth of freedom is destroyed like all other truth. Freedom can not be a truth as Gentile believes it to be. Like all other things under a subjective view of things is meaningless. And as I have shown with a quote from Royce it is in an extremely incoherent place. Under the idealism of Gentile even if he himself would reject this conclusion freedom can not be real or meaningful. To make it even more incoherent can we even speak of “freedom” in the Gentileian dialectic? Must we say too that freedom is a dead thing?
At the first look putting man as the creator of reality would allow for the maximum level of freedom. This however would only be on the first look with thinking too much, and with a vulgar idea of freedom that Gentile himself and even Anarchists reject. Diego Fusaro argues that “The thing in itself should be rejected because it is an impediment to free human praxis” so he argues for an idealism in which “humanity is conceived of as a single acting subject (Fichte’s I, Hegel’s Spirit) is created and can be found in what it has created”. Fusaro speaks of genesis of the objective in the subjective. the Fusaro like Gentile also speaks of the “telos of universal freedom.” I point this out because the argument given by Fusaro in Europe And Capitalism is built around free human praxis. He argues for a subjective idealism from the view of freedom. Fusaro may not want it to be called subjective idealism (based off some things he says in his work and a Spanish interview with Santiago Armesilla), he moves between what may be viewed not to odd of an idealist view when he says we “adapt the object to our active subjectivity” and when he speak of idealist history. However, Fusaro must be a subjective idealist and that is one of his many weaknesses. Fusaro is right under materialism there can be no free human praxis. However, going to a subjective idealism was going too far. Now, like for Gentile the freedom he is looking for is in an extremely incoherent place.
Moreover, Fusaro commits a crime that in Hegel’s eyes would be worse than Kant’s. The attack of Kant in §45 of his Encyclopedia because Kant says we do not understand the thing-in-itself but Fusaro denies the thing in itself, and Gentile must do the same. Hegel’s own views on the thing-in-itself is lined out well the chapter on existence in the Science of Logic. My copy does not have the sections numbered but it is §1054 on marxists.org that I think gives the best idea of how Hegel views the things-in-themselves, and I have before cited §124 of the Encyclopedia. And we must remember like how objectivity or subjectivity are merely abstract, the thing-in-itself is kinda abstract and so we must remember that it is “related to self as to another.” And as Hegel points out “The thing-in-self has color only in relation to the eyes, smell in relation to the nose and so on”. Thus here we have a more full view than Fusaro just removing it and in Marx Again calling Kant dogmatic for holding on to a noumenalogical world.
Also, in that chapter from the Science of Logic also goes against a subjective idealism, and for what some now call absolute idealism. This being an argument from the relation of things; “This relationship constitutes the totality of Existence.” writes Hegel. Gentile is like I said before a degenerate Hegelian. Throwing away what was good in Hegel.
And now on to the point about Gentile’s nationalism as his love for the Risorgimento and Fascism is well known. However, Fusaro points out that there is a incompatibility with Gentileianism and Nationalism, and I will add to this point to show how incoherent Gentile really is. Fusaro himself is often somewhat falsely and also totally in reason attacked as a nationalist.
“The fourth, and possibly most important point, is that Gentile, in perfect idealist style, holds on firmly to the unity of the human race, and elevates his idea the level of great idealistic thinkers like Fichte and Hegel. Gentile envisions the human race as a unitary subject, creating history at the rhythm of a gradual universalizing of freedom. This is a crucial point. Gentile holds on to this clearly idealistic concept. One could certainly object: but, as a fascist, what was his stance vis á vis the race laws, the horrible race laws; what was his stance on the horrible colonial invasions. Gentile, being organic to the fascist party, obviously did not oppose the race laws, […] but although he didn’t openly oppose them, in some sense he really did, because Gentile fully supported Jewish intellectuals, so in some way he did. I consider the figure of Rodolfo Mondolfo as emblematic as someone who did not only collaborate with Gentile, but whose life Gentile saved, allowing him to escape to Argentina. This is then an essential episode.I think the universalistic footprint of Gentile’s thought is revealed clearly in an extract that I will read to you — I like to read some extracts from the author’s work to illustrate the sense of his thinking. For example here, in Fundamentals of the Philosophy of Law Gentile writes: ‘All human beings are, as spiritual being, one single human being, with one single interest, constantly evolving and unfolding: the heritage of humanity.’ This is the idea of the human race as a single unit. Also, in The Philosophy of Art — and I purposefully quote from several works to show how this is not just an occasional consideration, but is firmly rooted in Gentile’s thought — in The philosophy of Art he writes: ‘The journey of the human race progresses towards the enactment of a human personality, a progressively self-aware thought, always broader and shared as valid by a widening circle of men’ This is also a very trenchant extract. Lastly I will quote a third excerpt from The Reform of Hegelian Dialectic, […] Gentile writes, ‘The history of humanity progresses thought a continual efforts of willpower, constantly liberating itself through civil, economic, political, religious and scientific struggles, towards the absolute emancipation of reason, whose ideal for, of it was fully realized, would mark the end of history; but since every ideal is realized in an infinite life, the conclusion will never come, nor will perfect ethical emancipation ever be realized, and human beings […] will always work towards humanization, towards fuller freedom, with a perpetual rhythm of morality and philosophy.’ So although here Gentile keeps the door open for the idea of an unlimited perfectibility, he doesn’t fully define his thought in this way. He also keeps the process of unlimited universalizing of freedom open.”
This only goes to show how incoherent Gentile really is. In an introduction to Gentile’s Genesis and Structure of Society we see an extent attack on Fascism from British idealist Bernard Bosanquet. He calls it “unity without a universe”; no universe, no nature and so no universal. This universal humanitarian character of Fascism is also not compatible with itself. You are talking about a universal when there can be no universal. It is just all incoherent. Fusaro in this quote also shows one of the problems with Nationalism. The problem for Nationalists is that for freedom to be freedom it must be universal, and for moral law to be moral law it must be universal. It may also be said for truth to be truth it must be universal. Freedom is international, and so too is moral law. Truth may also be said to be international. And Nationalism is too the individualism of the peoples. It gets in the way of reaching the one human race, just as nationalists will point out individualism prevents us from reaching the nation. Thus I say again Nationalism is the individualism of the peoples. I am not the most well read in Kant but it is not hard to see why he dreamed of a league of nations. Hegel gives a weak nationalist reply to Kant here in §333-334 in the Philosophy of Right. People point to the Libertarian to nationalist pipe line but ignore that both have some of the same logic. Nationalism is a doctrine so weak that even many post-war fascists, and parts of the SS started to reject it.
“Just as it is impossible for the materialist to declare spirit out of existence, so the spiritualist cannot disavow the material world” said Rudolf Steiner speaking on Fichte, and he had a point. There is clearly something beyond our act of thinking. There is a nature and a noumenon out there, and Rudolf Steiner should have probably said nature and not “material world”. This may be one of the weaker attacks one can make, but it holds true. Diego Fusaro who follows in some of the footsteps of Gentile also in his interpretation of Marx. Diego Fusaro who many would call a Marxist agrees with Gentile’s attack on Marxism. Not only does Fusaro agree that Marx was a poor materialist more like an idealist, but he adds to it. Fusaro adds that the idealism of Marx is more like the idealism of Fichte then of Hegel.
This shows a Marxist response. If idealism is not a bad thing, and Marx was more like an idealist anyways, then in the modification of Marx, we must adapt him to our time, we should also remove the last bits of materialism. Thus the Fascist response is to rebuild Fascism with a new idealism putting the thing-in-itself and the noumenal world into its proper place, and also a rebuilding of morality. First problem is at what point does it stop being fascist. Marxism is at a point like this, just find some retarted tankie and ask if the Frankfurt School is Marxist. Augusto Del Noce was kinda wrong in viewing Gentile’s attack in Marx as the birth of fascism. However this brings up the questions. Were there Fascist Anti-Gentileians? How true is it that Gentile was the philosopher of Fascism?
There in fact were Anti-Gentileian Fascists but I hold that many of them were too right-wing and too reactionary to be called Fascist. I think of the egoist turned Fascist Berto Ricci, and also Niccolò Giani’s School of Fascist Mysticism (both of which I am not calling right-wing and reactionary). But there is a bit more however not too much of it is in English and I only speak English. So I will be looking to an article by Italian female historian Alessandra Tarquini The Anti-Gentilians during the Fascist Regime. This article was sent to me to show how Fascism is not Gentileian, but I don’t think the person who sent it to me read it. This article first of all notes that the anti-Gentilians had little impact on Gentile’s “hegemonic role in the elaboration of fascist ideology”. I will also say that she probably is not the best representative of the people she talks about like for example Curzio Malaparte who signed Gentile’s Manifesto of the Fascist Intellectuals. One of the more interesting people del Vecchio had his professorship removed by the fascists (a review of one of his books makes me kinda believe she’s not doing the best job explaining him). Attacking Gentile for bringing elements of Liberalism and the Protestant Reformation as many of these people do ignores that nationalism is a product of Liberalism and the Protestant Reformation. According to the article also the anti-Gentileians really only had one win. However, she is right in stating;
“From all this, it becomes clearer why, as stated at the beginning of this article, one cannot resolve the complexity of fascist cultural totalitarianism into Giovanni Gentile’s thought. Fascist ideology was, in fact, the manifestation of political and cultural trends that were different, but shared the principles of a totalitarian conception of politics and the State.”
We speak of Gentile not as he was the philosopher of Fascism. Fascism was too complex to merely look at Gentile. We speak of Gentile as a man with a hegemonic role in Fascist ideology. He is also the best known justifier. After I say my last statements on Gentile I will go more deep into Fascism.
It was said by Nicolás Gómez Dávila that “Relativism is the solution of one who is incapable of putting things in order.” Here the Colombian Catholic Nietzsche hits at something true that we may say for Gentile and even Nietzsche. Gentile was incapable of a task which the oldest of Idealists could do. That is he could not put nature and spirit into their place, and so created a dualism in which one must be thrown out.
Idealism has an incredibly rich history. In the Corpus Hermeticum there is in the tenth part some profoundly strong statements on Idealism. When the mind speaks to Hermes Trismegistus it is said that “all things are full of soul, and all things are properly moved by it” it is also said that “there is one soul, one life, and one matter.” We also hear of a “universal body” full of soul and mind that holds all other bodies. Before this part Hermes Trismegistus tells Asclepius that all bodies have spirit and so even seeming empty air is infact full of life and spirit. There is also interestingly long before these two parts a not so clear distinction between soul, mind and spirit made. Those are still interlinked deeply, and they together make up reality. We see here what looks to be a panpsychic and monistic idealism.
It is known that Hermes Trismegistus is a Greek transformation of the Egyptian god Thoth. In ancient we can speak of Idealism, as Algis Uždavinys shows in his wonderful book Philosophy as a Rite of Rebirth. We speak of heka or magick. We speak of no higher ontological force than heka. This force at some point made it into the Corpus Hermeticum and is now translated into things like soul, mind and spirit. Heka and magick are associated with speech and the power of the word. Magic as I will say again when we get into German Idealism. Magick for the all things physical, noetic and psychic exist though heka. Uždavinys describes it as “the main agent of demiurgy and theurgy. of descent and ascent, of living according to truth (maat).”
We may also compare Nun to the Platonic one, and Atum-Ra to divine Intellect. Uždavinys “Plotinus also argues that the universe lies in Soul which is analogous to Osiris or Isis-Hathor in her form of the celestial Cow. The Soul, Ba of Amun, or the breath of Shu in the psychic Osirian level”. And we could go deeper into the philosophy and Idealism of these ancient people from the land of pyramids, but we only here need to show that there was an Idealism.
An Egyptian sage once said to the Athenian Solon “You Greeks are still children. All you know is the outcome of your own contemplation and vision; you have no ancient traditions, no wisdom hoary with age, and children you will remain.” In rejecting eurocentric views on the topic we must remember that the Greeks looked up to the Egyptians. And so, Greek idealism took from Egyptian Idealism, and even the Germans took much indirectly from the Egyptians. In both however, we do not see a rejection of nature. Nature exists though heka, and so nature is not opposed to spirit as nature is spirit.
Rudolf Steiner did a study into German Idealism speaking on both Hegel and Schelling he points to Jakob Böhme. Jakob Böhme is for Hegel the first German philosopher, and so when we speak German Idealism we say it starts with this humble shoe maker read in alchemy and kabbalah. Thus we see the indirect impact of the Egyptians. Böhme in his the fifth point of his Six Mystical Points says like the Egyptians that the world is magick and magick is mental. Still at the start of German Idealism we do not see any rejection of Nature as here “Magic is the mother from which nature originates”. From the Idealism of the Egyptians up to German Idealism we see Idealism not rejecting nature but putting it into its proper place.
Speaking on Schelling Rudolf Steiner emphasizes the role of nature, but with Hegel he wants to emphasizes the super-sensible. Hegel moving deeper into the super-sensible did not however deny nature, but like those before wanted to see nature in its proper place. Still there can be said to be no objection between nature and spirit as nature is spirit. One of Hegel’s students Ignaz Paul Vital Troxler who wanted to go even deeper into the super-sensible still did not deny nature, but like those before wanted to see nature in its proper place. For the most part German Idealism from Böhme to Hegel wanted to put nature in its proper place.
Even when the goal of Idealism was to move beyond the demiurgic natural world it did not deny nature. Rudolf Steiner himself in his Outline of Occult Science says that matter is to spirit as ice is to water. There is for most Idealisms rightfully no objection between nature and spirit as nature is spirit. Gentile was wrong to deny nature, unlike these other Idealist who wanted nature to be in its proper place.