What Goes Around Comes Around

In a nutshell, much of the logic put forth in previous posts leads to the conclusion that a civilization or discourse which is all about negating the other must end up negating itself. René Guénon’s argument and suggestion that the West has become a civilization and discourse of negation, and that a civilization and discourse of negation must end up negating itself came right before the rise of Nazism in Europe, the Great Depression in America, and World War II. Thus, much of what Guénon had to say ended up being quite prophetic, and as one contemporary proponent of Guénon has said, Guénon’s words resonate more now than they did during the time he was alive.

But as Guénon also wrote, the West was not always a civilization or discourse of negation. Rather, the West as a civilization or discourse of negation arose with the demise of Christianity and the diminution of the Catholic Church about 500 years ago. These occurrences also coincided with the beginning of Western hegemony over the international system. Thus, the West truly became a civilization and discourse of negation once Christianity and the Catholic Church had been overridden by anthropocentrism, humanism, and secularism about 500 years ago, according to Guénon.

The argument and suggestion that a civilization and discourse which is all about negating the other must end up negating itself is both controversial and risky to assume, and at this point in time, the argument and suggestion is more of a hypothesis that is to be tested rather than a surety. But Guénon put forth this argument and suggestion at a time when Europe went into a major crisis – the symptoms of which were mentioned above – which in turn left Europe broken and shattered. Although the pieces were put back together after World War II, Europe has not been the same since it collapsed as a result of the aforementioned calamities. Perhaps the argument and suggestion put forth by Guénon was intended to be left without a time limit in terms of applicability. Hence, one could apply the argument and suggestion even now, considering the rise of populism in many Western countries but most consequentially in the United States, along with inflation and shortages in America and Europe as well as a war looming over Europe which is being triggered by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Material development is the ego booster which buoys the Western discourse of negating the other. But on the flipside, material development comes with a cost, namely, the diminution of intellectuality, spirituality, and tradition. Moreover, the infatuation with machines, gadgets, and weapons is of no use to the overwhelming majority of people. Also, negating the rule of a truly intellectual elite in the name of liberal democracy has had both apparent and hidden costs for Western societies over the course of the last few centuries. Furthermore, it no longer seems possible for America to sustain its position as the anchor or linchpin of a discourse of negation. The effects of a discourse based purely and solely on negating the other has shown its effects in America, and these effects were experienced in Europe decades ago.

Whether a discourse arises based on “mutual understanding and mutual respect” on top of the ashes of a discourse of negation remains to be seen. But if such a discourse arises, it must arise sooner than later, given the lessons which Europe has taught us regarding such a phenomenon some decades ago. Civilizations usually arise due to a religious or spiritual impetus, and in the end, all major religions have an underlying unity based on their underlying message. And the starting point for the rollback of a discourse of negation begins with an understanding of this particular point.

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