New Thoughts for a New Century

Leaving aside the obvious mathematical fact that the twenty-first century begins not on the 1st of January 2000 but on the first of January 2001, there is a distinct and entirely understandable psychological sense of "New Era" in moving from years beginning with a one to years beginning with a two.

What does this "New Era" mean to secessionists who have rejected the values and attitudes of the past thirty years ago as an aberration in history and an abomination in human culture. It is worthwhile to consider the matter from a variety of angles.

On the first face of it, the only real change we will see is that from the Fourth Decade of Darkness to the Fifth. Another decade begins in the aberrant period that was initiated during the 1960s. It will not be greatly unlike the preceding three, partly because changes of era are rarely sudden or immediate and partly because the present era (that is the late 20th and very early 21st century) is, despite its own constant trumpeting of "rapid change", one of the most culturally stagnant periods in recent history. An example will suffice to demonstrate this. Imagine three photographs taken of groups of women: one in 1925, one in 1935 and one in 1945 -- there would be no difficulty whatever in identifying which picture came from which decade. The same is true (if one is familiar with the period) of any three photographs from three consecutive decades in the 19th century. Now imagine three similar photographs taken in 1975 1985 and 1995; one might be extremely hard pressed to say which was which.

For the whole of our recent history, since the Napoleonic wars at least, the cultural "style" of Western society has been changing so rapidly that the "spirit" of any decade could easily be distinguished from any other. Since the end of the 1960s this has not been true. While technical advance has continued at a pace as great or nearly so (certainly not greater) as before, the formless non-culture of the post-Eclipse period has slowed down to a standstill. The nihilistic spirit of the post-Eclipse world, being nothing more than the negation of normal civilised values, is fundamentally non-creative. Having stood normal culture on its head, it has nothing further to add, nothing more to do, nothing of its own to contribute. Even its attempts to be madder and madder, more and more shocking and abnormal are failures. Everything that could be done was done at the beginning. There are no new paths of any significance to tread.

This leads us to what is really the most dismal reflection on the start of a new century. Normally at such a moment one would be filled with curiosity. What will the new century bring. What new music will be made, what new books will be written what new clothes will be worn. How, in short, will the world develop in this new era?

For the immediate future the outlook is dismally plain. There will be no music worth listening to and no books worth reading. People will dress like shabby walking laundry-bags just as they have for the past thirty years since culture stopped. For those of us interested in technics there will be new developments, but as far as the culture is concerned, as far as we can foresee, there is nothing to foresee. For those of us who are seceded, it is, as always, what the Pit is not that troubles us. We are not plugged into its mass media. Its new forays into ugliness and insanity will not trouble us for they will take place in a world we have already abandoned. Its continuing mopping-up operation of destroying the last straggling remnants of decency and dignity will upset the Pit-conservative, but they will neither annoy us nor amuse us. They are a foregone conclusion. All that will affect us is what has already taken place: the removal of a culture in which anything of interest could possibly take place -- a blankness of the horizon as far as the eye can see.

But, of course, the eye cannot see very far. One thing is certain about the new century: it will not continue as it has begun. People always imagine their future as a development and projection of their present, and it never is. The 1930s were nothing like anything any one in 1900 could possibly have imagined. The 2030s will probably be as different from anything we can imagine.

Unless Western culture has really died (in which case its outward shell will not long survive in any form), its present stagnation cannot last

At the beginning of the 1990s, with the demise of Communism, the cultural stagnation of the Pit was heralded officially by an establishment American thinker as "the end of the history of ideas". With the death of the collectivist philosophy in East and West there was no longer, either in practical politics, or even in effective theory, any opposition to the world domination of Liberal Capitalism. It was not a question of suppressing alternative ideas. There were no alternative ideas any more. Certainly none with any degree of currency.

To call this "the end of the history of ideas" is in one sense true and in another sense absurd. It is true in that the interplay of cultural and political ideas which has been the source of all the more exterior changes which have constituted human history has ground to a halt. However, the implication that this is a final stop; the terminus of human intellectual history only indicates the parochialism of those who live too much in the present. We are in a period of cultural and intellectual stagnation; not for the first time in history and probably not for the last. The current stasis will be long forgotten by the end of this millennium. That is certain. That it will be long over by the end of this century is almost as certain. What will replace it no one can predict.

In a hypertrophic, externalist and therefore necessarily anti-intellectual age, it is easily forgotten that ideas are the only springs of human action and that a vacuum in the culture-philosophical sphere is as abhorrent to nature as a power-vacuum in the political sphere. Its suction is not quite so immediate, yet it is equally inexorable. It must and will be filled.

Does any one remember Bolshevism as it was say fifteen or twenty years ago? To make an actively anti-Communist statement in any sort of "intellectual" company was to provoke an emotional storm. A majority of people in every college common room and television studio were, if not actually pro-Communist at least actively anti-anti-Communist. Almost every University Union in the country was ruled by adherents of the Third or Fourth Internationals.

And then it was forgotten in a morning. Now Bolshevism is not hated or despised or even refuted; it is simply forgotten. There is not a trace of nostalgia among the thousands who looked to it as the hope of the world. It is simply gone as if it had never been. What we may learn from this is how rootless are the allegiances of a deracinated class.

The idiocies of the present world will vanish as quickly and as absolutely. Those Pit-conservatives who follow them, worry about them and feebly oppose them will have wasted their time as completely as did the opponents of Communism, for soon they will be gone and their demise will owe nothing at all to their opponents. The only opponents who will count for anything, as before, will be the ones who jump on the bandwagon when they see which way it is rolling -- and they will count for nothing but ballast.

That the world should return to some semblance of sanity is by no means the most unlikely of the possibilities for the new century -- indeed it is the only alternative to the terminal decline of Western civilisation. Should that return be coming, then nothing we can do at present -- except possibly in the intellectual sphere -- will either hasten or delay it. But if in the meantime we have suffered our minds to be dragooned into living in a stupid and worthless world which is soon to be forgotten, then we shall have wasted a considerable part of our lives.

To secede -- to create our own world in defiance of the dying dinosaur -- may help to plant seeds for the form of the world yet to come. But whether it does that or not, it must have the practical effect of freeing us from a world too garish and ugly and stupid to be lived in. A restitution may be imminent. A world of harmony and beauty, a new aristocratic world, may be almost on the point of formation. But even if it is there is no need for us to waste further time in waiting for it. We may create it here and now, among ourselves, unilaterally. That is secession.

And when sanity returns we shall be the first to welcome it; and if it is delayed in coming or comes not at all, then that need hardly matter.