The Machine Will Never Triumph, part twenty-five
Note: Today is the day that we are supposed to express thankfulness, so please join me for a moment in thanking D. H. Lawrence (ﷺ) for everything he has done for all of us. May all the Gods and the great, dark God grant him peace, and may they deign to expunge the putrid and vile modern edifice that we humans have collectively created, termed the Machine, and which Lawrence fought so steadfastly against.
Once men touch one another, then the modern industrial form of
machine civilisation will melt away
and universalism and cosmopolitanism will cease
the great movement of centralising into oneness will stop
and there will be a vivid recoil into separateness
many vivid small states, like a kaleidoscope, all colours
and all the differences given expression.1
States that have been corrupted by leaders who use them for their own benefit, rather than the people they should serve, are a great evil on the face of the earth. Though states have a role to play, they are less vulnerable to such corruption if they are small, as small as possible, like the great Greek city states of yore. But the states, nations, companies of our modern era are all getting bigger, consolidating, moving towards oneness, but in that process, have become diseased in a way that tends to wipe away individuality and truly free expression. A regimented and mechanized civilization requires this obscene oneness to continue growing. If we can come into living contact with other humans, full of tenderness, then we may love all for their individual natures. At this point, we would realize world-unity for a perverse idea, and would create small, vibrant communities instead. Many cultures, languages, religions should exist in the world, and express a diversity of lifestyles, but now the dominance of a Westernized modernity tends to homogenization into one utterly boring cultural morass.
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Violence can exist between individuals, but never war. War is a thing of the state, nation, or community. The bigger the state, the bigger the war. If we wish for a world without violent, mechanical wars, we should also desire the end of all states. Klages writes:
Man has existed in an uninterrupted state of war ever since the first state was founded, and the horror of warfare has grown along with the growth of the powers of the state, regardless of whether a particular war is waged between states, races, classes, vocations, sects, or discrete groups within the state. Obviously, the bellum omnium contra omnes (“the war of all against all”) is not something that characterizes the state of nature, for it is only since man has taken up residence within the state that he has waged that endless series of wars that constitutes “world history.” Hegel was quite correct when he said that the Spirit could only realize its potential within the state; but Nietzsche was also correct, from a different perspective, in saying that he found in Spirit the “will to power,” and in saying that the state was the “coldest of all cold monsters.”2
The state only exists as a concrete phenomenon due to certain accidents of human history and psychology. The bulk of human history in much of the world was, for all intents and purposes, stateless. The state exists due to fear. We feel fear of life, fear of death, so we band together in cooperation. It is innocent at first, but just as the snowball rolling down the proverbial mountain gathers exponentially more snow, the state becomes exorbitantly large, and rather than saving people from fear, it places the fear of God into them. Lawrence describes the spiritual history of the state as follows:
Man has made such a mighty struggle to feel at home on the face of the earth, without even yet succeeding. Ever since he first discovered himself exposed naked betwixt sky and land, belonging to neither, he has gone on fighting for more food, more clothing, more shelter, and though he has roofed-in the world with houses and though the ground has heaved up massive abundance and excess of nutriment to his hand, still he cannot be appeased, satisfied. He goes on and on. In his anxiety he has evolved nations and tremendous governments to protect his person and his property, his strenuous purpose, unremitting, has brought to pass the whole frantic turmoil of modern industry, that he may have enough, enough to eat and wear, that he may be safe.3
So, man has plenty, but he is afraid he will lose the plenty he has, therefore he creates the state, and ever more ingenious and complex technology to protect him from his fears, but his creation spawns out of control, and rather than protecting man, it is becoming the consummate realization of his originary fears. Lawrence issues a passionate plea for isolation, estrangement, individuality, and peacock-like multitudinous ways of being-in-the-world, as follows:
And so they lie about on the seats, play a game, shout, and sleep, and settle their long stocking-caps: and spit. It is wonderful in them that at this time of day they still wear the long stocking-caps as part of their inevitable selves. It is a sign of obstinate and powerful tenacity. They are not going to be broken in upon by world-consciousness. They are not going into the world’s common clothes. Coarse, vigorous, determined, they will stick to their own coarse dark stupidity and let the big world find its own way to its own enlightened hell. Their hell is their own hell, they prefer it unenlightened.
And one cannot help wondering whether Sardinia will resist right through. Will the last waves of enlightenment and world-unity break over them and wash away the stocking-caps? Or is the tide of enlightenment and world-unity already receding fast enough?
Certainly a reaction is setting in, away from the old universality, back, away from cosmopolitanism and internationalism. Russia, with her Third International, is at the same time reacting most violently away from all other contact, back, recoiling on herself, into a fierce, unapproachable Russianism. Which motion will conquer? The workman’s International, or the centripetal movement into national isolation? Are we going to merge into one grey proletarian homogeneity?—or are we going to swing back into more-or-less isolated, separate, defiant communities?
Probably both. The workman’s International movement will finally break the flow towards cosmopolitanism and world-assimilation, and suddenly in a crash the world will fly back into intense separations. The moment has come when America, that extremist in world-assimilation and world-oneness, is reacting into violent egocentricity, a truly Amerindian egocentricity. As sure as fate we are on the brink of American empire.
For myself, I am glad. I am glad that the era of love and oneness is over: hateful homogeneous world-oneness. I am glad that Russia flies back into savage Russianism, Scythism, savagely self-pivoting. I am glad that America is doing the same. I shall be glad when men hate their common, world-alike clothes, when they tear them up and clothe themselves fiercely for distinction, savage distinction, savage distinction against the rest of the creeping world: when America kicks the billy-cock and the collar-and-tie into limbo, and takes to her own national costume: when men fiercely react against looking all alike and being all alike, and betake themselves into vivid clan or nation-distinctions.
The era of love and oneness is over. The era of world-alike should be at an end. The other tide has set in. Men will set their bonnets at one another now, and fight themselves into separation and sharp distinction. The day of peace and oneness is over, the day of the great fight into multifariousness is at hand. Hasten the day, and save us from proletarian homogeneity and khaki all-alikeness.
I love my indomitable coarse men from mountain Sardinia, for their stocking-caps and their splendid, animal-bright stupidity. If only the last wave of all-alikeness won’t wash those superb crests, those caps, away.4
Of course, we now know the tide of world oneness, sadly, swallowed Sardinia, and most other wild places. But, we can see cracks starting to form in the foundation of the Machine. Soon we may witness a great crumbling to the ground of the house we have built, and with it all the hell of the last two hundred years. May the Gods hasten the end of the modern world, and usher in a new era. But, as Lawrence makes clear, we have infected the world with the diseases of modernity and technology, so our salvation won’t lie in the so-called mystic east, but will come from the heart of the West. So far as we now know, India, China, Africa have not produced any people like Heidegger or Lawrence, who have perceived the potential, and perhaps inevitable, destructive flaws in modern technology. No, the germ of the planet’s destruction came from the West, and our salvation must come from there as well. As Lawrence writes:
[T]here are not now, as in the Roman times, any great reservoirs of energetic barbaric life: Goths, Gauls, Germans, Slavs, Tartars. The world is very full of people, but all fixed in civilisations of their own, and they all have all our vices, all our mechanisms, and all our means of destruction. This time, the leading civilization cannot die out as Greece, Rome, Persia died. It must suffer a great collapse, maybe. But it must carry through all the collapse the living clue to the next civilization. It’s no good thinking we can leave it to China or Japan or India or Africa—any of the great swarms.5
Klages, Ludwig. Cosmogonic Reflections. Translated by Joseph D. Pryce. London: Arktos, 2015.
Lawrence, D. H. Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious and Fantasia of the Unconscious. Edited by Bruce Steele. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.
———. “Sea and Sardinia.” In D. H. Lawrence and Italy, 137–326. London: Penguin Books, 2007.
———. Study of Thomas Hardy and Other Essays. Edited by Bruce Steele. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
———. The Poems. Edited by Christopher Pollnitz. Vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
D. H. Lawrence, The Poems, ed. Christopher Pollnitz, vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 526.
Ludwig Klages, Cosmogonic Reflections, trans. Joseph D. Pryce (London: Arktos, 2015), 58.
D. H. Lawrence, Study of Thomas Hardy and Other Essays, ed. Bruce Steele (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 7.
D. H. Lawrence, “Sea and Sardinia,” in D. H. Lawrence and Italy (London: Penguin Books, 2007), 222–23.
D. H. Lawrence, Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious and Fantasia of the Unconscious, ed. Bruce Steele (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 189–90.