Sade to Genet The New Morality - RR261C5
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One of the very important events in intellectual history in the 18th century was the Lisbon earthquake. Now that sounds rather strange to us in that in the past century we have seen a number of far more serious earthquakes in various parts of the world, natural disasters such as the eruption of mount Helen, without having impact on intellectual history. But the Lisbon Earthquake was a very important even in intellectual history, and some studies, books, monographs have been written about its impact.
Why did an earthquake have so great an impact? The reason for it was, the 18th century as a result of the enlightenment had come to magnify the role of reason to the point that reason and God had been identified and reason and nature had been identified. What prevailed in Protestantism and in Catholicism at that time was not orthodoxy on the whole, but what was called rational religion; so that God was extensively identified with reason, and every emphasis was made on the rationality of reason and the rationality of God’s operations.
I cited in one of the earlier lectures the fact that John Locke had much earlier declared that the reason for the necessity of the Bible, of revelation, was that in those earlier ages men being less rational, God had to give them the Bible. However, now that mankind had reached so exalted a state it no longer needed revelation; it had the full, clear light of reason.
Now, outside of the churches, the philosophes, the men of the enlightenment, had discarded God and religion, and substituted for God, Nature, Nature with a capital N. And Nature was for them identical with reason. And therefore there was a correlation for them between the logic of their mind and this ideal concept of nature; and along came the Lisbon earthquake. Totally irrational. And the result for both churches and the philosophers, the rationalists, was devastating. Neither God nor the natural order responded to their idea of right reason. [00:03:25]
If I were, or I could readily pull shelves off my library...
If I were, or I could readily pull shelves off my library, I would bring you a book on the Lisbon earthquake, and cite various reactions to it. But as a very poor substitute I shall read a few sentences from a book I am reading, The Romantic Rebellion by Kenneth Clark. And very early in this book, Clark feels of course as he explains the revolt against reason and classicism in art, the centrality in that revolt of the Lisbon Earthquake, and I quote:
“Readers of Voltaire’s Candide will remember how the smooth surface of common sense optimism was cracked by the Lisbon Earthquake of 1775. It was the 18th century equivalent of the sinking of the Titanic.” It was much more, actually. “The immediate effect of the earthquake was extraordinary. Madame de Pompadour gave up rouge for a week. “She has offered it up,” said Horace (Walfour?), “to the demon of earthquakes.” And for a fortnight the stakes wagered at Whites were substantially reduced. Never before, said (Gaity?) who was 6 at the time, has the demon of fear so quickly and so powerfully spread horror throughout the land. “
Suddenly it became clear to men that reason was not entirely in control, and that in fact reason was not that important in nature. That nature seemed to go its own way with a great deal of the irrational, and they had been as it were, living on a volcano, and ignoring the fact that it was under them. The effect of this was devastating. Moreover it was very unsettling to men in particular. The woman’s lib people have a rather distorted view of past history when they feel that women had a very subordinate role throughout the centuries. As a matter of fact, in the Christian era women had quite a high position. The medieval merchant who often travelled a great distance with a considerable amount of difficulty, normally found that there was one person he could trust to manage his business, his wife.
The Renaissance only accentuated the independence of women, the Elizabethan era certainly showed a very prominent role of women in national life, the Puritan movement strengthened the position of women. This was especially true in America. Consider for example the situation in New England, where women reached a position of enormous power. So many men, both merchant seamen as well as ordinary seamen, would be overseas for 6 months, occasionally 3 years. Who handled the farm, the shop, the business in their absence? The woman did, and their knowledge of economics, of bookkeeping, of pricing and so on had to be good or while her husband was away the business would go under. As a result women had a tremendous amount of economic power, a great deal of practical business knowledge, they knew how to run and manage businesses, farms, manufacturing enterprises, and very commonly did so. The position of women only began to fade in this country after about 1800. Earlier, a century earlier, it had begun to collapse in Europe, especially after 1660. [00:08:02]
What was the reason for the collapse of the position...
What was the reason for the collapse of the position of women into the role of dolls as it were? The Enlightenment. The Enlightenment with its ideas of reason developed a very peculiar psychology where by it saw men as the epitome of reason, of rationality, and women as irrationality, and the strong aspect of women being faith, trust, dependence. As a result of this view, it progressively subordinated women, legally and socially. Moreover, because religion involved faith, why religion became the province of women. And we are still under the influence of this kind of thinking.
It is assumed that the church and religion is the duty and the area of women, and by and large across the world, women predominate in membership in the churches with one single exception, the Mormons.
Now, women being regarded as irrational, they were progressively eliminated from the business world, their legal rights were progressively withdrawn; and they were either put on a pedestal or regarded with fear as a part of that horrible world of the irrational. And as a result you had among philosophers and others, this strange ambivalence, the love/hate relationship with regard to women, regarding them as monsters, the thing to be feared; “When you go into a woman take your whip.” Or else, idolizing them as Comte did, who carried on a religion of worshipping his ex-mistress, and virtually invented a church in her honor. [00:10:35]
But by and large the relationship was one of distrust...
But by and large the relationship was one of distrust, of fear. Man as reason now, because reason had left the outer world. Reason did not belong in God, if he existed, or in nature. Reason was only here in the mind of man, and around him was a vast world of unreason. And then he was compelled to confront unreason in his life. This was a horrible thing. And so the philosophers began to regard women as a dread figure, something to be feared. Women now became a symbol of the world of nature, irrational, dangerous, volcanic, ready to erupt all over you at any time. And if you were to talk to the average man now a days, he would give you that image of woman.
Of course he can blow up all the time, and that’s pure reason when he blows up, he is rationally motivated in his temper tantrums. But not the woman you see, by definition never. The world of unreason was represented in women. Ideas you see, have consequences. They are not only an academic discipline but a plan for living. Most abstract ideas within a very few years become marching orders for civilization.
Now one of the consequences of the Lisbon earthquake was that nature no longer could be seen as the area of law, of reason. The idea of nature as the area of law and reason was finally totally subverted by Darwin, who reduced nature to simply an area of chance variations, impossible to ascribe reason to that. But the Lisbon earthquake began that chapter, and then one thinker very logically, very ruthlessly, took that idea and carried it to its logical conclusion. The Marquis De Sade, from whom we have the name of perversion, the perversion: sadism. [00:13:40]
De Sade’s dates were ...
De Sade’s dates were 1740 to 1814. It’s an interesting and a very, very revealing fact that 25 years ago in every civilized country the works of Sade were prohibited from publication. They were universally regarded as about the worst, the most pornographic, the most degenerate things written by any man. Since then they have not only been published all over the world, but very highly praised. The collected volume works, the volumes in English published in this country are big think volumes, the introductions to which are of book length themselves. And the men and women who write the introductions constitute a catalog of great names, essentially the existentialist movement. A large number of biographies have been written about De Sade, the title of one of these is very revealing The Divine Marquis. From the abominable Marquis he has become the Divine Marquis. He has been called the great psychologist of the modern age, he has been called the most profound of existentialists, the father of modern age, and a great many other things.
Why? Well, before we go into the Marquis thinking, just a brief note about his life. Because of his perverted activities, sadistic activities, he was very early imprisoned during the reign of King Louis the 16th, the storming of the Bastille which began the French Revolution was really incited by the Marquis De Sade, he was a prisoner in the Bastille. Only a handful of prisoners were in the institution, I believe there were 14 only. It was really a relic of the past. Their role was a very comfortable one, the Marquis was able to write and to live in relative comfort, but when the disorders began in Paris, the Marquis De Sade began to shout from the window about how he was being imprisoned and persecuted and tortured for liberty. And so the inflamed mobs stormed the Bastille to free the Marquis De Sade. [00:16:52]
He was one of the first heroes of the revolution...
He was one of the first heroes of the revolution. But then the revolution found him intolerable and imprisoned him. Later he became free again in the new order, and was imprisoned by Napoleon. He spent a good deal of his life in prison.
Some of the Marquis present day champions say that: “Well the legal history of his offenses is not so very great, we have so many numbers of people who are doing the same thing now a days.” Which is true enough. We can also say that any study of the France of Louis the 15th, note I say Louis the 15th, not Louis the 16th who was of a different character and lost his head for the sins of his fathers.
In the reign of Louis the 15th, every kind of degeneracy and perversion was routine, the court was cynical, it ascribed to what we now call the new morality, and maintained the façade for the world of sanctimonious piety so that no one would be offended. The difference however was this: What these men of the court did as a secret sin, Sade declared to be the new virtue. This constitutes today the difference between the old pornography and the new. I have a book coming out, from Arlington Press on the third of September entitled The Politics of Pornography, in which I trace to a degree I cannot begin to touch this afternoon, the implications of Sade’s philosophy in the modern world. But I point out at the very beginning that the old pornography was self consciously written as dirty books; the new pornography is self consciously written as the healthy books for the liberation of man. We fail to understand the new pornography if we do not realize that it presents itself as the new idea of health and of liberation. And this it derives from Sade. [00:19:45]
And hence the importance of Sade to us today, as well...
And hence the importance of Sade to us today, as well as an understanding of Sade. Sade’s philosophical premise was very simple, we encounter it again in the First Kinsey Report of the 1950’s. Sade said that: “Since for us, by definition God is ruled out of court, and we derive our standard from nature, anything that occurs in nature is by definition natural and normal. And anything designed to suppress that which is in nature is unnatural.” Therefore the philosophers have all be been wrong, Sade held. In that they say: “Well, here are certain things in terms of right reason we must do, and which we must not do.” Nature, he said, gives us no ground for condemning anything. As a result, Sade’s work is a prolonged defense of every kind of perversion and its total right.
For example, Sade said: “The urge to rape women is normal with me. What is wrong is for a woman to frustrate me when I am trying to rape her, because this constitutes an unnatural act, a violation of a natural urge, and we must not frustrate nature. That which can be in nature and is impelled and urged and created by nature, is by definition right.”
Now Alexander Pope had stated this philosophy somewhat earlier, but had not dared to apply it: “Whatever is, is right.” Whatever is, is right. We have had in our recent years a great folk hero of the new left, Lenny Bruce; who again formulated this philosophy. His formulation was summed up in his words: “Truth is what is. A lie is everything,” He went on to say, “That tries to frustrate what is.” And therefore every urge that exists in nature has an absolute right, every attempt to frustrate it is a lie.
Now the first Kinsey Report for example, had a considerable selection on child molesting. What was the conclusion of it? There was nothing wrong with molesting little girls. The damage was done by teachers and parents and clergymen, who taught little girls that there was something wrong with being molested, when if they didn’t fill the child’s mind with such garbage it could be a very meaningful experience. [00:23:28]
Now it is interesting that there were no critics of...
Now it is interesting that there were no critics of that point in Kinsey’s work. A great many scientists criticized the statistical basis of the report, the method of gathering data, but they did not criticize this aspect. The only one who came close to it was a psychoanalyst, a very brilliant man, a Doctor Edmund Bergler.
Nature’s rule as the enlightenment had imagined it had been broken. First of all epistemology had led to the end of nature as such, as an over all unity, in favor of fleeting sense impressions. And the mind had replaced nature as an organizing factor, and Kant was alter to say that the mind provides structure, not nature, that things in themselves are beyond know-ability. Later on Darwin was to reduce nature to chance variations, and hence purposeless and structureless, with no fixity in species.
All of this however was implicit and in the air. Darwin did not create a revolution, he simply capped it. The mythology has it that when Darwin published his books there was a great hue and cry of protest from Victorian England. The reality is that the book was greeted so joyfully that the entire first printing of that scientific work sold out on the day of printing. One Bishop opposed it. Queen Victoria by the way was very happy. Why? She didn’t have to believe some of those horrible Old Testament stories. Queen Victoria by the way was not as Victorian as people assume she was. When she was a young girl, nude bathing was commonplace on the beaches of England. We have a very distorted picture of Victorianism. The Victorian styles were not motivated by modesty, but by a desire to tease.
If I may digress there a moment, the hoop skirt was one of the most immodest kinds of style, because it was a teaser par excellence. Not only was there a low neck line with that kind of dress, but consider what a hoop skirt meant. If the woman bent over, why the hoopskirt went up and she exposed everything. And it was very commonplace for the Victorian woman to bend over for some reason or other, to pet a little dog or something. It was a style designed to have the maximum effect as a teaser. Victorianism is to a great extent a myth. Now that’s a digression, and during the Victorian era London by the way, was the Pornography capital of the world. Somebody ought to write a revised opinion of what Victorianism was. [00:27:32]
Now Sade’s idea that whatever is in nature is normative...
Now Sade’s idea that whatever is in nature is normative has become of course the philosophy of our time. Very shortly after the publication of Sade in the beginning of the 50’s, you had the rise of the beatnik movement. Allen Ginsberg's poem Howl, and the thesis of Howl was simply this: “Everything that is, is holy.” And he goes on to cite: “Holy is the homosexual, holy is the pimp, holy is the prostitute, holy is everything.” Everything in nature you see now, every urge in nature is normative. What is wrong is to condemn it.
The hippies of the 60’s carried this idea further. Today of course, Sade’s ideas without being labeled as Sadism are on every talk show all over the country, and on some of the woman’s lib talk shows in Southern California, the discussion now a day’s I understand, I’ve never listened to these but every now and then I check with women friends who do just to see what’s happening. The big thing on these Talk in shows is having a live-in. What’s a live-in? Well it’s a man you invite in for a time and when you are through with him you give him his walking papers and tell him to get going. And the philosophy expressed on these Live-in shows is Sadian.
I have tuned in for a few minutes each day on the television to see what’s on, I was amazed to see that there was quite a bit of for gold talk, I heard Harry Schultz and Dines, and Brown, as well as one very anti gold person, but I also heard someone on one of the shows who attacked Harry Brown the idea of a gold standard, express other standards, and someone in favor of--- well, he has written a book, Is Marriage Necessary? Do your own thing, which of course is Sadian in essence.
Now basic to Sade was a radical hatred of God, of any idea of law. And he has one character in one of his books say, the character being his mouthpiece as it were, “Ah how many times by God, have I not longed to be able to assail the sun, snatch it out of the universe, make a general darkness or use that star to burnt he world. Oh that would be a crime.”
Sade’s writings are a long justification of evil. The right of evil to do as it pleases. Ironically, the ground work for Sade was laid down by a very respectable writer, Montesquieu. Montesquieu in the spirit of laws, made laws dependent on climate, circumstance and physiology. He discussed the law for example in the spirit of laws in relationship to soil, to nationality, to religion, to the size of the population in a country, and other such factors. [00:31:42]
Now Montesquieu was not thereby going to cure relativism...
Now Montesquieu was not thereby going to cure relativism, but Sade pushed Montesquieu’s ideas into total relativism, and said: “All our ideas are totally dependent upon purely relative factors, and therefore there is no validity to anything, you do your own thing. Sade’s own thing was Sado Masochism, Homosexuality, Coprophilia, and so on. Coprophilia, copro, feces, and philia love. I won’t go into details about what it means. For Sade all acts are equally valid. Moreover, Sade formulated a doctrine which has had a powerful influence form then to the present, in all of life especially in art, and we shall deal with this doctrine and its influence on religion as well in our subsequent lecture. The doctrine of natural inspiration.
“Evil,” he said, “is a natural mandate and an inspiration. It is the infallible voice of nature which Christianity damns as original sin,” He said, “And which it seeks to suppress. But evil, is actually” He said, “A natural inspiration. It is the voice of nature within us.” And so as he has one of his characters, Dolmance, who represents himself instruct a very young girl in the new faith. He says: “Start from one fundamental point Eugenie. In libertinage nothing is frightful, because everything libertinage suggests is also a natural inspiration. The most extraordinary, the most bizarre acts, those which apparently seem to conflict with every law, every human institution, as for heaven I have nothing to say. Well Eugenie, even those are not frightful, and there is not one amongst them all that cannot be demonstrated within the boundaries of nature. It is certain that the one you allude to, lovely Eugenie, is the very same relative to which one finds such a strange fable in the tasteless fictions of holy writ. Eugenie: Oh, tis’ natural? Dolmance: Yes, natural. So I affirm it to be. Nature has not got two voices you know, one of them condemning, all day long, what the other commands.”
Now that point you see is where Sade backed up everybody against the wall. All those who held to the enlightenment faith. How can you ascribe two voices to nature? One saying: “Thou shalt not.” and the other saying: “Do it.” If your nature urges you to commit homosexual acts, or rape, or anything else, that other voice is not your natural voice, it is an imposed, an artificial, a false voice. They couldn’t answer Sade, the imprisoned him; but they could not answer him since they had abandoned orthodox Christianity. [00:35:44]
“To convince ourselves, let us for an instance scrutinize...
“To convince ourselves, let us for an instance scrutinize both her operations and her laws. Where if that nature did not but create and never destroy I might be able to believe with those tedious sophists that the sublimest of all actions would be to incessantly labor at production, and following that I should grant to them that the refusal to reproduce would be, would perforce have to be a crime. However does not the most fleeting glance at natural operations reveal that destructions are just as necessary to her plan as are creations, that the one and the other of these functions are interconnected and enmeshed so intimately that for either to operate without the other would be impossible? That nothing would be born, nothing would be regenerated without destructions. Destruction, hence, like creation is one of nature’s mandates.”
Now the first thing that Sade wrote, he said that he was in favor of all acts between consenting adults, the modern position of course. But he soon realized that this was a hypocritical position. Why, necessarily, between consenting adults? Didn’t he have also a natural instinct to kill, to rape, to murder? To do any kind of thing to anyone when he was angry at them? Why should he frustrate himself by paying attention to some kind of religious or civil law that says: “Thou shalt not kill.”? And so he asserted the right to murder. The right to murder. Because nature is normative. And so he said: “The only crime is Christianity.
Now somewhat later one of the heroes of libertarianism today, Max Sterner in the early part of the 19th century, came to a similar conclusion, and very logically Max Sterner in The Ego and His Own ridiculed savagely those liberals who refused to believe in God but would not commit incest with their sister or their mother. He said they are still Christians. They have not recognized that there is no law save the law of the Ego. [00:38:29]
Well, much earlier Sade had come to that conclusion...
Well, much earlier Sade had come to that conclusion. Men are necessary creatures of nature. Their nature requires fulfillment. Theft, Murder, Rape, every perversion, he vindicates, and he said: “We listen only to natures voice, we are fully convinced that if anything were criminal, it would be to resist the tensions nature inspires in us, rather than to come to grips with them.”
Natural inspiration, he went on to say, requires us to commit every evil urge we have.
Now Sade advocated some statist measures, pending the abolition of the state. He espoused infanticide, abortion, euthanasia, statist education, he was a great champion of that, he was a strong promoter of the idea that the world was over populated, and there should be strict population control and an elimination of those who could not withstand the power of others, the survival of the fittest; ‘If I can kill you than I have a right to survive and you don’t.’ That was his logic.
Life was not good for Sade, because for him he saw destruction and the urge to destroy more powerful in nature than any urge to love or to create. And so Sade culminates in a will to universal death. The universe of modern man has progressively become as a result of the logic of Sade totally perverse, with a radical with to evil and to death. One of the very brilliant psychologists of our day, Samuel Warner, wrote a few years ago a very telling, extremely important analysis of precisely this factor in the modern world entitled The Urge to Mass Destruction. One of the most important books in psychology ever written, published by Gruen and Stratton: The Urge to Mass Destruction. And indeed this is what we have in the strain of modern philosophy. [00:41:16]
The impact of Sade on the twentieth century is very...
The impact of Sade on the twentieth century is very great. The underground press, sexually oriented magazines for men and women, television, films, literature, all manifest Sadian traits. Increasingly Sadian ideas are becoming very very respectable. Recently on national publication had an article by a doctor entitled The Incest Urge, where he refused to pay any attention to the medical research on incest which has demonstrated the extremely high ratio of total degeneracy in the offspring of incestuous relations, where some in fact do not survive beyond a few years and the others require total hospitalization with only a very small minority being anywhere near normal.
In spite of this, Doctor Shepherd hopes that incest will soon become respectable. The sexual revolution a few years ago concentrated on making homosexuality acceptable and respectable, and they feel that they have largely gained a position of recognition for homosexuals and now the area of great emphasis is on making incest respectable.
The Sadian influence in our modern world revealed itself when after World War 2 a great hue and cry arose all over the world, and no less a man then General De Gaulle bowed to it to free a prisoner named Jean Genet. What was involved? John Genet was a professional criminal, a homosexual, a pickpocket, a very cheap hoodlum. From very early youth he had spent his life in and out of prison as a small time hoodlum, with no desire to earn an honest living, a parasite on society. Then in prison, he began to read the books in the prison library, and suddenly a great light dawned for Genet. As a result of his study of modern intellectuals and philosophers he said: “Why, there is no God. I never did believe in him anyway, but I know there is no God. And if there is no God, then there is no crime, because there is no law in the universe. Then what am I doing in prison? What right has anybody to put me in prison and to say something is right and wrong? I am not a criminal, I’m a metaphor of the new order, of the new world.”
And so he began to write in that vein. And the philosophers of the world, the intellectuals rallied to his support. “How dare France keep a great thinker, a great philosopher in prison?” And so he was freed, not even De Gaulle could stand that assault of the intellectuals. [00:45:06]
And a very important book was written on him, a very...
And a very important book was written on him, a very wordy, lengthy book by the existentialist John Paul Sartre entitled, and the title is very revealing: Saint Genet. Saint Genet. Genet as the saint of the new world order. Well, in 1963 the book came out in the United States in translation, and almost immediately within a matter of months early in 64, in paperback as a (metro?) book. I picked it up at the bookstore of one of the most important universities of the United States, and they didn’t have it on the bookshelves to sell, they brought it in on the cartons and just stacked it on the floor, the demand for it was that great, and they were replacing it by bringing out carton boxes of it.
The influence of Sadian thinking and Genet’s thinking is very great, and as I would go from campus to campus and pick up some of the literature it interested me in the 60’s how much I would find references to Genet or to Genet characters, characters in Genet’s books. There was no question of the influence of Genet. Now for Saint Genet, liberation is first from God, then from the idea that anything is evil. “Genet,” says Sartre and I quote: “Has killed the law. The God of Genet is Genet himself. His pure will to evil represents spirituality.”
Modern man, according to Sartre, must purify himself by committing evil systematically. Then only can he be a saint in the modern sense. Evil alone gives man autonomy, says Sartre, and because Genet has been much more logical and systematic than we were philosophers, he is the saint of our world. “Of course,” Sartre goes on to say, “This pure will to evil will lead to suffering because the people of the old order who still have either a Christian faith, or a Christian hangover,” You see, most of you whether you are a Christian or not, if you are not Christian you have a Christian hangover, you still see things in moral terms. And the Christians have a hangover of the old Christian law, even though they are more or less humanistic. So we will persecute Saint Genet, just as the Christian saints were persecuted in by-gone centuries, now the existentialist saints are being persecuted. And Sartre says unquote: “unless one is a God, one cannot make oneself happy without the help of the universe. To make oneself unhappy one needs only oneself.” So Sartre was a step further. The saints after the order of Genet are going to be persecuted by us who are unhappy, with their standard, or lack of standard. But even more, the only way you can be happy is to have relationships with God and with the universe, with man, but you cannot do that if you are an existentialist. “For me, my neighbor is the devil.” [00:49:29]
That’s the existentialist conclusion...
That’s the existentialist conclusion. So to be an existentialist you must need only yourself, but then to be an existentialist saint you are going to be perpetually unhappy, because if you are all by yourself you are condemned to unhappiness. And so it is that almost as a badge of honor, modern existentialist youth must feel unhappy, isolated, having a communications problem, ridden with grief, alienation, anxiety, everything, because you are not really an existentialist if you are not unhappy. You are still depending on meaningful relationships with other people, which you are not supposed to have. And then how logical it is if your relationship to other people is sadistic. You feel that the only thing you can do is to satisfy your urge violently. For Sade if the woman gave in and were ready there was no pleasure in it. He detested her. It had to be an overpowering, or a seduction, in which she were unwilling at every step and when she suddenly was conquered and said: “I love you,” drop her. Walk away from her at that point, she would be totally undesirable.
This as a matter of fact became very commonplace in the last century as a part of the role of the gallant, because it was love ‘em and leave ‘em. When you conquered, then they were no good. Of course, basic to all of this is that sense of hostility. The total war against the world, because you alone can be God, and to love anyone or to allow anyone to establish a love bond with you is to give them power over you, claim over you, which is intolerable.
I said when we began that philosophy is not an academic discipline, it is a matter of life and death. And today the ideas of Sade which were his in the Bastille are today the ideas of our students and of the man in the street, and a people who never heard of Sade. On this talk-in show I heard women expounding Sadian ideas and the new morality, one of them had at least the grace to say: “I hope my kids are not listening in.” [00:53:14]
It has become the common coinage intellectually of...
It has become the common coinage intellectually of our age. Are there any questions now?
[Audience Member] What do you say when the key idea (?)
[Rushdoony] I couldn’t quite hear, what is the key idea of…?
[Audience Member] What is one of the key concepts of Christianity, the ten commandment given on the mount, explain briefly the meaning of these (?)
[Rushdoony] Yes, well, that’s a big order, and of course I’m not here to teach theology, but to talk about modern philosophy, but very briefly; the thing to say to an existentialist is that there is an absolute and sovereign God who has an absolute law structure throughout the universe and in every fiber of our being. That nature including our nature is not normative but fallen, and that the only remedy for that fallen estate is the sovereign grace of God through Christ, and that is it.
[Audience Member] Doctor Rushdoony, do all existentialists naturally fall in their Axiological positions to a Sadian mold?
[Rushdoony] The logic requires them to go there, many of them choose to stop short of Sade. But their logic puts them there ultimately, and the drift towards Sade has been very great.
You find favorable things said about Sade now even by theologians. He’s become suddenly a very profound thinker. In a sense he was, although very perverse, because he saw the logic of deifying nature, and he exploited it to the full. [00:55:44]
[Audience Member] I can’t quite understand the concept...
[Audience Member] I can’t quite understand the concept evil by Sade, because it would seem to me that he would say that’s not an evil, that’s a natural. Do you understand my point?
[Rushdoony] True, yes, exactly. The Sadian’s are aware of this, and Sade himself was. But he uses that term because most people still are Christian intellectually if not by profession of faith, and therefore they will judge everything Sade does as evil. So he says: “I affirm evil, I choose evil, I will do that which is evil,” so that you and I may understand precisely what he espouses. But he affirms this to be the natural. Any other questions? Yes.
[Audience Member] …?...The urge to self destruction…?..
[Rushdoony] Right, this is why for example in one of the more recent books on suicide, the right to suicide is very firmly upheld. And this is in the course of a study of this young girl, Sybil, something, in England, the poetess who committed suicide a few years ago, what was her name?
[Audience Member] Sylvia Plath.
[Rushdoony] Yes, yes. And the book was written by Alvarez, but what’s the title of it--- it slips me, I have the book but I just don’t recall the title. Yes?
[Audience Member] Where’s Doctor Fletcher fitting into this picture?
[Rushdoony] Well, Fletcher of course is in favor of situation ethics, and situation ethics is to a great extent one of the aspects of this whole current of thought, I wouldn’t say it is directly Sadian, but it very definitely goes along with the idea that there is no possible--- which now has been universally accepted, Sade was the pioneer--- that, well, let’s put it this way. As far as law was concerned, it was first derived from God. Then law was derived from nature as a substitute for God. Then with Sade there was only nature and everything in nature. Now after Darwin, men began to feel this crisis. Law had disappeared, there had to be a law, so in the spirit of modern philosophy they said: “We must have a source for law.” Now the source, philosophically, the only tenable one, is man. Man is now the source of law, so you have the modern state, totalitarian. You have the whole of the modern world, natural law has disappeared, Sade killed it, effectively. You can only have statist law.
The implications of this for example came home to John Stuart Mill, who began as old fashioned Libertarian and ended as a socialist, because as Mill began to meditate on Darwin and everything that lead to Darwin, he began to realize: “There is no idea of law possible from nature, who will provide it? Why, the state must.” And so Mill moved from one camp to the other. This is why conservatives who try to find their foundation in some kind of law of nature are doomed. They are fighting a rear-guard battle, because in terms of the modern world that is obsolete. The only place now you can… De Sade you see was right, they have not been able to meet Sade head on and answer his argument. [01:00:16]
The only way they can do it is to go back to God, only...
The only way they can do it is to go back to God, only by saying that there is a law beyond the natural realm which acts as a standard to the natural realm can you have any. Yes?
[Audience Member] I’m not a philosopher, but I’m just curious, everything here seems to be in the context of corruption and just Catholic Christian, what about what is going on in the Jewish community? What’s going on in that community the same type of corruption?
[Rushdoony] Same thing. In the Jewish community there has been a parallel development. This strand of philosophy that I have been recounting has effected every strand of western civilization. Now, in Jewish Orthodoxy was quite strong through the 18th century, it maintained its traditional position somewhat longer. But it was still very heavily infiltrated by rationalism. In the last century it had its own, let’s say, Revivalistic experiential movements rise up, its liberal modernist movements, and Judaism by and large has been captured by humanism. So that except for a limited minority, the Jewish thinkers of our time, the Jewish synagogues are humanistic. There is a very brilliant minority that is against this; a Doctor (Kirzner?) at MY, then my memory for names today is very bad, there is a very brilliant historian who has done the most profound study of the economic situation of Europe up until the time of the Crusades and the fall of Rome, he is an Orthodox Jew, and there are a handful of them, but most of them are humanists. Well, as a consequence they are disintegrating as a community. As of the 1960’s, over 1/3rd of the young Jews were marrying non-Jews, which meant that they were going to disappear from the Jewish community. Since then the rate has been stepped up, and so one of the problems in the Jewish community today is this; by the end of this century which is 26 years away, they are going to have some of the most beautiful, richly endowed synagogues in the world all across the United States, with endowed funds, and no Jews left to attend them. [01:03:16]
The disintegration is very rampant...
The disintegration is very rampant. There is a considerable amount of fallout into Christian churches by the way. Yes?
[Audience Member] Doctor Rushdoony one more question, do you think the Sadian influence has been instrumental in the drive for mandatory sex education in the public schools system…?
[Rushdoony] Well, I have never studied the thinking of Mrs. Calderone or Doctor Calderone and others, there is certainly a similarity of ideas, whether they derive them directly from Sade or not I don’t know, but the ideas are basically similar in that there is no right and wrong, its beyond good and evil. So it’s (Nychean?), it’s Sadian, it is if not directly, basically a product of this whole tradition.
[Audience Member] Thank you Doctor Rushdoony. [01:04:19]