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Man Without Nature – Nature Without Man. The anti-transcendent roots of green ideology and how to oppose them

    2024-02-10
    Time to read: 15 min

    1. Introduction

    For a long time now, "environmentalism" has ceased to be a simple “one-subject lobby”, but has transformed into a comprehensive ideology, generally perceived to be situated on the left side of the political spectrum and increasingly aggressive in its aims and methods.

    One example: For many weeks now, the West has been experiencing a new kind of terror. All over Europe, but especially in Germany, priceless works of art are being damaged in rapid succession, concerts are being interrupted and strategic transport routes are being blocked for hours by ecologist activists – just to draw attention to the presumption that humanity has only a few years left to avert an allegedly imminent "climate apocalypse". The danger seems so great that it justifies all, really all means, as is openly announced by the key players of the green movement: from the death of innocent citizens due to blocked roads (Tadzio Müller: "It's climate fight, not climate cuddling & shit happens.") to the demand for a climate dictatorship (Luisa Neubauer: "We don't have the choice between time and democracy.").

    Of course, there is no lack of voices, especially in the conservative media, who interpret the increasing radicalisation of "climate activism" as the beginning of the end of this movement, since in the long term, these actions tend to create antipathy rather than sympathy with the public and should therefore – in theory – even have a counterproductive effect. This view, however, seems to me to be too naive and to disregard the lessons of history: If it is in implicit agreement with the majority opinion of the ruling elites, "terror" (and that is precisely what this highly dangerous left-green "activism" is all about) only very rarely generates a genuine and relevant social counter-movement. On the contrary, it usually rather accelerates a shift in discourse in favour of the ideology of the terrorist group instead of reversing this tendency.

    This may sound paradoxical, but it is only logical. Already Robespierre formulated in 1794: "Terror is nothing but immediate, stern, unbending justice; it is therefore an outflow of virtue; it is not so much a special principle as a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to the most urgent needs of the fatherland", and history is full of corresponding examples - from the populist thugs of late Republican Rome to the Parabolani, the club-armed lay brothers of late antique Alexandria, and from the Sansculottes of the French Revolution to the "spontaneous" outbreaks of socialist “popular anger”. Everywhere, the terrorist groups were not the enemies but merely the radical wing of the ruling elites and therefore only consolidated the legitimacy of the latter as a supposedly "moderate" force representing order and salvation against "chaos": Those who take three steps forward and one back on a journey are anything but on their way back home...

    This also explains the reactions of western society in the face of eco-terror: none. Media, politics, administrations, hospitals, even the museums attacked by “activists” indulge in gentle grandfatherly admonitions and hurry to stress eagerly that, despite all the criticism of the somewhat exaggerated "idealism" of young people, they are of course extremely concerned about the climate too. And anyone who still doubts that the eco-terrorists are more likely to run through open doors than to collide with solid walls should consider the following: What would happen if a conservative European as clearly linked to the political right as the climate activists are to the left would damage a work of art worth millions or glue himself to a highway (with fatal consequences) to protest against the threatening self-dissolution of Western civilisation?

    How could this happen? Despite or precisely because of its violent activism, the environmental protection movement is by no means on the defensive; on the contrary, it increasingly dominates public and political discourse. There are few valid reactions from the conservative side; and the indignant assertions that environmental protection is "actually" a core concern of conservatives that "unfortunately" has been forgotten in recent decades due to the liberal dominance within the conservative movement hardly reads like a real counterproposal, but more like a declaration of surrender. If we, as conservatives, do not want to turn ourselves into mere executive assistants of the green movement, it is urgently necessary to finally develop a credible approach to the question of protecting our environment and our fellow human beings on the basis of our very own ideological convictions.

    In the following, we therefore want to first briefly trace the intellectual history of the green movement and thus provide a general insight into the ideological roots of environmentalism in order to separate its essential components from later superficial ingredients. We then will attempt a fundamental philosophical analysis of the current green movement's image of nature and of man in order to show that the apparent contradiction between the greens’ alleged “conservative” environmental protection and “progressive” anthropology is in fact a mere illusion: both are intimately linked together. In a next step, we will endeavour to outline a new, conservative ecology on the basis of the previous considerations, allowing us to draft some final conclusions as to how these reflections could be concretely translated into political action.

    2. The genesis of the green movement

    On the one hand, the green movement advocates the radical demand for the restitution of the environment to a kind of status quo ante, that is before the beginning of human civilisation, but on the other hand, it also represents a radically constructivist and modernist image of human behaviour. How does that go together - if at all?

    In order to respond to this question, without answering which one cannot seriously deal with the green movement as a holistic phenomenon, let alone confront it with a corresponding conservative counterproposal, we have to go back a little in history - an all the more urgent business as the environmental movement itself has barely grappled with its own past, and with good reason, as we will see.

    A relationship with nature based on respect and admiration is, of course, as old as mankind itself, and it would go beyond the scope of this paper to try to name even the main authors who represent the literary or philosophical steppingstones of these endeavours. And of course, the overexploitation of nature is just as old; even when we exclude the actions of prehistoric people characterised by ignorance of the actual long-term consequences of their deeds such as overhunting, and only take the very obvious cases of deliberate pollution and conscious overexploitation. Thus, we know numerous examples of both tendencies not only in Antiquity, but also in many other civilisations, so that, at least qualitatively, little about the current problems and discourses is actually "new".

    However, in order to understand the modern Greens, we do not need to go back that far, but pars pro toto, at least some starting points should be made explicit, though they are often enough not immediate, linear predecessors of today’s green ideology, but past crystallisation points in which certain ideological strains are bundled and projected further until creating the conditions leading to the formation of today’s ecologism.

    Except for the sometimes highly polluted cities of the Middle Ages and the evidence of dangerous pre-modern deforestation, large-scale pollution in Europe began primarily with the Industrial Revolution, when larger and more numerous manufactures and factories began burning coal and others fuels while creating ever larger mountains of rubbish in their attempt to cater to the needs of an exponentially growing population. It is probably no coincidence that, at precisely the same time, the romantic movement shifted from a purely aesthetic inclination to a philosophical-ideological way of thought, while the escapism of the gallant pastoral idylls of the Rococo period gave way to egalitarian and genocidal social utopias.

    Pars pro toto, let us first mention Rousseau, who is probably the ultimate point of reference for the modern idealisation of nature. Not least based on the romantic idea of the "noble savage" from the travelogues of the 17th and 18th centuries, Rousseau popularised the image of an ancestral harmonious “state of nature”, from which man only broke free because of his insatiable desire for “more”. While according to Hobbes, this path was irreversible and inevitably led to the “State” as the only guarantor of peaceful coexistence (though, as added by Locke, with the perspective of occasional constitutional reforms), Rousseau clearly shifted the attention back from the present to the primordial “state of nature”, fuelling thus not only nostalgia, but also the quiet hope in the possibility of artificially restoring at least some parts of this original idyll through education and a corresponding "contrat social" – both typical central starting points of modern “green” ideology.

    Another name that must be mentioned in this context is undoubtedly that of Goethe, whose turning away from Romanticism towards Classicism drove him ever closer to pantheism. It is precisely his scattered, but nevertheless highly influential philosophical notes that would form a constant point of reference for all those schools which, especially in Germany, turned away from the materialism of the Enlightenment of the 18th century or from the Scientism of the 19th century, but nevertheless were unable to take the step forward (or chronologically backward) towards a transcendent world view as represented by Christianity. Of course, pantheism had always been an intellectual temptation everywhere in Europe since the Middle Ages; but due to the enormous importance of Goethe, however, it received a special boost and quickly became a versatile and highly flexible intermediate level between materialism, deism and transcendentalism, which also had the special quality of interpreting human beings as part of nature and thus allowing for the formation of a new canon of values ​​beyond religiously or utilitarian motivated arguments.

    It is probably immediately obvious that both positions differ fundamentally from the Christian tradition: on the one hand, because the latter considers a return to the state of nature impossible in view of the original sin and interprets the creation of civilisation and the subjugation of nature to humanity as a mandate coming from God; on the other hand for the obvious reason that the divine does not exhaust itself in the natural world, but is of a fundamentally transcendent nature, so that the laws of this world do not emanate from the creation, but from the creator. Admittedly, the Christian interpretation of the world and nature was to be increasingly on the decline in the 19th and 20th century and proved incapable, for a long time, of providing a credible and attractive alternative to the new challenges of technology and science.

    However, in the 19th century, the era of "progress" and industry, interest in the seemingly immaculate state of nature and man in prehistorical societies was largely confined to science and literature, while political theory was shaped mostly by the schools of liberalism and socialism, both of which radically focused on the human and on modernity, the latter being based on a collective, the former on an individualistic approach. In addition, both equally felt their theories were strengthened by Darwinism, which, transferred from evolutionary biology to the social sphere, seemed to contradict the nostalgic glorification of past and rather translate the concept of technological "progress" into the idea of a biological law of nature (though it was mostly overlooked that Darwin originally only expressed the idea of ever new biological adaptations to ever new environmental challenges, not a teleological or linear absolute “progress”).

    This may also explain why it was precisely in esoteric and “völkisch” milieus that the idealisation of the past and the primordial state of nature first found its way into political thought. Indeed, since the late 19th century, it was within the framework of right-wing movements that the glorification of an historical “original” state of nature and its beauty developed the greatest popularity, often in conjunction with anthroposophical, neopagan, racist, vegetarian, anti-modernist and other haphazard new ideologies. This unholy and often enough rather syncretistic alliance then culminated in National Socialism, which fulfilled many of the demands of the early environmental movement through large-scale animal and landscape protection measures, while at the same time also taking the evolutionary approach to its extreme insofar as man himself was to become the object of breeding, of “purification” and of genocidal extermination in order not only to restore a supposed ideal ethnic situation, but at the same time to give evolution a helping hand, blurring thus biological and political speculations into a toxic mix.

    No wonder, then, that the environmental protection movement lost momentum after the end of the Second World War, at least in Germany, and only regained a larger audience in the 1960s as a result of the fears of civil or military nuclear incidents that arose at this time. This reorientation would quickly coalesce with the pacifist movement, associated largely in public discourse with a militantly “anti-imperialist” ideology, itself de facto anti-American in nature, and broadly supported by the Soviet Union, which was slowly starting to lose the industrial and military race with the West. The ideological melting pot of the 1968 movement and its New Age offshoots offered a good opportunity for this progressive change of course from a more völkisch-utopian to a left-utopian orientation: various right-wing and left-wing extremist countercultures became blurred during this time under the primacy of opposition to capitalism and Americanism and generated innumerable new schools of thought.

    Only a few more years, and the first “green” political parties finally emerged. Often enough they were decried in the press as “one-topic” parties, but even though this criticism certainly corresponded to the still rather undercomplex party programs of the ecologists during that time, a fierce battle raged within these movements between the most diverse, historically grown affinities and associations. Its issue was: How should man be connected to the “green” interpretation of nature and its harmony? Should the Greens adopt a traditionalist position and target a large-scale collective return to the past to restore man’s pre-modern harmony with nature? Or a liberal one, thus agreeing to exploiting and managing nature as decentralised as possible and only striving for its conservation to the extent that it benefitted individual interests? Or a socialist one, which interprets nature as a mere centrally administered collective commodity?

    For a long time, this battle was undecided, but the collapse of the communist states, the subsequent increasing liberalisation of the socialist parties and finally the emergence of the migration problem created a political vacuum that the traditional left-wing parties could no longer easily fill, while the new technological possibilities of post-industrial information societies and artificial intelligence opened new future perspectives. This was the hour of the environmental parties, which, with their inherently pantheistic approach, were able to offer a seemingly fresh solution that not only conveyed the typically human desire to fight for the good (from social and national questions to the "global" dimension of environmental and climate protection), but at the same time offered a convincing new definition of the place of human beings.

    3. Nature without man, man without nature

    As we can see, the history of the green movement is extremely complex and multi-layered, which explains why it not only offers numerous points of contact in many different ideological directions, which makes ecologism so attractive for many people, but also contains some seemingly fundamental internal contradictions, which we will presently discuss.

    As mentioned at the beginning, what is particularly striking here is that the environmental protection movement, on the one hand, takes the extremely "reactionary" view that nature should ideally return to the state it was in before the massive spread of humans across the planet with all their technological and industrial impact on environment. On the other hand, however, the green movement defends an extremely “progressive” position as far as people themselves are concerned, since not only historically grown structures and traditions, but even fundamental, “natural” distinctions such as those between the two sexes or the different ethnic groups are either fully negated or at least considered as to be overcome. How can this apparent contradiction be understood?

    Let us examine the starting point of ecologist thought: It is fundamentally anti-transcendent. Admittedly, this is not a unique feature of the environmental protection movement: Liberalism and socialism ultimately also start from a materialistic postulate. However, while liberalism derives the idea from materialism that everything should be viewed from the point of view of the interests of the individual, while socialism rather considers the collective, in environmental protection, it is nature that comes into focus as a regulatory framework and reference point for political and social action. This also explains the ultimately pantheistic tendency of environmental materialism; a divinisation of nature and its processes, which take the place of any transcendentally legitimate order as guiding principle.

    However, for the ecologists, nature is not static, but in a process of self-driven "development" generally explained by Darwinism; a development which eventually also leads to the emergence of man. Consequently, the latter is only understood as an “animal like all others”, different from the rest of nature not because of any spiritual dimension, but solely in terms of the gradual evolution of his intellectual powers. However, following the environmentalist worldview, this over-development of the human spirit leads to the "anomaly" of an animal capable of destroying its own environment to such an extent that nature's inherent resilience can only react by the complete annihilation of man.

    This has several consequences for the green movement. On the one hand, man-made environmental destruction must be stopped by all means, and nature must be restored to the status quo ante. On the other hand, there is a need for a completely new social order considering the basic assumptions of the ecologist negative anthropology in order to make it impossible to man to repeat his work of destruction. As to the precise nature of this new social order, there are, of course, certain divergences within the movement. However, it is common to all of them that precisely that mechanism which (supposedly) destroyed nature – human “progress” – is not called into question in itself, but should only be reversed in its direction. The resulting social utopia is of a fundamentally genocidal nature: In all ecologist theories, the first step is always to strongly reduce the number of people on earth through massive interventions in the birth rate and the process of “natural selection” (some fringe groups even advocate a total self-suicide out of humanity), then to subject the remaining human beings to a wholly new social and political order. However, this new order is not technologically retrograde (e.g. by demanding a conscious return to the living conditions of the time before the industrial revolution), but always includes a futuristic, high-tech component, as totally reversing history would run against the evolutionary and ultimately progressivist and positivist worldview of ecologism.

    For some, these consist in different degrees of archeofuturism (i.e. the combination of highly advanced technology with much more primitive tools) in order to conciliate the slogan “back to nature” with the maintenance of central elements of postmodern life ecologists do not want to miss at any cost despite their idealism (computer and communication technology, international mobility, entertainment industry, medical technology, transcontinental supply chains etc.). For others, the solution lies rather in a total isolation of man from nature through the construction of self-sufficient and more or less hermetically sealed structures with the purpose of "protecting" nature from man without having to give up a modern lifestyle. Many of the proponents of both models are also adherents of radical forms of transhumanism, widely popularised by Attali and Harari and embracing the gradual merging of human beings with modern computing technology and ultimately the partial or total transfer of the human mind into virtual reality as a positive fulfilment of its natural “mission”: not as staggering contrast to the idealisation of nature, but rather as the ultimate teleological consequence of the theory of evolution…

    If one disregards those specific peculiarities, which are ultimately based on the fact that the green movement gives priority to nature over humans, there are only few differences between the intended way of life of the future (remaining) humanity as seen by ecologism and by the numerous other, materialistic ideologies of the present, which all have found their common denominator in Klaus Schwab's ideology of the "Great Reset". Thus, the social utopia dreamed of by the green movement strives for multiculturalism and not a grown ethnopuralism; it is based on the theory of the mere social “construction” of sexual identity and not its biological reality; it strives for an egalitarian distribution of material resources while at the same time criticising the principle of performance and inheritance (an obvious difference to liberalism); and it is characterised by the rejection of historically evolved political structures and the attempt to replace them with a combination of grassroots democracy and world-state technocracy, firmly constructed on the basis of a predetermined ideological consensus and placed within the framework of institutional constellations determined by natural and rational preconditions rather than by political or cultural geography.

    Hence, the environmental protection movement is not only characterised by radical social constructivism, but also (at least on its fringes) by the necessity of ​​man's annihilation, either through a massive reduction of the population or through the migration of human consciousness into virtual "reality". Is it a coincidence that the alleged concern for nature and the environment ultimately leads green ideology to the dichotomy of demanding nature without humans and humans without nature? No, because it is based on a materialistic philosophical basis which can only grasp the principle of development and dynamics in terms of evolutionary theory, while it reduces the specific peculiarity of the human being (a being anchored in nature, endowed with an immortal soul and capable of rational self-reflection) to its mere quantitative and mechanic dimension: man as a mere animal whose extraordinary intelligence leads on the one hand to its own (alleged) liberation from biological constraints, on the other hand to the destruction of the environment. The green ideology only wants to tackle the latter issue and refuses to question the former while even pushing the rationalist des-incarnation of man to its bitter ultimate genocidal conclusion. This leads over to some thoughts on the necessary conservative counter-positions to “green” environmental protectionism.

    4. Conservative Environmentalism

    Genuine conservatism must start from precisely those aberrations of environmentalism to become better aware of its own unique access to nature. But this also means finally abandoning the erroneous notion that the green movement and the conservative movement only differ in their social assumptions, but not in their ecological ones. The basic error in the green worldview is its ultimately materialistic (or pantheistic) approach to understanding the world, even if it does neither, as in liberalism, result in a subjugation of nature to the individual, nor, as in socialism, to the collective, but rather in the opposite, i.e the absolute subordination of man to nature.

    This is where we have to start if we want to build a “conservative” environmental protection: It can only make sense if it is based on a decidedly transcendent image of nature and thus also of man. But what does a transcendent image of nature mean? It means that matter, whether animate or inanimate, is not absolute, neither as an object of exploitation for individual or collective self-development, nor as a self-contained absolute regulatory framework. Rather, it must be understood that matter is only the creation of a higher authority, the emanation of a transcendent and absolute being. This being, however, has neither fulfilled its task through a one-off “deistic” process of creation, nor is it pantheistically absorbed in the things of the world, but it guarantees the inner support of all beings at all times while situated also over and beyond its creation.

    This implies two things. On the one hand, the divine manifests itself in all things without being identical with them: We do right to honour, protect and care for everything that exists, but not for its own sake, but for the sake of the divine that resides in it. The order of nature and being does not lie in the mechanical natural process, but beyond; and all that is beautiful, good, and true refers only to this transcendent entity in which it comes fully into being. On the other hand, we must realise that despite the omnipresence of the divine principle, there are gradations of its intensity in the world and in nature: a stone is indeed a thing, but it does not have an organic life, which undoubtedly belongs to a higher level of being; and similar gradations can be made with reference to the transition from vegetable to animal life and from instinctive to intellectual existence. Everywhere, that supreme principle manifests itself in an increasingly self-reflective manner; a self-reflection that is characterised by the fact that the corresponding beings are also increasingly able to place themselves outside of nature, i.e., not only to “endure” nature, but to actively shape it.

    Therefore, man is by no means an enemy, but rather the “crown” of creation; his responsibility towards nature is not based on a pantheistic deification of nature or mere mechanistic self-interest, but on the metaphysical obligation to recognise and honour the divine principle that animates him also when he sees it in action outside. However, this principle should by no means be understood pantheistically, i.e. immanently, because pantheism results at best in a kind of enthusiastic aestheticism, at worst in a kind of naturalist glorification of the principle of evolution, i.e. the law of the strongest, with all the resulting consequences... The fundamental principle of being, i.e. love, comes from without and subdues nature rather than springing from it, for this love is the possibility of transcending the principle of pure self-interest and the purpose of one's existence in the service of another, “higher” person or principle whose interests seem more important than one’s own.

    On the surface, there may be numerous forms of love, some deeper or more meaningful than others, but it is always a matter of pointing beyond oneself and recognising (with more or less justification) that the meaning of one's own existence is not limited to the welfare of one's own person, but also (and perhaps above all) takes place on other levels. This urge, however, can undoubtedly not be reduced to a pure evolutionary strategy (in the sense of sacrificing individual interests for the survival of one's own genetic material in the body of one's offspring), since the history not only of humanity but also of the animal kingdom is full of examples of apparently "irrational" acts of love. In man, these acts extend not only to the subject’s immediate offspring, but also to collective and purely ideal principles, and culminate in the service of the deity as the greatest and most worthy object of our love, since here, self-sacrifice and self-discovery fall entirely into one. Starting from this basis, "environmental protection" is not an external ingredient of a conservative world view or even a conscious economic "self-restraint", but rather a logical inner consequence of an all-embracing love that recognises God above all in the other and thus cannot help but deal with the natural and social environment responsibly and lovingly.

    But this also shows what a transcendental conception of man means, namely one that places the priority not on the outer but on the inner man. Age, class, people, intelligence, health - they are all ultimately only externalities which, although they reflect important basic categories of being, only provide the framework for the enormous metaphysical spectacle of the individual's inner struggle for God; superficial roles which in no way affect the actual dignity of the individual as a soul image of God. But it also follows from this that the priority of action must not lie in material self-realisation and the constant quibbling with the "circumstances" that are seen as the sole guarantors of happiness in the here and now. For anyone who has insight into the priority of the spiritual over the physical struggle and of the struggle for one's own soul over that for money and health, knows that one's own life can only be built up with regard to that goal which is beyond, and never as a pure end in itself. Of course, such inwardness does not imply a mere passive acceptation of one's own suffering or that of others, for quite the opposite, living in truth also means standing up for what is right - always and everywhere.

    At the same time, however, conservative ecologism also implies accepting the existence that has been assigned to us and understanding our physical body as a mission, but not as an enemy. As in the case of dealing with nature, conservative environmentalism also means dealing constructively with one's own heritage, whether it is physical or spiritual. From this follows a fundamentally affirmative attitude towards one's own body, one's own gender, one's own family, one's own region, one's own religion, one's own nation or one's own civilisation - not out of a sense of political, social, technological or spiritual superiority (or inferiority) to other possibilities of being, but out of the affirmation of the task set before us; a task that is understood not as an external constraint but as an inner mandate, since our own soul corresponds exactly to that divine eternity whose plan has placed us in our present place, so that we must understand our destiny just as well as the mandate from above as, at least implicitly, a result of our own free choice.

    5. Outlook

    One of the greatest abuses of modern Western society is to have cut itself off so completely from nature. Most of us live our daily lives in an almost aseptic environment composed exclusively of concrete, tar, steel, glass, plastic and exhaust fumes, consume synthetic foods that are largely characterised by artificial colourings, preservatives and flavourings, and interact with our fellow human beings in an increasingly virtual way. In view of this complete alienation from the reality of nature, who is surprised at the explosion of allergies, hereditary diseases or cancer, and who is proud of the increase in the average age of life when the considers that this can only be achieved at the price of a permanent medicalisation of our daily lives?

    It is all too easy to talk about global warming or air pollution and to come up with utopian (and usually equally destructive) projects, when all that is involved is replacing one engineered view of nature with another, equally engineered one or even, as seems to be increasingly the case, especially in Germany, to turn honest concern for the future of the planet into the practical reason for calling for a quasi eco-socialist dictatorship.

    But what does this mean in concrete terms, and how can these considerations be translated into political demands? First of all, it is important to understand that a demand does not become good or bad just because the political opponent also raises it - what matters is only the spirit behind it and what gives it its respective direction. This means that a conservative needs not refuse, on principle, to support the appeal for environmental protection just because that appeal is commonly associated with the green movement - for the reasons that animate the conservative are fundamentally different from those that motivate his opponents.

    For - to get straight into medias res - the ecologist is concerned with the protection of nature for its own sake, but the conservative is concerned with the protection of that greater being which is reflected in it, even if only brokenly and incompletely. The same applies to the human being: To the greens, he is not much more than an animal whose sole value lies in the fact that he succeeds in creating a balance with his environment, and whose evolved identity he is suspicious of and at best regards as atavistic steppingstones on the evolutionary path to enlightenment and modernity. For the conservative, however, man's vocation lies in his self-knowledge, not as a rational being, but as a being gifted with a soul, a being which of all others is most likely to point beyond itself from nature to the divine.

    Thus, first of all, we need to formulate a clear “no” to the primacy of nature over man, because even if the latter has to treat his environment with care, it is not as an end in itself, but on the basis of the realisation that even in the inanimate, the vegetable and the animal existences, there is a refraction of that force which animates himself and is therefore in need of his love and protection.

    From this follows another, very clear “no” to transhumanism: all attempts to change human nature as fundamentally as transhumanism has in mind - genetic manipulations, cybernetic "improvements", transfer of consciousness into virtual "realities", elimination of death, etc. - go far beyond the scope of the usual mere makeshift "improvement" of human living conditions, as they want to make something fundamentally different out of man than what he is; ultimately transform him into a chimera of man, monster and machine - a blasphemous enterprise in every respect, since this “new man” dreamed of by all materialists from ecologists over socialists to liberals is keen to suppress, even to negate the mere existence of his immortal soul and rather focus all his powers on the usurpation of the external, material attributes of the deity – an endeavour which can only fail spectacularly.

    Our “no” to pushing back historically grown communities must be similarly clear: Respect for creation must not be limited to nature in its incredible evolutionary and regional diversity, but must also extend to the historical and geographical diversity of human communities. Just as the most diverse factors of biodiversity must be nurtured and conserved, the various forms of historically grown entities such as families, neighbourhoods, villages, regions, nations, religions or civilisations should also be viewed positively and constructively and protected in their distinctiveness, instead of marginalising them in the name of mere polarity between the individual and humanity.

    This implies a further loud “no” to the demand for a climate dictatorship and the restriction of individual freedoms in the name of "nature": nothing justifies the further expansion of a general surveillance state, and certainly not an ideological system that wants to establish a highly questionable technocratic, elitist and transhumanist political system under the pretext of environmentalism.

    But of course, a conservative environmental policy must not be limited to a mere "no", it must also and above all include various forms of "yes", and this out of full inner resolve - no matter whether it is about protecting nature and the environment or designing alternative forms of social organisation to stop and push back the further destruction of our environment. But it must not be a matter of reconstructing a chimerical status quo ante, but rather of creating a balance in which the interests of human beings must be at the centre - and not only their material interests, but also the creation of a space in which they can develop as spiritual and mental beings. The same applies to the social order, which can certainly include elements of archaeo-futurism, but must not place these under the primacy of universalism, but rather seek a renewed connection to regional, national and civilisational identities. For yes, a partial dismantling of the technological and industrial excesses of modernity may well be justified, but only if it does not damage Europe's chances of survival in the international multipolar context.

    The real problem of redefining the relationship between man and nature therefore lies not in the degree of technocratic adaptation of human societies to their respective environments, but rather in the necessity for man to perceive nature as his material home and to internalise once again that, as a spiritual being, he does indeed belong to the transcendent world, but as a natural being he is a concrete part of a physical environment and can only realise his true human mission with regard to nature, though neither through the materialistic self-identification with the physical realm, nor in the rationalistic and individualistic exploitation of creation.


    This article was originally published in a report "On the Future of Europe: Culture, Economy, Ecology" by Fundacja Twórców dla Rzeczypospolitej.

    Painting by Maciej Mazurek.

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    Léon Krier est l'un des architectes néo-traditionalistes les plus connus de notre génération. David Engels vient de profiter de son passage récent à Varsovie pour lui poser une série de questions sur la situation de l'art, de la société et de la politique dans l'occident moderne. Léon Krier is one of the best known neo-traditionalist architects of our generation. David Engels took the opportunity of his recent visit to Warsaw to ask him a series of questions about the state of art, society and politics in the modern West.

    David Engels

    24 min

    Interview: prof. David Engels in conversation with prof. Heinz Theisen

    Im Gespräch mit Prof. Heinz Theisen. Wie steht es mit den "westlichen Werten": Kann der moralistische Universalismus auch im 21. Jh. immer noch eine realistische politische Richtschnur im Umgang mit den aufstrebenden außereuropäischen Mächten sein? Und wenn nicht, was soll an seine Stelle treten?

    David Engels

    9 min