Speaking about metaphysics today seems almost an insult to the standard Western culture, all based on Reason and Feeling and on empiricism without a subject.
On the contrary, this does not happen in the political civilizations currently emerging in the world.
Inevitability pertains to losers while the culture of reality transformation pertains to winners.
And currently the West is an Accident compared to the great phenomena of global change, halfway between a Chinese empire emerging victoriously from the post-1989 Americanization and the Russian Federation creating an unavoidable and leading role for itself in the Middle East.
The losers believe only in few obvious facts, while the winners bend them to their will.
In China, in the military academies and intelligence services’ specialization schools, Taoist and Confucian traditions and classic martial arts – designed to fight both against the external and the internal enemy, the old empirical self – are taught.
On the other hand, as René Guenon used to say, the Tao is the esoteric aspect of exoteric Confucianism.
It is worth recalling that the spiritual Knowledge is always linked to a warrior culture: the Taoist-Buddhist Hagakure of Japanese Samurai is at the origin of classic geopolitical analysis, with the still very useful book entitled Dai Nihon by Karl Haushofer, the founder of German and European modern geopolitics.
Or it is linked to Sun Tzu’s “Art of War”.
The Soviet intelligence defectors were particularly surprised that in the US and NATO military academies there were not those classics they had to carefully analyze.
Historical science is Wisdom and therefore it combines a multiple and value-based dimension with the collection and analysis of facts.
Furthermore, in India, the Hindu religion is particularly widespread among young people living in the cities, while governments use the Hindu tradition to rebuild an identity-based political culture.
In Russia, the traditional Slavic nationalism of the Orthodox Church currently merges with Vladimir Putin’s Eurasian project.
When the Russian leader went to visit Pope Francis, he brought as a gift the icon of Our Lady of Vladimir, namely the holy image that Stalin secretly flew over Moscow in the hardest moments of the Nazi siege.
Finally nothing can be understood of Iran’s politics and strategy without the Twelver Shia Islam of today’s Iran.
The fact that the Twelfth Imam, a descendant from martyr Husseyn Ali, returns – as he has always been alive – to the visible world and converts to Islam the whole world, as well as Christians and Jews, by definitely destroying the Antichrist’s works, is a myth that tells us more about Iran’s foreign policy than a thousand descriptions of its missiles and weapons.
In short, the laicité that the West is flaunting from the rooftops, as if it were some kind of novelty, is a sign of weakness, not of strength.
It is accounting, not mathematics.
Those who are currently winning the globalization war always unite the people around myths, strong ideas, symbols, rituals and identity, while those who are losing the “Third World War in pieces” – just to use Pope Francis’ phrase – live their own history according to the Enlightenment myth. Indeed this, too, is a myth.
In fact, while it is believed that only myths and religious identities lead to wars, as claimed by the theorists of contemporary laïcité, it should be recalled that – in the case of the great slaughters of history – the revolutionaries waged war against the Europe of Kings under the tripartite motto Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood, thus turning a nation of 27 million people, as was France at the time, into a wasteland inhabited by approximately 9 million people.
The same holds true also for the Bolshevik Revolution which, according to the speech delivered by Solzhenitsyn before the Duma in 1994, upon his return to Russia, exacted a toll of 60 million victims in the period between the beginning of “Trotsky’s coup” and the end of Stalinism.
The current myth of laicité is a myth whereby, before the 1798 French Revolution, there was “darkness” while, after the largest massacre in modern history, the Enlightenment – and hence Reason – would come, thus destroying every myth – and hence Metaphysics, foolishly considered similar to Religion.
Hence, a value-based curvature of foreign policy emerges: if “they”, namely the emerging countries’ peoples, are as “we” are, enlightened and rationalist, it is fine, whereas if they are still in the grip of old myths there can only be war.
Just think of the fact that decades of war have left Afghanistan still in the hands of the Taliban or that the actions in Iraq have created a failed state which currently only serves the interest of the Iranian leadership.
While, as you may recall, in 2003 the US Governor of Iraq, Paul Bremer Lewis, adapted the chaotic flow of vehicles in Tehran to Boston’s traffic rules.
The West has long been viewing the Other as if he/she were himself/herself, obviously a more “primitive” and less “secular” Self.
And this is the biggest mistake, the pathological narcissism of the West which, in politics, leads to the same situations as those occurring in psychology: a “grandiose” self, leading to manipulative tactics vis-à-vis the others.
In fact, the West interprets the jihad as if it were “terrorism”, while the Islamic “holy war” certainly uses terror, but as part of its strategy, not as an end in itself.
“I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike them upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip!” (Sura Al-Anfal 8:12).
But, if we studied the traditional Islamic law compared to jihad, at least 32 major rules from the Qur’an and an endless number of interpretations would further complicate the practice of the “holy war”.
In the Sunni tradition, the jihad is always defensive, but it is anyway intended to expand the community of believers. It is a complex political theology that does not only regard war as such, but also propaganda, Islam’s internal organization, its economy and its law in peacetime.
How can we indicate the Other as simple and primitive, when Islam, in its ferocity, is organizing an entire society against the “infidels”, by using the oil market, soft and hard propaganda actions, demographic penetration and a very wise manipulation of the most helpless and unarmed Western political system?
Moreover the West interprets Putin’s new Russia as a return of the Stalinist and Communist repressed aspects, thus forgetting that a country with eleven time zones and over 24 ethnic groups spread over 17 million square kilometers must be ruled in a centralized way or cannot be ruled at all.
Would a Eurasia “of autonomies and self-governments” – as unfortunately envisaged by Zbigniew Brzezinski some years ago – be more democratic and less dangerous for the Eurasian peninsula, namely for us?
Later the United States thought that the forced liberalization, developed in Yeltsin’s time, would lead Russia to be a peripheral country, but it was wrong.
While, as likely, the KGB defector to the USA, Anatoli Golytsin, was not entirely wrong, his theory developed in an old and useful book entitled New Lies for Old is that supposedly the USSR transformation and the end of the CPSU were carefully planned within the KGB First Chief Directorate.
Destroying the Party that blocked the State, bring fresh capital where there was none any longer and make Russia participate in the new “great globalization game”.
Clearly a country such as Russia cannot be studied by only checking – with the famous Reason – what the record of “democracy” or “human rights” is.
In the case of China, after an initial period in which Westerners were inebriated for the implementation of liberalizing reforms – because they believed them to mark the end of the Communist system – later they realized that the Four Modernizations of Deng Xiaoping (and, earlier, by Zhou Enlai) saved the Party from collapse, while the Chinese society remained strongly and often spontaneously Communist.
Hence there is no correlation between the “bourgeois” – and hence enlightened – “freedoms” and the political system, as indeed Benedetto Croce had already taught us.
Nevertheless, how can we avoid this “critical” and rationalistic thinking in foreign policy, which make us not understand the Other and obliges us, as Westerners, to always accept the fait accompli?
Etymologically krisis is the act of discerning, separating, judging and assessing.
Criticism and critique comes from krino, which is the art of judging – based on the values of beauty, justice and goodness – works and actions, as well as the people performing them.
However, how can the firm principles, the initial and final values of the kritikè teknè, namely the art of separating and hence judging, be created ? Obviously, metaphysics does so.
The West – and hence certainly Heidegger was not wrong – is characterized by the forgetfulness of Being in its “concealment”, which reveals itself only in its appearing, in its being temporary “semblance”.
Like a wave reveals the sea or the wind tells us about the air, by making us perceive and feel it.
Therefore, according to our interpretation, the Western krisis is currently lacking because its kritikè teknè has forgotten its foundations, the criteria which enable it to operate by separating appearances and leading them back to an original and initial principle.
As Wisdom, and not teknè, art and technology, philosophy is not only theoretical, abstract and hence partial knowledge, but it means knowing simultaneously “for us” and within the “actual reality of things”, which are both useful for fully guiding our lives.
Therefore foreign policy cannot be judged only based on one single aspect – be it military, economic or diplomatic – but by comparing all the aspects of a phenomenon.
In this regard, for example, suffice to think of the current Chinese rearmament, which is relevant both for domestic policy and for the Chinese project in the Pacific region, and finally for protecting the future Belt and Road Initiative, etc..
If we rationalistically consider one single aspect – the first which springs to our mind or we like – we isolate it and make it absolute, we only create a new myth, not a manifestation of Being.
Hence, metaphysics prefers an overall and global vision, the search for the cause or reason why – since nothing ever appears without a reason or, more exactly, a cause, and every cause always prompts the same metaphysical question: “why is this happening or is so and not otherwise?”
Moreover metaphysics knows that things and events have a meaning.
For Husserl, who was Heidegger’s professor, the distinction between sense and meaning “responds to the distinction between experience and what is lived and experienced” – hence, along the lines of his professor, in his book Being and Time Martin Heidegger tells us that the “sense is the possibility of action offered by the world we understand”.
Hence no formulas good for each phenomenon, for each partial unveiling of Being, as always happens in rationalistic geopolitics – in this regard, just think of Russian “militarism” or “bottom-up” democracy in the Maghreb region, which has strengthened al-Qaeda rather than the usual “pluralists” – but phenomena interpreted according to their sense, i.e. according to the scope of the objective correlations they generate.
Certainly, today metaphysics does not enjoy a good reputation. The Enlightenment has hidden it, more or less in the same way as the tutor in Rousseau’s Emile, or On Education cunningly and artfully hid, in the woods, the tools that the protagonist believed to discover by chance.
It is worth recalling that the term was coined in the first century A.D. by Andronicus of Rhodes, who had placed – in the library of Alexandria – Aristotle’s books on the “first philosophy”, namely metaphysics, after those on Physics, tà metà tà physikà.
Metaphysics – in Aristotle’ meaning, that the position chosen by Andronicus of Rhodes entails – goes beyond physical research by using the same methods as those used in research among particular beings.
In this connection, Giorgio Colli would have said that in the “Greek wisdom”, i.e. among the Pre-Socratics – the Being needed a faculty other than research into the world but, unlike modern rationalism, Aristotle’s intention is to use the investigating rationality in the whole sphere of Being.
Hence our knowledge is always abstract and there are no primitive or original languages - or even more inherently “true” languages than others – as the logical neo-Positivists and hence also the Empiricists imagined.
There exists no original or essential fact around which all the others are structured, as thought by all those who imagine an action from which everything begins – be it the liberation of Paris on August 25, 1944 or the signing of the “short armistice” in Cassibile on September 3, 1943.
There is no objectively original fact – only the rationalists and wizards believe so.
Hence we extrapolate from the “metaphysical” analysis what is common to various facts; later we check the story of these facts and their actual connection. Then we extract-abstract from the various phenomena studied what can be subjected to a rational analysis, i.e. their number and their form.
Finally, we define the rules of things and of their being in that way and not in another and then we define their absolute necessity which – as also Kant taught us – cannot be based only on empirical experience.
Empiricism tells us about the constancy of phenomena, not about their necessity.
Hence we rise to metaphysics when we do not refuse to think specifically of the condition thanks to which we think everything else.
In historical terms, this means when we analyze all the contexts in which the facts occurred and, hence, their “not being otherwise”.
The metaphysical consciousness has no other objects than daily experience, this world, the others, human history, truth and culture.
However, instead of considering them as already existing, as empirical data available to everyone, or as consequences without premise – and hence as if they proceeded magically by themselves – metaphysics rediscovers their being alien to the world and the miracle of their appearing.
This means that metaphysics is the opposite of the “system”.
Therefore let us think about what might happen if we applied this way of thinking – not mutilated as the poor wretched rationalism of our times – to history and strategic analysis.
The perception and efficacy of all our evaluations would change: the Chinese policy, for example, would no longer be a sort of adaptation to the “market” economy, but the joint effort of a country to win the so-called globalization war.
Or the public debt would no longer be analyzed as an alternative between “austerity” and default, but as a universal financial market like that of all other securities.
And again, we would start to perceive – with “astonishment”, as Plato taught us, because reality is so and not in another way – the great future geopolitical tectonics, such as Africa’s transformation, the overlapping between technology and new mysticism or even the great subjectivization of our Western political culture, between Orwell’s 1984 and a new configuration of primary instincts.
GIANCARLO ELIA VALORI
Honorable de l’Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France