This morning provided yet another example of the depth and beauty of life in the company of Nietzsche. Even though I have a small-fortune in books – grad school was just another way to feed my voracious appetite for reading, you see – none of them provide a gratification as instant and profound as I often find in Nietzsche. This morning I picked up the Stanford edition of Unpublished Writings from the Period of Unfashionable Observations (is it just me or does “unfashionable” fail to connote the magnitude of Nietzsche’s “untimeliness”? – score one for Cambridge!) with the intent to find a few notes on Socrates and Hellenic decadence. Just now I picked up the book and turned to a random page: 36. The notes on this page coincidentally begin a section devoted to defining what is a philosopher. His subtitle for the section gives away his intent: “Observations on the struggle between art and knowledge;” in other words, what do beauty and logic have to say about what is wise or true?
But what made me give pause was the second entry of the section:
19 “Ochlocracy of scholars instead of a republic of scholars.”
I had never seen or heard the word ochlocracy until the instant I read that line. I turned instinctively to the wonderful endnotes that accompany the Stanford editions (much deeper than the Cambridge footnotes – which I still find more useful if less valuable) to find the simple definition: mob rule. “Mob rule” in Greek political language! How can it be that I’ve not before encountered this marvelous word? How many times might I have used such a word both in print and conversation?
In my haste to contextualize the word (aside from, and much more prosaically than, Nietzsche’s lectures on the distance between Classical and modern education) I immediately thought of Counter-Currents. To put it mildly, I have a serious problem with allowing comments to be posted after articles. In the spirit of Nietzsche’s notebook entry, the scholars and activists published by Counter-Currents are the “republic of scholars” (even if that is being generous), while the commenters represent ochlocracy. I mean this, as did Nietzsche: not just as a critique of majoritarian politics but of the rule of plebian instincts and rabble mentality.
For there is nothing like working on my craft, diligently writing and editing for flare and clarity, and then being shot down by someone without even the courage to attack me and my craft using their own name. There are talented writers and thinkers – men who warrant our respect – who will not even look at the comments under their Counter-Currents articles. This is a shame, because Counter-Currents is devoted to presenting the depth and vitality of North American New Right thought. Certainly Collin Cleary, Jack Donovan, and James O’Meara (just to name three of my favorites) demonstrate these characteristics. Someone from near or afar would read their work and understand that, while it might be uncharted territory, the work is intellectual, sound, and engaging; so far so good.
But then the comments begin, and the months of labor, ferocity, and profound critique of modernity are disregarded by an unruly mob. And, just like that, all the impressive attributes of Counter-Currents and the North American New Right are reduced to ashes. Critique and suggestion by peers is something for which we are all working – to make a true university of the North American New Right for scholars and students. When intelligent and committed people critique my work, or add to it through better examples, then my work gets better and more credible – and a republic of philosophers is born. Perhaps, then, Counter-Currents should put aside the desire to make the site “inclusive” (ah, yes, the soothing rhythms of economic rationality) and truly moderate the comments. While some commenters might feel discriminated against (God forbid) this might actually force some of them to write essays and papers themselves. What is certain, though, is that it will make the North American New Right appear more valid, thoughtful, and creative.