The new edition of René Guénon’s book The Crisis of the Modern World offers the opportunity for a critical account, which may be of some interest, of the author’s leading ideas. These ideas are closely connected with the problem of the relations between East and West and of the fate that awaits our civilization as a whole. They are all the more interesting as Guénon dissents from all those who for some time now have been writing about the “decline of the West,” the “crisis of the European spirit,” and so forth—all ideas which today, after the new collapse brought about by World War II, have again come to the fore with renewed vigor.
Guénon does not deal with individual cases and confused reactions, nor does he deal with philosophy in the current sense of the word; his ideas originate from Tradition in a broad and impersonal sense. Unlike the writers alluded to above—Spengler, Ortega y Gasset, Huizinga, Massis, Keyserling, Benda—Guénon does not spiritually belong to the modern world; he bears witness to a different world, and he makes no mystery of the fact that he owes his knowledge to a great extent to the direct contact he has had with the exponents of the traditional East.
Below are excerpts from Ōkawa Shūmei’s Asia, Europe, Japan, originally published in 1926. Asia, Europe, Japan also appeared in full in his 1943 publication Construction ofThe New Order in Greater East Asia. I have been working on a translation of parts the latter text for some time. The original Japanese-language version of the text can be accessed here.
The specific passages published herein were translated for the purposes of the Tokyo War Crimes Trial. Ōkawa was initially arraigned by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East for his pro-Japanese speeches and writings but would eventually be exempted from the proceedings upon being diagnosed with mental afflictions. We can assume, therefore, that these excerpts were selected by those involved in prosecuting Ōkawa because they were believed to have provided the most damning evidence of his supposed “crimes”.
Philosophically, I am particularly interested in his observation that “Asia, speaking of it in its entirety, has really been a seminary for the spirit of mankind while Europe has been a school for cultivating the knowledge of mankind.”
Enlightenment rationalism has gutted the West of its indigenous spirituality leading European-derrived cultures to be largely devoid of anything culturally meaningful beyond the scope of scientific reasoning. This has made Europeans spiritless and lifeless and thus more easily controlled by ill-intentioned hostile elites. I share the belief that Ōkawa held that Asia could offer a remedy for the loss of an authentic, rooted spirituality in the West.
In these prose we are exposed to Ōkawa’s belief that the then looming clash of civilizations he prophesized would ultimately lead to a synthesis of European and Asian civilizations. Clearly, Ōkawa didn’t deny Japan’s need to absorb the extraordinary knowledge produced by Europeans. It seems likewise us Europeans ought not to ignore Asia’s advancement in matters spiritual. It seems our lack of ancestor worship and our dearth of animistic nature worship renders us particularly out of kilter with the Asiatic spiritual trajectory to which Ōkawa refers in the following words.
Asia, Europe, Japan
By Ōkawa Shūmei
We must admit that it is very clear that as long as one sticks to the present status quo and the other strives to destroy it, this effort to reconstruct Asia will be contradictory to the aim of the League of Nations–also a product of the World War [One]. Regardless of how the platform of the League of Nations may be decorated with rhetorical flourishes it is after all an organization which is meant to eternally maintain the international status quo and is by no means based upon the new internationalism. Moreover, [illegible word] not the status quo of the world actually imply the domination of the world by the Anglo-Saxons. Therefore, the League of Nations exists in order to enable the Anglo-Saxons to be the permanent dominators of the world. One of the reasons why Japan is called the only black spot in dawning Asia is also because Japan joined the League of Nations. . .
The following text is the transcript by V. S. of Jonathan Bowden’s New Right lecture in London on December 10, 2011. I want to thank Michèle Renouf for making the recording available.
Mishima’s life was dedicated to a return of the spirit of the samurai and a belief in Yamamoto Jōchō’s book Hagakure, which is partly the 17th-century bible of samurai morality whereby life is transfigured by death, and the notion of a warrior who is also an intellectual and a literary figure as well as a spiritual crusader, a priest who kills, is paramount.
Japanese culture is distinct from almost all others on Earth and is still difficult to understand and conceptualize for many Westerners. One of the more glaring things about Japan is that material which is banned in the West is widely available, particularly in terms of pornography, over which there are very little restrictions at all. Even in manga, or Japanese comics, which are often amazingly hardline and hardcore in Western terms.
Japan is a strange society, because the dialectics which move within it are oppositional and highly differentiated to those of the West. It’s probably true that people who are self-identifying in the Western tradition have often admired elements about Japan, particularly imperial Japan. There’s a degree to which there’s not so much a symmetry as a meaningful asymmetry by which the Japanese are perceived as a people who wanted to be themselves in their own way.
On October 26, 2015, pioneer of Alternative Right politics and post-war historical revisionism Willis Carto passed away at age 89. In reading some of the eulogies published about him on websites such as Counter-Currents, I was amazed to discover that Carto had been shot by a Japanese sniper on Cebu Island in May 1945, for which he was awarded the Purple Heart. This factoid reaffirmed my belief that Carto was a man who strove for objectivity in his political and historical research.
I knew of Carto’s support for those whom the FDR administration persecuted in the early 1940s for their refutations of that regime’s pro-war arguments. Ralph Townsend was one such victim of the Stalinist show trials which are described vividly in The Trial on Trial: The Great Sedition Trial of 1944 by Lawrence Dennis and Maximilian St. George. Carto would allow pro-Japanese interpretations of WWII in Asia to be published in the publications under his auspices, in spite of the fact that he had succumbed to a Japanese bullet during that war. That was the kind of man he was.
This is a portion of Ralph Townsend’s article “Our Slump in Foreign Pets” which was originally published in The North American Review in August 1933. We sense in this piece Townsend’s frustration with the self-flagellating universalism of liberals and Christians, which he believed made Americans prone to exploitation by cynical out-groups. His frustration with the way who was or was not the “underdog” du jour impinged upon American foreign policy, is exhibited in his later writings.
When we stop showering unappreciated favors on the Chinese, our market should be saturated.
There are signs that we are soon to be without a foreign pet—without any journalistically chosen foreign country or distant people upon whom our sensation-stirring writers and plaintive orators may loose eulogies to wring extravagant sympathy out of average Americans. China, our last and longest foreign pet, seems about to pass from the roster as more and more intelligent opinion filters back to correct misinformation here. There is no successor in sight.
I recently acquired a copy of the book The Trial on Trial (1946) by Lawrence Dennis and Maximilian St. George which recounts the Orwellian Great Sedition Trial of 1944. During that trial many American intellectuals were prosecuted for their pro-neutrality arguments. Dennis was one of the accused and St. George was a defence attorney involved in the proceedings.
Chomsky in the above video condones the “totalitarian society” which enabled the persecution of intellectuals who spoke for the 86% of Americans who opposed military intervention in Europe and Asia. Chomsky can be seen opining:
“during the Second World War, the forms of authority
—we had a totalitarian society basically—
and I thought that there was
some justification for that”
WWII propaganda claimed that the world was witnessing an epic tussle between the forces of Democracy and those of Totalitarianism. In reality the Allied regimes were just as totalitarian as the Axis ones. The criminalization of those who reject the FDR administration’s version of the events of WWII continues to this day, with revisionist historians in Western nations often finding themselves being incarcerated for their historical conclusions.
Chomsky has encouraged Westerners to embrace weak, anarchistic political dispensations in their nations throughout his academic career. Such prescriptions would only allow illiberal political actors such as the Zionists to further colonize our nations. However, when push came to shove in the 1930s and 40s it seems that pro-Communist, Zio-friendly totalitarianism had “some justification” for the putative “anarchist”.
This is an interesting compilation of quotes from prominent leaders and intellectuals reflecting upon the legacy of Imperial Japan in Asia. Ba Maw, the former Prime Minister of Burma, is quoted as saying “there is no country that contributed more to Asia than Japan did. And there is no country that is more misunderstood than Japan is.” How true that is.
I have attempted to help shed light upon the Japanese role in Asia in my new book Japan Bites Back. Hopefully this video stimulates interest in the untold historical verities of World War II.