By Robert Steuckers – a writer and Belgian political activist . Formerly close to the New Right , it was the theorist of conservative revolution of the “New Right”. He left GRECE in 1993 to create Synergies Européennes, where he defends the theses of a pan-European anti-capitalist nationalism. Initiator of conferences, co-author of several collected works, he is considered a “polyglot lecturer”.
What do political scientists mean when they talk about “pyropolitics”? There are two sources to explore in order to understand what they mean; first, one has to investigate the entire realm of political theology, including Juan Donoso Cortès’ thoughts about liberalism, socialism, and Catholicism (the latter being perceived as Tradition as such) and of course one will then have to study thoroughly the core thesis of Carl Schmitt, having proved that all political ideas have a theological background; second, you’ll have to take into consideration Schmitt’s perception of world politics as a clash between raw elements such as Earth and Water. Real politics, called in his genuine German as “das Politische”, is necessarily Earth-bound, continental, and the truly efficient political man is a kind of Roman geometer who organizes the territory coming under his jurisdiction by simply measuring it.
Following both German defeats in 1918 and 1945, Earth was no longer the core element of world politics and was replaced by Water. Hence the new subversive and destructive dialectic of “Land und Meer”, or Land and Sea, whereby Water achieves victory in the end. Schmitt’s posthumously edited diary “Glossarium” insists heavily on the destructive effects of the victorious all-encompassing US-“hydropolitics”. “Pyros” means “fire” in Greek, and represents, according to Michael Marder (cf. infra), another raw element combining not only the idea of a devouring/burning flame but also the corollary ones of “light” and “warmth”. Even if Schmitt reduced the possibilities of politics to two main elements (Earth and Water), this does not mean that Fire or Air didn’t exist and didn’t play a role, even if such is less perceptible.
“Fire” therefore means several phenomena: the burning force of destruction (that you find in anti-traditional revolutions), the “light-without-warmth” of Enlightenment or the warmth of silent revolt against untraditional (abstract) institutions derived from several ideological corpus of 18th Century Enlightenment.
Once there are no longer any virgin territories to be conquered (see Toynbee’s thoughts) and subsequently organized according to the very earth-bound principles of Roman geometers, the Earth as a structuring element of true politics is gradually replaced not only by Water but also by Fire. Water, as the emblematic element of liberalism, especially of the Manchesterist type, seapower, or plutocracy, does not know clear borders or positive rest (those who rest on sea sink and are drowned, said Schmitt in his Glossarium). No “otium” (fruitful rest, introspection, meditation) is possible anymore, only “neg-otium” (febrile nervosity of restless materialistic activities) survives and thrives. We live then in societies where only ceaseless acceleration (“Beschleunigung”) rules and cancels all sensible attempts to decelerate things (Ernst Jünger’s brother Friedrich-Georg was the main theorist of “deceleration” or “Entschleunigung”, true ecological thinking being an awkward attempt to bring back the raw element Earth on the world political stage).
The domination of hydropolitics (seapower) leads to border dissolution, as we can clearly observe nowadays, and to a worldwide supremacy of economics and anti-political/anti-telluric/anti-traditional rules of moralistic law (e.g. Wilsonism).
Nevertheless, even as an element now subjected to domination, Earth cannot be simply wiped out, but remains silent as if it is deeply wounded and in hibernation. Hydropolitical forces thus strive by all means possible to definitively destroy the tacitly resisting Earth element and, subsequently, to provoke explosions on the continent, i.e. mobilize Fire as an adjuvant, a Fire they don’t manipulate themselves but leave to mercenary forces hired secretly in countries with an abundance of young jobless men to do the dirty jobs. The apex of sea and air power could be observed after the destruction of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 2003, without the complicity of allies and foreigners (the Paris-Berlin-Moscow Axis). The war against Baathist Iraq didn’t result in a complete victory for the neocon aggressors. Sea powers, as they aren’t earth-bound powers, are reluctant to organize occupied areas like the Roman geometers did. Therefore, to keep the defeated and destroyed countries in a state of total dereliction, hydropolitical powers mobilized the element of Fire, i.e. terrorism (with its strategy of blasting up people and buildings, and its ardent religious fanaticism – “ardent” deriving from the Latin “ardere”, meaning “to burn”). The recurring terrorist attacks against Baghdad’s Shiite market places are the most appalling actions in this return of violent pyropolitics. The same pattern of total destructive violence will be used later in Libya.
When no geometer’s skills are available and when there is no desire to create a new statehood to replace the broken one, we observe a transition to pyropolitics. The Earth-bound Baathist military elite of former Iraq also turned to pyropolitics by partly creating ISIS, which spread in the neighborhood while being at the same time a revolt against the chaos generated by the neocon Bush war and a manipulation of hydro/thalassopolitical secret forces to set undesirable countries ablaze and eventually spread the devouring terrorist/fanatical Fire to the main competitors’ territories (to Europe as a harbor for refugees among whom terrorists hide, and to Russia where Chechen and Dagestani terrorists are directly linked to the Wahhabite networks).
The hydro/thalassopolitical strategy to set whole areas ablaze by stirring up revolts, religious hatred, and tribal enmities is surely not new but has recently taken new more gigantic dimensions.
ISIS’ pyropolitics has as a collateral effect the ridicule of “light-without-warmth” characteristic of the Enlightenment ideologies of the Eurocratic elites. Light alone blinds and doesn’t produce genuine solutions for new problems that were induced by the disguised foe’s hydro and pyro politics. A blinding light-only determined political ideology that is also bereft of any “warmth-giving” feelings of security is obviously bound to fail. European states gradually become failed states because they adhere to “light-only-ideologies”, being only weakly challenged by so-called “warmth-demanding” populist movements. Europe is now undergoing a double aggression from two threats: one from “light-without-warmth” ideological systems – leading to what Ernst Jünger defined as “post-history”, and one of imported pyropolitics from the Muslim world formerly set ablaze by several factors, among which the total destruction of Saddam’s Iraq is the most determining. ISIS’ pyropolitics aims at setting ablaze the Western European countries that are held erroneously responsible for the complete collapse of the Near and Middle East countries. ISIS’ pyropolitics is nevertheless a quite complex problem: the religious element in it rebels savagely against the “light-only” all determining Western and global dominant ideology and promotes a pyropolitical “warmth-based” alternative exactly like a European counterpart that would also aim at replacing the old-fashioned and bleak “light-only” ideological nuisances with more open-hearted and warmer political systems. The neoliberal avatar of the “light-only” ideology should therefore be replaced by a “warmth-giving” solidarism, i.e. socialism that should lose all the “coldness” that was attributed to Soviet or French communism by Kostas Papaïoannou, a critical inner communist voice in the 60’s and 70’s in France.
But there is also a savage, destructive “flame-like” aspect in pyropolitics: the burning fire of explosions and machine-gun rattle (like in Paris and Brussels) and of some public executions by fire in ISIS-occupied Syria, aiming at sparking fear in Europe through the media effect it inevitably had.
The use of such dimensions of pyropolitics is a declaration of war upon the rest of the world, which is set as a worldwide realm of total foes (Dar-el-Harb), which cannot be accepted (as you are inevitably the foe of all those who declare you a foe – Carl Schmitt and Julien Freund used to stress it very clearly in their works).
No one can accept such a radical and fierce rejection without automatically negating themselves and their very right to live. The problem becomes still more acute as the entire system set up by the “light-without-warmth” ideology (Habermas) doesn’t accept the polemical idea of “the enemy”. In the eyes of Habermas’ followers, there is never an enemy; there are only discussion partners. But if the partners refuse to discuss, what happens? Clashes are then inevitable. The dominating elite, as the followers of the poor and childish Habermas’, are left without any response to the challenge. They will have to be replaced. It will be the heavy job of those who have always remembered Schmitt and Freund’s teachings.
originally published on Katehon, now Gepolitika