Nihilism: A philosophy based on nothingness and eternity, Brett Stevens’ new book, opens the door to the author’s mind by giving us a picture of childhood in suburban America in a well-to-do, middle-class family. This is the typical family that would be considered privileged and fortunate by all standards of modern society. Despite this, signs of internal turmoil, dissatisfaction and desperation are evident all over the place under the thin veneer of smiles and good intentions.
Brett Stevens attempts, in Nihilism, to go to the root of causes from the human vantage point through a meta-philosophical1 exploration of the factors. Through the author’s tutelage, it becomes obvious that good intentions mean nothing when negative results come about, and that the universal occurrence of perfectly shaped smiles usually betrays emptiness and a lack of clear goals. In this book, we find a rejection of all political and ideological systems in exchange for a return to a search for the wisdom and discernment of the ancients.
Underlying this is the idea that essence and holistic results are more important than temporal form and localised effects, the first of which is but a vehicle while the second has little actual consequence on its own.
§ The situation
One of the greatest paradoxes of the society in which we live in is its supposed avowal of diversity in both thought and way of living. In truth, what we find is far removed from freedom and is rather a passively enforced and very effective system whereby the average citizen is lead to act as a government informant and an agent of one central liberal and “progressive” pseudo culture2. It leads to authentically different ideas (rather than those that appear as new but are little more of the same in a different presentation) being shun outright once they are detected as non-compliant with the central system’s requirements.
It is assumed that because, in contrast to traditional cultures, modern civilization accepts variations in sexual tendencies, race mixing and entertainment, it is somehow more accepting and open-minded. In truth, it is as close-minded as traditional cultures, while the only difference is what it allows and what it does not. What is also overlooked is that we are, in fact, imposing a different order over those who are traditionally minded. How are we to differentiate among them? Isn’t modern civilization, because better informed as a result of technological and scientific advancement, in a better position to judge the way things should be done?
§ A proposition
Brett Stevens advocates nihilism as a gateway to realism and idealism which, hand in hand and dealt with higher intellect, take the mentality of the individual towards transcendentalism. In a summarised manner, it is an extreme acknowledgement of what is without trying to impose human illusion over the tangible and measurable universe, only to then head towards the highest ideals that we can think of in an ever-ascending path. The beneficent effect of this outlook is twofold: first, it bypasses any impulse towards compromise and mediocrity, and second, it forces us to consider the permanent first of all, and the temporal in view of it.
Furthermore, to achieve such a vision, humans are required to put aside their egos, and so any illusions of socially-imposed egalitarianism in favour of a holistic vision of what is good as per ultimate consequences. Unfortunately, some divide this into two black-and-white categories in the common means versus ends dilemma, which is only so for those afflicted with narrow minds and short sightedness. Each question should be evaluated in its own context, not dealt with in prescribed absolutes such as “this is bad/good”, and rather as “what will the effect of this course of action be in this condition?”.
Realistic values, then, are created through the consensus that follows addressing each situation with respect to visionary criteria that does not sacrifice the whole to avoid having to take a hard decision. Values also vary between kinds of people and markedly so between people from different cultures and races. True freedom comes not from an inclusive government that forces its own overarching values over distinct groups that must accommodate to it, but from independent groups that are free to choose their own values within their own terms of existence.
Modern, democratic-liberal imposition is tyranny for those who do not agree with it. The typical, childish response by college-like types accustomed to having their ideas protected so long as they pander to the majority (seeing as democracy is a popularity contest, not a reaching towards actual solutions), is that anyone who does not agree is free to go live far off on a mountain. Even if we were willing to do so and were successful in building outlying posts of a new/different culture, we know that if these became influential and highly successful there are no out-of-bounds regions for modern, globalised governments.
The peace-loving modern West would only consider such communities as breeding centres for outlaws and/or extremists deserving to be imprisoned, tortured and “re-educated”. Just ask any country in the last 120 years that has been successful in escaping the clutches of international banking and corporatism: they have all been summarily “brought to justice for their crimes against humanity” sooner or later. Thus, change will have to be slow and encouraged from within to survive the collapse of the diseased body of a civilisation that has been crumbling for millennia (technological advancements notwithstanding).
§ For those who seek, not for those who wait
These propositions, however, are not aimed at trying to convince anyone by way of sentimental appeals, but rather a presentation of logical and common sense statements that can be taken by someone willing to go through them rationally and make up his or her own mind. The implication that many of subpar intelligence, lacking mental honesty or irreparable egotism will almost surely reject the ideas in this book from the very start without understanding them is a tacit given. This does not mean that there is an attitude of requesting complete compliance, but that the contents require an honesty and wilful consideration that escapes the vast majority of people in a capricious and self-deceiving world afflicted by globalised modernity.
1 Meta-philosophical in the sense that it is not an attempt at creating a full philosophical system, but to use philosophical references to indicate the contours and boundaries of a precise idea that is to serve as starting point for later stages.
2 The compendium of modern secular “values” which reflect centuries of Judeo-Christian indoctrination could be called a pseudo culture instead of an authentic one by virtue of the fact that they are super-imposed on people rather than born naturally from an organic consensus arising through generations of individuals interacting with those within their actual community.