Nihilism Strikes Back

This self-destructive dimension has nothing to do with the politics of the Middle East. It is even counterproductive as a strategy. Though Isis proclaims its mission to restore the caliphate, its nihilism makes it impossible to reach a political solution, engage in any form of negotiation, or achieve any stable society within recognised borders…

The systematic association with death is one of the keys to understanding today’s radicalisation: the nihilist dimension is central. What seduces and fascinates is the idea of pure revolt. Violence is not a means. It is an end in itself.

-From Who are the new jihadis?

I have already described extensively why nihilism isn’t my cup of tea precisely. However, new nihilist texts that have come out recently (aligned with the eco-extremist tendency) have appeared both on the regular Internet and Dark Net. Unlike most nihilist texts that I don’t care much for, they are violently oriented outward. On merely the basis of tactics, I have no objections to them. On the contrary, I thought an audio file of some of them was needed, so I produced one.

Perhaps nihilism is the algebra of the death-agony of civilization, even if such an agony ends up being a prolonged and torturous affair. Perhaps every ideological coating to this underlying nihilism is ultimately not important. One can manifest nihilism while paying lip service to the umma just as much as one can do it in more blatant and less mystified ways. However, those of us with a more “ecological” and spiritual orientation may feel a bit uneasy at the egoist / nihilist slant of these recent texts.

I don’t think we should, as there is plenty of room for more spiritual inclinations within the Tendency.  However, we should also come to appreciate nihilism as a prophylactic that keeps us honest. I used to think that eco-extremism was a via media between nihilism and primitivism, but I no longer think that this is the case.

Counterfactuals are the midwife of hope: what “could have been” often becomes “what could be” even when the likelihood of escaping an unpleasant situation is almost nil. Dwelling too much on the past can make us identify ourselves too much in the past, and that is the essence of (bad) romanticism. We can mourn the past, we can even worship it, but we cannot know it totally, or even subsume our current self in it. The world as is is the only one we can know, what happened needed to happen, even if that teleological premise is not really justified. It is, however, the only assumption we can make, because things simply cannot be otherwise. The past forms part of what we are now, but it cannot transform us into something else. We are what we are, hyper-civilized, contradictory, and angry. What we could possibly seek in the past is not healing, but courage; not the will to create, but the desire to destroy (animus delendi).

People get uncomfortable when I cite the Christian Bible, so I am going to keep doing it. This time, I go to the Old Testament, and the story of Samson and Delilah. For those who forgot their Sunday school lessons, Samson was a Nazarene promised to God from birth by his mother, and was given superhuman strength by God in exchange for keeping his vows as a Nazarene (specifically, not cutting his hair).  With this strength, he served as a judge over Israel, defending his people from its enemies. Delilah, a Philistine, seduced Samson and got him to tell her the secret of his powers. Delilah then cut Samson’s hair and rendered him defenseless. Samson was then blinded and thrown into the prison of his enemies.

In defeat and disgrace, Samson did not ask Yahweh, the Lord of Hosts mighty in battle, for salvation or to have his strength restored to once again lead his people. He asked merely for a brief moment of strength to slay his enemies and restore a modicum of his glory:

And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.

And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left.

And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.

The spiritual eco-extremist thus knows better than to pray for the salvation of himself / herself or humanity or even loved ones. Like Samson, he knows he is condemned. The one thing he asks of the Unknowable is the strength to avenge himself against his enemies, to smite those who have smote the Earth with their domestication and pride. There is no other prayer that the human animal can offer, no other worthy of being heard.  Whether one believes in spirits or not, the hatred is the same, the means are the same, the end is the same. Nothing is resolved until it can start over, and no human power can reverse what has been done.

The bomb, the bullet, and the blade: the rest is interpretation.


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