An Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci, was the first to understand that the state is not confined to a political apparatus. In fact he established that the political apparatus runs parallel to the so-called civil apparatus. In other words, each political apparatus is reinforced by a civil consensus, the psychological support of the masses.
This psychological support expresses itself through a consensus on the level of culture, world-view, and ethos. In order to exists at all, political power is thus dependent on a cultural power diffused within the masses. On the basis of this analysis Gramsci understood why Marxists could not take over power in bourgeois democracies: they did not have cultural power.
To be precise, it is impossible to overthrow a political apparatus without previously having gained control of cultural power. The assent of the people must be won first: their ideas, ethos, ways of thinking, the value-system, art, education have to be worked on and modified. Only when people feel the need for change as a self-evident necessity will the existing political power, now detached from the general consensus, start crumbling and be overthrown.
Metapolitics can be seen as the revolutionary war fought out on the level of world-views, ways of thinking, and culture.
It is precisely the metapolitical level which is our starting point. We want to take over the laboratories of thinking. Hence our task is to oppose the egalitarian ethos and egalitarian socio-economic thinking with a world-view based on differentiation: this means an ethic and a socio-economic theory which respects the right to be different. We want to create the system of values and attitudes necessary for gaining control of cultural power.
Our strategy is dictated neither by the immediate contingencies of reality nor the superficial upheavals of political life. We are not interested in political factions but in attitudes to life. Commentators will carry on writing irrelevant articles categorizing us under ‘New Right’ but also under ‘left-wing’. Such terms are pathetic and leave us cold, for neither the right nor the left are our concern. It is only basic attitudes to life which people have that interest us. And all those who are aware of the American as well as of the Soviet danger, who realize the absolute necessity of the cultural rebirth of Europe as the harbinger of its political wakening, who feel rooted in a people and a destiny, are our friends and allies, irrespective of their political and ideological views. What motivates us and what we are striving for does cannot be accommodated within the activities of a political party, but – and we insist on this point – solely within the framework of a metapolitical, exclusively cultural project. A programme which sets out once again to make us conscious of our identity through awakening the memory of our future, as it were. In this way we aim to prepare the ground for what is to come.
We have defined our programme as the total rebirth of Europe. We have also established the strategy for realizing this project: metapolitics and cultural war. We still have to consider the basis and material framework within which this programme can be carried out: the Thule Seminar, a New School of European culture.
The tragedy of the contemporary world is the tragedy of disloyalty: the uprooting of every culture, estrangement from our true natures, the atomization of man, the levelling of values, the uniformity of life. A critical and exhaustive engagement with modern knowledge – from philosophy to ethology, from anthropology to sociology, from the natural sciences to history and educational theory—if carried out with the appropriate intellectual rigour and sound empirical methodology, can only contribute to throwing light on the general confusion of the world. It is with such fundamental considerations that the Thule-Seminar is concerned. Open to the intellectual and spiritual life of our age, yet critical of all ideological dogmas, its research is based on a sense of commitment to western culture. The Thule-Seminar is concerned with clarifying the basic questions at the heart of the movement of ideas, with redefining the key cultural concepts and the discovery of new alternatives to the core problems of the age. The Thule-Seminar proclaims a European Europe which must become aware of its identity and its destiny.
Source: Die Europäische Wiedergeburt [The European rebirth] (Grabert, Tübingen, 1982) 82-6, 89.
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(May 22, 1813–February 13, 1883)
Greg Johnson Interviewed by Breizh-Info