René-Jean-Marie-Joseph Guénon (1886-1951) is now a long dead and mostly forgotten French intellectual and one of the most eloquent and intelligent minds that contributed towards the development of Traditionalism and Fascism.
I have taken the liberty of collecting a number of his quotes which I feel remain the most useful in the current political, social and spiritual climates.
On the failures of Democracy:
“This now leads us to elucidate more precisely the error of the idea that the majority should make the law, because, even though this idea must remain theoretical – since it does not correspond to an effective reality – it is necessary to explain how it has taken root in the modern outlook, to which of its tendencies it corresponds, and which of them – at least in appearance – it satisfies. Its most obvious flaw is the one we have just mentioned: the opinion of the majority cannot be anything but an expression of incompetence, whether this be due to lack of intelligence or to ignorance pure and simple; certain observations of ‘mass psychology’ might be quoted here, in particular the widely known fact that the aggregate of mental reactions aroused among the component individuals of a crowd crystallizes into a sort of general psychosis whose level is not merely not that of the average, but actually that of the lowest elements present.”
On the futility of tolerance:
“We cannot help noticing that, like all propagandists, the apostles of tolerance, truth to tell, are very often the most intolerant of men. This is what has in fact happened, and it is strangely ironic : those who wished to overthrow all dogma have created for their own use, we will not say a new dogma, but a caricature of dogma, which they have succeeded in imposing on the western world in general; in this way there have been established, under the pretext of “freedom of thought,” the most chimerical beliefs that have ever been seen at any time, under the form of these different idols, of which we have just singled out some of the more important.”
On “One race, the human race”:
“So long as western people imagine that there only exists a single type of humanity, that there is only one ‘civilization’, at different stages of development, no mutual understanding will be possible.”
On progress, modernism and technology:
“The men of today boast of the ever growing extent of the modifications they impose on the world, and the consequence is that everything is thereby made more and more ‘artificial’…”
On Capitalism and Consumer Culture:
“The quantitative degeneration of all things is closely linked to that of money, as is shown by the fact that nowadays the ‘worth’ of an object is ordinarily ‘estimated’ only in terms of its price, considered simply as a ‘figure’, a ‘sum’, or a numerical quantity of money; in fact, with most of our contemporaries, every judgment brought to bear on an object is nearly always based exclusively on what it costs. The word ‘estimate’ has been emphasized because it has in itself a double meaning, qualitative and quantitative; today the first meaning has been lost to sight, or what amounts to the same thing, means have been found to equate it to the second, and thus it comes about that not only is the ‘worth’ of an object ‘estimated’ according to its price, but the ‘worth’ of a man is ‘estimated’ according to his wealth.”