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Homo Mythicus: Volume II of The Nihilist Order

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Brighton 2009 Cloth/Laminated Boards First Edition New in No d/j as Published jacket 8vo-over 7?"-9?" tall. In the turbulent period between 1870 and 1930, the contours on ... modernity were taking shape, especially the connections between technology, politics and aesthetics. The trilogy "The Nihilist Order" traces the genealogy of the nihilist-totalitarian syndrome. Georges Sorel (1847-1922) was the first political philosopher to develop a systematic theory of political myth, one that had profound impact on radical leaders and totalitarian movements of the twentieth century. While he was a highly respected early political sociologist, his writings transcended disciplinary boundaries in their creation of a modern political mythology. Believing that ideology was too abstract, general and ineffective to be instrumental in the political mobilisation of the masses, he formulated the myth of the general strike. According to his theory of social psychology, people are socialised not by means of ideology, but through a Read more Show Less

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Overview

In the turbulent period between 1870 and 1930, the contours on modernity were taking shape, especially the connections between technology, politics and aesthetics. The trilogy The Nihilist Order traces the genealogy of the nihilist-totalitarian syndrome. Georges Sorel (1847–1922) was the first political philosopher to develop a systematic theory of political myth, one that had profound impact on radical leaders and totalitarian movements of the twentieth century. While he was a highly respected early political sociologist, his writings transcended disciplinary boundaries in their creation of a modern political mythology. Believing that ideology was too abstract, general and ineffective to be instrumental in the political mobilization of the masses, he formulated the myth of the general strike. According to his theory of social psychology, people are socialized not by means of ideology, but through a common experience of action. This idea was adopted to great effect in the following years by revolutionary syndicalism, fascism and bolshevism. … Sorel’s problem was one that is well understood by the social thinkers of today: that of revitalizing a political arena and a social structure which he felt to be dominated by an inauthentic, degenerate search for a tranquil bourgeois existence. The myth of violence, he believed, would reinvigorate the militancy of both socialism and nationalism and spur these on to a new and dynamic course of action. Sorelian myth should be understood in a new way, not as a means to some ideological purpose, but to a mobilization of heroic action, seen as an end in itself.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A provocative and illuminating thesis on Totalitarianism.”  —Isaiah Berlin

“Ohana has convincingly shown that a complex cultural, ideological and psychological syndrome, linking nihilism to totalitarianism, represented a significant factor in the ‘gathering storm’ which marked the early twentieth century.”  —Saul Friedländer, author, The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939–1945

“A major contribution to the understanding of the ‘condition humain’.”  —Yehoshua Arieli, author, Individualism and Nationalism in American Ideology

“A turning point in the research of European modernity.”  —Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“Ohana begins by exploring the political and mythical theory of Georges Sorel (1847–1922) as a pioneering theoretician of myth who shaped the radical path of political and syndicalist currents in France and Europe. He also attributes to him the theoretical framework, historical analogies, and intellectual support for radical activists and political leaders who sought to move from ideology to myth by stressing belligerent form rather than ideological content, preaching liberating violence, and creating a fighting order. In the second part, he introduces critical theoreticians who recognized the centrality of myth but did not share Sorel’s political conclusions, among them Bloch, Cassirer, Sartre, Arendt, and McLuhan.”  —Reference & Research Book News

From the Publisher

“A provocative and illuminating thesis on Totalitarianism.” —Isaiah Berlin

“Ohana has convincingly shown that a complex cultural, ideological and psychological syndrome, linking nihilism to totalitarianism, represented a significant factor in the ‘gathering storm’ which marked the early twentieth century.” —Saul Friedländer, author, The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939–1945

“A major contribution to the understanding of the ‘condition humain’.” —Yehoshua Arieli, author, Individualism and Nationalism in American Ideology

“A turning point in the research of European modernity.” —Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

“Ohana begins by exploring the political and mythical theory of Georges Sorel (1847–1922) as a pioneering theoretician of myth who shaped the radical path of political and syndicalist currents in France and Europe. He also attributes to him the theoretical framework, historical analogies, and intellectual support for radical activists and political leaders who sought to move from ideology to myth by stressing belligerent form rather than ideological content, preaching liberating violence, and creating a fighting order. In the second part, he introduces critical theoreticians who recognized the centrality of myth but did not share Sorel’s political conclusions, among them Bloch, Cassirer, Sartre, Arendt, and McLuhan.” —Reference & Research Book News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781845192907
  • Publisher: Sussex Academic Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2009
  • Series: The Nihilist Order Series , #2
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

David Ohana teaches European history at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. He was a visiting fellow at the Centre for European Studies at Harvard University and the first academic director of the Forum for Mediterranean Cultures at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. His books include: A Humanist in the Sun: Camus and the Mediterranean Inspiration (2000), The Promethean Passion (2000), and The Anger of the Intellectuals (2003).

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Table of Contents

Preface vi

Part 1 Georges Sorel and the Rise of Political Myth

Chapter 1 The Role of Myth in History 3

Chapter 2 The Origins of Sorelian Thought 11

Chapter 3 The Birth of Civilization out of Myth 20

Chapter 4 The Illusions of Harmony 32

Chapter 5 Marxism in Nietzschean Dress 41

Chapter 6 Violence and Force, Myth and Utopia 58

Chapter 7 The Dreyfus Revolution 71

Chapter 8 The Sorelian Order 82

Part 2 Mythology Reconstructed

Chapter 9 Walter Benjamin, Ernst Bloch and the Fascist Myth 95

Chapter 10 Ernst Cassirer and the Rise of "Myth-Leader" 106

Chapter 11 Camus, Sartre, Arendt and the Myth of Violence 116

Chapter 12 Marshall McLuhan, Technology and Myth 134

Chapter 13 The "Anti-Intellectual" Intellectuals as Political Mvthmakers 141

Notes 151

Bibliography 172

Index 184

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