Aesthetic Origins: Peter Viereck and the Imaginative Sources of Politics
While it is gaining in academic prominence, discussion of the imagination is too often neglected. Society is dangerously unaware of the intimate relationship between culture and politics, ethics and aesthetics. Challenging this, Jay Patrick Starliper examines the imagination through the lens of the work of Peter Viereck and other likeminded thinkers. The result is a philosophical deconstruction that demonstrates why "books are bullets." In 1941, before Nazi barbarism was public knowledge, a young Peter Viereck published Metapolitics: From Wagner and the German Romantics to Hitler. In it, Viereck attacked the diabolical spiritual foundations of National Socialism. He made the ostensibly absurd claim that a certain shade of romanticism was the ethical foundation of a German revolt against decency. According to Viereck, Nazism was the culmination of over a century and a half of bad culture, the result of an idyllic imagination. Starliper warns that the same diseased imagination that culminated in gas chambers and guillotines is subtly affecting the way millions of people view the world today and that, without the inspiration of an elevated aesthetic, civilization will not survive. In the spirit of Edmund Burke and Irving Babbitt, ViereckÔ s insight into the ethical and political force of aesthetics provides a much needed critique of contemporary civilization.
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2 The Nazi Revolt against Decency
3 Arbitrary Caprice
4 The Crux of Civilization
5 Ahistorical Rationality and Human Nature
6 Will and the Ethical Imperative of Inner Action
7 The Moral Imagination
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abstract aesthetic American American conservatism archetypes aristocracy artist Babbitt beauty Burke cash-nexus Claes G concrete conservatism conservative creative culture decent Democracy and Leadership dream-nexus economic Edmund Burke emotional ethical action ethical standards ethos existence existential experiential Gaylord German German romanticism happiness healthy Hitler human condition human experience human nature ideas important incarnation individual inner check insight inspired intellectual intuitive Irving Babbitt Jahn Kirk lack legitimate liberal liberty living man’s mass mass-man means Metapolitics moral absolutes moral imagination National Review Nazi Nazism neoconservatism Nietzsche one’s overadjusted particular Paul Elmer person Peter Viereck philosophical Plato poetry political positivistic preserve public imagination quality of imagination reality reason restraint Revolution romantic rootless roots Russell Kirk sense society society’s soul spiritual stereotypes symbols tion tradition truth unadjusted understanding universal values viable Viereck affirms Viereck avers Viereck believed Viereck refers Voegelin volitional Volk Wagner Wagnerian