Disclaimer: Nothing within this page or on this site overall is the product of Panagiotis Kondylis's thought and work unless it is a faithful translation of something Kondylis wrote. Any conclusions drawn from something not written by Panagiotis Kondylis (in the form of an accurate translation) cannot constitute the basis for any valid judgement or appreciation of Kondylis and his work. 





"Every position comes into being as a counterposition".

"The life of humans is given meaning only by their acts".

"Whatever benefits the self-serving is propagandised by the naive".

"There is no final solution and there is no happiness that is not in danger".

"Postmodern mash is easily digested but it does not constitute nutritious food".

"Only intellectuals contend that intellectuals understand the world better than others".

"The only thing that a world state could guarantee is the conversion of all wars into civil wars".

"Pluralism is the ideology of satiated felicity – the hungry do not respect the values of the satiated".

"In relation to the distribution of goods one is less generous than in relation to the exchange of information".
  
"Whoever contends that History has ended might as well be certain that History awaits him around the next corner".

"A claim to absolute dominance however consists precisely in demanding from one's foe that he shares our self-understanding".

"Most people consider it roughly unnatural for other opposing viewpoints to prevail. I, on the contrary, am surprised when someone agrees with me".

"Because the first thing that a theory, which wants to be scientific, must offer, is an explanation exactly of those phenomena which prima facie contradict it".


"The proclamation of human rights today is connected with - and in the future it will be connected even more closely - with the once explicit desire that one's dear fellow man should sit in his own country and enjoy his human dignity over there".


“[the philosophers'] position is in part tragic and in part comical because they themselves cannot transubstantiate… power into their own social domination and, correspondingly, they dream that rulers will one day philosophise rather than philosophers prevail”.


"Speaking in jest, I confess to friends that, since reading pleases me so much, I should have never made writing my profession, and Ι recollect with envy Lord Henry in "The Portrait of Dorian Gray", who said that he likes reading so much that it does not give him any motive to write books himself".


"Something which for someone is the future of humanity, can for someone else be the neighbourhood bakerwoman; and whilst someone who at the level of values promotes humanity and its felicitous future but in reality lives for his bank account, someone else can commit murder or suicide on account of the neighbourhood bakerwoman".  


"Humans will be called "humans", precisely like lions are called lions and mice - mice, without any other ethnic, national or ideological differentiation. It might appear to be a paradox, but it is true that a human separated himself from all the other animal species precisely because he was not only a human without any other predicate".



“ultimate, not further reducible, reality consists of existences, individuals or groups, which struggle for their self-preservation and, together with that of necessity also for the extension of their power, that is why they meet as friends or foes and change friends or foes according to the needs of the striving after self-preservation and striving after [the extension of their] power”.



"If the same Western Powers, which in 1919 dismissed Japan's request and did not want to enshrine the equality of races in the Treaty of Versailles, in 1996 try hard to achieve understanding of foreign cultures, this does not necessarily mean that progress in understanding has occurred. However, it does indicate a dramatic shift in the (world) balance of power".



"The de-ideologisation and the merging of politics with the economy, in the final analysis, mean that in the future conflicts will be conducted for tangible material goods, without notable ideological mediations. Thus, to be precise, we should characterise the end of ideologies as a partial return to the animal kingdom. Whether it is attractive and desirable for the farewelling of Utopia to reach up to there will remain a matter of taste".


"Just as the philosopher [Kant] believed, it is exactly the "mixing" and "merging" of peoples which puts peace in danger. But even if the democratic peoples remained separate like good neighbours, as Kant preferred, again they would not be lacking in war-mongering arguments in the event they are needed. Nobody will deny the principle that "democracies do not wage war against each other" - only that he will add that the opponent is not a "genuine democrat"".


"... think historically, the answers to historical problems are not found in constructed theory, but on the contrary, the answers to theoretical problems are found in history. Those who choose theory over history do it not because they move in higher spheres, as they themselves often think, but out of intellectual(-spiritual) indolence; because any theory whatsoever is infinitely more simple than any historical situation whatsoever".



"just as conservatives have never satisfactorily been able to explain how revolutionaries were capable of unhinging (or turning upside down) an entire “natural” or even “divine” order, and consequently prove themselves to be stronger than this entire “natural” or “divine” order, so too the revolutionary natural law advocates have hitherto not given a convincing answer to the question as to how nature’s commands could be infringed so persistently by suppression, violence or alienation".



"In order to avoid hysteria in the face of full and irrevocable death, the hysteria of eschatology was legitimised world-theoretically. Whoever learns to live without express and tacit eschatologies and without ethicisms as these eschatologies' subsitutes, should also learn to die, totally and irrevocably, with serenity and cheerfulness (of the soul). If one can be taught this supreme lesson somewhere, it is from classical antiquity, which ignored the straight line with the auspicious endpoint in order to fix itself on the observing and the living of the eternal cycle".

"...however a substantial contribution to the knowledge of human affairs requires a total existential commitment, the vigilant observation of concrete situations of living people, and an unstoppable distillation of observations with relentless reflection, which does not retreat before any bias and does not fear clashing with anyone and anything. One could call this stance an ethic (it is certainly a form of internal asceticism), however it does not have any relation with ethics as a norm of social behaviour; on the contrary, it can conflict head on with such a norm".


"The actual events in history are acted out, nonetheless, beyond the polemical slogans, even though the preachers and users of these slogans believe in a necessary relation between themselves and the historical becoming. On the other hand however, this [historical] becoming is promoted exactly by those forces (power or energies) which set the polemical slogans free. In this respect, a condition of effective historical action consists in that one does not know what one is doing - and also, that one theoreticises this ignorance of his with all argumentative arts (or skills)".


"Of course, the garrulous and lachrymose pseudo-humanism that characterises public discourse in the West does not mean any tangible disposition for drastic world-wide redistribution of material prosperity. On the other hand, the extremely dangerous paradox of the planetary situation means that even “just” solutions such as self-denial without historical precedent would not offer a long-term way out. If the wealth e.g. of 800 million is divided amongst six billion, everyone will simply become a brother in poverty – conversely: if a Chinese, Indian and African were to consume per capita as much raw material and as much energy as a North American, that could entail ecological collapse".



".... Also on this point, of course, there is no gain in knowledge, but a rectilinear return to the thoughts world (or ideological universe) of early liberalism. Because the world-historical perspective of a permanent replacement of war with trade was founded already in the 18th century through the assumption that only calculus (i.e. calculation) directed by interests, whose prototype lies in economic activity, by virtue of this assumption, disciplines the “passions”, which exactly leave (or have nothing to do with) the concept of (self-)interest, and consequently rationalises (i.e. organises or systematises) social behaviour in its entirety. We know what has happened since the 18th century".


"If value-freedom could be described at all as a value, then this would only be possible in the methodological (not ethical) sense, and only with regard to the activity of science – of course if, and in so far, it can be empirically proven that value-free science is cognitively the most fertile....whereas, however, psychological and moral stances are connected of necessity with certain content, which turns against other content (e.g. tolerance against intolerance), value freedom constitutes a method which must be free of a certain psychological content, exactly because it makes the claim of understanding all psychological and all moral contents and alternatively of being able to adopt (or appropriate) those contents. On the basis of the principle of value freedom, it cannot be decided whether scepticism and tolerance are preferable to blind and intolerant belief".  


"There are no ideas. There are only human existences in concrete situations, which act and react in their specific way on each and every respective occasion; one of these specific ways consists, in accordance with standard terminology, in thinking up or appropriating ideas. Ideas do not come into contact with one another, but only human existences come into contact with one another, which inside of organised societies must act in the name of ideas; combinations of ideas are likewise the work of human existences, which, when they apply themselves to this work, start from their own relationship with other existences; and, finally, ideas are not defeated nor do they win, but their victory or their defeat stands symbolically for the predominance or the subjugation of certain human existences. As one can see, the centuries-long predominance of idealistic normativism (and every normativism contains essential idealistic elements, even when for polemical reasons it  comes on the scene while flying the flag of materialism), forces us towards the rediscovery and renewed emphasising of banal truths - of truths, which in a very general form could possibly today be recognised by very many people, but whose logical consequences must meet with the resistance of every normativistic thought, that is, every objectivised decision".


"In other words: the complexity of the social makes the unintended and unexpected overall consequences of collective action more likely; the said complexity of the social intensifies the effect of the heterogony of ends. This effect was traditionally considered from the point of view of the invisible hand, whereby (even) individual irrationalisms bring about, through their interweaving, a rational collective outcome. The reverse of that, however, can likewise happen, i.e. the sum of the partial rationalities can bring forth an irrational overall result. The “knowledgeable society” can only be constantly reproduced when the subjective expectations on the whole are satisfied, not only as to the mode of behaviour of each and every respective partner in interaction, but also as to the “system’s” overall performance. If there is a situation in which indeed mutual expectations are fulfilled, but the expected overall result of collective action fails to materialise, this means for a highly complex society, the state of affairs of absolute bafflement (or helplessness). Because the Archimedean point at which one could be in a position to reverse the trend is buried sometime (or other) somewhere (or other) in the thicket of complexity. Either, that is, highly complex society must forever secure for itself the material and other preconditions of its reproduction, or it must end in a historically unprecedented catastrophe".


"The proposition that man’s nature is culture, actually means that man, under the pressure of (his) nature, had to become a being of culture, and that the voice of (his) nature is therefore to continue to be heard in all its tones and nuances in culture; man is just as little free to selectively treat (or deal with) culture as he was in primeval times free to stand still in a nature before culture, or as he is nowadays free to undo culture. The culture of man is therefore just as much nature as his nature is culture. And this fact must, social-ontologically, be meant (or thought of) together with the fact of society, which is equally old and original as man and culture, actually, the fact of society illustrates nothing other than the inseparability of man and culture. Man and culture are mediated via the social relation and via the political (i.e. that which is between man and culture is mediated via the social relation and via the political; thereby, man develops as a being of culture and puts himself in a position to not only historicise his own, but also external nature. The becoming (or series of events) in external nature indeed does not change in its law bindedness (determinism or law-based necessity), but the becoming in external nature’s effects (or consequences) with regard to the human collective depend henceforth on the culture of this same human collective. Still further: the structure of social cohesion and of social conditions (or circumstances) is not least of all determined by each and every respective outcome of the struggle of the human genus (i.e. race) against external nature. This great truth, which we owe to Marx, has never been so topical as today, when the (at least potential) overcoming of the age-old shortage of goods by means of rapid technical (i.e. technological) progress set in motion historically unprecedented changes (or transformations) of a planetary extent. However, precisely these changes (and transformations) allow us, on the other hand, to recognise with increasing clarity the embedding of culture in nature".



"One would supposedly not go wrong with the assumption that the factor “communication” (in the broader sense) would then gain the upper hand in the social perception vis-à-vis the factor “action” (in the narrower sense) if industry and agriculture were so productive that they only had to make use of the labour of a minority of the population, while the majority would carry out its labour (work) mainly via the exchange of signs and symbols (to say nothing of the increasing penetration of the production process itself by the communicative-informative factor). “Communication” becomes autonomous, in other words, ideationally vis-à-vis “acting (i.e. action)” in the same sense and to the same degree as fewer and fewer people produce what they consume, and as a result the production of goods for the most part is covered up or is even absorbed by symbolic exchange (exchange of information and money, but also of services, which can be perceived as symbolic interaction). Consequently the impression comes into being that production or acting (i.e. action) mean very little and exchange or communication very much. However, it is here a matter of an optical illusion. Because the surplus of communication or exchange is reduced to a completely particular constitution (composition or texture) of action or of production, and under given circumstances the said surplus of communication or exchange must be produced so that action or production can be developed: e.g. without mass consumption, there is no mass production. As the exchange network of modern technicised societies would have to become much more wide-meshed should the production of goods suffer serious setbacks, so too the hard core of acting (i.e. action) – if one may say so – would put its narrower communicative aspect in the shade, if communication ground to a halt. That should mean that the communication process (or communicative event) as a whole unfolds against the background and under the influence of that hard core, just as without the near or far presence of tangible goods, exchange values eventually become fictive and uninteresting. Communication theoreticians of an ethical-normative or cybernetic mould, however, place no particular value on such considerations. They internalise mass democracy’s criteria of perception and at the same time contribute their own criteria of perception for the theoretical underpinning of mass democracy’s notions of harmony, while they reduce the real conflicts of action to obstacles to communication".





"This becomes more understandable in light of our ascertainment that every normification (i.e. normative standardisation) has its two sides, i.e. its constraints, and, its free space(s) [for individual action] or room to move. The image of “civilised” and rational-objective man above all “primitivisms”, who in accordance with the view of the evolutionists of differentiation is supposed to formulate and carry out the normifications of highly complex “knowledgeable society”, formally (i.e. in terms of form) corresponds with the ideal type of highly technicised (i.e. technologically advanced or hyperdeveloped) and highly rationalised (i.e. highly organised or systematised) processes in industry and administration. Such processes however make up only one side of social life in Western mass democracy. The other side, that of mass consumption, is connected with psychological and ethically very different stances and modes of behaviour – although, both aforementioned sides are equally indispensable for mass democracy’s continued existence, and they must compete and co-exist simultaneously with each other inside of society as well as inside of the individual psyche. If industrial mass production and administration require the activation of an impersonal instrumental rationality, then mass consumption favours, on the contrary, the individualistic-hedonistic ethic(s) of immediate (or direct) pleasure (or enjoyment) and generally of “self-realisation”. On the basis of the mass consumption of material and intellectual(-spiritual) goods, and against the background of world-theoretical and ethical pantheism, all sorts of irrationalisms, which spellbind all the more people, the more increased productivity decreases the number of those directly participating in technical-rational processes, come into being and thrive. The asymmetry between the “rationality” of technology (technique) and production, and ideological-world-theoretical “irrationality”, does not of course constitute a specific feature (or characteristic) of mass-producing and mass-consuming mass democracy, even if the said mass democracy has been connected here with absolutely contrary content(s): whereas in societies in which the shortage of goods held sway, the “irrational” as a rule legitimised ascetic virtues and social hierarchies, the “irrational” in a society, which for the first time in history has basically overcome the shortage of goods, promotes hedonistic and individualistic or egalitarian notions and stances. Nevertheless, from the point of view of our formulation of the question (i.e. examination of the problem), not this specific contrast, but the structural commonality is more important. Pre-modern societies also handled technology (technique) and production on the basis of the instrumental rationality of means and end(s) (the procession (or litany) and the prayer for rain did not mean that one had not otherwise done all that appeared expedient for a good yield (or harvest) through the application of existing empirical findings). But instrumental rationality at this level did not in the least constitute the method of thought which shaped the general world theory (i.e. world view). There are no grounds for the assumption that this will now be fundamentally different. Against the background of the same industry and technology (technique), a number of “rationalisms” and “irrationalisms” are today, as in the past, possible; and the social-ontological or anthropological framework is expected, as a result of new technical (and or technological) developments, to change just as little as through the invention of typography and of ballistics at the threshold of the New Times".



"The seemingly disarming thesis that the politicisation of a complex modern society would destroy this society, basically constitutes a banality, which applies to all societies and with regard to every subsystem (or part system). No society could centre on a single activity, entirely regardless of each and every respective historically determined degree of interweaving of individual social activities with one another. The dogged effort at centring social life on aesthetic, religious, scientific or economic activity would not have a less devastating effect than the consistent claim of a monopoly of politics. The specific political point of view concerns the manner (or method) of the subsystems’ (or part systems’) coherence, not necessarily the manner (or method) as to how inside of each and every resepective subsystem (or part system) the corresponding social activity is carried out. So-called “totalitarian” attempts, of religious or other inspiration, at comprehensively subjugating the various social activities to one sole point of view, can indeed lead to the reinforced (intensified or increased) control of man, but not to the abolition of the specific character of the corresponding activities. Even a deeply religious society must cultivate its fields, and it cannot replace tillage (or agriculture) with worship and prayer, even if prayers and ritual acts would constantly accompany agro-economic activity as such. The same applies to the other social activities, to say nothing of the personal activities, and that is why no “totalitarianism” and no “despotism” can be as comprehensive as they perhaps wanted to be in respect of their claim, or as they often appear to be in demonising descriptions. Over and above that, it is a purely fictive notion to thus interpret the evolutionistic schema of differentiation as though in the “pre-modern” past the lack of differentiation of the subsystems (or part systems) enabled a primacy of the political which is no longer applicable. In the hitherto described basic constellation, hardly anything has changed through the centuries despite the (great) variety of institutional forms. An “oriental despotism (i.e. despotic regime)” could and wanted to influence the production method (mode or manner of production), or the patriarchal institutions of the village community living under it, only within narrow limits, whereas the theoretical precedence of “politics”, understood in Aristotelian terms, in the European Middle Ages did not at all exclude feudal fragmentation and local autonomy; phenomena of a refeudalisation on a highly technicised (i.e. high-technology) basis in modern mass democracies have just as little to do with a drastic change (or transformation) in the status and in the function of politics, but they interrelate with economic and social developments, which pose the question of the cohesion of society on a new basis. However, this question remains, and with it politics remains too, particularly if no-one can know whether the material preconditions of the modern processes of differentiation will survive (endure, persist or remain) in the future or not".



"Now, the self-understanding of a social formation appears as objective self-knowledge and knowledge of history only so long as the social formation in question is on the up and up and clears its adversaries out of the way. That is today the case with mass democracy. However, precisely at its planetary high point, its own contradictions, in fact its explosive potentialities, which were intimated at the beginning of this chapter, become increasingly apparent. Social-theoretically, mass democracy’s contradictions and explosive potentialities are of importance because they make known in themselves the topicality of the classical question formulations. The increasing complexity in terms of detail brings about a reduction of the great aporias (i.e. doubts, contradictions or paradoxes) to formulae of almost archaic simplicity. After the decline of bourgeois anthropocentrism, and under the conditions of planetarily unfolded (or developed) highly technicised (i.e. technologically advanced) mass democracy, the question regarding man’s essence (or nature) and possibilities is posed even more directly and more acutely than at the threshold of the European New Times. On the one hand, the image of man is unified like never before by means of the henceforth dense (or compact) existing side by side, or existing inside of one another, cultures, nations and races, while at the same time the waning significance of historical and social attributes for the determination of human identity, as a result of the spreading of universalistic ideologies, paradoxically but logically reduces man to his constitution (composition, texture or nature) as biological being; on the other hand, this man reduced to his mere humanness (or human quality), that is, man in general and as such, stands across from nature, he must in a time of highly demographic and ecological tension measure his powers against nature’s powers. The question about the animal, which creates tools on a planet populated by billions which has already become narrow (i.e. cramped), is posed no less acutely and no less elementarily than before a few millions of years ago in the African savannas when hordes of animals [or (proto)humans] wandered around. And likewise the other great social-ontological question must appear on the horizon as acute and elementary, that great social-ontological question regarding social cohesion and social order, if namely the relations between humans reach such a density and intensity that the boundaries of every known political unit (unity or entity) from the past will become full of holes or even burst open".


 

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