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Extra info for Days of War, Nights of Love: Crimethink For Beginners
Some forty years after Berlin’s essay was published, an expert on Maistre, Richard Lebrun, responded. ” In these assessments, Lebrun is right: Berlin does overemphasize the irrationalism of Maistre in order, I think, to better conform Maistre’s thought to the prevalent depiction of fascism during the mid-twentieth century as a predominantly backward-looking, irrationalist movement rather than as a futurist movement deeply imbued with the spirit of industrialism. But, paradoxically, Lebrun’s point actually conﬁrms the deeper insight that Berlin had into the connections between Maistrean thought and twentiethcentury totalitarianism.
War was the means through which this new social order would come about. Thus Sorel was predisposed to embrace whatever new movement came along that might represent such sweeping social changes—and thus he was destined to be per- georges sorel and charles maurras 41 petually disappointed by reality. A hater of self-deceiving intellectuals, he was himself the most self-deceived intellectual of all. We see in his disdain for parliamentary democracy and political parties, in his longing for a uniﬁed state informed by a juridical “sentiment” that enforced morality, in his encouragement for and defense of violence, in his belief that only war was sufﬁcient to bring about profound social revolution, in his belief in a society that encouraged “heroism,” and, most of all, in his desire for a new, totalized or “integral” uniﬁed and moralistic society, not only the traces of Maistre and Donoso before him but also a conduit directly through him to German Nazism (in particular to the Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt) and to the Soviet state.
My point here is not that the Catholic Inquisition is to blame for modern totalitarianism. It is, rather, that what we see emerging in the various Inquisitions is a phenomenon with particular characteristics that recurs again in the twentieth century. I believe that it is vitally important for us to understand as fully as possible the nature of this phenomenon, to throw light on how it recurs in the twentieth century, even in the works of authors who would seem disconnected from one another and even to be opponents of one another.