This transcript appears in the January 8, 2021 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
The Necessity and Pathway of
A New Classical Renaissance
The following is an edited transcript of the opening remarks delivered by Jacques Cheminade on December 13 during Panel 4, “A Human Future for Youth: A Beethoven-Driven Renaissance of Classical Culture,” of the Schiller Institute conference, “The World After the U.S. Election: Creating a World Based on Reason.” Mr. Cheminade is the founder and President of the Solidarité et Progrès political party in France. Subheads have been added.
If you consider all that has been said during this Conference, the most human thing to ask ourselves is why is there not a mass movement of unified resistance against what is happening to us, a movement based on reason, on the unity of the good, the just, the beautiful, and the truthful. In our western world there are protests, but most of the time on single issues, inspired by anger, resentment, and victim rhetoric, not by agapē and confidence in a shared foundation of values.
Our institutions let millions of people die of famine, elections become a theater of organized fraud, the power of control being shifted entirely to the central banks against the government of the people, while NATO’s command creates a state of pre-war against nations which refuse to be part of its financial-military complex.
When I was a young man, hundreds of thousands of us were demonstrating in the streets against war and for a more just form of government to secure peace. What is happening today? There are ferments but not a global mobilization. Our challenge is to bring together people that are coming forward to be part of the solution and inspire them with a culture of life and discovery, based on a different method of thinking, to win against any pre-determined power or agency.
Albert Einstein said that to find a solution to a problem you cannot stay at the level of the terms on the basis of which it was raised, but you must create a higher order of thinking.
For that scientific purpose Einstein was not inspired by mathematical formulas or sense certainty, but by the power of music, at the source of human creation. This is the year of Beethoven, artist and scientist. The beginning of a solution is, as Lyndon LaRouche told us, to think like him. “Making the Earth and the sky tremble,” as Prince Lobkowitz said after hearing the first playing of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony. Not as a romantic would understand it, increasing the level of sound intensity and emotional pathos, but going in depth on the expression of the human creative potential made knowable to all, not as the possession of an oligarchical minority.
There Is a Need to Act
Some people, I know, would say that this is mere talk and that there is no need to act. To believe that, is, on the contrary, the very reason of the failure of human revolutions. It is, more precisely, the view of British or more generally imperial pragmatism and pressure to be practical. It is the recipe to lose or to personally submit. It is what Friedrich Schiller, in his “Tenth Aesthetic Letter on the Education of Man,” defines as the two wrong paths of his contemporaries of the French Revolution: to become prey either to wilderness and obedience to irrational instincts; or to moral collapse and depravation, the barbarian belief that you have laid claim once and forever to the true political scheme, sending to the guillotine all who block your way, screaming, “smash the traitors.”
To become a true, efficient servant of humanity, acting for the advantage of the other, you need first to ennoble, to improve your character, examine your conscience, to become what Americans call being “fit for the job.” Let me introduce what I mean by quoting Schiller’s “Ninth Aesthetic Letter” as a gift to the future commitment of young people, on which the fate of humanity depends, provided you continuously transform your inner selves for the political task to improve the world:
The sensitive (the caring) man is deeply touched by the misfortune of his brothers; but even more by their degradation; his enthusiasm is inflamed. In strong souls, emotional ardor impatiently leads towards action. But has he at the same time asked himself if the disorders that he has observed in the moral world offend his reason or rather mortify his self-love? If he does not yet know, he is going to discern it in the heat with which he strives to obtain precise and rapid results. The pure moral instinct aspires to the absolute; for it, time does not exist and as the future must necessarily flow directly from the present, it becomes for him the present....
Consequently, if a young friend of truth and beauty asks me how he shall proceed, despite all the resistance of the century in which he lives to satisfy the noble instinct of his heart, I will answer: engage the world where you act on the direction towards the good; then the calm blossoming of time will bring fulfillment....
The structure of delusion and arbitrariness will fall, it must fall, it has already fallen as soon as thou art certain that it inclines, but it has to incline in the inner man, not merely in the appearance of the outer man....
And so that it does not happen that reality imposes upon you a model that you should be committed to give instead, do not risk yourself in its ambiguous company before you have ensured that a procession of ideal figures is present in the depth of your heart. Live in your century but be not its creature; give to your contemporaries not what they praise or want but what they need.
Be Earnest in Principle
Finally, Schiller stresses, that “the earnestness of principle will tend to frighten people away”—they would be afraid, I must add, to get one more abstract pep-talk—and therefore, “it will be better to flank their defenses by engaging them in play” with “an artist’s hand. Their taste is more chaste than their hearts and here is where you must seize these scared runaways.”
This is what Plato, often mentioned and quoted by Schiller and Beethoven, already said in his seventh book of The Republic, after developing the so called “Allegory of the Cave.” He stresses that to fulfill one’s absolute duty to intervene in the sensible universe to accomplish the good, otherwise known under the name of “politics,” one has to first explore the intelligible with the means of the geometry of the ear—music—and the geometry of the eye—astronomy. And he adds that violence or “repeat-after-me” methods shall never be used in the education of children, but you shall get them to learn through playing, which is the best way to figure out the potential of each.
Those of us who have worked with Lyndon LaRouche, or much earlier in the past with Erasmus of Rotterdam, recognize here the educational dialogue between two or more human beings. As early as in Athens, in 410 B.C., Plato also adds that, faced with the need for a kind of soaring in the development of their creative powers, women and men are alike and shall be educated in the same way, as a constitutional principle of the republic.
Plato then adds that you should be extremely careful with adolescents. If they are educated too early in the art of dialectics, within a competitive environment, they could use it to contradict for the sake of contradicting, and they may even take pleasure in tugging and tearing like packs of young dogs.
Plato does not call for respect for the ancients as such but to always learn from their knowledge to do better, like singers in a chorus. Later, in the 16th century, French political author Jean Bodin, in his Six Books of the Republic—a reference to Plato—said that a good government creates a unity, a composition, bringing accord to discord. He described a chorus of different crossed voices to accomplish a “beautiful good.”
Create a New Renaissance
Much more could be said, but this is the spirit of a new Renaissance that it is our mission to create. We French are sometimes peculiar people, and we identify the word “classical” with the tamed, corseted, infatuated culture at the court of Louis XIV and then Napoleon. I therefore prefer to call it a new Renaissance culture, inspired by the principles I have been trying to describe, and taking into account what happens when it is not achieved: the deadly and ridiculous world described by Boccaccio, a world plagued by usury and the plague—so close to ours.
Now let us necessarily examine consciousness. We need the inspiration from those who refused to bend, and instead laughed at the established ruling powers—greater figures like Rabelais, Cervantes, and Heinrich Heine. We are faced with a worse form of threat, because the battlefield is more than ever inside our minds, and the challenge is to educate our emotions to nurture the creative powers of our souls. We should be conscious of what hangs over our heads and how ridiculously inhuman it is, much worse than what in his days Edgar Alan Poe pointed out in his hilarious political assaults.
Let’s have a look at our environment.
For those of us who have not known another one, it is necessary to measure what is being done to us all. The prevailing counter-culture spreads in a parallel way to financial deregulation, mainly since August 15, 1971, to promote the erasing of moral benchmarks—a moral and mental deregulation.
The more obvious is the counterculture of the screens, associated with violence, addiction, and frustration, as in most video games. The first-person shooting ones are a direct outgrowth of military training, used in Navy Seal training, to create a reflex in human beings—who until then were not “able” to shoot first—to kill immediately.
Our Children Are Guinea Pigs for Bestial Degradation
Our children are therefore the guinea pigs of such bestial degradation; even if they are only killing avatars, they are being psychologically weakened, their inhibition to kill is lifted, or more broadly, their respect for elementary human civility. Those that are not deeply affected either fall into asocial behavior, like a Japanese hikkomori, or tend to become more and more unable to concentrate on any actual creative process. When I first called this a “mental concentration camp without tears,” I found myself attacked as never before by journalists, who pretended to be defending the way of life of younger generations.
The most evil aspect of it is that it is not imposed through violent means—at least outside the training of police or military special units—but by an addictive voluntary bondage, an addiction to bestial behaviors based on “behavioral science,” which is the modern version of Norbert Wiener’s cybernetics and of B.F. Skinner’s “operant conditioning,” integrating spontaneity and seduction with mind control. Skinner’s book, Verbal Behavior, has been and still is a reference for the manipulation of languages, beyond Orwellian newspeak.
The equivalent in economics, behavioral economics, is the rule in most western universities, directly or indirectly, and is associated with game theory, which has nothing to do with Schiller’s or Plato’s playful inspiration of creative minds. It is based on gambling to win assets against other gamblers, or worse.
At the level of relations among nations, it is called geopolitics, or Pompeotics, where one gambler wants to win all and humiliate the others, a mental lebensraum leading necessarily to war. In one word, it is a Brutish world.
It is, in different ways, conveyed into our private homes by television series, let it be Game of Thrones, House of Cards, or La Casa de Papel (Money Heist), and many others—all on the same intrinsic model: power for the sake of sadistic domination, lust, and monetary perversions.
The end result is a disassociation and desocialization of the mind, and the replacement of human music—remember Einstein—by associations of sounds, so-called “world music.” This is a purely artificial creation, a transformation of music into a drug automatically resonant with primitive emotions, through states of almost trance and hypnosis, the dancing being organized disassociated gestures, in a world of colors and sounds neurologically programmed, a software implementation of sets of data-based emotions.
The product is enveloped in attractive colors and sounds: Big Brother watching over us all under the guise of a Sugar Daddy. For the higher classes, mathematical codes are shared.
I have unhappily often had to listen to French soloists—but others are not so much better—playing the techniques of a musical score impeccably, with nothing left of the human intention of the composer. The common denominator of such people and the higher-ups is the absence of a true human soul, within a social life transformed into pixels. A pianist friend of mine is terrified because many of his best students try to play the notes of the score and are unable to conceive that music is between the notes. They had been trained like perfected software to please the surveillance of their western audiences.
Otherwise, the rage explodes in what is known as Regietheater—in accord with the spirit of organizing a firing squad against human beings—in which they organize actors and soloists to shoot at the masterpieces of human creation, as in the execution of Beethoven’s Fidelio reported by Helga Zepp-LaRouche from her horrendous experience in a Darmstadt theater.
Become Explorers of the About-to-Be-Known
To go back to the Classics does not mean to find solutions to appease our angst. It means to explore sources of inspiration for our action and creations, not parodies or pastiches. We should take advantage of the states of lock-down imposed in most of our countries to prepare our much-needed Renaissance, which is the condition for the human species to give the proof that it is able to survive.
Let me end with an example taken from China. Confucianism is the leading thread of the most fundamental contribution of China to universal humanism. But it has happened many times that Confucianism was distorted, fossilized, or taken over by unsavory powers. Then, always, confronted with a challenge from other cultures, it revived. Roman Christianity and Nestorian Christianity, compassionate Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam have all compelled Confucianism to again and again go back to its sources, until today, when it is in dialogue with Western science, in renovating the efforts of Leibniz and his Jesuit followers of the 17th and the 18th centuries.
We are not only allowed to be optimistic, but if we consider our knowledge of our universe compared to what it was at the beginning of the 20th century, we can’t refrain from becoming once again explorers of the about-to-be-known. It is that quality of exploration and upholders of the natural law of the universe that we must revive, not in the clouds and not only in books, but in our capacity to care for the others in our daily lives.
Look at the chorus of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which has been kidnapped by the European Union in the form of a Hymn to Joy. First, it is inappropriate; second, it is wrong. It is not a hymn itself; it should be played as the Great Fugue for orchestra and chorus. Let’s explain to people why it has to be explored and regained, like Lyndon LaRouche did in our youth, exploring Kepler’s works to understand how he proceeded to conceive the universal attraction and what is improperly known, in an improper order, as his three laws. Now our youth of those years has a personal mandate: not only to restart with other coming young generations, but to broaden the scope of the Renaissance, because the growing danger to which we are exposed has made it more and more needed. And it is possible, here and now, because great things happen in the most difficult, challenging moments.
Let’s think like Beethoven and liberate ourselves from our mental chains like the prisoners in Beethoven’s Fidelio, when they come back to the light of the Sun. Let’s re-light the fire of creative freedom with the best matches coming from all world cultures, and create the environment for all human beings to be free to create. The world to come, provided we generate it, belongs to the Leonores and the Florestans.