Submitted by Withered Rose
Martin Heidegger is kind of popular. Big names like Darren Beattie and Michael Millerman, and more infamous characters, like Alexander Dugin and Gregory Johnson, have claimed Heidegger as their philosophical mentor. There is much in the Heideggerian corpus deserving of study, from his early days as a theologian, to his Augustinian phase culminating in Being and Time, the turn away from Being to Byng, and, towards the end of his career, his investigation into the existential, and ontological, importance of poetry. Philosophy departments, theologians, the right, and the left, have all found reading Heidegger worthwhile. For us, we will look at what Heidegger, in particular what his conception of dasein, has to offer to 21st century politics.
First off, what is “dasein”? Literally “being-there”, dasein is the word Heidegger uses to describe human nature. For Heidegger, it is hard, if not impossible, to talk about human nature without talking about the environment, the ecology, that humans find themselves in. While we can say things about humans in the abstract, that is, abstracted from time and place, when we are talking about humans, we are always talking about a kind of being that is situated in a time and place.Understanding who someone is means understanding herhistory, how and where she grew up, what language she thinks in, her hopes and fears, her religion, or lack thereof, and what she is motivated by. Humans are always already in a world; a world being defined here as a historical context, and this is why Heidegger uses the word “being-there” to describe human nature. We are always already in an ecology, and this word, “ecology”, will be very important in just a second.
On a side note, it may be of interest to note that the perfect man, the exemplar of human nature, Jesus Christ, was Himself situated within a specific historical and geographical context. When the Christian thinks human nature, he is pointing “there”, he is pointing at “that being, over there.” The Christian is thinking dasein, and this is no surprise when we consider that at the time of writing Being and Time, Martin Heidegger was steeped in Augustinian thought.
Okay, back to politics. If human nature is dasein, if human nature is fundamentally ecological, and if politics takes human nature as its subject, then politics must take ecology seriously.Keep in mind that when we are saying “ecology”, we are not talking about trees, the climate, or growing seasons. By “ecology”, we are talking about history, language, religion, culture, and the contextual elements that gives definition to a human being. To politic like Heidegger means to take ecology seriously. What this means might be vague, so let us look at two concrete examples of Heideggerian politics.
First, the Heideggerian does not run candidates, he is the one who decides what candidates can possibly run. A Heideggerian runs a successful 501c3 or 501c4 (both, he if can manage) and is a king maker in elections. Whether a candidate has a shot at winning, and this is easier on the state level, is, in large part, determined by whether or not he is a client of the Heideggerian. An ecology is established, a context is set up, that only allows for the Heideggerian’s desired result. So, if you want to get involved in politics, the Heideggerian way of going about it is to get involved in a 501c3 or 501c4.
Second, the Heideggerian is as concerned with culture, if not more, than elections. What music, movies, and pastimes are popular will impact the next election. Do you not think that what Tik Toks college students watch in-between classes impacts their voting record? Language is not only phonics; language is also the sum of all cultural values and references. Although both the liberal and the conservative speak English, they speak a different language because they share different cultures and values. Media like Tik Tok, Spotify, and Netflix, are important for the Heideggerian because they build a language, and language builds the ecology in which politics takes place. For the Heideggerian, looking at popular culture and finding a way to influence it, or hijack it, is crucial. This is certainly a tough task given the centralization of popular culture in the 21st century. What cultural centralization tells us, and its unambiguous political effects, is that Heideggerian politics works. How a man of the right can work around this centralization is beyond me, but, thankfully, there are many smarter than me who are working on this.
To conclude, if human nature is dasein, if we are fundamentally defined by our time and place, our language, and if politics takes human nature for its subject, then politics needs to take dasein seriously. If we are to politic like Heidegger, then we need to focus on ecology.