chapter  1
11 Pages

Political Mythology and the Higher Truths

Sorel wrote and lived in an age which was beginning to take cognisance of its compulsive, neurotic basis of action and forms of domination. Single-mindedness and a general overall rational purpose were absent in both the political life and productive systems of western Europe. It began to be questioned whether such rationality had ever been a political or economic fact. Mediocrity in politics, stagnation in the economy sought ideological relief in the inherited democratic credo. This ideological justification of mediocrity caused Sorel his most acute despair. He was joined in this by the leading thinkers of the continent. Freud came on to note that 'the neurotic is above all inhibited in his actions; with him the thought is a complete substitute for the deed.' The psychology of the primitive is the very reverse. Primitive virility which stemmed from the fact that 'primitive man is not inhibited, the thought is directly converted into the deed, the deed is for him, so to speak, rather a substitute for the thought.'2 Extended by Sorel, this notion presented men with an alternative: either be irrational and act, or be rational and confess to mediocrity.