Towards the end of his essay “En diálogo con Weber. Sobre La tiranía de los valores de Carl Schmitt” (readily available: just google the title), José Luis Villacañas says: “Lo más curioso es que, cuando [Max Weber] manifestó este desdén [regarding the notion of value outside the economic sphere], introdujo algo . . . de lo que se debía partir: la vida concreta de los hombres con sus pasiones y deseos, sus hábitos y sus formas de conducirse, su estilo y su capacidad de racionalización subjetiva” (36). A page later Villacañas suggests that “Freud y Lacan pueden ayudar a desplegar esta idea [namely, the idea that the reality principle, as the truth of the freedom of the subject, comes to substitute for the Kantian moral law] y a superar la hostilidad entre la verdad de la naturaleza y la verdad del sujeto” (37). The split between nature and the subject was a protagonist in the bogus solution given by early twentieth century reflection to nihilism on the basis of a philosophy of values—the radical neutralization of the real meets the subjective freedom that enables anyone to posit values as the motor of her or his behavior. But the value solution was a mere intensification of modern nihilism, to the extent that there is no value positing that does not necessarily imply the war against non-value, which, at the end of the day, throws up as a result war, and not value, as the subjective foundation of contemporary existence. As a T-shirt I recently saw on campus put it, “Wake up, be kind, KICK ASS, repeat.”
In any case, although Villacañas ends his essay on the note that the overall confrontation with nihilism sustained by the flawed German-language master thinkers of the early twentieth century marks an epoch we may be done with, the fact is we seem to be done with it only at the level of recognizing that the proposed solutions will not hold. Weber´s spheres of action have a weak appeal today, and Freudian (and Lacanian) analysis is not about to become a normative institution in our societies. Weber himself left his appeal to lebendige Menschen, people in their concrete living, woefully underdeveloped. In the meantime, subjective value, even when reduced to its merely material or economic dimension, has thrown up today a strong notion of cultural value whose fundamental dimension is “identity,” in one way or another. Identity seems to be the horizon of behavior for most people, at the individual level, and the omega of their projections in whatever realm or sphere of action. This of course enables us to recognize identity as nihilistic, both in its individual dimension and as communal projection, but it still leaves us without an answer. The radicalization of identity is clearly not a good solution to the problem of nihilism as “accomplished nihilism.” Multicultural identity ideology can be said to have become a katechontic solution for neoliberal times, but we now see it fraying at the edges everywhere. It will no longer do as an ideology of control.
Of course the Weberian intuition, that this problem can only be solved through a fundamental reflection on lebendige Menschen, is also the infrapolitical intuition. But can we get past appealing to it? Can we start developing concrete thought on it? My impression is that whatever form concrete thought on lebendige Menschen takes, it won´t be helpful if it is conducted merely at the level of therapeutics, in any narrow or extended sense, and much less at the level of prescriptive ethics for either individual or social behavior. And of course the very idea of engaging in a *biopolitics from below” will not do either, as the inversion of a nihilistic structure does not overcome nihilism. But with this we dispose of a great deal of contemporary so-called political thought.