When the poet Lamartine noted in 1839 that ‘La France s’ennuie’ (France is bored), he had hit on something quintessential to the zeitgeist of modern Europe. Whilst the previous revolution of 1789 had been precipitated by the political hunger of ‘sans culottes’ and peasants with breeches rioting in the Vendee, the revolutions of 1848 featured philosophers discussing how many angels you can fit on a pin head. 

This bourgeois corruption reflected what Guy Debord saw as the evolution of society as ‘spectacle’ . In this, ‘being becomes having and having appearing’. This can be seen in the new inner cities of Europe, where the lumpenproletariat are forced to live in a sense of ‘appearing’ (the mobile phone, the Real Madrid football shirt) – masking a hopeless, valueless existence. 

Now, in liberal capitalism’s twilight zone: they are destined to merely ‘appear’. The entire culture is prey to this devaluation where appearance replaces substance in large swathes of society: from the calibre of government to music to literature. 

From Bach’s Goldberg Variations to Coldplay. When the seventies rock genre descended into 60-minute drum solos and Mike Oldfield twinkling on bells- along came the Sex Pistols and the Teutonic boot stomping of ‘I Don’t Want a Holiday in the Sun’ to wake society from its coma. 

Great art is Conrad’s Captain Kurtz going crazy down the Congo River; not a LGBQT love triangle in Tower Hamlets. In this way culture is cyclical; it is not a one- way street to universality and ‘equality’

This is how culture morphs into civilisation, and it occurs in all societies. It begins with the ‘rationalisation’ of spirit; the Greeks went from the Dionysian to the Platonic Apollonian, from Nietzschean celebration of life to its dissection. 

Art and society become vehicles for the ‘human rights’ and ‘equality’ miasma. In this post-Enlightenment frenzy, secular righteousness has replaced the virtue of Christian proselytising, liberalism having derived from Christianity.  

The Schools and Universities have become Jesuit driven. That is, ideology driven. This has been aided by the technological age which pushes the human further into Heideggerian inauthenticity. Concentration spans become shorter and technology provides quicker, faster, shorter cultural forms; society becomes condensed and homogenised. The one fits the many. Finally, society falls into a stupefying boredom.

Spengler in ‘The Decline of the West’ saw history as cyclical; empires rising and falling. They have an intrinsic organic character like a plant. This view of history differs from the liberal democratic view which sees the inexorable march of progress to the ‘end of history’, a liberal capitalist utopia. 

However, Spengler had a Copernican view of history; that is thinking that all cultures have their own life cycle. There is no one hegemonic culture around which others orbit. This was the mistake of the thinking of the ‘Occident’; that it was the grand star; the sun around which others twinkled. This led to Christian missionary, colonisation, and development. 

Countries generally fall into one of two types: civilisational or cultural. Civilisational countries believe themselves to be ‘progressive’; they occupy themselves with visions of universalist humanity, it is external looking. Culture reflects homogenous countries which see their own culture as primary, essential to survival. For them ‘civilisation’ is of secondary importance.  

These countries see culture as the bonds which keep the nation together. Civilisational countries are, for example, France, England and the US. They share a faith in their Napoleonic post-Enlightenment mission. 

Culture countries are Germany and Russia. Putin is not civilising or exporting bolshevism; he is reinventing Peter the Great’s empire. The problem for the West is that the global neo-liberal underpinning of civilisational society is collapsing due to scarcity, population crises and a profound loss of ‘telos’ or meaning.

The beginning of ‘modern’ civilisation was the emergence of Enlightenment rationalist thinking and turning Christianity into an egalitarian cult called `liberalism’

The driving force of history is destiny and incident. The liberal destiny provided the French Revolution as ‘incident’. This was the ‘cultural’ phase of the cycle; the spring and summer of birth and growth. There is a renaissance of ideas- technology serves as part of ‘community’. 

This was Ancient Greece in its Dionysian phase before Socrates. The Romans went from the democratic republic to the empire and ended up burning books.  ‘Civilisation’ occurs during the autumn and winter of societies. It is when reason, analysis takes over -when society makes a Faustian pact with Mephistopheles. This is our modernity- where the quest for the infinite is selling one’s soul for the secrets of science, the search for the infinite. 

It is the yearning for ‘progress’; money becomes commoditised infiltrating all sectors until you have a market in abortion clinics. The ‘individual’ becomes the highest value and Kant embodies this reasoning into law. Increasingly atomised, the individual becomes the leitmotif for the civilisation, rather than tradition or community. 

The bonds of soil and labour are cast off for the final stage of liberalism; the sanctification of globalised markets and the ‘universalist’ export of late stage Faustian culture through globalisation. However, the new stage declines when nature in the shape of environment, viruses and growth limits are worn out. Then the spectre returns; not the spectre of communism, but those Teutonic jack boots. Spengler’s cycle is complete when Caesarism emerges as the final aspect of Faustian culture. 

Putin is merely one example of the metamorphosis of liberal capitalism into liberal authoritarianism. The image of Covid and the end of liberty will be the enduring image; and whilst the books are not burning – they are just not being published. 

In the final stage of modernity boredom reigns supreme. Arthur Schopenhauer defined boredom as a peculiarly modern affliction:

‘What keeps all living things busy and in motion is the striving to exist. But when existence is secured, they do not know what to do; that is why the second thing that sets them in motion is the striving to get rid of the burden of existence, not to feel it any longer, to ‘kill time’ i.e., to escape boredom.’ 

Take Ukraine. It’s a war nobody wants except Putin. It is merely disruptful to liberalism; an annoying disturbance, but it happens anyway, it is history chugging along in an old car until it runs out of petrol.  There is no great ideological fight; Russia having sold its soul to Mephistopheles and joined the Faustian chorus when Peter the Great decided speaking French was trendy.

Then the intellectuals Lenin and Trotsky imported Marxism and stuck it to the peasants of Turgenev and Dostoevsky, steeped as they are in mystical spirit and endless landscapes. Zelensky’s biggest enemy isn’t the West’s reticence to send more drones, more weapons and fighter jets. Zelensky’s biggest enemy is boredom. The front pages have now reverted to type; articles on Trans and the US mid terms. 

Russia’s intelligentsia of the nineteenth century was satirised in Ivan Goncharov’s 1859 novel ‘Oblomov’. In it the young liberal nobleman cannot muster the energy to do anything; he cannot make decisions or commit to action. His greatest achievement in the entire novel, reminiscent of Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’, is moving from bed to chair. 

Oblomovism became a characteristic of the Russian ‘avos’; the art of ignoring present problems in the hope that they will go away, rather than mere slothfulness. Oblomovism has made a comeback-but in the West; It is seen in the culture of decline of service, of duty. It is visible in the highest echelons of power where the key word is mediocrity -welcome to Biden and Harris. 

It is evident in the Russian military where corruption, theft and ‘Oblomovism’ remain rampant. It signals the complete rationalisation of life, the end of creativity and the victory of ‘appearance’. Nothing is left sacred or mysterious; every aspect of the human, every experience is deconstructed and milled through mass culture and technology. Flaubert described his lot as ‘merde au surplus’- ‘a surplus of shit’. He often complained how dull the world is, that he was destined to experience an eternity of ‘ennui’. Flaubert attempted foreign travel as an outlet to boredom. When he arrived in Alexandria he found, to his horror, three-foot-tall letters inscribed on the side of the Pompei column: ‘THOMPSON FROM SUNDERLAND’ .  

Zelensky has the technology, the weapons, the PR gurus etc. What he has to face, however, is ‘Oblomovism’. Boredom works within a strange dialectic of attraction and repelling. 

Academic research has shown how boredom has been a primary drive in seminal historic events; Kustermans suggests boredom was a major reason behind Hitler’s foray into World War 2. 

It was a major cause of the decline of British colonialism and the reason why Eichmann joined the SS. It has been held responsible for the transformation from traditional to modern art. It appears as an escape route from the ‘ennui’ of the modern world. But boredom, like history, is cyclical, it ebbs and flows. 

For the Russians, the war in the Ukraine is merely one conflict in a line of conflicts from Afghanistan to Georgia. Perhaps it is Putin’s solution to boredom. The warring element had been far more natural in societies  with ‘culture’ as the hegemonic aspect: they feel as if ‘protecting’ a homogenous traditional core. 

Liberalism, on the other hand, stares outward in missionary zeal. But now, in the paradox of liberalism, as a means to globalised markets, war becomes a means to extend and protect the neo-liberal world. However, the liberal west now enters the reality of a bipolar or multipolar world rather than the ‘end of history’. 

Putin’s endgame is based on boredom; the petering out of interest, the rise of inflationary pressures, the limited attention of Faustian’ man. War, to the average soul, is hideous and boring at the same time. Boredom is at once the spur to warlike action and the cause of its demise, all set within the Spenglerian rise and fall endemic to cultures.  Modern liberal culture has substituted surrogates for war- from Twitter to Netflix where, in the final stages of atrophy, appearance replaces reality. For Camus war and life are the will to power pushing history along:

‘He had been bored, that’s all, bored like most people. Hence, he had made himself out of whole cloth a life full of complications and drama. Something must happen-and that explains most human commitments. Something must happen, even loveless slavery, even war or death. Hurray then for funerals!’

Brian Patrick Bolger studied at the LSE. He has taught political philosophy and applied linguistics in Universities across Europe. His articles have appeared in ’The National Interest’, ‘The Montreal Review’, ‘The European Conservative’ ,’The Salisbury Review’, ‘The Village’, ‘New English Review’, ‘The Hungarian Conservative’, ‘The Burkean’ , ‘The Daily Globe’,  ‘American Thinker’, ‘Philosophy Now’. His new book, ‘Coronavirus and the Strange Death of Truth’, is now available in the UK and U.S

Posted by Brian Patrick Bolger


  1. Is this article a work of satire ?

    Even if one could argue, however tenuously, that ‘boredom’ is a factor, it appears very disingenuous to ignore the historical background to the malaise afflicting Europe these days.

    Up to WW1, Europe was a hive of technical & scientific innovation. Patents offices couldn’t keep up with the pace of new inventions. Then WW1 broke out and by November 1918, over 15 million Europeans (overwhelmingly) lay dead. With millions of ‘survivors’ who were permanently disfigured & traumatized. A post war Europe with its confidence shattered & the best of her menfolk wiped out.

    WW2 saw 60 million wiped out with many of Europe’s most beautiful cities carpet bombed back to the stone age. Again, you’re dealing with a Europe that has been traumatized, with decades, into believing that any political policy to the right of Stalin leads one straight to a concentration camp.

    This is where the dissident right is correct in their promotion of objective analysis of WW2 history in particular. It is no accident that those with a mature understanding of that conflict remain unperturbed when labeled various ist’s & ism’s.

    I find most mainstream conservative commentators boring, uninformative & downright cowardly. They try and explain social & cultural conditions without referring to historical facts. Or worse still, willingly sacrifice speaking the truth for the sake of political correctness.


    1. I think you have missed the point. He’s saying that boredom is Zelensky’s enemy not the ‘cause’ of the war. The public will get bored of it. Hes saying the modern world is divorced from reality, now spectacle. So elites can engineer wars for resource reasons. Thats Putin’s hope I think. The west gets bored.


  2. Firstly, my absolute admiration and respect goes to: Robert L, Francis and Daniel Buckley! .

    Each eloquently expressed themselves, far better than that which I have the ability to do! .

    I am genuinely saddened, even offended, by the queue of so called Conservatives, lining up to spread their obvious Pro-American and clearly uninformed Russophobic propaganda, via the Burkean.

    Like whores, they queue in an attempt to sell their latest book or to present their ill fated opinions of President Putin and those dreadful Russian people! .

    Not for any noble reason nor to present a truthful picture of what is actually happening in Ukraine of 2023, but to further line their already bulging pockets! .

    Perhaps the most INSULTING thing of all, is the fact that these people
    (and YES I am tempering my remarks) continue to try to sell the Russia Bad – USA GOOD lie to the poor ignorant Paddy!.

    Let us rid ourselves once and for all, of flowery verse and colourful comparison to the Punk era.

    Instead should we Not all be demanding equal, honest and Factual comment from our so called Conservative voices?.
    Are we NOT entitled to ALL points of view? or has Conservatism evolved to the point where it is the sole property of the United States and her eager representatives and therefore limiting in its position and opinion of who may call oneself a Conservative?.

    Surely a continuous line of obsequious persons who have clearly aligned themselves to only one God, can never answer nor satisfy the many questions of the non-believer!, anymore than a queue of eloquently spoken yet opinionated so called Conservatives, can change the inquiring mind, nor convince true Conservatives that Joe Biden is Right to bring the world to the cusp of WWIII, to satisfy US War Hawk lust and greed for Russian resources!.

    This month is the Ninth year of conflict in Ukraine, it is also the beginning of the 9th year of Donbass Civilian suffering at the hands of the Ukrainian Regime.

    It began in 2014, shortly after the Victoria Nuland lead, US Coup d’etat. Within only weeks of the Coup the Ukrainian Regime had slaughtered innocent Civilians in Odessa and had begun an all out onslaught on it’s OWN PEOPLE in the East of Ukraine.
    A War Crime in itself! , but not their biggest mistake, you see the Ukrainian people of East Ukraine are also of Russian decent and Russian speakers. Therefore the Ukrainian Regime took the decision to deny the people of the East their right to speak the Russian language!.

    All which lead to the emergency formation of the DPR & LPR MILITIAS, an attempt by the UKRAINIAN people of the East to defend themselves against their own (or so they thought) Ukrainian military!.

    Respectfully, IF the author wishes to speak of the murder of Ukrainian civilians (Eastern Ukrainians) in terms of boredom OR is attempting to revive support for Zelensky and his UKRO-NAZI Brigades with flowery speech, then Again respectfully, I suggest your beautiful, if quite testing linguistics are wasted on those who know better!.


  3. A good article and very funny imo. and its NOT supporting Putin at all. Takes the mickey out of the low attention span of the west. Looks like a few Russian trolls here. Who would write a comment at 4am in the morning. Ivaus comrade😁


  4. Peter Tulley 13/01/2023 at 10:30 am

    This is a resource war as witnessed by the Russian assault on Bakhmut ( salt mines). There is also the U.S and the post war rebuild so trade/business is the U.S ‘prize’ for rescuing the Ukraine, as with Halliburton in Iraq. But yes boredom is the enemy of Ukraine as the U.S allies dont have this interest, this financial gain like the U.S. Excellent read. Good article. Erudite , witty and food for thought.


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