Monday Scribble

If the so-called “New Right” or “New European Right” are, at their core, pagan and the “old Right,” as we have experienced it in the United States, liberal and ineffectual, in what sense should we even speak of the political Right anymore? Has it become a useless designation? Truth be told I do not have any immediate answers to these—and other related—questions. Like all distinctions, the Left/Right one’s utility is hampered by excessive use. In the American context, both the Right and the Left, except perhaps in the latter’s most extreme formulation, are little more than offshoots of liberalism. Each fails to capture a reality that is not, at its core, liberal and therefore both “camps” do not appear to be welcome homes for faithful Christians, particularly Catholics and Orthodox.

Still, none of this is to say that some concept of the political Right, refreshed by authentically Christian principles (the sort of which found masterful—and magisterial—articulation by the Catholic Church starting in the 18th Century), should not be retained. Maybe political identification is only a tertiary concern now, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a real concern. Can we really afford to be so naïve about our predicament that we come to believe the lie that the only legitimate “option” (ugh that word) is apoliticism? In a brief post last week, “Unpreparedness,” I took umbrage with that idea, even though some felt it was unfair of me to do so. Identity isn’t everything, but it is something; and I am not convinced that Christians living in neo-pagan America have come within spitting distance of figuring out what that identity ought to be.

It cannot be liberal. That much is certain. Contrary to the opinion of well-funded think tanks like the ostensibly orthodox Acton Institute, liberalism—even in its classical formulation—will not save us. Capitalism is the disease, not the cure. Democracy, as it has come to be in this land, is a shell ideology into which the basest wants of elites and misguided masses have been poured. Acknowledging as much frightens many—many who, though well intended, have come to accept the lie that nothing else could ever be viable. Whether they know it or not, they have internalized the Fukuyamian error of “the end of history.” History has reached no pinnacle and it shall not, not until Christ “comes in glory to judge the living and the dead.” And what a terrible judgment He will no doubt have in store for all of us who consciously fail to heed His commandments and preach His Truth.

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2 comments

  1. The emerging New Right (or Alt Right) is an occasionally uneasy mix of ethno-nationalists (“identitarians”), religious traditionalists, and techno-commercialists, though many of its adherents (like myself) overlap the boundaries between these groups to a greater or lesser extent. For instance, I’m a Catholic reactionary, but I find myself in considerable sympathy with identitarians who argue that societies thrive when they comprise a people with a common ethnicity and a shared cultural concept of the good life. I’m less fond of the ultra-libertarian and transhumanist strains of the techno-commercialist viewpoint, but even they have good ideas and insights. And in any case, no enemies to the right! I don’t have to agree with everything they say, but I’m not going to denounce them or read them out of the movement. The mainstream right-liberal/Buckleyite tendency to engage in purges in order to maintain “respectability” has been a disaster from a tactical standpoint, and has only assisted the inexorable leftward drift of the Overton Window.

    All of these groups share a fundamentally anti-liberal viewpoint, and all of them would agree with you about the shortcomings of mass democracy. Some of the ethno-nationalists LARP at reviving paganism, and blame Christianity for the victory of liberalism, but a surprising number are Catholic or Orthodox. The techno-comms tend to be atheist materialists in outlook, but their “patchwork” model of self-governing city states leaves plenty of room for religious polities, as long as they can live under the sovereign corporation of their choice.

    To your point, I think movements like these are an excellent example of lively political thought and action operating outside the tiny boundaries of mainstream left-and right-liberal commentary, with its fixation on horse-race politics and solipsistic idealization of liberal democracy as the only conceivable form of government.

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