Somewhat to my surprise, last Sunday’s post, “Traditionalist Worker Party?,” received far more traffic than expected, which prompted me to re-blog an earlier piece I had written for The Josias on integralism, nationalism, and racism. My main reason for doing so is because of the growing number of Catholics in America (and no doubt around the world) who believe the so-called “alt-right” (an extremely loose association of ostensibly conservative movements informed by everything from white nationalism to libertarianism) provides a way past the political turmoil wrought by mainline liberalism (be it from the Left or the Right). Although this is not the place to run down every problematic element of the alt-right movement, it should go without saying that the movement’s neo-/quasi-pagan elements, coupled with its infatuation with late-coming racialist ideology, has no place in any socio-political movement worthy of Catholic support. While certain alt-right positions on the economy, immigration, and foreign relations can be finessed with Catholic principles, that does not mean that the alt-right movement itself is in any way, shape, or form Catholic. In fact, the alt-right’s seeming obsession with racial and ethnic differences flies in the face of the Gospel’s universal message while reducing man to the status of a beast. This is not to say there are not distinct cultural differences between peoples as they are currently constituted on the earth, but those differences are temporal, not natural. Slavic culture (to the extent it existed) and Byzantine culture were clearly at odds during the first millennium of Christian history; that began to change substantially after the missionary efforts of Ss. Cyril and Methodius. And in today’s world, clearly Christian culture generally (the extent is still exists) is substantially different from Muslim culture generally, particularly in the Middle East. However, just as Christian missionaries worked and prayed for the conversion of the barbarian tribes in Eastern Europe, so, too, we ought to work and pray for the conversion of those millions of souls beholden to the false religion of Islam so that we may be one people under Jesus Christ our Lord.
With that noted, let me offer three loosely sketched thoughts on where integralism diverges from “alt-right” ideology with the hope that Catholics will see the former, not the latter, as the proper way forward.
- Immigration – The alt-right movement takes an extremely low view of immigration, preferring to limit it to “Europeans” or “white Europeans.” When it comes to refugees, the alt-right often expresses indifference or hostility, though some leave open the possibility of providing a limited living space for those in dire need with the caveat that refugees have no right to permanent settlement. Integralists, on the other hand, follow the Church’s teaching on refugees and the need to assist them, though not at the expense of prudence. Some states are better equipped to handle refugees than others, and no refugee is afforded by right the same social and political rights as citizens (though extending such rights will vary from state to state, situation to situation). As for immigration, a truly integralist state, that is, one with a majority Catholic population which respects the rights of the Church and Christ’s Social Kingship, should favor Catholic immigrants in order to maintain social cohesion and reduce the proliferation of error. Christians from other confessions, such as Oriental and Eastern Orthodox, should also win favor over non-Christians. None of this means that non-Christian immigration will be entirely forceclosed; however, those who do not profess Catholicism should understand that they will not be allowed to spread information or promote religious ideals which are contrary to the Faith. And, where prudence dictates, religious tolerance should be extended in accordance with the classic social teaching of the Church.
- Race/Ethnicity – The alt-right movement’s obsession with racial and ethnic differences has no place in an integralist state, though cultural differences may require special consideration. For instance, where Catholics of a different rite and/or sui iuris church live in close quarters, such as we saw historically in Galicia with respect to Latin and Greek Catholics, the rights and heritage of both should be protected through appropriate legal and ecclesiastical measures. Similarly, ethnic traditions within a particular church or rite should be respected to the extent those traditions conform fully with the teachings of the Catholic Church. However, no movement should be made to racially or ethnically divide Catholics from one another, nor measures imposed from the top-down which would interrupt the organic development of a distinctly new yet traditional Catholic culture in an integralist state.
- Economy – While much of the alt-right’s economic thinking reflects a mixture of romanticism and protectionism, the movement’s refusal to buy into the false promises of economic liberalism (including globalization) is laudable. Integralism, for its part, does not come packaged with a one-size-fits-all economic program even as it remains tethered to the Church’s social magsiterium. Distributism is often posited as a sound economic platform for Catholics, though it is not the only one. Solidarism and corporatism also offer frameworks for a truly Catholic economy. However, the nature of a particular state’s economic ordo will depend in great deal on its size, population, natural resources, and prior economic development. What remains clear to integralists, in the light of both reason and revelation, is that free-market capitalism is not the answer.