Friday, March 28, 2014

Traditionalism and the New Right

The Journal for the Study of Radicalism has just published a special issue (Spring 2014, vol. 8, no. 1) on the New Right that contains two articles that deal with contemporary manifestations of Traditionalism.

"The Nouvelle Droite and 'Tradition,'" by Stéphane François, is devoted to an examination of the relationship between Traditionalism and the New Right, or rather to French New-Right Traditionalism--François sees "a Traditionalist current" as "a distinctive tendency within the ND [Nouvelle Droite, New Right]." He agrees with my earlier conclusion that Alain de Benoist cannot be considered a Traditionalist, a conclusion that de Benoist himself welcomes in a response ("Alain de Benoist Answers Tamir Bar-On") printed at the end of the special issue. François then stresses the influence of Evola and other Traditionalists on the New Right, especially with regard to the critique of modernity and the embrace of an Indo-European pagan alternative to Christianity, blamed for inspiring egalitarian secular utopias. Guénon's writing on Hinduism contributes to the New Right conception of Indo-European paganism, he thinks, but Evola in particular is enlisted to this end.

François also discusses what he calls "Nordic Traditionalism," a little known phenomenon that he says draws on Guénon's regard for a supposed original Hyperborean tradition. François mentions only one contemporary name in this connection, that of Paul-Georges Sansonetti. Sansonetti is the author of a number of books not discussed by François, the most striking of which is Hergé et l'énigme du pôle, which--according to its blurb--provides the key to decoding the secrets of the North Pole as Supreme Center as found in Hergé's Tintin books... It is not entirely clear how seriously this should be taken.

"A Conversation with John Morgan" by Arthur Versluis, takes discussion of Traditionalism and the New Right across the Atlantic. Morgan is the editor-in-chief of Arktos, an important English-language publisher for Traditionalist and New Right books, from Evola to de Benoist and Dugin. Unlike de Benoist, Morgan acknowledges an important debt to Traditionalism. As well as talking about this and about his own encounters with Sufism and Hinduism, Morgan discusses the origins, nature and mission of Arktos, and the general New Right "scene" (my term, not his) in America. He also explains how he sees the New Right as differing from the fascism that its critics seek to identify it with: the New Right does not favor a powerful state, and is not interested only in the material. The New Right is not radical, he says, in the sense of wanting revolution, but he "could even conceive of these ideas entering the mainstream political and cultural process eventually, such as has been happening recently with the identitarian movement in many Western European countries, which has been catching on among the youth with great success."

Two other articles mention Evola. The lead article, "The French New Right Neither Right, nor Left?" by Tamir Bar-On, merely mentions him in passing as an inspiration of the New Right, an inspiration that is examined in somewhat more depth in the second article, "The New Right and Metapolitics in France and Italy," by Massimiliano Capra Casadio.


Kenneth Lloyd Anderson said...

The New Right in France needs to be given credit for their realistic way of looking at the modern world, understanding that ethno-cultural groups need to live in freedom, separately if possible in different states and territories. Also, as Lucian Todor reminds us in Counter-Currents, the New Right in France has been advocating federalism for some time, based on principles of subsidiarity, granting autonomy to regions and local political structures. This can also mean democracy. Benoist has said that ethnic, cultural and racial differences coincide with organic democracy and with recognition and respect for differences.

I would hope that the New Right would not drift too far toward Radical Traditionalism which also has a concept of the federalist state, as Tudor says, but who grant far more authority to the central ruler, which can then bring the same old problem of a state too big and too bureaucratic to rule localities without using great force. But more importantly, the religious philosophy of Radical Traditionalism ultimately traps adherents in the same life-denying Inward Path as other traditional religions, giving virtually no importance to evolution, biological or otherwise. This is the Inward Path of the Buddhist type, which Nietzsche said leads ultimately to “the perfect cow” content with experiencing the personal bliss of the Father Within. As in the Bhagavad Gita, real life, even war, is "lived" as if enduring the duty of the unreal, hoping to be released from it all. We evolve to Godhood materially and supermaterially in the Evolutionary Outward Path. The Inward Path to the God Within is only a symbolic-experience of Godhood reached by evolution---and future politics needs to keep this in mind.

Although they tend to dislike America a bit too much, the New Right in France should be given credit for their realistic way of looking at the modern world, mostly ahead of everyone else.

Avery said...

"The New Right and Metapolitics in France and Italy" is available for reading on the journal's website and is a responsible and accurate study, unlike some of the stuff that was published about Evola and Benoist in the 1980s and 1990s. The translations from hard-to-get Italian studies are quite welcome. If the rest of the issue is of this quality I will have to get my hands on a copy.