Thursday, August 10, 2017

Anti-modernism in America

Steve Bannon is not America’s only Catholic anti-modernist. In a new article in the Los Angeles Review of Books, “Riding the Tiger, Riding the Wave: Christian Conservatives and Radical Anti-Modernism,” Benjamin R. Teitelbaum discusses the recent work of two other prominent American Christians, Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia and Rod Dreher, an Orthodox Christian and senior editor at The American Conservative. Their anti-modernism does indeed have something in common with the Traditionalism that this blog covers. Teitelbaum himself makes the comparison between their views and Julius Evola’s.

Teitelbaum argues that both Catholics are quite as anti-modernist as Evola, and that both have also adopted Evola's pessimistic “ride the tiger” approach (which he explains nicely in the first part of his article). Both Catholics take the same event—the 2015 court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage across the US—as representing the irreversible victory of “totalizing liberalism.” Chaput sees this as the triumph of the ideal of the sovereignty of the individual, the idea that our identity should not be constrained by even the most basic fact of birth, our sex. Dreher proposes a radical remedy: that America’s remaining Christians should take inspiration from the separatism of Orthodox Jews.

Teitelbaum does not argue that Chaput or Dreher are actually inspired by Evola (though Dreher’s phrasing at one point does echo Evola's). He argues rather that what he calls “a broad anti-modernism” “poses the most serious threat to global liberalism.” It may indeed be becoming more widespread.

Correction: Rod Dreher was inaccurately described as a Catholic in the original version of this post.


David said...

Dreher is an Orthodox convert, not a Roman Catholic. If these men are seen as America's prominent "antimodernists", then the term is used very, very loosely. I wouldn't even call them proper conservatives in the traditional sense of the word.

Mark Sedgwick said...

Thanks, David--I have corrected the description of Dreher.

William M. Klimon said...

Dreher was a Catholic convert in 1993. He left Catholicism in 2006 for Orthodoxy.