There is no biblical god for Faustian man, but there is high Christian culture, which is a tribute to his identity. You stand in a line of men who have attained the highest excellences and freely endured the hardest challenges. Who will give birth to the next great culture? Not Europeans, he wrote, who must remain standing like an unrelieved Roman soldier at Pompeii.
Avant-garde painter, occultist, sexologist, alpinist, and unreliable scholar of Eastern religions, Evola is one of the strangest intellectual figures of the twentieth century. That seems unlikely. Evola is the most right-wing thinker possible in the modern world. There is nobody to his right, nor can there be. His influence on the alt-right is detectable in one of its most controversial features: its rejection of human equality.
The alt-right denies that constitutional democracy is worthy of principled veneration. For Evola, its popular acceptance is a sign we are living in a spiritual dark age. Raised in a devout family in Sicily, Evola offers a diagnosis of contemporary life that can sound traditionally Catholic, which it emphatically is not. Work, family, and citizenship are no longer saturated with spiritual importance, but are understood in functionally secular terms.
Evola does not, however, call for a return to his ancestral faith. He calls instead for a rediscovery of a more primordial source of spiritual meaning. Evola translated Decline of the West into Italian in and included a preface indicating his friendly disagreements with its author. Evola believed more or less the exact opposite, arguing that there are timeless and universal principles that have provided the foundation for every true civilization. He did not date the fatal break to the Enlightenment or to the Reformation. No, the world had been slouching into spiritual poverty ever since the eighth century b.
His most famous work, Revolt Against the Modern World , claimed that these primordial societies—whose existence can be accessed only by way of myth and legend, not critical scholarship—all operated on the same principles. The truths of Tradition are simple and few, varying only in expression. In a traditional culture, every aspect of human life, every social activity, role, and caste, was dedicated to the service of an otherworldly order; indeed, they were ritual pathways into it.
His key claim is that traditional societies were hierarchically ordered under an absolute ruler, who embodied the sacral order itself. Evola denied that there is a democratic path to erecting this mystical imperium, and here is where his thought, which is otherwise fantastic, becomes alluring to the alt-right. In his postwar book Men Among the Ruins , he argued that political conservatism is intrinsically impossible in a democratic age.
True political order can never come from below; it must always be imposed from above. Evola therefore argued that only a transformative leader could elevate humanity out of its degraded state.
Such a leader could not appeal to the masses—this was the mistake of the vulgar fascisms of Mussolini and Hitler—but must inspire submission through lofty contempt for democratic norms and popular tastes. Evola was less clear about what this sacred authority looked like than what stood in the way of its realization. Beginning with his first book, Heathen Imperialism , his writings featured a running attack on Roman Catholicism. Catholicism is the unhealed wound at the heart of Western life. By distinguishing priestly power from state power, Catholicism makes sovereign authority, and hence political unity, impossible.
The problem with the Church is not its interference with the secular state, as Machiavelli, Locke, and Rousseau all worried.
The problem is that Catholicism forbids the sacred state. And a state without absolute spiritual unity is no state at all.
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For Alain de Benoist, however, no return is necessary if we simply move beyond Christianity altogether. Evola did not believe in a personal deity, but his criticisms of Christianity were political rather than theological. With Benoist, the alt-right becomes explicitly and confessionally anti-Christian. Most of its members, including Spengler, took sides against the Nazi regime, but they also sought a path for the West beyond the twin evils of American democracy and Soviet communism. Benoist comes from this anti-liberal tradition, and his many books, which blend extreme right-wing and left-wing ideas, attempt to envision a post-Christian future for people of European descent.
There is no better introduction to alt-right theory than his work On Being a Pagan. Its tone is serene, but its message is militant.
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Benoist argues that the West must choose between two warring visions of human life: biblical monotheism and paganism. Benoist is a modern-day Celsus. Like his second-century predecessor, he writes to reawaken Europeans to their ancient faith. It recognizes man, the highest expression of nature, as the sole measure of the divine. It does so by placing the ultimate source of truth outside of humanity, in an otherworldly realm to which we must be subservient. Benoist is a Barthian, if selectively. He accuses Christianity of crippling our most noble impulses. Christianity makes us strangers in our own skin, conning us into distrusting our strongest intuitions.
We naturally respect beauty, health, and power, Benoist observes, but Christianity teaches us to revere the deformed, sick, and weak instead. Christianity is unable to protect European peoples and their cultures.
The Anti-Christian Alt-Right
Under Christianity, the West lives under a kind of double imprisonment. By: Dan DeCarlo. The American alt-right, though it has received a significant amount of attention from the media since its ascendency to the spotlight began in , is still a largely misunderstood phenomenon. This is especially true with regards to the role religion plays in the movement, which has been, and continues to be, quite significant.
The aesthetic aspect of Christianity, however, is a different story, and presents far fewer barriers to entry. Yet despite this apparent affinity between the alt-right and traditional forms of Christianity, it should be noted that it is ultimately a relationship which is doomed to fail. Related Political Theology. For instance, it is unclear whether the amendment requires religious minorities to be exempted from neutral laws.
For example, does the Free Exercise Clause require Congress to exempt religious pacifists from conscription into the military? But at a minimum, it prohibits Congress from, in the words of James Madison, compelling "men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience".
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