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Sunday, 15 April 2018

Refuting the Anti-Christian Animus On The Alt-Right

by Richard Storey
(Traduit en français)

Christian and Pagan Platonic Symbolism in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel Ceiling

The French "new right" movement is the voice of right-wing anti-modern sentiment, specifically from a non-Christian perspective. This movement, championed by Alain de Benoist and Charles Champetier in their Manifesto for a European Renaissance (1999), asserts that the modern world, particularly the global dominance of liberal democracy, is coming to an end: "modernity is reaching its end, precisely when the universalist utopia that established it is poised to become a reality under the form of liberal globalisation." This system, they believe, will implode "with the appearance of thousands of auroras, i.e., the birth of sovereign spaces liberated from the domination of the modern."

As a reactionary-type myself, I cannot disagree with this conclusion – the modern liberal state, which has universalised "the destruction of old forms of communal life", is far from the end of history, as even Francis Fukuyama (famous for developing this assertion) has since acknowledged. Rather, my purpose in this article is only to disagree with the ahistorical, anti-Christian claims of the new right and the pagan-oriented among the alt-right, who believe that Christianity produced the errors of modernity and, therefore, that it can serve little purpose for Europeans living in the ruins of the modern West. Other claims in need of addressing are the revival of the defunct Nietzschean idea that Christianity is a slave ethic, produced by Jews to weaken the Roman Empire through the promotion of meekness as goodness etc., and the beliefs that Europe was and would be more peaceful without Christianity or that Christianity is somehow anti-white/European identity.

To analyse the claim that "one finds in Christianity the seeds of the great mutations that gave birth to the secular ideologies of [modernism]" succinctly, let us handle each of the three traits of Christianity which de Benoist and Champetier believe gave birth to modernism: individualism, egalitarianism and progressivism.

Individualism


Sadly, de Benoist and Champetier fall over at the first hurdle. "Individualism", they write, "was already present in the notion of individual salvation and of an intimate and privileged relation between an individual and God that surpasses any relation on Earth." It is true that the Church introduced judicial recourse to individual women and children, allowing them to challenge the Pagan right for a husband to, for example, freely brutalise his family qua his property[1].  I highly doubt that either of these gentlemen or most in the alt-right would rather revert to such a system, which would reveal hypocrisy in their argument. Regardless, the failure in their understanding is far greater than this; the idea that there is a chasm between the individualism of Christianity and the notable individualism of pre-Christian Europe is a false dichotomy. The individualism of Christianity, and that which characterises and distinguishes European civilisations from others, has the same source!

As I explain in my article, "The Uniqueness of Western Law," the German scholar Martin Hengel (whose material is still the best on the subject of Second Temple Period Judaism) detailed how steeped in ancient Greek thought and culture Israel, Judah and the surrounding kingdoms were. The adoption of all manner of doctrines, from Hades to the Logos, comes primarily from Hellenism; this makes it impossible to separate first-century Judaism from Greek thought. The ancient Greeks were of course an Indo-European people whose worldview was uniquely individualistic, as Ricardo Duchesne describes thoroughly in his book, The Uniqueness of Western Civilization. This is why, for instance, prominent theologians, such as N. T. Wright, can look at earlier Hebrew concepts of salvation and observe they are much more collectivist. Furthermore, the data debunk any claims that early Christianity was less European in thought, as the earliest Church writings were well-aware of this connection to Hellenistic thought and celebrated it [2].

Egalitarianism


According to de Benoist and Champetier, progressive egalitarianism "is rooted in the [Christian] idea that redemption is equally available to all mankind, since all are endowed with an individual soul whose absolute value is shared by all humanity." In a way, this is similar to the argument against individualism as rooted in Christianity but, again, this reveals either ignorance or a deliberate skewing of the historical data. Equity is a principle of law which is distinct from the beliefs of egalitarianism or equity; this principle is derived from the unique Indo-European cultural background and European tradition of perceiving oneself as a rational individual, possessing free will, and only having respect for authorities which recognise this and respect it in turn.

The role of Christianity as a successor to this unique legal tradition should be obvious to anyone who has even a passing familiarity with the concept of natural law. As I explain in greater detail in my upcoming book, The Uniqueness of Western Law, both the Catholic respect for the natural order of the human world, and the systems of Germanic and Celtic customary law, had similar equitable principles, as they had developed from the same origins; thus, there was little contention as jurists synthesised these with other laws derived from Roman private law.

In short, the genuine European tradition considers humans to have natural rights as per the natural order of human societies. This is a far cry from the ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité!’ of the French Revolution and the other revolutionary, classical liberal ideas concerning "all men being created equal", which had evolved away from natural law principles of equity and the rule of law, in a fundamental way. This was inevitable, of course, but not because there is something inherent in Christianity or the Indo-European culture from which natural law arose. Rather, the rejection of that natural law/order, during the so-called Enlightenment, led many to reassess how to temper man’s brutish nature. For example, Hobbes, having declared that men are perpetually at war, concluded that a Leviathan state was required to create an artificial order. Compare this with the Medieval concept of the negotium pacis et fides, i.e. the interpersonal business of maintaining the peace and faith of Christendom [3].  So, how did Europe fall from the grace of king’s keeping the peace among their folk, as a matter of obligation, to the impersonal, total states of today, which impose themselves as middlemen in every human interaction, maximising irresponsibility and minimising personalism?

Progressivism


Again, according to de Benoist and Champetier, "Progressivism is born of the idea that history has an absolute beginning and a necessary end, and that it unfolds globally according to a divine plan." As such, the progressivism the new right despises is presented as a modern, secularised version of the coming, eternal kingdom of Christ – e.g. a coming time of pure rationality or a global, communist utopia. This is linked to another tendency among white people, the blame for which the new right also place at the feet of Christ – over-universalising one’s morals and worldview, e.g. the almost ubiquitous liberal belief that multiculturalism will work because all people are as good and wise as Western leftists and, therefore, shall integrate into modern Western society. But, this is simply another misinterpretation of European history, willingly or unwillingly.

"For the French New Right past, present, and future are not distinct moments of a directional and vectored history," according to the "paganism" of de Benoist and Champetier, "but permanent dimensions of all lived moments. The past as well as the future always remain present in all their actuality." They identify this as a view held to by some pre-Socratic Greek philosophers, but this is certainly not a typical tradition for ancient Europeans. Rather, this seems to be an attempt to exaggerate the differences between the "linear concept of history" in Christianity, and Europeans Pagan religions; in fact, both had creation stories and apocalyptic beliefs, just as both had certain long-term cyclic views.

Attempts by some on the right to portray Christianity as fatalistic and, therefore, alien to ancient Indo-European beliefs are unlearned. Much has been written on this subject;[4] suffice it to say that European Paganism had various fatalistic beliefs, particularly regarding one’s time to die, but it was and is the Church which upholds the doctrine of free will and the ability to decide one’s own destiny. In fact, it was the denial of free will and natural law, promoted by those who wanted to accumulate as much power and impunity as possible, which led to the rise of the modern nation state and the Whiggish view of history and belief in inevitable progress in human society. Whilst the Church calls us to continually strive for a more perfect world, this is nowhere promised to occur this side of eternity.

Europe without Christianity



Would Europe be more peaceful without Christianity, as if often declared by Pagan or atheistic-inclined right-wingers? It is difficult to type such a question, let alone ask it out loud, without laughing. Let me just provide a non-exhaustive summary of intertribal conflict in Pagan Europe:
  • The Roman invasion of Gaul;
  • The Saxon, Angle and Jute invasions of Celtic and Southern tribes;
  • Continuous animosity between Germanic and Celtic tribes, which has, if anything, resurged since the division and abandonment of Christendom;
  • The Picts, Vikings etc. continued pre-Christian pillaging of neighbours, even as Christendom struggled against Islamic invasion; and
  • The inability of pre-Christian Rome to unite Northern, Pagan tribes to anywhere near the same degree as Christendom.
The common misconception among many new and alt-righters is that, whilst Christianity unarguably united Europeans and gave us the very shared identity they are seeking to retain, Christianity has somehow detracted from the "Faustian" character of the European. Completely disregarding the preservation of the classical, masculine virtues (including temperance!), the argument proceeds: Christianity left Europeans feeling guilty about more masculine traits and weakened our resolve to defend our civilisation. What this fails to grasp is that Christianity, from the early Church onwards, has never been pacifistic and tolerant to a fault (as the heathens themselves recognise, when they complain about "forced conversions" etc.).

But, what really beggar’s belief is how any alt-righters can make such contrary, idealistic statements about Paganism when the largest heathen groups in Europe, both historically and today, promote multiculturalism and behaviour the alt-righters regard as degenerate. The facts are clear, Northern Pagans were so hyper-individualistic that they happily lived alongside foreigners, without question, and built altars for their gods adjacent to their own. As H. R. Ellis Davidson puts it,
The weaknesses of the heathen religion when it came into contact with Christianity were largely practical ones. There was no central authority, no recognized body of doctrine to which to appeal, few deep certainties for which men were prepared to die. The worship of the old gods was a very individual affair… The images of several gods stood side by side in the little local temple…according to normal heathen custom, since acceptance of one god did not mean that one wholly rejected one’s neighbour’s deity [5].
I am not sure which obscure sect of Paganism they are trying to promote, but the Church is, traditionally-speaking, not so tolerant and views the inheritance of one’s cultural identity as sacred.

The erroneous argument is neatly summed up in the thesis of a recent, two-part article by Ferdinand Bardamu, titled "Why Europeans Must Reject Christianity"[6].  Sadly, this is a lengthy piece of work, espousing little more than false dichotomies and tired, biased arguments from leftists, such as Catherine Nixey. You know, "Christians burned all the books" [7] and other oft-repeated lies from the all-pervasive, anti-Christian left. This litany of errors is just that because it is built upon a single false dichotomy: "Christianity and racialism are fundamentally incompatible ideologies."

The Catholic Encyclopedia on the subject of "The Church and Eugenics" notes, "The Church therefore has no fault to find with race culture as such. Rather does she encourage it. But she wishes it carried out on right lines" [8].  Following Aquinas, the Church views this natural inclination towards one’s people and country as "a principle of being" – described thus by Pope Leo XIII: "the natural law enjoins us to love devotedly and to defend the country in which we had birth, and in which we were brought up, so that every good citizen hesitates not to face death for his native land" [9].  Whilst the "legitimate care for our country and…feelings of piety towards our own people", as described by Pius XI, is the natural order of the world [10], the Church was a particular blessing to Europe in establishing a system of peace between naturally defined people groups – principles which Francisco de Vitoria and Domingo de Soto would found international law upon:
[N]ations, despite a difference of development due to diverse conditions of life and of culture, are not destined to break the unity of the human race, but rather [are destined] to enrich and embellish [that unity] by sharing of their own peculiar gifts and by their reciprocal interchange of goods which can be possible and efficacious only when a mutual love and a lively sense of charity unite all the sons of the same Father and all those redeemed by the same Divine Blood [11].  
But, regarding the maintenance of distinctions between ethnic nationalities, Pope John XXIII comments on the above to make the Church’s position clear:
It is quite legitimate for nations to treat those differences as a sacred inheritance and guard them at all costs. The Church aims at unity, a unity determined and kept alive by that supernatural love which should be actuating everybody; she does not aim at a uniformity which would only be external in its effects and would cramp the natural tendencies of the nations concerned. Every nation has its own genius, its own qualities, springing from the hidden roots of its being. The wise development, the encouragement within limits, of that genius, those qualities, does no harm; and if a nation cares to take precautions, to lay down rules, for that end, it has the Church's approval’[12].
This sort of kinism is ubiquitous in Church writings, back to the early Church [13].  Therefore, according to Church tradition (which cannot be broken), white guilt and the desire to see white people bred out of existence in the name of multiculturalism is impious and unnatural. Do we have any such European tradition outside of the Church? No.

But, some argue, the current Pope washes migrants feet and is a multi-culti lefty. Such an argument holds no more water than to suggest that, because universities have gone to the dogs, they are the source of modernist hyper-individualism, egalitarianism and progressivism.

There are other asinine arguments bouncing around right-wing websites, which could be easily resolved through scholarly reading, not just picking up the latest sensational argument from some young leftist looking to make a quick buck. For example, declaring that most Europeans didn’t want to convert to Christianity, or that Christianity destroyed the Europeans respect for the environment, cannot stand in light of the data – some introductory recommendations being: Anthony Esolen’s The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization, H. R. Ellis Davidson’s Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, and Jean Gimpel’s The Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages. Do your homework and defend your civilisation!

Conclusion


I have been pained by this rise in rightward punching, particularly among alt-righters; it is entirely unaffordable. The above arguments reveal an increasingly commonplace cherry-picking of arguments from the status quo, both leftist and modernist, against Christianity and this begs the question: What is motivating these young men to side with the enemies of Western civilization? For de Benoist and Champetier, it would be easy to suggest a certain French pride in refusing to accept that the French Revolution had been a monumental mistake; however, I think the answer is far simpler, more human, and indeed lies at the heart of all modern, liberal tendencies.

The degree of irresponsibility and impunity, which had been attained by power-hungry monarchs during the Renaissance and peaking in the Protestant Reformation, has been democratised over the past few hundred years. The rise of the modern state, especially global liberal democracy, has been driven by a desire for greater irresponsibility, relinquishing it to the artificial, all-encompassing Leviathan. This is why the West is devoid of real men, of communities in which one’s reputation is important, of an identity, and why degenerating "welfare" spares us from bearing the consequences for our actions.

Far from being the fault of traditional Christianity, the rise of Lutheran or hyper-individualism was but the casting off of spiritual authority and all other personalistic, common forms of conscience, from princes down to paupers. The goal of plutocrats, during de Benoist’s and Champetier’s beloved Renaissance, is the true goal of Pagan-leaning alt-righters today – to be rid of an absolute, shared definition of justice from a spiritual authority, hoping of course that one isn’t totally atomised as a result. Well, not to worry; your grandchildren will rediscover all you have foregone, but in Islam. You just carry on larping as a Viking and forget all about Western civilisation, its sources and strengths, and read the occasional leftist scholar when you need positive justification for doing so.

References

  1. See Sidentop, L. (2014) Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism (Allen Lane)
  2. See St. Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho the Jew (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/justinmartyr-dialoguetrypho.html)
  3. See Jones, A.W. (2017) Before Church and State: A Study of Social Order in the Sacramental Kingdom of St. Louis IX (Emmaus Academic).
  4. See Davidson, H. R. E. (1964) Gods and Myths of Northern Europe (Penguin Books).
  5. Ibid., pp.219-220
  6. https://www.eurocanadian.ca/2018/04/why-europeans-must-reject-christianity.html
  7. Miller, G. (1996) "Did the Christians burn/destroy all the classical literature?" (http://christianthinktank.com/qburnbx.html)
  8. Gerrard, T. (1914). "The Church and Eugenics," in The Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: The Encyclopedia Press) (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/16038b.htm)
  9. Pope Leo XIII (1890) "Sapientiae Christianae" (http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_10011890_sapientiae-christianae.html)
  10. Pope Pius XI (1932) "Caritate Christi Compulsi" (http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_03051932_caritate-christi-compulsi.html)
  11. Pope Pius XII (1939) "Summi Pontificatus" (http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_20101939_summi-pontificatus.html)
  12. Pope John XXIII (1961) "Mater et Magistra" (http://www.newadvent.org/library/docs_jo23mm.htm)
  13. Adi (2014) "Kinism in the Early Church" (http://faithandheritage.com/2014/02/kinism-in-the-early-church/)

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