Radix Journal

Radix Journal

A radical journal

Category: Identity

Myth, Mental Illness, and Political Extremism

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from the forthcoming book “American Extremist: The Psychology of Political Extremism”.  An unfortunate consequence of the medicalization and naturalizing of the mind (and the body)…

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from the forthcoming book “American Extremist: The Psychology of Political Extremism”. 

An unfortunate consequence of the medicalization and naturalizing of the mind (and the body) has been to view cognitive dysfunctions and personality disorders almost exclusively in terms of biological causes.  In those situations where thinkers dare to look beyond the biological, the tendency to consider environmental and even political causes will emerge.  So too, will these theorists turn towards explanations that emphasize various technological and cultural innovations (the omnipresence of visual and auditory stimuli), narcissistic industries (the arts, including fashion, music, and cinema), and the demands that changing work environments have on psychomotility), share in contributing to the phenomenon of human psycho-social dysfunction.  To the credit of such thinkers, new disciplines have emerged in the last century to address these problems.  However, this too has proven insufficient.  This is not to say that theories of physical trauma, congenital disturbances of neurobiological processes, rapidly changing technological and environmental demands, and considerations relating to the individual’s political circumstance are not significant, but should we consider the explosion of mental health problems in industrialized and modernized societies – in particular over the last quarter century – as well as our failure to treat persistent psychiatric conditions, then we must admit that something is awry in our analysis.  Thomas Szasz wrote of the myth of mental illness in 1974, but in this work I would like to discuss myth and mental illness.

Medicalization of the Mind

The how of human behavior throughout most of our history has been relegated to the domain of religion, in particular through the use of myth and parable to convey truths about our nature, and as such, to provide archetypes or models which we can then internalize and embody in our actions.  Throughout our history these archetypes have provided the form for consciousness (we could also call that ‘personality’), and the use of myth and parable has served as a kind of moral and ethical education.  During that time, we regarded these societal tools with great care and as such they were not easily dismissed by past regimes; when new mythical systems were adopted, almost always for the purpose of political consolidation and expansion, the most successful societies either retained significant features of the existing system, and if pressed, wiped out any trace of their existence (including the people who held on to them).  What we see in our current situation is a covering, an overlaying, of the existing mythic and parabolic foundation upon which America was founded.  An analogue to this may be found in Christopher Caldwell’s recent book The Age of Entitlement, where he pointed out that America is presently divided between the founding constitutional document and its mid-twentieth century legal replacement (brought about by the civil rights movement); we are not only contending with dueling legal understandings, but dual and incompatible understandings of our own mythical, historical, and parabolic origins.

Stepping aside from the technical and historical implications of that statement and moving directly to its psychological consequences, we can say that perhaps to a greater extent than people are a product of their race, ethnicity, or geographical origin, they are the result of their mythological and parabolic inheritance.  If a people can be ripped from their inherited narratives, which are best understood as a true collective fiction or ideology, or merely have their narratives re-written in a way that is disempowering, then they necessarily become psychologically vulnerable to the slings and arrows of malevolent narratives and cognitive colonization.  New narratives emerge which provide a different set of ethical and moral codes, which, as we can plainly see, do not foster the development of agency, maturity, and eusocial intimacy.  Rather, they engender quite the opposite.

Moreover, such people become alienated from their own identities, the result of which is a kind of false consciousness and the development of an othered self-concept.  Natural instincts honed over generations of natural and sexual selection thus become problematized.  Conformity to a set of mythical and evolutionary behaviors, themselves finely tuned and highly adaptive are now indicators of repression, trauma, or worse, fascist tendencies.  Seen in this light, mental illness can be understood as the result of a conflict between a dysgenic mythos and the natural psychological tendencies which seek realization within an orderly mental framework.  While it is not ideal to describe the resulting psychological deficits using the language of mental illness (a concept so bound up in pseudo-medical and pseudo-scientific complications as to be unwieldy in helping us to achieve greater clarity), understood in its conventional sense it does give us a point of discursive origin – the dysfunction of human thought and action.  Operating from the insights afforded to us by narrative theory – stated simply, the idea that storytelling is an essential component of human cognition – we would be better served to work with a parabolic and mythological conception of psychological dis-ease.

In short, the subversion of religious, national, and ethnic mythos grants a tremendous capacity for political and social control.  Much of contemporary discourse is itself a fight over the rights to our foundational myths, so that they may be used to combat the social and political ills of our time – namely racism, anti-Semitism, fascism, inequality, misogyny, colonialism, imperialism, and homophobia (to name a few).  One such example of this contest for cultural supremacy may be found in the work of Donna Zuckerberg who wrote the book Not All Dead White Men, partly with the intention of de-fanging classic texts (such as those of the Stoics) who, in her view, served as a legitimating force that aided far-right misogyny.  In a 2018 interview with The Guardian, Zuckerberg was quoted as saying,

The ancient world was deeply misogynistic – it was a time when there was no word for rape, feminism did not exist and women’s actions were determined by male relatives.”

Other choice quotes from the same interview bemoaned the fact that white supremacists and racists:

“…long appropriated the history, literature and myth of the ancient world to their advantage. Borrowing the symbols of these cultures, as the Nazi party did in the 1940s, can be a powerful declaration that you are the inheritor of western culture and civilisation”; that these texts were being “distorted and stripped of context”;

And that furthermore,

“Classics are wrought with histories and narratives of oppression and exclusion.” 

While universities make progressive attempts to broaden the canon so students aren’t simply reading one dead white man after another,

“the manosphere rebel against this. They see themselves as the guardians of western civilisation and the defenders of its cultural legacy.”

One last statement, simply to punctuate the point,

“By quoting Marcus Aurelius – as Steve Bannon is known to often do – Red Pillers perpetuate the idea that they, white men, are the intellectual authority under threat from women and people of colour.”

We can find countless examples of this phenomenon, though I won’t go into quite as exhaustive an investigation here (but a few more will further illuminate the point I have already made).  In her 1976 work, The Laugh of the Medusa, Feminist theorist Helene Cixous reinterpreted the Perseus myth as an expression of male fragility and terror.  In her own words:

“Too bad for them if they fall apart upon discovering that women aren’t men, or that the mother doesn’t have [a penis].  But isn’t this fear convenient for them?  Wouldn’t the worst be, isn’t the worst, in truth, that women aren’t castrated, that they have only to stop listening to the Sirens (for the Sirens were men) for history to change its meaning?  You only have to look at the Medusa straight on to see her.  And she’s not deadly.  She’s beautiful and she’s laughing.  Men say that there are two unrepresentable things: death and the feminine sex.  That’s because they need femininity to be associated with death; it’s the jitters that gives them a hard-on! for themselves! They need to be afraid of us.  Look at the trembling Perseus moving backward toward us, clad in apotropes.  What lovely backs!  Not another minute to lose.  Let’s get out of here.”

A pioneering moment in what would later develop into the discipline of Queer Theology, Hugh William Montefiore wrote in 1967 of Jesus Christ’s obvious homosexuality.  In the paper titled Jesus, the Revelation of God, Montefiore wrote,

Men usually remain unmarried for three reasons: either because they cannot afford to marry or there are no girls to marry (neither of these factors need have deterred Jesus); or because it is inexpedient for them to marry in the light of their vocation (we have already ruled this out during the “hidden years” of Jesus’ life); or because they are homosexual in nature, in as much as women hold no special attraction for them. The homosexual explanation is one which we must not ignore.”

Bishop Hugh William Montefiore, author of “Jesus, the Revelation of God”.

Saint Sebastian, the early Christian saint and martyr who was killed during Diocletian’s persecution of Christians has since enjoyed a second life as a symbol for the pain of closeted homosexuals.  Richard A. Kaye wrote that

“Contemporary gay men have seen in Sebastian at once a stunning advertisement for homosexual desire (indeed, a homoerotic ideal), and a prototypical portrait of a tortured closet case.”

The 1619 Project, begun by New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones (and which recently was awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary), is another such example of narrative-based political action heavily dependent on myth as a means for influencing thought and action.  The project argued, among other things, that the American Revolution was fought to preserve the institution of slavery on the freshly settled continent.  While I do not intend to rebut the arguments and reinterpretations presented in this paragraph, they do serve to underscore my position – myths make the people.  Ayn Rand was alleged to have remarked positively at the release of the 1977 television series, Roots, arguing that it was an important work which provided African-Americans with a sense of myth and history, having lost this connection as a result of the slave trade.  Clearly we can see what we may call mythic competition, as the story of the African slaves has been transported from a peripheral, though integral, part of American history to the front-and-center position it currently enjoys.

To quote Derrida from his lecture “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences” (who in turn was quoting Levi-Strauss),

“The myth and the musical work thus appear as orchestra conductors whose listeners are the silent performers. If it be asked where the real focus of the work is to be found, it must be replied that its determination is impossible. Music and mythology bring man face to face with virtual objects whose shadow alone is actual…. Myths have no authors”.

And because myths have no authors, they can be seen as part of the commons – belonging to the public domain – and therefore subject to an unending sequence of reappropriations.  An unwillingness to secure a ‘rightful’ interpretation, or at least designating an interpretative or priestly class of sufficient loyalty, thus opens the populace up to powerful and unrelenting psychological manipulation.  Not all political power comes from the barrel of a gun; often we find the pen to be just as mighty as the pistol.

The appropriation of myth has powerful implications for the development of a secure identity. Mythical reevaluations are to large degree the unavoidable consequence of both cultural evolution and involution; the more a people migrate from their formative circumstances, the greater is the need for their myths and parables to be recontextualized so they may make sense of new challenges and circumstances.  There may be a political dimension to this process or it may reflect simple pragmatic necessities, sometimes both at once.  In our present situation it is difficult to deny the political motivations behind the repurposing of Western and American mythology.  Whether owing to the desire to suppress political opposition, or as the logical result of a democratization of the arts, whereby marginalized peoples seek to break the yoke of oppressive, supremacist, and phallogocentric narratives (itself a revolutionarily political act), we see in all instances a will to power seeking its own exertion and preservation.

Persecution and Suffering as foundational myth.

Persecution and suffering, being so central to the founding mythology of many Americans (be they English, African, Irish, Jewish, or otherwise) thus provides a wellspring of resentment, angst, and terror with which to be drawn from and marshaled for reasons of political efficiency.  By no means are these the only themes to be found in our myths, nonetheless they have proven the most enduring and politically expedient for the achievement of control and subjugation.  Consider the following realities of victimhood: The Jewish-American fears an inevitable persecution at the hands of his Gentile neighbor.  The African-American fears he will never free himself from the slavery of his Caucasian oppressor.  The European-American increasingly suffers under the weight of his own mythical tyranny, for increasingly his narrative is one of original sin, situating him as the sole agent of evil in the modern world.  Woman, too, anguishes at her inability to escape man’s cloying grasp.  And as the revolution of human rights continues its march into the adolescence our new century, homosexuals and transsexuals find themselves similarly – and in their view, most significantly – suffering victimhood for the mere crime of existing.  Resentment, that rich and eminently minable psychological resource, may be the prevailing feeling of our time; so long as this remains the case we will find ourselves helpless to improve our current circumstance and realize the ambitions of the last century.

Fellow Radix stalwart Dr. Edward Dutton would tell us that political extremism and its concomitant psychological maladaptations find their origins through the evolution of the spiteful mutant.  And this may be true to a very large degree.  But a mere bad roll of the genetic dice alone could not account for the unprecedented level of cultural and political turmoil that the United States is presently confronted with.  Amassing large swaths of human capital (be they spiteful mutants or otherwise) will aid the pursuit of political power, but as Gustave Le Bon showed us, they are not in and of themselves sufficient to achieve any purpose.  They must be guided, massaged, spellbound before they may become useful political golems.  Mental illness and political extremism go hand-in-hand; while evolutionary pressures integrally set the stage for psychological and political development, we must understand as well the role that myth – be it through religious, poetic, literary, cinematic, or musical transmission – plays in giving shape to the mind of man.

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The Absolute Essence

What lies buried shall be unearthed, and who has been rendered oblivious shall be invited to remember. Working towards this is the main task imposed on us.

What lies buried shall be unearthed, and who has been rendered oblivious shall be invited to remember. Working towards this is the main task imposed on us.

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Death by Modernity: Michael Haneke’s “The Seventh Continent”

What should one do when they feel dead on the inside? When yesterday, today, and tomorrow all bleed into one another and when society ceases to provide any kind of…

What should one do when they feel dead on the inside? When yesterday, today, and tomorrow all bleed into one another and when society ceases to provide any kind of meaning?

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On Conservatism, Identity, Heidegger and Archeofuturism

Conservatism cannot deliver what is needed, it is opposed to radical changes, it is opposed to radical ideas.

Conservatism cannot deliver what is needed, it is opposed to radical changes, it is opposed to radical ideas.

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“Keep In Mind” by Xurious & Hiraeth

Recently Dissident Right musicians Xurious and Hireath have combined on a pair of excellent music tracks.  The first called “Keep in Mind” can be found below on Hiraeth’s channel. The…

Recently Dissident Right musicians Xurious and Hireath have combined on a pair of excellent music tracks.  The first called “Keep in Mind” can be found below on Hiraeth’s channel. The equally stirring “We’re Gonna Make It” can also be found there.

We hope this new power duet of nationalist music continues to collaborate.  Enjoy.

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Why I Can’t Stand St. Patrick’s Day

I’ve always instinctively disliked St. Patrick’s Day. Growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I was inured to the multicultural calendar of ethnic holidays I didn’t resonate with or understand….

I’ve always instinctively disliked St. Patrick’s Day. Growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I was inured to the multicultural calendar of ethnic holidays I didn’t resonate with or understand. But no one ever expected me to actually celebrate Rosh Hashanah—or wear T-shirts that read “I’ve got a little Jewish in me” or pinch anyone not donning a yarmulke. At one point, I started wearing Orange on March 17 . . . though the message was seemingly lost on most everyone I encountered.

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The God of White Dispossession

“MLK Day” has become the high holy day of the American liturgical calendar. No other statesman, not Washington, Jefferson, or Lincoln, is deemed worthy of a holiday all to his own. And no other national holiday seems to carry such relevant, pressing *meaning* for Americans as the third Monday in January.  The 4th of July has become an excuse for a backyard barbecue. The MLK anniversary, on the other hand, inspires Americans to ask who we are and what our higher ideals should be.

“MLK Day” has become the high holy day of the American liturgical calendar. No other statesman, not Washington, Jefferson, or Lincoln, is deemed worthy of a holiday all to his own. And no other national holiday seems to carry such relevant, pressing meaning for Americans as the third Monday in January.  The 4th of July has become an excuse for a backyard barbecue. The MLK anniversary, on the other hand, inspires Americans to ask who we are and what our higher ideals should be.

NPI’s co-founder, Samuel Francis, who was active in the debates about the institution of the holiday in mid-’80s, recognized then that the significance of Martin Luther King Jr. stretched far beyond the legal and political technicalities of the Civil Right Act.  The celebration of the man represented a great change in how Americans understood their nation.

[T[he true meaning of the holiday is that it serves to legitimize the radical social and political agenda that King himself favored and to delegitimize traditional American social and cultural institutions — not simply those that supported racial segregation but also those that support a free market economy, an anti-communist foreign policy, and a constitutional system that restrains the power of the state rather than one that centralizes and expands power for the reconstruction of society and the redistribution of wealth. In this sense, the campaign to enact the legal public holiday in honor of Martin Luther King was a small first step on the long march to revolution, a charter by which that revolution is justified as the true and ultimate meaning of the American identity. In this sense, and also in King’s own sense, as he defined it in his speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, the Declaration of Independence becomes a “promissory note” by which the state is authorized to pursue social and economic egalitarianism as its mission, and all institutions and values that fail to reflect the dominance of equality — racial, cultural, national, economic, political, and social — must be overcome and discarded.

By placing King — and therefore his own radical ideology of social transformation and reconstruction — into the central pantheon of American history, the King holiday provides a green light by which the revolutionary process of transformation and reconstruction can charge full speed ahead. Moreover, by placing King at the center of the American national pantheon, the holiday also serves to undermine any argument against the revolutionary political agenda that it has come to symbolize. Having promoted or accepted the symbol of the new dogma as a defining — perhaps the defining — icon of the American political order, those who oppose the revolutionary agenda the symbol represents have little ground to resist that agenda.

Sam is all too correct that “MLK writ large” has become the foundation of American identity; in many ways, the situation is far worse than the one he depicted in 1998.

At the time, Sam described a pitched battle between MLK’s egalitarian “Dream” and “traditional American social and cultural institutions,” which he describes, in Cold War language, as “anti-Communist foreign policy,” free-markets, and the Constitution.

What Sam might not have grasped in 1998, but understood fully later, is that by the turn of the 21st century, the MLK counter-culture was (and is) the Establishment. There are precious few “traditional American social and cultural institutions” that do not honor MLK or treat “The Dream” as informing their missions.

And this is not solely the case for the more overtly liberal ones like the Department of Education. No less a putative bastion of conservative values than the U.S. Army is led by men like Four-Star General George Casey, who in 2009, in response to a Muslim Army Major who murdered 13 of his fellow soldiers as an act of jihad, averred,

What happened in Fort Hood was a tragedy. But I believe it would become an even greater tragedy if our Diversity becomes a casualty. And it’s not just about Muslims. We have a very diverse Army; we have a very diverse society; and that gives us all strength.

MLK unites the Left (tactical disputes between Malcolm X and the pacifist reverend have long since gone by the wayside). And in a strange way, he unites the Right as well. “Judged By The Content Of Their Character” is the central (if not sole) argument against multiculturalism and affirmative-action offered forth by self-styled “conservatives.” And King is counted as an American icon and hero not only at left-wing and liberal gatherings but at those of the “Religious Right” and Beltway Republicans.

Glenn Beck—who, in his radio and television programs and mass rallies, has created a kind of religion of MLK—might actually turn Sam’s polemic on its head and claim that MLK is the hero of American foreign policy and Constitutional government. And he would, in a sense, be correct—even in the matter of foreign affairs. Washington’s violent incursions into the Middle East are invariably accompanied by promises that all shall vote, women shall attain undergraduate educations, and minorities shall be empowered.

Despite conservatives’ wishful thinking, The Dream—in all its manifestations—is the antithesis of a free society. Government’s enforcing that all people and businesses make judgments non-racially is, in itself, a totalitarian notion and has, in fact, resulted in a massive interventionist infrastructure and bureaucracy. (Rand Paul tepidly hinted at as much during his 2010 Senate campaign.) The costs of the industry of “civil rights” and “diversity training” in the workplace can be measured in the hundreds of billions, if not trillions, per year. (And pace conservative revisionism, the actual Martin Luther King Jr. unequivocally advocated most all of the measures done in his name.)

More deeply, “non-discrimination” as a value is the enemy of all tradition, not just the Anglo-Saxon American society it has helped destroy. The version of The Dream that conservatives like—that of interracial hand-holding and vague libertarianism—is ultimately a vision of race-less, family-less, class-less, history-less individuals, happily experiencing equality with other individuals of various shades, all integrated by the marketplace and government. Tradition is, at its root, about being a part of something larger than oneself. The Dream is about becoming a self-contained atom.

Conservatives might think it cute to quote some of King’s more libertarian utterances back at liberals, as a form of “PC Judo.” But in the end, they will be the losers of such a gambit.
Martin Luther King Jr., a fraud and degenerate in his life, has become the symbol and cynosure of White Dispossession and the deconstruction of European civilization. We shall overcome!


This essay was first published on January 20, 2014, at RadixJournal.com and NPIAmerica.org.

 

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America—A View From The French New Right

No one likes to be the object of criticism, Americans no more than any other people. And when someone is the target of criticism, he should not be expected always…

No one likes to be the object of criticism, Americans no more than any other people. And when someone is the target of criticism, he should not be expected always to agree with it. It is important, however, to comprehend that criticism, to take it seriously on its own terms, and not just dismiss it as inspired by malice, jealousy or ignorance.

The criticism that the French New Right (NR) has leveled at America has earned it an unjustifiable label of being inspired by some kind of hidden French chauvinism or “anti-American” phobia. And too often the New Right’s criticism has been poorly understood. Some Americans—who are themselves critical of what their country has now become and the way it has evolved—assume that the criticism is aimed primarily at the America of today. This is not true. The criticism the NR addresses against America is aimed, in fact, at the very foundation of what we call the “American ideology”—an ideology going back to the Founding Fathers. Or to put it differently, this is not a criticism of multiracial (or “multicultural”) America of modern and postmodern times, but primarily a criticism aimed at the America created by Whites and Anglo-Saxon Christians.

As a way of adding some final touches to Tomislav Sunic’s book, I’d like to outline the general thrust of this criticism.


Europe has never declared war on the United States. It is clear, however, that from its very beginning, the United States of America has had a score to settle with Europe. America was born out of desire to break up with Europe. What immigrant communities in the New World first and foremost desired was to dispense with the rules and political principles that prevailed in Europe. The American nation was born in a contractual form during the era of modernity, evoking largely the “primal scene” as imagined by Sigmund Freud: the children get together in order to kill their father and afterwards they draft a contract sanctioning the relationship between equals.

Evidently, the father in that scheme was Europe. It was necessary to make a clean break with the past in order to create a new humankind. Thus, in the Federalist Papers we read:

Had no important step been taken by the leaders of the Revolution for which a precedent could not be discovered,no government established of which an exact model did not present itself, the people of the United States might, at this moment have been numbered among the melancholy victims of misguided councils, must at best have been laboring under the weight of some of those forms which have crushed the liberties of the rest of mankind. Happily for America and we trust for the whole human race, they pursued a new and more noble course. They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society. They reared the fabrics of governments which have no model on the face of the globe.[1]

Likewise, it was against Europe that in December 1823 James Monroe stated the central tenet of his famous “Doctrine,” that is, that no European intervention should be tolerated at any point whatsoever on the American continent. “We have listened too long to the courtly muses of Europe,” exclaimed for his part the poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th century. “In many respects,” as Dominique Moisi and Jacques Rupnik remark,

America is anti-Europe. It was born out of desire to create a “new Jerusalem” on earth in order to overcome the limitations and errors of the European history.

Given that U.S. citizenship is founded on a contract between immigrants of diverse origins, it follows that all cultural idiosyncrasies must be relegated into the private sphere, which means that they must be temporarily held outside the notion of citizenship. This requirement perfectly matches with the individualist philosophy of the Founding Fathers. It was in America, for the first time ever, that a society was construed composed exclusively of individuals and not of groups, just as capitalism itself presupposed a brand of individualism oriented first toward the property possession.

Sometimes the indifference of the Americans toward history is explained by a relative short duration of the existence of their country. This explanation does not sound convincing. After all, two centuries is a long stretch of time. In fact, the problem is not so much that Americans “have no history” but rather that they do not wish to have one. And they do not wish to have one because, for them, the past is reminiscent of their European roots, which they once attempted to discard. “This is the only people without any roots and genealogy,” wrote, quite fondly, the liberal author Guy Sorman. Thomas Jefferson expressed the same idea by saying that each generation forms a “separate nation.” “The dead,” he said, “have no rights.” Daniel Boorstin, the former director of the Library of Congress, wrote that “the notion of hyphenated Americans is un-American.

I believe that there are only Americans. Polish-Americans, Italian-Americans, or African-Americans are an emphasis that is not fertile…. Americans prefer to be called by their first names and abandon the names of their heritage. The same applies to objects, the trend being toward the unsustainable and the disposable.

The same observation was made by Christopher Lasch, who wrote that in the U.S. “the removal of the roots has always been seen as the prerequisite for increased freedoms.” Hence, America can be described as a civilization of space and not a civilization of time. Its founding myth is not the origin, but the frontier, which in 1893 Frederick Jackson Turner interpreted as the most representative notion of the American ideal, that is, the aspiration toward “the conquest of space.” “What other people experience as history,” observes Jean-Paul Dollé, “the Americans perceive as a sign of underdevelopment.”

And the Americans did not wish to break up with only Europe. They also wanted to create a new society that would regenerate mankind. They wanted to create a new “promised land” that would become the model of the Universal Republic. This Bible-inspired theme, based on the idea of the “chosen” America, has, from its outset and by a purported divine choice, constituted the foundation of a “civil religion” and of American “exceptionalism.” It has kept resurfacing as a leitmotif throughout American history, ever since the days of the Pilgrims, as for instance when the Massachusetts Bay theologian John Cotton suggested the adoption of Hebrew as the official language for the former British colonies. John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which was founded in 1629, asserted:

We must always consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill—the eyes of all people are upon us. Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us—and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, state and local, must be as a city upon a hill.[2]

Similar statements were made by William Penn, the chief of the Quaker colony of future Pennsylvania, only to be echoed by the settlers of Virginia. As early as 1668, William Stoughton exclaimed: “God sifted a whole nation that he might send choice grain over into this wilderness.”[3] For Daniel Webster, the United States is a “promised land,”

if indeed it be designed by Providence that the grandest exhibition of human character and human affairs shall be made on this theatre of the Western world.[4] Thomas Jefferson defines a single set of individual and collective rights for all men. Influenced by the doctrine of natural rights, these rights were held to be universal and valid in all times and places. On November 13, 1813, John Adams exhorted the Americans to “our pure, virtuous, public spirited, federative republic that will last forever, govern the globe and introduce the perfection of man.”[5] Even in 1996, the “conservative” U.S. Senator Jesse Helms exclaimed, “The United States must lead the world with the moral torch… and serve as an example to all peoples.”

The goal is not just welcoming the poor and the outcast, as proclaimed in the inscription on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty:

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she [Mother of Exiles]
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”[6]

The goal is also to enable the newcomers to take revenge against the country of their origin. And also to continue to proceed in a manner that would eventually lead the whole world to impregnate itself with the idea that the American society is the perfect society and that the descendants of the Puritans are God’s elect. Besides, it is the Puritan theology of the “covenant” that inspired the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, as put forward by John L. O’Sullivan in 1839:

Our national birth was the beginning of a new history, the formation and progress of an untried political system, which separates us from the past and connects us with the future only; and so far as regards the entire development of the natural rights of man, in moral, political, and national life, we may confidently assume that our country is destined to be the great nation of futurity…. Who, then, can doubt that our country is destined to be the great nation of futurity?[7]

In other words, if God had chosen to favor the Americans, they should be entitled to convert other peoples whichever way they see best and most expedient.

Hence, on the one hand we are witnessing isolationism—America must separate itself from the outside world, which is seen as corrupt. On the other hand, there is a need for the “crusade”—the world must gradually be penetrated with the universal values of the American system. In economics, free-trade policies have never prohibited the use of protectionism, whenever this was deemed necessary; similarly, in foreign policy, isolationism, coupled with the spirit of “crusade,” can march hand in hand. These are the two sides of the same messianic vocation and a typical example of how political universalism is just a mask for ethnocentrism, that is to say, a peculiar model with planetary ambitions.

This underlying certitude explains the extraordinary stability of the U.S. system. In the course of its history, the United States has known only one important political model, a model which has virtually remained unchanged ever since the days of the Founding Fathers. The Constitution, largely inspired by Locke, and generally speaking by the philosophy of Enlightenment, and vetted through Puritanism, has become a sort of sacred monument that makes of Americanism a genuine religion. Be they on the right or on the left, all Americans are in agreement that they have a mission to spread “the word” to mankind. Even the most frenzied utopians do not call into question the authority of the Constitution or the superiority of individual initiative. The system can be tentatively improved or reformed, but it must be remain fundamentally unchanged, insofar as it meshes with the very existence of the country. Whereas in Europe it is still possible to refer to some of the countless political models that existed in the past, the political debate in America reduces itself to discussions about the relative merits of Hamilton, Jefferson, Washington, et al. Fascism and Communism have never had any real impact on the United States, nor has the idea of counterrevolution, nor critical Marxism, nor revolutionary syndicalism, nor anarcho-syndicalism, situationism, etc. At universities, Political Science courses often evolve around long discussions about the work of the Founding Fathers, who are portrayed as people of unsurpassable legacy. Even the eternal debate between Federalists and Anti-federalists, between the Hamiltonians and the Jeffersonians, is, in fact, a family feud, which never calls into question the underlying political consensus.

American domestic politics is often reduced to a competition between the two major parties, which in the eyes of the Europeans say more or less the same thing. Electoral competitions, with their conventions organized as circus shows, are entirely dependent on money. “Democracy” in America equals financial oligarchy. The elections are financial effusions of the billionaire class. For the Americans, it is considered natural that politicians must be rich—in my view, society should be extremely skeptical of anyone who is rich and powerful at the same time—just as it is natural for the politicians to exhibit their wives and children in public meetings, while multiplying religious slogans in their speeches. In continental Europe, a head-of-state addressing his constituents with “God bless you!” and inviting the parliamentarians to a day of prayer and fasting would be viewed by many as a person ripe for the mental asylum. . .

The flip side of this institutional paralysis is formidable conformism and extraordinary monotony of a society that, decade after decade, asserts, with the same docile conviction, that America is a “free country,” while adhering to the same modes, abiding by the same conventions, repeating the same slogans, and, of course, wearing the same uniforms (jeans and T -shirts with a logo of a university that one never attended or a baseball team of which one is not a member). This monotony was already described by Alexis de Tocqueville, who noted that the sequence of commotion and fleeting fashions never augur anything new in America. About the same time the Countess of Merlin also remarked that life of the Americans is “an eternal course in geometry.”

The same messianic certitude inspires American foreign policy, whose main principle is that what is good for America must also be good for the rest of the world—which, in turn, must allow America to expect from its allies financial contributions and applause. As a secularized guise of the Puritan ideal, foreign policy is based on the idea that only the lack of information or the intrinsic evil of foreign leaders explains the reluctance of people around the world to embrace the American way of life. As Jean Baudrillard wrote, the United States is a society

whose naiveté can be described as unbearable and whose fixed idea is that America is the perfect completion of everything that others dream about.[8]

“International relations” is nothing but a global diffusion of the American ideal on the planetary level. Since they assume that they represent the model of perfection, American do not feel obliged to get to know others. It remains for others to adopt the American way. “The tradeoff is uneven,” observes Thomas Molnar, “because America has nothing to learn but everything to teach.”[9] And indeed, everything that happens in America must eventually happen elsewhere in the world. In other words, foreign policy has for a goal the creation of unified humanity no longer in need of any foreign policy. Under such circumstances one must not be surprised that setbacks encountered by the United States in the international arena are often the results of America’s inability to comprehend that other peoples think differently than they do. In fact, for the Americans, the external world (“the rest of the world”) simply does not exist, or rather it exists in so far as it becomes Americanized—a necessary precondition to become comprehensible.

Many observers have noticed the importance of religion in the American society. “In God we trust” is written on all banknotes, and since 1956, it has become a national motto. In the United States, almost all official ceremonies are preceded or followed by a prayer. As of 1923, the Reverend J.B. Soames declared in Washington, during a solemn blessing of the military equipment: “If Jesus Christ came back to Earth he would be white, American and proud of it!” Tocqueville already observed,

It is the religion that gave birth to the Anglo-American societies. One must never forget this; in the United States, religion is therefore intermingled with all the national habits and all the sentiments to which a native country gives birth.[10]

Religion is often redefined in an optimistic sense, consistent with the requirements of practical materialism and aspirations of the people who has never ceased to believe in the virtues of technology and who spontaneously assume–given that the sense of the tragic is alien to it—that somehow things will always sort themselves out in the end. The well known American professor Thomas L. Pangle, in his study on Montesquieu and his influence on the Founding Fathers, suggests the adoption of liberal, commercial republicanism and the spirit of commerce as the best regime

fundamentally opposed, not only to insecurity, but also to both the austere civic virtue of republican antiquity and to religious self-transcendence or otherworldliness.[11]

The bottom line is the reconciliation of religion with optimism inherited from the Enlightenment and embedded in the direction pointing toward the future and the mystique of progress. From John Winthrop to George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the Americans have never given up on the belief in progress, which often leads them to the conclusion that material and technological developments will also bring about the betterment of mankind. In this world of ours, only through the hoarding of material goods can a person be saved. Hence the idea of “redemption” through the conversion to the American way of life. Calvinism had already tried to solve this problem of “predestination” by interpreting material success as a sign of divine election. The glorification of individual performance, the spirit of capitalism, the pacifying virtues of “smooth trade,” all of this nurtures hopes that the accumulation of wealth will someday erase all evil. Evil becomes a “mistake,” a state of imperfection that must be eventually surpassed by increased trade and economic “development.” From now on, it is no longer ethics that justify interests but interest that attempt to justify ethics. In his letter of 1814, addressed to Thomas Law, Jefferson wrote: “The answer is that nature has constituted utility to man the standard and best of virtue.”[12] One hundred years later, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes added,

the best test of truth is the power of thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.[13]

It seems that in America truth has become a commercial issue.
Televangelists preach the “prosperity gospel”—getting rich is a sign of getting saved—before making their constant fundraising appeals.

The Puritans had retained from Locke the idea that all other human rights derive from “natural right of property.” For Madison, “the first goal of the government” is to ensure the acquisition of property. In 1792, he said: In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.”[14] Rights are interpreted as inherent attributes of human nature, something that individuals possess because of their membership to the human species, and it is those rights that governments are bound to “ensure.”

The New Right totally rejects this notion of subjective rights, which are absolutely opposed to the traditional notion of objective law. In this view, law is an equity relationship, enabling everyone to get what he deserves. Similarly, the New Right rejects the idea that private property must be an absolute.

Such an idea of man was inherent to the foundations of a society, aptly described by Ezra Pound as a “purely commercial civilization.” His words echo Tocqueville’s:

The passions that agitate the Americans most profoundly are commercial passions and not political passions, or rather, they carry the habits of trade into politics.[15]

America is certainly not the first commercial republic in history, but it is the first one to have posited that nothing whatsoever should limit economic activities, as it is the cherished means of achieving the betterment of all mankind. Being on his own, the individual counts in so much as his external activity keeps growing. Naturally, only his economic performance will properly measure his worth. “In America,” wrote Hermann Keyserling, “people really believe that the rich are superior simply because they have money; in America, having money creates, in fact, moral rights.”

Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno observed from their perspective:

Here in America, there is no difference between a man and his economic fate. A man is made by his assets, income, position, and prospects. The economic mask coincides completely with a man’s inner character. Everyone is worth what he earns and earns what he is worth.[16].

Capitalist competition represents the most ethical tribunal: the rich are the “winners,” and the “winners” are the righteous. This is the primacy of civilization of having over the civilization of being.

Such traits do not lend themselves to meditative thinking and inner reflection. When the link to others is solely nurtured by the respect for material goods and the Dollar Almighty, the result is alienation with no bounds. For the Americans, notes Anaïs Nin in his diary, “it is a sin to have an inner life.” These words may sound excessive, yet they reflect the same conclusions made by the American Christopher Lasch. In the United States there is a consistent trend to believe that intelligence must be reduced to technical knowledge and that the fixation on economic matters should help dispense with the world of pure ideas. Whoever attempts to express an original and profound idea runs the risk of encountering the answer: “Don’t be so negative. Keep it practical! Stay positive!

For the Founding Fathers, the purpose of the government was to ensure the “inalienable rights” of individuals who were “created equal.” Thusly, political life was reduced to morality and law. The American dissident HL Mencken quipped that the very opposite was true:

The worst government is the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top, there is no limit to oppression.[17]

In the United States, political action must always begin with a sudden surge of moral awareness (“Something must be done about it!”), which invariably leads to a “technical” examination of the subject matter under consideration. The law itself is a mode of expression that sets legal forms of moral characteristics inherent to the ideology of human rights. Hence, the extraordinary importance of lawyers in American politics, which Michel Crozier calls the “delirium of the proceedings” and “legal madness.” Meanwhile, the intrinsic superiority of private over public life must be loudly declared everywhere; “civil society” over the world of politics, business and economic competition over the common good. “An American, be he a government official or man on the street,” writes Thomas Molnar, “is convinced that politics as such is a bad thing and that people need to find something else in order to communicate and establish peaceful relations.”[18] As I stated above, the Americans are inclined to think that evil could disappear and that it is possible to remove the tragic trait of human existence. That is why they want to abolish politics, while at the same time bring history to an end. “America was constructed in order that it can exit history,” wrote Octavio Paz. The American “neoconservative” Francis Fukuyama believed to be able to announce its end.

Waging war has always meant for the Americans a morality “crusade.” This is why it is not enough for them to obtain military victory only. They must also annihilate the enemy, who is invariably depicted not as a leader or state that happens to be an adversary but as the incarnation of evil. Under the guise of “humanitarian intervention” or battles against “terrorists,” American wars are always “just wars,” that is to say, justa causa wars—and not wars against a justus hostis (“just enemy”). Hence, the enemy must be invariably described not just as the enemy of the moment (who could eventually also become an ally in the future), but as a criminal who deserves punishment and re-education.

The differences seem to be profound between the political thought in the continental Europe and the American mentality, marked by an economic, commercial and procedural view of the world, by the omnipresence of biblical values, as well as by technological optimism, contractualism, the language of “rights,” and the belief in progress.


I think I know the United States well, as I have sojourned there on many occasions. I have travelled in all directions, from Washington, DC, to Los Angeles, from New Orleans to Key Largo, from San Francisco to Atlanta, from New York to Chicago. I have, of course, come across a number of things that I enjoyed very much. Americans are friendly and welcoming (even if human relationship is often superficial). They have a tangible sense of community. Their biggest universities offer working conditions that the Europeans could only dream about. I can’t forget the influence that American movies had on me at a time when they were not limited to special effects or superhero nonsense. Especially impressive for me were American literature figures such as Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, William Faulkner, et al. But I also detect the reverse side of the “American way of life”: culture viewed as perishable commodities, or as “entertainment,” a technomorphic conception of human life designed to transform people into extended remote controlled terminals or computers, fake gender relations, automobile civilization and commercial architecture (there is more genuine sociability at an African local market than at an American supermarket—a prime symbol of Western nihilism), obese children groomed by television, glorification of “winners” and the obsession with consumption, fast food, a mixture of Puritans decrees and hysteric transgressions, hypocrisy, corruption, etc. Yes, I am aware of the risk of being accused of bias. But I must admit that for the America of “golden boys,” of “rednecks,” of “body-builders” and “bimbos,” of the “American dream” and cheerleaders, of “money makers” and “brokers” on Wall Street, I have no sympathy at all.

Is globalism today synonymous with Americanism? One is tempted to answer in the affirmative. The fact is that the United States has never stopped exporting its problems to the rest of the world, starting with Europe. In the opinion polls, hostility towards globalization is often accompanied by the rejection of American hegemony. Politically and culturally, globalization largely means a process of Americanization, as the dominant superpower continues to exports its merchandise, its capital, its services, its technology, but also its “industry of the imaginary,” its culture, its language, its standards of living and its own worldview.

But instead of Americanization, should it not be more appropriate to speak of “Westernization?” Many Americans consider themselves “Westerners”—with some of them even using the term “The West” as a synonym of the “white world” (politically a meaningless expression).

Etymologically, “The West” is a place where the sun sets, a place where things perish, and where history comes to an end. In the past, this term designated one of the two empires (pars occidentalis) born out of the dismemberment of the Roman Empire. Subsequently, the term became synonymous of the “Western civilization.” Today, like many other terms, it is in the process of taking on an economic aura as Western countries are primarily designed as “developed” countries. This is not a term, however, that I myself use in a positive sense. In my view, “The West” has now become the vehicle—in contrast to Europe—of a social model that has become a mirror image of nihilism. During my travels around the world, I have witnessed what happens to rooted cultures when they are affected by “The West”: traditions quickly turn into folklore for tourists, the social bond is undone, the folkways become utility oriented, the American language and the music permeate the mind, and the passion for money becomes overwhelming.

It is often understood by the expression “The West” the aggregate composed of the United States of America and Europe. But this aggregate, provided that it has ever existed, is already crumbling, as was noted some years ago by Immanuel Wallerstein.[19 The transatlantic gap widens every day more and more. Globalization, while exacerbating competition, reveals profound divergences between European interests and American interests. On the geopolitical level, the divergences are even more glaring—the United States is a maritime power, whereas Europe is a continental power. As was shown by Carl Schmitt, the logic of Land vs. Sea represents the two conflicting logics.[20] The Land is opposed to the Sea just as politics is opposed to commerce, the boundary to the wave, the telluric element to the oceanic element. Therefore, I do not identify as a “Westerner.” I am a European.

Seen from the angle of economics, capitalism was not born across the Atlantic, although it was there that it became incorporated into the national ideology: the primacy of contract, the downsizing of the state, the criticism of the “big government,” the advocacy of competition and free trade, etc. It is also in the United States that the concept of “governance” was born—firstly applied to business and then to political and social life. It must not come as a surprise that since 1945, the U.S. economy has become the central stage of the international financial system. It was the United States that established in 1947 the Internatioanl Monetary Fund (IMF) and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), succeeded in 1995 by the World Trade Organization (WTO.) Those were the institutions that liberated capital movements in 1974 in order to finance America’s deficits. In the realm of financial capital, America still retains a much higher share compared to its industrial sector. It sets the rules for international trade, whereas its monetary policies remain the chief mechanism of regulating the financial accumulation across the globe.

Just like many Europeans, I am amazed that America’s self-titled “conservatives” defend, almost without exception, a capitalist system whose expanded methodically destroys everything that they supposedly wish to conserve. Despite the structural crisis that the capitalist system has experienced over the last couple of years, American conservatives continue to celebrate capitalism as a system that allegedly respects and guarantees individual freedom, private property, and free trade. They believe in the intrinsic virtues of the market, whose mechanism they cherish as a paradigm of all social relations. They believe that capitalism has something to do with democracy and freedom. They believe in the the necessity of perpetual economic growth. They think that consumption equals happiness and that “more” is synonymous with “better.”

Capitalism, however, is not “conservative.” It is the very opposite of it. Karl Marx already observed that the dismantlement of feudalism and the eradication of traditional cultures and values are the result of capitalism, which, in turn, drowns everything in the “icy water of egotistical calculation.”[21] Today, the capitalist system, more than ever before, is poised toward the over-accumulation of capital. It needs more trade outlets, more and more markets, and more and more profit. Well, such a goal cannot be achieved unless everything that stands in its way is dismantled, starting with collective identities. A full-fledged market economy cannot operate in a sustained manner unless people first internalize a fashionable culture, consumption, and unlimited growth. Capitalism cannot transform the world into a vast market—which, to be sure, is its main objective—unless the planet is flattened and all people renounce their symbolic imaginations and continues to indulge in a fever for the endless accumulation of something new.

This is the reason why capitalism, in its attempt to erase borders, is also a system that has turned out to be far more effective and far more destructive than Communism. The reason for this is that the economic logic places profit above everything else. Adam Smith wrote that the merchant has no homeland other than the territory where he makes the biggest profit. It is this logic of the commodity, inspired often by the United States of America, which the New Right firmly opposes.

March, 2016
Paris, France

Translated from the French by Tomislav Sunic


  1. Federalist Papers , No. 14, November 30, 1787. ↩︎
  2. John Winthrop, A Modell of Christian Charity (1630), Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society (Boston, 1838), 3rd series 7:31-48, accessed June 15, 2016, http://winthropsociety.com/doc_charity.php. Winthrop delivered this sermon on board the Arbella en route to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. “A city upon a hill” is a reference to Matthew 5:14; Jesus tells his listeners, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” ↩︎
  3. Election Sermon at Boston, April 29, 1669. ↩︎
  4. The Character of George Washington, Speech at a Public Dinner, Washington, February 22, 1832. ↩︎
  5. John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, November 15, 1813, ↩︎
  6. The Statue of Liberty was given to the United States by the government of France and established in its current site off Manhattan Island in 1886. Emma Lazarus’s poem, “The New Colossus,” was written in 1883; in 1903, it was engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the lower level of the
    pedestal of the Statue. ↩︎
  7. John L. O’Sullivan, “The Great Nation of Futurity,” The United States Democratic Review, Volume 6, 1839. ↩︎
  8. Jean Baudrillard, America. ↩︎
  9. Thomas Molnar, L’Américanologie. ↩︎
  10. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume II (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 405-6. ↩︎
  11. Thomas L. Pangle, The Theological Basis of Liberal Modernity in Montesquieu’s “Spirit of the Laws” (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2010), 100. ↩︎
  12. Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Law, Esq., June 13, 1814. ↩︎
  13. Abrams v. United States, 1919, dissenting opinion. ↩︎
  14. James Madison, “Property,” National Gazette, March 29, 1792. ↩︎
  15. Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume I, 273. ↩︎
  16. Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, Gesammelte Schriften: Dialektik der Aufklärung und Schriften 1940–1950 (Frankfurt am Main: S. Fishcher Verlag GmbH, 1987). ↩︎
  17. H.L. Mencken, Minority Report: H.L. Mencken’s Notebooks , §327 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1956), 221. ↩︎
  18. Molnar, L’Américanologie. ↩︎
  19. Immanuel Wallerstein, “Does the Western World Still Exist?,” Commentary, No. 112, May 1, 2003. ↩︎
  20. See Carl Schmitt, Land und Meer: Eine weltgeschtliche Betrachtung (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1942); Land and Sea: A World Historical Meditation (Candor, New York: Telos Press, 2015). ↩︎
  21. Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto. ↩︎
6 Comments on America—A View From The French New Right

Alt Right Jane: Pride and the Prejudiced

Over at The Chronicle of Higher Education a rather hyper-sensitive blogger seeks to take the Alt Right to task. But not for the usual reasons.

You see, this time it has to do with appropriation, no not of internet memes or 80s New Wave bands, instead it focus on a famous English author: Jane Austen. It seems as if The Chronicle blogger has uncovered a nefarious scheme of internet racists who are using Jane Austen to further their “White supremacist” agenda of crafting an “ethnostate”.

Over at The Chronicle of Higher Education a rather hyper-sensitive blogger seeks to take the Alt Right to task. But not for the usual reasons.

You see, this time it has to do with appropriation, no not of internet memes or 80s New Wave bands, instead it focus on a famous English author: Jane Austen. It seems as if The Chronicle blogger has uncovered a nefarious scheme of internet racists who are using Jane Austen to further their “White supremacist” agenda of crafting an “ethnostate”.

From The Chronicle:

This view of Austen as an avatar of a superior bygone era is linked not only with fantasies of female retreat from the sexual whirl, but also with calls for white separatism. On the popular blog of the alt-right publisher Counter-Currents, the world of Austen’s novels is extolled as a prototype for the “racial dictatorship” of tomorrow. One commenter wrote, “If, after the ethnostate is created, we revert back to an Austen-like world, we males ought to endure severe sacrifices as well. … If traditional marriage à la P&P [Pride and Prejudice] is going to be imposed, again, in an ethnostate, we must behave like gentlemen.”

Yet if shared heritage is the key to incentivizing gentlemanly comportment, why are there so many cads in Austen’s world? Also, Austen’s protagonists express little of the populist boosterism and preoccupation with ethnic heritage that foster an ethnostate. Fervent patriotism is invoked sardonically rather than earnestly proclaimed: Upon his first visit to his father’s estate in the small town of Highbury, Frank Churchill archly states that he will prove that he “belong[s] to the place” and is a “true citizen.” Emma playfully replies, “I do admire your patriotism,” and Churchill parries by saying that Emma has witnessed “the very moment of this burst of my amor patriae.”

Other alt-right partisans pay backhanded compliments by emphasizing Austen’s singularity as a celebrated female novelist. In a post that debuted in 2012 on Alternative Right and has since been lauded as an alt-right “classic,” the “manosphere” blogger Matt Forney mentioned Austen as an outlier from the norm of female mediocrity: “Virtually all great leaders, thinkers and artists were men. Aristotle, Galileo, Michaelangelo [sic], Napoleon: all men. Not to say that all women are incapable of artistic, scientific or military talent; every so often, we get a Marie Curie, a Jane Austen or a Joan of Arc.” Here the alt-right finds common ground with the literary gatekeeper Harold Bloom; in his best seller The Western Canon (1994), Austen is one of four women on a list of 26 most influential authors. According to this formulation, Austen is not a trailblazer for the female authors who followed in her wake, but rather a rebuke to women who have not reached her level of achievement.

What an intensive conspiracy. In fact, it’s fevered anger like this that brings to mind one of Austen’s earlier novels, Northanger Abbey which plays which pokes fun at the popularity of “gothic” novels its time by having its protagonist see murder and danger around every corner, much the same way progressive bloggers vent about the comment sections of Alt Right articles.

Indeed, the Jane Austen outrage didn’t just stop with The Chronicle but has now penetrated into other elite purveyors of liberal discourse via The New York Times and The Paris Review.

From The Times article “Jane Austen Has Alt-Right Fans? Heavens to Darcy!”:

But it has prompted the most sustained chatter among Austen scholars, a more reliably liberal bunch who, like Ms. Wright, emphatically reject white nationalist readings of her novels.

“No one who reads Jane Austen’s words with any attention and reflection can possibly be alt-right,” Elaine Bander, a retired professor and a former officer of the Jane Austen Society of North America, said in an email.

“All the Janeites I know,” she added, “are rational, compassionate, liberal-minded people.”

That’s right! Rational, liberal minded people! We all know those Alt-Right buffoons aren’t reading books. Just look at how few references to Harry Potter they make!

Further:

In recent years, scholars have tried to find diversity in the seemingly all-white world of Austen, digging into subjects like Miss Lambe, a character in her unfinished final novel, “Sanditon,” described as a “half mulatto” heiress from the West Indies. (Yes, there is a scholarly paper with the title “The Silence of Miss Lambe.”)

But Ms. Wells said scholars teaching Austen at schools with “substantially multicultural students” still wrestled with a truth that must, perhaps, be uncomfortably acknowledged.

“Her characters are white, and her world is white,” she said. “What do you do with that?”

Of course Jane Austen comes out of a White world. This is why the commentary on the original Counter Currents article were so relevant. Because Jane Austen as a European writer speaks to peculiar conditions of European man, the same way Langston Hughes and Chaim Potok speak to their respective black and Jewish readers. All of Austen’s work takes place in a world where European identity, and in particular, regency English countryside identity, were presupposed.

The Paris Review, not to be out done, rehashes many of the same points, but includes the fact that we have also appropriated Barbour jackets (welcome news to me!):

First the white nationalists took that haircut—you know the one, an arty variant on the Marine’s high-and-tight buzz, endemic to white guys in gentrifying neighborhoods circa 2013. Then the white nationalists took Barbour field jackets, depriving a whole generation of the joys of waxed canvas. Now the white nationalists have come for Jane Austen, in whom they mistakenly see a love of tradition, and it is up to us to say: enough. Let them claim some other, lesser Regency writer—an E. T. A. Hoffmann, maybe, or even a Sir Walter Scott—and leave us to read Persuasion in peace, the animals. Jennifer Schuessler writes, “Some alt-right admirers hail Austen’s novels as blueprints for a white nationalist ‘ethno-state.’ Others cite her as a rare example of female greatness … A post on the website Counter Currents called ‘The Woman Question in White Nationalism,’ for example, includes a string of comments debating how the vision of marriage in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice fit with the ‘racial dictatorship’ necessary to preserve Western civilization. ‘If traditional marriage à la P&P is going to be imposed, again, in an ethnostate, we must behave like gentlemen,’ one commenter wrote.”

This kvetching brings to mind a line from Whit “WASP Woody Allen” Stillman’s movie Metropolitan, which has its earnest young socialist protagonist Tom Townsend debate the merits of Jane Austen with conservative young debutante’ Audrey Rouget. Upon pronouncing the concerns of Austen to be ridiculous for our times, Rouget caustically responds with “Has it ever occurred to you that today from Jane Austen’s perspective would look even worse?”

No one knows this better than the Alt Right.

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