Many of us resist writing about religion because as the saying goes, you can only make enemies and not friends with certain topics. Perhaps today that homily will be challenged by an exception. But first, we should look at a recent article that claims that the Alt Right is anti-Christian:
Almost everything written about the “alternative right” in mainstream outlets is wrong in one respect. The alt-right is not stupid. It is deep. Its ideas are not ridiculous. They are serious. To appreciate this fact, one needs to inquire beyond its presence on social media, where its obnoxious use of insult, obscenity, and racism has earned it a reputation for moral idiocy. The reputation is deserved, but do not be deceived. Behind its online tantrums and personal attacks are arguments of genuine power and expanding appeal. As political scientist George Hawley conceded in a recent study, “Everything we have seen over the past year suggests that the alt-right will be around for the foreseeable future.”
To what is the movement committed? The alt-right purports to defend the identity and interests of white people, who it believes are the compliant victims of a century-long swindle by liberal morality. Its goals are not conventionally conservative. It does not so much question as mock standard conservative positions on free trade, abortion, and foreign policy, regarding them as principles that currently abet white dispossession. Its own principles are not so abstract, and do not pretend to neutrality. Its creed, in the words of Richard Spencer, is “Race is real. Race matters. Race is the foundation of identity.” The media take such statements as proof of the alt-right’s commitment to white supremacy. But this is misleading. For the alt-right represents something more nefarious, and frankly more interesting, than white identity politics.
The alt-right is anti-Christian. Not by implication or insinuation, but by confession. Its leading thinkers flaunt their rejection of Christianity and their desire to convert believers away from it.
Knowing the society we live in, and how therefore the audience for most Christian material will be fairly politically correct, it makes sense to read past the initial boilerplate, which here is well done because it balances the perceived negative with positives, namely strength.
To summarize a lengthy article and leave out the contextual data that is already well-known to readers of Amerika, the author raises two objections: first, that the Alt Right denies Christian universalism, and second, that the Alt Right is explicitly racialist, which the author views as obstructing the Christian objective of having a higher metaphysical goal.
Before we get into that, it makes sense to clarify one additional point:
Spengler does not argue that there is no Western civilization without Christianity. He argues that there is no Christianity without Western civilization.
This dichotomy seems displeasing because it leaves out the most commonsense option: Christianity, like any other doctrine, is interpreted by the culture that adopts it. Thus Mexican Christianity has some aspects of the old gods of the Yucatan, Vodoun mixes Christian imagery with tribal practice, and European Christianity adapts the Bible to the assumptions inherent in Greco-Roman paganism.
Here we see an important distinct made by the Alt Right and other realist movements. We see no universal truths because we recognize that understanding depends on the person perceiving. We can write down all of the truths we want, but that has zero regulation over how others will interpret or use our words.
This type of Darwinian realism also recognizes that ethnic group is the foundation of culture because genetic code determines abilities and inclinations. Combine those two ideas — lack of universalism, and the genetic basis of culture — and what is left is the realization that each ethnic group has its own version of a religion.
In this sense, neither was Christianity a creation of Western Civilization, nor was Western Civilization created by Christianity. Western Civilization created its own instance of Christianity based on the fusion of Western abilities, behaviors, and values with the Christian doctrine.
To some degree, this realization comes to us from history: with the Greco-Roman empires, ancient Hittites, Indo-Aryans, and Tarim basin mummies in the past, it is clear that Western Civilization predated Christianity, as did many of its values. The Aeneid, The Republic, and The Odyssey show us that clearly.
Looking further, we can peer into Christianity and see that it has its roots in Western Civilization. The ancient Jews had ethnic roots in Europe, hybridized with Asians and others in Israel, but even more, they were great admirers of the Greeks. They incorporated a great deal of Greek learning into the Bible.
We can even trace concepts in Christianity that clearly had originators in the Greeks, who not only came first but were well-known to the ancient Judaic scribes. Those had origins that were even more distant, as in the case of the great writings of India, some of which clearly influenced early Jewish and Christian scholars.
Even more, some of Christianity clearly came from surrounding Middle East cultures such as Babylon, many of which shared influences from the Indians or Greeks. Likely there were also influences from central and northern Europe, groups that we know traded in the Middle East.
If we had to measure, Christianity would be upward of 90% Greco-Roman, Germanic European, and Indian origin. That makes it less of an invention, and more of a simplified, streamlined, and dramatic retelling of old legends. In ancient times, this was common practice as a way of keeping knowledge alive.
From a philosophical and literary perspective, for example, it would be insane to argue that the scene of the death of Christ — at the hands of democracy — was not influenced by the death of Socrates, who was condemned by Athenian democracy for corrupting the morals of youth with his philosophy.
In addition, in Christ himself we see the theme of the death and resurrection of Dionysus, whose association with wine was originally more a celebration of the abundance of the harvest and the reckless growth of nature in summer, then fading to death at the end of the year to be reborn in the new.
It would also be hard to explain away the similarities of the Garden of Eden story with the apple gifted by Aphrodite that kicked off the Trojan war, or the story of the Biblical flood as not being inspired by the story of Atlantis consumed by “streams from the heavens.” These are clearly similar tropes with similar meanings.
More likely, Jewish scribes did to Greek and other learning what they did to their own: they compiled it, summarized it, and then added layers of internal connection to bring forth the meaning in repeated figures, a process called kenning in Nordic mythology that also appears in Greek literature (“the wine-dark sea”).
Much as years later Jews would retell famous stories through Hollywood movies that made the action more vivid, emotional, and accessible, the Bible was a textbook of ancient religions made into a more compelling tale. It was also systematic and designed to be instructional, like The Republic.
If there is a secret to the success of Christianity, it is found in this retelling. This has zero bearing on its truth, since all religions are human conceptions of the divine which are passed along as philosophical knowledge through a literary and mythological language of metaphor.
Religion is not literally true in the same way that words are not the objects that they describe; they merely represent attributes of those objects in a way that humans can understand. Like a philosophy, however, religion describes the abstract structure of transcendental and metaphysical dimensions to our world.
Above, I summarized the concern about the Antichrist Alt Right as having two planks: first, that the Alt Right denies Christian universalism, and second, that the Alt Right is explicitly racialist, which the author views as obstructing the Christian objective of having a higher metaphysical goal.
On the first question, which addresses whether or not the Alt Right denies Christian universalism, the author makes a sensible argument for dual loyalties but then makes it confused in an attempt to delineate strict categorical disagreement:
But race is a modern category, and lacks theological roots. Nation, however, is biblical. In the Book of Acts, St. Paul tells his Gentile listeners, “God has made all the nations [ethnos].” The Bible speaks often of God’s creation, judgment, and redemption of the nations. In Christ there is no Gentile or Jew, yet God calls us into his life not only as individuals but as members of communities for which we are responsible.
The author offers us a dual loyalty, mainly that God can call us both as individuals and members of communities. This implies that individuality is separate from community, which to someone who recognizes the vitality of culture and influence of heritage, makes no sense.
A person who is truly “individual” lives alone and dies out after a generation. Humans like every other species are social not just because we must reproduce, but because in order to see our acts have influence and gain power, they must be amplified through the cooperation and collaboration of others.
Those who wish to live on genetically not only require a community of genetically similar people, but a social order that allows it to endure, and a degree of organization such that it is effective in doing so. Language, logic, wisdom, and even faith come from this sharing of influence and power.
For this reason, claiming loyalty to both the individual and the community is a fallacy. You can ultimately be loyal to only one because the two conflict. An individualist — one who prioritizes the individual above all else — will reject community when convenient. To have a community, we need to except in dire emergency reject the individual.
It seems paradoxical, but by prioritizing community over individual, the individual gains the ability to project his will over a greater span and time than he would have as an isolated person. This creates a sense of purpose and thus meaning in life, because the lifetime is traded in accomplishment instead of merely maintaining a self.
That requires sacrificing some individual pretense of importance for the ability to fit within the community and where the individual belongs in the natural order, acting according to what the Greeks called thymos or a desire to be recognized for having done right in the broadest sense, and avoiding hubris, or the toxic brew of narcissism, solipsism, and individualism that causes people to act self-importantly and selfishly.
However, the author interprets Christianity in the opposite direction to this, emphasizing both the individual and internationalism — “neither Gentile nor Jew” — instead of the local community and the order it has in which no individuals are equal, but all work unequally toward the same cooperative objectives and principles.
In addition, he makes a factual error regarding race, which was used interchangeably in ancient times for ethne, but also referred to root groups, such that Europeans knew they were different from Orientals and Africans, an awareness written about by both Plato and Aristotle.
He has turned to universalism in order to deny racial awareness and arising from that, a desire to avoid internationalism, in order to make his next point, which is to complain that the Alt Right is explicitly racialist, which the author views as obstructing the Christian objective of having a higher metaphysical goal
For Christians, the problem with Faustian man is not the vaunting heroism of his aims. It is the pitiable smallness of his goals. We are not meant to merely aspire to the infinite. We are called to participate in it—to be, in a word, deified. Faust could not overcome death. Through Christ, Christians already have.
In this, we see why the pagans criticize Christianity: it has forgotten that both the physical and metaphysical worlds exist in parallel because they are each part of a larger design. To choose the metaphysical over the physical is to deny our purpose here, and by doing that, to make make natural law arbitrary by denying the wisdom in the physical:
We also find suggestions of de-realization in Nietzsche, who speaks of being as “the last breath of a vaporizing reality” and remarks upon the dissolution of the distinction between the “real” and the “apparent” world. In Twilight of the Idols, he traces the history of this distinction from Plato to his own time, where the “true world” becomes a useless and superfluous idea (1889, 485–86). However, with the notion of the true world, he says, we have also done away with the apparent one. What is left is neither real nor apparent, but something in between, and therefore something akin to the virtual reality of more recent vintage.
The Platonic view holds that this world is effect and it has a cause in a more complex metaphysical reality, yet also serves a purpose in that only in this world can theory be applied and its results tested. This presents nature as more of a feedback loop between the physical and metaphysical than the either/or position of dualism.
These two worlds support one another because they share an order, although it is translated into different form in the material versus the informational. Where one provides concept, the other shows the interaction of concepts, and this gives the material world a source of great power, like how a theater play makes abstractions come alive.
In this light, it makes little sense to talk about a “higher” order that denies the real physical world and focuses only on an interpretation of the real metaphysical world. The only superior order will address both and find a way to maximize goodness in each not for the sake of the individual, but as a maintenance of order that furthers goodness.
What this author dismisses as “Faustian” neglects the very real possibility of the metaphysical in the Faustian, which is idealistic in the sense of German Idealism where the form, pattern, and idea are more important than the material methods used to achieve them.
For example, if there is a pattern to the natural order, it will require sacrifice to make it come alive in a civilization, but that the pattern is achieved is more important than the suffering needed to realize it, because from this pattern comes a unity between the order of the cosmos and that of humans.
The author, I believe, misinterprets Christianity as dualism, a philosophy which holds that the metaphysical reality is more important than the physical or that the physical is merely an entry point to the metaphysical. This philosophy encourages people to disregard the physical world and focus on the symbolic.
In that sense, it approximates the postmodern, where not only is there no singular external reality, but also because of the arbitrary nature of reality, it becomes a mere projection of human desires, rationalized by the lack of universally quantifiable external reality:
[Modernists believe that t]here is an objective natural reality, a reality whose existence and properties are logically independent of human beings—of their minds, their societies, their social practices, or their investigative techniques. Postmodernists dismiss this idea as a kind of naive realism. Such reality as there is, according to postmodernists, is a conceptual construct, an artifact of scientific practice and language. This point also applies to the investigation of past events by historians and to the description of social institutions, structures, or practices by social scientists.
If we believe dualism, and assert that the metaphysical is the “real” order and that the physical is somehow random or inconsequential, the result is that truth itself becomes arbitrary instead of being merely esoteric, or cumulative and sequentially accessible only by those who have mastered all of the previous steps to any given point.
Through this analysis, we see that there are only two options: we can see the physical and metaphysical as part of the same pattern order, or we can favor one or the other at the expense of its opposite. The latter, whether materialistic or dualistic, creates the same effect, which is a denial of the whole of reality.
This means that both fundamentalism and me-first individualism lead to the same destination. Where this gets interesting is that these are philosophies, and so can be applied as interpretations in any faith. No amount of words in a book will prevent people from making a nonsensical interpretation of that book.
For this reason, the author seems to be off-base in his criticism of the Alt Right, which adopts not a contrary material view, but an additional layer that his view does not have. In addition, it is focused more externally than personally, and so is less likely to be corrupted by individualism.
The Alt Right possesses nothing that precludes Christianity; it does, however, require that we acknowledge that Western Civilization has its own unique interpretation of Christianity, and to see that the roots of Christianity emerge from the West before being processed through the learned Judaic sages.
At the same time, we do not affirm Christianity as necessary or the source of our renewal. Like any of the other Western religions, including paganism, Christianity can be part of our society. But simply converting everyone to Christianity and forcing them to behave according to its tenets will not restore Western Civilization.
When Christians fight the Alt Right, it is usually from this perspective. In their mind, like those of conservatives for the last two centuries, we can recover by adopting the Bible and using it to force ourselves to behave. The Alt Right says that we have to get our spirits and heads right first before we can appreciate culture, faith, principles, heritage, values, or even the purpose in caring about something more than our Last Man individualistic selves.
Many of the best on the Alt Right are Christians, and if we ignore their contributions and the intense faith they feel, we commit a mistake by excluding those who understand what we are on about and are applying it to an ancient faith that is mostly of our people. Their interpretations will correct many foreign influences.
This does not mean we must join the zombie march of people who say that to be part of the Alt Right, one must be a Christian, National Socialist, White Nationalist, or other sub-heading. Those who understand the Alt Right — our mission is to restore Western Civilization — belong in it, fighting for their own ethnic tribe.
We understand that religion is like a dialect of metaphors for understanding the same truths that are discovered in every great civilization, and that these truths will rule us no matter what form we put them in. Huxley refers to this as The Perennial Philosophy:
The original scriptures of most religions are poetical and unsystematic. Theology, which generally takes the form of a reasoned commentary on the parables and aphorisms of the scriptures, tends to make its appearance at a later stage of religious history. The Bhagavad-Gita occupies an intermediate position between scripture and theology; for it combines the poetical qualities of the first with the clear-cut methodicalness of the second. The book may be described, writes Ananda K. Coomaraswamy in his admirable Hinduism and Buddhism, “as a compendium of the whole Vedic doctrine to be found in the earlier Vedas, Brahmanas and Upanishads, and being therefore the basis of all the later developments, it can be regarded as the focus of all Indian religion” is also one of the clearest and most comprehensive summaries of the Perennial Philosophy ever to have been made. Hence its enduring value, not only for Indians, but for all mankind.
At the core of the Perennial Philosophy we find four fundamental doctrines.
- The phenomenal world of matter and of individualized consciousness–the world of things and animals and men and even gods–is the manifestation of a Divine Ground within which all partial realities have their being, and apart from which they would be non-existent.
- Human beings are capable not merely of knowing about the Divine Ground by inference; they can also realize its existence by a direct intuition, superior to discursive reasoning. This immediate knowledge unites the knower with that which is known.
- Man possesses a double nature, a phenomenal ego and an eternal Self, which is the inner man, the spirit, the spark of divinity within the soul. It is possible for a man, if he so desires, to identify himself with the spirit and therefore with the Divine Ground, which is of the same or like nature with the spirit.
- Man’s life on earth has only one end and purpose: to identify himself with his eternal Self and so to come to unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground.
In Hinduism the first of these four doctrines is stated in the most categorical terms. The Divine Ground is Brahman, whose creative, sustaining and transforming aspects are manifested the Hindu trinity. A hierarchy of manifestations connects inanimate matter with man, gods, High Gods, and the undifferentiated Godhead beyond.
In Mahayana Buddhism the Divine Ground is called Mind or the Pure Light of the Void, the place of the High Gods is taken by the Dhyani-Buddhas.
Similar conceptions are perfectly compatible with Christianity and have in fact been entertained, explicitly or implicitly, by many Catholic and Protestant mystics, when formulating a philosophy to fit facts observed by super-rational intuition. Thus, for Eckhart and Ruysbroeck, there is an Abyss of Godhead underlying the Trinity, just as Brahman underlies Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
This does not mean “accept all religions” but rather “look for these doctrines in any religion in order to know that it is mostly accurate,” with the caveat that we can worry about specifics later, but those are interpretation and therefore subject to esotericism anyway.
The religions which the West contemplates — Nordic-Germanic paganism, Greco-Roman paganism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, and Buddhism — all descend from an original Indo-European religious philosophy that was more of an extension of the customs of the tribe and its knowledge of how the world worked than a “faith.”
In the age of mass manipulation, however, only the dogma which finds a way to distinguish itself from all others and draw in a dedicated audience survives. This, in coordination with the loss of nationalism due to political boundary-shifting, transitioned metaphysical and transcendental belief from culture to a self-interested entity.
We are now seeing the failure of that notion. Current people are much less likely to attend church or navigate the intricacies of dogma. They like the idea of religious faith with a few simple principles from which they can abstract the rest, instead of a nest of rules designed to shape behavior.
This leads to what will probably be an evolution in all Western interpretations of religion: they will be oriented toward positive goals instead of rules, and they will follow hermetic principles instead of materialist or dualistic ones.
In terms of positive goals, religion is becoming more Darwinian in that it asserts a clear right way to behave and rewards those who rise to that standard, instead of trying to force the herd to behave, because all that does is show the herd how to hide its bad behaviors. This means that we incorporate bad DNA into the gene pool.
Hermeticism, like ancient paganism, is “monist” or believes that any metaphysical space is contiguous to the transcendental and material, and thus applies the same rules or an expanded rule-set as apply to material reality. In hermetic belief, outcomes for the future are shaped by both meditative thought and action.
This immediately reverts “prayer” to a more functional role where, instead of supplicating a god or gods for relief, we clarify our thinking so that the events we desire are more likely to come toward us and we to be receptive to them. This requires an intense study of reality, which both fundamentalists and materialists have opposed.
As this process happens, the distinction between Christianity and paganism will become as murky as it was a thousand years ago when pagans slowly adopted the new customs. Both will exhibit many of the same traits and methods, and so likely will incorporate even more of each other.
Before we can get to this stage, however, we need to return to the goal the Alt Right has set forth: clarifying our minds and behaviors such that we are oriented toward excellence, and can therefore understand the need for civilization, faith, logic, values, principles, and other elements of Western Civilization.