There have been some significant political and theoretical developments under the auspices of the New Right (NR) in France over recent decades. These have been given fresh impetus more recently as a similar tendency has arisen in Russia called Eurasianism or the Fourth Political Theory.
Why are these important? Well they offer the only coherent political theory in opposition to the dominant political and cultural paradigm of the West, namely neo-liberalism.
The failure of NR ideas to penetrate the Anglo-Saxon psyche is a measure of the closed intellectuality in the USA and UK predominantly, where political theory is largely undeveloped in the universities. Official and state-funded intellectuals end up being confined by pseudo-moral conventionalities to pragmatic questions that always reinforce the cultural hegemony of the ruling class.
Any thinking that does take place is safely nationalised within the walls of academe, and the exclusion of debate by the school system, media and economic life generally means that there is little fertile ground upon which ideas that challenge the dominant paradigm can fall and take root.
The expression ‘New Right’ presents another difficulty. As I have suggested in an earlier blog, the very term political right has been hijacked wherever Anglo-Saxon thinking holds sway.
In the UK the right relates to two main currents. One is mainstream and invariably eulogises capitalism and the free market. The other current, dubbed the far right, is represented by groups which fear loss of a way of life, traditions and race identity amidst the swirling migrations of peoples induced by the globalisation of the labour market. The irony is that capitalism destroyed traditional ways of life long before any economic migrant set foot in Britain. What we have now are pantomime traditions,which have no spiritual content or connection to the roots of race whatsoever.
Alain de Benoist, leading theoretician of the French NR sets out a key principle, which is opposition to the ideology of ‘sameness’ propagated by neo-liberalism, ‘i.e. the universalistic ideology which, under its religious or profane veneer, aims at reducing the diversity of the world (i.e. the diversity of cultures, value systems, and rooted ways of living) to one uniform model’.
In contrast to the homogeneity under offer from neo-liberalism the NR claims to protect diversity, despite the latter being the politically correct mantra of most liberal democracies. De Benoist claims that this ideology of sameness ‘disports itself under the sign of the Capitalist system (‘forme-capital’) which, by subjugating the symbolic imaginary to mercantile values, turns the world into a vast and homogeneous marketplace where men are reduced to the role of producers-consumers, and soon become commodities themselves, destined to adopt the mentality of homo economicus’.
It is on this latter point where I think de Benoist comes unstuck. He is rehearsing ideas here that Marx posited asearly as the Communist Manifesto. Yet in consciously or unconsciously applying a Marxian critique, de Benoist lays bare the basal underpinning of what can be legitimately called cultural Marxism, the hegemonic orthodoxy that prevails as the ideology of ‘freedom and democracy’ in the West. The main point to emerge from this is that both the so-called right parties, as well as those on the left of the neo-liberal paradigm, are supporting and propagating cultural Marxism.
In setting its face against capitalism, debt financed economics and the banks, the NR is opposing a cancerous growth that first took hold upon the West during the enlightenment and reformation, when a morally sanctioned way of life was superseded by an existence wholly directed by economic expediency. However, this opposition is to be distinguished from that of Marx in a way that de Benoist has not elucidated.
Marxsaw capitalism as an historic necessity; a sort of purgatory on earth for mankind. It shook men out of their old and superstitious ways of thinking and paved the way for the development for the fully human being. He prophesied that capitalism would wipe the slate clean, which is exactly what it is doing. This would be a prelude, Marx predicted, to the uniting of humanity behind one common interest - the revolutionary removal of capitalism. Evolution, progressivism, extinction to gain, this is the Marxist way. It based on the materialist proposition that man is the sum total of external influences, Locke’s tabula rasa on which all can be written by forces external to the individual, namely, economic forces.
But wipe the slate clean and there is nothing left, that is apart from whatever is chalked there. In short, the destructive nature of capitalism opens the mind to manipulation. The leading of ‘inauthentic lives’ in a Heideggerian sense leads to loss of being.
What is the alternative New Right weltanschauung?
In contradistinction to Marx, it is founded on involution, rather than evolution. Rather than look forward to what can be gained, the NR position starts by asking - what can be salvaged from the past now that we have entered the darkest depths of the Kali Yuga epoch? Guenon and other traditionalists like Schuon sought sanctury in Islam, an enclave of values and the perennial tradition, as they saw it, beyond the ‘reign of quantity’ that dominates the West. Yet Islam, under pressure from a militarily belligerent West is a diminishing enclave, offering no hope of escape. Where then is sanctury to be found? As Evola asked what will be the principle of unity around which the opponents of the dominant paradigm can make a stand? He had no answer and the question remains open.
It seems to me that it is questions like these that define the NR. There is a need to question the economically determined juggernaut of western liberal thinking that is marching across the globe, squashing out diversity under its drab commodified monoculture.
So much for the questions asked, what are the answers on offer?
This remains a work in progress, but a theme that recurs in my analysis of NR thinking is that of multi-polarity, a concept at the heart of the Eurasianism evangelised by the Russian theoretician, Alexandr Dugin. It offers a vision to counter the economically determined unipolar analysis espoused in the West and draws on the ‘large spaces’ theory of Carl Schmitt, who believed that large groups of culture and civilizations will be tomorrow’s decision-making entities in a globalised world.
In an acknowledgement that globalisation as a force cannot be resisted by the state, Dugin and the the Eurasianists meet globalisation part-way, dividing the globe into 12 multi-polar entities within which some residual cultural identity can still be recognised as a binding factor. One of these is the European large space, which is where the thinking of Dugin and de Benoist overlaps. De Benoist writes of the NR’s support for a federal Europe, ‘because fully-fledged federalism is the only way to reconcile the necessary unity of decision at the top with all due respect for diversity and autonomy at the bottom of the pyramid’.
In multi-polarity, the NR sees an alternative to the enframing, l’arraisonnement of the whole Earth as de Benoist describes it, the Gestell as mentioned by Heidegger -by the values of efficiency, performance and profitability, which would transform the planet into a giant supermarket and a nightmare civilization of commerce. Capitalism reduces everything of value to the value of the market and quantity. Anything that cannot be reduced to calculation in terms of quantity is rendered secondary, transient or non-existent. Karl Marx was right when he wrote that capital considers any limitation as an obstacle to be removed. But these limitations also include the symbolic imagination of man. Destroy this and what is left once capitalism has performed its cleansing task? Certainly not authentic lives.
By contrast, with multi-polarity the NR offers to preserve the diversity of the world. This is the alternative people face: to be the architects of their own history or to become the subjects of the history of others.
It is the active nature of the New Right project that is counterposed to the passivity of life under cultural Marxism, a regaining of individuality and authentic lives.