A few years ago, there was a movement on the fringes that called itself neo-reaction, or a variety of other things. This used to be the only places I ran into people who knew who Evola or Guénon were. I used to be amused when it was asserted C. S. Lewis and Tolkien and Chesterton were part of Tradition. Not everything they said was crazy, even if a lot of it was.
It was the non-movement Conservatives in the United States [those who were on the Right in one way or another, but estranged from the Reaganesque fusionism that blended the Religious Right with high finance and Chamber of Commerce types and a gloss of libertarians]. In the end, they were infiltrated by neo-Nazis and white nationalists, and eventually became the alt-right. Lots of people were disgusted and annoyed by this usurpation, and dropped out, ensuring that the alt-right would never have anything like the potential to be a mass-movement.
At this point I suspect the real win for Tradition, in the United States at least, would be on the Left. There is less white space than you might think between the radical Left and Tradition. Frances Parker Yockey worked for the Soviets, for example. There is also better message discipline and better organization on the Left at this point. A successful takeover could spread like a seed crystal in a super-saturated solution. Then you'd see what crazy really looked like.
How's that for horseshoe theory?
[fun note, the photo Réne Guénon in 1925 puts him at the same age as me right now]
Well, maybe not conspiracy, since none of the information is secret, but there do seem to be certain anomalies in the provenance of Neo-Conned!: Just War Principles: A Condemnation of War in Iraq, a widely-praised anthology that was edited by John Forrest Sharpe and D. Liam O'Huallachain (otherwise known as Derek Holland) and published by the IHS Press. (Sharpe is the director of IHS.) The matter is of immediate concern, perhaps, only to the most conservative variety of Catholic. I did not run across it through the Catholic connection, but from the other end, through my continuing study of post-1989 anti-Americanism and the role played in it by esoteric fascism and the (often covert) influence of Guenonian Tradition. We must note that the contributors to the Neo-Conned! books (there is a sequel) cover a wide range of political and theological perspectives and cannot be held responsible for the views of their editors. Nonetheless, ordinary paleoconservatives who cite or recommend the books should consider that its publisher seems to have an agenda of which few Americans of any political persuasion would approve.
As readers no doubt know, The Society of Pius X is a schismatic group that thinks itself quite literally more Catholic than the pope, though it is currently in negotiations with the Vatican for a form of reconciliation that would allow it to keep the old Latin liturgy. The LeFloche Report is sympathetic to the Society of Pius X, but notes a strange ideological infiltration:
For years, many Catholics have been disturbed by the emergence of strange and novel ideas in their chapels. Among these are; the belief that one must move out of the city to a farm in order to live an integral Catholic life, that all forms of modern technology are intrinsically evil and must be avoided, that women are not to obtain a higher education, and that the total breakdown of civil society is to be wished for in order to bring about the emergence of a new Distributist economic order.
Tradition (or as the LeFloche Report prefers, Perennialism) is an apocalyptic doctrine which holds that the modern world is disintegrating because of its rejection of the link with the transcendent that is the organizing principle of human societies. The notion that society requires a transcendent dimension is not a very alarming idea. Tradition can be scary, however. Sometimes this knowledge of the inevitable collapse of the modern world inspires nothing more than the formation of groups of adepts who hope to manage the transition when civilization collapses. Sometimes, however, Tradition has sparked the creation of anarchist political groups that hope to accelerate the collapse.
The latter seems to have been the case with one of the editors of Neo-Conned!, Derek Holland, whose theory of the political soldier was an adaptation of the esoteric existentialism of the fascist ideologue, Julius Evola. Holland was involved in fascist circles in Britain during the breakup of the old National Front. He was among the founders of a new tendency, the International Third Position (ITP), which sought to bring British fascism more in line with Continental neofascism.
One of the features of political Tradition has been the search for a school of the transcendent that could serve as the organizing principle of a new society. Theoretically, any of the great religious traditions might serve. In practice, though, Traditionalists have usually chosen a radical version of Islam or some kind of neopaganism; some became Satanists.
The neopagan tendency strongly criticized the International Third Position, as we see in the Official Statement on the International Third Position Issued by the National Revolutionary Faction. One of the complaints is that ITP extended too much sympathy to antiquated reactionaries like Franco and Petain. Another was that the ITP seemed to be distancing itself from the rest of the anarchist movement. What most annoyed fellow fascists, however, was that the ITP seemed to be becoming a Latin Mass group with a "small is beautiful" economic agenda. (The latter is the "Distributism" mentioned in the Le Floche report: essentially a proposal, once favored by G.K. Chesterton, to replace capitalism with a society of small-holders.)
There have long been religious people who are "traditional" in both the colloquial and the esoteric sense of the word. However, as we have seen, Christian Tradition is rare. The attempt by the ITP and related groups to make it a major force is interesting because that is the road that founder of Tradition, Rene Guenon, considered in the early 20th century but did not take. His theory of spirituality held that the transcendent could be accessed only through one of the great, historical, religious traditions, because they each included a rite of "initiation," a rite reserved for the elect. After exploring Catholicism for many years, Guenon eventually concluded that Christianity had once had a method of valid initiation but had probably lost it. So, he turned to Islam and Sufism, but did not exclude the possibility that Christian Tradition might be possible.
Guenon's disciple, Evola, broke with Christianity far more decisively. He also politicized Tradition to a novel degree. Evolan Tradition became, in large measure, a generations-long insurgency against the liberal, democratic, capitalist West. Indeed, it became an international insurgency against the United States, as the exemplar and central pillar of the modern world that was characterized by these great evils. Though Evola himself was a man of the Right, his disciples frequently embraced some form of "national socialism." They sometimes worked with the Soviet Union, when that was an option. Now they work with Russian "Eurasianists." The consolidation of the European Union, however, revived the hopes of the pan-European Traditionalists. The ITP is one example of this tendency, and the Neo-Conned! books seem to be another.
There are reasons for objecting to the Iraq War, or to the principles of American foreign policy; there are even reasons for disliking the United States. However, we should be aware that, running through the flow of ordinary politics that deals with these questions, there is a dark thread of something far more sinister, a tendency that seeks defeat for the United States, not because of anything the US has done or plans to do, but simply as a predicate to a universal chaos that the tendency seeks for its own purposes.
And you thought you were worried before.
Copyright © 2006 by John J. Reilly