A meme is an idea that spreads from mind to mind, uncritically, much like the way a virus infects the body. Just as a virus is usually deleterious, if not fatal, to the host organism, so also is the meme to clear and critical thinking. Because of some alleged or fantasized connection or compatibility between the new right/neopagan movement and Tradition based on memes, we find it once again to address them. These are:
- The illogic of mythos
- The relationship between monotheism and totalitarianism
- The origin of liberalism
- Volkisch arguments
Our primary goal is to clearly demonstrate the radical incompatibility between Tradition and the New Right because the latter movement claims an “inspiration” from the former. We will make that absolutely clear to any but the obtuse. This exercise is not to prove that one or the other false, but just to show they are logically and historically incompatible. Since the new right is primarily a political movement, we are not necessarily attacking their goals or tactics. They simply are not our goals or tactics.
Illogic of Mythos
Alain de Benoist has openly stated his method is to prefer Mythos over Logos, as his inspiration is Nietzsche who regarded Reason as merely in instrument for the Will to Power. Hence, in this sense of the word, a myth is akin to a meme; it is to be accepted because it gives “life” or power, not because it is true. Nevertheless, new rightists argue as though they are saying something true; rather, they are using the power of rhetoric to persuade others to a point of view. That is why new right web sites are so concerned with graphics or appearing “hip”, as that is how you penetrate the mass mind. The conclusion is what counts, not the logical process to get there.
Monotheism and Totalitarianism
This has got to be one of the strangest memes, articulated by Benoist in Monotheism vs. Polytheism , with a reach further than I would expect. Julian Assange ended his interview with the Muslim cleric Sayyid Nasrallah by asking him about it. Listen to the response if you like (circa 25:00). Benoist’s essay suffers from four major defects:
- Belief and Action
- Misunderstanding of Monotheism
- Myth of tolerance
- The Value of Totalitarianism
Belief and Action
It is true that a strongly held belief leads to action. For example, if I believe the weather will be fair this weekend, I may make plans for a picnic on Saturday. However, my belief does not cause the picnic, because the weather may change and ruin my picnic. But that is Benoist’s position. He claims that the belief in monotheism results in totalitarianism. His corollary, which doesn’t even follow, is that belief in polytheism results in toleration. He simply assumes the preference of toleration, the ultimate liberal value, to totalitarianism. Not even considering the question of the truth of the two options, Benoist himself believes neither in mono- nor polytheism, since they are equally mythos, or unprovable and irrefutable perspectives. Hence, the two theisms act as shibboleths to identify friend and foe. Polytheists are friends and are allowed in the new right circle of trust, otherwise, not, since they are masks for totalitarianism.
Misunderstanding of Monotheism
Benoist’s understanding of monotheism is absurd, stooping to the most primitive level. Monotheism, understood in the classical sense, is part of Tradition. Its roots in the West do not lie in the Old Testament, but rather in the constant Western tradition. Plato and Aristotle, each accepting an ultimate principle, recapitulate more ancient traditions, reaching back to the Vedas. Plotinus, who was a major source of doctrine for Evola, claimed that everything arose from the One. The Medieval understanding of God, as Being, continues that same thread. It is hardly worth commenting on Benoist’s thesis, given its clearly false premises.
Myth of Tolerance
The next claim is the polytheism leads to tolerance, a claim that is absurd metaphysically and false historically. If polytheism means anything at all, it means that there are multiple independent powers, not subject to some unique and supreme power (i.e., monotheism). How, then, is it possible for them to almost act in harmony? Obviously, it is not at all possible, so these powers will come into conflict with each other with nothing higher to resolve any such conflicts. Hence, Poseidon is a jealous god and resents the gift given to Zeus. Men are subject to the arbitrary and inconsistent whims of gods and goddesses, one offering blessings and the other putting up obstacles, or take up different sides in a conflict.
Historically, polytheism did not lead to mutual tolerance. This is clearly pointed out by Fustel de Coulanges in his Ancient City. When two cities came into conflict, they did not tolerate each other. Either the weaker became subservient to the stronger and was forced to acknowledge the latter’s gods, or else it was utterly destroyed, man, women, child and livestock.
The Value of Totalitarianism
This is the final refutation of Benoist. Rather than a negative, this is essential to the Traditional world view, as Evola asserts. For the Traditional civilization, every aspect of life was guided by spiritual principles and cosmic law. Is the Law of Gravity totalitarian because everything that goes up must come down? Perhaps so, but that is in the very nature of things. Analogously, if there truly is a cosmic law, then all of human life is subject to it. Paradoxically, this leads to tolerance. In traditional civilizations, the cosmic law adapts to different cultural conditions, manifesting as positive law. If two such civilizations should confront each other and recognize the cosmic law mutually followed, they can distinguish between contingent adaptations and necessary principles. This reliance on common principles will allow them to resolve their differences. (Obviously, this doesn’t happen in conflicts between strictly exoteric entities.)
To be continued.