Some time ago, I ran into a former student, a government major, who had gotten a job in Washington, D. C., working as some kind of staffer in the conservative political movement. He told me that when he got involved with conservative politics, he assumed that the people he would be working with would be Christians, like he was. He was surprised, he told me, at how many atheists he was involved with.
I thought of him when I came across this review by Daniel J. Mahoney of a book by Matthew Rose entitled A World after Liberalism: Philosophers of the Radical Right. Rose himself is a conservative and a Catholic Christian. He examines and critiques some of the key thinkers who are influential among the alt.right and many, he says, young conservatives today. The ones he deals with are atheists who blame Christianity for the liberalism they despise.
Conservative Christians have become so identified with–and identify themselves with–political conservatism that they sometimes do not realize the challenges to their faith that they may encounter.
As a matter of fact, I think that the conservative atheists are more formidable than the progressive atheists. Progressive atheists attack Christianity for its failures, for not living up to its high ideals. But accusing Christians of hypocrisy, of their actions contradicting what they say they believe, is not all that persuasive. Who can live up to their ideals? That Christians, like everybody else including the atheists if they are honest, fail to do so is no surprise. In fact, what Christians teach about sin should lead us to expect it.
Whereas the left wing atheists attack Christianity at its worst, the right wing atheists attack Christianity at its best. The right wingers attack not the failure of Christians to live up to their ideals, but the ideals themselves. And when Christians do live up to them, they are doing the most harm.
The right wing atheists oppose Christian ideals such as love, compassion, mercy, and justice. These alienate human beings from the natural order, where, as Darwin teaches, the weak should die out. Christianity interferes with the course of evolution. It makes the strong feel guilty for their strength, forcing them to care for the weak, the poor, and the failures, thus perpetuating their drain on society.
They blame Christianity for individualism, egalitarianism, materialism, universalism, and democracy. All of these are the foundation of “liberalism”–by which they mean not just progressive politics but, more broadly, the concern for freedom (a.k.a., “liberty,” deriving from the same root as “liberal”) and self-government as codified in the U.S. Constitution.
Instead, these right wing philosophers insist on the importance of authority, collective organic communities, social elites, nationalism, and authoritarian governments. Also, sometimes, the virtues of war, heroism, honor, irrationalism, and related qualities that they find to be characteristic of the old paganism and tragically lost due to the benevolent ethic of Christ.
This may not seem like the conservatism you are familiar with, the kind that favors small government, individual liberty, and free markets, which is also friendly to Christianity, but to these thinkers that is really “liberalism.” While, as I have shown, this small government conservatism is almost the opposite of Fascism, this kind of conservatism–which often throws in anti-semitism and racism–is indeed Fascist or at least Fascist-leaning. (See my book Modern Fascism.)
In his book, Rose focuses on Oswald Spengler, Julius Evola, Francis Parker Yockey, Alain de Benoist, and Samuel Francis. But he doesn’t treat the most commonly-found and influential atheist among conservatives today, namely, Ayn Rand. This is because the book is about anti-liberal thinkers, while Rand, with her extreme libertarianism, is liberal to a fault, which still excoriating progressivism. But with her “virtue of selfishness,” she shares the right-wing atheists’ contempt, which ultimately derives from Nietzsche, for Christian compassion.
Christians, especially those involved in politics, would do well to familiarize themselves with the conservative strain of unbelief.
Photo: Julius Evola by Dausset, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons