The Two Irreconcilable Poles of the New Right

The Two Irreconcilable Poles of the New Right April 11, 2024

American conservatism in the 20th century–the era of William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan–is often described as “fusionist.”  That is, it was a joint effort of two very different political philosophies–traditionalism and libertarianism–who united against the common enemy of collectivism, socialism, and totalitarianism as embodied in Soviet Communism.

The so-called New Right of today consists of a different kind of fusionism, an alliance between two even more irreconcilable political philosophies:  Roman Catholic integralism and Nietzschean “vitalism.”  Though in many ways opposite, one being explicitly Christian and the other being explicitly anti-Christian, they have a common enemy in woke progressivism.

So argues a writer with the pen-name Cincinnatus Smith in an article for Quillette entitled Funhouse-Mirror Fusionism.  We’ve blogged quite a bit about integralism, the project of imposing a Catholic political order under the temporal authority of the Pope.  Smith describes “vitalism” in terms of the writings of the Romanian internet personality Costin Alamariu, also known as the “Bronze Age Pervert,” whose book Bronze Age Mindset has acquired a cult following among some conservatives.  Here is Smith’ description of what it says:

[Bronze Age Mindset] is Nietzschean at its core. Justice is the will of the strong. Strength and vitality are paramount virtues. . . . Egalitarian ideals and democracy were incompatible with the idea that the strong shall rightfully rule over the weak. The individual great man was to be cherished. Moreover, much like Nietzsche, BAM’s message is directed to the few supermen capable of understanding it and giving themselves new purposes and ends to strive for. Alamariu makes this clear from the outset: the book is not philosophy, but an exhortation to this narrow few. It’s for the lost few who will make up the small piratical bands that will lay waste to the modern landscape of liberalism:

Here is my vision of the true justice, the justice of nature: the zoos opened, predators unleashed by the dozens, hundreds … four thousand hungry wolves rampaging on the streets of these hive cities, elephants and bison stampeding, the buildings smashed to pieces, the cries of the human bug shearing through the streets as the lord of beasts returns. . . .

For Nietzscheans like Alamariu, the chief problem with liberal modernity is not that it removes constraints on individuals, but that it’s too concerned with the many, who can and should be sacrificed for the good of the few. Contemporary elites promote a sterile form of individualism that treats victimhood as a virtue and masculine vitality as a cancer, which sedates their would-be competitors and buttresses their own power. Where modern liberalism insists on the inalienable natural rights of each person, Nietzschean individualism is for the few, not the many.

The many are derided as sub-human “bugs,” the implication being that they are worthy of extermination.  He also believes in eugenics.  All of this, of course, is the same Nietzschean mindset that, as I document, constitutes Fascism.

Though old-style conservative fusionism of traditionalism and libertarianism–with its support for the Constitution, traditional values, free-market economics, individual liberty, and small government–is still around, New Right fusionism  pushes both of those poles to new extremes.  Instead of a traditionalism that seeks to conserve American ideals and a culture built around church, state, and family, the integralists champion a more specific tradition:  the Roman Catholicism of the Middle Ages.  Instead of a libertarianism built around individualism and freedom, the vitalists champion the Nietzschean superman, the survival of the strongest, and the subjugation of the inferior.

Whereas the old fusionism is strongly pro-American, the New Right fusionism is anti-American.  Both integralists and vitalists despise the Constitution and the human rights it protects.  Both oppose democracy.  Both dismiss the American experiment for its “liberalism.”

The integralist Adrian Vermeule, a Harvard Law professor (!), wants to completely reconstitute the United States of America and rename it the “Empire of Our Lady of Guadalupe.”  The Bronze Age Pervert says that the only legitimate form of government is military dictatorship.

Vermeule’s solution to the immigration problem is only to admit Catholics.  The Bronze Age Pervert’s solution is only to admit white people.

I would add that neither integralism nor vitalism can be reconciled with evangelical Christianity, whether of the Lutheran, the Reformed, the Arminian, the Baptist, or the Pentecostal variety.  Bronze Age Pervert is explicitly anti-Christian, mocking as Nietzsche does its ethic of love and compassion.  Integralism is explicitly Christian, but it is intrinsically anti-Protestant, blaming the Reformation (correctly, I would say) for leading to individual rights and liberal democracy.  As I have shown, Protestants wouldn’t fare well under integralism.  They would be among the “heretics” that a properly ordered government, according to the integralists, would be obliged to suppress.

Both of these new extremes are clearly off-the-wall fantasies, more suited to alternative reality games on the internet than actual political philosophies capable of being implemented and actually governing.  (Integralists, how would you actually go about turning secularist America into the Empire of Our Lady of Guadalupe?  And how would all of this work under a liberal pope like Francis?  Bronze Agers, what makes you think that you are all that superior?  Do you really think you would be among the supermen running your military dictatorship?)

The classic conservative fusionism of more measured traditionalists and more measured libertarians might have its tensions, but Smith says that these are the tensions in Western civilization itself.  Individualism needs to be guided by virtue; and virtue needs to be freely chosen and not coerced.  And that fusionism can govern, and it accomplished much, such as the dismantling of Soviet Communism.

Furthermore, I think the classic conservative fusionism can address today’s pressing issues.  The dangers are still an all-powerful and all-intrusive government and the violation of individual rights.  Democracy can still check the power of the social and economic elites.  Traditional values can still build strong families, churches, and communities.  And Christianity of all varieties can certainly thrive under our Constitutional order, as our history has proven.

 

Illustration:  St. Thomas Aquinas and Friedrich Nietzsche, two public domain images via Edward Feser

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