Friday, 23 February 2018


Christianity and the West are antithetical, claims the Alternative Right movement. (Or Far Right? Take your pick!) An absurd, ludicrous, anti-historical statement. Promoted by puffed-up nuisances like a Yank called Richard Spencer and similar intellectual newts. But why?

Defining the alt-right is a headache. It is a ragbag into which you can stuff manifold and disparate items, ranging from giants like Oswald Spengler, Nietzsche and Julius Evola to lesser gods like Steve Bannon and Milos Yannopoulos, to obscurities like my mercurial, absconded protégé James C., to a medley of identitarians, white nationalists, Jew-baiters, Islamophobes and the like. Still, aversion to the Cross is the dark thread running through them all, apparently. True or false?

Bannon, formerly President Trump’s ‘brain’, is no heathen. True, he once referred to the Italian traditionalist and magus Evola whose works include a juvenile tract, ‘Pagan Imperialism’. Folies de jeunesse, methinks. However, in the last chapter of his mature work, Revolt Against the Modern World, Evola admits the existence of a valuable esoteric strand in Catholicism. And he admires the Templar Knights, the crusading warrior-monks of the Middle Ages. Note how Evola on several pages positively cites the Qur’an and praises the idea of jihad, both inner and outer. Hardly Islamophobic, eh? You can’t easily fit Evola into obvious pagan categories. I knew him as a youth in Rome – indeed, I was his hidden disciple. My own, heretical account of the master is available here:

Nietzsche of course loathed Christianity, though in Will to Power he penned the luminous phrase: ‘Roman Caesar with the soul of Christ’, and after he went mad he boasted of being ‘the Crucified’. Anyway, it isn’t only Nazis and adolescent boys who invoked that wonderful Kraut but also Freud, Foucault, Camus, Derrida, Jung, Cioran, Hesse and many others. Alt-righters are in a good company then.

Spengler’s magnum opus, Twilight of the West, is a stodgy and sprawling mega-read, plugging his key concept of unique civilisations rising and falling in cycles. An ideology of decadentism, imbued with melancholy and fatalism. If the West is in its crepuscular, waning stage, you can do zilch about it. Futile, like rebelling against human aging and death. Can Spengler inspire the alt-right to lift a finger to stop the rot? It must be his unbridled exaltation of Realpolitik, sheer power politics, over ethical concepts like justice, virtue, freedom and equality that give the alt-right an orgasm. Family, elites, caste, race and nations are what he cares about. Peace is slavery. The natural relation between nations is war. Spengler’s superior statesman relies not on theories or studying of history but on animal instincts. Like a horse expert or a born gambler he knows how to tame or beat his adversaries. I bet Hitler and Mussolini sucked it all up and we know how they ended.
(Illogically, Spengler also affirms Jesus’ superiority over the virile pagan gods.) Alt-righters, you’d better be careful!

Gallic rightist thinker Alain de Benoist nails his colours to the mast with ‘Can You Be a Pagan’? A clever diatribe, charging Christianity with being guilty of the secularism now ravaging Europe. Major problem lies with Benoist’s proposed solution, paganism. The Christian Church never slew his beloved gods, they were already dead in their votaries’ hearts 1500 years ago. When Frankish King Clovis, founder of the French nation, converted to Catholicism in AD 496 lingering pagans had long become irrelevant. ‘Pagani’ in Latin indeed meant rural folks, backward countrymen left behind by the rising, victorious culture. Similarly, Golden Dawn, the Greek far right party, initially tried to resurrect the cult of the twelve deities of ancient Olympus. They quickly realised it was poison to the Greek people and switched back to the Orthodox faith. Paganism is a no-no to fight whoever the alt-right wishes to fight.

Is the alt-right racist? Benoist, Bannon and Milos are not it but Spencer and others certainly are. This issue is crystal-clear: any appeal to any race’s superiority or even identity is incompatible with Christ’s teachings. The Gospel message goes out to all nations. Today the Church flourishes amongst peoples of all skin colours and Pope Francis is a star with the Left everywhere, especially for his defence of migrants into Europe. That the alt-right cannot bear. Does that mean the idea of national identity is irrelevant for Christians?  Writer Matthew Rose argues thoughtfully that the nation matters. Nation, he says, is a biblical concept. At the end of St Matthew’s Gospel the risen Christ commands his disciples to ‘go and baptise all nations’. Rose also quotes St John Paul II as upholding the nation as ‘a natural community’. The Polish Pope must have felt in his guts that being a Pole mattered to him – a lot! That feeling for a Christian cannot equate with nationalism,
putting your nation first, above all others, but honouring your people, your language, history and culture is consistent with being ultimately ‘a citizen of Heaven’.

Hungary’s PM Viktor Orban isn’t alt-right but he is the most unashamed, powerful voice of national identity right now. He says that Christianity is “Europe’s last hope”. How can an Italian (Anglican!) priest possibly disagree with that? Born in Rome, the cradle of the West, I am organically tied to Europe. When Orban attacks the ‘Islamisation of Europe’ I have a problem, though. God has given me a ministry of friendship with Muslims. How can I betray it?

I’ll have to live with the paradox.

Revd Frank Julian Gelli


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