A reply to the paganism of the European New Right and Alternative Right
Alternative Right has published a piece in which Tomislav Sunic and Alain De Benoist praise paganism. Being in no mood to let foolishness and impiety pass, I posted the below comment:
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Sunic and Benoist claim Western Society would be better off conclusively rejecting Christianity and returning to the paganism of our distant past. Their main argument is to allege that Christianity naturally leads to totalitarianism, whereas paganism leads to a live-and-let-live attitude that would make for a better Western Society. [LA adds: this is the standard argument of the European New Right.]
I therefore accuse Sunic and Benoist of the sins of impiety toward the ways of their (and our) people and of prescribing a poisonous cure to what ails us. For Christianity was the official religion of our people for nearly two thousand years, and it was during Christendom that Europe achieved its greatest glories. And paganism, in addition to being a now-foreign religion, does not even rise to the level of being a false religion. It is simply the default religious orientation of man, and is therefore more the absence of organized and coherent religious thought than a definite doctrine that might aspire to compete with Christianity.
The fundamental characteristic of paganism is that it does not have religious knowledge, but only what could be called opinion. Christianity and the other monotheistic religions at least claim their doctrines were given by God and are therefore more trustworthy than man-made religions. Paganism makes no such claim. All it delivers is the cacophony of separate individuals and groups offering their opinions. But if a religious belief is just man’s opinion, then it obviously has no authority, and we have religious (and therefore intellectual and moral) anarchy.
Or, more precisely, we have Balkanization, which is not an ideal to aspire to.
Note also that the absence of knowledge is what most characterizes postmodernism, currently the West’s predominant way of thinking. Postmodernism, if it can be defined, is best defined as the dogma that one cannot have real knowledge , that is, objective knowledge, and this clears the way for individuals and groups to reject whatever ideas they want to reject without feeling guilty that they might be morally or intellectually wrong.
When Sunic and Benoist accuse Christianity of totalitarianism, they promote a lie that, like all great lies, contains an element of truth. Paganism is not capable of true totalitarianism because it cannot foster a highly developed and organized society the way Christianity does. Real tyranny requires intellectual, spiritual and social discipline, virtues that are impossible in a truly pagan society. The apparent counterexamples, such as the Roman Empire or Nazi Germany, were either not true totalitarianisms, or else they were living off the social capital bequeathed to them by Christendom.
In addition to being wrong, Sunic and Benoist are impious. Christianity is the way of our people, and Western man achieved his greatest glories during Christendom: true science (not just technique), the Industrial Revolution, political liberalization, artistic greatness, unprecedented economic expansion, worldwide and relatively benevolent empire, and so on. None of these could have been achieved by paganism, as is proved by the fact that pagan societies have only imitated what Western, Christian man developed.
Laura Wood to Alan Roebuck:
This is an excellent response, Alan, to this pompous piece. You make many great points. I’ve never seen it seriously argued that monotheism is by its nature totalitarian and that Judaism is the source of (not just the object of) anti-Semitism.
They say pagan thought is “a preferential center of the crystallization of human identity?” What the heck is that? Am I missing something or did they offer any reason to consider polytheism true? This is the pseudo-intellectual counterpart of the New Age goddess worship that is popular today.
As you say, paganism is the “default religious orientation of man,” not brave and revolutionary.
In the same way, Richard Spencer of Alternative Right is not a young man with revolutionary ideas. He’s a young man who has thoughtlessly imbibed the disastrously bad ideas of certain tragically deluded older men, and imagines that in advancing such ideas he is helping create a brave new world.
Good for Mr. Roebuck. Haven’t all of us worked back in time, simplistically trying to identify The One True Root of the Problem? As they work backwards in time, they have landed on Christianity as the ruin of our world.
The 1960s are the ruin of our world
No, it was the Progressive Era of the early 20th Century
No, it was the Enlightenment which was to overthrow religious superstition and usher in an age of reason
No, it was the Renaissance which placed man as the measure of all things
No, it was the Reformation, which broke up the unity of faith
No, it was Christianity which ushered in all that followed.
Does it not occur to them that we could just keep going:
No, it was pre-Christian paganism, which showed the fatally, hopelessly flawed nature of Western man, patched successfully (beyond anyone’s wildest dreams!) for a time by Christianity. Now it is coming back with a vengeance. With your hearkening to the pre-Christian West, you have come full circle, and are in as a hopeless state as you were before, but will not consider the fix.
I could add:
But the pre-Christian pagans weren’t as hopeless as you, because they did, in fact, consider and accept the fix. You will not, and can not.
Lydia McGrew writes:
This idea that paganism is anti-totalitarian is new to me. If I were to meet someone who told me in all seriousness that he was a pagan, I would expect him to be some sort of Wiccan leftist, hence, as totalitarian as they come. (Try to guess the position of a self-styled European pagan on, say, gun control and self defense.) Europe has become much more totalitarian as it has been de-Christianized. This should be relevant evidence on the point. Is there some sort of actually non-totalitarian paganism arising in Europe that I just don’t know about?
Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 26, 2010 09:59 AM | Send