Against Democracy and Equality by Tomislav Sunic

Against Democracy and Equality: The European New Right
by Tomislav Sunic
253 pages, Arktos, $18.

It’s unreasonable to expect book reviewers to be objective. You get hired on to review a book because your editor thinks that, given where you are in life, you give your readers a reasonable assessment of the utility of the book to them. Whether that’s enjoyment or practical utility doesn’t matter much.

In the case of Against Democracy and Equality: The European New Right by Tomislav Sunic, the reaction of this reviewer was both enjoyment and a difficult but rewarding practical utility. This is not a book you read like a novel or technical manual; it’s a book you bite off in small bits, chew and contemplate for a few days before returning.

Part of the reason for this power is Sunic’s habit, reminiscent of Aldous Huxley in The Perennial Philosophy (and emulated on this blog), of stitching together the words of many others into a coherent narrative. If in a large room, each person knows part of a story, the storyteller is the guy who calls them out in order to teach recite their part. In the case of the New Right, we see over a dozen historians from both left and right who each contribute a vital point in the outline that makes the argument.

The other part for the power of this book comes from its editors, who compiled an excellent series of introductions by Alain de Benoist, David J. Stennet, Paul Gottfried and Sunic himself, in addition to including an equally powerful series of appendices including the summary of New Right beliefs in Manifesto for a European Resistance by de Benoist and Charles Champetier. These give background to the broader work that Sunic does and show the evolution of these concepts toward a definitive political and cultural ideology.

The result is a lengthy reading experience. It is difficult to put the book down, to voice the old cliche, except when enough information has soaked in that you and your brain want to take a small vacation to process it. For this reviewer, that meant reading the book in 50-page increments followed by a day or two off to work through what had been presented.

Sunic writes with clear, scientific prose; this is necessary because these concepts are not yet in the mainstream, and many of these arguments while not “theoretical” require precision expression of detail. He thus both avoids the Malcolm Gladwell-styled breadlike text that satisfies no one and the dry, spaced out academic style that drives away non-academics. The result is an intensely philosophical book that reads like a plain English contract or Scientific American article.

The book is divided into four essential parts:

  1. The introductions.
    • Editor John Morgan reminds us of what the Cold War was and how the balance of power changed after it; for our Generation Y readers, go to bed every night imagining that you’ve heard at least once that day about how a city can be totally canceled and erased in fire with almost no warning, and how it’s more likely than not. Morgan also introduces the concept of a “True Right” emerging from the post-WWII ashes of right-wing theory. He also quietly reminds us that leftism is a continuum from anarchy through Communism with moderate views in the middle.
    • Tomislav Sunic (in two introductions) echoes the points made by Francis Fukuyama and F.W. Nietzsche that a triumph of liberal democracy worldwide means an end to actual historical change, and a slow steady constant of modern society with its bureaucracies, compromises and destruction of anything rising above the herd through corporate products, entertainment and apathy.
    • Alain de Benoist primes us for the book by talking about the differing interpretations of left and right, and how they converge in the New Right which makes lucid sense of them without becoming “pragmatic” or adapting to the contemporary trend. He also introduces the idea of democracy as a path to totalitarianism, metapolitics or idea-driven political evolution, and the inclusive third path where the New Right borrows from both left and right, or “the ideas of the Left and values of the Right.” Finally, he nails liberal democracy as the vanguard of “homogenizing” globalism and points out that with the fall of the Soviet Union, we traded Communism for a more insidious and friendly-seeming leftism.
    • Daniel J. Stennet does a brilliant job of pointing out the targets of the New Right, its skepticism of Judeo-Christian heritage and fascination with the pagan, and finally how materialism and rationalism are the underlying problems left behind by that historical hangover. He adds an intensely valid point: both Communism and liberal democracy are economic systems which sap the soul.
    • Paul Gottfried then chimes in with some of the more salient practical points made here, namely that Europe sandwiched in opposition between “military imperialism from the East but also against contamination from American democratic and commercial civilisation” (37). He expresses a dominant theme of the New Right, which is fear of unguided commerce and big business in the absence of the kind of social order provided by ethnonationalism, aristocracy, cultural hegemony and a strong underlying idealism (whether religious or philosophical). Gottfried also introduces the concept of civic virtue and traces its origins in Evola, then discusses the future of the New Right as a choice between making stronger political gestures and becoming more of a cultural force. He persuasively indicates that the New Right, while given a good starting point with Sunic’s book, still needs a clear and applicable political platform and practical plan.
  2. Part One: Introducing the New Right. Sunic walks us gently through the origins and ideas of the New Right. He collages a narrative from other writers and sources which provides not only the best history but shows many overlapping approaches to similar ideas, instilling a sense of the underlying emotional and aesthetic coherence of this political-cultural movement. He points out how the New Right is loosely defined as it emerges from the chaos of the 20th century and the downfall of Right-wing theory in 1945, and begins his analysis by looking for the character of the “man of the Right.” He also introduces two major themes: first, the New Right’s problem integrating with conventional conservatives and neo-cons because of its opposition to (a) Judeo-Christianity and (b) market-driven societies, which during the Cold War were seen as a “solution” to the Soviet problem, and second, the possibility of the “terror of the majority” or liberal totalitarianism. After this introduction, Sunic points out that the New Right exists in the fracture between its enemies and the spectre of the Cold War Soviet-style society; he points out how the American neoconservatives have a divided liberal/Christian basis that makes them semi-incompatible with the New Right. He also makes a series of important points about the New Right ideology:
    • Economism versus Culturism. Both capitalism and Communism are economicist doctrines, meaning that the economy is the primary means of control and goal; in contrast, the New Right places culture first and economy should follow its goal designation:

      The European New Right has so far not elaborated its own economic doctrine, although one may suspect it of having some sympathy for the theories of ‘organic’ and corporatist economics, advocated earlier in the Twentieth century by Othmar Spann and Leon Walras. As we shall see later, the main thrust of the New Right’s argument is that economics must be completely subordinated to politics and culture and not the other way around. (55)

    • Egalitarianism contra “freedom” and “liberty.” As other New Right authors have pointed out, egalitarianism is an all-encompassing quest that rapidly obliterates individual “freedom” in a quest to make us identical. Sunic identifies egalitarianism as the ideology of the liberal left:

      The crisis of modern societies has resulted in an incessant ‘uglification’ whose main vectors are liberalism, Marxism and ‘the American way of life.’ The dominant ideologies of modernity, Marxism and liberalism, embodied by the Soviet Union and America respectively, are harmful to the social well-being of peoples because both reduce every aspect of life to the realm of economic utility and efficiency. The principal enemy of freedom, asserts the New Right, is not Marxism or liberalism per se, bt rather their common belief in egalitarianism. Marxism, incidentally, is not the antithesis of liberalism — it is simply the most dangerous form of egalitarianism that runs rampant through all sectors of the Soviet and American polity. (59)

      While most Americans understand liberalism as a spectrum from anarchism through Communism, in Europe (apparently) liberalism was seen as an alternate direction to going Communist. Sunic debunks this and other myths with the above.

    • Liberalism politicizes culture better than the Right does. Much as Tom Wolfe would say that liberalism is a “fashion,” Sunic sees it as a social/cultural trend and only secondarily a political movement. This is why, in his view, the left outpaces the right when it comes to popular culture:

      Left-wing movements have traditionally been better at understanding the political role of culture than conservative movements. In contrast, modern conservatives naïvely cling to the belief that, in the long run, only economics can dissolve all radical ideologies, including that of their Marxist foes. (70)

      If you want to know why the New Right is not your father’s stodgy old conservatism, or your grandfather’s reactionary politics, here is the distinction: the New Right is a cultural movement on par with the left, but holding on to the eternal values of the Right.

    • New Right is a war against modernity. Leftist beliefs come full-circle when the leftists involve, like Christopher Lasch, find that their beliefs do not lead to the desired outcomes; there’s a disconnect, as the saying goes. The fascist revolution borrowed more from the Left than the Right, and so does the New Right, because its goals are ultimately bound up with both sides of the political spectrum.
    • Liberalism dehumanizes its adversaries. According to Carl Schmitt as channeled through Sunic, the left abhors war — so it phrases every political action as a police action. The bad guys become inhuman because they are immoral, not nice, not egalitarian, etc. and thus can be exterminated not in a war but in the right-thinking people detaining or removing the bad ones. As we watch the United States bombing Libya for the umpteenth time this week, this sticks in the mind rather clearly.
    • The New Right is a cultural renewal for a dying civilization. As Spengler and Plato suggest, civilizations have a life cycle, and for the twentieth century, Europe was heading toward death:

      European culture has nowadays transformed itself into a civilisation that is currently being threatened by an advanced form of social, moral and political decay. After the Industrial Revolution, Europe had passed the stage of culture, and is experiencing today, and in the most acute form, the winter of its life. New forms of political life have emerged in Europe, marked by the ideology of economism and the rule of plutocracy. All sectors of social life are being reduced to an immense economic transaction. And since nobody can ever be fully satisfied, and everybody yearns for more, it is understandable that masses of people will seek a change in their existing communities. This craving for ‘change’ will be translated into the incessant decline of the sense of public responsibility, followed by uprootedness and social anomie, which will inevitably and ultimately lead to Caesarism, or totalitarianism. (94)

      The above is straight out of Plato, in the language of Spengler. Societies die when they no longer have a social consensus to hold them together, and their populations in the throes of resentment start acting out radical plans for the sake of revenge, which empowers dictators as the chaos grows. If you ever wondered why the electorate are their own worst enemy, this is a good description — they vote by appearance, not by structure or even logical impulse. They’re having a tantrum, not a reasoned response, and the result is they sleepwalk into the hands of their corrupt shepherds.

    • Monotheism produces binary morality. Sunic explores this in depth when perhaps a few salient Nietzscheanisms would work, but it’s worth it for those who are new to this idea: a monotheistic god presupposes (a) an ideal and (b) a linear path to that ideal. That which does not fit within that linear path is bad, and therefore, you get the Boolean morality of a modern time.
  3. Part Two: The Egalitarian Mystique.
  4. Sunic points out the essential: modern liberalism and Marxism share the same values, and these are the cornerstones of modern society. Even more importantly, these values are “schizoid” or disconnected from their inapplicability, thus in the best postmodern sense, our society is divided between a public dogma and private truths. Universalism, or the idea of a one-size-fits-all dogmatic truth to be applied everywhere all the time, is how this system controls us and constitutes a form of theoretically well-intentioned totalitarianism that, because its precepts are unrealistic, ends up enforcing itself in a feedback loop created by its incompetence and yet insistence on the moral high ground. (As Nietzsche implied, this is why pre-French Revolutionary political systems were based on power and not morality: power decays to more self-critical power, but morality decays to blind power.)

    • Liberalism is schizoid. Sunic quotes de Benoist who makes the case that liberalism “simultaneously generates inequality and, by abhorring inequality, creates the theoretical foundations of its own legitimacy” (126). This makes it the perfect virus: it creates the problem it claims to prevent, thus requiring more of itself. This reminds me of W.S. Burroughs’ metaphor of addiction which is that heroin is the solution to itself, and thus is impossible to escape.
    • The Judeo-Christian ideal of equality of souls is the root of liberalism. Tracking the progress of the idea of an absolute morality through Judaism and then early Christianity, Sunic shows how this alien concept came to dominate and created its own mania for egalitarianism, and with that mania, the same broken economic solutions that further create inequality. For Sunic, a Judeo-Christian system can have no method of enforcement except economic valuation, and through that, inequality is furthered.
    • All liberalism, from the American Revolution through Soviet Russia, has this as its basis. He compares the language of the Declaration of Independence, the French Revolution and the Soviet-era ideal to show that each one has its same root: the doctrine of egalitarianism, or that people are politically equal, an idea which in turn leads to the concept of physical equality, a condition Sunic refers to as being “identical.”
    • Egalitarianism is all-encompassing, and obviates liberty as an ideal. An unrealistic quest introduces mission creep that soon consumes every other part of a society, and as New Right authors allege, this inevitably becomes the case with equality:

      For David Thomson, socialist equality is neither feasible nor desirable, since this would spell the doom not only of capitalism, but also bring about the end of culture and civilisation. Nonetheless, Thomson realises that in contemporary liberal societies the craving for equality can become so pervasive that it can totally obscure the love of liberty. (137)

      New Right thinkers point out that this is a fatal flaw in liberalism, in that it guarantees a perpetual quest (like the concept of “endless war” in Orwell) which will never be satisfied and, because liberty empowers the opposite ideal as well as many others, will eventually come into conflict with liberty. Because egalitarianism is the founding quest of liberalism, it will obliterate any other considerations.

    • Biological inequality is determined by genetics. No one who has read this blog for long will be baffled by this one. Whether Schopenhauer’s endorsement of eugenics, the Greek fascination with ancestors, or modern writers like Stephen Pinker or Razib Khan pointing out that all traits are inherited and thus inequality is mostly genetic, people are different; classes are different; groups are different. Evolution branches. Sunic understates this cornerstone of right-wing thinking and rightly so; anyone reading this book will not be new to this concept.
    • Soft totalitarianism is the result. Defining totalitarianism as “all against all,” Sunic points out that an all-pervasive dogma like egalitarianism forces each person to consider others adversarial, and makes all functions of society as a means to an end — and that end is the dogma. He quotes Pierre Vial:

      Hard totalitarianism: this is the totalitarianism which the Tibetan people have to endure. Soft totalitarianism: the one that operates by virtue of imposing the Western-American cultural model diffused through the media across the entire world. (155)

      The onslaught of NATO armies, Coca-Cola, pornography and sexual liberation, atheism, freedom and the destruction of social standards, and universalist “internationalism” where people become citizens of the world instead of their host nations, all comprise this soft totalitarian assault. Sunic is making the point politely: modern society is a virus, and it invades all places it can to destroy culture and any way of life outside of commerce, media and bureaucratic government.

    • Economicism is destablizing through competition. In liberal/Marxist and capitalist societies alike, Sunic writes, drawing on the work of Guillaume Faye and others, the individual considers himself or herself by the value of his or her labor. The result is that paranoia spreads: the individual must stay afloat by increasing the value of labor, and is susceptible to anyone who comes along who has less to do outside of the job, and so is a more perfect slave. It’s a race to the bottom.
    • Soft totalitarianism admits no dissent. Soft totalitarianism is all-encompassing because society has been reduced to an economic system, and the individual must play along or he becomes a ward of the state or worse:

      Similar to Talmon and Arendt, Aron makes a distinction between Nazi totalitarianism and Communist totalitarianism. For him, the first was intrinsically perverse since it was already embodied in its own ideology. By contrast, the latter became totalitarian by following, as Talmon also indicated, its own extreme perfectionist and utopian line. In the last analysis, totalitarianism for Aron is ‘voluntary’ in Nazism, but ‘involuntary’ in Communism. (175)

    • All this began with the French Revolution. When traditional social orders were cast aside, people began to seek a new social order. The resulting instability made them pick ideas that seemed personally convenient, which led to a kind of snowball effect where those ideas became dogmas, and those dogmas become linear and singular and overrode common sense. The loss of traditional societies created a corrupt playing field in which insanity seems the norm, and materialism overrides any sense of “value” or “identity,” and this is the decay tendency against which the New Right acts.
    • This process of decay strengthens its own momentum. Entropy is the nature of modernization, but this trades off order for strength, but at the same time entrenches itself to the point where momentum makes it nearly impossible to change direction back toward strength. Perhaps one of the more interesting concepts in this book is the idea of embracing entropy and like light in a laser, polarizing it, so that one gains the most power possible in a time of decay.
  5. Appendices. Much as the introductions took much of the complex historical analysis of thought that Sunic gives us and distilled it into conclusions and possible future directions, all while pointedly noting that the New Right is far from finalized, the appendices attempt to provide future resources for exploration and at the same time, create a level ground from which future development can occur.
    • Major Figures of the European New Right The major figures of the New Right are listed here; while these are good introductions, much of the rest of the book introduces more thinkers and gives us a better insight into them. However, the point here is to distill not expand, and so the limited number of figures here provides great clarity, as does this endpoint:

      Our new school of thought sets its philosophical system of thought, as far as the domain of ethics is concerned, within the guidelines of the pre-Socratic thinkers, Stoics, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche…

      Our school stresses the primacy of life over all inherited worldviews; the primacy of soul over spirit, the primacy of feelings over intellect, and finally of character over reason…

      Hence, it follows that our school is unconditionally opposed to all systems of an absolutist character, given that these systems imply the idea of determinism, of a single truth or of a monotheism, in which we discern the roots of totalitarianism. (206)

      While this is an informal summary, it captures the spirit (say “gestalt” in a New York accent if it makes you feel better) of this movement as an intellectual culture.

    • Manifesto for a European Renaissance, by Alain de Benoist and Charles Champetier. This document attempts to summarize the New Right and, uniquely, give it a future direction and spin it toward fertile ground. Given the authors involved, this is entirely sensible and the results are good, especially if you have read the rest of this book and understand the groundwork upon which idea is based. Some highlights:
      • Definition of metapolitics. Anyone who lived through the 1990s is highly skeptical of that “meta-” prefix. A clear, simple definition:

        Metapolitics is not politics by any other means. It is neither a ‘strategy’ to impose intellectual hegemony, nor an attempt to discredit other possible attitudes or agendas. It rests solely on the premise that ideas play a fundamental role in collective consciousness and, more generally, in human history. (207)

        In even shorter shorthand: ideas determine history; they are the causes, and the events after them are the effects. Thus first we change the ideas, and then try to make events happen.

      • Modernity. We get a careful definition here, too, of modernity as: individualization through the destruction of forms of collective order; massification through trends; desacralization through materialism; rationalization, through “instrumental reason”; and universalization, or use of universal and absolute terms. This laundry list definition is more effective than one might think and is helpful to keep in mind when reading the rest of the book.
      • Liberalism. Similar to other definitions in the book, a technical review of what the term means and its implications. This is one of the most fluid and coherent parts of the essay.

        In the beginning, liberal thought contraposed an autonomous economy to the morality, politics and society in which it had been formerly embedded. Later, it turned commercial value into the essence of all communal life. The advent of the ‘primacy of quantity’ signaled this transition from market economics to market societies, i.e. the extension of the laws of commercial exchange, ruled by ‘the invisible hand,’ to all spheres of existence. (212)

        The text expands on this definition with a clear definition of the type of anti-absolutism thought, a cosmic “pluriversal” viewpoint, that offsets liberalism; a definition of racism and its difference from ethnonationalism and biological determinism, which is well articulated but covers ground already known by readers of this blog; a viewpoint of the importance of community, self and social order.

      • A platform. Many of us have been very curious about this. What would the New Right do if handed power tomorrow? de Benoist and Champetier give us a plausible viewpoint.
        1. Strong social identity. Community is preserved, as is culture and indigenous values systems.
        2. Against racism, for ethnonationalism. The cause of racism is multiculturalism. The solution is ethnic separation and maintenance of reverent, healthy culture.
        3. Anti-immigration and cooperative economics. Replacing the shifting of people in search of work with cooperative trade to keep the former third world economically relevant.
        4. Against sexism. Instead, they favor complementary gender roles with a kind of “vive le difference” feminism embedded in it.
        5. Against elites, for meritocracy. They don’t like our current elites, and prefer to replace the promotion of elites based on dogma with the creation of new elites based on skill.
        6. For a federal Europe. Three zones — Western, Central and Eastern — united on trade and defense, with national culture trumping all else.
        7. Restoration of democracy. This expands on the ideas in de Benoist’s The Problem of Democracy: instead of representative democracy by one-man-one-vote, we try delegating power on behalf of the people as a whole.
        8. Against relentless competition and efficiency. Jobs become more existential. There’s a book in this by itself.
        9. Economic subservient to culture. This follows up on ideas elsewhere in the book.
        10. Localism. They like local communities, and don’t like mega-cities or mega-nation-states. I found this highly gratifying, especially the idea of local standards that vary greatly.
        11. Integral ecology. Someone must be in charge of technology, and manage a cradle-to-grave process as well as make some hard choices about what gets spread around.
        12. Critical thinking. I summarize this as critical thinking, but it’s more complex. They want to return to being a society of ideas, instead of a society of the appearance of ideas. If they start on this task first, they might bring the others along naturally.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and it took me much longer than usual to read it and parse it because every page is charged with stimulus of new thoughts, and evokes unresolved tensions we all exist with in daily life (for example, wouldn’t it be nice to have a society of ideas, not appearances.

Against Democracy and Equality: The European New Right also performs a valuable service for the right-wing community, which is that it forces exact and lucid articulation of the values of the New Right, the narrative it would apply to history, and the groundwork for its future political platforms should it gain power. This alone is a big sigh of relief for many, who will be glad to see these ambiguities replaced with the formative shapes of a new movement.

Although this is a powerful book, it dances around one question that most of us would like to see resolved, which is whether or not New Right can find common ground with mainstream politics. Much of the book is spent differentiating New Right from old Right, neoconservative, Nazi, racist, etc. and as a result we know what it is clearly not possible, but that leaves us the question of where we can find common ground. Does conservatism continue its big tent outlook, or do we leave behind facilitative politics and try to streamline? If so, how does a New Right-influenced party or individual gain power? These questions are probably far too big for this book, which is already stuffed with information and citations for more reading, so it’s a quibble but a valuable question for Sunic’s next volume.

Remember how at the beginning of this review, I wrote that it is impossible for reviewers to remain objective? I have some further quibbles:

  • The notion of individualism and Boolean morality originating in Judeo-Christianity. Every now and then, you get one data point that ends a debate in your favor, and here’s mine: Plato’s Republic. Every condition attributed to Judeo-Christianity appears in that before Judaism or Christianity were important influences on the West. Even more, these conditions are natural to the psychology of the resentful or the dumb; do we need to mention the Dunning-Kruger effect? I’m not trying to defend Judeo-Christianity per se, except that as Schopenhauer argued, it is an existing spiritual tradition with many good things going for it — why not modify it to be “pagan” as others have done (I’m thinking of the New World religions that incorporated their tribal gods as Saints in the Catholic church)? Even further, do we want to attack the religion from which many of our people gain great joy, when there’s a clearer origin elsewhere? Further, if we’re the people who understand history as cyclic, why do we assume there’s a linear progression to downfall — maybe, as Spengler said, downfall occurs in cycles too, and it hit Judaism and Christianity before us.
  • An emphasis on freedom, liberty, democracy and diversity. I find this disingenuous and political. If you’re going to make a breakaway movement from the mainstream, try not to carry its values with you; the book does an excellent job of crypto-elucidating its alternate values, such as place in a communal pattern of life replacing freedom/liberty and democracy; its point of “diversity” and “pluriversum” is well-made internationally, but confuses diversity with natural variation such as the standard distribution among intelligence and skills within an ethno-cultural population. I realize it’s important to slam the door on fascism and National Socialism, but it seems to me that agreeing with mainstream liberal values simply encourages assimilation while strengthening attacks on the parts of New Right beliefs that are different.
  • Lack of love for Plato. More distancing from what Karl Popper sees as the ultimate opponent of the “free society,” the disclaiming of Plato in this book reaches a silly level since most of the arguments in it derive from his works. Plato emphasized place within a communal order, not individualism; he emphasized a cycle of history, and a lack of an absolute standard, as well as demonstrating cause/effect logic and deconstructing the illusions that allow economics, democracy and liberalism to subvert cultural values. Why turn your back on the most prolific thinker of the most prolific time in Indo-European history?
  • Failure to explain National Socialism as failure-bound by the nature of the liberalism it incorporated. Every person on earth agrees with Hitler on many things; he liked trains to run on time, flush toilets, strong economies, technology and other issues that are universal. But we should probably explain where he went wrong, and one very clear way to do that is point to how he became liberalized and thus corrupted the type of idea he wanted his National Socialist party to be. Instead of restoring German culture, the NSDAP subordinated it to a liberal economic notion of efficiency; instead of bringing about the rightist idea of socially Darwinistic meritocracy, the National Socialists brought about a dogma elite that later failed them. Instead of getting past racism, they fell into its mire, and spend resources on killing Jews that should have been sent to kill Russians (and Americans). Even more, why are we backing away from the good that their medical experiments and eugenics research did, or an admiration for their rigorous order? Our enemies will not be placated by a few disclaimers, anyway, so why bother. In the same way, not enough attention is paid to mainstream conservatives in the USA and Europe and what they have achieved; also, the Communists are slighted for their great achievements, both military and cultural. I understand the New Right needs to differentiate itself from National Socialists, Communists and Republicans, but if we’re going to borrow from others we should make it clear what is borrowed — and that the borrowing stops there. In particular, it might be nice to offer up to Jewish people an assurance that they’re not going to end up in concentration camps.
  • More on ecology, please. I realize this was written in the wild and crazy 1980s before people worried about such things. Oh, wait — they worried about them in the 1970s and 1930s too, at least as fervently as they do now. I would have liked to see this made more explicit in Sunic’s text, as well as perhaps an allusion to Arne Naess’ deep ecology movement or American conservative environmentalists like Garrett Hardin, or perhaps even accidental truth-tellers like Jacques Cousteau. What about overpopulation? And how are we sure New Right will end the ecocidal holocaust our species has perpetuated?
  • More Nietzsche. If you are New Right, you are laboring in the house that Nietzsche built. If anything marks the political side of this movement, as opposed to the cultural, it’s a reliance on political specifics which might be better made cohesive through allusions to the writings of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and other revokers of modernity. In particular, much of the critique of Judeo-Christianity could be replaced by a few choice passages from The Antichrist.

These are minor objections, and not quite fair ones, since this book was written a long time ago during the throes of the Cold War, when nuclear missiles seemed poised above our beds to erase us and all we knew at any moment, leaving behind ten thousand years of contamination.

Where this book triumphs is as a plateau in history; both a stopping point where we look back over the trail so far, and figure out how we got here (and in particular, realize the drastic and destructive changes to European-descended civilizations since the French Revolution) and a template for the future, where we have a list of issues and values that we can use to filter all other ideas and see what sticks.

Sunic writes beautifully, and the book is edited with an eye for detail, which makes Against Democracy and Equality the perfect introduction to the New Right for either the layman or the committed and interested reader. I will be recommending this to friends as a watershed volume that serves as an ideal portal to this fertile and provocative realm of thought.

You can purchase this book from the publisher for $18.

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9 Responses to “Against Democracy and Equality by Tomislav Sunic”

  1. DeHeerser says:

    I read this review – very erudite ‘t must be said.

    However I take issue with one tiny fragment of the article:

    “Hence, it follows that our school is unconditionally opposed to all systems of an absolutist character, given that these systems imply the idea of determinism, of a single truth or of a monotheism, in which we discern the roots of totalitarianism. (206)”


    So, we are opposted to absolute single truths since these are the foundation of totalitarianism. What is the foundation of today’s “social market economy” or “liberal capitalistic democracy”? Answer: the equality of every individual citizen. This is the starting point – and if you go against the adagium that “all men are created equal” you are intolerant, since you violate the single core ‘truth’ the system is based on.

    However, this leads to the absurd. Since what I understood from the New Right book, the New Right itself is opposed to this sort of “liberal capitalitistic democracy”. Instead, New Right says, we must find the courage to admit that people are not equal – not in talents, skills or value to society. This is the opposite of the single truth of “liberal capitalistic democracy”. So the New Right couldn’t make its own point because then it would have to pose its own “single truth”.

    • So the New Right couldn’t make its own point because then it would have to pose its own “single truth”.

      By single truth they mean an absolute and universal truth, as in one law for every person in each nation at all times.

      This is the end result of leftism: to make identical citizens. The right, on the other hand, strives for a “natural selection” style order where we’re not all equal, and those who are more competent rise to the top.

      That’s an organic truth, to be sure, but it’s not like the fixed, appearance-over-reality singular law applied blindly that leftism espouses.

  2. Anton says:

    The manifesto by de Benoist and Champetier is called Manifesto for a European RENAISSANCE.

  3. […] immensely important work. Review by Brett Stevens. I plan to publish an extensive review/critique of this book of my own as part of an essay series […]

  4. Michael Peppe says:

    I loved this review, and doubtless will also love what sounds like a thrillingly iconoclastic book, full of ideas I’ve been waiting for for a lifetime. I’ll check it out–thanks! And of course your site as a whole is great,too.

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