This is a continuation of our interview with John Morgan, Editor-in-Chief of Arktos. This innovative firm publishes books about alternatives to modernity, including traditionalist, new right and ecofuturist literature. John was kind enough to take the time answer a lengthy interview, of which the final part is presented here.
In The Problem of Democracy, Alain de Benoist re-states many of the criticisms Plato had of Greek democracy. Is this a recurring problem? What’s your assessment of de Benoist’s thesis?
The New Right authors frequently refer to the Greeks when analyzing modern civilization, since in those ideas we get a sense of what civilization was back then, before all the accretions of our time. While I found much food for thought in that book, I must admit that de Benoistâ€™s ultimate point remains muddled to me. At points he seems on the verge of advocating a return to rule by an aristocratic elite, but then pulls back and calls for direct democracy and frequent referendums. I donâ€™t see what that would achieve apart from making society even more chaotic than it already is. While I think de Benoistâ€™s achievement is unparalleled by any other living philosopher, I do think that heâ€™s worked too hard to try to escape the (inaccurate) â€œneo-fascistâ€ label with which heâ€™s always been burdened.
Do you think the division between Left and Right is accurate? This question exists on two levels: first, the concepts themselves â€“ do Left and Right exist separately as concepts? The second level is political parties. Do we have any true Leftist or Rightist parties today?
I assume weâ€™re talking about the United States? As I mentioned earlier, if we apply the traditional, European concepts of Left and Right, there has never been a true Right in America, since the true Right is anti-democratic, hierarchical, and anti-secular. The Constitution itself is based on liberal principles, which is what the American Revolution was about in the first place. Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™ve never understood why some people in our circles are so obsessed with Ron Paul. Yes, he seems marginally better than the other candidates, but ultimately, thereâ€™s not much in his thought that corresponds to the true Right. That being said, I do draw distinctions between different schools of American politics. The paleoconservatives, and voices such as Pat Buchananâ€™s, are much closer to the ideals of the true Right than anything we see in mainstream politics today. I see very little of interest in any of the political parties. The Republicans may make an occasional ideological gesture, but itâ€™s always done to placate their base and never amounts to any lasting change in American society. And these days, the neoconservatives have come to play such a prominent role in Republican discourse, which, as many writers have shown, has its roots in Trotskyism!
Do you think the New Right and the more ideologically consistent elements of the American Right, like the paleoconservatives, can be reconciled? It seems the New Right is not fond of Americanization, but they are less clear about America itself.
Iâ€™m not certain. While there is definitely common ground between the two, there are also very big differences. One of the most important is the New Rightâ€™s identification, following Nietzsche, of Christianity as the root of the Westâ€™s ills. The paleoconservatives are very concerned with the preservation of Americaâ€™s Christian identity. While I am sympathetic to the New Right intellectually speaking, I think itâ€™s definitely true that it wonâ€™t be possible to build any effective political ideology around the idea of rejecting Christianity.
As for the issue of Americanization, the issue there is the exportation of the worst of American culture into all the corners of the globe, not so much an issue with America in itself. I donâ€™t have any problem with that. Popular culture in America has been detrimental to the nature of our own society, so itâ€™s hard to imagine how it could have a positive effect in other countries. But itâ€™s certainly not the case that the New Right rejects America and its people as a whole.
As an American, do you think American hegemony has brought anything positive to the world? What would you prefer that your birth-country would do with its time?
I donâ€™t embrace knee-jerk anti-Americanism. To say that everything in America or that America does is bad is incredibly simplistic. Iâ€™ve come to appreciate that most acutely after living in India. At the same time, I think America was at its best in its early decades, when America (mostly) kept to itself and the government didnâ€™t intrude into its citizensâ€™ lives. Things started to go wrong with the Civil War, when the government placed itself at the disposal of northern bankers and industrialists and declared war on a segment of its own population. In the twentieth century, America has convinced itself that it has a God-given obligation to convert the rest of the world into a facsimile of itself, through bombing campaigns if necessary, while enriching itself by peddling the most degenerate cultural products known in all of history. Meanwhile, the government has been continually eroding the rights of its own citizens. As the economy slides further into the toilet, I really do think they are preparing for the day when we are all serfs on an enormous, Third World plantation. I think America needs to be reorganized along communitarian lines, as the New Right advocates. Even the New Right authors themselves acknowledge that many of the ideas they discuss actually have their origins in some of the more radical American social thinkers, such as the Southern Agrarians. America has the unique distinction of being the only country that was founded on abstract principles rather than on tribal necessity. In one sense, itâ€™s a weakness, since we lack the traditions and rootedness that other nations possess by their very nature, but it can also be a strength, since we have a long tradition of living in communities that try to retain their unique identity while living in harmony with the others (provided that they are not under threat). So, in one sense, America is inherently a â€œNew Rightâ€ country!
What is “liberalism”? Is it a philosophy, or aggregate of negative opinions toward other philosophies?
I have recently been reading a book by the recently-deceased American Catholic conservative scholar, Thomas Molnar, entitled The Counter-Revolution. In it, he identifies the common aspect of all liberal movements dating from the French Revolution, whether we are talking about the Soviet Union or present-day Democrats in America, as atheism. I think thatâ€™s ultimately what it is at its root. Without God, we can only think in terms of workers, productivity, comfort, â€œhuman rightsâ€ (whatever that means), and so on â€“ all the things that liberals advocate, and all of which are based upon a reduction of humanity to utilitarianism. All that is best in any culture is that which strives for the ineffable and the transcendent.
If you could publish new works through Arktos, what would they be? Are you looking forward to any original works that are being written now? If so, how do budding authors submit their works, and what would be required for those works to be considered?
Oh, there are literally hundreds of books weâ€™d like to do! Plus we keep getting new submissions all the time. Itâ€™s just a question of resources and what we can acquire the rights to do. Personally, I would love to publish some of Ernst JÃ¼ngerâ€™s works in English, as well as some of the works of other Conservative Revolutionary authors. I would also like to do more Evola, and branch out into the wider world of traditionalism. Thereâ€™s always been a sharp divide between GuÃ©nonians, Schuonians and Evolians. I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s possible, but I would love to have Arktos be the first publisher to bridge those chasms. Weâ€™ve already done so in a small way with our journal, The Initiate, which has published both Evolian and GuÃ©nonian/Schuonian articles side-by-side. Iâ€™d also like to see us get into more American material, especially paleoconservatism.
As for original works, we do have several coming up. Thereâ€™s the Tito Perdue novel I already mentioned. We will also be publishing The Clash of History by Dominique Venner, a French author who has been quite influential in France for decades but who is virtually untranslated. This is a book he wrote specifically with Arktos in mind, and features Socratic dialogues between himself and various figures from European history. We also plan to publish a translation of a book of Alain de Benoistâ€™s essays on the current global financial crisis. There will likely be another book by Kerry Bolton on the horizon as well.
If someone has a manuscript to submit to us, weâ€™re more than happy to consider it. You can send it directly to me (john-at-arktos.com) or to info-at-arktos.com (replace -at- with @). Just please be certain that your work is a serious one that says something original and that will continue to have relevancy for some time into the future â€“ overly topical works which will go out-of-date quickly arenâ€™t worth the effort involved in publishing them in book form.