Arktos Media has re-issued Michael O’Meara’s attempt to codify the New Right through a vastly detailed, extensively researched exploration of the underlying issues and the opinions of far-right writers on them. This new edition updates the original which has found readers in many of us for its precise analysis of the miscellany of New Right theory.
The strength of this book is that it crawls deep into details, and relates them to a bigger picture; its weakness is missing the reasoning behind that bigger picture, and reducing it to a compressed surface assessment like a news story, reporting on what others have said but not the structure of their thoughts. However, for exploration of any given position in depth, this book is unparalleled.
Without a great political project envisaging a European imperium, New Rightists fear EU-style unification will end up turning the Continent into a gigantic, soulless Switzerland, enhancing, perhaps, its economic prowess but leaving it powerless in the field of international relations. Such a Europe would, in fact, do nothing to alter its status as an “American valet” and a Lebensraum for the non-white Muslim peoples of the South. Against the tepid unitary ideas of the Brussels shopkeepers, who weigh Europe’s future in metric tons of steel and units of exports, not history and culture, the imperial idea appeals to what is most exalted in, and hence innermost to, the heritage identitarians champion. (235)
O’Meara has a talent for putting these abstractions into concrete detail. Much of the book explores such practical conflicts: the collision between a liberal vision and a naturalistic reality in which Machiavellian realpolitik trumps the warm feelings and socially pleasurable noises of egalitarian dogma. New Culture, New Right digs into the conflict brewing in our society and the splintering point at which one must choose a side, and gives numerous tangible examples of what the Leftist vision will entail.
The book serves as an encyclopedic view into the historical background to right-wing positions, and where it is short on theory, it is long on facts and citations, as the hundreds of detailed footnotes attest. Expertly edited, this book displays efficiency and grace of language, making it a joy to read, which is essential given how dense much of this material is. In its exploration of details, it avoids many of the standard tropes and instead looks toward a more historically-coherent series of explanations for the events of history and the successes of the Left.
While Northern Europeans did eventually succumb to the Nicene Christianity of the Catholic Church, it was not through any elective affinity with its beliefs, but rather because the Holy See had convinced their “long-haired kings” of the diplomatic advantage of doing so, or, as in Ireland, its sophisticated Roman forms gave new life to native Gaelic culture, or else, they were forced at sword point. Typically, these pagan “converts” saw Christ as a victor over death, not the suffering redeemer, whose mission was to expiate human sinfulness. (126)
This kind of precise correction to casually spoken and convenient broader conclusions is where New Culture, New Right excels. For most people, Christianity either conquered Europe through some conspiratorial action designed to burn the pagan texts and enslave everyone, or was a moment of enlightenment that separates us from the dismal past. This viewpoint makes more sense: Christianity was a new, more powerful administrative and social tool, and so it was adopted, especially as it was not substantially different from pagan beliefs at the time.
Where New Culture, New Right falls short is in the tendency to allow broader assumptions to go unchallenged, but that is because this is not a book of philosophy per se but a book of politics that addresses granular and not broad assumptions among the Right. It might be seen as the most elaborate form of scene policing ever: a strident cry for balance, sanity and introspection in a Right that inevitably will rise as the Left collapses under the weight of its own delusions.
Against this deculturating rationalism, New Rightists appeal to René Guénon (1886-1951), whose “philosophy of Tradition” has had a major influence on them. Guénon (who was also an accomplished mathematician) claims material quantities are the most ephemeral and insignificant facet of reality — and are not even purely quantitative. Every quantitative substance, as Descartes himself acknowledged, has texture, smell, taste, color, form and other qualitative features, which are meaningless only to the quantifying intelligence. Similarly, if the “objective world” were made up solely of material extensions, it would not only be an undifferentiated homogeneity, but unmeasurable, for measurement is a function of order and order a property of quality. To conceive of quantity without its qualitative features, he argues, is like conceiving of substance without its defining essence. From this Gu&ecuate;nonian perspective, quantification is seen as emptying the world not just of what makes it meaningful to man, but of what makes it human — insofar as it reduces the world’s incomparable expressions to abstract calculations indifferent to all that is distinct in real life. (79)
For the average modern person — mostly driven by bodily desires, able to think in a single-layer flat hierarchy of categories only, and motivated more by personal fear than desire for greatness — the Right boils down to Ayn Rand plus Ronald Reagan: business as the cornerstone of society, strong defense and patriotism, with a smattering of social conservative-ish ideas like death penalties, anti-abortion and borders that flap closed twice a day for maintenance. This shows us an insight into the Right which is fundamental and was always there, but never makes it into mainstream discourse, because the Left (and the cuckservatives) realize that this would upset the precarious balance of power in our democratic system.
This passage also shows where New Culture, New Right meets its limitations. On a philosophical level, the above is convenient nonsense based on clever categorical logic but nothing more; it is an extension of the modern error that sees us use our method of measurement as a projection by which we perceive nature. Even more, all of what is argued can be said more clearly and better with more direct arguments: reducing the qualitative experience of nature guarantees a growth-based strategy for producing identical clones, like manufacturing or an ant colony. Writers have covered this downside of industrialization as a mentality (once also called “Progress”) for centuries.
It is for reasons such as the above that I say New Culture, New Right is a great book for correcting many of the illusions on the Right, and all of you should read it on that basis. Note that the errors mentioned above are not those of Mr. O’Meara, but of Guénon, and O’Meara faithfully reports them as should be done in a treatise of this nature. Expertly edited, this new edition is a correction and update to the first and not a radical departure, so my comments on that edition remain in force.
New Culture, New Right will not be a gentle read. It is dense and tackles nearly every philosophical issue, at the level of tactics and not strategy, that we encounter in our modern era. Highly literate, it backs up its analysis with extensive citations and detailed analysis, translated into highly readable and fluid prose, as you can see above. Even more, its spirit is healthy, youthful and refreshing, symbolized best by the quotation from Fred Nietzsche that opens the book:
For institutions to exist there must exist the kind of will, instinct, imperative which is anti-liberal to the point of malice: the will to tradition, to authority, to centuries-long responsibility, to solidarity between succeeding generations backwards and forwards in infinitum…The entire West has lost those instincts out of which institutions grow, out of which the future grows: perhaps nothing goes so much against the grain of the ‘modern spirit’ as this.
The New Right asserts itself at a time when the decline of the West is most visible. It was visible to the top tenth of a percent by intelligence a thousand or two thousand years ago, to the top one percent for the last five hundred years, and to the top ten percent for the last seventy. But now, it has ballooned into something that the top fifth of the population can visualize, and we need cognitive tools that can unwrap the endless justifications, denials, symbolic deflections and rationalizations of the Left. Like Mencius Moldbug, or Thomas Sowell, O’Meara unleashes a toolbox of arguments to fold, spindle and mutilate the gibberish of the Left.
Tags: Michael-O'Meara, new right, tradition