Early this morning, one of the brightest lights of right-wing thought moved on from this world. As an American who enjoyed the idea and reality of America, Lawrence Auster was not “new right” in the European sense of co-opting leftism with rightist motivations, but since America had already done that with neoconservatism, he went to the next step and rediscovered a roots conservatism that few can understand in this time of a civilization distanced from its origins.
Auster’s story is one of triumph: of a man beating his own demons and coming to accept his love for the world and the divinity within it, of a man beating back illusion of multiple layers, of someone who could use his piercing mind not to generate tangential theories and ideologies, but to peer directly into the substructure of reality itself and build his theories on that. In a time when wishful thinking is the foundation of most politics, Auster presented a stable and commanding perspective.
For details of his life, Laura Wood’s eulogy is the best place to read; for a guide to his thoughts, visit his blog View From the Right and read the “Key VFR articles” in the lower right-hand column. There is too much to Auster to summarize with honesty in a single article.
Instead, it makes sense to celebrate two of the principles that Auster shared with all good conservatives: interactive realism and reverent love. Interactive realism is the ability to recognize the rules of the world and know how they can be manipulated without leading to disaster; reverent love requires a religious type of outlook on the world, in which one sees a transcendental point of view underlying all that is good and bad in perpetual struggle on earth.
Where his original writings show an aggressive pragmatism, Auster developed his views by struggling in inches and not feet over the fundamental questions of epistemology, ontology and metaphysics. It was this painstaking attention to detail, and to correcting imbalances and thus improving perception, that he became one of the most insightful realists of our time, and also one of the best voices arguing for, if not religion, a view of the world as an outgrowth of divinity.
We have lost a great thinker, but in every loss there is a contrast, and it shows us each what we must do to become more like the vision of existence that we adore. As such, this loss will spur others on to be better, to work smarter, to be more diligent and to be more perceptive. As for Mr. Auster, in honoring his belief (and not incompatible with my own Perennialist outlook), I choose to believe as he did, that he is in a state of the divine and watching us with unending compassion from the heavens.