Furthest Right

Book Review of “On Being a Pagan” by Alain de Benoist (Steve Mcnallan)

I have stated from time to time — most notably in my article in  Tyr Volume 2 – that we who follow the Germanic Way need to be philosophically savvy. We must be able to debate our intellectual opponents, whether they are the local minister or a trained Jesuit.  Perhaps most importantly, we need the well-rounded training in the history of ideas that will enable us to explain the case for Asatru compellingly and coherently to intelligent Christians who might, given the right circumstances, join our ranks.

A magnificent tool for accomplishing this task arrived in my mailbox a few days ago. Inside the usual padded envelope was a book titled, simply, On Being A Pagan. The author was Alain de Benoist, creator of some fifty books and several thousand articles, mostly in French.  Mr. de Benoist is perhaps best known as a founder of the scholarly and profoundly pagan “French New Right.”

I had known for some time that Ultra, the same publishers that have brought us the remarkable Tyr volumes, had intended to produce this first English translation of de Benoist’s opus. I am not disappointed in the result. It is a “must-have” work, and I am so convinced of its importance that I have ordered copies for distribution via the AFA website.

Apart from the ability to express and defend our beliefs in a sophisticated way, what does On Being A Pagan offer us? The thing that first leaps to mind is the word “maturity.” In the first chapter, the author tells us that his greatest fear is not that
paganism might disappear — indeed, it has never really gone away despite the most prolonged and pervasive repression in the history of the human race. Rather, the greatest concern is “its reemergence under primitive or puerile forms, kin to that “second religiosity” that Spengler rightly described as one of the characteristics of cultures in decline. This is also what Julius Evola wrote about as “generally corresponding to a phenomenon of escape, alienation, and confused compensation, which is of no serious consequence on reality…something hybrid, decrepit, and sub-intellectual.”

The message is clear. When civilizations are falling apart, people become desperate. Those who perceive the problem often react instinctively, turning back to their racial or cultural roots for security and, hopefully, for answers. However, the solution is not to be found in resurrecting old forms and repeating the past in a literal way. What is needed, instead, is to bring the essence of the past into the present where it can be applied by men and women living in this age. Translated into the special case of Germanic religion, this means not trying to imitate the ninth century (or the sixth, or the first). Instead, we must bring the distilled values and soul of the past – precious drops from the Well of Wyrd – into our own lives and times, and with them revivify our people. Cultures die, nation-states die, but the Folk and their spirit do not have to die with them. They can survive and thrive by bathing in the eternal essence of the Gods and the Ancestors.

On Being A Pagan contains a multitude of other lessons for us, each as important as the one just discussed. Does that mean you will agree with every point de Benoist makes in this book? Not at all. Some will find him too cerebral. (No surprise, since his approach is necessarily intellectual.) Probably de Benoist would be uncomfortable at one of our blots – but then, philosophers often live in a world outside our own comfort levels. Any such objections to On Being A Pagan are inconsequential when compared to the richness of ideas put forth in this volume.

This is an important work. You can order it from the AFA for $20 plus $3.50 for postage and handling.

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