Oct 1, 2009

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Traditionalism and the French “New Right”

rene-guenon-1925

René Guénon, 1886 - 1951

For those who read French… A new paper on Traditionalism and the French “New Right:” Stéphane François, “Contre le monde moderne: la Nouvelle Droite et la ‘Tradition’” (Religioscope, études et analyses n° 21, July 2009).

François traces the Traditionalist current within the French New Right (notably, the GRECE of Alain de Benoist) from its origins in the 1970s through its growing importance during the 1980s to the current day. He argues that Traditionalism has been important to the New Right in providing a basis for the reconstruction of Indo-European paganism as well as for its contribution to the New Right’s anti-modern discourse, but that difficulties have arisen over Islam.

Traditionalists in the French New Right have differed over whether to welcome Islam, following [René] Guénon, or to reject monotheism, following [Julius] Evola. Those who have welcomed Islam and monotheism have, according to François, often ended up leaving the New Right proper, ending up in more regular conservatism, if of a somewhat extreme variety.

From Traditionalists, September 27, 2009

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  1. I make the following comments based on the above synopsis of the French paper. I have not read the paper.

    “Traditionalists in the French New Right have differed over whether to welcome Islam, following [René] Guénon, or to reject monotheism, following [Julius] Evola.”

    This statement can breed undue misunderstanding in readers not well versed with Guenon and Evola. The use of the term ‘monotheism’ in the above synopsis, almost interchangeably with Islam in the same sentence, warrants an elaboration of how ‘monotheism’ is to be understood, not so much for the purpose of defining ‘monotheism’, but rather to avoid confining and diminishing the views of Guenon and Evola.

    To clarify briefly:

    -If ‘monotheism’ is taken to designate the Unity of the Primordial Principle, the Centre and Origin of all, fundamental and inviolable, not limited to a particular being or ‘pagan’ or religious form, then both Guenon and Evola were ‘monotheists’ (perhaps ‘metaphysical monotheists’ is a term that can be used, with due reservation). It should be noted that Islam can be understood with this conception of Allah in mind, thereby linking it to other Traditional forms and rebuking those who would arrogantly obfuscate that which has been handed to the races of man prior to the Revelation made to the Prophet of Islam. Those with poor knowledge of anything other than the exoteric dimension of Islam should not be taken as its representatives par excellence, no matter how vociferous their ‘Islamicity’ may appear to be.

    -If, however, ‘monotheism’ is taken to designate the exclusive dominion of a particular religious form, Islam or any other, and its particular God, to the exclusion of all other paths to Truth, then neither Guenon or Evola were ‘monotheists’.

    The differences between Guenon and Evola on this question relate to what paths each saw as being most appropriate for those who would ‘go to God’ (i.e. orient themselves toward transcendent Realisation) in these late days. Briefly, Guenon saw the mental form of most Westerners with such aspirations as being best suited to realisation effected within the framework of an orthodox religion. Evola respected the role of religion in holding societies and men to Tradition, but given the present state of things in the West, he directed most of his writing to the small minority of men who could (or already had) make positive gains with a ‘solar’, active orientation that sought to break out of the plane of becoming, and who found it more or less natural not to rely on the supports offered by the ‘lunar’ devotional path.

    I hope this has been useful to some of you.

    Regards,

    O.R.

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