Having explored the historical, and actual, roots of fascism, it is time to transition to the specters of fascism and understand why those groups often labelled “fascist” today – while certainly having some affinity and commonality with fascism, are not fascist. In this post where will examine the “Alt-Right,” “Identitarianism,” and “Pan-Europeanism,” as three of the main faces of so-called neo-fascism. Before we begin, we must remember what historical fascism was founded upon as we explored in the preceding parts, which can be summarized: 1) rejection of historical materialism and dialectical materialism; 2) belief that life is defined by struggle (non-class) and the highest form of this struggle is the struggle of nations for self-preservation; 3) the struggle of life is heroic; 4) history is revelatory and that revelation of history is the mobilization of the nation for the revolutionary struggle of struggle itself; 5) through technology, history, and science, man is taking his rightful place as ruler over the natural world; 6) fascism was a nationalist phenomenon moreover than racialist or “pan-”identity.
The so-called Alt-Right is both a self-described, and imposed pejorative, on a loose collection of individuals and groups that range from traditionalists, conservatives, to the actual people who coined the term for themselves who – in their own writings – scoff at traditionalism and conservatism. I should note that, in their dismissal of conservatism, they do actually abide by classical philosophical standards of conservatism: duty-based, hierarchal, communitarianism that has, minimally, some cultural attachment to Christianity (particularly Catholicism and High Anglicanism) and a general opposition to anthropological atomism and the atomizing and anti-communitarian tendencies of capitalism. (Basically not the “conservatism” of Prager “University” or American conservatives who are, as any philosophically literate person knows, just a variation of classical liberal in the promotion of capitalism, “individualism,” and democratic universalism.)
By Alt-Right I am not focusing on traditionalists and conservatives who have been unfairly and ignorantly maligned as belonging to the “Alt-Right” by the media. By Alt-Right I am going to focus on the people who have self-promoted themselves under that term which is a largely American phenomenon, though some in Europe have taken to the name as well. The Alt-Right is, by the accounts of Richard Spencer and his publishing arm Counter Currents and Radix Journal, a racialist and progressivist crowd of folk. By racialist, as opposed to racism, the Alt-Right sees the world in shades of race – much like orthodox Marxists see the world in class struggle and how fascists see the world in cosmic struggle between nations through the prism of heroic struggle (often in the name of culture and civilization). Racialism is not the belief that a particular race is superior and should rule over inferior races (which is what racism is) but is the “lens” of seeing all history and human interaction from the foundation of “race.” (In fact, many authentically leftwing and Marxist groups eschew racialism, including the racialism of “Black Lives Matter” because racialist views stand over and against historical materialist views, etc.) By progressivist I mean that they are informed by a particular reading of unfolding History – the “History” has a goal and has revealed itself to us in modernity (the same argument was used by “progressives” at the turn of the century). Their racialism, furthermore, carries with it old eugenic ideals that were also popular in the early 20th century. In fact, Radix Journal has published many articles and essays about the correlation between old-school progressivism, racialism, and eugenics, as one of the hallmarks that separate their movement from traditionalist conservatism which saw the world in terms of a plurality of organic cultures and civilizations that had each evolved over time and embodied their own unique codes of law, religion, and customs.
A hallmark of the Alt-Right’s progressivist racialism is the idea of “Whiteness” as anyone with familiarity with their sites, publications, and leading faces would know. That is, they radically break with fascists, nationalists (traditional definition) and conservatives in that part of the revelation of history is the uniformity of “Whiteness” which transcends cultural, religious, ethnic, and national community. “We are ‘White’” or “We are European” (more a fixture of the Pan-European offshoot) are common phrases. Fascism has no conception of “Whiteness.” Fascists were loyal to nation and state coming together in perpetual struggle for the continued sovereignty and power of the nation-state. Not to mention that 1920’s “racialists” like Madison Grant subdivided “White” races into three groups: the Teutons (superior), the Alpine (okay but inferior to the Teutons), and the Mediterranean dogs (inferior to the Teutons and Alpine peoples and should be shunned at all costs – the Mediterranean races were also Catholic which motivated Grant’s opposition to them).
Jared Taylor, one of the early precursors to the Alt-Right, wrote an important book entitled White Identity: Racial Consciousness in the 21stCentury which highlights the basic sketches and themes of Alt-Right racialism. Drawing from a revisionist account of Hegel, Fichte, Marx, and Nietzsche, the more “intellectual” Alt-Right figures argue that the revelatory hand of history is pushing toward the homogeneity of race whereby people are being “awoken” to “true life” through racial consciousness (and thereby sort themselves into their appropriate racial community). (Instead of Hegel or Fichte’s national consciousness, instead of Marx’s class consciousness, and instead of Nietzsche’s Übermensch consciousness, history is bringing formerly divided “races” into universal homogeneity through racial consciousness.)
This is why “racial purity” (however absurd the idea is from the standpoint of evolution) is so important. Race is the foundation of one’s community, life, and consciousness. To be a mixed individual (as is your humble author) is to effectively to be an exiled human being. For instance, because I am a “mongrel” of mixed races, I effectively have no permanent or real human home and community. I am forever on the true margins of human existence.
The Alt-Right believes that history, through this revealing hand of racialism, is also the struggle of racial civilizations. That “race to the top of nature” I mentioned in Part IV from Arnold Gehlen has been re-contextualized as a racial marathon between racial civilizations each trying to outdo, overtake, and become more powerful, prestigious, and wealthy than other civilizations through the use of religion, technology, economics, engineering, etc. The Alt-Right, though one should see some obvious fascist affinity and similarities, is not – by historical standards at least – fascist. (Not to mention that Marxism agrees that life can be defined by a certain kind of a struggle, but Marxism is not fascism no matter what Prager “University” says.)
The Alt-Right, then, in following some vague neo-Hegelian system of history (of which Richard Spencer has explicitly denied being Hegelian), is producing what Hegelians would consider to be some sort of new synthesis. If liberalism was the thesis, and fascism the antithesis, the Alt-Right is combining elements of both to produce the synthesis. For instance, the Alt-Right has generally been very promotive of industrialization and capitalization as necessary for the “glory of [White] civilization.” The Alt-Right also believes that the advances of technology and science go hand-in-hand with the “progress” of “racial” history and consciousness. And the Alt-Right understands history as some form of heroic and noble struggle with references to old Greco-Roman-Norse paganism (which, as I explained in Part IV, is more about an embodied way of living than actual fidelity to religious rites and practices since many Alt-Righters are self-professed atheists and see, like Nietzsche, Christianity responsible for the sterilization of heroic struggle). As a brief aside, I, personally, think the Alt-Right likes to namedrop paganism for “hipster” purposes rather than a fidelity to the continuation of the Pagan-Christian inheritance fostered by Catholicism and traditional forms of Anglicanism. (Especially among the younger Alt-Right figures like Richard Spencer.)
To be fair, all groups need a name. Thus it is understandable that the media has dubbed them neo-fascist or fascist (without proper reference to actual fascism of course). They have dubbed themselves “Alt-Right.” I do not pretend to care to give them a name other than they do not fit the mold and model of historical fascism despite some cross overlap here and there. At best we can understand the Alt-Right as some sort of historicist racialist philosophical embodiment which is “cutting-edge” from their own understanding of History (e.g. History has culminated in the rise and revelation of racial consciousness).
Moving away from the Alt-Right is a bigger umbrella group of identitarianism. Identitarianism is not fascist whatsoever. Full stop. All identitarians claim, to some degree, is that identity matters to meaning and existence. In this regard you will find a wide spectrum of thinkers from “the Left” and “the Right” who would agree with this sentiment. Identitarianism seems to be the symptom of liberal atomization. As people become atomized and “loss their identity,” they turn to try and find identity – from which the demagogues and other “chauvinists” step in and “provide identity” for those who have been atomized but seek some sort of return to identity.
The identitarians, at least in the abstract sense, are certainly the least intellectual of the movements haunted by the specters of fascism. In fact, there isn’t much fascism grounded at all in the identitarian movements. All the identarians are saying is that some sort of identity matters: whether it be sexual (left-wing social identitarianism), religious, national, or communal (traditionalism), or national (nationalist identitarianism). The identitarians, on the whole, lack a systematic view of history and philosophy besides their claim that identity matters and is important to one’s meaning and existence in the life that they have.
Enter the “Pan-Europeanists.” Pan-Europeanists are, in some way, an earlier precursor to the “Alt-Right” I described from a mostly American reading of Alt-Right figures (Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor). Pan-Europeanism has ancient roots going back to Hellenization, Romanization, and Catholicization insofar that the continent of Europe was marked by an identity of “being Greek,” “being Roman,” or “being Catholic” that complimented one’s ethnic, tribal, or national identity. But this pan-identity was never meant to transcend national identity or even tribal identity, but is understood as something that “unites” disparate tribes and nations together. Traditional forms of pan-Europeanism see a cultural Christianity as the glue of pan-European identity. Contemporaries of this view include Douglas Murray despite his Atheism. Trational pan-Europeanists have their greatest force in the architects of the European Union. Furthermore, Hannah Arendt, the great 20th century political theorist, argued that pan-European nationalism was an early and integral part of the formation of the European Union that made – France and Germany in particular – stand apart from the Soviet Union and Anglo-American orders. However, this is generally not what people mean by pan-Europeanist even though that is the historical roots of pan-Europeanism.
Pan-Europeanism, as we understand the term today, is a vague “far-right” concept reminiscent of the Alt-Right racialist theories that I hitherto explained. That is, the pan-Europeanists have a view of revelatory history in which the revelation of history is the uniformity of Europe. Pan-Europeanists, then, agree with the identitarians – identity matters – and the “Alt-Right” in that history has a progressivist end and revelatory hand: specifically revealing the united consciousness of some notion of “European man.”
This idea of “European Man” is, in essence, a reflection of the old progressive ideals of the “new man” in anthropology. That is, a human being is formless at birth, takes on form as he grows older, and that this form – in specific context to pan-Europeanism – is a universal European identity (which is an inheritance of the tabula rasa epistemological-anthropological consideration where one’s “identity” can be formed because he has no predisposed innate ideas or rooted identity in ancient customs and tradition). The hardline of pan-Europeanism embraces the end of national sovereignty and some conglomerate and homogenous European civilization and polity (and this is whom I’m referring to when I speak of pan-Europeanists in this examination). Thus, Alain de Benoist and his theories of ethno-pluralism are to be excluded from pan-Europeanist thinking in this definition (though de Benoist seems to be a traditional pan-Europeanist of sorts which I briefly began this section explaining: the ability to have a universal identification that does not threaten national sovereignty or transcend national or tribal identification; for him that is his “re-paganization” concept where he believes European man has the blood of heroic struggle in him needing to be re-awakened from its suppressing medicine called Christianity.)
Pan-Europeanist views of history can be summarized in much the same manner of the Alt-Right then. History is revealing itself to be the contest of uniformed groups in contest and struggle with one another – principally over living territory (the spatial revolution) and the continuity and preservation of this inherited culture, history, and civilization. In essence, pan-Europeanists see the individual as a cog within the long arc of history, culture, and civilization. The role of the individual is to become one with their inherited history, culture, and civilization, and basically ensure its continuity by having children so as to propagate the future continuation of their civilization and community. The greater number of children the greater likelihood that your civilization will be superior to others because population matters in this game of civilizational struggle. Thus, the pan-Europeanists have tended to be socially and culturally conservative and find commonality with traditional Christian social teaching concerning the importance of the family; that said they have often looked to the fertility religions of ancient European paganism as a more accurate and powerful embodiment and reflection of this ideal.
Thus, where the “fascism” of the pan-Europeanists enters is in their romanticization of paganism and understanding of historicism, and that the revelatory hand of history includes some form of mobilized struggle but one that transcends national and ethnic bonds. The one area where this is the most overlap between fascism and pan-Europeanism is the issue of lebenstraum – mixed with the “blood and soil” ideology of Nazism. Land is precious. Land is sacred. Land is where the struggle will principally take manifestation. Thus, we can say that history is the struggle over who will rule over the land and propagate, or preserve, their pan-identity. Thus, what is essential for pan-Europeanists is land: the continent of Europe itself. Pan-European identity is tied to the lebenstraum of Europe. The land that is Europe, more than any form of real identity rooted in community, tradition, religion, etc., is the basis for pan-Europeanism. Thus, the identity of pan-Europeanists rests wholly, and solely, and the soil of the continent of Europe. For without the land pan-Europeanism is nothing. At least the Alt-Right thinking isn’t necessarily tied to land, per se, in the same fashion that pan-Europeanism is. And it is this attachment to the land which, in my view, helps explain a certain esoteric interest in paganism among some of the more prominent proponents of pan-Europeanism.
As we can see, once you study actual fascism and those groups that have been maligned as fascist, you realize they are not really fascist. While some of these groups certainly share some overlap and affinity with fascism, at best – if you want to keep that term for them – they are some sort of “revisionist” fascist polity. Where the similarities with fascism appear most readily is in historicism, struggle, and revolutionary mobilization or the rise of universal consciousness for said struggle which is manifested through the progress of history. But, as mentioned, seeing some vague similarities and outgrowths is intellectually problematic and dishonest since it wasn’t just fascists who shared historicist readings of history, believed life could be defined by some form of conflict or struggle, and that identity matters and is important.
In other words, despite all the protesting and revivification of the word fascist, fascism is dead and buried. It has been dead and buried since 1945. It doesn’t seem like it will resurrect itself anytime soon. Though some of its themes which it pushed and promoted to the max: life is struggle, is certainly being re-examined in light of the last 20 years.
Here we should briefly note the important reading of “fascism” from the Marxist-Leninists from the Soviet Union. Part of the Soviet critique of liberalism, as was the fascist critique of liberalism, was that liberalism’s atomization anthropology was dangerously faulty. The end result would be the eradication of community and, from this, our alienation from each other and from nature. Thus, liberalism would exhaust itself into a materialistic nihilistic and hedonistic culture and ethos. From this process of nihilistic atomization, the Marxists-Leninists argued, people would fall prey to revisionist identity politics (as offered, one might say, by the “Alt-Right” and “Pan-Europeanists”). Thus, we should not, from their perspective, be surprised that the Alt-Right and pan-European phenomena have taken root in historically liberal cultures as the process of atomization intensifies.
As we conclude our tour of fascism we will look at the popular caricature and enemy of the “New Atheists,” the so-called “Islamo-fascists.”