BY HARV BISHOP
How did the racist Alt-Right morph the truism “Change your thinking, change your life” into “Change your thinking, change your country, persecute your neighbor?”
Elements of the Alt-Right believe that the power of positive thinking helped to elect Donald Trump and make no mistake: they are pursuing mind power to shape the world to their dark will.
The Alt-Right appropriated New Thought positive thinking practices, but not New Thought’s core ethic of seeing everyone without exception as a unique expression of the Divine. I first blogged on this issue last November in my essay “New Thought’s Darth Vader Move.” That post is still provoking debate and controversy three months later. (You’ll find the link at the bottom of this article.)
One exasperated conservative reader ask me, ‘What does any of this have to do with New Thought? Does the Alt-Right even exist? Isn’t it a creation of Hilary Clinton to explain away losing the election?”
Liberals asked me why should we care about fringe organizations and give more attention to their perverse ideas. They brought up the universal truth that what we focus on expands. Some said of course the Alt-Right is bad, but the power of thought is neutral and can be used for good or ill. End of story. Others said it was unfair of me to connect New Thought to the Alt-Right. We are more than our positive thinking practices, they said.
Let’s start with the last point. I did not connect New Thought to the Alt-Right. They did that themselves. I also don’t believe New Thought is to blame for part of its teachings being hijacked. Let me be clear. In that post I said some of New Thought’s teachings were being hijacked and the Darth Vader reference meant the dark side of “the force”, not the dark side of New Thought. I also said what the Alt-Right missed in being narrowly focused on the power of thought alone.
Does the Alt-Right exist? Yes. It is not Hillary Clinton’s fantasy. Its impact is greater than its numbers. The movement’s thinking is regularly, and sympathetically, covered by Breitbart news online, which has reached 30- to 45-million plus views per month. Steve Bannon, the former executive chair of Breitbart, is sympathetic to some Alt-Right thinking and is a principal White House adviser to Donald Trump.
Numerous ultra-right nationalist parties are on the rise in Western Europe and in power in Hungary and Poland. Ultra-right nationalist politics drove the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom. These far right nationalist parties are also backed by Russian meddling in Western European and US elections.
What are some Alt-Right policy positions? Friendlier relations with Russia, making Europe and the US more like Putin’s authoritarian Russia, dismantling NATO and the EU, slowing immigration to a trickle and removing immigrants from western nations, and returning western societies to traditional gender roles, with women at home and men working. Sound familiar?
Why does the Alt-Right favor these policies?
1) They claim that civilization (read white European western civilization) and its high art, music, literature, and philosophy is in grave danger of being diluted and destroyed. The danger comes from racial diversity and embracing multi-cultural values. Diverse societies give too much power to immigrants, the crime ridden inner city “underclass,” unethical Ayn Rand style capitalists, and inferior races.
Inferior races? The “science” of human biodiversity “shows” that genes determine behavior and that groups collective behavior becomes its culture. The Alt-Right believes some races are lazy, less intelligent and more prone to crime while others (read white) are intelligent, superior, and successful. Successful people tend to breed successful intelligent people for at least 100 years. These folks, especially the neo-reactionaries, NRx, who provide the intellectual foundation for the Alt-Right movement, believe they are very intelligent, while typical liberals with occupations like social workers are only of average intelligence. When people are intelligent and rational and not caught up with liberal touchy-feely emotions, they can see the truth of human biodiversity “science,” they believe.
NRx writer Curtis Yarvin goes so far as to say slavery could be reintroduced albeit without the “abuses” of the past. For instance, long-term welfare recipients could become a combination of slaves and indentured servants working under the control of charities until they demonstrate they can be productive members of society. Slavery has been a part of every civilized society, so it is an evolutionary and biological adaption normal to the human species, Yarvin writes, adding that some people are natural slaves and others natural masters.
You would be justified in asking “Isn’t this nutty, bigoted, and even fascist?” No, an article on Breitbart claims. The NRx and Alt-Right are not bigots. They just want separation of the races so each race, including whites, can have its unique culture. These groups don’t want genocide so they are not fascists. Saying all cultures have something in common, they add, moves society to the lowest common denominator. Assimilation doesn’t work.
2) Democracy needs to go away, says the Alt Right. It’s inefficient and messy and not much gets done. And worse, it gives too much say to uncivilized elements and inferior races so western civilization will be lost. What should democracy be replaced with? Some type of military rule where rulers are guided by tradition, heroic values and ethics rather than the desire for power, according to them.
3) The free market needs to go away or be restricted. Why? Capitalists were once restrained by Christian ethics and everyone benefited, Steve Bannon believes. Now, he says, capitalists use people and are selfish and influenced by Ayn Rand. The white working class has suffered as jobs have gone overseas. These modern capitalists, Brietbart news says would destroy a cathedral and other landmarks of high culture to build a strip mall. They also bring in immigrants for cheap labor and that undermines western culture. Third worlders will never be first worlders, writes Curtis Yarvin.
Okay, you might be saying, all this seems pretty scary, but I’m still not seeing where it has anything to do with New Thought.
For that we need to turn to the politics of Traditionalism that weds metaphysics to far right politics and includes the power of thought, the occult and the perennial philosophy that posits a Golden thread of truth in all religions. Wait, you might be thinking, “I believe in the power of thought and a golden thread of truth in all religions.”
I do, too, but those ideas were taken in a very different direction by thinkers such as Julius Evola, who inspired the Italian fascist Benito Mussolini and who created an Italian translation of the perennial anti-Semitic tripe, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”
For Evola, secular modernity and industrialization is a bad thing because it takes Transcendent spiritual reality out of the picture. Tradition, to Evola, wasn’t just western civilization, but also primordial Divine revelations revealed in ancient religions that are lost at our peril. Evola saw modernity as the Kali Yuga age of Hindu mythology, a dark time of ignorance, and chaos. We have become conformist, mindless consumers seeking safety rather than heroes seeking military and spiritual challenges.
Evola was not thrilled with America. America says everyone is equal and could achieve anything they want. Such a system encourages personal aggrandizement, he wrote. All notions of superior and inferior humans (and races) were lost. Superior or inferior or being strong or weak also applied to spirituality according to Evola. The superior and the strong could achieve enlightenment in spite of the considerable negative force of the Kali Yuga. The strong, enlightened person could influence personal and political reality with their thoughts through disciplined esoteric practices.
These Traditionalist views directly influence a new generation of Alt-Right, neo-fascist metaphysicians. I think it is clear how Traditionalism provides a bridge to these folks to grab onto, and distort, aspects of New Thought.
Evola’s writings have been embraced by the Russian political scientist Alexander Dugin, an adviser to Vladimir Putin. Evola has also been cited by Steve Bannon. Dugin is lionized by the Alt-Right. Dugin’s metaphysics traces the catastrophic loss of ancient Divine revelation all the way back to the lost continent of Atlantis and he posits that this battle between civilized and uncivilized, spiritual and secular, has reoccurred throughout history. In our time, says Dugin the liberal west must be defeated, to ensure the survival of ancient tradition. Borrowing the words of Donald Trump, Dugin argues that the “global swamp” must be drained of the influence of George Soros (read wealthy Jews), inferior races, the LGBTQ community and anyone who opposes traditional family values, authoritarianism and order.
It’s unclear how much credence Putin gives Dugin, but Dugin gives Putin intellectual cover. Putin will be hosting a family values conference that American traditionalists will be attending. Apparently the rule of thumb is when you are frightened by LGBTQ equality, embrace a murderous authoritarian to maintain morality.
If New Thought is not to blame for this misuse of its teachings why should we care?
3 Reasons to Be Concerned
1) The ideas of the Alt-Right threaten conservatives, liberals, and libertarians. American conservatives and libertarians prize individual freedom and the free market. The Alt-Right does not. American Liberals prize freedom and equality. The Alt-Right does not. Both liberal and conservative publications, including the venerable conservative National Review, are alarmed by the rise of the Alt-Right.
2) There is no recognition among of these Alt-Right folks of New Thought’s core ethic. That core ethic recognizes that every human being has value as unique expression of divinity. Whether you see the realization of that fundamental truth through the opportunity to start a business or by eliminating social barriers to equality, the Alt-Right wants to take away what you value.
3) If we seriously believe that our thoughts create our reality, what we see here is a dedicated, disciplined Alt-Right movement using mind power metaphysics to move their dark agenda forward. At the very least we need to be equally disciplined in connecting to the power of love and visualizing a world that works for everyone however you define that world. We don’t want to cede collective consciousness to these people. And if we are called to take action, then we must act.
My original and still controversial post, “New Thought’s Darth Vader Move,” can be found here.