Cross post: an appropriate setting to end our little drama

Reading about the final exploits of “Sky King” Richard Russell, I was reminded of a fad in mid-20th century drama, when existentialism was all the rage, of characters doing crazy things just to prove their freedom, or something like that.  For example, Sartre’s Orestes and Anouilh’s Antigone cause havoc just for the hell of it.  (The myths had to be reworked to make less sense.)  Dostoevsky arguably got there first, but he knew it was foolishness, and Raskolnikov ultimately repents his ultimately pointless murder.  In existentialism’s heyday, it was always assumed that asserting one’s freedom from all socializing and internalized expectations, sticking it to the bourgeois social order, means aligning with the Left.  Indeed, the inspiration is liberal, but there has always been some irony to the pose.  First, the incoherence of determinist materialists fretting about their freedom.  Second, that they thought they could assert their autonomy by aligning themselves with that great impersonal machine, the Direction of History and Progress, and most often with Soviet tyranny as well.

Men of the Right are understandably touchy about accusations of “LARPing” for long-defeated causes.  Still, there is more than a bit of Don Quixote in every true reactionary.  Why deny it?  The knight of La Mancha couldn’t stop history from moving past the age of knight-errantry, but he could resist being carried along in its flow.  He was only crazy because he was serious.

Jean Raspail published The Camp of the Saints in 1973, a story of Western civilization unwilling to defend itself, virtue-signaling itself to death.  It is best known for its cynical portrayal of Leftist humanitarianism, of the hatred and cowardice beneath its facade of compassion.  Raspail does sometimes read like an irate Alt Right blogger of 2018, but that’s not his fault; reality has plagiarized him.  I find, though, that his treatment of the few Right wing characters is what has stuck in my mind.  A Leftist hero may die for the victory of his ideology.  A Rightist hero often lacks an ideology.  He has loyalties, things that he loves, and things he disdains.  And victory is usually not a possibility.  His fighting and dying make no difference in the grand scheme of things.  He is in some ways much more like an existentialist hero than his adversaries.  (Spoilers follow.)

Recall the end of the book.  As the fleet of a million Indians lands in Southern France, resistance collapses; the army deserts; the native population flees North.  Similar incursions begin against whites everywhere on Earth; Western civilization is doomed.  A final twenty Frenchmen remain to fight the invaders.  It’s completely pointless, of course, but their mood is increasingly jovial as, since most of these resisters of the 3rd world only meet each other at the end of the book, they are finally and for the first time experiencing the company of genuine comrades.

The ones who truly love their traditions don’t take them too seriously.  They march to get their heads shot off with a joke on their lips.  And the reason is that they know that they’re going to die for something intangible, something sprung from their fancy, half humor, half humbug.  Or perhaps it’s a little more subtle.  Perhaps hidden away in their fancy is that pride of the blueblood, who refuses to look foolish fighting for an idea, so he cloaks it with bugle calls that tug at the heart, with empty mottoes and useless gold trim, and allows himself the supreme delight of giving his life for an utter masquerade.  That’s something the Left has never understood, and that is why its contempt is so heavy with hate.  When it spits on the flag, or tries to piss out the eternal flame, when it hoots at the old farts loping by in their berets, or yells “Women’s Lib!” outside the church at an old-fashioned wedding (to cite just some basic examples), it does so in such a grim, serious manner–like such “pompous assholes”, as the Left would put it if only it could judge.  The true Right is never so grim.  That’s why the Left hates its guts, the way a hangman must hate the victim who laughs and jokes on his way to the gallows.

Also standing against the invaders are the traditionalist abbot Dom Melchior and his dozen Benedictine monks in procession with the Sacred Host, the only defenders among the clergy of the civilization the Church built.  (In Raspail’s telling, the bishops and pope are shameless virtue-signalers and Leftist twits, and the priests are nearly all radicals.)  Dom Melchior has been an object of hatred both outside and inside the Church for spending lavishly to rebuild his abbey rather than ostentatiously giving it to the poor.  Now, barring the miracle they’re asking for but don’t expect, he will probably be trampled by the million invaders.  But like the twenty fighters, Dom Melchior too is giving his life for a masquerade.  One of his monks suspects as much, asking “How long will you keep up this silly charade?…Well I see through it all.  And I see through you.  Tell me, father, when did you lose your faith?”

“No, I haven’t lost my faith, Brother Paul.  I never really had it.  Like a lot of our finest priests these days.  And even some of our finest popes.  No question, Benedict XVI has faith.  It’s eating him up.  Just look at the havoc he’s wrought in its name.  At least, what passes for faith in his mind.  Because real faith, the kind that moves mountains, I mean, simply doesn’t exist.  It’s all just a pose.  All pretense and sham.  That’s why it’s so strong.  Faith, you say?  No, Brother Paul, I only wish I…”

Naturally, in The Camp of the Saints, only villains make speeches (unless one counts the narrator’s jeremiads).  The characters with whom Raspail sympathizes act for mostly unarticulated attachments.  Not all of these are especially noble, as for him and his characters the “Western way of life” certainly includes foods and comforts, places loved for their familiarity, even just the lack of third world stink.  Are these things so much less worthy than ideas?

The characteristic act of men of the true Right, it would seem, is to orchestrate their own deaths.  The Left, with their teeming masses, cannot be stopped, but reactionaries can choose to be mowed down rather than swept along.  And, since the outcome is not in doubt, strategy doesn’t come into it.  Anyone can choose what hill to die on.  The remnant in The Camp of the Saints choose The Village because one of them likes the look of it, an “appropriate setting” to “finish our little drama”.  Like that Indian fleet, the modern world means to make an end to all of our civilization, so each person might as well make his stand over something he likes.  Except that it would be good to arrange to do so with friends.  The West has so few defenders, each of the few has a remarkable freedom to pick his role, like Dom Melchior who has a fancy to be a martyr even though he doesn’t have faith.

Readers will think to themselves, and justly, that I have no right to speak even of metaphorical dying on a hill while writing behind a pseudonym.  Indeed, the old reasons for anonymity no longer obtain.  When the goal was to win intellectual or cultural battles, a sufficiently high-quality anonymous essay might have done some good.  To strike a blow at the enemy without exposing oneself to risk is a good tactic.  Today, the enemy’s victory is so total that strategy and tactics are beside the point.  There is no hope of winning people over.  Reactionary speech is an existential act, a refusal for its own sake to be swept along the arc of History.  Someday, I must write under my own name, but I do get to choose the manner and the issue, to find a hill that I like, an “appropriate setting”, so long as I don’t wait too long.

I would not say that anyone has a duty to speak out.  It won’t make any difference now, and one should consider what burdens one might be imposing on one’s family.  Safe, anonymous griping and painting a bullseye on oneself are both morally defensible choices.  Each has its appeal.  The choice is a matter of preference, of what one feels one can live with.

7 Responses

  1. well thanks now Im sad again

  2. a black pill by any other name…

  3. I used to blog against feminism and in favour if art. I gave up because I realised anonymity wasn’t for me. If I ever blog again, it will be with my real name.
    If I start to feel politically hopeless, I remember the first 50 years of the réconquísta. What kept them going?

  4. I think you are being unduly pessimistic. I think we are approaching the turning of the tide. Look, I am not religious, but let’s use the NRx compromise for now “the God of Nature, or Nature”. It is based on the idea that there is only one reality, so everything that is really true and real must agree at the end. So if you do religion well, and if you understand nature well, you should end up roughly in the same place. NRx came up with this concept to help theistic and non-theistic reactionaries work together.

    So basically libs are fighting Gnon. And Gnon is not an easy foe. For example, look at sexual desire. A very powerful thing. Libs used it as a wrecking ball. But now we are reaching a point where being sufficiently liberal means being a nonbinary transfat. Which absolutely messes with people’s sexual desires, because Gnon made it so that our desires are usually well-ordered, men tend to desire feminine women and women tend to desire masculine men. So imagine you are an average dude at a college now, all you want is a hot girlfriend. And what you see is that in the liberal circles you have no chance. Hardly any feminine women there, and they tend to be man-hating scolds, and it is just not fun at all. And it is even worse for an average woman at college because women tend to prefer quality over quantity and quite disgusted by low quality men. So I don’t think they can keep winning if they cannot fulfill people’s most basic desires, instincts.

  5. […] At the same time, I’ve been growing dissatisfied that this blog, my one hobby, is completely detached from the rest of my life.  With the Church in America collapsing, I don’t even defend her under my own name, won’t even share in her calamity to that small symbolic degree.  Of course, I could switch the pseudonym “Bonald” v with my own name anytime I want, just as I could put obnoxious political slogans on my office door if I really wanted to pick fights.  But that too would be unfair–to my students, who shouldn’t  have to be distracted by knowing their professors’ disturbing beliefs (since google would quickly make this site one of the first hits under my name), and to my fellow faculty, who have courteously refrained from broadcasting their beliefs to me.  Alas, I have been too open about my opinions here.  Even if my goal was to be hated as a Catholic, I would more likely end up being hated as a racist, an anti-semite, or some other tangential thing.  As I’ve said, we each might as well choose what we think an appropriate setting. […]

  6. […] come, but it is beyond our horizon; we can neither predict it nor do anything to influence it.  As I’ve written before, the whole purpose of conservatism has changed.  One no longer fights liberalism with hopes of […]

  7. […] come, but it is beyond our horizon; we can neither predict it nor do anything to influence it.  As I’ve written before, the whole purpose of conservatism has changed.  One no longer fights liberalism with hopes of […]

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