Archives For Alternative Right

Top Story: Alejandro Amenábar’s film “Agora”, based on the story of Hypatia of Alexandria, is finally seeing a limited release in American theaters  this weekend after achieving financial and critical success in Europe last year. American reviews are starting to trickle in, here’s A. O. Scott from the New York Times.

“Mr. Amenábar, working from an insightful script that he wrote with Mateo Gil, focuses on two moments when the ancient culture war reached a fever pitch and shows that no group is entirely innocent of violence and intolerance. Whoever is in power tries to preserve it by fair means or foul, and whoever wants power uses brutality to acquire it. So in the first half of the film the insurgent Christian mob draws pagan blood, and the beleaguered pagan elite, including Theon and Orestes, meets the threat with savagery.”

Other American reviews can be found at Movieline and Vanity Fair. Here’s pictures from a special screening at NYC’s MOMA on Wednesday. So check with your local art-house theater and see if they’ll be getting it.

So Far So Good For Pagan Festival In Livingston: The much-discussed Memorial weekend Pagan festival in Livingston Parish, Louisiana is now underway, and other than a minor incident of vandalism, there don’t seem to be any major problems.

“Cliff Eakin, owner of Gryphon’s Nest campground on Bull Run Road, said he expected the bulk of the weekend’s participants to arrive today. Eakin said he had one instance of vandalism by teenagers on the campground’s sign, so he hired security personnel to protect participants in the weekend celebration … The event that started Friday night was scheduled to run through Monday. Perry Rushing, chief of operations of the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, said he had met with Eakin, the operator of the campground, and was assured that the event would consist of people practicing their religion and would not involve anything illegal. “We have no interest in that,” Rushing said.”

Rushing, who initially said he “vehemently opposed” a Pagan festival in his Parish, now says he doesn’t expect any problems. Let’s hope he’s right, and the locals realize that the world didn’t end simply because a bunch of Pagans decided to congregate in their Parish for a weekend of camping and celebrating.

Is Alternative Right, Wrong? Nick Pell of the socialist-oriented Red Star Times, and one of the former masterminds behind Key23 and Key64 (and now Esozone), puts the spotlight on the conservative “radical traditionalist” site Alternative Right.

“My first subject of study is Alternative Right, a particularly noxious website that brands itself as “radical traditionalist.” For those who aren’t familiar with the term, radical traditionalist is a term used by hipsters, goths and faux-erudite who espouse fascist ideology but want a term with more intellectual cache. Radical traditionalist favorites include Oswald Spengler, Julius Evola and Alain de Benoist. Associated (allegedly) political movements include Eurasianism, metapolitics, third positionism and national anarchism. Alternative right is an exemplar of radical traditionalism and fascism in as much as it begins with hatred of minorities, women and the working class and proceeds to construct a bizarre mish-mash of gobbledygook as “ideology” after the fact.”

My readers may remember my own foray into the world of Alternative Right when I covered their interview with Asatru leader Stephen McNallen (here’s McNallen’s response to that article). There definitely seems to be some nasty elements hiding within some of the rhetoric at Alternative Right, especially their sympathetic coverage of the National Anarchists, who really do seem to be neo-fascist in orientation. I do think one can be a radical traditionalist (at least as some people define it) without being a racist or a crypto-fascist, but you certainly can’t do it while tolerating and including those elements in your “big tent”.

Reviewing the Chaplains Under Fire: Pagan author and poet Erynn Rowan Laurie, who writes for the PNC blog Warriors & Kin, has an in-depth review up at Patheos of the documentary “Chaplains Under Fire”, which explores the world of military chaplains.

“One interview illustrated the difficulties faced by non-Christians quite clearly. Rev. Billy Baughaum of the International Conference of Evangelical Chaplain Endorsers, a retired military chaplain, verbally and physically expressed absolute disgust and revulsion for the Wiccan faith, openly mocking it. At one point in his interview, he said, “I think the Wicca religion is repulsive, however if there’s a Wicca [sic] chaplain who comes, I will swallow my grimace, but I believe the first amendment, he has a right or she has a right to pray to the horned god of the north. … Although I think it’s a bunch of baloney personally … if that’s what they want to pray to I will put on my greens again and get in a foxhole and I’ll support their right to do that.” A statement that he believes in first amendment rights is not a commitment to neutrality in actually helping servicemembers in need of spiritual counsel. How genuinely can someone serve another spiritually when they are attempting to “swallow my grimace” and disguise hatred and contempt for the person seeking help? I cannot imagine feeling comfortable in the office of a chaplain who openly and publicly states that other religions are false and that they find them repulsive; that hatred cannot help but transfer over to the individual practicing the hated faith.”

The whole thing is very much worth reading, and I encourage you to do so. As we enter Memorial Day weekend, being aware of what our Pagan military personnel (past and present) have to deal with on an ongoing basis is vitally important.

Good Journey Alexei Kondratiev: In a final note, I’d just like to point to a few touching blog memorials for Celtic scholar Alexei Kondratiev, who died earlier this week from a heart attack; including tributes from Jason Fisher, Erynn Rowan Laurie, and Cat Chapin-Bishop.

“Here is what I do know: For twenty-five years, I have been a Pagan, and for all of those years, I have felt that I am weaving something, a kind of cloth or tapestry, together with my friends. Paganism is so new, and, when it is working well, so warming and so full of hospitality, that for me at least, the heart of my experience as a Pagan has been the weaving together all of our separate lives to form one fabric, one community honoring the earth and the old gods. I’ve never cared particularly who called himself a shaman, who a Witch or a Hellene or a Druid, because I have felt it in my bones how much we are woven together as kin. Believe it or not, today is the first day I have properly understood: the whole time I have been weaving, weaving my life and the lives of those I love into this fabric, time has been unweaving it again at the other end. Alexei has died. And part of the world is gone.”

For those who can make it, the wake will be Tuesday, 1st of June, from 2pm-5pm and from 7pm-10pm at Gleason Funeral Home 149-20 Northern Blvd, Flushing, 11358. The funeral, Wednesday, 2nd of June, 10:45am, St Andrew Avellino 158th Street and Northern Blvd, Flushing.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

Back in March I highlighted an editorial posted to the new site Alternative Right, in which assistant editor Patrick J. Ford said some pretty historically ignorant things about pre-Christian religion, and its contributions to what we now refer to as Western civilization.

“…nearly every aspect of the western world worth saving is a product of Christianity, not Paganism. Even the distinctly non-Christian things are Christian in origin. While Christianity absorbed most of the worthwhile aspects of pagan society and made them its own, Christianity has left its fingerprints on every aspect of the West. A rejection of Christianity in favor of a false pagan faith would be antithetical to the defense of the West.”

You might think this would have gone over gangbusters at a politically conservative web site, but there was actually a great deal of dissent and debate in the comments section. You see, the folks behind Alternative Right are (largely) adherents of what is called “radical traditionalism”. What is radical traditionalism? Well, it’s a school of thought that originated with the Traditionalists, and influenced by philosophers like Nietzsche, Julius Evola (here’s an AR exploration), and Alain de Benoist, founder of the French New Right, and author of “On Being A Pagan”. The immensely Pagan-friendly journal Tyr describes itself as a radical traditionalist publication. The common threads within radical traditionalism seem to be a shared hostility for modern culture, a desire to return to a more tribal-based system of social organization, and a hostility to modern forms of liberalism and conservatism. The heavy “blood and soil” (and outright racist) elements within some radical traditionalist camps have some critics saying it’s a sanitized neo-fascism (though there are tensions between traditionalists and fascists).

I didn’t give that preamble last time I mentioned Alternative Right, since I didn’t, at first, notice that it was a radical traditionalist-based site. Ford’s anti-pagan and pro-Christian attitudes on the site especially threw me off of the scent, since the radical traditionalist crowd are usually pretty down with (some) forms of modern Paganism, or at least a certain sort of philosophical polytheism. Which brings me to the reason for today’s post. After the debate and controversy of Ford’s editorial, the site has posted a series of pro-Pagan rebuttals, including one from Stephen McNallen, leader of the Asatru Folk Assembly.

“‘Pagan,’ as I use the term, does not mean lacking a moral code. It does not mean rituals mixing Isis, Thor, and American Indian beliefs, with a little lesbian-feminist philosophy thrown in for good (or bad) measure. It is not a hobby, a pastime, or an affectation … Generally, I avoid using the word “pagan” because of the nonsense done by some people under that name. (The primitive and puerile are, unfortunately, out there.) Usually, I call my practice “a native European religion.” I’m only using “pagan” in this essay because most of you will be familiar with the word in the context of the Alternative Right and Radical Traditionalism … There are only two kinds of religions in the world. One kind, like Christianity, Islam, or Scientology, lacks any roots in blood or soil … The other category includes the ones we call pagan, or native, or indigenous religions.  They are innately tied to a specific people and cannot be transferred to another group without losing their truth, power, and integrity. Such religions are the distilled experience of a specific biological and cultural group from its very beginning.”

So what are the advantages of belonging to a religion with “roots in blood or soil”?

“Obviously, such a folk-based religion has strong advantages for any group trying to preserve its physical and cultural existence. Continuation of the people in question becomes a religious imperative. It creates a strong in-group, encourages healthy families, elevates a heroic ethic, and teaches the hard virtues of loyalty, courage, and honor.  I don’t think anyone reading these words is likely to have a problem with that.”

That’s pretty boilerplate stuff from groups like the AFA that try to walk the “folkish” line while rejecting the idea of racial supremacy. So instead of getting into the mire that is the folkish/racist debate, I wanted to focus more on his opening comments, where he strives to distance himself from the larger modern Pagan community.  That too is nothing new, many Asatru refuse to use the term “Pagan”, preferring to call themselves “Heathens” instead, and are often quite dismissive of other Pagan groups, with their greatest ire saved for the dreaded “Wicca-tru”, that is, Wiccans who worship Germanic gods/incorporate Asatru elements into their practices. Which again, is fine. We don’t all have to hold hands and sing “kumbaya” with each other. What I’m wondering is if Stephen McNallen wants to be part of the larger Pagan rights coalition or not.

He certainly seems to want to join forces with the larger modern Pagan community when it suits his interests, but then pretty much says he doesn’t even consider whole swathes of modern Pagandom to be Pagan. So does he simply bite his tongue when he shakes hands with Selena Fox, or what? I point this out because it seems he’s telling the radical traditionalists he’ll have nothing to do with “those Pagans”, the ones who include a little “lesbian-feminist philosophy” in the mix (which would place Feri and Reclaiming outside of McNallen’s “Pagan” zone), but “those Pagans” are often on the front lines of legal battles that directly benefit all Pagan religions. They are often the activists, organizers, and structure-builders, and like them or not, are an integral part of the larger modern Pagan movement.

In the end it comes down to this. I don’t have to like all Pagans, I certainly don’t have to practice with all Pagans, and I’m long over the notion of any sort of real “Pagan Unity” ever being feasible, but a broader idea of solidarity is important if we are to capitalize and build on the legal, political, and social gains we have made. When we trash each other to impress other groups or individuals, we don’t damage the integrity or utility of those other religions and traditions, but we do harm the vital solidarity necessary to get the things we all want. This doesn’t mean you can’t draw distinctions or even civilly criticize paths different from your own, but when folks start implying that you shouldn’t be in the larger movement, that’s counter-productive and drains enthusiasm from the activists working for the rights of all Pagans.

Turning the Witch-Hunter into a Hero: Summit Entertainment, the company the brought you the “Twilight” movie adaptations, is branching out from vampires into the world of witchcraft. But we won’t be seeing sexy heroic witches, or even gothy bad-girl witches like in “The Craft”, instead the protagonist will be the witch-hunter.

“Summit made a pre-emptive mid-six figures acquisition of The Last Witch Hunter, a Cory Goodman pitch that has franchise potential, and the attachment of Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov. The protagonist is one of the last remaining witch hunters, a breed that keeps the population of witches and warlocks in check. They are about to repopulate in a major way unless he can stop them.”

So let me get this straight, the historical figures who tortured, killed, and accused innocent men and women of being “witches” and “warlocks” are being revamped as broody anti-heroes trying to save humanity from real-live witches? What’s next? A film where heroic cops raid gay bars for the good of America? Films set in the old west where Native Americans are turned into villains again and again? Oh, wait. They already did that one.

That Darn Neopaganism: The newly launched conservative site “Alternative Right” comes out of the gate swinging against modern Paganism.

“The first and most important problem with Neopaganism is that, to put it simply, it is wrong. Whatever may be said about the dangers of egalitarian and universalist Christianity, that the Church was built as a repository of truth with the distinct purpose of spreading that truth and, through that truth, saving men’s souls, is beyond question. Neopaganism is built around an impulse that runs contrary to the truth… and this impulse is recognized by a vast majority of neopagans. Men that concern themselves with philosophy and ascetics in public find themselves slaughtering goats in the name of Thor in private when they know that the practice is utter nonsense. It is all well and good to desire a connection with your barbaric ancestors; it is quite another thing to bring your silly hobby into the realm of philosophy and politics. Which brings me to my second point: nearly every aspect of the western world worth saving is a product of Christianity, not Paganism. Even the distinctly non-Christian things are Christian in origin.”

First off, ten points are deducted from the essay for quoting G.K. Chesterton, the lazy man’s anti-pagan source material (seriously folks, Chesterton is not the alpha and omega of anti-pagan arguments). Another ten points for his ignorance of the pagan origins of things Christians like to take credit for, like democracy, charity, and philosophy. Yet another ten for faulting paganism for things it wasn’t around to do, like fighting Muslim advances into Europe, because the Christians had eliminated it! If this is the “new intellectual right-wing” is smells an awful lot like the old intellectual right-wing.

Get Religion’s Shameless Plug: Remember me mentioning Rod Dreher’s awful column defending his anti-Vodou attitudes? Well, religion journalism criticism site Get Religion just loved it! Singling it out for praise and discussion because, well, it praised Get Religion.

“We didn’t pay him to say that, or even plead for him to do so, but we’re glad that this concept was aired in a place where mainstream readers and journalists have a chance to read about it and, perhaps, even debate it.”

You can bet your boots I debated it. Dreher’s column was a biased self-serving ode to the reprehensible anti-Vodou tirades by himself and a handful of conservative-leaning columnists. The fact that he’s trying to repackage his outlandishly anti-Vodou attitude as a “respectful” journalistic “study” of the faith strains all sense of credulity for anyone who’s actually read his (and similar) work(s). So the plug really is “shameless”, but not in the way I think they mean. Oh, and if you feel the need to join the debate there, be sure to keep your criticism focused on the journalism, lest your comment be spiked.

That’s all I have for right now, have a great day!