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In Praise of Extremists

[1]663 words

French translation here [2]

Author’s Note:

This brief talk was given in London on Friday, May 26, 2017 at the first annual Jonathan Bowden Dinner. I want to thank Stead Steadman and the other organizers of the dinner, as well as the nearly 80 people who attended.  

I am currently editing a new collection of Jonathan Bowden’s writings called Extremists! Studies in Metapolitics. I have edited many hours of transcripts of Jonathan’s speeches, and now when I read any of his writings, I hear his voice in my head. I imagine that he would say “Extremists!” like he would bark out the word “glory!” The book consists of transcripts of Jonathan’s lectures on Carlyle, D’Annunzio, Maurras, Heidegger, Evola, Mishima, Savitri Devi, and Maurice Cowling, as well as his speech “Vanguardism: Hope for the Future,” all of them delivered at the meetings of The London Forum, the London New Right, and similar events.

All of these speeches illustrate three very important truths that Jonathan visited again and again.

First, metapolitics is important. “Metapolitics” means that which is above or before politics. Political change can only take place if certain metapolitical conditions are met first. Politics is downstream from culture, as Steve Bannon said. Politics follows pretty straightforwardly from our sense of identity — of who we are and where we are going — our sense of right and wrong, and our sense of what is politically possible. If we can alter what our people think about who we are, where we are going, what is morally right, and what is politically possible — then it will be possible for organized nationalist politics to finally make some headway.

The reason that the political mainstream — both Left and Right — is united in its embrace of multiculturalism and egalitarian leveling is because those ideas are completely hegemonic in the education system, the news media, and the popular culture. The purpose of the New Right is to deconstruct the current anti-white cultural and intellectual hegemony and establish the hegemony of pro-white ideas in its place.

Second, extremists are important. Cultural and political innovations take place on the extremes, at the margins, and then are diffused to — or imposed upon — the mainstream. Thus we should treasure extremists. We should cultivate them. We should encourage their creativity. Then we should steal their best memes and spread them far and wide.

Third, vanguardism is important. We metapolitical radicals must think of ourselves as the vanguard of our people, as a political avant garde. We are the ones who must summon our courage, take the risks, blaze the trails, and lead our people toward their salvation.

Vanguardism must be repeatedly emphasized, because the instinct of every politician seems to do the exact opposite. Politicians are inveterate panderers and flatterers of the public mind, which unfortunately has been completely molded by our enemies for generations. Politicians follow the people. Vanguardists seek to lead them. Politicians take public opinion as a given. Vanguardists seek to change it. Politicians always seek to soften their message to appeal to the public. Vanguardists realize this is folly. If one attracts lukewarm followers who are in only partial agreement, then under normal circumstances, you will be fighting with them as much as with your opponents — and when things get tough, they will sheer off and leave you alone anyway.

Thus Vanguardists realize that there is no real substitute for the slow, painstaking, and difficult work of converting a significant minority of our people to our way of thinking. We have to uphold a radical and absolute vision and then bring as many of our people around as possible. We should follow the old Roman maxim, “Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re”: suave, supple, and infinitely pragmatic and persuasive in style — yet firm and steadfast, indeed adamantine and dogmatic about essential principles.

Jonathan Bowden died more than five years ago. But vanguardist that he was, he continues to lead us today, through his recordings, YouTube videos, and books, always out there on the extremes, not gone — just gone before.