In part 1 we started in on Rhyd’s “Defense” of his “Confronting the New Right,” post. In Part 2, we’ll be going over his defense against the three main criticisms he feel’s he’s received.
Guilt By Assocation
In the most thoughtful of the critiques, Guilt By Association, John Beckett states:
This article associates many of our most meaningful and vibrant traditions with some of the most vile ideologies lurking at the edges of our community.
And in her post, Are We Fascists? According to Gods&Radicals…Maybe, Galina Krasskova writes:
“If I ever had any doubt that Rhyd and his cadre are hostile to the growth of polytheism, to our individual traditions, and to devotion in general, this article has put those doubts to rest. It shows their true agenda, which is the destruction of our individual traditions, the silencing of opposing voices, the silencing of religious voices, the end of polytheism. They are drawing a false equivalency between those who have regard for tradition and those who are racist, classist, and cruel.”
Now, despite the fact that Rhyd proclaimed there were “falsehoods,” I don’t see any so far. But this is Paganism, and magic happens, so let’s see where this takes us.
I am a polytheist. When I draw attention to the intersections of New Right ideology with reconstructionism and devotional polytheism, I am not doing so as an outsider. So, the assertion that I am attempting to bring an ‘end of polytheism’ is a bit odd. I am a polytheist.
I believe the implication was that Rhyd was trying to “bring an end to polytheism” which is different than his view of what it is. After all, he did as Beckett and Krasskova points out, make an entire post doing exactly as they say he does. Equating many of our sacred traditions and values with fascism.
That Rhyd is doing this as an “insider” rather than an “outsider” doesn’t in any way make what he’s doing any more correct, moral, or healthy. While Rhyd is protesting that “Hey Guys, I’m one of you!” he is in fact still speaking against the sacred and traditional. Now, he may have noble means for doing so, but he is still engaging in what is known as 5th column actions. Engaging from within the group to alter and/or weaken that group’s existence.
I am also not accusing all polytheists (or anyone else) of being Fascist. If I were, then I would also be a Fascist. The piece I wrote draws no equivalency between specific Pagan-aligned traditions and the New Right. Rather, I draw attention to places where New Right ideology intersects, could influence or currently influences Paganism, including the traditions I am a part of.
Way to bank on a logical fallacy there, Rhyd. “This thing is Fascism, and I’m not a fascist, therefor I cannot be doing something that is Fascist.” I’m trying to remember if this one is called the “no true scottsman” or a different one. But the point remains, Rhyd’s entire defense here is “This thing is evil, and I’m not evil, therefor it is impossible for me to be doing this evil thing.”
However, and this is important for the next part, because Rhyd is being intellectually dishonest here. He says “controlling peoples’ beliefs is fascist” but in reality, it’s not Fascism. It’s something called Totalitarianism. Now, for sure all Fascists are Totalitarian and use totalitarian rule, but not all Totalitarians are Fascists. In fact, in the history of the modern era the vast, vast majority of totalitarians have been…Marxists.
Also, as far as I’m concerned, no Rhyd didn’t accuse all polytheists of being fascists. In fact, he didn’t accuse anyone of being a Fascist (well, Except that Augustus fellow, who is apparently a Libertarian Fascist).
But he did Heavily Imply It. Honestly, I’ve watched morbidly obese people fail to put butter on bread as thickly as Rhyd implied the fascism of a hell of a lot of Pagan paths. Had he laid it on any thicker, it would have been a governmental project to reinforce the foundations holding the servers where G&R is hosted. Lives would have been lost.
Allow me to repeat my introduction to that section:
Before continuing, it is important to note that the presence of New Right ideas in any Pagan or Magical Tradition does not mean the tradition itself is part of the New Right. Often times the adoption of these ideas is unconscious, particularly since many advocates of New Right ideology do not present their ideas as part of a political stance. In fact, many ideas are presented as overtly ‘apolitical,’ deriving from common sense, tradition, lore, or the will of the gods.
The bolded text is in the original.
Going for a Neo
A similar warning against false associations ends the section:
“Again, it should be noted that none of these traditions are inherently aligned with the New Right. In the piece, not only is this second statement bolded, but it is also a different colour for emphasis.”
Regarding my warnings, John Beckett writes:
“The section has disclaimers at the beginning and the end: ‘it should be noted that none of these traditions are inherently aligned with the New Right.’ The problem – as any competent magician should know – is that association is strong and disclaimers don’t work. In my earliest baby Pagan days, I was taught that magic doesn’t understand “not” – always write your spells using positive language.”
Disclaimers didn’t work. They did not work. And I have to admit, as much as me and Beckett have had our political issues lately, he does nail it here quite well. Rhyd walked onto the stage in front of a bunch of magicians and then is offended they would not believe in the magics he wrought, when we all know the secrets behind the illusion.
From this I take to mean that my caveats were either not read or were seen as dishonest. The argument that magic doesn’t understand ‘not’ intrigues me, though—the notion that the gods, spirits, and magical currents cannot understand ‘no’ seems worrying. I say ‘no’ to gods and spirits and friends and employers all the time, almost as often as I say ‘yes.’
I’m trying to decide if Rhyd is being pedantic about language here (we all take what Beckett means) or if he really is that ideologically blind when it comes to himself. Heck, maybe he believes his own line about the disclaimers. Maybe he is so far down that rabbit hole it doesn’t register in his world that he was pulling a dishonest slight of hand with them.
That intellectual dishonesty I mentioned earlier between Totalitarianism and Fascism is one of the reasons, I believe anyways, why no one bought Rhyd’s disclaimers. Most of us know about Fascism and Marxism and that they both have traditionally been Totalitarian Ideologies. In fact, anyone who is/was Alt-Right, or even a Cultural Libertarian, knows all to well that the “social” Marxism that has ingrained itself in the political Left is completely totalitarian in nature. Heck, the first video in my introduction to this was by That Guy T talking about how the Left was now more Totalitarian than Liberal as it marched with Marxist ideology.
It made it very easy for us to go “Rhyd is being totalitarian in his attempts to “Stop” Fascism.”
Or maybe Rhyd is playing the fool in order to fool us once again? Only time will tell.
But three is a magical number for druids, so let me restate this. The presence of ideas espoused by the New Right in any Pagan tradition or belief system does not mean the tradition or belief system is part of the New Right.
He’s right. Because the Alt-Right is drawing on ideas from ancient Paganism, the Gods, and their cultures. Of course, that the alt-right might have some legitimacy from this perspective is something Rhyd seems to ignore so far. But I have the feeling this will come up again later.
I do not know if there is stronger language I can use, without suggesting that there are no intersections at all, or that the New Right has no influence on Pagan traditions. Unfortunately, such a statement would be untrue.
Here, Rhyd is putting the cart before the horse, in order to keep up the appearance of his cart drawn horse. The Alt-Right ideas found in Paganism are not, in fact, Alt-Right ideas within Paganism. They are instead, Pagan ideas found in the Alt-Right.
Paganism, at least the Paganisms we seek to follow, are as old as human history itself. Some of the greatest Empires were Pagan, their traditions and philosophies were Pagan, and they passed down these ideals. The Alt-Right is very new, barely two years old if I have my math right, and only in the last US Election has it gained much of a group presence beyond a thought in the back of people’s heads.
Rhyd insists the ideas are from the Alt Right, but they are not. The Alt-Right is adopting Pagan ideals, philosophies, and traditions because those things are the ancient traditions to which the Alt-Right is attracted and desires to preserve in the face of Marxist “systemic destruction” of traditional systems. Rhyd acts with the terror that more and more pagans will shift away from his ideals of what Paganism is towards Alt-Right ideals. But the truth is that should not be his fear. The truth is that Paganism is less likely to “Fall” to the Alt-Right than it is for the Alt-Right to become largely Pagan in nature.
Though either way, it does lead to a massive shift in power. Where as now, much of Paganism’s establishment is more or less “Progressive” (i.e. Marxist), a massive influx of new, more “conservatively minded” and traditionalist “alt-right” people would shift that balance of power away from those who presently hold it now (which by his own Resume, Rhyd is thick in the middle of).
In fact, I suspect a lot of the anger over the piece is on account of how close New Right ideology mirrors some Pagan and Polytheist ideas which were seen—especially to those unfamiliar with the New Right—as essentially Pagan or apolitical.
Well, to be honest, those Pagan ideologies which “mirror” the Alt-Right are essentially Pagan and apolitical. It’s the Alt-Right which is, ironically, mirroring us. Or at least our ancestors. However, what was once apolitical has now magically become very political thanks to Rhyd and G&R.
Are you a Traditionalist? Careful now, those Alt-Right Fascists are traditionalists too. Wait, no, there’s a better way to put this…
Since this has gotten long, we’ll get to his “second defense” in part 3.