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Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Alt-Right vs The Benedict Option

A blogger I follow who is not Catholic has a strong distaste for the Benedict Option:
"The feckless, cowardly, and non-confrontational Dreher calls, naturally, for a feckless, cowardly, and non-confrontational approach he calls "the Benedict Option". The Christian Alt-Right, on the other hand, anticipates Revival, Repatriation, and Reconquista 2.0 throughout the West." 

We are in a culture war, and on the face of it, the blogger's criticism seems valid.  Good Catholic men should not be hiding.  We should not be "heading for the hills" to hide out and live an agrarian life, hoping that the evil, secular powers of State and Satan will not discover us.

Become Amish?
 Instead, the blogger would argue, good Christian men should harden themselves for battle.  They should not be adverse to conflict.  We should not be weak and fragile.  And it is not enough to simply be robust.  We need to be anti-fragile and come back stronger from our conflicts with the godless of our world.  We should be forthright and confrontational.  I have argued many times in the past that we should fight to win back the social spaces for Christendom.  Moderates only shoot at their own side, and never the enemy.

It is arguable--and I agree with this sentiment--that we should be inoculated to a degree against the evils of our world.  Consider the concept of Mithridatization, which is a result of exposing one's self to a small dose of poison, which over time, makes one immune to larger quantities of it.  The following is from Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder:
According to legend, Mithridates IV, king of Pontus in Asia Minor, while hiding after his father's assassination, got himself some protection against poisoning by ingesting sub-lethal doses of toxic material in progressively larger quantities.  He later incorporated the process into a complicated religious ritual.  But this immunity got him in trouble a bit later as his attempt to take his own life by poisoning failed, "having fortified himself against the drugs of others."
This is the process known formally as Antidotum Mithridatium.  And in regards to Catholic people and the secular world, the blogger in question probably would argue that Catholics ought to be Mithridatized against the poisonous harm that the godless United States has to offer.

With all of this in mind, it is understandable that critics would argue that "Rod Dreher's Benedict Option" is doomed to failure.  Comments following the blogger's argument reflect general disdain:
- Dreher is right to fear the alt right. He's wrong to propose the Benedict Option, because fakes will be hunted, and purged. No amount of hiding or equivocation will help.
- The "Benedict Option" isn't just cowardly, its also stupid. Just where, exactly, are Christians supposed to setup these communities where they can follow the dictates of Christianity and the state won't interfere?
- There might have been a time when it was possible to think the Benedict Option could work, that the left would let you go off and do your own thing as long as you promised to say nice things about them. That time has long since passed. Unless you have a magical invisibility shield like Galt's Gulch, they will find you and shut down that option, and you're going to have the choice between fight or surrender anyway.
- The so-called Benedict Option is just a justification for losers to give up all of Western Civilization without even having to pretend to fight. It is just the next step in cuckservatism which is to give up before the left even bothers to file a law suit or even call them racist, sexist, homophobic.

On The Other Hand...

All that said, these are the same people who argue that we must homeschool or die.  Withdrawing children from the public schools to educate them in the tried and true ways of Christendom and the West is the ultimate form of the "Benedict Option"  What says disengagement more than hiding the women and the children from the face of evil?   

This is a contradiction coming from this brand of the Alternative Right. 

It is absolutely necessary to protect and preserve the innocence of our women and our developing children, all the while building up strength within our families against the world.  "Benedict Option" is but merely a name for this technique, and in fact, anyone within the Alt-Right who does homeschool their children is actually implementing a form of the Benedict Option already.  

Add to this the fact that Rod Dreher has already stated that the Benedict Option does not mean wholesale retreat from society into a far away agrarian hideaway in rural America.  In an interview on the show, The World Over, Dreher states the following:
Arroyo: At what point do you confront the culture that you rightly so deplore?
Dreher:  See, this is I think a common misconception about the Benedict Option.  I argue that we have to withdraw in a limited way from the world so that when we go out into the world, we are formed as strong, well-disciplined Christians, so that we can transform the world.  It's not an either/or. 
I think, for example, that we need to make our homes into domestic monasteries in the sense that we have to keep the media out of our home.  Unrestricted--you know, with smart phones and things.  Something as simple as that.
Arroyo:  You talk in the book about withdrawing from television, keeping the kids off the cell phones, the dangers of pornography, and other things.  What about the pop culture at large?
Dreher:  I have three children, and they are not isolated in a hermetically sealed bubble.  I lead them and their mother leads them by the hand to show them that this is the world.  "This is the good in the world.  It's even outside the Christian community."  God made the world and He wants us to partake of this goodness, but if you're going to have the kind of discernment you need in order to celebrate what is good, true, and beautiful--and reject the other--you have to be well-formed in your education in your prayer life, in your parish life, and in all kinds of things.  
So this is temporary or strategic withdrawal for deeper formation and contemplation, so that we can go out and be Christ for the world and learn how to suffer, Raymond.  Because that's part of the problem with the Church in the West.  We have forgotten how to suffer.   

Rad Trads And Alt-Right Talking Past Each Other

So, it seems that the two parties have the same concerns: they want to protect their innocent people from the evil forces of secularism.

Dreher's emphasis is first on family--that parents should protect their children from exposure to the evils of the world.  Women and children are to be protected from harm.  The process of Mithridatization should be slow-going, at a decent pace, allowing for time for them to maintain a healthy spiritual life apart from evil influences.

Men, also, need time to recover from the poison of the world.  They must retreat and regroup.  Even Jesus Christ retreated from the public to pray.

We are human beings, and we simply must restore ourselves.  Again, from Antifragile:
Our antifragilities have conditions.  The frequency of stressors matters a bit.  Humans tend to do better with acute than with chronic stressors, particularly when the former are followed by ample time for recovery, which allows the stressors to do their jobs as messengers.  For instance, having an intense emotional shock from seeing a snake coming out of my keyboard or a vampire entering my room, followed by a period of soothing safety (with chamomile tea and baroque music) long enough for me to regain control of my emotions, would be beneficial for my health, provided of course that I manage to overcome the snake or vampire after an arduous, hopefully heroic fight and have a picture taken next to the dead predator.  Such a stressor would be certainly better than the mild but continuous stress of a boss, mortgage, tax problems, guilt over procrastinating with one's tax return, exam pressures, chores, emails to answer, forms to complete, daily commutes--things that make you feel trapped in life.  In other words, the pressures brought about by civilization.  In fact, neurobiologists show that the former type of stressor is necessary, the second harmful, for one's health.  For an idea of how harmful a low-level stressor without recovery can be, consider the so-called Chinese water torture: a drop continuously hitting the same spot on your head, never letting you recover.    
We cannot be berserkers all of the time.  It is good and necessary for Catholics to have a Catholic community they can turn to.  Is that not what the Alt-Right has been fighting for?  That Western Christendom restores its communities once more?

As I've said before in the blogger's comment box, the Christian Alt-Right branch must hold to the traditionalist principles of true Christendom--which includes confrontation with the enemy.  But that should not discount various forms of the Benedict Option.

The Benedict Option concept has been around for a decade, if not longer. There are several Catholic communities just outside of the decaying city of Tulsa, where I live. It's okay for women and children, "the widows and orphans." We need strongholds, after all. But Christian men MUST be vigorous and confrontational.

Otherwise, "Christians in America aren't going to know what hit them."

For further reading, consider E. Michael Jones book called Slaughter of Cities, which discusses intentional, secular, political actions to break up Catholic strongholds and neighborhoods throughout America. The whole idea of importing Syrian refugees into your local neighborhood has been merely an evolved extension of that 50+ year old policy.


  1. Couldenhove-Kalergi plan has been around since the 1930's.
    Thank God for sedevacantist clerics.This is where the good relationship with a Catholic chapel starts.
    I'm all for home schooling but with teachers with academic credentials.

  2. As a traditional catholic,I must say goodbye to the Alt-Right.
    Richard Spencer and his boys advocate Abortion,sodomite marriage,Transsexual rights,Idolatry (Kek flags at the San Francisco rally this most recent weekend) and open flagrant hostility towards true Catholicism.
    This leaves me with no political affiliation and further alienates me from western politics.
    Our blessed Lord Jesus Christ said it wouldn't be easy.
    I must trust in him and renounce what I perceive to be controlled opposition or alliances with the (((tribe))) within the Alt-Right.
    On paper the Alt-Right doesn't offer anything new other than a new false idol (Kek and the white Race) to replace the current false idol (Talmudic commerce and hedonism)
    Please tell me where I am wrong.
    I love to hear from others who are smarter than me.(not sarcasm)