[Keith: One of my correspondents sent me this…]
A translation of Karlheinz Weißman’s entry on “Anarchismus von rechts” (right-wing anarchism) in the Lexikon des Konservatismus (Graz and Stuttgart: Leopold Stocker Verlag, 1996) edited by Caspar von Schrenck-Notzing.
The concept of right-wing anarchism seems paradoxical, indeed oxymoronic, starting from the assumption that all “right-wing” political viewpoints include a particularly high evaluation of the principle of order. . . . In fact right-wing anarchism occurs only in exceptional circumstances, when the hitherto veiled affinity between anarchism and conservatism may become apparent. Ernst Jünger has characterised this peculiar connection in his book Der Weltstaat (1960): “The anarchist in his purest form is he, whose memory goes back the farthest: to pre-historical, even pre-mythical times; and who believes, that man at that time fulfilled his true purpose . . . In this sense the anarchist is the Ur-conservative, who traces the health and the disease of society back to the root.” Jünger later called this kind of “Prussian” . . . or “conservative anarchist” the “Anarch,” and referred his own “désinvolture” as agreeing therewith: an extreme aloofness, which nourishes itself and risks itself in the borderline situations, but only stands in an observational relationship to the world, as all instances of true order are dissolving and an “organic construction” is not yet, or no longer, possible.
Even though Jünger himself was immediately influenced by the reading of Max Stirner, the affinity of such a thought-complex to dandyism is particularly clear. In the dandy, the culture of decadence at the end of the 19th century brought forth a character, which on the one hand was nihilistic and ennuyé, on the other hand offered the cult of the heroic and vitalism as an alternative to progressive ideals.
The refusal of current ethical hierarchies, the readiness to be “unfit, in the deepest sense of the word, to live” (Flaubert), reveal the dandy’s common points of reference with anarchism; his studied emotional cold, his pride, and his appreciation of fine tailoring and manners, as well as the claim to constitute “a new kind of aristocracy” (Charles Baudelaire), represent the proximity of the dandy to the political right. To this add the tendency of politically inclined dandies to declare a partiality to the Conservative Revolution or to its forerunners, as for instance Maurice Barrès in France, Gabriele d’Annunzio in Italy, Stefan George or Arthur Moeller van den Bruck in Germany. The Japanese author Yukio Mishima belongs to the later followers of this tendency.
Besides this tradition of right-wing anarchism, there has existed another, older and largely independent tendency, connected with specifically French circumstances. Here, at the end of the 18th century, in the later stages of the ancien régime, formed an anarchisme de droite, whose protagonists claimed for themselves a position “beyond good and evil,” a will to live “like the gods,” and who recognised no moral values beyond personal honour and courage. The world-view of these libertins was intimately connected with an aggressive atheism and a pessimistic philosophy of history. Men like Brantôme, Montluc, Béroalde de Verville and Vauquelin de La Fresnaye held absolutism to be a commodity that regrettably opposed the principles of the old feudal system, and that only served the people’s desire for welfare. Attitudes, which in the 19th century were again to be found with Arthur de Gobineau and Léon Bloy, and also in the 20th century with Georges Bernanos, Henry de Montherlant and Louis-Ferdinand Céline. This position also appeared in a specifically “traditionalist” version with Julius Evola, whose thinking revolved around the “absolute individual.”
In whichever form right-wing anarchism appears, it is always driven by a feeling of decadence, by a distaste for the age of masses and for intellectual conformism. The relation to the political is not uniform; however, not rarely does the aloofness revolve into activism. Any further unity is negated already by the highly desired individualism of right-wing anarchists. Nota bene, the term is sometimes adopted by men–for instance George Orwell (Tory anarchist) or Philippe Ariès–who do not exhibit relevant signs of a right-wing anarchist ideology; while others, who objectively exhibit these criteria–for instance Nicolás Gómez Dávila or Günter Maschke–do not make use of the concept.
Gruenter, Rainer. “Formen des Dandysmus: Eine problemgeschichtliche Studie über Ernst Jünger.” Euphorion 46 (1952) 3, pp. 170-201.
Kaltenbrunner, Gerd-Klaus, ed. Antichristliche Konservative: Religionskritik von rechts. Freiburg: Herder, 1982.
Kunnas, Tarmo. “Literatur und Faschismus.” Criticón 3 (1972) 14, pp. 269-74.
Mann, Otto. “Dandysmus als konservative Lebensform.” In Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner, ed., Konservatismus international, Stuttgart, 1973, pp. 156-70.
Mohler, Armin. “Autorenporträt in memoriam: Henry de Montherlant und Lucien Rebatet.” Criticón 3 (1972) 14, pp. 240-42.
Richard, François. L’anarchisme de droite dans la littérature contemporaine. Paris: PUF, 1988.
______. Les anarchistes de droite. Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1997.
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Sydow, Eckart von. Die Kultur der Dekadenz. Dresden, 1921.