It is common on the Right today to have conversations which five or ten years ago would have seemed insane. Notable among such discussions are those relating to violence in conditions of societal fluidity. Of late, for me, talk tends to coalesce around possible future instantiations of a social device of ancient lineage, to which I have given the new name of “armed patronage network.” A new name, for in the West the APN would be a new thing, or more precisely a new old thing. I have earlier talked briefly about APNs, but today, we will explore exactly how APNs might arise, and what that means for you.
It’s Lent, so let’s spend a little time away from politics. The Holy Fire, first published in 1957, when Eastern Orthodoxy had zero presence in the religious consciousness of most of America, is a beautifully-written popular history of ten towering eastern Fathers of the Church. Popular history in 1957 is not comparable to popular history in 2023, however, so this book reads like what might be an advanced college text today, if colleges studied anything worthwhile. Regardless, Payne’s book is an outstanding introduction to Orthodoxy in historical context, which is, no doubt, why St. Vladimir’s Press republished it.
In our failing American Republic, Julius Caesar is, for many, a condensed symbol. He stands in for everything that might bring a final, formal end to institutions already dead, and he hints at what and who may open the door to something new. This broad symbolism derived from Caesar’s meteoric career, however, means that all the many details about what he actually did tend to get ignored, as do the other players in the complex political whirl of the 40s B.C. What results is, too often, comic book history, which usually is offered to buttress some facile claim about what is happening today. Lucca Fezzi’s book helps us look deeper; he offers us a detailed, balanced, and narrowly-focused political history of the end of the Republic.
Ernst von Salomon’s Der Fragebogen is unique, a product of the refiner’s fire, a work forged in the cataclysm of mid-twentieth-century Europe. But this once-famous, now-obscure book, published only one time in English, and that seventy years ago, still holds within its pages knowledge about both the past and the future. As to the past, from this book we can learn something completely missing from modern discourse—the complex views of 1930s and 1940s German patriots. As to the future, we can learn something more practical—methods to, in a future dispensation, help us flush Left poison completely and permanently from our body politic.
If you know anything about Oliver Cromwell—and few do nowadays— you probably have an opinion about the man. Some vilify him; “A curse upon you, Oliver Cromwell, you who raped our Motherland,” the Irish rock band The Pogues sang. Others praise him as an enemy of arbitrary rule and a proto-republican. Ronald Hutton’s new biography of Cromwell’s early life and his climb to prominence makes no final judgment on the man, but it does offer a nuanced view of this complex historical figure. From Hutton’s excellent book we get not just history but the realization, in this desiccated age, that men such as Cromwell always emerge during great turmoil, rising as if from sown dragon’s teeth.
Let’s talk about the Jews. No, not about how the Jews supposedly run the world (although there is some truth buried in that claim, to which we will return). I mean about the actual Jews, the past and present people who have been, arguably, more central to the story of mankind than any other people. This book, Guy MacLean Roger’s For the Freedom of Zion, exhaustively narrates the First Jewish-Roman War, A.D. 66–74, in which the Romans defeated a Jewish revolt, and during which the Romans destroyed the Second Temple. From it we can take both fascinating history and useful thoughts for today.
As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be rich. I was not wealthy growing up, nor was anybody I knew. Today, however, as I state perhaps too often, I am rich. I bathe twice daily in French champagne and always cover my burgers in gold leaf. The problem is, as most everybody knows, that being rich sits very uneasily with Christian faith. At a minimum, being rich is a grave danger for a man’s soul. To gain insight into this problem, or maybe seeking reassurance, rather than rely on my personal interpretation of Scripture, which is worse than useless, I turned to one of the Fathers of the Church, Saint John Chrysostom.
Christian nationalism is in the air. While that obscure term has been weaponized recently to whip up hate against Christians, it is a real thing, with many historical manifestations. For both Christianity and nationalism are excellent and awesome, and like the chocolate and peanut butter in Reese’s, they are even better together than alone. Still, the combination of state and religion has not always been well executed. It must be, however, for mankind to flourish, which is why one pillar of Foundationalism is establishing the proper balance in the society of the future. To this end, we can learn a lot from this history of the first thousand years of Christianity.
Often those who complain about the world in which we live offer neither a clear vision of how things might be different, nor a path to achieve that vision. Refreshingly, in The Eggs Benedict Option the pseudonymous writer Raw Egg Nationalist offers both vision and path, centered around food, in all its aspects, as the core of human flourishing. His essential insight is that, now as ever, he who controls the food controls the people. We must pick the controller—either our globalist ruling classes, or each of us for himself. The former is and will be a disaster for the nation. But for the latter, hard work and discipline are required.
This, Carl Schmitt’s best-known work, first published in 1932, is a crucial book for our present moment. The clear-eyed Schmitt, who stands far above any modern political philosopher, writes here of timeless principles that lie behind political action, and he slices through the ignorance, doublespeak, and confusion that surround any discussion today of the “why” of politics. As always, he offers a crisp analysis of reality, with implications and applications for all times and moments. And for Christians in today’s America, this book has extra value, because reading it restores the proper Christian understanding of “enemy,” something that has been (quite recently) lost, to our great detriment.