Aliens, Antisemitism, and Academia
Frim, Landon; Fluss, Harrisonhttp://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/03/jason-reza-jorjani-stony-brook-alt-right-arktos-continental-philosophy-modernity-enlightenment/
Date Written: 11/03/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20509
Criticizing Enlightenment thought has become fashionable across the political spectrum. For the past several decades, more and more academics have called reason into question. This is especially true among left-leaning, postmodern, and post-structuralist thinkers. This coincides with one of the Alt-Rights primary tactics: adopting leftist rhetoric as cover for its racialist, nativist, and often misogynistic agendas.
Although the alt-right remains on the fringes in the United States, it has come within proximity to real power and is trying to position itself as court philosopher. Figures like Richard Spencer see themselves as the Trump movements organic intellectuals, guiding the president's followers, whom they characterize as a directionless "body without a head."
These would-be-Rasputins have a plethora of modern antecedents to follow, including interwar intellectuals like Carl Schmitt and Ernst Jünger in the Third Reich, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in fascist Italy, and the Anti-Dreyfusard Charles Maurras in France. Ideas, even incoherent ones, often amass significant political followings.
Second, Jorjani's work participates in a significant philosophical tradition that combines antisemitism with occult beliefs. The long historical association between irrationalism and anti-Judaism suggests that they emanate from a common worldview. After all, the mystical, neo-pagan writings of Dietrich Eckart inspired much of the Third Reichs racial policy. Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Hitler's friend and mentor, proclaimed that "every Mystic is, whether he will or not, a born Anti-Semite."
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, perhaps the first instance of popular conspiracy theory literature, is riddled with images of demonic manifestation alongside Jewish treachery. And as far back as the eighteenth century, Counter-Enlightenment ideologues sought to denigrate reason itself as "Jewish" and political emancipation as a subversive Hebraic plot. Figures like Joseph de Maistre praised the Spanish Inquisition for rooting out the political and spiritual "cancer" of Jewry, and the conservative Edmund Burke compared the French Revolution to a cabal of Jewish bankers.
Criticizing Enlightenment thought has become fashionable across the political spectrum. For the past several decades, more and more academics have called reason into question, especially the sort of rationalist worldview that emerged in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
This is especially true among left-leaning, postmodern, and post-structuralist thinkers. While it seems surprising that someone like Jorjani would come out of a self-consciously progressive department, suspicion of Enlightenment rationalism has become endemic to liberal philosophy programs like the one at Stony Brook.
This coincides with one of the Alt-Rights primary tactics: adopting leftist rhetoric as cover for its racialist, nativist, and often misogynistic agendas.