I Want to Believe: Religion, Esoteric and the New Right

Prof. Jonas Grutzpalk

“I want to believe”
Religion, Esoteric and the New Right

The (for German standards) quite massive manifestations against the government’s measures to handle the corona-pandemic brought together quite different people, groups and philosophies. It is important to notice how many fervently religious actors made an appearance during and after the events.

Martin Lejeune, the anchor of an important youtube-channel for example is a convert to sunni Islam. Tamara Kirschbaum, who invited the participants to storm the building of the Reichstag is a CAM-practitioner by trade. Even though nationalism and antisemitism might have been more audible aspects during the manifestations it is impossible to ignore this religious basso continuo which was not based on a specific religion but rather on a vague religious feeling – often described by orators on stage with the word “love”. This emphasis on “love” could of course be interpreted in many ways – for example as in contrast to “rationally cold” which most probably was also intended.

But there seems also to be a interconnection between nationalism and a non specific will to believe. Some nationalisms are deeply interconnected with specific religions as is the case with Hindu, Turkish, or Slavic nationalist movements. The German case seems to be different – the underlying will to believe varies freely between astrology, paganism, and Islam. This is not entirely new to Germany. The historical national socialists were themselves prone to all kinds of (esoteric) beliefs.

In my paper I argue that this predisposition of a nationalist movement to believe almost everything and to make almost every creed acceptable has been prepared by the New Right starting from the 1980s. It is especially the exegesis of Julius Evola’s work by the French New Right that paved the way. Evola’s version of perennialism finds traces of “Tradition” in every belief system and integrates thus all different religious views into one anti-modern system of thought. I will try and trace back the influence of Julius Evola on the New Right as much as I will try to extrapolate the observations on his intellectual input on the future of nationalist movements.