[Those] that know not how to distinguish between their right hand and their left…
I walk on cliffs of marble, and as I look out on the wide coast of the Great Sea of Phantasia I remember the basilica of Our Lady of the Crescent engulfed in flames, I hear again the baying of the hounds and the horns of the city, I feel once more the changing wind like the tide of the war. It is the war between the now encroaching wilderness of nihilism against the very heart of Human Civilization. Chaos has dressed herself in the robes of Order and sits in judgment on the world. I turn once again towards the mountains, and the high escape that awaits me there… These images (or should I say dreams?) I have drawn from Ernst Jünger’s hauntingly prophetic 1939 novel, On the Marble Cliffs. It is his clear vision from which I hope to write on that most dangerous of topics, “Right” and “Left”, or the Personalist and the Totalitarian.
The danger arises from the Totalitarian conception of the word as a fundamentally meaningless tool that has so enthralled the current age. Of course aided by the fractious infighting of Totalitarian ideologies, the illusion of the extremes emerges. “Right” and “Left” become arbitrary, as labels purple and pink would be better suited. Everything is defined by negation, National Socialism in any of in its instantiations becomes “Far Right” because it is not the same as Left-wing Democratic Socialism or “Far Left” Marxism or Communism. Any disagreement with these categorizations is written off as a mere “semantic quibble” and ignored. Daily we watch in horror as if our hope of a civilized world depended on the conflict between the “Right” and the Left, ignoring the fundamental totalitarianism of the rivals, their common ancestry and fruit. The truth is that shadow fighting against shadow simply blends and fades into more darkness. This devilish deception emerging in the victory of chaos in the aftermath of the Great War is so far cemented in the Western mind that to uproot it would require overturning the very foundations of modern society. And yet should not a foundation of slavery of the soul be overturned, and how can such a Herculean task be accomplished?
The answer to this riddle as with many others is hidden in the meaning of the word, of the Person, and of the Right. For once many ages ago, when this ancient Civilization of ours was not quite so ancient or worn out, words had meaning, had power. The Totalitarian seeking to bend everything to his own will attempts to define words, to change them on a whim, or when it suits his wants and desires. And yet he can never escape their intrinsic meaning, “for they act of themselves or not at all” as the great Catholic write Gene Wolfe reminds us. Throughout the ages human language has grown, withered, has been restored and sanctified. Many words still carry with them sacral meanings, Person foremost among these. For at its very core of meaning the Person is the Imago Dei, the Image of God, and it is this core of meaning that defines the Personalist. And if Man as Person is the Image and Imagining of God, words are the Imago Humani, the Imagining of Man made real (thus nothing is “mere semantics”). Their power, their use, and their abuse, comes from God through the subcreative nature of Man. The Totalitarian dedicates himself to erasing that nature and attempts to impose his own conception of man on the totality, “existence preceding essence” (a metaphysical impossibility); hence his careless abuse of words. The Personalist opposing him, seeing in one vision the Origin and Final End of Man and the very nature that makes him a reality, existence and essence in unity, consecrates himself to God, and what God has created and ordained, dignus et iustus est, “it is fitting and right.”
This brings us at last to the very meaning of Right, in its political and ideological sense. This meaning, in any of the languages of Earth, cannot be separated from its deeply moral sense. “In all languages—” Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn writes in his Portland Manifesto, “the Germanic, Romance, Slavic, and Altaic tongues; Sanskrit, Hebrew, and Japanese — right has a positive, left a profoundly negative implication. The Bible does not differ in this respect and transcends even anatomic facts; Ecclesiastes 10:2 says succinctly: ‘The heart of the wise man beats on his right side, the heart of the fool on his left.'” In the Incarnation of God this becomes even more explicit, Christ is seated at the Right Hand of the Father, furthering the word’s eschatological meaning, the Holy shall be judged to be Right. From all of this a clear definition can be drawn, the Right is that which leads me onward to all that is Good and Holy, the Hierarchy- the Sacred Order of the World, all that iustus est. It is to this measure that the Personalist conforms his being, to the Good and that which constitutes it in the life of community, Peace, True Freedom, Justice, Charity, Mercy, Right Reason, and Virtue, the light against the shadow that threatens the world.
“For this reason individuals had the duty of living in alliance with others, gathering the treasure of a new rule of law; but the alliance had to be stronger than before, and they more conscious of it.” So writes Jünger of his heroes, the warriors of right reason, and yet today as I look at the ruins of Civilization on the coast of the Great Sea of Imagining, I find that those who seek the rule of Natural Law and treasure the manifestations of Divine Reason in the world are few and far between. Some have fled to the higher mountains of Contemplation, others still wander the marble cliffs of the information age. Most are simply confused, and the answer is too long to seek in an article such as this. I shall answer it, I hope soon enough. We have escaped the wilderness in the mountains, we have eaten of the Holy Bread and have beheld the Holy Chalice. To wield the sword of Truth, now that is the most glorious adventure that could await us.