Religion as a Non-Factor in the Fate of Civilizations
On 'Christian Nationalism'
Recently Andrew Torba released a book called Christian Nationalism which has sparked a more-bitter-than-usual falling out between the Christian and Pagan elements in what is called the Dissident Right, give or take a Pedro Gonzales twitter burst. In short, Christians argue that Christianity has been vital in the development Western Civilization, while Pagans largely blame it for its decline as a kind of proto-liberalism or even communism. Furthermore, some pagans, such as Mark Brahmin, have mocked Torba for trying to squeeze Christianity into a nationalist jacket; Brahmin has branded Christian Nationalism ‘ideologically incoherent’. This debate has raged for many decades and, as such, I do not think it is a fruitful one. In a sense, I want to cut through it by suggesting something almost unthinkable: Religion does not matter to the fate of civilizations. I can hear the shocked gasps from here because such a sentiment seems to be sacrilegious. Note, I am not saying ‘religion does not matter’, I am saying ‘religion does not matter to the question of the fate of civilizations’. It has long been the paleoconservative thesis, in the Pat Buchanan mould, that the decline of the USA and the West more broadly is tied to the loss of its Christian faith. The many books that argue this case include Buchanan’s The Death of the West (2001) and Jim Nelson Black’s When Nations Die (1994). In fact, it has been the ‘standard’ position on the socially conservative right since at least the end of WW2. It is a central thesis also, on this side of the pond, in the work of Peter Hitchens. Yet I ask: how do Buchanan, Black or Hitchens account for the fact that Thomas Carlyle thought the West to be in its ‘latter days’ as far back as 1850? Or perhaps an even more provocative question: how do any of them account for the details of this table?
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The third most populous Christian nation in the world is the dreaded Mexico, filled with people that many would-be supporters of Christian nationalism would presumably wish to keep out of the USA. Why has Christianity failed to produce the 1950s USA, so nostalgically remembered by Buchanan and co, in Mexico or the Philippines? What has Christianity done to tame the savagery of the Congo? In this article, I am going to advance the argument that Christianity is a non-factor in the fate of civilizations.
The most famous prophet of decline, Oswald Spengler, argued that it was not so much the loss of religious faith that is to blame for civilizational decline but a rationalistic, deconstructive impulse that leads to a loss of creativity and a cultural stagnancy. The rationalistic ‘decline’ phase follows the more vital ‘rise’ phase as night follows day. Thus, in Spengler, strength of faith is a by-product of where you happen to be in the life cycle: vital at the start when the spirit is animated, but virtually impossible in the rationalistic winter phase. He inherits this idea from Giambattista Vico, who posits that after a fall and a barbarian phase, a new cycle would commence with a ‘second religiousness’. But in Vico religion is simply the pre-condition for a civilization. History, in his view – as for Carlyle after him – is driven by Divine Providence. That means the decline phase in the life cycle, the Age of Humans, is driven by God as much as the first two phases (the Age of Gods and Age of Heroes). Thus, both in Vico and Carlyle, the manifestation of any particular religion can do nothing to arrest the tide of history. In Carlyle, God will send a Great Man – be it Cromwell, be it Muhammed, be it Odin – when the time comes, just as He sent Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem in the Bible.
This is a kind of nascent perennialism in Carlyle, which finds a fuller expression in the work of the perennial traditionalists, such as Julius Evola and René Guénon. They argued that what people tend to call ‘religions’ are really organized exoteric religions which represent faiths in their decayed state for the plebian masses, largely emptied of their esoteric and truly transcendent content. Evola argued that the West accelerated its decline from the fall of the Ghibellines in 1289. Here is a decent summary:
Evola saw the Ghibelline dynasty of Hohenstauffen emperors (1152–1271) as the Germanic champion of the primordial ‘sacred regality’ a renewed Holy Roman Empire. Once the solar, golden, sacred regality of the mythical first age fell, power devolved upon a lunar, silver, feminized priestly caste before an unconsecrated warrior nobility struggled against it, announcing the Bronze Age. Then power shifts to the mercantile caste, represented by the Italian comune [i.e., free city-states], Freemasonry, the Jewish financial oligarchy of the Renaissance, and New World American Judeo-Protestant plutocracy. By the beginning of the twentieth century, organized labor and Marxist-Trotskyite subverters sought to transfer power to the last caste of slaves or sudras, or the consumer-pariah, reducing all values to matter, machines, dysgenic egalitarianism and the reign of abstract quantity.
For Evola, the true marker of decline is therefore not whether Christianity (or indeed any religion) is in the ascendency, it is whether the ‘solar’ warrior caste is able to assert dominance over the ‘lunar’ priestly caste and the ghastly merchant caste. In other words, while Evola consistently focuses on the transcendent as the guiding stone of capital ‘T’ Tradition, his analysis is acutely political rather than religious. It is also racial. For Evola, the bio-spirit of European man is in its warrior caste: Indians might be ruled by Brahmins, but Europeans must be ruled by the sword! Hence the Romans were not a martial people because they were pagans, but because they were Romans, just as the Christian Crusader Kings of the Medieval era were not a martial people because they were Christians, but because they were Teutons. ‘Race is culture, and culture is race.’ Of the latter point, I have been largely convinced by Carl Stephenson’s Medieval Feudalism (1943) and James C. Russell’s The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity (1994). Christianity adapted to operate under a warrior caste and ceased to be martial practically the second it was allowed to. To use the scientistic language of Edward Dutton for a moment, we might say that Christianity’s evolutionary advantage is its ability to thrive in practically any setting.
A similar argument was made by the man who Bronze Age Pervert has dubbed ‘The Steampunk Father of Racism’, Arthur de Gobineau. Unlike Evola, de Gobineau was a committed Christian, but that did not prevent him from pointing out, in The Inequality of Human Races (1855), that religion — and Christianity in particular — has been neither here nor there when it comes to the rise and fall of civilizations. It is worth quoting him at length because he provides, at least to my knowledge, the most sustained argument along these lines:
Christians are found in all latitudes and all climates. Statistics, inaccurate perhaps, but still approximately true, show us a vast number of them, Mongols wandering in the plains of Upper Asia, savages hunting on the tableland of the Cordilleras, Eskimos fishing in the ice of the Arctic circle, even Chinese and Japanese dying under the scourge of the persecutor. The least observation will show this, and will also prevent us from falling into the very common error of confusing the universal power of recognizing the truths of Christianity and following its precepts, with the very different faculty that leads one human race, and not another, to understand the earthly conditions of social improvement, and to be able to pass from one rung of the ladder to another, so as to reach finally the state which we call civilization. The rungs of this ladder are the measure of the inequality of human races. …
[Christianity] leaves all men as it finds them — the Chinese in his robes, the Eskimo in his furs, the first eating rice, and the second eating whale-blubber. It does not require them to change their way of life. If their state can be improved as a direct consequence of their conversion, then Christianity will certainly do its best to bring such an improvement about; but it will not try to alter a single custom, and certainly will not force any advance from one civilization to another, for it has not yet adopted one itself. It uses all civilizations and is above all. There are proofs in abundance, and I will speak of them in a moment; but I must first make the confession that I have never understood the ultra-modern doctrine which identifies the law of Christ and the interests of this world in such a way that it creates from their union a fictitious social order which it calls ‘Christian civilization.’ …
Of what importance is the shape of a Christian’s house, the cut and material of his clothes, his system of government, the measure of tyranny or liberty of his public institutions? He may be a fisherman, a hunter, a ploughman, a sailor, a soldier — whatever you like. In all these different employments is there anything to prevent a man — to whatever nation he belong, English, Turkish, Siberian, American, Hottentot — from receiving the light of the Christian faith? Absolutely nothing; and
when this result is attained, the rest counts for very little. The savage Galla can remain a Galla, and yet become as staunch a believer, as pure a ‘vessel of election,’ as the holiest prelate in Europe. …
During the eighteen centuries that the Church has existed, it has converted many nations. In all these it has allowed the political conditions to reign unchecked, just as it found them at first. It began by protesting to the world of antiquity that it
did not wish to alter in the slightest degree the outward forms of society. It has been even reproached, on occasion, with an excess of tolerance in this respect; compare, for example, the attitude of the Jesuits towards the Chinese ceremonies. We do
not, however, find that Christianity has ever given the world a unique type of civilization to which all believers had to belong. The Church adapts itself to everything, even to the mud-hut; and wherever there is a savage too stupid even to understand the use of shelter, you are sure to find a devoted missionary sitting
beside him on the hard rock, and thinking of nothing but how to impress his soul with the ideas essential to salvation. Christianity is thus not a civilizing power in the ordinary sense of the word; it can be embraced by the most different races without
stunting their growth, or making demands on them that they cannot fulfil. …
Most of the tribes of South America were received centuries ago into the bosom of the Church; but they have always remained savages, with no understanding of the European civilization unfolding itself before their eyes. I am not surprised that the Cherokees of North America have been largely converted by Methodist missionaries; but it would greatly astonish me if this tribe, while it remained pure in blood, ever managed to form one of the States of the American Union[.]
We might update de Gobineau’s examples with modern ones, I refer you back to the table above or we might think of Christian nations like Haiti. We also have another 170 years of data to check his claims against. We still do not have a single genuine success story in either Africa or in South America, and least not of all where the reins of government are not held by white people. De Gobineau argued the hard racialist position that the decisive factor for determining the level of a civilization is race. ‘White’ races produce civilizations, ‘black’ and ‘yellow’ races do not without a significant helping hand from whites. For him, the ‘white’ races include people from across the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent but find their most pure expression in the Nordics: the further away from that purest expression, the lower the civilizational level. Admixture results always in a ‘levelling down’, although it can help raise the ‘lower’ race. We do not necessarily need to agree with this analysis for de Gobineau’s arguments about Christianity to hold. For example, personally, I find his arguments about China and his near total neglect of Japan dubious. When considering the ‘yellow’ races he tends to focus on other places. He says, quoting Carl Ritter, that ‘The Siamese are the most shameless people in the world. They are the lowest point in Indo-Chinese civilization; and yet they can all read and write.’ Incidentally, de Gobineau rejected education as a factor in civilization too — one is reminded of the fact that Cuba famously has a literacy rate of 99.75%. To see the truth of the ‘negative’ side of de Gobineau’s analysis, however, one does not have to accept his extreme racism: there is clearly a factor other than Christianity determining the fate of nations. This is not to disrespect Christianity — recall de Gobineau was a committed Christian — but rather to put it ‘above’ the material plain and ‘worldly concerns’.
Incidentally, unlike de Gobineau, I think this extends to religions other than Christianity, even those as seemingly disruptive (in the worldly sense) as Islam. Whatever its successes on the battlefields and in politics, Islam spectacularly failed to stop Turks being Turks, Arabs being Arabs and Iranians being Iranians — the relationships between those three peoples have been mutually antagonistic for thousands of years, with or without Islam, and for all intents and purposes remain practically unchanged today. The Islamization of Iran happened from 633 to 654. Arab conquerors made every attempt to impose Arabic language and culture on the Persians. They failed so utterly that by 1010, the great poet Ferdowsi had completed his epic Shahnameh, the Book of Kings, a massive restatement of Iranian ethno-national pride which reverberates to this day — a special study in the power of myth. By 1501, Ismail I, a native Iranian, was once again calling himself ‘king of kings’ and established a new Persian empire under the Safavid dynasty. In one of his first acts, he forcibly converted the population of Iran from being Sunni Muslim to the ‘Twelver’ branch of Shia Islam (as it remains to this day) — on the face of it this may look like a theological matter, but deep down this was another massive reassertion of Iranian ethno-national identity. Before long, Ismail was at it again, like so many Persian Emperors before him, pissing off the Arabs and waging war on the Turks. Islam failed in practically every respect to tame the natural ethnic tensions of the region. Whether the Iranian leader calls himself ‘Shah’ or ‘Ayatollah’ and whether the Turkish leader styles himself ‘Sultan’ or ‘President’, they will be mutually antagonistic rival powers, divided by their ethnic particularities. ‘Race is culture, and culture is race.’
Why dwell on this issue? It is to recognise that the nature of our struggle is political, which is to say ‘worldly’, as much as it is spiritual. The spiritual struggle is the one we all face: against the daily humiliations of the modern world, constant attacks on all that is decent, constant attacks on our people, and, above all else, against the constant lure of nihilism. Christianity cannot be reduced to mere utility — it is more than whatever worldly ends we may have today and must finally resolve always in affirming salvation in the name of Jesus Christ — but insomuch as it has a narrow purpose for our struggle, it may provide many men and women with the ‘steel’ required in the spiritual battle against modernity. However, as I have argued, for the political struggle, it is and will always be neutral. The famous phrase from the Bible is ‘Render unto Caesar’: thus, when in Rome, the Christians lived as Romans – in fact that phrase ‘when in Rome’ was Christian in origin: St Ambrose’s advice to St Augustine. The conversation of the Roman emperor to Christianity was not achieved by political struggle, but rather through birth rates and other purely evolutionary means as well as a litany of errors on the part of the Roman elites. When Caesar became a German warlord, Christians became warlike and somehow found justifications for murderous conquest; when Caesar became a conniving merchant, Christians found arguments to justify commerce; and when Caesar became an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion officer, the church dutifully flew the rainbow flag. When the new based order comes, so too will the church become ‘based’ as it was under Mussolini or Franco. As de Gobineau argues, this adaptability is Christianity’s ‘greatest innovation’. But what survives the process is Christianity itself while civilizations can come and go like so many seasons. Christianity ‘does not belong exclusively to any civilization. It did not come to bless any one form of earthly existence; it rejects none, and would purify all.’ Our political struggle is for Western civilization specifically, it cannot be for Christianity-in-general, or else we would not mind a hostile take over by Africans and Mexicans so long as they went to church. If Western civilization falls, Christianity will endure through African bishops or converts in China. Therefore, the only natural conclusion is that one whose primary mission is for the furtherance of Christianity-in-general is engaged in a different struggle from our struggle.
I do not say these things to divide but rather to clarify and do what I have always done: see things as they are and not how they ought to be. But let us suppose you accept all I have said thus far, does that invalidate the political movement that Torba is trying to spearhead in contemporary America? In other words, could ‘Christian Nationalism’ work in America to foment a reassertion of its national character as Twelver Shia Islam has done for the Iranians since Ismail I? Torba and Isker declare ‘the time for lukewarm Christianity is over’. What do they mean? Christianity may form for heritage Americans – which is to say white Americans – a bulwark against their traditional enemies: Muslims and Jews. Since there are relatively few Muslims in America and they are not (yet) a serious political force as they are in Europe, the real political aim of Christian Nationalism (scarcely even veiled) is a method of combatting the influence of organised Jewish groups in a way that definitively excludes them. Does this have any hope of succeeding? Time will tell, I suppose, but in the short term, Torba and friends have some significant hurdles to overcome, and much more significant than the snipes and countersignals of pagan white nationalists. The first hurdle, ironically, is the Christians themselves, especially those of the evangelical Zionist stripe who have been such a powerful force in US politics and especially prominent recently during the Bush era. When Donald Trump laments the loss of support for Israel in the US, is he really doing it to appease Jews or is he doing it to appease this powerful voting bloc? The fact is that more Christian Zionists than Jews believe Israel was given to the Jewish people by God both in raw terms and in terms of percentage. In fact, the top-line figure for Jews who believe this is 40% while 82% of white evangelicals believe it.
Thus, before it even gets going ‘Christian Nationalism’ is going to have to overcome that most awful of encounters: the inter-denominational American protestant doctrinal dispute. While this may excite some autists reading this, few things make me shudder more than such a prospect. What are the odds Torba is going to be able to overturn the opinions of 82% of evangelicals? Realistically, it seems unlikely, especially given that the opposition will have the organised resources of their churches behind them (as well as the ADL and organised Jewry), while Torba has the backing of few, if any, churches.
A second issue is that Christian Nationalism mentions immigration only once, Mexicans not at all, and blacks only once in the entire book. In fact, Torba and Isker argue explicitly:
Christianity is not limited to any race, ethnicity or culture (1 Cor. 12:13, Gal. 3:27-9). Therefore any Christian nationalism cannot be limited to any race, ethnicity or culture.
Did you hear that? It was Arthur de Gobineau sitting up from his grave and screaming ‘I TOLD YOU’ at the top of his lungs before dying again in a fit of aristocratic steampunk racist laughter. How can Christian nationalism do anything to solve the border crisis or fix the crime wave in America’s cities when it welcomes with open arms blacks, Mexicans and anyone else who wants to join – including, presumably — Jewish converts? Will this do? Does anyone, including Torba, including Marjorie Taylor Greene — who he cites approvingly — believe this will do? A PRRI report from 2020 showed that most of the social and political divides in the USA are between Christian groups:
The most substantial cultural and political divides are between white Christians and Christians of color. More than four in ten Americans (44%) identify as white Christian, including white evangelical Protestants (14%), white mainline (non-evangelical) Protestants (16%), and white Catholics (12%), as well as small percentages who identify as Latter-day Saint (Mormon), Jehovah’s Witness, and Orthodox Christian. Christians of color include Hispanic Catholics (8%), Black Protestants (7%), Hispanic Protestants (4%), other Protestants of color (4%), and other Catholics of color (2%). The rest of religiously affiliated Americans belong to non-Christian groups, including 1% who are Jewish, 1% Muslim, 1% Buddhist, 0.5% Hindu, and 1% who identify with other religions. Religiously unaffiliated Americans comprise those who do not claim any particular religious affiliation (17%) and those who identify as atheist (3%) or agnostic (3%).
I struggle to see how Christian Nationalism is going to make a difference. Being Christian has done as little for race relations in America as being Islamic has helped Arabs, Turks and Iranians get along in the Middle East. As far as I can see, it will do absolutely nothing to prevent the racial reckoning that America’s future inevitably holds. My view, as many readers will know, is that the USA is doomed because of its total inability to address its racial problems. Religion is a non-factor in the fate of civilizations because, in the final analysis, it cannot overcome the mutual antagonisms of ethnic self-interest.
In closing, let us ponder this question: why was North America a relative success up until recently and South America a total basket-case? De Gobineau, who from his vantage point of 1855 could not have known for sure how the next 170 years would go, provides one answer:
In Spanish America less aversion is felt by the natives towards their masters. The reason is that they were formerly left by the central Government under the rule of their Caciques. The Government did not try to civilize them; it allowed them to keep their own laws and customs, and, provided they became Christians, merely required them to pay tribute. There was no question of colonization. Once the conquest was made, the Spaniards showed a lazy tolerance to the conquered, and only oppressed them spasmodically. This is why the Indians of South America are less unhappy than those of the north, and continue to live on, whereas the neighbours of the Anglo-Saxons will be pitilessly driven down into the abyss.
The Anglo-Saxons did not do that because they were Christians, but because they were Anglo-Saxons. It is ‘lazy tolerance’ that has brought us to this point, the only way out is to become ‘pitiless’ once more — lest it will be you and your people ‘driven down into the abyss’.
 Andrew Torba and Andrew Isker, Christian Nationalism: A Biblical Guide for Taking Dominion and Disciplining Nations (Clerks Summit, PA: Gab AI Inc., 2022).
 Patrick J. Buchanan, The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001); Jim Nelson Black, When Nations Die: Ten Warning Signs of a Culture in Crisis (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1994).
 Peter Hitchens, The Rage Against God (London: Bloomsbury, 2010).
 Thomas Carlyle, Latter Day Pamphlets (London: Chapman and Hall, 1850).
 Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, trans. Charles Francis Atkinson, 2 vols (1918-26; London: Arktos, 2021).
 Giambattista Vico, The New Science, trans. John Taylor and Robert Miner (1725; New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2020).
 René Guénon, The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, trans. Lord Northbourne (1926; Hillsdale, NY: Sophia Perrenis, 2004); Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World, trans. Guido Stucco (1934; Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1995).
 Jonathan Bowden, ‘Western Civilization: A Bullet Through Steel’, (5 November 2011) in Western Civilization Bites Back (San Francisco, CA: Counter-Currents, 2014), p. 164.
 Carl Stephenson, Medieval Feudalism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1943); James C. Russell, The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994).
 Arthur de Gobineau, The Inequality of Human Races, trans. Adrian Collins (1855; London: William Heinnemann, 1915), pp. 64-9.
 Carl Ritter quoted in ibid., p. 164n.
 Ibid., p. 66-7.
 Torba and Andrew Isker, Christian Nationalism, p. 78.
 Ibid., p. 7.
 De Gobineau, The Inequality of Races, p. 171.
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