Earlier this month, we explored Nazi spirituality and the contemporary spread of far-right conspiracies in New Age and wellness networks. But the overlap goes deeper than that.
The fact there is such a thing as ‘right-wing spirituality’, or the ‘Cosmic Right’ as some call it, comes as a shock to some New Age seekers, who may have thought spirituality is essentially liberal and progressive, as opposed to traditional religions.¹
But in fact, many of the most popular thinkers in alternative spirituality — Plato, Nietzsche, Aldous Huxley, Yeats, Rene Guenon, Joseph Campbell, Mircea Eliade, Carl Jung, Gurdjieff, Aleister Crowley, Chogyam Rinpoche, Jordan Peterson and many others — were on the right, some of them are on the far-right.
How can this be?
First of all, right-wing spiritual thinkers believe in hierarchy and spiritual inequality. They believe in higher and lower levels of spiritual attainment. This goes all the way back to Plato, the Buddha, Hinduism, Christian mysticism, and classical magic and mystery cults.
If you believe in vertical transcendence, and higher and lower levels of truth, beauty, goodness and spiritual initiation, then you believe some people are higher up the ladder than others. Some people are more realized than others.
If you believe that, then you believe in leaders and followers, and you are probably opposed to the egalitarian flattening of society. You believe some have the authority to give instruction, and others should follow those instructions, for their own good.
This leads naturally to various forms of hierarchical and authoritarian organisations, with a ruling elite of philosophers / monks / sages / hidden masters or an all-powerful guru or monarch. One finds this in Plato’s Republic, say, or in Tibetan feudal theocracy, or in pretty much every spiritual cult.
It can also lead to the belief that some people are realized and awake, while other people are asleep, and are mindless automatons. Some people are spiritually advanced superbeings, other people are degenerate animals.
This spiritual elitism can be found all the way through New Age spirituality, from Nietzsche’s cult of the supermen to the contemporary New…