Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

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Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Dec 25, 2012 8:15 pm

This may be too controversial, and if so I apologize, and can readily let the subject go.

Anyway, after reading through many of the threads on modernity, and almost any 'cultural issue' on Dharma Wheel really, I see some Buddhists tending toward a kind of reactionary thought not dissimilar to the Nouvelle Droite. Many things in common, and idealization of a mythic past and it's cultures, a concept of Genetic Identity and rejection of many of the changes brought about by modernity, liberalism, and also by Christian thought; a hope for a return to a "purer" time, with purer cultures, and a re-adoption of mores of the "old world". Of course some of these are broad things one can find in a variety of schools of thought, but as far as I can tell there is much in common with some of the "New Right" ideologies, only here Buddhism and it's various cultural identities have replaced the neo-paganism, new ageism, or pan european nationalism common in Nouvelle Droite/Third Way thought.

Why am I saying this? Well, I don't agree necessarily with all the assumptions of modern liberalism, however I would vastly prefer it to reactionary thought that sees concepts like human rights as taking a back seat to ideas of 'cultural stability' etc. Personally I find a tendency towards that kind of thought really disturbing, and I believe it has some pretty ugly historical precedents. I find it odd that there are Buddhists out there who would follow this line of thought.

Am I just being paranoid, is it an unfair comparison, am I missing some subtle nuances here?
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby Yudron » Tue Dec 25, 2012 8:53 pm

Can you some a specific examples? For example, I don't understand how ideas of genetics have to do with the Modernity thread or other posts in DW. Most of us who post here are not Asian, so we don't have a genetic relationship with Buddhist cultures. Maybe I'm missing something.
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Re: Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Dec 25, 2012 9:00 pm

Yudron wrote:Can you some a specific examples? For example, I don't understand how ideas of genetics have to do with the Modernity thread or other posts in DW. Most of us who post here are not Asian, so we don't have a genetic relationship with Buddhist cultures. Maybe I'm missing something.


That wouldn't really do any good...other than singling out people, which I don't want to do, as i've seen a good number of people who seem to hold to this grouping of beliefs to one degree or another. Suffice to say a part of Third Way thought is the idea that "the people" (let's say of a nation) are an organic thing of one will, and indistinguishable from their leadership. This results in a confusion of what actually generates political and social agency, and ends up with the same confusion of thought that (and of course this is just my perspective) results in people thinking that a concept like human rights, let's ay civil rights for example, is generated by the same forces as the whole of society, thus causing them to pan things like civil rights as just a silly little trick of modernity. IMO this kind of thought can lead to a dark, dark place. We cannot go backwards to old cultures, and modern attempts to do so have led to cultural and political awfulness in general, though of course they aren't unique in this.

Perhaps "genetic identity" is a poor choice, as I haven't seen that specifically nearly as often on Dharma Wheel (though I have seen it), the above describes a bit better.

You could dig up some stuff be De benoist or Julius Evola, and I think you'd find a surprising number of people on here agreeing with much of the sentiment.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby futerko » Tue Dec 25, 2012 9:55 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Am I just being paranoid, is it an unfair comparison, am I missing some subtle nuances here?


No, I think its a fair point. Reactionary thought does seem somewhat misplaced in this context.
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Re: Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Tue Dec 25, 2012 11:42 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:You could dig up some stuff be De benoist or Julius Evola, and I think you'd find a surprising number of people on here agreeing with much of the sentiment.


Yes and no. There are few people here who'd buy into them wholeheartedly - but surely many would find themselves agreeing with some of their nonsense. On the other hand, even one person falling for NV crap is already a surprising number...

And yes, it's deeply troubling. Just another proof that Dharma is for quite a few of us just a way of trying - no to deal with, but to escape from the postmodern anxiety at all costs, just like Christian or Muslim fundamentalism is for others. It's the perennial lure of identity-building.
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Re: Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby Sherlock » Wed Dec 26, 2012 3:07 am

I think fundamentalism in general has been becoming more and more common across all world religions, including Buddhism.
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Re: Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby greentara » Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:39 am

Anything that smacks of right wing makes me shudder! 'should there be a sea change from the spectacular freefall into Corporate Nightmare World that we are currently witnessing?' On the other hand the left wing with its cliches and 'bleeding heart liberal' blather leaves me as distant as a spectator.
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Re: Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby Konchog1 » Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:43 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:This may be too controversial, and if so I apologize, and can readily let the subject go.

Anyway, after reading through many of the threads on modernity, and almost any 'cultural issue' on Dharma Wheel really, I see some Buddhists tending toward a kind of reactionary thought not dissimilar to the Nouvelle Droite. Many things in common, and idealization of a mythic past and it's cultures, a concept of Genetic Identity and rejection of many of the changes brought about by modernity, liberalism, and also by Christian thought; a hope for a return to a "purer" time, with purer cultures, and a re-adoption of mores of the "old world". Of course some of these are broad things one can find in a variety of schools of thought, but as far as I can tell there is much in common with some of the "New Right" ideologies, only here Buddhism and it's various cultural identities have replaced the neo-paganism, new ageism, or pan european nationalism common in Nouvelle Droite/Third Way thought.

Why am I saying this? Well, I don't agree necessarily with all the assumptions of modern liberalism, however I would vastly prefer it to reactionary thought that sees concepts like human rights as taking a back seat to ideas of 'cultural stability' etc. Personally I find a tendency towards that kind of thought really disturbing, and I believe it has some pretty ugly historical precedents. I find it odd that there are Buddhists out there who would follow this line of thought.

Am I just being paranoid, is it an unfair comparison, am I missing some subtle nuances here?
Yes, Buddhism is inherently reactionary. It, along with almost every pre-modern culture, as always held that the the "Golden Age" or whatever you might call was in the past and that humanity is regressing, not progressing.
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-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby Indrajala » Wed Dec 26, 2012 8:38 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Why am I saying this? Well, I don't agree necessarily with all the assumptions of modern liberalism, however I would vastly prefer it to reactionary thought that sees concepts like human rights as taking a back seat to ideas of 'cultural stability' etc.


Human rights, illusory as they really are (the biggest proponent of human rights right now the USA is also the most notable violator of said rights), only come to exist in the mainstream concern when there is enough wealth and energy in a given society to warrant such discussions. Stability is far more pressing for poorer people, which is why they'll accept tyranny and brutality to an extent if it means some medium of stability. The same goes for environmentalism and animal rights which are largely limited to privileged First World societies.

Once you have human rights and rule of law though, there is still the issue of maintaining a balance and harmony in your culture in the face of radical internal organic changes that inevitably occur as power structures shift around and competing factions manipulate the populace in this or that direction. This is why a unifying force like a religion lends a lot of stability to a society.


Personally I find a tendency towards that kind of thought really disturbing, and I believe it has some pretty ugly historical precedents. I find it odd that there are Buddhists out there who would follow this line of thought.


I think you need to be more mindful of the fact that even with human rights on paper, the peoples and governments who preach such an ideology the loudest are also the greatest sinners. The western power bloc in the last decade alone killed, displaced and impoverished how many millions of people in the Middle East and Africa? How many of us enjoy the benefits of slave labor in Asia? How many of us enjoy cheap oil because our governments quietly support brutal dictatorships in foreign countries which keep the black gold flowing?

Human rights is largely an illusion because the treatment of non-citizens is often quite inhumane and ghoulish. Even self-proclaimed liberal peace keepers like Canadians are direct beneficiaries of violence and oppression, though they like to say otherwise.
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Re: Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby catmoon » Wed Dec 26, 2012 10:56 am

When you enter the temple, it's really hard to leave your politics at the door. Buddhism is spreading into a western society compposed of diverse political groups. Whichever one you belong to, don't be surprised if the Other Guys are in the Temple too!
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Re: Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:17 pm


I think you need to be more mindful of the fact that even with human rights on paper, the peoples and governments who preach such an ideology the loudest are also the greatest sinners. The western power bloc in the last decade alone killed, displaced and impoverished how many millions of people in the Middle East and Africa? How many of us enjoy the benefits of slave labor in Asia? How many of us enjoy cheap oil because our governments quietly support brutal dictatorships in foreign countries which keep the black gold flowing?

Human rights is largely an illusion because the treatment of non-citizens is often quite inhumane and ghoulish. Even self-proclaimed liberal peace keepers like Canadians are direct beneficiaries of violence and oppression, though they like to say otherwise.




I know how horrible and hypocritical the supposedly "democratic" world is..you don't need to repeat it every time we talk, that is not the part I disagree with, for the record I come from a sort of left anarchist/libertarian socialist point of view, so there is likely little you can tell me about the awful stuff my country does that will come as a big surprise to me, my views are well outside the mainstream here and i've come to a decision about the farce that is modern representative democracy a long, long time ago. This is the bit we probably actually agree on.

Why you think the above nullifies the concept of human rights though is beyond me, concepts like civil rights, women's rights, the rights of oppressed minorities, etc do not rise in concert with the state/military/capital apparatus, they often rise in opposition to them and thereby the state apparatus is eventually forced to acknowledge them "on paper". Wouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who supports these things that governments say one thing, and do another regarding them. However it still has little to do with the validity of the ideas, since it was not the state/military/capital apparatus generating them or fighting for their recognition in the first place.

The "human rights" of the US government is not actually human rights...I think on an intuitive level this is understood by many.

I still think you are presenting here a judgement on the value of human rights which is ultimately based on a really confusing idea of what exactly generates political agency and power, and without that being more clearly defined none of the anti-modernity arguments in terms of things like human rights make much sense. If you believe all people (rather than those with access to the power structure to affect things) are culpable for what their governments do, and that all people share some kind of equal blame for the ravages inflicted by their states, or even by capitalism as a whole.

Claims made with assumption that all nations are simply an amorphous blob of people with with the same interests, proximity to power, and having the same interests as their government are nonsensical, and I am not convinced one can draw any real conclusions on the workability of ideas based on them.
This assumes (for instance) that a migrant farm worker who makes 3000 bucks a year, and Barack Obama have the same relationship to power, wealth, human rights, whatever..they don't, and arguments that seem to rest on the idea that they do simply don't add up IMO.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby Konchog1 » Wed Dec 26, 2012 7:23 pm

Human rights, illusory as they really are, only come to exist in the mainstream concern when there is enough wealth and energy in a given society to warrant such discussions. Stability is far more pressing for poorer people
I agree here, if I'm correctly understanding what Huseng is saying. "Civil rights" are not inherent to humanity but are merely culturally specific creations.

Thus, Buddhism should be concerned with civil rights in the same manner Buddhism should be concerned that many cultures like decorating trees on Christmas. It's important to the culture and to the Buddhists from that culture, but it has nothing to do with Buddhism.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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Re: Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Dec 26, 2012 7:28 pm

Konchog1 wrote:
Human rights, illusory as they really are, only come to exist in the mainstream concern when there is enough wealth and energy in a given society to warrant such discussions. Stability is far more pressing for poorer people
I agree here, if I'm correctly understanding what Huseng is saying. "Civil rights" are not inherent to humanity but are merely culturally specific creations.

Thus, Buddhism should be concerned with civil rights in the same manner Buddhism should be concerned that many cultures like decorating trees on Christmas. It's important to the culture and to the Buddhists from that culture, but it has nothing to do with Buddhism.



Using this same logic, the "stability" and mores of traditional cultures should also then, have little to do with Buddhism. In addition the same should then be applied to the many negative, un-stabilizing, and oppressive things (and despite all the rose-colored glasses these certainly exist) coming from traditional cultures. Traditional cultures are no more One Thing than are modern ones. While these things could be said in some part to be influenced by religion, they are no more "a part" of a religion itself than human rights or similar ideas are.

If the argument is that things like traditional ideas about gender roles, hierarchical structures etc. are somehow more "inherent" in human culture (or in Buddhism) than egalitarian ideas are, not only do I take issue with that, but I would point out there are schools of thought that believe that these supposedly traditional things are in fact pretty new in the large scheme of human existence, namely since the agricultural revolution. In fact, if that is the crux of the argument, I would ask anyone who believes this (that somehow "traditional" cultural mores have some greater inherently "good" factor than modern ideas like human rights, or that these are fundamentally more Buddhist) I would ask them to please prove it, and I have seen absolutely zero concrete reasoning in that direction. The irony to me is that I imagine people made some variation of this same argument regarding the caste system many years ago, and yet..what we are now lauding as "traditional" in terms of Buddhism dispensed with it.

On what grounds is something like the nuclear family, national identity - whatever regional variation- (again a new development in the span of human existence thus far) more "real", positive, and less illusory than an idea like human rights or mutual welfare? Certainly I can make similar critiques of traditional ideas - such as the idea of a benevolent monarch as are being made of human rights here, namely that it can be hard to find real examples of them. How is one more illusory than the other?
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Wed Dec 26, 2012 8:05 pm, edited 6 times in total.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby kirtu » Wed Dec 26, 2012 7:38 pm

Huseng wrote:Human rights, illusory as they really are (the biggest proponent of human rights right now the USA is also the most notable violator of said rights),


The USA is the most notable violator of human rights? Only compared to most of the first world nations and some second world nations. It your statement is ridiculous on it's face (and many people would find my statement similarly ridiculous except that it's demonstrably true). You are really assenting that the USA has a worse human rights track record than North Korea (or even South Korea for that matter), China, Russian, all of the 'Stans, Kosovo, Serbia, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Belarus, or even Mexico?

:rolleye:

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Re: Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby greentara » Wed Dec 26, 2012 10:57 pm

Heard the term human rights ad nauseum,but never heard the term human obligations,,,,,they are written in every person's heart (voice of consciense) but get overridden by the more poweful vasanas and base tendencies........if the obligations were fulfiled,the phrase human rights wouldn't arise.....and as long as the discourse mentions human rights,it implies personal obligations are disregarded......silence of self enquiry transcends this common samsaric characteristic where time plays out its leela.
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Re: Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:07 pm

greentara wrote:Heard the term human rights ad nauseum,but never heard the term human obligations,,,,,they are written in every person's heart (voice of consciense) but get overridden by the more poweful vasanas and base tendencies........if the obligations were fulfiled,the phrase human rights wouldn't arise.....and as long as the discourse mentions human rights,it implies personal obligations are disregarded......silence of self enquiry transcends this common samsaric characteristic where time plays out its leela.


I think get the crux of what you are saying, but in either instance, rejection of modern inherent existent "things", or rejection of ancient inherent things, the same mistake is being made. I would like if the concept of "fundamental human rights" changed into fundamental human obligation, or maybe fundamental human compassion (such as the things HHDL often talks about). Non-buddhists will not see it this way though, so if we plan on sharing opinions with others there is a decision to make. It is true that at a deep level the idea of inalienable rights assumes some things that we as Buddhists will not agree with. However, I think that if one has to take a position out in the world about what are good and proper beliefs about the welfare of societies, it is skillful to acknowledge that Human Rights are a desirable "thing" - just as HHDL and other well known teachers do in some contexts.

For this reason, I find it really odd that what some Buddhists are espousing on here in the end often sounds like it rhymes with the kind of weird, anti-modernity, essentially anti-humanist (not they should be exactly pro secular humanism either) rhetoric that might come from some of the progenitors of cultural fascism, the early days for movements like Earth First, who believed things could be "solved" by depopulation and similar right wing/third position leaning forms of thought.
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is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby Ukigumo » Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:18 pm

I think it is actually impossible to be truly committed to Buddhism and not be critical of both 'Modernity' and the existing world order. They are founded on assumptions which Buddhism rejects.

That said, this does not mean that Buddhism has any necessary relationship to conservative or right wing ideas. The Dalai Lama has on numerous occasions claimed to be "half Buddhist, half Marxist" and Buddhadhasa Bhikku wrote of "Dhammic Socialism", for example.

In a larger sense, Buddhism might be described "counter-cultural" in the sense that it challenges the values and presumptions of all human culture:

The news of the Buddha's Awakening sets the standards for judging the culture we were brought up in, and not the other way around. This is not a question of choosing Asian culture over American. The Buddha's Awakening challenged many of the presuppositions of Indian culture in his day; and even in so-called Buddhist countries, the true practice of the Buddha's teachings is always counter-cultural. It's a question of evaluating our normal concerns — conditioned by time, space, and the limitations of aging, illness, and death — against the possibility of a timeless, spaceless, limitless happiness. All cultures are tied up in the limited, conditioned side of things, while the Buddha's Awakening points beyond all cultures. It offers the challenge of the Deathless that his contemporaries found liberating and that we, if we are willing to accept the challenge, may find liberating ourselves.

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Re: Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby Kim O'Hara » Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:49 pm

Ukigumo wrote:... Buddhism might be described "counter-cultural" in the sense that it challenges the values and presumptions of all human culture ...

I think that's a much better way of thinking about the issue.

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Re: Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby Konchog1 » Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:11 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:Using this same logic, the "stability" and mores of traditional cultures should also then, have little to do with Buddhism. In addition the same should then be applied to the many negative, un-stabilizing, and oppressive things (and despite all the rose-colored glasses these certainly exist) coming from traditional cultures. Traditional cultures are no more One Thing than are modern ones. While these things could be said in some part to be influenced by religion, they are no more "a part" of a religion itself than human rights or similar ideas are.
You're right. They have nothing to do with Buddhism either.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Buddhism and the Nouvelle Droite

Postby nilakantha » Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:02 am

The ninth vow of Queen Śrīmālā pretty much sums up the political platform of Mahayana Buddhism.
"Lord, from now on, and until I attain enlightenment, I hold to this ninth vow, that when I see persons with sinful occupations such as dealing in pigs, and those who violate the Doctrine and Discipline proclaimed by the Tathāgata, I shall not take it lightly; and wherever my residence in towns, villages, cities, districts, and capitals, I shall destroy what should be destroyed and shall foster what should be fostered. Why so? Lord, by destroying and by fostering, the Illustrious Doctrine will long remain in the world, the bodies of gods and men will thrive, and evil destinies will fade. And the Lord, having turned the Wheel of the Doctrine, will continue to turn the Wheel of the Doctrine.”
The Lord teaches that the first four lay vows are the foundation of morality for any civilized group, and since we are told the Buddhas seek to civilize and pacify sentient beings, I take it as an imperative to implement them into law. So at the moment my political work is geared toward the ending of legal abortion, seeing that it is a gross violation of the first vow. I also work against capital punishment, hunting, the slaughter of animals for food, etc. Whether or not I am considered a leftist or rightist is unimportant. As a Buddhist, the only pattern I care about is the pattern of life laid down by the Lords.
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