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95 theses and 96 tears

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Apropos the counter-reformation afoot on the New Right, this is from the new WAPO profile of JD Vance:

Vance’s friends split the difference: They say he’s the same guy but he’s been radicalized.“I think he’s gotten a lot more bitter and cynical — appropriately,” conservative blogger Rod Dreher told me. To Dreher, the change in tone is justified by the course of American politics over the past five years. “Trump remained Trump — but the Left went berserk,” he wrote in a post defending Vance. Still, Dreher — who attended Vance’s 2019 baptism into the Catholic Church — worries about the toll campaigning is taking on his friend. “S–t-posting has become the signature style of young radicals on the right, and this is particularly a hazard I think for Christians,” he told me.

The surface-level changes are indeed striking. Yet the more I watched him, the more it seemed to me that the emerging canon of “what happened to J.D. Vance” commentary was missing the point. Vance’s new political identity isn’t so much a façade or a reversal as an expression of an alienated worldview that is, in fact, consistent with his life story. And now there’s an ideological home for that worldview: Vance has become one of the leading political avatars of an emergent populist-intellectual persuasion that tacks right on culture and left on economics. Known as national conservatism or sometimes “post-liberalism,” it is — in broad strokes — heavily Catholic, definitely anti-woke, skeptical of big business, nationalist about trade and borders, and flirty with Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban

OK then.

Speaking of things I don’t understand, the radical right counter-reformation in France is being helmed by leading presidential candidate Eric Zemmour:

In a calculated move, Pope Francis is sacrificing Europe in a geostrategic choice, French philosopher Éric Zemmour said on French television channel CNews.

“I think he understood something that distressed his predecessors, and it’s that Europe is de-Christianizing at a phenomenal speed. So he considers, like many people around him, that Europe without Christianity is going to die,” Zemmour said. “And that, in any case, it is better to let it die, or at least it is better to leave it to others. Especially to Islam.”

Zemmour said that in his latest encyclical on fraternity and social friendship, Fratelli Tutti (“Brothers and Sister All”), issued on Oct. 3, the pope is supporting immigration, globalism and socialism, which in the pope’s view, will make the world a better place. Pope Francis said the encyclical was inspired by Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb, who is mentioned numerous times in the text, who is an Islamic scholar who supports the death penalty against apostates against Islam.

On the news program, Zemmour said after reading the text from the pope, he was “astonished by the naivety usually associated with pimply teenagers that was spread on almost every page. It was impressive,” he said. “Making the world a better place, that’s good when you’re 14 years old. As soon as you’re 15 and a half, you don’t believe in it anymore. I remind you that Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ He was wiser. It’s, if you like, a kind of idealism.”

Zemmour said that past popes were more pragmatic and had an appreciation of national identities that Pope Francis — who recently approved of same-sex civil unions — has forsaken. 

“We had two great popes, John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. One was Polish, the other German, deeply European, deeply rooted in their national identities who believed in nations, who believed in European nations in particular,” Zemmour said. “So here we have a guy who comes from South America, who despises Europe, who obviously, as far as I know, hates France. In particular, he despises Europe, and then delivers a universalist discourse like a non-governmental organization.”

Zemmour’s parents were Berber Jews from Algeria. What I don’t know about contemporary French politics could fill many books, but this particular development seems . . . odd.

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