Visions of a New Right
Jonathan Bowden’s Right
Counter-Currents, May 10, 2023
ed. by Alex Kurtagić
London: The Palingenesis Project, 2016
To commemorate the late Jonathan Bowden on what would have been his 61st birthday, Greg Johnson provided a thoughtful tribute essay, accompanied by a comprehensive aggregation of links to articles, speech transcripts, reviews, and more. Although so many of us never had the privilege of meeting him or attending his speeches in person, Bowden nonetheless remains an inspiration. His memory lives on thanks in large part to those who recorded and transcribed Jonathan’s speeches; digitized his novels and plays; and published his articles, books, and essays that reside at The Jonathan Bowden Archive, Counter-Currents, and elsewhere.
I would like to contribute in my own small way to Jonathan’s memory by writing this review of one of his books, entitled Right, which was republished by the Palingenesis Project in 2016. I managed to acquire a copy in 2020 from the Book Depository, which incidentally closed down operations at the end of April 2023.
Right sets out to provide a blueprint for the formulation of a reinvigorated radical conservative movement in Britain. Although it was intended to be a multivolume work that expounded on Jonathan’s ideas and positioning on issues that are cardinal to the resurgence of a New Right in Britain, it does, however, contain key elements of Bowden’s philosophy.
In addition to the text proper, Right is comprised of an editor’s note written by Alex Kurtagić; a Foreword to the first edition written in March 1993 by Stuart Millson; a Foreword to the second edition, also penned by Millson and written in October of 2015; a bibliography; and an index.
In his Editor’s Note, Alex Kurtagić gives Right’s publication history and his approach to editing the second edition. Kurtagić informs readers that Right was originally published in 1993 by the European Books Society (EBS). The EBS was a short-lived publishing house founded by Bowden and Stuart Millson, which published Right as well as a reprint of Oswald Spengler’s Man and Technics.
After a detailed analysis of the state of conservative politics in the early 1990s, Bowden sets out his vision for a New Right in Britain. In many instances throughout his orations, he emphasized the power of belief. He makes this point again here in Right as he articulates the book’s thesis:
The whole purpose of this book is, in fact, deeply conservative in a revolutionary sense. It understands that radical change is possible and that, in reality, both history and human life are meaningless. They are otherwise contingent. Religion is the salutary influence human beings create in order to remove themselves from the bitterness of this insight. As a result, we are living in a culture that has just moved away from the divine codification of the State.
Different variations of this idea were stressed by Bowden throughout his speaking and writing career in order to raise up the level of those amenable to Right-wing ideas. In his powerful speech on the life and ideas of Julius Evola, Bowden made the point that without belief, human beings are content to descend into nihilistic hedonism and depravity: “Without the belief that there’s something above you and before you and beyond you and behind you that leads to that which is above you, we seem as a species content to slough down into the lowest common denominator, the lowest possible level.”
Similarly, during his speech about T. S. Eliot, Bowden had this to say about belief:
One is often asked with figures as difficult, abstruse, and elitist as Eliot what the point of them is. The point is that they are transcendent figures. The point is that they look upwards. The point of all life is to look upwards in the prospect of something which is above you. Whether you believe God is above you, or you believe some other force is above you, or you believe the gods are above you, or you believe your ancestors are behind and above you, or you believe that the prospect of something else may exist, or you believe in philosophical verities that give three dimensional meanings to death, to sexuality, and to other things, you’ve got to look above you.
In this very same speech, Bowden immediately speaks to Oswald Mosley’s tendency to invoke transcendent, Platonic ideas:
Mosley once talked about endless, varied, and revivified forms getting higher and higher. That’s a Platonic idea, a neo-Platonic idea of the prospect of an archetype or an idealism that one can only approximate to. These may be in many ways high-falutin and airy-fairy judgments. In comparison to the majority of people out there, they are completely meaningless. But they have a deeper and more archetypal meaning to my mind, and this is the fact that without such idealism all you get trapped into is mediocrity and opportunity.
It is interesting to note that, although Bowden’s speeches about T. S. Eliot and Julius Evola occurred later on in his speaking career, his ideas about the importance of belief were presented in Right. This notion, the importance of philosophical or religious belief, was a recurring theme throughout Bowden’s life. He would invoke Oswald Mosley in Right in the context of fascism and its intersection with high ideals. Perhaps fascism should serve as a basis for the resurgence of Europe and the European-derived former nation-states of the West:
By cutting what might be called ‘fascism’ — i.e., a doctrine of civilisation, masculinity, order, culture, and strength — out of the mind-set of Europe’s contemporary rulers, a grave disservice is being done . . . fascism, (so-called) is just integral to what it is to be European. In some respects it is just a radical form of Europeanism writ large, a desire to be what one truly is without fear of contradiction.
Bowden writes that the economy should be viewed in national terms — a notion that is problematic in contemporary modernity, as whenever ideas such as this are presented, there is a “. . . whiff of the people who were defeated in the last War.” In other words, anything even remotely associated with National Socialist Germany is highlighted and scorned by the usual suspects in academia and the press. Bowden is quite right about this point, as so many politicians and pundits cling to the economy as if it’s the last bastion of Right-wing respectability. Ironically, this happens even when it does nothing to stave off population replacement or the destruction of domestic industry through free trade:
Mosley was one of the first economic visionaries of this century to see that in the long term, possibly in the very long term, the international free trade economy is doomed to failure. Primarily because groups, countries and races other than the white west will catch up . . .
Bowden acknowledges the melding together of classes in the crucible of the Great War. The future political soldiers of the Right were forged in that technological maelstrom. He believed that Mosley’s politics were an extension of this mass technological violence:
This was one of the many reasons why the type of politics Mosley represented had its origins in the trenches during the Great War. His type of politics emerged during the cross-class trauma of the Front — the gas, repeated shell attacks, and the ceaseless bombardment of steel, to borrow Ernst Junger’s imagery from the other side — which ripped up the earth amid paroxysms of unnatural rage.
It was in this crucible that the political soldiers were forged, but it was also something they wished to get away from: “In a sense, the First World War resembled a type of hell, an amphitheatre from which men not unnaturally wished to escape.”
Similarly, in Jonathan Bowden’s extraordinary lecture about Wyndham Lewis, he expresses the very same sentiment — a sentiment that not only has a cross-class element, but a pan-European, multi-national one. Bowden said that to Wyndham Lewis, the First World War was not just a war, it was a revolution. For all of those who experienced its extreme forms of industrial-scale violence and slaughter, it was a transformative event physically, spiritually, and politically:
He expected to die in the Great War, and he fought at the front, and he fought at the Battle of Passchendaele. Lewis regarded the First World War as a revolution in the soul of man. He didn’t think it was a war. He thought it was a climactic moment whereby machine technology invasively entered the human space. You would see a thousand men charge toward some enclave. Two would be left afterwards, and their bones would be showered miles behind you because of the impact of the bombs that were coming down on them. Lewis turned to people afterwards and said, “This isn’t a war. It’s something else. It’s the mass industrialization of death within modernity.” He believed, as much of that generation did, that those who went through this were never the same.
Even though this is en passant, the rage of political soldiers will be repeated by a young generation of white people who have had to endure the Third World hell of multiculturalism. It will increasingly be the young who have had to live under the appalling conditions of multi-racial conflict in Western countries who will constitute the next generation of the Right’s metapolitical soldiers. After reading Richard Houck’s well-researched and powerful series of articles at Counter-Currents entitled “The War Against White Children,” I am convinced that this will indeed come to pass.
Bowden then discusses some of the fundamental differences between the Left and the Right. Generally speaking, the Left trends toward dissolution and the Right towards reconstitution or regeneration. Bowden goes on to discuss what he believes to be one of the fundamental differences between the Left and the Right: the Right believes in a prior essentialism; he takes up this discussion most notably in his lecture on Martin Heidegger in 2006 as well. Bowden explains (emphasis in original):
One of the most important differences between Left and Right is the latter’s support for essentialism, for the nature of essence: the fact that certain things are donnés: they are given by nature, man, history, genetics, and biology. Certain things are inherited from the past and their nature cannot be brooked.
Even though Right is a short book, and was perhaps intended to be the first of many volumes, it nonetheless encapsulates many of Bowden’s core ideas that form the foundation of his philosophy and vision for the resurgence of a radical conservative movement in Britain. It was a vision that would be articulated by Bowden in many ways throughout his speaking and writing career. Right goes on to emphasize the importance of the heroic, the Conservative Revolution in inter-war Germany, the importance of institutions as articulated by Roger Scruton, the occult, paganism, power, and much more.
There are a few minor copyediting errors in the text, and it has become increasingly difficult to find a copy of the book. And perhaps the cover art would have been more fitting if it had been one of Bowden’s own paintings. But those are minor criticisms. I nevertheless wholeheartedly recommend Right as an early articulation of some of the most important themes in Bowden’s political philosophy.
Jonathan Bowden’s memory lives on, and going forward he will continue to be one of the most important figures on the dissident Right, the ideas of which will be crucial for civilizational renewal.
 Jonathan Bowden, Right (London: The Palingenesis Project, 2016), vii.
 Right, 14.
 See also Jonathan Bowden, “Julius Evola: The World’s Most Right-Wing Thinker,” in Extremists: Studies in Metapolitics, ed. Greg Johnson (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2017), 130-157.
 See also Jonathan Bowden, “T. S. Eliot,” in Reactionary Modernism, ed. Greg Johnson (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2022), 71-98.
 Right, 26.
 Right, 29.
 Right, 27.
 Right, 30.
 See also Jonathan Bowden, “Elitism, British Modernism, & Wyndham Lewis,” Reactionary Modernism, 6-31.
 Right, 36.
 See also Jonathan Bowden, “Martin Heidegger,” in Extremists: Studies in Metapolitics, 82-101.
 Right, 37.