By Jalal Heirannia

U.S. caught in very dangerous climate of fractious disagreement: philosopher

March 31, 2017

TEHRAN – American philosopher Charles Taliaferro who specializes in philosophy of religion says the United States is “in a very dangerous political climate of fractious disagreement and diminishing respect for those of different viewpoints.”

In an interview with the Tehran Times, Taliaferro says right-wing press support President Donald Trump and his allies and “brand any critical inquiry into what lies behind the curtain as the work of enemies of the American people.”

This the text of the interview:

Q: Do you agree that Trump’s senior counselor Steve Bannon is the chief ideologue at the White House?

A: I agree.  Both Bannon and Trump have backgrounds in the business and the entertainment communities, but Bannon seems more given over to a philosophical vision on government than Trump who has principles and goals and yet seems more pragmatic than Bannon.  Bannon's ideology includes nationalism, capitalism, exercising federal power to put America first in terms of self-protection from liberals and what he considers radical Islam.  He sees himself as an enlightened, American capitalist who also accepts what he has described as Judaeo-Christian values.  Note that he is not identifying with what many would call Abrahamic faiths, which would include Islam.  He, rather, sees the West as threatened by the Muslim east, forgetting how America and Europe themselves have a growing, legally proper population which is forming an integral role in the west.

Q: Who are behind the curtain of Trump’s policy making?

A: Apart from Bannon, Mike Pence is probably a leading voice.  Then there is Stephen Miller, who is the White House policy director, and then there are leading members of his cabinet, such as Rex Tillerson and Jeff Sessions.  Without being in the inner circle, it is hard for even the best journalists to fill out the roles of the different figures close to Trump.  There has been a deep antipathy between Trump, Bannon and their allies with the mainline United States press in all mediums, television to print to radio to online news.  They are aided by right-wing radio stations that support Trump and brand any critical inquiry into what lies behind the curtain as the work of enemies of the American people. We are in a very dangerous political climate of fractious disagreement and diminishing respect for those of different viewpoints.

Q: Traces of Italian philosopher Julius Evola’s thinking are noticed in Trump’s inner circle. Please explain.

A: Julius Evola referred to himself as a super fascist.  He was one of the strangest, unpredictable, occult thinkers in the west, espousing positions on race, gender, and power that has resonated with neo-Nazi parties in Europe and some ultra-right groups in the USA.  Those of us on university and college faculties and who work in mainstream philosophical and political institutes might have a marginal exposure to Evola's work, but he is more of an underground thinker who attracts a cult, almost counter-cultural following, notwithstanding his advocacy of tradition.  There is nothing traditional, though, about his writing which covers alchemy, magic, and more bizarre matters that you will find in the mystic Grigori Rasputin who advised a different world leader of a different country, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. 

Q: A report in the New York Times ascribed the roots of anti-immigration to traditionalist thinkers such as Rene Guenon. What is your view?

A: This is shocking.  In the eyes of many, Guenon is almost on the same level as Evola, with their almost occult views about life and, insidiously, in their shared view of the supremacy of white Europeans and especially in the inferiority of non-Europeans in and from the east.  Particularly worrisome is Guenon's placing value in a superior elite that preserves healthy traditions from those he deems degenerate.  I have no inside information on Geunon's work actually informing the current anti-immigration policies, but if you oppose immigration and think that open borders would be a mistake, you would like Geunon.  I hope, instead, you might prefer reading the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant or the University of Chicago's Martha Nussbaum on cosmopolitanism.

JH/PA

[Highlight]

“If you oppose immigration and think that open borders would be a mistake, you would like (Rene) Geunon.”

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