Transcript: Matthew Rose On The Radical Right
His new book delves into the philosophers behind the alt-right's assault on liberalism and Christianity.
Matthew Rose is a scholar of religion. He’s currently Senior Fellow and Director of the Barry Center on the University and Intellectual Life — a project of the Morningside Institute — and he previously taught at Villanova. He’s written for magazines such as First Things and The Weekly Standard, and his newest book is A World After Liberalism. It’s an examination of five far-right thinkers, from Julius Evola to Sam Francis, who are proving increasingly influential in post-liberal conservatism in America.
The episode aired on September 9, 2022. Here are some money quotes from Matthew:
“It might sound strange to say, but I think we can learn, about the radical right, something about ourselves. Something about who human beings are, what human beings can be, and what human beings will always be.”
“I think that we are in real trouble if the only language we have to describe our public life is that of a kind of secular cosmopolitan liberalism that imagines that all of the parochial ties of our life are problematic and need to be either cut or gotten rid of.”
“Our ability to think about liberalism, to think about our life beyond the boundaries that liberalism sets to it, is essential for preserving any liberal practices that we might want to have.”
“For any liberal society worth preserving, liberalism has to, and must, exist in a kind of tension with non-liberal ways of thinking and non-liberal ways of living.”
Andrew: Hi there, and welcome to a whole new season of the Dishcast. It's September, after Labor Day. I've had my long two week soak in the tidal pools of the outer Cape and have dutifully, as is tradition, developed a bronchial infection called the Cape Cod crud, which in my case, because my lungs are so shitty anyway, is the reason I have this incredibly sexy, raspy voice today. So forgive me for the slight huskiness of my pearls of wisdom.
I am thrilled today to have the author of a book that I found really fascinating, and that seems to me to be on a very important theme in the coming years in our politics, and one that the Dishcast is going to be focusing on a bit this year. That is the New Right, the alt-right. The thinkers that are generating a post-liberal version of conservatism.
How those post-liberal visions have come about, what their origins are, what the structure of the argument is, and whether it's viable as a political project. Whether it's actually the future as we face, or whether it's a detour that we will avoid.
Matthew Rose has written a book, A World After Liberalism, which is a study of several really interesting and important radical right thinkers. He's currently senior fellow and director of the Barry Center on the University and Intellectual Life, which is a project of the Morningside Institute. He previously taught at Villanova. He's written for magazines such as First Things and the Weekly Standard.
So he's a man of the right, and yet this book is both a kind of strange appreciation and yet also horror. It's a strange book because it manages to combine both an awareness of the danger and weirdness of some of these ideas but also their compelling nature, and how deep a chord they strike with us.
I tried to grapple with this myself a few years back when I wrote an essay called “The Reactionary Temptation,” where I try to understand exactly the power of reactionary thought as it was coming of age at the Claremont Institute and beyond. But this book is a much more comprehensive and interesting account of various thinkers who have come to define and reshape the right, both in Europe and America, and to some extent in Russia and elsewhere.
Matthew, thank you so much for coming on the Dishcast.
Matthew: I'm delighted to be here. Thanks for having me.
Andrew: Matthew, tell me a little bit — I always ask this at the beginning — where did you grow up and how on earth did you come to be a student of older right-wing radical reactionaries?