Reaction Time: Radical Cultural Conservatism after WWII


Radical Cultural Conservatism After World War II

A Conference Organized by The Academy of Finland Research Project

The Intellectual Heritage of Radical Cultural Conservatism

With the Intellectual Traditions in Ethics and Politics Research Group (ITEP),

The Subjectivity, Historicity, Communality Research Community (SHC)

And The Finnish Association of Researchers

House of Science and Letters, Lecture Hall 505 (5th floor)

Address: Kirkkokatu 6, Helsinki

June 4–5, 2015

Keynote lecture by Prof. Richard Wolin (City University of New York)

Radical cultural conservatism is one of the most significant, yet also most overlooked, intellectual trends in 20th-century Western political thought. It gained its classic contours in the work of Oswald Spengler, Charles Maurras, Edgar Jung, Ernst Jünger, Carl Schmitt, Martin Heidegger, Julius Evola, Mircea Eliade and others, and is again resurfacing as a salient force in 21st-century discourses. Radical cultural conservatism is not to be neglected if we wish to understand the historical background of late modern political fluctuations, such as the rise of a particular type of far-right ideology. This ideology cannot be traced back to National Socialism and classical fascism alone. Nazism and fascism were largely wiped out in WWII; radical cultural conservatism underwent a crisis, too, but nevertheless survived, first in the European academic community and later in European political life.

Many radical conservatives, such as Eliade, Heidegger, Jünger, and Schmitt as well as their younger followers, continued to write and publish after the war. They inspired new generations of intellectuals and politicians in Europe and also in the United States, where the heritage of radical conservatism is visible in authors such as Leo Strauss, Friedrich A. Hayek, and Hans Morgenthau. In the 1960s, also proponents of the intellectual left adopted ideas developed by radical conservatives at the beginning of the century, first in Italy and subsequently in Germany, France, and the US. Even today, a number of those notions and concepts circulate in the academic world, including the ideas of violence as the origin of order, of conflict as the irreducible fact of human life, of sacrifice as the condition of meaning, and of universalism as a mask for imperialism.

Despite such continuities, the post-WWII heritage of radical cultural conservatism is a relatively unexplored page in modern intellectual history. The aim of the conference is to contribute to the filling of this lacuna and to critically examine the intellectual heritage of the radical conservative ideology by focusing on the ways in which this ideology was preserved, affirmed, reappropriated, and transformed in Western intellectual and political life since the 1940s. This will help to uncover the roots and developmental origins of contemporary radical conservative movements such as the Nouvelle Droite in France and Neo-Eurasianism in Russia, most prominently theorized by Alain de Benoist and Alexander Dugin, respectively.

The conference is open for the public, and there is no admission fee.

For more information:


Thursday June 4, 2015

10.15 – 11.45 Keynote Lecture (Chair: Mika Ojakangas)

Richard Wolin (City University of New York): Fascism and Hermeneutics: Gadamer, Nietzsche, and the Politics of Accommodation

11.45 – 12.00 Coffee Break

12.00 – 13.30 Session 1: Principles and Continuities (Chair: Mika Ojakangas)

Markku Koivusalo (University of Jyväskylä): Time as Radical Action: The Call for Conservative Revolution

Göran Dahl (Lund University): Esoteric Symbolism and Radical Conservatism: The Case of Mircea Eliade

Jussi Backman (University of Jyväskylä): The Other Inception of the West: The Postmetaphysical ‘Conservative Revolution’ in Right Heideggerianism

13.30 – 14.45 Lunch Break

14.45 – 15.45 Session 2: Post-War Continuities I (Chair: Jussi Backman)

Hjalmar Falk (University of Gothenburg): Epimetheus in the 20th Century: The Symbolism and Ideological Implications of Carl Schmitt’s Marian Katechontism

Timo Pankakoski (University of Jyväskylä): Hans Freyer and the Political Flow of History

15.45 – 16.00 Coffee Break

16.00 – 17.00 Session 3: Post-War Continuities II (Chair: Timo Pankakoski)

Tommaso Beggio (University of Helsinki): Paul Koschaker and his Idea of Europe

Tuomas Parsio (University of Jyväskylä): What is Political Speleology? Leo Strauss’s Second Cave

19.00 Conference Dinner (for speakers)

Friday June 5, 2015

10.15 – 11.45 Session 4: Hannah Arendt and the Radical Heritage (Chair: Markku Koivusalo)

Tuija Parvikko (University of Jyväskylä): A Note on Hannah Arendt’s Debt to Martin Heidegger

Mika Ojakangas (University of Jyväskylä): Carl Schmitt’s Influence on Hannah Arendt’s Political Thought

Ville Suuronen (University of Jyväskylä): Hannah Arendt’s Political Ontology as a Critique of Carl Schmitt’s Political Thinking

11.45 – 13.00 Lunch Break

13.00 – 14.00 Session 5: Radical Conservatism and the Left (Chair: Tuomas Parsio)

Mikko Immanen (University of Helsinki): Adorno Faces Heidegger’s Influence in Frankfurt at the Turn of the 1930s: The Unexamined Frankfurt Discussion as a Sequel to the Epochal Davos Debate

Janne Porttikivi (University of Jyväskylä): Badiou and Heidegger: Two Ontologies, Two Different Politics

14.00 – 14.15 Coffee Break

14.15 – 15.45 Session 6: Historical and Political Implications (Chair: Mika Ojakangas)

Ville Erkkilä (University of Helsinki): From Seers of History to Deceived Witnesses: Three Historians and their Stories in the Kaleidoscope of the 2nd World War

Silviya Serafimova (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies): How Just Is the War on Terror? The Influence of Carl Schmitt’s Theory of Just War on George W. Bush’s War Politics

Marja Vuorinen (University of Helsinki): Anders Behring Breivik’s Manifesto as a Declaration of Radical Cultural Conservatism