“There Is No Alternative”—Kirkpatrick On Von Hoffmeister’s ESOTERIC TRUMPISM (2024)

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This is the introduction by James Kirkpatrick to the book Esoteric Trumpism, by Constantin von Hoffmeister [Tweet him] available from Arktos Press, reprinted by permission.

“There Is No Alternative”—Kirkpatrick On Von Hoffmeister’s ESOTERIC TRUMPISM (1)

More than degeneracy, more than decline, the current epoch looked fated to be an Age of Exhaustion. The great danger is not that intellectuals and politicians have given in to hubris. The great danger is that they are right. It really is the End of History. This is just how it will be, forever.

Things will continuously get a little worse, life will get a little harder, people’s ambitions will get a little smaller, and we won’t even be able to call it the triumph of the “Last Man,” because no one will know there was ever any other kind of man. No change to the system is possible because the very purpose of the system is to prevent change. As the “Open Society” of liberal democracy slowly changes into the repressive system of “Our Democracy,” the few who have eyes to see will find themselves fighting an enemy that has no shape. The masses will sense that something is wrong, but they’ll lack the vocabulary to define it and the moral code to justify opposition. The denizens of the crumbling cities will simply assume this is the way it always has been and must be.

I spent decades in the conservative movement, and I admit that I thought this is how it would end. Or, rather, how it would never end. When I was young, I thought the purpose of the conservative movement was to save the country. By middle age, I knew that the purpose of Conservatism Inc. was to profit off the decline, running out the clock on the lifespan of the country. Some good might be accomplished at the margins, but no victory was possible because no victory was even desired. To those in the Beltway Right, there wasn’t even an understanding of what victory would look like. You could comfort yourself in writing essays for what was then the Alternative Right in the years before 2016 but let’s be honest—you were screaming into the void. You were just scratching an emotional itch, assuaging your conscience and trying to relieve the despair of knowing that you came in at the end and the death of your country and civilization.

And then there was Trump.

Donald Trump’s appeal, VDARE.com’s Peter Brimelow once told me, was “kingly.” He wasn’t a politician. He wasn’t a “movement conservative.” Sometimes he didn’t even seem like an ordinary human being. He was History making its re-entrance. An entire System of pretty lies, concealed hypocrisy, and banal platitudes was ripped apart by his first campaign.

This didn’t come without cost. Free speech, once the bedrock of the American identity, has been utterly lost and we will probably never have it again barring revolutionary change. The press, the entertainment industry, academia, and the supposedly educated classes that take their thoughts and opinions from them have been gripped by a kind of madness, eager to destroy their own neighborhoods and legitimacy in their fervor to get Trump.

There was a lot about that 2016 campaign that many might see as cringeworthy in retrospect. “Meme magic,” the wild claims that the Alternative Right would simply replace the conservative movement, and above all, the unrealistic expectations laid upon the “God-Emperor” Donald J. Trump haven’t aged well. The nationalist Right made numerous mistakes that handicapped our movement and forced President Trump himself on the defense.

President Trump can’t escape responsibility for the failures of his first term, notably with his disastrous staffing decisions and collaboration with treacherous Republicans, like former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. From day one, he spurned the activists who would have chosen to be burned alive rather than leak to the lying press. He surrounded himself with enemies. Not surprisingly, besieged by foes from within his Administration and without, he never seemed to fully control the White House, let alone the country. He tweeted about “law and order” rather than impose it as America burned. He left the office in failure, complaining bitterly about a stolen election. Nothing matters besides victory, and fairly or unfairly, our champion lost.

The importance of that final defeat can’t be overemphasized. Don’t ask what a “Color Revolution” in America would look like, because if you’re reading this, you lived through one. The cultural revolution of 2020, revealingly called the “Racial Reckoning,” reoriented the entire American identity. The orthodox national Narrative is now focused on the exploitation of blacks, the tragedy of white settlement on indigenous land, and the endless fight to “decolonize” America and achieve the impossible goal of equity. The leftist Kulturkampf triumphed with almost trivial ease, with white Americans largely standing by while cities burned in the most destructive riots in American history. The January 6 protest in support of President Trump was a blip in comparison, yet Joe Biden has made liberal outrage over this non-event the centerpiece of his re-election campaign.

The story of Donald J. Trump, 45th President of these United States, should be over. By every conventional political measure, his political career is done. No major GOP primary candidate has positioned himself as his heir, his allies have been largely driven off Fox News, his businesses are being taken from him in comically biased show trials, and his onetime colleagues are eagerly trashing him to the press. For the first time since the War Between The States, we can speak of a federal Regime explicitly based on subjugating a huge part of the country. Border security, President Trump’s signature issue in 2016, has essentially been abolished by the Biden Administration, with little reaction from the GOP. Despite the media and the Administration’s frantic denunciations of “insurrection” and “treason,” the stark reality is that there is nothing to betray. On paper, President Trump is one of the greatest failures in political history.

“There Is No Alternative”—Kirkpatrick On Von Hoffmeister’s ESOTERIC TRUMPISM (2)


And yet, his story is not done. He is more important than ever. He may be more powerful than ever, even more than when he was in office. If he were cast down by violence or disease tomorrow, his story would still not be over, and neither is America’s. Like everything that is truly important in life, politics and patriotism aren’t about reason, calculation, or cold analysis. We’re operating in the realm of Myth. For those inside the mythos, no explanation is necessary; for those outside, no explanation will suffice. But even for those of us inside it, it helps to have a pole to orient ourselves, to understand what exactly we are caught up in.

This is what Esoteric Trumpism by Constantin von Hoffmeister has given us. He reminds us that while Trump himself may think MAGA is about him, it isn’t. It’s about something much greater. Like the protagonist of a Lovecraft story, Trump is tapping into and fighting forces much bigger than himself, seemingly things that are supernatural. We’re witnessing nothing less than an epic, with the fate of the country itself on the line.

At a time when Narratives are spat out by the media establishment from the top down, mysterious energies are rising from the bottom up. Angelic to us, demonic to our enemies, Trump is less a politician and more an avatar of these forces. The policies he supports, the personnel he selects, the successes and failures of his first term—these and other matters have become almost irrelevant as we enter an election where every assumption of American culture, law, and political reality is up for grabs. You can crunch polls, study demographics, and torture yourself over the details of proposed policies but you will miss the point. There’s something deeper at stake, and it can only be described in mythic terms.

Constantin von Hoffmeister gets this. Donald Trump is Conan the Barbarian brooding over Aquilonia, Santiago from The Old Man and the Sea, Paul Kersey from Death Wish, Il Duce, Andrew Jackson and more. These aren’t simple metaphors or sloppy journalist comparisons designed to smear and titillate. The shifting kaleidoscopic meanings of Trump reflect his role as a medium, more than just a man.

Who, after all, could have predicted in 2020 that Donald Trump would return and potentially be more powerful than ever? Trump was seemingly defeated by the eldritch terrors of “The Swamp,” but unlike every other figure of our lifetimes, he hasn’t yet been broken. As of this writing, he remains in a dominant position for the Republican nomination, though he still faces strong challengers and struggles to unite the party behind him. How can we be surprised by his failures in his first term? It was our own naivete to blame for thinking that simply electing a man president meant that the government worked as the Constitution said. “He was not merely challenging an institution,” says Constantin von Hoffmeister, “he was invoking the wrath of ancient and indescribable forces that had remained uncontested for epochs.” He captures something essential when he says that it seemed like something “preternatural, supernatural even, was fighting Trump.”

This sense of the uncanny and the mysterious is a powerful undercurrent in American life. We get news about castrating children, baffling corruption, and never-ending overseas wars funded by Americans’ money delivered by smiling journalists and chortling late-night hosts. Americans can’t trust their medicine, their food, and certainly not their government. The existence of political prisoners in the Land of the Free is now openly admitted and law enforcement is entirely arbitrary, with rioters who attack police actually receiving checks from the government even as people who never even entered the Capitol are sent to prison and reportedly tortured. The press, the supposed watchdogs of democracy, wage a ferocious campaign for censorship and deplatforming against anyone who notices there might be problems.

Amidst it all, the things that Americans could once reasonably expect from life—a family, a house, a job that could provide for basic necessities—now appear like a fantastic mirage. What horror could be more absolute? Don’t retreat into fiction for dystopia—you are already living in one. “The very air seems fraught with a palpable tension,” says our author, “chilling the bones of its citizenry, reminiscent of the ill-fated house of Usher in Poe’s masterpiece ‘The Fall of the House of Usher.’” Admit it—everyone seems to be waiting and expecting it to all cave in. Even the progressive Left, which has almost totalitarian control of American media, academic, and law enforcement institutions, seems on the verge of panic and its mouthpieces can barely contain their neuroticism and hysteria.

Yet it’s in times of terror and panic where we find possibility. That is the great gift Trump has given us, the Restart of American History. “America stands at a crossroads, its future uncertain,” says our author. “It is a tale of resilience, of hope, of a people’s active endeavor to reclaim their legacy. Whether they succeed or falter, their mission will most certainly go down in history as an undertaking worth the revolutionaries’ energy in 1776, equal to the valiant fight for survival of Robert E. Lee and his supporters.”

It’s one of history’s darkest ironies that democracy, the supposed government that most empowers ordinary people, seems to be the most impervious to change and the most resistant to what citizens actually want. However, it’s also vulnerable to the appeal of a charismatic man who taps into something greater than himself. It’s only through an extraordinary personality that a people can be redeemed in this system. It’s not that I necessarily think Trump is worthy of being the historic American nation’s instrument—it’s that it doesn’t matter what I or anyone else thinks. Trump is that instrument, regardless of what anyone says about it.

He’s been chosen by history in a process too mysterious and primordial to be put into words. Joseph de Maistre wrote of the rise of kings that God “prepares royal races; maturing them under a cloud which conceals their origin,” calling the process something akin to “legitimate usurpation.” Of course, America being America, the rise of Trump has taken place not “under a cloud” but in the light of reality TV and in front of the microphones of a press which is both Trump’s greatest asset and most ferocious enemy.

The story of his 2024 return—the Campaign of Revenge—shows that his real legend is about to begin. Despite the defeat, despite the lawsuits, despite the prosecutions, “figures such as Trump are not so easily vanquished.”

Our author writes:

In the aftermath, amidst the cacophony of naysayers and detractors, Trump remained unbroken, unbowed. He resembled those heroes of Lovecraftian tales who, after gazing upon the unimaginable horrors of the cosmos, are changed forever. They become heralds of truths too vast and too terrifying for most people to grasp. Trump, having peered into the heart of the Swamp, emerged not as a defeated mortal but as a seer of unsettling realities.

Is Trump changed? Constantin von Hoffmeister thinks so; I have my doubts. Again though, to worry about this is to miss the point. Everything that’s happened so far “was only a chapter in an eternal struggle, where the stakes were not just political power but the true essence of the nation—indeed, the nation itself was at stake,” he says. “The tale is ongoing, and its conclusion remains shrouded in mystery.”

For most of our lives, we’ve heard the refrain that the upcoming election is the “most important in our nation’s history.” This time, it really appears to be true. The question is brutal in its simplicity—America, yea or nay? Like sex, it’s binary, and to pretend otherwise is cynical folly.

Though President Trump is tied to the issues of our times, the true American Right recognizes that he also represents other ideas, some of which he may not even be aware of. Far more than in 2016, the election of 2024 may determine whether America will follow the path of the traditionalist Land power or the mercantile Sea power, the primordial conflict explained by Carl Schmitt and more recently by Alexander Dugin.

Trump and Biden, in their ideologies and policies, reflect this fundamental conflict that is not just about political power but the energy animating the nation. While the Land calls for introspection, preservation, and reverence, the Sea beckons with promises of progress, dynamism, and interconnectedness.

To comprehend the present, one must often look to the past. The Roman legions, epitomes of tellurocracy, clashed with the naval prowess of Carthage, the prime example of thalassocracy. This ancient confrontation was not just about territorial gains but about two disparate worldviews vying for dominance. Today’s America, with Trump’s vision of a fortified, sovereign nation, resists the Biden-led dream of a borderless global village. The stage may have changed, but the main ingredients of the struggle remain eerily reminiscent of bygone eras.

As America decides which direction to take, it is not just picking leaders or policies; it is choosing a worldview. The dichotomy between Trump and Biden is but a manifestation of this profound, almost cosmic, battle between the eternal forces of Land and Sea.

Similarly, one of the most popular memes in 2016 was that Donald Trump would “complete the system of German Idealism.” (Who can forget the confused crowd responding with outrage to the seemingly ridiculous claim, reacting like Pavlov’s Dog and linking the very word “German” to something Evil?) Yet Constantin von Hoffmeister presents a compelling case that Trump may actually do it.

The interwoven narrative of globalization has muddied the waters of national identity, making the task of patriotic alignment more daunting. Amidst this milieu, figures like Trump rise, advocating a form of patriotism closely matching the spirit of the nation. In accordance with Hegelian sentiments, Trump’s assertions like, “We will make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And we will make America great again,” are not merely slogans but a call to reconnect with the original realization of America, the synthesis of its historical World Spirit.

Trump’s “America First” doctrine is a robust response to the challenges posed by globalization. Instead of viewing it as a retreat into isolationism, one might see it as an assertion of America’s unique position in the World Spirit’s path along the timeline. This philosophy taps into the underlying pulse of a nation striving to re-anchor itself in its historical and spiritual essence, reminiscent of Hegel’s belief in the intrinsic link between the state and the realization of freedom.

(This essay alone is worth the price of the book.)

Esoteric means something occult, hidden, only available to the initiates. It’s the nature of a democracy that ideas must be dumbed down and slogans prepared for the lowest common denominator. However, though President Joe Biden and his Democrats are supposedly the party of the educated elite, their ideas are the tired bromides of the creaking postwar order. No one truly believes that progressivism has any answers when it comes to education, health care, crime, or housing. Meaningless words older than Joe Biden himself simply serve to paper over the status anxieties of the Democrats’ core constituencies of bourgeois strivers and their Third World pets.

Esoteric Trumpism, in contrast, gives us something far more profound. Think of the way images of Donald Trump in various guises (usually generated by AI prompts) spread wildly over social media—Trump as general, as conqueror, as athlete, as emperor, as explorer. Think of the wildly ambitious proposals that he is actually advocating, from America’s return to space to the Freedom Cities that could revitalize the country. Think even of the fears of the progressives—that Trump could herald the end to the exhausted liberal order. In Trump, we see possibilities outside the existing system and outside what we have been told we have the right to expect. Why we see these things in Trump is a separate question. Perhaps Trump doesn’t really deserve such hopes. Yet they have fastened on him and it is not via chance or desperation, but something akin to fate. To steal a phrase from Margaret Thatcher, though for a purpose I’m sure would horrify her, There Is No Alternative.

“There Is No Alternative”—Kirkpatrick On Von Hoffmeister’s ESOTERIC TRUMPISM (3)


So we enter an election cycle that could mean the life or death of the American Republic, and more importantly, the historic American nation. Contrary to what I would have expected a decade ago, we actually have a puncher’s chance to make a difference from the voting booth. Trump’s personality is big, but he represents something even bigger than that. We can see it in the reaction he generates from his supporters and detractors, even more than in anything he says or does. Unraveling the mystery of his charisma and meaning doesn’t require the perspective of an analyst or wonk, but a poet and a seer. With this book, Constantin von Hoffmeister has shown himself to be both.

You’ll need it for the year to come—and what may follow.

Make America Great Again.

“In honor of our great veterans on Veterans Day, we pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists, and radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country, lie, steal, and cheat on elections, and will do anything possible, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America and the American Dream. The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave than the threat from within. Despite the hatred and anger of the radical left lunatics who want to destroy our country, we will MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

— Donald J. Trump, 11 November 2023

“They let—I think the real number is 15, 16 million people into our country. When they do that, we got a lot of work to do. They’re poisoning the blood of our country. That’s what they’ve done. They poison mental institutions and prisons all over the world, not just in South America, not just to three or four countries that we think about, but all over the world. They’re coming into our country from Africa, from Asia, all over the world.”

— Donald J. Trump, 16 December 2023

James Kirkpatrick [Email him | Tweet him @VDAREJamesK] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc. His latest book is Conservatism Inc.: The Battle for the American Right. Read VDARE.com Editor Peter Brimelow‘s Preface here.

“There Is No Alternative”—Kirkpatrick On Von Hoffmeister’s ESOTERIC TRUMPISM (2024)


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