9.11.17

Contradiction on the right — Article by Tom X Hart

Radical Critique / LRER via Medium 

The neo-reactionaries, alt-right, and conservatives suffer from a contradiction.

The right cleaves to an innate and unchanging reality that undergirds all apparent changes in human affairs.

The nature of this reality is disputed across the right: the neo-reactionary may appeal to perennial tradition; the conservative may talk about Christian or Western civilization; the alt-right fanatic may talk about the white race; and the neo-Nazi may talk about the Aryan race.

What unites these views is the contention that human obedience to the demands of the underlying unchanging reality is a path to greatness.

This does not means that all will be well in human affairs if the underlying reality is heeded.

The underlying reality is often savage and cruel.

The right is not afraid of cruelty and savagery. It counterposes these bitter characteristics of the human condition with courage, valour, and sacrifice.

It is only savagery and cruelty that makes it possible to build values in opposition to chaotic forces.

These forces cannot be extirpated.

The rightist sees his society as deviating from reality.

Consequently, the rightist believes that his society is falling apart.

Everything is becoming worse. Children have become wastrels. Women have degenerated into whores. The borders are not protected, and the gods not honoured.

The temples resound to commerce, not prayer.

This degeneration has come about because society has deviated from reality. It has forgotten Christianity and the values of Western civilization. It has abandoned the traditions that sustain people. It has allowed racial corruption to enter its blood.

These propositions contain a contradiction. This contradiction applies whether the rightist is concerned with values, biology, or another metaphysical characteristic.

Each approach holds that there is an innate and fixed nature to society.

The convinced racialist believes that a society’s race composition will determine that society’s nature. The convinced Christian believes that a society’s degree of adherence to Christian mores determines that society’s nature. The priest of Western civilization holds that adherence to the values of the West determine that society’s nature.

The problem for all these variations is that if their society is degenerating away from values, biology, traditions, and religion then this very degeneration must be contained within the innate conditions that rightists defend.

The rightist does not believe it is possible to re-engineer societies. The rightist who accepts this proposition has moved to the left. He has accepted that it is possible to change fundamental human nature.

Rightists are aware of this contradiction, but they cannot meet it in daylight.
The far right, for example, frequently complains that white, Western, and Christian civilization is ‘soft’.

They want to see blood and iron return with a vengeance.

The problem that the far right (and the right more generally) cannot admit to themselves is that the ‘softness’ they complain about must, in line with their thought, be a fundamental component of a race, religion, nation, or tradition.

Therefore, the fact that Western countries are accepting large numbers of migrants from across the world – a trend bemoaned on the right – is because compassion and universalism are elements in the Western and Christian traditions.

Similarly, the predominance of the European empires, much admired on the right as symbols of past glory, would not have been possible without this universal impulse.

The Africans, Asians, and Native Americans were going to be saved for Christ.

It is not possible to imagine the European empires without this drive in Europeans.

This does not means that the empires were not also concerned with plunder or industry. Those are always present in human affairs.

But greed and cupidity are not great motivators.

Crossing an ocean, as Columbus did, requires an act of faith. It is not a faith in God as such, but it is a faith nonetheless.

Non-Christian civilizations were not so ambitious.

The Chinese, for example, are not great imperialists.

They are a practical civilization, even in Africa today their concern is for the deal.

They do not wish to make the Africans ‘Chinese’ in the way Europeans wished to make the Africans ‘Christian’.

This is why many African dictators enjoy dealing with the Chinese. There is no moral lesson with the deal.

There are, of course, other African leaders who would prefer the support that comes with some – far from all – European enterprises on the continent.

Similarly, the English, as a seafaring nation, are characterised by their cosmopolitanism. Their interest in trade, commerce, and exploration made them more amenable to interacting with multiple religions, races, and ethnicities from other civilizations.

The contemporary British conservative who bemoans Britain’s current multi-racial, multi-religious, and multi-cultural nature betrays, in a sense, his own alienation with his Englishness.
Indeed, only English people who tend to be fascinated with blood purity and national integrity are those enamoured with German civilization.

Those who proclaim a blood and soil English nationalism are thoroughly unEnglish.
They secretly despise the Englishman. They despise themselves, and wish themselves German or Italian.

These men are the counterparts to those on the left who worship Cuba and Venezuela.
They merely throw their patriotism onto other societies who they believe – falsely – to be stainless or purer than our own.

Orwell identified this instinct long ago.

There is nothing less English than the man who is obsessed with racial purity, denominational correctness, or parochialism.

The first half of the last century could, in a sense, be described as the struggle between Anglo-Saxon and Teutonic civilization.

The struggle came in two parts, known as the First and Second World Wars.

Anglo-Saxondom prevailed, with it came the values of cosmopolitanism, liberalism, global trade, finance, empiricism, materialism, exploration, and free movement on a global scale.
The Teutonic values of rootedness, abstract thought, local trade, protection of national values, and parochialism have all but vanished.

This is why, to this day, neo-fascists and neo-Nazis loath the English.

Often they dub the English ‘the eternal Anglo’ in their Internet discussions.

This is because, for them, the Englishman’s values are shared with the far right’s other obsession, the Jewish people.

The English and the Jewish people share the epithet ‘eternal’ in this demonology.

Neo-fascism and neo-Nazism are unlikely to ever play a significant role in British politics because these are manifestations of blood and soil conservatism that repudiate Englishness.

An English neo-fascist or neo-Nazi can only be an Italian or German patriot. Hence, their appeals to their countrymen will always fail.

Mussolini and Hitler embody wicked aspects of national psyches, but they were at least in contact with the national psyche. This gave them potency.

No English far-right leader can achieve the same feat. If he embodies the national psyche, he must embody the nation’s cosmopolitanism which is counterposed to a blood and soil appeal.

This why it is a mistake to characterise Nigel Farage and his United Kingdom Independence Party as ‘fascist’, as leftists sometimes do for rhetorical value.

Farage sincerely embodies the cosmopolitan and trading aspects of English identity. The idea of a close, small craftsman economy not supported by interest-run banking system would be anathema to him.

He would reject the ideal economic form of the far right.

He is for the small trader, of course, but his politics still orientate him internationally.

This means that his politics are separate in both belief and rhetoric from the continental far right tradition that worships blood and soil.

He is against leftist internationalism, but he is for cosmopolitan global trade. The continental far right, by contrast, stands against global trade and for the internationalism of race or blood.

The tradition of openness is as much a part of the West as any affection for rootedness.

Similarly, the Japanese, who blocked out foreign contact for centuries, remain to this day characteristically closed to foreigners. There are few immigrants in greying Japan, and the nation is well known for its casual racial bigotry.

The right may contend that there has been a corruption that can be turned back. But if the right believes that civilizations or societies can be corrected, this contradicts the very premise of the right that there is a hard, unchanging reality in human affairs.

They have, in fact, become leftists. They have admitted that the values and structures of societies are flexible, or at least contain enough flexibility that a single civilization can encompass liberal democracies, social democracies, city states, ethno-states, monarchies, and numerous other polities.

If a single bloc can include such diverse forms of government and societies, then we cannot take the right’s claim that there is an unchanging form of reality in human affairs too seriously.

This is one reason why those forms of right-wing thought that were the most activist – Nazism and fascism – closely resemble leftism.

Their vigorous action to change society in order to retain eternal verities was partly founded on a leftist conceit that societies can be reordered through political action.

Ultimately, the position of the rightist is tragic. He must watch what he most loves – whether nation, religion, tradition, ethnicity, or race – be destroyed by its own nature.

The ‘rightist’ who believes it is possible to stop this course has ceased to be on the right.

Odysseus ordered his shipmates to lash him to the mast to survive the call of the Sirens.

The rightist would be well advised to do the same, if they wish to avoid the temptation to contradict themselves and so fall to the left.

In this sense, the right is apolitical. It understands that what passes for the power play is the same as what happens in our own lives.

We are used up by our own inclinations. We cannot help be what we are.

And there is a good chance that we will eventually be destroyed by the traits that makes us what we are. Our strengths in one area merely mirror weaknesses in another.

The attempt to change is the most dangerous action.

This why the United States has no real rightist politics.

It never has done.

The US was founded on the principle that it is possible to change, improve, and begin again. Americans are born again in Christ, born again in social justice, or born again in…whatever reinvention America has developed this decade.

America, home of the self-help book.

You can change.

This belief is in itself quite novel in human history.

The French historian François Furet wrote of the totalitarian twins – the USSR and Nazi Germany – he should, perhaps, have written about the revolutionary quads: the USA, the USSR, the French Republic, and Nazi Germany.

Trump, reviled by some as a reactionary, is merely a revolutionary of another type. He wishes to take America’s revolutionary energy in a new direction.

His showmanship and boosterism are quintessentially American: he will sell you a new tomorrow.
But wasn’t Mr. Obama selling a new tomorrow nine years ago?

Ah, I have already forgotten all my tomorrows.

This is why there is no real theory of being on the right. It is not possible to have a theory or a program with regards to tragedy, but all real art – as opposed to cultural products made for propaganda purposes – is on the right.

To be on the right is to accept the tragedy that is called being human.

This is no contradiction.

It is the human condition.



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Tom X Hart is a writer based in London, UK. You can read and follow Tom X Hart on Medium.