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Liberalism’s Time is Up – Andersen

Liberalism’s Time is Up

By Joakim Andersen

 

A Review of Daniel Friberg’s The Real Right Returns: A Handbook for the True Opposition (London: Arktos, 2015).

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We live in interesting times, times in which the political and ideological consensus which has been dominant for more than 50 years is coming apart at the seams. During this period of transition, the liberalism of the Left appears not only incapable of solving the growing mass of problems, it is also obvious to ever more people that it has been part of creating them. The opposition has every reason to scent victory.

Even so, massive challenges await. To take but one example, what is our alternative to the crumbling system? Who are ‘we’? And, to quote a famous twentieth century revolutionary, ‘what is to be done?’ If these questions are not answered satisfactorily, we run the risk of passing up the historic opportunity that is now becoming visible with increasing clarity.

Daniel Friberg and the New Right

‘To constitute a metapolitical vanguard, and hence a vital part of the broader initiative to set Europe straight again: this is the primary mission of the Swedish New Right.’ — Daniel Friberg

Anyone ready to ask the right questions and answer them had better acquaint themselves with Daniel Friberg. For ten years, he has been one of the driving forces behind the Swedish think-tank Motpol, as well as the CEO of the publishing company Arktos Media. He has been essential to the emergence of the Swedish New Right, as well as a prime contributor to the worldview of the global Right through Arktos’ strategic translations of de Benoist, Faye, and Dugin, amongst others, into English. This suggests that in Friberg we have encountered a rare man with an unusual combination of strategic ability, vision, and political sensitivity. In other words, Friberg could be described as a skilled metapolitician. This should make it interesting to gain further insight into his views concerning history and the future. This insight is offered by the recent anthology The Real Right Returns.

Already in the title, Friberg hints at his choice of ‘we’, while also distancing himself from the current form of ‘Right wing’ politics. If the Real Right returns, then obviously Angela Merkel, Anna Kinberg Batra, and Nicolas Sarkozy do not belong to the Right. These politicians are Social Liberals motivated by class egoism, and for decades they and their ilk have been prone to adopt both americanised and radical Left-wing viewpoints. Such a ‘Right’ is not Friberg’s. The Right of which he speaks is rather the European one, especially the so-called ‘New Right’.

After the Second World War, the True Right of Europe faced a crisis. It was often viewed as being associated with the losing side, while two extra-European superpowers occupied Europe and shaped her societies in accordance with their own interests. Among the most interesting responses to this situation can be found in the New Right, an initiative begun by a group of French intellectuals to break the Left’s and the false Right’s grip on society. Leading among these thinkers was and is Alain de Benoist, but around him could be found other notable scholars and writers such as Guillaume Faye.

Metapolitics

‘Mass immigration, sexual liberalism, and many other negative political and cultural choices cannot be fully explained by the activities of the Left alone, but without the Frankfurt School and similar projects it is unlikely, if not inconceivable, that they would have taken the shapes they did.’ — Daniel Friberg

The New Right undertook a deep analysis of how it was that viewpoints and groups once seen as extreme and marginal could have achieved such a hold over European politics and culture. Among others, they turned to certain Leftist theoreticians, in particular the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci had developed useful theories concerning concepts such as how to secure power over the minds of the people, while diverging sharply from Marx and rather approaching Georges Sorel. Gramsci studied the role of the struggle of ideas in securing this power, also called the ‘positional warfare’ of cultural politics, and how to win it.

Gramsci developed a practical conceptual apparatus, utilising terms such as hegemony, organic intellectuals, and historical blocs. Partly inspired by him during their ‘long march through the institutions’ during the ’60s, the Left had usurped control of language, culture, the educational system, and the media over the course of the twentieth century. The aim of the New Right was to use the valuable insights of Gramsci to achieve something similar, but under another banner altogether. The New Right realised that successful politics presupposes metapolitical victories, meaning that one has already profoundly influenced what people believe to be right and true, which words they use, and how they identify themselves. Friberg describes metapolitics thusly:

‘Metapolitics can be defined as the process of disseminating and anchoring a particular set of cultural ideas, attitudes, and values in a society, which eventually leads to deeper political change. This work need not – and perhaps should not – be linked to a particular party or programme. The point is ultimately to redefine the conditions under which politics is conceived, which the European cultural Left pushed to its extreme.’

In The Real Right Returns, Friberg offers valuable insights and advice regarding metapolitics. Among other things, one needs a positive, conscious, and coherent alternative to the liberalism that has brought Europe to the brink of the abyss. Such an alternative is described in the book, which touches on topics such as society, Europe, gender roles, economics, and more.

Friberg does not use the strategy of Gramsci and the New Left as a straightforward blueprint. He has major differences of opinion with them, among which is their view of mankind. The Right’s view of man is marked by an ambition to always strive for improvement and to be true to one’s self. This means that ‘the personal is political’, and hence the book contains advice directed at male as well as female readers, with men being called upon to improve their physique and self-defence capabilities and to learn the gentlemanly virtues.

This all makes sense. Gramsci speaks of ‘organic intellectuals’, and of the value of intellectuals who act on behalf of the workers. For the Right, the mission is of a similar nature; we combine Gramsci with Vilfredo Pareto, who taught us that our primary task is the creation of an elite. For such an elite, Friberg’s perspective and advice are valuable, and the optimistic tone of the text as a whole may be even more so. No depressing defeatism and no belief that ‘all is lost’ can be found in The Real Right Returns. To Friberg, the future is ripe with possibilities, and the enemy is hardly worth taking seriously. He has analysed him, and drawn the conclusion that his time is up. This makes for many a poignant and entertaining turn of phrase, making the book a breath of fresh air.

Historical blocs

‘Revolutionary upheavals have wrought havoc on the European continent for over two hundred years. The insanity ends now. The reaction is coming, step by step, and we will follow Julius Evola’s recommendation to “cover our enemies with scorn, rather than chains”.’ — Daniel Friberg

A central term in Gramsci is historical bloc. He used it to designate an alliance of groups united by certain hegemonic ideas. One good example of this would be the historic Workers Movement of Sweden and other European countries, which is now dissolving since its members no longer view it as representing their interests. Our task today is nothing less than the creation of a similar (but better) historical bloc, which can lead the resistance to replace the current establishment, and thereafter lead Europe for a long time to come.

Gramsci viewed the historical bloc as an alliance of groups, and what Friberg offers in The Real Right Returns are mainly suggestions of the type of ideas that could permeate such an alliance. He outlines how we ended up in today’s crisis, describing the metapolitics of the ‘Left’ during the twentieth century, as well as even more fundamental cultural reasons for its success. Friberg’s description is unusually accurate, and should be acceptable to a broadly-defined Right. The same could be said for the alternative he presents under the heading ‘Points of Orientation’. This alternative differs from both socialism, with its focus on class, and liberalism, with its focus on the individual. Friberg is conscious of the importance and value of things such as culture, identity, and ethnicity.

A historical bloc of the Right would be wise to be guided by the clever French axiom Pas d’Ennemis à Droite, ‘no enemies on the Right’. Discussions and criticism is natural, and can be challenging in a positive way and part of relationships within the Right, but such disagreements are or should be something completely different from simple enmity or hostility.

I suspect that the utilisation of the word Right will be a cause for some controversy. Is this not a term that excludes, among others, the sensible Left that still exists? In terms of the history of ideas, however, the word ‘Right’ is certainly the correct designation for those such as Friberg. Furthermore, it is also a moniker all but abandoned by bourgeois conservatives, and it is virtually just sitting there, waiting to be adopted. With a clear definition of who you are and what you want, you have better chances of collaborating with others. Even so, within the Real Right one can also find strains of thought that are comparable to the organic solidarity of certain types of socialism; many early anti-capitalists were conservative.

The mainstream ‘Left’ of today has failed fatally insofar as its goal was another economic system, or even in terms of an understanding of contemporary history. Friberg writes:

‘Despite its firm grip on the public debate in Sweden (for example), in practice the Left achieves little more than to fill the role of global capitalism’s court jester. Despite this, it continues to succeed in its other main goal, which has been to prevent Europe’s native populations from defending themselves against a political project that undermines their right to political self-determination. Toward this end, sentimentality was substituted for Marxist historical analysis.’

Those among the Left who share this assessment, and I know they exist, should consider whether the Real Right might not be a better partner for collaboration than either the ‘Left’ or the ‘Right’.

In conclusion, this is a valuable and very readable book. Friberg describes the background that put us here, in an unprecedented cultural, demographic, and existential crisis for Europe and her peoples. But he does not collapse into defeatism or pessimism, but states with a duly substantiated optimism that ‘the success of our ideas is not just possible. It is certain’.

Friberg also outlines the positive alternative and the worldview which should guide the struggle against the decaying system which dominated the twentieth century. He gives practical advice for male and female readers alike, as well as for anyone victimised by the death-throes of a dying monopoly of opinion-mongers (the media scaffolding of the dissidents).

Perhaps the discussion of metapolitics is the most valuable aspect of the book. In metapolitics, what Sloterdijk calls the politics of language is a central part. A small word such as ‘racism’ can make informed debate on issues such as immigration impossible (which, of course, was always the purpose of its introduction). We must also wage the war of language, and to this end the book contains a metapolitical dictionary in which Friberg defines useful terms such as ‘the right to difference’, ‘White flight’, ‘egalitarianism’, ‘ethnomasochism’, and ‘identity’.

In brief, this is a book to be recommended.

 

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Andersen, Joakim. “Liberalism’s Time is Up.” RightOn, 3 November 2015. < https://www.righton.net/2015/11/03/liberalisms-time-is-up/ >.

 

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You Say You Want a Revolution? – Solère

You Say You Want a Revolution?

Transcript of the Radix Podcast Interview with Fenek Solère by Richard Spencer

 

Introduction: Fenek Solere joins Richard Spencer to discuss his novel, The Partisan, the tradition of violent partisanship in Europe, the social conditions that incite and suppress revolution, and the evolution of the American and European Alternative Right.

RS: Well, Fenek Solere, welcome to the podcast, it’s a pleasure to have you on.

FS: It’s a delight, Richard, thank you for having me.

RS: Well let’s talk about your new novel, indeed, your debut novel, The Partisan and I think first, what we should do, is give a summary of it, a taste of what the novel’s about and what sparked you to write it?

FS: Yes, certainly. I started writing the novel four or five years ago. It was by observing what was going on in France at that time and particularly Paris. I was very strongly of the opinion that France, for a whole range of reasons, both historical and intellectual would be a touchstone, a litmus paper for what was going to be, if I can use the expression, the Clash of Civilizations, especially in Europe because of mass immigration and things of this nature. Essentially the novel is a forward view, it’s a vision of a future five to seven years hence, very unlike the one Michel Houellebecq predicts, which is one of submission. This is one of No Submission. The situation is that France is being submerged into a wider Eurabic state, including most of Southern Italy and there are very strong Islamic political, cultural and military influences reaching across the Mediterranean into Europe. Just like the very big migrations we already see but now with wider implications. So, as well as the current demographic dynamic, it is predicting what is occurring as defining Europe’s future and I set this against the theatre which is Paris and France in general.

RS: Talk a little bit more about why you chose France as the setting because as I was reading the novel that was a very distinct aspect of it. The bohemian life in France, certainly with regard to the main character, La Pertoleuse, is a very dominant feature. So why France? You are, we can tell by your accent, from Britain, right?

FS: Well France for me seemed a natural choice. It is a focal point for the New Right, the very start of the intellectual movement that blossomed into Identitarianism. I was very much aware of the work, writings and opinions of de Benoist and Guillaume Faye, and please remember I was writing at a time before Generation Identitaire broke onto the scene at Poitiers, so my text was in some ways pre-empting those brave and very symbolic actions. So the whole Metapolitics around the Gramscian notion of the war of position and how the New Right had been re-positioning itself informed The Partisan. I see it as a pivotal novel, so the stage-set of Paris and culture-rich France is quite good in that regard. I wanted that juxtaposition of the self-styled 68’ers intellectual Bohemian France coming face to face with the realities of the other, they have for so long eulogized. A very different culture, that of Islam and in the novel we see them beat against each other quite violently and viciously. So I think it’s about the War of Position, understanding the whole notion of France as representing Europe, a very identifiable Europe, with a large and extended back history and an identity worth preserving and celebrating.

RS: And it’s also a place of revolution and obviously there’s the French Revolution but that in a way is only the beginning. It’s perceived as a place of left wing revolution and right wing partisanship of a type we don’t see in the US, at least not in the form it’s taken at the time of Charles De Gaulle for example, or indeed other leaders of France. So I agree, France is the perfect setting for a novel of partisanship. Why don’t we, before we start talking about the philosophical issues you raise with your novel, talk about the three main characters, Sabine, who is of course La Petroleuse, Luc and the man Costello who is chasing them.

FS: Yes, indeed, I wanted to inject some film noir elements into the story. So Sabine is a very determined, very individual female, and deliberately so. I’m trying to challenge any sort of residual misogyny amongst the Alternative Right. She is a complex character, indeed, a rebellious character, a licentious character but ironically with both loose and strict morals. I think there’s a nice tension there. And she’s also a woman who knows her mind and a woman who has suffered and indeed suffers during the course of the novel. But she overcomes these obstacles, ultimately becoming a significant icon among the traditional forces of France, the alternative resistance. In fact, she emerges as a central figure for them, becoming their poster-girl, and that is emphasized at the opening of the story with her taking very direct action against those collaborating with the transition to the Eurabic state. So she’s an evolving character. She acquires knowledge during the course of the novel, arriving in Paris as a blank sheet of paper in on sense, and that’s where Luc comes in, the male love interest, because he is already steeped in these traditions. He’s precociously well read, familiar with Herman Hesse at the age of twelve or thirteen, before moving onto much more political material, which in the novel he makes available to Sabine and she becomes intellectually empowered. It is the growth of both these characters as the storyline unfolds which is quite important. It’s a part of the love interest, it is part of the human story and also an ideological gateway for the reader too, because they are taken through various stages of radical development, to the point where they are in total sympathy with the main protagonists.

RS: What was it like for you to come to these views? Was your experience like Sabine’s or very much different?

FS: My arrival at these ideas, or this way of thinking, was instinctive. I come from a small provincial town. There was a homogenous demographic, so my rebellion was against the socialist milieu that dominated the town. Those that used the platitudes of egalitarianism to hide their own nepotism, corruption and self-advancement. So I came to my opinions through a philosophical antagonism to the lie of what I witnessed with my own eyes, in what we describe in Britain as a Labour ‘rotten borough’. So that is how I came to be a nationalist and patriot, rather than through the more edgy racial dimension. The problems of multiculturalism were not something I was exposed to as a child.

RS: I think there’s a certain personality type that seek these ideas out even before we have them ourselves. When I was a college undergraduate I was not racially conscious in the sense of thinking about these things, as part of a world-view, I mean. I was racially unconscious like millions of other white people. I was seeking out the edgy ideas, the one’s that seemed to strike at the heart of the system and many of those were Marxism and Critical Theory for example, and also Nietzsche and German idealists thinkers, but I was actively trying to seek them out. I was asking myself, what is the problem deep at the heart of reality that bothers me and I think that was my journey. So I was racially unconscious and then obviously became racially conscious. But I don’t in a way think race is the most important thing. It is obviously an indispensable factor, an extremely important one, but I think there has to be a spirit behind that, that you want something more, you want a deeper, more intense experience, you seek danger, you seek a heightened world, something that is different to bourgeois reality. I think that is how I would kind of describe a person who may become a partisan. I’m not a partisan of course, I just type blogs and do podcasts.

FS: Yes, you are a cultural partisan. But I recognize what you are saying. For me it was the excitement, that edginess of being a teenager, acting out, saying and doing outrageous things to get noticed, but before long I was getting exposed to some really good reading material like Michael Walker’s The Scorpion, which in turn introduced me to Nietzsche and before long I was reading de Benoist, well not in the original French of course, but the English translations of parts of his work. Then it was Conservative Revolutionaries like Carl Schmitt, Ernst Junger, Martin Heidegger, Edgar Julius Jung, Ludwig Klages, Arthur Moeller Van den Bruck, Ernst Niekisch and Ernst von Salomon. That group even included Thomas Mann, author of The Magic Mountain, until he distanced himself from them in the 1920’s.

Over time I got the sense of the transnationalism of de Benoist’s thinking. So I was becoming familiar with people like Marco Tarchi, an Italian professor of political science at the University of Florence and creator of Nuova Destra along with former members of the Nouvelle Ecole like Robert Stuekers from Belgium, Marcel Ruter from Holland and the Croatian Dr. Tomislav Sunic and some of the great pieces he’s written, particularly Against Democracy & Equality (2008) and Homo Americanus (2007). At the moment I’m enjoying Alexander Dugin’s Eurasian Mission: An Introduction to Neo-Eurasianism (2015) and I know you are very familiar with his work and are very supportive of him, having published his Martin Heidegger: The Philosophy of Another Beginning (2014). So this has been a long journey, starting with that hormonal teenager I spoke of but then I think it grew in me and became far more consolidated, grounded not only in theory and philosophy but also in lived-experience.

But to go back to Costello, he is a modern day Inspector Javert from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables (1862) and the whole idea of having a character like that was to have him ask himself questions. He’s on the edge all the time. He has a task to hunt La Petroleuse down. He’s a specialist, part M16 and part Special Air Services, but all the time he’s conflicted, reflecting on his own experiences in recent international conflicts but also from his family history. But I don’t want to give away too much of the plot…’

RS: Yes, you can tell because you put thoughts in his head and you can tell he’s not sure what he’s doing. He’s a sort of instrument of the state. I think, when he’s first introduced someone says, ‘Oh, we have this person from England, like who is it, James Bond. Oh, no, it’s even better! But he is a type of James Bond. He’s an instrument of the state and he isn’t sure what he’s doing and he becomes a kind of reluctant hunter and he’s obviously physically attracted to Sabine as well so it gets quite interesting.

FS: That was a plot-device. I wanted to challenge the reader and make it very clear this was not a simple case of the goodies versus baddies, black and white, the white hat and the black hat from the westerns, but there was an in-between. This novel is attempting to get to those people who are ‘in-between’ . Trying to excite and entice them into Sabine’s world and that sub-plot is part of that mechanism. I also think, if you look at the early phases of the novel, I deliberately refer back to the Algerian crisis, introducing the notion of the Organisation de l’armee secrete (OAS) and the experience of the French Pieds- Noirs and that was significant because I wanted the back-drop to be very clear. Once France had been in Algeria, Algerie-Francais, and now Algeria has come to France. And I think that is quite an important theme of the novel. What we are witnessing today is the transference of the battle ground from Oran to metropolitan France. And if you know anything about that particular period in history, you’ll be aware that something like 3,500 French Settlers were killed in July 1962 alone by rogue elements of the Algerian liberation Front (FLN) and local auxiliaries there. So the backdrop is one of extreme and very recent historical disaster and tragedy.

RS: Oh yes, it is like the late 60’s when France moved from being an Imperial power and then there was the crisis involving De Gaulle. Many people united to revive the old empire, keep it going, and it seems like when that turning was crossed, it’s like the empire comes home, the chickens come home to roost. I don’t think all racial clashes are driven from Imperialism but it is definitely an important aspect to it all.

FS: It is. And of course it humanizes the main Arabic character in The Partisan, because it gives him a justification for his very strong and very bitter feelings towards France and that drive for revenge. But not just for revenge’s sake. He has ideals himself. He has good intensions for his vested interest group and I think that emerges as the story unfolds. A bit-like the Resistance, and I deliberately used that specific word Resistance because I love that ‘spin’. I think in one sense it’s superficial and facile but it is also very important point to make at this moment in time because France is indeed being occupied. And we are the opposition to the mainstream which is going along with this process, the Great Replacement, that Renaud Camus speaks about.

RS: Oh, yes, we’re the New Left

FS: Exactly, I couldn’t agree more.

RS: No, I think that is absolutely true. One question that came up earlier when we were talking was how would you understand the psychology of this new type of European leader. And what I mean by that is, this new type of non-European leader, and he or she may be a Muslim or maybe not? But at the moment we still live under white hegemony effectively. Barak Obama may be a wild card but basically the heads of state are white men and women. And you can call them multiculturalists or white guilt mongers or whatever but they are basically mostly well-educated and upper crust. White people are trying to ride the tiger of multiculturalism, either way using it for their advantage. In some cases they are being elected by their constituencies, like this Miliband figure, the leader of the Labour Party in Britain. Maybe he’s the ultimate expression of theirs, but you can see this, even in as someone a boring as Angela Merkel. But there’s going to be a change and I don’t think Obama’s a representative of this, because I think Obama is a lot less radical than people think and a lot more mainstream, but at some point there is going to be a new kind of leader. It is not going to be the ‘squidgy’ liberal white person, it’s going to be an actual Asian, an actual Muslim and he’s going to be a PM or President of France and Britain. How do you describe that psychology ? Do you think this will be a tension between adopting the system, becoming part of the system, a tension between conquering the old imperial power and revenge. A tension between some kind of racial hand-outs to his people. How would you estimate the psychology of this new European leader who I think we will inevitably see in the next decade?

FS: I think you’re right, that is coming. I think it is going to be by means of a creeping gradualism and as you have indicated it is going to be very interesting how it is played out. There will be continued attempts at assimilation. The rise of the people you are predicting will be from within the system. They are going to beneficiaries of the system. They are going to milk the system for all it is worth, patronage, prestige and pay-cheques. They do not want to change the system outright, just yet. These will be highly educated individuals who will have their own immediate vested interests and those of their intimate family and group close to their hearts. So I think there will be a long transition phase only speeding up and becoming more perceptible when their control on the leavers of power are so far advanced that they can risk allowing any wild outbreaks of disorder or any really extreme behaviours to occur. So their plan is for us to have quite a slow poisonous death. Ed Miliband is certainly a very good example. A treacherous individual. I have met his brother David and I was even less impressed with him. And that was the man Ed beat to be the leader of the Labour Party. Hollande in France is the best example though. There we have the personification of utter banality. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was like there was a vacuum walking ahead of all those heads of state after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. He really is vapid, there is no substance at all. The interesting thing there though is because of his lack of charisma the door is left open for the resurgent Sarkozy challenge. And Sarkozy is a really dubious character, mired of course in corruption. And I think he’s the doorman for the new leader that you are describing because in my opinion, Sarkozy is not French. So Sarkozy really is like Thatcher was in the UK, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I suggest you take a second look at so-called white hegemony and the white leadership of these countries. I think you need to look a little below the surface. You need to look at the backgrounds of some of these people, who underwrites their campaigns, who funds theses parties. Look at the technocrats and ministers who surround them. In my interview on the Wermod & Wermod website with Alex Kurtagic I very quickly listed a whole range of people who were not remotely British and who do not represent the best interests of the indigenous community but who dominate the important decision-making positions throughout the country. And not just recently but for the last 5 to 8 years and the last 2 or 3 regimes. France is exactly the same. So the door is already open, they are setting the stage for this transition and it is going to be gradual. It will be like Alex Kurtagic said in one of his speeches about The Collapse, It’s already started and it will go on for some time and in my opinion we won’t know of its completion until Robert Mugabe is installed in Buckingham Palace.

RS: What do you think are some of the forces that might improve partisanship and what are some of the ways the forces that might retard or suppress it? And what I mean by that partisanship, is as Carl Schmitt defined it. A violent action, someone taking on the authority of the state or against the state’s interest. So what do you think are some of the forces that might inspire actions like that and what might prevent it?

FS: I think some of those actions are already occurring in many ways and have occurred over a period of time. Let’s look at the Radical Left, easy examples are the Red Army Faction with characters like Gudrun Ensslin and Ulrike Meinhoff. There are movies made about them, they are glamorized in features like The Baader Meinhoff Complex, where you have chic actresses like Martina Gedek and Joana Wokalek representing really quite plain and quite moribund characters in some ways. Now, flick the switch, look at the right, you’ve got very attractive dynamic characters like Francesca Mambro , of the Italian Armed Revolutionary Nuclei (NAR) and you’ve got Yevgenia Khasis in Russia going through a controversial re-trial for her involvement in a political assassination. See for yourself the very different approaches to both these situations and bringing it back to my novel The Partisan and the lead female figure I contend is all about inspiration, it’s all about people coming across a personal circumstance or feeling inspired by characters taking action and following them and conducting activities that will challenge the state. I cited the examples I did because I think they have been put through the movie mill of the left and been overlooked on the right, except that is for Mambro. She was represented in quite a negative way in a recent movie when it concentrated on one of the victims, a bystander who got tragically shot, and I do not want to diminish that, but it was an interesting comparison on how the left and right are represented. So certainly what we need is leadership, glamour, excitement. We also need the spark that creates those activities and we have seen it in the riots across Europe.

What is holding us back, the flip-side of your question, it is obvious to me, Aldous Huxley’s soma. We do have an awful lot of apathy and just in time pleasure that keeps us off the streets . And in many ways that is a good thing but what I would like to say Richard, is that clearly I’ m not advocating violence, that is not what this is about, this is a warning against violence but what I am saying is that violence is going to be inevitable unless we can stop this demographic juggernaut before it reaches the tipping-point. After that, the game is up, we will be living on the movie set of Apocalypse Now. So, for me, it goes back to leadership. Today, in the Western World we have the most stupid at best or the most treacherous self-serving leaders, there is no positive dynamic. The 68’ers and their philosophers have dissipated. The right has filled the gap but the right are being stifled as well. UKIP in Britain, Sarkozy in France, look at your own country, I cannot tell the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats anymore and if our friend Ms. Clinton gets elected to the highest office, that will be the greatest example of the most stifling influence in American politics. So there is a whole strain of soma running through society and we need something to light a fire.

RS: I agree, that soma is not just among political rightists, its among everyone. I was shocked by the fact that there weren’t serious riots occurring after the Trayvon Martin case and there weren’t violent riots after the Ferguson situation. There is still things going on there but they’ve died down. I was kind of thinking why isn’t this happening. It could be simple things like instead of rioting you can watch free streaming pornography on your government sponsored smartphone. Then there’s obesity, a product of our post-modern, post-industrial world and the availability of junk food. And you know it seems post-modern civilization might really go with a whimper and not a bang. It may be able to dull partisanship, but a riot, which is a different thing? But it might be able to dull those things too and absorb them into itself.

FS: Yes, it’s like T.S. Elliot said in The Hollow Men ‘Not with a bang but whimper’. I think that’s a deliberate policy of the system. You talk about obesity, but there’s mental obesity, mental retardation, we’re not exposed to the same texts or they are difficult to get to. The Left has dissipated. In many ways the Left is so mutated, it is not recognizable from when I was a boy. I think de Benoist said: ‘What’s left of the new Left, possibly the New Right?’ and I quite like the way he played that. I think it’s a cheeky way of doing it, it’s a challenging way and if you think of the synthesis the New Right developed, certainly in the 80’s, what you’ve got there is a very interesting challenge to the Left and de Benoist filled that space and I rather admire his tactic.

RS: I agree. I think the Left is a victim of its own success. I mean the Left is the establishment. You can’t claim to be challenging the system when you have an academic post, or you’re in charge of this literary theory of feminism Department at Harvard. And that is one way the system has absorbed political partisanship. I would say most partnership has come from the Left, or is it has historically and the system has been able to absorb that and I think that is an interesting thing and it may not exactly be by design but is certainly a way the system can maintain stability.

FS: I think that’s not necessarily expressed in the text of this novel but what the story does do is work towards the de-legitimization of those basic tenets of Judeo-Christian tradition that prevents us from defending ourselves and it takes on the de-humanizing quality of global capitalism where we become mere units of production, spending and buying. Of course it deals with questions of ethnic homogeneity, but it’s not the only dimension, despite the Arabic and Muslim versus the secular or Christian world, and there’s this feeling as well of being liberated. Liberated from the excesses of modernity. Which is what you were just talking about. For me, mitigating as many of the more negative features of modernity is central. I am by nature an optimist and I consider myself to be progressive and successful in terms of my career and profession. So it is not that modernity is holding me back or I’m threatened by it. I’ve mastered it but I feel the fulfillment that I want modernity to offer me is a mirage. So the sort of vanguard you are describing will start with a small cadre of the committed, people like yourself in the States, Generation Identitaire in France, The Immortals in Germany, National Action and Sigurd Legion in the United Kingdom. I’m being up-beat but I can see these elements developing into something bigger. Well, I would hope they develop and I think they can with the right leadership.

RS: Do you think this will develop on the vanguard right, of our type of right? You mentioned the lack of legitimate antagonism to the system offered by the Christian Tradition. It’s almost as if the Christian traditionalists does not want to undermine but indeed underpins the system and supports it. Do you see it that way? Is it going to be a vanguard revolt? It’s not going to be a mainstream middle-class who will rise up, it’s going to be people on the margins who are hated, who are a-social. There’s a great quote that you have, where Luc says something to Sabine, like, It’s the bohemian, it’s the vanguardist, it’s the a-social person who is truly sane. I think that’s where partisanship or some kind of riot or social revolution, of whatever form will come. Maybe it is violent or maybe non-violent but nevertheless, a revolution, which truly does change the world, changes society, in a way that Ghandi, Martin Luther King and more violent figures changed society. That will come from the vanguard on the fringe.

FS: Yes, and that is why this novel is written in the way it is. It is very much aimed at that vanguard. It does not believe as the author does not believe that the moribund right, the Christian American Right will generate something which is fresh and unique, and that is what is required at this moment. But there is an irony in what I have just said because if you use France as an example, and if you look back over the great thinkers and writers who have supported the Right, many came from strong catholic backgrounds. So it is quite interesting that de Maistre, De Bonald, and people like Drieux la Rochelle, Henry de Motherlant were very strong in their faith. However in the post-modern world we cannot rely on a Charles Martel emerging from the Christian Right. They have been co-opted. The catalyst for what we are seeking will indeed be ‘other’ and I think we’ve already seen some of that vanguard act in a non- violent but very demonstrative way. The take over the mosque in Poitiers by Generation Identitaire and the siege of the Socialist headquarters were fantastic visceral images conveying strong messages and those sort of ‘happenings’ , the 68 generation attitude, I can see beginning to mount. And if you look at the youth of Europe, increasingly they are moving in our direction. So the novel is all about attracting them. It’s deliberately written in an explosive exciting way, that’s to bring the audience to the theory, the philosophy, bring them to the books that will influence them. It’s the ‘attractor’, the same as the love story element. We are not going to get to these young people by handing out thousands of copies of Francis Parker Yockey’s Imperium. A great piece of thinking, a brilliantly articulated neo-Spenglerian piece, but we’re simply not going to get a vanguard out on the street with that. We need to turn people on as Kai Murros says, we need to switch people on. Look this is a debut novel, I’m learning the craft, Richard, this is a very early piece. An attempt to draw that audience to us through literature and there’s some very good pieces of literature out there already. So this is just one contribution.

RS: I quite like Alex Kurtagic’s Mister. It’s quite a long novel. You’ve got to really get into the world of his work. But it is funny and it’s a non-revolutionary in a way. Very different from yours. Though they are published by the same publishing company, their nice counter-parts but in a way the image of the bourgeois man who is very intelligent and recognizing what is going on but in Mister someone who doesn’t revolt. Someone who finds another way of coasting along, going with the flow, not challenging the zeitgeist. I think there may be another genre of literature arising out of this. The revolt and collapse at the end of history.

FS: And there’s some really good writers out there as well. You publish them through your National Policy Institute outlet and Arktos have got some great theoretical texts. I regularly read their books and I’ve been in e-mail exchange with John Morgan since right back to the time when he was running Integral Traditions about six or seven years ago. So I very much agree with you. Alex is a great guy. He makes some great speeches. I know you have shared a platform with him. He was a very deserving winner of the inaugural Jonathon Bowden Oratory Prize and we haven’t touched on Bowden in our conversation but I know you are a great admirer of his intellect and his oratory, as was I, and like you I was turned on by that. It really stimulated and fascinated me. He is/was a great weapon in our armory. Works like The Partisan are aimed at a younger, but not just a young, but a youthful audience. A different audience. It’s a gateway to theory as I previously said in my interview at Wermod & Wermod. It is very much a piece to bring people to our milieu, to excite them. It is the first of many I have to say. I’m being very creative at the moment and I’m very excited about what’s going on and what you are doing at Radix. I’ll try very hard to come to your next conference. I couldn’t come along to Budapest because of other commitments but I’d like to come along to the next. I know you’ve got some great speakers and a mystery speaker as well, so I’ll look forward to the opportunity of being exposed to such talented intellects.

RS: That would be great. I don’t want to give it away but let’s just say the mystery speaker just happens to be from Texas and he’s running for President. Oh, I’m just kidding, Ted Cruz…

FS: I don’t think he’ll be turning up…

RS: May be we should invite him? He might come. Maybe we can get an invitation through some dumb staffer who would book him. That would be hilarious…

FS: But the speakers you have got are phenomenal and the one person I haven’t paid tribute to but is a giant is of course Jared Taylor. I know you’ve come over to Europe and you’ve done The Traditional Britain Group meetings and I think that is really good because except for The Scorpion which is now inert and unfortunately Bowden’s passing we don’t have the same intellectual tradition that the French have, another reason why I set The Partisan in France.

RS: Well, I think that is changing. And I’m not saying that to seem arrogant, oh, no we’re not out to challenge de Benoist and Guillaume Faye. But I think that is changing because for so long the American Right was intellectually so dominated by the Buckleyite conservative movement and so you had people like Russell Kirk, who I am not a great admirer of to be honest, but he’s an interesting guy, but these guys just ignored Europe in general, despite Kirk’s protestations otherwise. But they also had no contact and no awareness of developments like the French New Right and so we were just, well impoverished. I can remember when I was first just starting to enter this world in 2002/2003 I would find some translations of de Benoist on an Australian website in HTML format…

FS: That sounds familiar…

RS: And that was the only way. And I would try to buy copies of Telos which is actually a very interesting Left Wing/Right Wing journal, just so, because you know these were a lot like Radix is now. But they would come out when they were ready but you would buy these just to get a little taste of what was going on in Europe. We were really struggling back then but I think if you are looking at what’s happening, whether it’s the stuff I’m involved with or John Morgan’s doing we’re finally moving in the right direction and we’re finally shaking things up, getting rid of that conservative paradigm and moving things on. And I think we’re at an interesting point where we’re not in competition with all these groups, we’re synthesizing things and I think it’s very exciting.

FS: I agree, I feel that excitement as well. I referred earlier to that transmission of the New Right, it’s now travelled, It’s in fact transcontinental, not just because of the global village but because there are great and admirable thinkers of the Right perspective at the moment, people like the Australian Kerry Bolton. Sam Francis, who you often refer to in your podcasts and in your writing provided some great thoughts and expositions. Then there was your own Alt-Right site too. So we are becoming less and less dependent upon what was big in 1979/80. These were really big stepping stones and now with the superb articles on Greg Johnson’s Counter Currents and his own book New Right/Old Right things are motoring. Greg’s text by the way is sitting on my shelf right next to your own Dugin book on Heidegger that I referred to earlier .

RS: Those two books are at war with each other, perhaps?

FS: But nice to have on the shelf and hopefully some of this will find its way into some literature I produce in the future and give it some gravitas. So, yes, you’re right, I feel that excitement and like I said in an e-mail I sent you some four years ago, where I said when you were really active on the Alternative Right website, ‘you’ve definitely hit your stride here’, we’ve certainly got something going. You’ve got a lovely piece on the website at the moment about those Russians visiting the States and I think that’s a really clever piece. I’ve spent a lot of time in Russia. I speak some Russian and I am familiar with our milieu there.

RS: Excellent, well Fenek, let’s just put a book mark in this conversation. This was a lot of fun and I hope you can come back. And I was definitely stimulated by reading The Partisan. I enjoyed it and I think if anyone is listening they should at the very least give your book a shot. I think they will definitely find a lot of food for thought there, so I definitely recommend it. And this was a lot of fun, so thanks for coming on and let’s do it again.

FS: That would be great Richard. Thank you, goodbye.

 

—————–

Solère, Fenek. “You Say You Want a Revolution?” Interview with Fenek Solère by Richard Spencer. Radix, 20 May 2015. < http://www.radixjournal.com/vanguard-radio/2015/5/20/you-say-you-want-a-revolution&gt;. Transcript provided for the New European Conservative by Fenek Solère personally.

 

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The Sole “Anti-Fascist” Thought – Benoist

The Sole “Anti-Fascist” Thought

By Alain de Benoist

Translated from the Spanish by Lucian Tudor

 

Translator’s Note: The present article is a translation of “El pensamiento único ‘antifascista’” (originally published at El Manifesto, 9 February 2015). The Spanish version was a translation of an excerpt from the French “Les méthodes de la Nouvelle Inquisition” (“The Methods of the New Inquisition”), a speech delivered at a colloquium organized by GRECE in November, 1997. The French version was later republished as “Pensée unique, nouvelles censures” in Alain de Benoist’s book Critiques – Théoriques (Lausanne & Paris: L’Age d’Homme, 2003).

The term “pensée unique” in French or “pensamiento único” in Spanish, which is translated here as “sole thought” and “single thought,” is difficult to render in English without losing its original meaning. In French, Italian, and Spanish it refers to a form of thought which has been made obligatory or compulsory for everyone in society; so it is asserted to be the “sole thought” which is allowed.

***

Some time ago Jean-François Revel has spoken of “devotion” to qualify the opinion about an idea solely in terms of its conformity or its power of attraction in respect to a dominant ideology. We could add that devotion represents the zero degree of analysis and understanding. It is precisely because devotion dominates that today ideas which are denounced are not refuted, but rather that it suffices to declare them inconvenient or unbearable. Moral condemnation is exempt from an analysis of the hypotheses or of the principles under the prism of truth and falsehood. Now there are no just or false ideas, but rather appropriate ideas, in sync with the spirit of our time, and ideas which do not conform are denounced as intolerable.

This attitude appears even more reinforced by the strategic obsessions of the actors of the “right thought.” It matters little in this sphere whether an idea is just or false: what is important is to know which strategy it can serve, who draws upon it and with what purpose. A book can thus be denounced, even though its content corresponds with reality, with the only excuse that it runs the risk of converting ideas considered intolerable into “acceptable” ones or of favoring those which one wants to silence. It is the new version of the old slogan, “do not cause Billancourt to despair!” [Translator’s note: This is the exclamation with which Sartre hoped that he had camouflaged the truth, lest the workers of Renault of Billancourt would despair and falter in their revolutionary fervor]. Needless to say that with this approach, the place where we express ourselves is more relevant than that which we go to speak: There are admitted places and “unrecommended” places. All criticism presents itself, therefore, as an attempt for disqualification that is obtained by resorting to words that, in place of describing a reality, function like others as so many signs or operators for maximum delegitimization. Our singular strategists thus betray their own mental system, which only attributes value to ideas to the extent that they can be manipulated.

In the past, this work of delegitimization was carried out to the detriment of the families of more diverse thought – we think, for example, about the grotesque campaigns in the times of McCarthyism. But currently it is being done, without doubt, in a single direction. It has to do with crossing out as illegitimate all thought, all theory, all intellectual construction that contradicts the philosophy of the Enlightenment which, with all the shades that one wants, constitutes the support on which current societies are legitimized. For that, politically correct thought essentially resorts to two impostures: anti-racism and anti-fascism. We will say a few words regarding these two.

Racism is an ideology which postulates the inequality between races or which attempts to explain the whole history of humanity based solely upon the racial factor. This ideology has practically no defense nowadays, but we pretend to think that it is omnipresent, assimilating to it xenophobia, attitudes of rejection or distrust in respect to the Other, and even to a simple preference for endogamy and homofiliation. “Racism” is presented as the emblematic category of residual irrationalism, rooted in superstition and prejudice, that which would impede the emergence of a society which is transparent before itself. This criticism of “racism” as fundamental irrationality simply and plainly recycles the liberal fairytale of a pre-rational world which is the source of all social evils, as was demonstrated now more than half a century ago by Adorno and Horkheimer in saying that it reflects the ineptitude of modernity to face the Other, that is, difference and uniqueness.

Denouncing “racism” as a pure irrationality, that is, as a non-negotiable category, the New Class betrays at the same time its distance in respect to reality, but also contributes to the neutralization and the depoliticization of social problems. In effect, if “racism” is essentially a “madness” or a “criminal opinion,” then the battle against racism has much to do with courts and psychiatrists, but, however, it now has nothing to do with politics. This allows the New Class to forget that racism itself is an ideology resulting from modernity by the threefold bias of social evolutionism, scientistic positivism, and the theory of progress.

“Anti-fascism” is a completely obsolete category to the same extent as is “fascism,” to which it intends to oppose itself. The word is today a catchall term without any precise content. It is an elastic concept, applicable to anything, employed without the least descriptive rigor, which ends up being declined into “fascistic” and even into “fascistoid,” which allows itself to be adapted to all cases. Leo Strauss has already spoken of Reductio ad Hitlerum to qualify this purely polemical form of discrediting. The manner in which, nowadays, any non-conformist thought is crossed out as “fascist” on the part of censors who themselves could hardly define what they understand by that term, forms part of the same discursive strategy.

“There is a form of typically European political correctness which consists of seeing fascists everywhere,” observed Alain Finkielkraut on this point. “It has become a habitual procedure for a cohort of whistleblowing scribblers,” added Jean-François Revel, “to throw to Nazism and revisionism all individuals whose reputation they want to besmirch.” One can observe the consequences of that every day. The most trivial incident of French political life is judged today under the prism of “fascism” or the Occupation. Vichy “becomes an obsessive reference” and is converted into a phantasm which allows maintaining a permanent psychodrama, and given that they prefer the “duty of memory” to the duty of truth, this memory is regularly appealed to for justifying the most dubious comparisons or the most grotesque understandings. “This everlasting incrimination of fascism,” wrote Jean-François Revel, “whose excess is so shocking, which ridicules its authors in place of discrediting its victims, reveals the hidden motive of political correctness. This perversion serves as a substitute for the censors, for those left orphaned by the loss of that incomparable instrument of spiritual tyranny which was the Marxist gospel.”

Revealing of these effects is the outbreak of hostilities provoked by the exploitation of the Kremlin archives, which began to cause the breakdown of some statues of legendary “heroes.” Equally revealing is the result of observing in what manner the simple verification that the Communist system had ended the lives of more people than any other system in history (a hundred million dead!) today raises the virtuous indignation in milieus that “do everything to conceal the magnitude of the catastrophe” – as if this verification is equivalent to the trivialization of Nazi crimes which are by definition incomparable with anything, as if the horror of the crimes of Communism could be attenuated by the supposed purity of its original intentions, as if the two great totalitarian systems whose rivalry and complementarity characterized the 20th Century would not be inscribed into a relationship out of which one or the other would become unintelligible, as if, in the end, some dead weigh more than others.

But we must also emphasize that contemporary “anti-fascism” – which, paraphrasing Joseph de Maistre, we could qualify not as the opposite of fascism but rather as fascism in the opposite sense – has totally changed in nature. In the 1930s, the theme of “anti-fascism,” exploited by Stalin on the margins of the authentic fight against true fascism, would serve the Communist parties for questioning capitalist bourgeois society, accused of serving as the breeding ground of totalitarianism. It was then about showing that the liberal democracies and the “social traitors” were objectively potential allies of Fascism. However, currently it is exactly the opposite. Today, “anti-fascism” serves before all as an alibi for those who have vigorously joined the single thought and the system. Having abandoned all critical attitude, having succumbed to the advantages of a society which would offer them sinecures and privileges, they want, embracing the “anti-fascist” rhetoric, to give the impression (or make the illusion) of having remained loyal to themselves. In other words, the “anti-fascist” posture permits the Penitent, the central figure of our time, to forget his retractions by employing a wildcard slogan which does not cease to be a commonplace one. Yesterday’s strategic tool with which mercantilist capitalism was attacked, “anti-fascism,” has been converted into a mere discourse in its service. Thus, while the forces of potential opposition are prioritarily mobilized against a phantasmagoric fascism, the New Class which exercises the reality of power can sleep soundly. Making reference to a value which it not only no longer supposes to be a threat for current society, but rather which, on the contrary, reinforces what it is, our modern “anti-fascisms” have been converted into its watchdogs.

It is so true that for politicians, the denunciation of “fascism” is today an excellent way to remake a reputation for oneself. The most corrupt use and abuse it to minimize the importance of their malfeasances. If “fascism” is the absolute evil, and they denounce it, that means that they are not entirely bad. False accounts, unfulfilled electoral promises, grafts and corruptions of all sorts become lamentable faults but, in short, secondary ones in relation to the worst. But not only the Left or politicians need a nonexistent “fascism” that embodies absolute evil. Also, all of modernity on the decline needs a bête noire that allows it to make the social pathologies which it itself has engendered acceptable, under the pretext that however bad things go now, they would never have a point of comparison with those things that took place in the past.

Modernity is thus legitimized by means of a phantasm of which, paradoxically, we are told at the same time that it is “unique” and that it can return at any time. Confronted with its own emptiness, confronted with the tragic failure of its initial project of human liberation, confronted with the counter-productivity that it generates everywhere, confronted with the loss of references and with generalized senselessness, confronted with nihilism, confronted with the fact that man becomes increasingly more useless from the moment in which his abstract rights are proclaimed, modernity is left no other recourse than to divert attention, that is, to wield nonexistent dangers to impede the rising awareness of the truth. The recourse to the “absolute evil” functions then as a prodigious means of forcing the acceptance of the evils which our contemporaries are faced with in their daily lives, evils which, in comparison to this absolute evil, become contingent, relative, and, in the last instance, accessories. The exacerbated opposition to the totalitarianisms of yesterday, the unending tiresomeness about the past, prevents analyzing the evils of the present and the dangers of the future, at the same time that they make us enter into the 21st Century with a strong hindrance, with an eye fixed on the rearview mirror.

It would therefore be an error to believe that the current “anti-fascism” represents nothing. On the contrary, it poses a negative legitimization which is fundamental for a society that no longer has anything positive to include in its balance sheet. “Anti-fascism” creates the identity of a New Class that cannot exist without invoking the scarecrow of the worst thing so that it is not reduced to its own emptiness. In the same manner that some do not find their identity any more than in denouncing immigrants, the New Class only finds its own in the virtuous denunciation of an absolute evil, whose shadow hides its ideological vacuity, its absence of references, its intellectual indigence, in the last analysis, that it simply no longer has anything more to contribute, neither original analyses nor solutions to propose.

Therefore, it turns out to be vital for the central core of the “right-thinking” [biempensante] to prohibit all questioning of the fundamental principles which constitute their support of legitimacy. For if things were otherwise, it would be necessary that the dominant ideology accepts being questioned. But it would not consent to that, since it shares the conviction with the greater part of grand messianic ideologies that if things go badly, if the anticipated success is not attained, it is never because the principles were bad, but, on the contrary, because they had not been sufficiently applied. Yesterday they told us that if Communism had not attained paradise on earth, it was because it had not yet eliminated a sufficient number of its opponents. Today they tell us that if neoliberalism is in crisis, if the process of globalization entails social disorders, it is because there still exist too many obstacles which obstruct the proper functioning of the market.

To explain the failure of the project – or to reach the desired objective – a scapegoat is needed. There need to be nonconforming opponents, deviant or dissident elements: yesterday, the Jews, the Freemasons, the lepers, or the Jesuits; today, the supposed “fascists” or “racists.” These deviants are perceived as disturbing, bothersome elements which obstruct the advent of a rational society, so that it is necessary to purge the social body by means of an appropriate prophylactic action. If, for example, xenophobia exists in France today, it is not due to any case of a badly controlled immigration policy, but rather to the existence of “racism” in the social body. In a society whose components are increasingly more heterogeneous, it is made essential to establish a kind of civil religion designating a scapegoat. The shared execration serves then as nexus which, while fighting an enemy, even if it be only a mirage, it allows the maintenance of a semblance of unity.

But there exists, in addition, another advantage to moral denunciation, and it is that against the “absolute evil” all means valid. Demonization, indeed, has not only had the consequence of the depoliticization of conflicts, but has also caused, likewise, the criminalization of the adversary. This becomes an absolute enemy which must be eradicated by all existing means. One then enters into a kind of total war – and it is so much so that it is claimed to be carried in the name of humanity. To fight in the name of humanity leads to placing one’s adversaries outside of humanity, that is, to practice the negation of humanity. From this perspective, the apology for murder and the call to lynching are also found to be justified.

Finally, what should be noted is that the disqualifying labels manipulated today in the name of political correctness are never claimed labels, but rather attributed labels. Contrary to what happened in the 1930s, when the Communists and Fascists openly claimed their respective denominations, today nobody reclaims the qualifications of “fascist” and “racist.” Their nomination thus has no objective, informative, or descriptive value, but rather a purely subjective, strategic, or polemical value. The problem that arises is to know what the legitimacy of their attribution is. As this legitimacy is always to be tested, it is deduced that the “test” is always derived from the very possibility of attribution.

The psychoanalyst Fethi Benslama wrote that “today fascism is no longer a bloc, an easily identifiable entity embodied in a system, in a discourse, in an organization which can be demarcated,” but that it “rather assumes fragmentary and diffuse forms inside the whole of society […], a form such that no one is sheltered in a worldview, guarded from this disfiguration from the other which makes it arise as a boisterous, joyful body, secretly expanded body all over the place.” Such declarations are revealing: if fascism is “secretly expanded all over the place,” “anti-fascism” can evidently accuse anyone.

The problem is that the idea according to which evil is all over the place is the premise of all inquisition and, likewise, the premise upon which conspirationist paranoia is supported, as it had inspired in the past the witch-hunts and the justifications of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Just as the anti-Semites saw Jews everywhere, the new inquisitors see “fascists” everywhere. And as the supreme cunning of the Devil is to make people believe that he does not exist, protests are never heard. Topping it off, a popular psychoanalyst is permitted to interpret the denial or the indignant rejection to put on the uniform that they try to offer us with such complacency, just like so many other supplementary confirmations: the refusal to confess is the best proof that one is guilty.

“A man is not what he hides, but rather what he does,” said André Malraux. Believing that “fascism” is all over the place, meaning nowhere, the new inquisition affirms on the contrary that men are before all what they hide – and that it aims to uncover it. It boasts of seeing beyond the appearances and of reading in between the lines, to better “confuse” and “unmask.” It is in this way that the presumption of guilt knows no limits. What is “unsaid” is decrypted, decoded, and detected. Speaking clearly, authors are denounced, no so much for what they had written, but for what they had not written and what it is assumed they had intended to write. The content of their books is not boycotted, content which is never taken into consideration, but rather the intentions which are believed to have been divined. The police of ideas then becomes the police of ulterior motives.

 

——————

De Benoist, Alain. “The Sole ‘Anti-Fascist’ Thought.” Tankesmedjan Motpol, 13 April 2015. <http://www.motpol.nu/lucian/2015/04/13/the-sole-anti-fascist-thought/ >.

 

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Intellectual Terrorism – Sunic

Intellectual Terrorism

by Tomislav Sunic

 

The modern thought police is hard to spot, as it often seeks cover under soothing words such as “democracy” and “human rights.” While each member state of the European Union likes to show off the beauties of its constitutional paragraph, seldom does it attempt to talk about the ambiguities of its criminal code. Last year, in June and November, the European Commission held poorly publicized meetings in Brussels and Strasbourg whose historical importance regarding the future of free speech could overshadow the recent launching of the new euro currency.

At issue is the enactment of the new European legislation whose objective is to counter the growing suspicion about the viability of the multiracial European Union. Following the events of September 11, and in the wake of occasionally veiled anti-Israeli comments in some American and European journals, the wish of the European Commission is to exercise maximum damage control, via maximum thought control. If the new bill sponsored by the European Commission regarding “hate crime” passes through the European parliament, the judiciary of any individual EU member state in which this alleged “verbal offence” has been committed, will no longer carry legal weight. Legal proceedings and “appropriate” punishment will become the prerequisite of the European Union’s supra-national courts. If this proposed law is adopted by the Council of Ministers of the European Union, it automatically becomes law in all European Union member states; from Greece to Belgium, from Denmark to Portugal. Pursuant to this law’s ambiguous wording of the concept of “hate crime” or “racial incitement,” anyone convicted of such an ill-defined verbal offense in country “A” of the European Union, can be fined or imprisoned in country “B” of the European Union.

In reality this is already the case. In hindsight, the enactment of this EU law appears like the reenactment of the communist criminal code of the late Soviet Union. For instance, the communist judiciary of the now defunct communist Yugoslavia had for decades resorted to the similar legal meta-language, such as the paragraph on “hostile propaganda” of the Criminal code, Article 133. Such semantic abstraction could apply to any suspect – regardless whether the suspect committed acts of physical violence against the communist state, or simply cracked a joke critical of communism.

For the time being the United Kingdom enjoys the highest degree of civil liberties in Europe; Germany the lowest. The UK Parliament recently turned down the similar “hate crime” law proposal sponsored by various pressure groups. However, numerous cases of mugging of elderly people of British descent in English cities by foreign, mostly Asian gangs, either go unreported, or do not have legal follow ups. If a foreign suspect, charged with criminal offense is put on trial, he usually pleads innocent or declares himself in front of often timid judges as a “victim of racial prejudice”. Thus, regardless of the relative freedom in the UK, a certain degree of de facto self-censorship exists. The proposed EU law would make this de facto censorship de jure. This could, possibly, trigger more racial violence, given that the potential victims would be afraid to speak out for fear of being convicted of “hate speech” themselves.

Since 1994, Germany, Canada and Australia have strengthened laws against dissenting views, particularly against revisionists and nationalists. Several hundred German citizens, including a number of high- profile scholars have been accused of incitement to racial hatred or of denying the holocaust, on the basis of the strange legal neologism of the Article 130 (“Volkshetze”) in the German Criminal Code. From this poorly worded yet overarching grammatical construct, it is now easy to place any journalist or a professor in legal difficulty if he/she questions the writing of modern history or if happens to be critical about the rising number of non-European immigrants.

In Germany, contrary to England and America, there is a long legal tradition that everything is forbidden what is not explicitly allowed. In America and England the legal practice presupposes that everything is allowed what is not specifically forbidden. This may be the reason why Germany adopted stringent laws against alleged or real holocaust denial. In December of last year, a Jewish-American historian Norman Finkelstein, during his visit to Germany, called upon the German political class to cease to be a victim of the “holocaust industry” pressure groups. He remarked that such a reckless German attitude only provokes hidden anti-Semitic sentiments. As was to be expected, nobody reacted to Finkelstein’s remarks, for fear of being labeled anti-Semitic themselves. Instead, the German government, via its taxpayers, agreed last year to pay further share of 5 billion euros for this fiscal year to some 800.000 holocaust survivors. Such silence is the price paid for intellectual censorship in democracies. When discussion of certain topics are forbidden, the climate of frustration followed by individual terrorist violence starts growing. Can any Western nation that inhibits speech, and the free expression of diverse political views -however aberrant they may be – call itself a democracy?

Although America prides itself on its First Amendment, free speech in higher education and the media is subject to didactic self censorship. Expression of politically incorrect opinions can ruin the careers of, or hurt the grades of those who are “naive” enough to trust their First Amendment rights. It is a growing practice among tenured professors in the USA to give passing grades to many of their minority students in order to avoid legal troubles with their peers at best, or to avoid losing a job at worst.

In a similar vein, according the the Fabius-Gayssot law, proposed by a French Communist deputy and adopted in 1990, a person uttering in public doubts about modern antifascist victimology risks serious fines or imprisonment. A number of writers and journalists from France and Germany committed suicide, lost their jobs, or asked for political asylum in Syria, Sweden or America.

Similar repressive measures have been recently enacted in multicultural Australia, Canada and Belgium. Many East European nationalist politicians, particularly from Croatia, wishing to visit their expatriate countrymen in Canada or Australia are denied visa by those countries on the grounds of their alleged extremist nationalistic views. For the time being Russia, and other post-communist countries, are not subject to the same repressive thought control as exists in the USA or the European Union. Yet, in view of the increasing pressure from Brussels and Washington, this may change.

Contrary to widespread beliefs, state terror, i.e. totalitarianism is not only a product of violent ideology espoused by a handful of thugs. Civic fear, feigned self-abnegation, and intellectual abdication create an ideal ground for the totalitarian temptation. Intellectual terrorism is fueled by a popular belief that somehow things will straighten out by themselves. Growing social apathy and rising academic self-censorship only boost the spirit of totalitarianism. Essentially, the spirit of totalitarianism is the absence of all spirit.

 

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Sunic, Tomislav. “Intellectual Terrorism.” Pravda, 11 February 2002. <http://english.pravda.ru/news/business/finance/09-02-2002/35357-0/ >.

 

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Left-Right Dichotomy – Benoist

End of the Left-Right Dichotomy: The French Case

By Alain de Benoist

Consider the frequently cited quotation by the French philosopher Alain: “When I am asked if the division between parties of the Right and parties of the Left, between leftists and rightists still has any meaning, the first thing which occurs to me is that whoever is asking the question is certainly not on the Left.” [1] Alain would be surprised to learn that today this question, which he thought could only have been posed by someone from the Right, is on everyone’s lips — at least in France.

During the past few years, all the Sofres opinion polls have shown that for most of the French people the Left-Right split is becoming increasingly meaningless. In March 1981 only 33% considered notions of Right and Left to be outdated and no longer descriptive of political positions. In February 1986, this figure was 45%; in March 1988, 48%; in November 1989, 56%. [2] This last figure was confirmed by two subsequent Sofres polls published in December 1990 and July 1993. [3] It does not seem to have changed since. As for the inverse opinion, according to which the Left-Right split still has meaning, since 1991 it has not been more than 33% of those polled, as against 43% in 1981.

This evolution is remarkable for three reasons. First, because it shows a growing tendency: from year to year the notions of Right and Left appear increasingly discredited. Second, it has only taken a dozen years for the credibility of the Left-Right split to decline by more than 20 points in public opinion polls. Third, because this development is a fact in all political circles and all sectors of opinion: in April 1988, a Sofres poll indicated that since 1981 this conviction had made the most progress within the Left. [4]

At the same time, however, most French people continue to identify themselves as either Left or Right — a paradoxical result confirming the extent of the gap separating political parties from their voters. But this kind of self-definition is also weakening. Whereas during the 1960s, 90% of the French people located themselves along the Left-Right axis, [5] by 1981 the number had dropped to no more than 73%, to only 64% in 1991.

All these figures show clearly that the Left-Right dichotomy which has structured the French political landscape for more than two centuries –what Emmanuel Berl described as “by far the most lively distinction for the mass of the French electorate,” and Jean-Francois Sirinelli has more recently characterized as “in essence, the major French split,” [6] is losing much of its meaning. This is all the more surprising since it was in France that the concepts Left and Right first saw the light of day. The general opinion is that this dates from August 28 1789, when the Estates-General, in session since May and transformed into a constituent assembly, began to debate in Versailles whether the king should have veto rights. This debate sought to establish whether in the constitutional monarchy being installed the monarch had any prerogatives over and above that of national sovereignty, i.e., a prerogative exceeding that of the representatives of the people organized in a body politic. To indicate their choice, those in favor of a royal veto were placed to the right of the speaker, while their opponents sat on the left. So the distinction Left-Right originally came about as a topographical accident. [7] It was to expand gradually into all of Europe, then to the entire world, taking permanent roots in the Latin countries and, in a more circumstantial way, in Germanic and above all Anglo-Saxon countries. In France it took its contemporary meaning and became part of everyday language during the Third Republic. [8]

What are the reasons for the gradual erosion of the concepts of Left and Right? There are several ways to answer this question. One would be to ask about the exact meaning of the terms in order to establish whether they are attached to certain permanent themes or merely to attitudes (psychological traits, “sensibilities”) where one would be able to locate their recurrence in certain well-determined political families, yet again to certain key concepts constituting the “hard core” whose heuristic value can facilitate analysis. For reasons too long to go into, such an approach would lead to an impasse, and that is why it is more fruitful to focus on the French situation. Today the three great debates which for two centuries in France have characterized the Right-Left dichotomy are essentially over.

The first of these debates concerns political institutions. Beginning with the Revolution and for over 100 years it was to pit against each other the supporters of the Republic, the partisans of the constitutional monarchy and those nostalgic for the monarchy by divine right. It was a debate bearing on the Revolution itself, which ended in the Restoration and the 1815 compromise which, in some way, marks the birth of modern France. Next, starting from the July Monarchy, it became a debate concerning the definition of the political regime — republic or monarchy– which culminated in 1875 with the establishment of universal suffrage and the definitive installation of a republic. From then on rightists became essentially republican, while monarchist movements were gradually east to the fringes of the political spectrum.

The second major debate, beginning in the 1880′s, dealt with the question of religion. Pitting supporters of a “clerical” concept of the social order against those advocating a purely secular vision of justice, the debate took the place of the one about institutions and generated a polemic whose violence has now been somewhat forgotten. For some time, it came to be identified exclusively with the Left-Right split and became the touch-stone for all political life. “By comparison,” wrote Rene Remond, “all other divergencies appeared secondary. Whoever followed the prescriptions of the Catholic Church was ipso facto catalogued on the Right, and the anti-clerical had no need to furnish any other proof of democratic sentiments and attachment to the Republic.” [9] This was the atmosphere that eventually gave rise to the Dreyfus Affair (which lead to a shift of anti-Semitism from Left to Right and, for the first time, introduced the Left-Right cleavage in intellectual circles). This argument culminated in 1905 in the separation of Church and state. It left profound traces on French political life. It gradually lost its relevance due, on the one side, to the rallying of a party of the Catholic hierarchy to republican institutions and, on the other, to the appearance of a secularized theory of the traditional social order (from Auguste Comte to Taine) –a double movement which came to an end with a progressive dissociation of the Church from the counter-revolution. Subsequently, religious controversies continued to lose relevance and soon survived only in debates about state subventions for schools run by the Church.

The final debate is obviously the social one. It began in the 1830s when capitalism imposed itself on economic forms inherited from the past, paving the way for the class straggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, the development of industrial society, the birth of socialism and the founding of the labor movement. Interrupted during the “Sacred Union” of WWI, it resurfaced in 1917. From 1920 on, to be on the Left no longer meant simply to be a republican (since everybody was republican), or even secular (since by then there were Left Catholics), meant to be a socialist or a communist.

Before anything else, the social question raises the problem of the role of the state in regulating economic activity and the eventual redistribution of wealth. Divided between reformers and revolutionaries the Left identified itself with the rejection of the market economy –and even private property — and advocated a planned, centralized and state-controlled economy. Its objective was to assure collective emancipation through economic and social institutions in order to promote a kind of general contract via the collectivization of the means of production. In addition, the Left made purely quantitative and material demands: it denounced capitalism (the exploitation of labor and the inequalities in the distribution of wealth), without challenging its central objective (constant growth). It sought to ground itself in the working class and turn workers into a political force bearing a concrete program for emancipation. This statist and productivist project was to last decades before collapsing under the joint impact of the implosion of “real socialism” and the exhaustion of the welfare state, while the working class itself became increasingly reformist and eventually evaporated with consumerism and popular shareholding. As Remond put it: “In a short period of time, almost all the issues over which elections were fought, which did and undid majorities, which fed debate, which gave political life its colors have ceased to evoke passion, have lost their spark and have even disappeared from the scene.” [10]

After WWII, the rapid rise in the standard of living was accompanied by a deep transformation of political practices as well as the behavior and value orientation of society. “In France, enriched by the ‘Thirty Glorious Years,’ the relaxation of economic constraints led to the relaxation of social controls.” [11] On the other hand, the growth of the middle class began to erase confessional and sociological criteria for voting. In the 1960s, the more Catholic one was the more one was likely to vote for the Right. In the social context, the more one was a worker (or the more one felt to be one, for it is a subjective perception of social class which exercises the most decisive influence on political choice) the more one voted for the Left. Ten years later, this was no longer completely true. Various commentators have pointed out the specificity of the political behavior of the “salaried middle classes,” whose numbers more than doubled between 1954 and 1975 (owing to the expansion of the service and public sectors), who vote mostly Left, and of those self-employed who vote mostly Right.

This trend has generally continued. The sense of belonging to a social class, as measured by opinion polls, fell from 68% in 1976 to 56% in 1987. Indeed, it is among workers that it has fallen the most, from 74% to 50%. As for the Catholic vote, it has become distributed across all sectors of opinion: between 1978 and 1988 the correlation between voting for the Right and religious practice fell by 20 points.

In 1981, the Left coming into power appeared to mark the victory of this new sociological model. In order to explain it, one used to point to urbanization, economic growth, etc. Shortly afterwards, the rapid diminishing of support for the Left among the very groups that had brought it to power, concurrent with the appearance of new parties and social movements, began to cast doubt on this schema and favored the appearance of competing models questioning the pertinence of the Right-Left split as much as its sociological foundations. This is when talk began about the “new voter,” unconcerned with social or professional ties and of a very limited “rationality.” [12] We were entering an era which has been described as “electoral self-service” or “commercial democracy.” [13] As Jerome Jaffre has written: “Voters choose either Right or Left, whichever seems to suit them. This phenomenon is evidence for the ideological destructuring of the French that corresponds to the weakening of major parties.” [14]

This has resulted in a considerable increase in electoral volatility. In 1946 Francois Goguel calculated that at no point in France, between 1877 and 1936, did the balance of forces between the Right and the Left vary by more than 2%. Today 17% of voters for the far Left in the 1986 legislative elections voted for a right-wing party in the first round of the 1988 presidential elections and, inversely, 60% of Mitterand’s voters in 1988 refused to vote socialist in 1993.

On the level of political leadership, this destructuring of the electorate corresponds to a substantial move toward the center. [15] Not only has the Left finally accepted the institutions of the Fifth Republic and the principle of nuclear deterrence (which it resisted ferociously in the past), not only has the Right in large part come to terms with the Left on such issues as contraception, the death penalty and new models for authority in the family and society, but as soon as they come to power Right and Left alike seem increasingly inclined to adopt the same policies. The more rapid their alternation the clearer this identity becomes. In this regard, since 1981 the French have hardly seen any difference between the economic policy followed by the Left and that adopted by the Right. Neither have they seen the slightest difference between the social policies of Edouard Balladur and of Pierre Beregovoy, the foreign policy of Giscard d’Estaing and Francois Mitterand, the “security” obsessions of Michel Charasse and Charles Pasqua, the budget priorities of departmental or regional authorities controlled by the majority and those controlled by the opposition. Of course, the Right wants a little more liberalism (in the French sense of the word:, i.e., more free-market economics) and fewer social programs, while the Left prefers a few more social programs and a little less liberalism. On the whole, however, the political class does not seem to be tom apart all that much in the shifts between “socio-liberalism” and “social liberalism.”

This move toward the center has also affected intellectual circles, as witnessed by the collapse of critical thinking in an age when most of those who only yesterday would rash to refute the established order have been transformed into passionate defenders of liberal democracy, the New World Order, and the right to neo-colonialist interference on humanitarian pretexts. This move to the center, however, gives a strong impression of the end of something. Maybe only the end of modernity. This is Serge Latouche’s thesis: “The political form of modernity is running out of steam because it has run its course. Right and Left have essentially realized their programs. Alternation has succeeded extraordinarily well. The enlightened Right and the Left lay claim to the legacy of the Enlightenment, but neither of the two claims it entirely. Each sees itself as having realized its part of the legacy. The Left, whose imagination is tied to a radical version of the Enlightenment, used to worship progress, science and technology …. The liberal and enlightened Right, from Montesquieu to Tocqueville, exalted individual liberty and economic competition. The Left advocated well-being for all, while the Right defended growth and the right to enjoy the fruits of enterprise. Through shocks and crises, the modem state has achieved all that.” [16]

As Regis Debray has pointed out: “When there will be no more differences between Left and Right than between the services of a nationalized or a private bank, or between the TV news on a public or commercial channel, then we will switch from one to the other without regrets and, who knows, without even realizing it.” [17] We seem to have reached this point.

Some people may rejoice about this in the name of “consensus.” They are wrong. First, because democracy is not the end of conflict but conflict mastered. For a political society to function normally, a consensus must be established over the framework and modalities of debate. But if the consensus results in the disappearance of debate, then democracy will also disappear. Even more than a plurality of parties, democracy implies a diversity of opinions and choices as well as the recognition of the legitimacy of a clash between them so that the adversary is not transformed into an enemy (for the opposition of yesterday can be the majority of tomorrow). But, if parties are no longer distinguished by anything other than insignificant differences in their programs, if current factions advocate basically the same policies, if they are no longer distinct regarding their objectives or even the means to attain them, in short, if citizens no longer see themselves confronted with real alternatives and choices, then debate ceases to have any raison d’etre and the institutional framework for it becomes nothing more than an empty shell which most voters, not surprisingly, prefer to ignore.

Too much consensus is also anti-democratic in another sense. Contrary to the advocates of the “political market” (who postulate that voters seek above all to rationally maximize their best interests at polling time), in effect voting is primarily a means of representing and affirming the self. [18] In a context where the homogenization of all social space by the middle classes is already depriving the concepts of Left and Right of any sociological content, if in addition the electorate feels that the parties vying for power provide no alternatives, this electorate can only lose interest in a political game which no longer allows the expression of a sense of belonging or affiliation through the ballot. The end of the “democracy of identification” (Pierre Rosanvallon) translates into a growing abstention which leads to social anomie and the exclusion of those socially marginalized and no longer concerned with power games. In both cases there is a great risk of ending up not with a society pacified by “consensus,” but with a dangerous and potentially belligerent one characterized by other modes of affirming identity (religious, ethnic, national, etc.). These may not result in any desire for “dangerous purity” (Bernard-Henri Levy) but will be the logical consequence of the fact that it is no longer possible to function as citizens.

This is the direction in which things are headed today. Everything confirms it: the multiplying corruption scandals, which discredit both Left and Right politicians; the dominant individualism encouraging civic irresponsibility and turning in on oneself; the contrast between stated ambitions and the insignificance of results; the transformation of the political game into a media spectacle where “making things known” always counts more than “knowing how to do things”; the intellectuals’ conceptual impotence and social anomie. As a final result, the political class seems to be increasingly made up of professionals alien to society and of parties which have become mere machines to sell electoral goods for the sole profit of their present leaders. In other words, in market terms, political life is characterized by a decreasing supply in the face of ever more indifferent, because disoriented -demand.

As for the move to the center, although it constitutes one of the causes of the current clouding of the Right-Left split, it is itself the consequence of a whole series of broader events. It has resulted from the accumulation of discomfort and disillusion brought about by the collapse of predominant lately-hegemonic ideologies and socio-historical models. Typified by the implosion of the Soviet system, this collapse has mined many hopes and has resulted in a false belief in the “end of ideology,” i.e., the disappearance of one of the most powerful resources of political thought and imagination. The blurring has increased confusion and fudged differences. But it has also created conditions for a greater acceptability of the idea that many phenomena are “ineluctable,” for example, the “laws” regulating the market economy and the uncontrolled growth of technology. All these phenomena are deemed inevitable because we have lost the habit of questioning the meaning of outcomes, resulting in the assumption that it is no longer possible to validate decisions. This denies the very essence of politics and reduces it to a simple technique of administrative management. The rise of technocracy and the role of experts already set the stage. This legitimates the belief that political choices are simply a matter of technical rationality, allowing only one possible solution. This is a denial of the very essence of politics. But it is also a denial of democracy, since for the experts, “pluralism always results either in misunderstandings or in a lack of rationality: on one side there are competent experts and on the other incompetents. For the latter to be rational and informed it is sufficient to accept the opinion of the former.” [19]

From this viewpoint, one of the today’s most salient features is the nation-state’s growing inability not only to steer a society characterized by the dilution of social relations, but also to react to the internationalization of national spaces and markets, the development of a global economy and the planetary deployment of information. Today the nation-state can no longer deal with problems such as unemployment, drugs, economic instability and social ostracism. Divested of its means, the state is increasingly reduced to the daily management of phenomena which transcend it, i.e., to find short-term solutions while continuing to perfect techniques of social control and repression. As Sami Nair has put it: “The crisis of the welfare state is first of all the crisis of the nation-state’s inability to deal with the internationalization of capital. Today the structure of the capital market and thus the forms of the resulting competition are determined by transnational oligopolies against which the traditional nation-state has hardly any response …. The state is confronted with a tragic dilemma it cannot resolve: either drastic protectionism with very uncertain economic and social consequences, or capitulation before the major poles of the international economy.” [20]

The problem is that, in this regard, both the Right and the Left have already accepted capitulation. Once again, this is one of the reasons for the move to the center, as well as the blurring of the distinction between Left and Right. This is not really surprising for the Right, which has long since allied itself with money and the wealthy classes. According to Bernard Charbonneau: “While justifying the state’s protection of economic interests, patriotism has become its own caricature: chauvinism. The role of the best people in justifying the whims of the richest makes it impossible to distinguish between a genuine aristocracy and a so-called ‘elite’ defined exclusively by money.” [21] In so doing, however, the Right has betrayed itself. “Those values which the Right espouses are exactly those by which it is judged. The criticisms the Left makes of the Right are nothing compared to those the Right should be able to make of itself. Capitalism claims the virtues of property, and it supports the dispossession of millions of people by capitalism in order to safeguard private property, bringing about the largest undertaking of expropriation in modern times. It exalts the motherland and for the glory of one nationalism it feeds a will to power which tends to destroy all other motherlands. It upholds authority and character, while on the whim of one, be it monarch or owner, it transforms all others into serfs. While defending liberty, the Right everywhere gradually slides into monopoly…. Against Marxist materialism, it sets itself up as a champion of the power of the spirit, but serves a social class whose sole reason for being is economic activity….”[22]

The classical Right has always been in an uncomfortable position. On the one hand, it has to respond to the exigencies of profitability, competitiveness and modernization, which are vital to its interests; while on the other, to continue enjoying the support of its voters, it has to appear to embody traditional values (authority, family, patriotism, etc.), which are exactly those which oppose the logic of the commodity and what Jurgen Habermas calls the “colonization of the lifeworld” by “economic and administrative sub-systems.” As long as capitalism remained tied to the nation-state, this dilemma could still be managed. Economic modernization could be presented as part of national greatness, sometimes even as triumphant nationalism. In a world economy which seeks to suppress all local particularities that act as an obstacle to its movement or threaten to slow its expansion, this is no longer the case. Liberal capitalism no longer has a “national strategy”: globalization of the economy has led it to make the state’s primary task to support this process of globalization with appropriate legislation –an assortment of new forms of internal control to disarm all kinds of social resistance.[23] This can be seen in France with the conversion of most of the Gaullist program to the very economic liberalism excoriated by General de Gaulle — with the consequent appearance on the political margins of social protest movements which tend to widen the gap between politicians and voters.

The monied Right has no principled convictions, only principled interests. “This is why, among other reasons, it shows itself so magisterial in its mastery of what one might call the relativism of ideologies. All representations can serve it on the condition that they do not challenge its system of interests.”[24]

The Left has followed the same path. Fifteen years ago it was still an old republican bedrock, coated with socialist and communist or even anarchist sediments. This heterogenous mixture was generally unified by the same political culture, common sociological references and, as it was claimed at the time, a certain ethics. Since then its political culture has fallen apart. The working class has seen its contours eroded. As for “ethics,” it is best not to mention it! Discredited by the defeat of “really existing socialism,” the communist wing has not survived the collapse of the Soviet bloc. The anarchist trend is no more than an erratic underground stream. As for the socialist and social democratic wings, which were the main components of the Left, they have been dealt a major blow by the crisis of the welfare state.

Socialism espoused an emancipatory ideology meant to allow man, beyond all forms of domination and social exploitation, to recover his self, i.e., to be restored to himself in all his authenticity. Achieving this aim presupposed a radical transformation of society as organized by triumphant capitalism. The whole history of the labor movement revolves around the debate regarding the nature of this transformation and the best means to carry it out. Some claimed it had to take place through a violent rupture, others by gradual evolution. The former only succeeded in installing unprecedented forms of dictatorship, while the latter have been reduced to perpetually postponing the project, having failed to find an alternative to the capitalist system or to propose a viable project of social reconstruction.

It was already paradoxical to identify the state as the agency of emancipation since the main characteristic of the paternalist-state model is to strip individuals of their autonomy in exchange for security. Today, under the weight of bureaucratic burdens and fiscal impositions, all models of intervention from above have collapsed. Along with this, the discrediting of the idea of progress has ruined optimistic visions of a future seen to coincide automatically with an ideal of emancipation. The Left, heir of Descartes, wished to change the world and subdue nature. Now it realizes that the results are not too brilliant, that the achievement of modernity is passing it by and that the subdued nature is in a pitiful state. As for a socialism which presented itself as the “civilization of labor,” it must henceforth confront the problem of free time.

During the past few years, all Left ideological constructs as well as those of the managerial New Class have become either considerably weaker or have collapsed altogether. Nair writes: “For more than a decade, the crisis over representing the future, the evaporation of the grand organizing narratives of the future (socialism, communism) has intensified. This process entails considerable cultural, political and sociological displacement; essential ingredients of socialism as a vision have collapsed. We are now witnessing a progressive disappearance of the main values of the Left. The concept of exploitation is gone from the polemical vocabulary, while that of equality, at best, is only stuttered with some compunction in political confrontations. Already derailed in its bureaucratic form in the East, socialism is equally in trouble in its democratic version.”[25] Peter Glotz adds: “The Left has been philosophically disoriented since its concept of progress has been destroyed and the humanism of the Age of Enlightenment has become a universal concept. Its economic theory is breached because the crisis in Marxism has, like it or not, stripped it of its own economic vision; and it is further threatened by the loss of an old advantage: the solid organization of unions and workers’ parties. The Left finds itself disoriented in the post-modern age.”[26]

In 1981 in France, the Left triumphed politically against the background of ideological confusion. It might have been able to seize this occasion to restructure its identity. What happened, however, was the opposite. Not only did Mitterrand’s rise to power accelerate the confusion, but the Left assimilated the “managerial culture” so well that, redoubling its efforts, it suddenly adopted and perfected everything it had previously denounced. Beginning in 1982-3, the adoption of a new economic policy brutally confirmed the move toward the center. The critique of capitalism was abandoned, and with it the idea that the state, even if not the motor of the economy, might at least have the right to oversee the private sector. Add to this the rehabilitation of the notion of profit, the apology for the market and “entrepreneurial culture,” greater growth in capital revenues as compared to labor and the picture is complete. By abandoning the Jauresian idea that the state is first of all a balance of forces between the social classes, the Left has chosen to put the freedom of capital before the freedom of citizens, and has laid its statist identity to rest without, however, trying to recenter itself in society. In short, acting as if the final stage in social organization had been reached and as if it would be impossible for people to act collectively, it has implicitly enshrined the mercantile West as the unsurpassable ideal. The result will be unbridled Stock Exchange, corruption at the highest level and the promotion of crooks-turned-politicians such as Bernard Tapie as paradigmatic “winners.”

In 1979, at the Metz congress of the Socialist Party, Mitterrand and his friends argued that “economic rigor, as understood by those in power, is a formidable lie.” In 1992 the socialist project, titled “A New Horizon,” stated: “Yes, we believe that the market economy is the most efficient means of production and exchange. No, we no longer believe in a break with capitalism.” This is what enabled Michel Rocard to redefine socialism as a “kind of tempered capitalism” (sic).

Today Left and Right worship the same god: the cult of performance, efficiency and profit. This can be seen in the answers to questions regularly posed to the French by Sofres seeking to find what terms evoke positive or negative responses. In November 1989 one of these polls allowed one to state that the word “liberalism” garnered positive responses from 59% of the socialist sympathizers, whereas a majority of UDF voters looked favorably upon the term “social-democracy.”[27] Between April 1981 and October 1990, when Mitterand was head-of-state, the terms which received the most positive responses in public opinion were “profit,” “capitalism” and “participation”; while those which had lost the most were “socialism,” “unions” and “nationalization.” In 1992 Roland Cayrol concluded: “The tendency toward convergence over liberalism, competition, participation and profit is the law of the decade.[28]

The Right had already been corrupted by its possession of wealth; the Left was corrupted by acquiring this wealth. The Right allied with wealth contributed more than the Left to the destruction of the values which it pretended to advocate. The Left, as it came to be allied with wealth, contributed more than the Right to prevent the advent of the new society it wished to bring about. In short, the Left has lost its principles before a Right which never cared too much about having any, thereby confirming Bernard Charbonneau’s claim: “To describe the evolution of the Left and of the Right is to trace the curve of their respective self-betrayals. How living moral became instantly paralyzed in the idea, how the fury of the struggle progressively deformed the idea into a self-serving lie, and how, animated by the same will to power and using the same means, different ideologies have ended up dissolving themselves in the same chaos. This is their history.”[29]

The Right has lost its main enemy: communism. The Left has chosen to collaborate with its own: capitalism. As a result, the Right can no longer mobilize its voters by denouncing the “red menace,” while the Left can no longer rally its own by proposing “to change society.” This, however, does not prevent them from periodically attempting to revive extinct arguments. But the symmetrical myths of anti-communism and anti-fascism, polemical evocations of a bygone era, cannot forever serve to economize on profound thinking nor to hide the emptiness of ideas.[30] Some day it will be necessary to reconstruct values and reformulate identities.

For now, that remains far into the future. While the populist Right is looking for identity, thanks to the immigrants, the Left exhausts itself in various “renewals” and “regroundings,” or seeks to regroup on the margins of political life by advocating aid to oppressed minorities, solidarity with the most impoverished, and the straggle against social ostracism. However sympathetic they might be, and assuming they are responding to an authentic commitment to altruism and not to a straightforward need for a clear conscience and moral comfort, such aims are unfortunately also an admission of defeat. To replace ideological with purely moralizing criteria, to reduce militant activity to first aid for the war-wounds of change and justice to a profane version of that caritas theologians in the Middle Ages defined as a kind of non-erotic love is only an attempt to correct the faults or excesses of a society we cannot change, i.e., to reinforce it. By seeking remedies merely for a few consequences of the degradation of social relations, by changing into a charitable lady in the best of traditions of that paternalism it previously denounced, the Left is implicitly demonstrating it no longer thinks itself capable of acting on the causes of the problems. However, to act in politics is to build, not just to repair. Today, in opinion polls, solidarity wins clearly as a positive value to the Left, over and above justice, class straggle or equality. What remains undone is to combine this theme of solidarity with an aspiration for “autonomy,” which should not become the alibi for a new form of individualism and thus of indifference to others. Social action cannot be confined to the administering of alms. The ideal of solidarity implies the creation of new public spaces where active forms of citizenship can be articulated.

For two centuries there has been a Right and a Left, but their contents have constantly changed. There is neither a metaphysical Right nor an absolute Left, only relative positions and systems of variable relations, constantly forming and reforming. They cannot be abstracted from their context. “In every era, certain oppositions disappear or lose their importance, while others, seemingly secondary, suddenly assume a pole position.”[31]

The current crisis of Right and Left does not mean that either will no longer exist, only that this dichotomy as it has been understood until recently has lost its rationale. It has had its day. Current events provide ample confirmation. Whether it is a question of the Gulf War, the war in the former Yugoslavia, GATT, German reunification and its ramifications, the Maastricht Treaty and the single European currency, Islam in France, cultural identities or biotechnologies — all the debates of the last few yearss have produced conflicts impossible to account for in terms of the traditional dichotomy. The: fault lines cut across everything, penetrating to the very heart of both Right and Left. Although they have not yet led to real reclassifications, according to all accounts this is the beginning of a long process of regrouping.

There will be new splits in the future. In an age when the imperative of solidarity is imposing itself irresistibly, when ancient forms of exploitation of some by others tend to give way to new forms of alienation bearing down on everyone, when work is no longer the major source of social cohesion, these new cleavages will lead to unexpected regroupings and will draw fluid boundaries, be it around modernity and postmodernity, work and unemployment, production or the environment.

Modern societies have passed from extensive to intensive capital accumulation, i.e., from the systematic search for spaces for realizing profits to the general transformation of all forms of human activity in commodities. To set a limit to this process, not in order to suppress the marketplace but in order to prevent it from substituting itself for all kinds of social relations and to refute the idea that market values are socially paradigmatic as well as to prevent their destabilizing effects; to recreate organic forms of solidarity and to develop the economy for the benefit of all in the name of the common good and against Right and Left management, to initiate a European anti-oligopolist strategy challenging the internationalization of capital and the phenomenon of transnational and extraterritorial markets which determine economic realities, to find at last, before the steamroller of a homogenous world, the means to safeguard the diversity of peoples and cultures without cultivating xenophobia or hatred m these are the objectives around which men and women who today still belong to different camps will rally around tomorrow.

Then it will become clear that concepts once regarded as contradictory are in fact complimentary. Jose Ortega y Gasset’s saying is well-known: “To be on the Left or to be on the Right is to choose one of the many ways available to people to be an idiot; both are forms of moral paralysis.”32 Charbonneau has written: “Discussion of principles between Left and Right is absurd, because their values complement each other…. Liberty in itself or order in itself can only be the lie which dissimulates tyranny and chaos. Truth belongs to neither Right nor Left, neither is it in equal distance from the two. Rather, it is contained in the tension of their extreme exigencies. If one day they have to meet each other, it will not be in denying what they are but in going fight to the end of themselves.”[33] He concluded: “The time has finally come for us to reject Left and Right together, in order to reconcile within ourselves the tension of their fundamental aspirations.”[34]

It is not a matter of “neither Left nor Right” but of salvaging their best features. It is a matter of developing new political configurations transcending both.

Notes:

1. Pen Name for Emile-Auguste Chartier, Elements d’une Doctrine Radicale (Paris: Gallimard, 1925)
2. Sofres opinion poll, in Le Point (November 27, 1989), pp. 62-65. The same poll revealed that most socialist sympathizers no longer saw a significant difference with the Right over issues such as human rights, culture or social welfare, while a majority of RPR-UDF voters said they no longer saw a difference with the Left over issues such as education, crime or information policies.
3. Le Point (December 3, 1990), pp. 56-57; Le Nouvel Observateur (July 1, 1993, p. 42.
4. Cf. Le Nouvel Observateur (April 1, 1988), pp. 42-43.
5. Cf. Emetic Deutsch, Denis Lindon and Pierre Weill, Les Families Politiques Aujourd ‘hui en France (Minuit, 1966), pp. 13-14.
6. Interview with Le Magazine Litteraire (April 1993).
7. The date most frequently cited is August 28, 1789. Some writers, however, cite August 11 and still others the month of September. In their Histoire Parlementaire de la Revolution Francaise (published in 1834), Buchez and Rouzhold claim that the Right-Left polarity appeared before June 27. In any case, the August 27, 1791 L’Ami des Patriotes already talks of “Right” and “Left” in the body of the Constituent Assembly.
8. Cf. Marcel Gauchet, “La Droite et la Gauche” in Pierre Nora, ed., Les Lieux de Memoire, Vol. 3: Les France. 1: Conflits et Partages (Paris: Gallimard, 1993), who shows that the popularization of the terms took place later than generally believed.
9. La Politique n’est plus ce qu’elle etait (Paris: Calmann-Levy, 1993), p. 26.
10. Ibid., p. 21.
11. Jean-Francois Sirinelli, “La Morale Entre Droite et Gauche,” in “Morale et Politique,” special issue Pouvoirs, No. 63 (1993).
12. In this regard, Nonna Meyer and Pascal Perrineau note that “even the concept of political ‘rationalism’ is relative. A voter faithful to the party which seems to best defend the interests of his social class or the values of his religion is no less rational than one who switches. Those who swing between parties belonging to the same political family are no more rational than those who cross the Left-Right boundary.” (See Les Comportements Politiques (Paris: Armand Colin, 1992), p. 87.
13. Cf. Denis Jeambar and Jean-Marc Lech, Le Self-service Electoral. Les Nouvelles Famillies Politiques (Paris: Flammarion, 1992), pp. 21-22 and 151-162.
14. La Tribune de L’Expansion (March 23, 1992).
15. Cf. Francois Furet, Jacques Julliard and Pierre Rosanvallon, La Republique du Centre. La Fin de l’Exception Francaise (Paris: Calman-Levy, 1988).
16. “Le MAUSS est-il Apolitique?” in La Revue du Mauss, Nos. 3/4 (1991), pp. 7071. In a similar spirit, Jacques Julliard could note that “it is from its own success that the Left has come out exhausted: it is passing away for having realized in two centuries the essence of its program.” (“Une Quatrieme Vie pour la Gauche,” in Le Nouvel Observateur [February 25, 1993], p. 44). To be fair, it ought to be pointed out that it is also “passing away” for having seen a part of this program realized . . . . by its opponents. Gerard Grumberg and Etienne Schweisguth claim that while the Right defends primarily economic liberalism and the Left primarily cultural liberalism, philosophical liberalism seems to reconcile everyone. “The strong link between cultural liberalism and a Left stance on the one side, and between economic liberalism and a Right stance on the other might lead one to ask if these two liberalisms do not form the two opposing poles of one and the same dimension, which would be nothing other than the Right-Left dimension itself.” (“Liberalisme Culturel et Liberalisme Economique,” in Daniel Boy and Nonna Mayer, eds., L’Electeur Francais en Question, CEVIPOF (Presses de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, 1990). But they also observe that “the growth in the two levels of economic liberalism and cultural liberalism has rendered visible a very weak connection between them,” which has a paradoxical result: “Economic liberalism and cultural liberalism have a strong statistical relation as opposites in the Right-Left dimension, but they are only very weak negatively opposed to each other.” Ibid.
17. Que Vive la Republique (Paris: Odile Jacob, 1989). Cf. also Max Gallo, La Gauche est Morte, Vive la Gauche (Paris: Odile Jacob, 1990).
18. For a critique of the theory of the “political market,” see especially Pierre Merle, “L’Homo Politicus est-il un Homo Oeconomicus? L’Analyse Economique du Choix Politique: Approche Critique,” in Revue Francaise de Science Politique (February 1990), p. 75.
19. Pierre Rosanvallon, “Repenser la Gauche,” interview with L ‘Express (March 25,
1993), p. 116.
20. “Le Socialisme n’est plus ce qu’il Etait,” in L’Evenement Europeen, No. 1 (1988), pp. 101-102.
21. L’Etat (Economica, 1987), p. 153.
22. Ibid.
23. Cf. Andre Gorz, “Droite/Gauche. Essai de Redefinition,” in La Revue du MAUSS, Vo. 4, No. 4 (1991), pp. 16-17.
24. Nair, op. cit., p. 104
25. Ibid., p. 95.
26. “Le Malaise de la Gauche,” in L ‘Evenement Europeen No. 1 (1988).
27. Le Point (November 27, 1989), pp. 62-65.
28. “La Droite, la Gauche et les References Ideologiques,” in Sofres, ed., L’Etat de l’Opinion 1992 (Paris: Seuil, 1992), p. 67.
29. Op. cit., p. 152.
30. On anti-fascism, see Karl Dietrich Bracher: “Anti-fascism is not a scientific idea. It is an ideological and political concept whose utility has been to mount an alliance against the Nazi horror, but which has also served to define democracy too restrictively.” Cf. also Annie Kriegel, “Sur l’Antifaseisme,” in Commentaire (Summer 1990), pp. 299302, who qualifies anti-fascism as a “Stalinist myth par excellence,” and attributes it to the triple character of being, “an obscure concept, a concept of variable dimensions and a constantly changing concept.”
31. Etienne Schweisguth, Droite-Gauche: un Clivage Depasse? (Documentation francaise, 1994), p. 3.
32. La Revolte des Masses (Livre-Club du Labyrinthe, 1986), p. 32. Ortega returned to this often, notably in a 1930 article (“Organization de la Decenia Nacional”) and in a 1931 collection (“Rectification de la Republica”) where he qualifies the terms Right and Left as “sterile words” and as “the vocabulary of the past.”

33. Op. cit., pp. 150-151. 34. Ibid., p. 158.

———————–

De Benoist, Alain. “End of the Left-Right Dichotomy: The French Case.” Telos, Vol. 1995, No. 102 (December 1995), pp. 73-89. Text retrieved from: <http://www.amerika.org/texts/end-of-the-left-right-dichotomy-the-french-case-alain-de-benoist/ >.

Note: In the Spanish language, articles by Benoist and other Spanish New Right authors have been published in Sebastian J. Lorenz’s Elementos, N° 63, “Derecha-Izquierda: ¿Una Distincion Politica?” (Enero 2014), <http://issuu.com/sebastianjlorenz/docs/elementos_n___63.dcha-izda >.

 

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Human Rights – Faye

Human Rights

By Guillaume Faye

 

The cornerstone of the modern ideology of progress and individualistic egalitarianism — and the basis upon which the thought police have been set up to destroy the people’s rights to exist as a people.

As a synthesis of Eighteenth-century political philosophy (often badly understood), human rights is the inescapable horizon of the dominant ideology. With anti-racism, it becomes the central reference point for all collective forms of mental conditioning, for ready-made thought, and for the paralysis of all revolt. Profoundly hypocritical, human rights ideology accommodates every form of social misery and justifies every form of oppression. It functions as a veritable secular religion. The ‘human’ in human rights is nothing but an abstraction, a consumer-client, an atom. It says everything that human rights ideology originated with the Conventionnels of the French Revolution, in imitation of American Puritans.

Human rights ideology has succeeded in legitimating itself on the basis of two historical impostures: that of charity and philanthropy — and that of freedom.

‘Humans’ (already a vague notion) possess no fixed or universal rights, only those bequeathed by their civilisation, by their tradition. Against human rights, it’s necessary to oppose two key ideas: that of the rights of a people to an identity and that of justice (which varies according to culture and presumes that all individuals are not equally praiseworthy). These two notions do not rest on the presumption of an abstract universal man, but rather on actual men, localised within their specific culture.

To criticise the secular religion of human rights is obviously no apology for savage behaviour, though on numerous occasions human rights have been used to justify barbarism and oppression (the genocidal repression of the Vendée during the French Revolution or the extermination of Amerindians). Human rights ideology has often been the pretext for persecutions: in the name of the ‘Good’. It no more protects the rights of individuals than did Communism. Just the opposite, for it has imposed a new system of oppression, based on purely formalistic freedoms.

Under its auspices and in contempt of all democracy, it legitimises the Third World’s colonisation of Europe, tolerating freedom-killing delinquencies, supporting wars of aggression carried out in the name of humanitarianism, and refusing to deport illegal immigrants; this ideology never speaks out against the environmental pollution it causes or the social savagery of its globalised economy.

The ideology of human rights is above all strategically used to disarm European peoples, by making them feel guilty about almost everything. It thus authorises their disarmament and paralysis. It’s a sort of corruption of Christian charity and its egalitarian dogma that all individuals should be valued equally before God and Man.

The ideology of human rights is the principal weapon being used today to destroy Europe’s identity and to advance the interests of her alien colonisers.

—————–

From: Faye, Guillaume. Why We Fight: Manifesto for the European Resistance. London: Arktos Media, 2011, pp. 165-166.

 

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Liberal Double-Talk & its Consequences – Sunic

The Liberal Double-Talk & its Lexical and Legal Consequences

By Tomislav Sunic

Language is a potent weapon for legitimizing any political system. In many instances the language in the liberal West is reminiscent of the communist language of the old Soviet Union, although liberal media and politicians use words and phrases that are less abrasive and less value loaded than words used by the old communist officials and their state-run media. In Western academe, media, and public places, a level of communication has been reached which avoids confrontational discourse and which resorts to words devoid of substantive meaning. Generally speaking, the liberal system shuns negative hyperbolas and skirts around heavy-headed qualifiers that the state-run media of the Soviet Union once used in fostering its brand of conformity and its version of political correctness. By contrast, the media in the liberal system, very much in line with its ideology of historical optimism and progress, are enamored with the overkill of morally uplifting adjectives and adverbs, often displaying words and expressions such as “free speech,” “human rights,” “tolerance,” and “diversity.” There is a widespread assumption among modern citizens of the West that the concepts behind these flowery words must be taken as something self-evident.

There appears to be a contradiction. If free speech is something “self- evident” in liberal democracies, then the word “self-evidence” does not need to be repeated all the time; it can be uttered only once, or twice at the most. The very adjective “self-evident,” so frequent in the parlance of liberal politicians may in fact hide some uncertainties and even some self-doubt on the part of those who employ it. With constant hammering of these words and expressions, particularly words such as “human rights,” and “tolerance”, the liberal system may be hiding something; hiding, probably, the absence of genuine free speech. To illustrate this point more clearly it may be advisable for an average citizen living in the liberal system to look at the examples of the communist rhetoric which was once saturated with similar freedom-loving terms while, in reality, there was little of freedom and even less free-speech.

Verbal Mendacity

The postmodern liberal discourse has its own arsenal of words that one can dub with the adjective “Orwellian”, or better yet “double-talk”, or simply call it verbal mendacity. The French use the word “wooden language” (la langue de bois) and the German “cement” or “concrete” language (Betonsprache) for depicting an arcane bureaucratic and academic lingo that never reflects political reality and whose main purpose is to lead masses to flawed conceptualisation of political reality. Modern authors, however, tend to avoid the pejorative term “liberal double-talk,” preferring instead the arcane label of “the non-cognitive language which is used for manipulative or predictive analyses.” (1) Despite its softer and non abrasive version, liberal double-talk, very similar to the communist “wooden language,” has a very poor conceptual universe. Similar to the communist vernacular, it is marked by pathos and attempts to avoid the concrete. On the one hand, it tends to be aggressive and judgemental towards its critics yet, on the other, it is full of eulogies, especially regarding its multiracial experiments. It resorts to metaphors which are seldom based on real historical analogies and are often taken out of historical context, notably when depicting its opponents with generic “shut-up” words such as “racists”, “anti-Semites”, or “fascists”.

The choice of grammatical embellishers is consistent with the all-prevailing, liberal free market which, as a rule, must employ superlative adjectives for the free commerce of its goods and services. Ironically, there was some advantage of living under the communist linguistic umbrella. Behind the communist semiotics in Eastern Europe, there always loomed popular doubt which greatly helped ordinary citizens to decipher the political lie, and distinguish between friend and foe. The communist meta-language could best be described as a reflection of a make-belief system in which citizens never really believed and of which everybody, including communist party dignitaries, made fun of in private. Eventually, verbal mendacity spelled the death of communism both in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

By contrast, in the liberal system, politicians and scholars, let alone the masses, still believe in every written word of the democratic discourse. (2) There seem to be far less heretics, or for that matter dissidents who dare critically examine the syntax and semantics of the liberal double-talk. Official communication in the West perfectly matches the rule of law and can, therefore, rarely trigger a violent or a negative response among citizens. Surely, the liberal system allows mass protests and public demonstrations; it allows its critics to openly voice their disapproval of some flawed foreign policy decision. Different political and infra-political groups, hostile to the liberal system, often attempt to publicly drum-up public support on behalf or against some issue – be it against American military involvement in the Middle East, or against the fraudulent behavior of a local political representative. But, as an unwritten rule, seldom can one see rallies or mass demonstrations in Australia, America, or in Europe that would challenge the substance of parliamentary democracy and liberalism, let alone discard the ceremonial language of the liberal ruling class. Staging open protests with banners “Down with liberal democracy!, or “Parliamentary democracy sucks”!, would hardly be tolerated by the system. These verbal icons represent a “no entry zone” in liberalism.

The shining examples of the double-talk in liberalism are expressions such as “political correctness”, “hate speech,” “diversity,” “market democracy,” “ethnic sensitivity training” among many, many others. It is often forgotten, though, that the coinage of these expressions is relatively recent and that their etymology remains of dubious origin. These expressions appeared in the modern liberal dictionary in the late 70s and early 80s and their architects are widely ignored. Seldom has a question been raised as to who had coined those words and given them their actual meaning. What strikes the eyes is the abstract nature of these expressions. The expression “political correctness” first appeared in the American language and had no explicit political meaning; it was, rather, a fun-related, derogatory expression designed for somebody who was not trendy, such as a person smoking cigarettes or having views considered not to be “in” or “cool.” Gradually, and particularly after the fall of communism, the conceptualization of political correctness, acquired a very serious and disciplinary meaning.

Examples of political eulogy and political vilification in liberalism are often couched in sentimentalist vs. animalistic words and syllabi, respectively. When the much vaunted free press in liberalism attempts to glorify some event or some personality that fits into the canons of political rectitude, it will generally use a neutral language with sparse superlatives, with the prime intention not to subvert its readers, such as: “The democratic circles in Ukraine, who have been subject to governmental harassment, are propping up their rank and file to enable them electoral success.” Such laudatory statements must be well-hidden behind neutral words. By contrast when attempting to silence critics of the system who challenge the foundation of liberal democracy, the ruling elites and their frequently bankrolled journalists will use more direct words – something in the line of old Soviet stylistics, e.g.: “With their ultranationalist agenda and hate-mongering these rowdy individuals on the street of Sydney or Quebec showed once again their parentage in the monstrosity of the Nazi legacy.” Clearly, the goal is to disqualify the opponent by using an all-pervasive and hyperreal word “Nazism.” “A prominent American conservative author Paul Gottfried writes: “In fact, the European Left, like Canadian and Australian Left, pushes even further the trends adapted from American sources: It insists on criminalizing politically correct speech as an incitement to “fascists excess.” (3)

The first conclusion one can draw is that liberalism can better fool the masses than communism. Due to torrents of meaningless idioms, such as “human rights” and “democracy” on the one hand, and “Nazism” and “fascism” on the other, the thought control and intellectual repression in liberalism functions far better. Therefore, in the liberal “soft” system, a motive for a would-be heretic to overthrow the system is virtually excluded. The liberal system is posited on historical finitude simply because there is no longer the communist competitor who could come up with its own real or surreal “freedom narrative.” Thus, liberalism gives an impression of being the best system – simply because there are no other competing political narratives on the horizon.

What are the political implications of the liberal double-talk? It must be pointed out that liberal language is the reflection of the overall socio-demographic situation in the West. Over the last twenty years all Western states, including Australia, have undergone profound social and demographic changes; they have become “multicultural” systems. (multicultural being just a euphemism for a”multiracial” state). As a result of growing racial diversity the liberal elites are aware that in order to uphold social consensus and prevent the system from possible balkanization and civil war, new words and new syntax have to be invented. It was to be expected that these new words would soon find their way into modern legislations. More and more countries in the West are adopting laws that criminalize free speech and that make political communication difficult. In fact, liberalism, similar to its communist antecedents, it is an extremely fragile system. It excludes strong political beliefs by calling its critics “radicals,” which, as a result, inevitably leads to political conformity and intellectual duplicity. Modern public discourse in the West is teeming with abstract and unclear Soviet-style expressions such as “ethnic sensitivity training”, “affirmative action”, “antifascism”, “diversity”, and “holocaust studies”. In order to disqualify its critics the liberal system is resorting more and more to negative expression such as “anti-Semites”, or ” “neo-Nazi”, etc. This is best observed in Western higher education and the media which, over the last thirty years, have transformed themselves into places of high commissariats of political correctness, having on their board diverse “committees on preventing racial perjuries”, “ethnic diversity training programs”, and in which foreign racial awareness courses have become mandatory for the faculty staff and employees. No longer are professors required to demonstrate extra skills in their subject matters; instead, they must parade with sentimental and self-deprecatory statements which, as a rule, must denigrate the European cultural heritage.

By constantly resorting to the generic word “Nazism” and by using the prefix “anti”, the system actually shows its negative legitimacy. One can conclude that even if all anti-Semites and all fascists were to disappear, most likely the system would invent them by creating and recreating these words. These words have become symbols of absolute evil.

The third point about the liberal discourse that needs to be stressed is its constant recourse to the imagery of hyperreality. By using the referent of “diversity”, diverse liberal groups and infra-political tribes prove in fact their sameness, making dispassionate observers easily bored and tired. Nowhere is this sign of verbal hyperreality more visible than in the constant verbal and visual featuring of Jewish Holocaust symbolism which, ironically, is creating the same saturation process among the audience as was once the case with communist victimhood. The rhetoric and imagery of Holocaust no longer function “as a site of annihilation but a medium of dissuasion.”(4).

The Legal Trap

Other than as a simple part of daily jargon the expression “hate speech” does not exist in any European or American legislation. Once again the distinction needs to be made between the legal field and lexical field, as different penal codes of different Western countries are framed in a far more sophisticated language. For instance, criminal codes in continental Europe have all introduced laws that punish individuals uttering critical remarks against the founding myths of the liberal system. The best example is Germany, a country which often brags itself to be the most eloquent and most democratic Constitution on Earth. This is at least what the German ruling elites say about their judiciary, and which does not depart much from what Stalin himself said about the Soviet Constitution of 1936. The Constitution of Germany is truly superb, yet in order to get the whole idea of freedom of speech in Germany one needs to examine the country’s Criminal Code and its numerous agencies that are in charge of its implementation. Thus, Article 5 of the German Constitution (The Basic Law) guarantees “freedom of speech.” However, Germany’s Criminal Code, Section 130, and Subsection 3, appear to be in stark contradiction to the German Basic Law. Under Section 130, of the German criminal code a German citizen, but also a non-German citizen, may be convicted, if found guilty, of breaching the law of “agitation of the people” (sedition laws). It is a similar case with Austria. It must be emphasized that there is no mention in the Criminal Code of the Federal Republic of Germany of the Holocaust or the Nazi extermination of the Jews. But based on the context of the Criminal Code this Section can arbitrarily be applied when sentencing somebody who belittles or denies National-Socialist crimes or voices critical views of the modern historiography. Moreover a critical examination of the role of the Allies during World War may also bring some ardent historian into legal troubles.

The German language is a highly inflected language as opposed to French and English which are contextual languages and do not allow deliberate tinkering with prefixes or suffixes, or the creation of arbitrary compound words. By contrast, one can always create new words in the German language, a language often awash with a mass of neologisms. Thus, the title of the Article 130 of the German Criminal Code Volksverhetzung is a bizarre neologism and very difficult compound word which is hard to translate into English, and which on top, can be conceptualized in many opposing ways. (Popular taunting, baiting, bullying of the people, public incitement etc..). Its Subsection 3, though is stern and quite explicit and reads in English as follows:

“Whoever publicly or in a meeting approves of, denies or renders harmless an act committed under the rule of National Socialism… shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than five years or a fine.”

If by contrast the plight of German civilians after World War II is openly discussed by a German academic or simply by some free spirit, he may run the risk of being accused of trivializing the official assumption of sole German guilt during World War II. Depending on a local legislation of some federal state in Germany an academic, although not belittling National Socialist crimes may, by inversion, fall under suspicion of “downplaying” or “trivializing” Nazi crimes – and may be fined or, worse, land in prison. Any speech or article, for instance, that may be related to events surrounding World War may have a negative anticipatory value in the eyes of the liberal inquisitors, that is to say in the eyes of the all prevailing Agency for the protection of the German Constitution (Verfassungschutz). Someone’s words, as in the old Soviet system, can be easily misconstrued and interpreted as an indirect belittlement of crimes committed by National-Socialists.

Germany is a half-sovereign country still legally at war with the USA, and whose Constitution was written under the auspices of the Allies. Yet unlike other countries in the European Union, Germany has something unprecedented. Both on the state and federal levels it has that special government agency in charge of the surveillance of the Constitution. i.e., and whose sole purpose is to keep track of journalists, academics and right-wing politicians and observe the purity of their parlance and prose. The famed “Office for the Protection of the Constitution” (“Verfassungschutz”), as the German legal scholar Josef Schüsselburner writes, “is basically an internal secret service with seventeen branch agencies (one on the level of the federation and sixteen others for each constituent federal state). In the last analysis, this boils down to saying that only the internal secret service is competent to declare a person an internal enemy of the state.” (5)

In terms of free speech, contemporary France is not much better. In 1990 a law was passed on the initiative of the socialist deputy Laurent Fabius and the communist deputy Jean-Claude Gayssot. That law made it a criminal offence, punishable by a fine of up to 40,000 euros, or one year in prison, or both, to contest the truth of any of the “crimes against humanity” with which the German National Socialist leaders were charged by the London Agreement of 1945, and which was drafted for the Nuremberg Trials. (6) Similar to the German Criminal Code Section 130, there is no reference to the Holocaust or Jews in this portion of the French legislation. But at least the wording of the French so-called Fabius-Gayssot law is more explicit than the fluid German word “Volksverhetzung.” It clearly states that any Neo-Nazi activity having as a result the belittling of Nazi crimes is a criminal offence. With France and German, being the main pillars of the European Union these laws have already given extraordinary power to local judges of EU member countries when pronouncing verdicts against anti-liberal heretics.

For fear of being called confrontational or racist, or an anti-Semite, a European politician or academic is more and more forced to exercise self-censorship. The role of intellectual elites in Europe has never been a shining one. However, with the passage of these “hate laws” into the European legislations, the cultural and academic ambiance in Europe has become sterile. Aside from a few individuals, European academics and journalists, let alone politicians, must be the masters of self-censorship and self-delusion, as well as great impresarios of their own postmodern mimicry. As seen in the case of the former communist apparatchiks in Eastern Europe, they are likely to discard their ideas as soon as these cease to be trendy, or when another political double-talk becomes fashionable.

The modern politically-correct language, or liberal double-talk, is often used for separating the ignorant grass-roots masses from the upper level classes; it is the superb path to cultural and social ascension. The censorial intellectual climate in the Western media, so similar to the old Soviet propaganda, bears witness that liberal elites, at the beginning of the third millennium, are increasingly worried about the future identity of the countries in which they rule. For sure, the liberal system doesn’t yet need truncheons or police force in order to enforce its truth. It can remove rebels, heretics, or simply academics, by using smear campaigns, or accusing them of “guilt by association,” and by removing them from important places of decision – be it in academia, the political arena, or the media. Once the spirit of the age changes, the high priests of this new postmodern inquisition will likely be the first to dump their current truths and replace them with other voguish “self-evident” truths. This was the case with the communist ruling class, which after the break down of communism quickly recycled itself into fervent apostles of liberalism. This will again be the case with modern liberal elites, who will not hesitate to turn into rabid racists and anti-Semites, as soon as new “self evident” truths appear on the horizon.

Notes:

1. A. James Gregor, Metascience and Politics (1971 London: Transaction, 2004), p.318.

2. Alan Charles Kors, “Thought Reform: The Orwellian Implications of Today’s College Orientation,” in Reasononline, (March 2000). See the link: http://reason.com/0003/fe.ak.thought.shtml

3. Paul Gottfried, The Strange Death of Marxism (Columbia and London: University of Missouri Press, 2005), p.13.

4. Jean Baudrillard, The Evil Demons of Images (University of Sydney: The Power Inst. of Fine Arts, 1988), p.24.

5. Josef Schüsslburner, Demokratie-Sonderweg Bundesrepublik (Lindenblatt Media Verlag. Künzell, 2004), p. 233.

6. See Journal officiel de la République française, (14 juillet 1990), page 8333loi n° 90-615.

 

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Sunic, Tomislav. “Liberal Double-Talk and its Lexical and Legal Consequences.” Empresas Politicas (Madrid) n°10/11, 1er/2°, semester 2008, pp. 229-234. (See this essay in PDF format here: The Liberal Double-Talk & its Lexical and Legal Consequences).

Note: This essay was also republished in Tomislav Sunic’s Postmortem Report: Cultural Examinations from Postmodernity – Collected Essays (Shamley Green, UK: The Paligenesis Project, 2010).

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Liberalism or Democracy? – Sunic

Liberalism or Democracy? Carl Schmitt and Apolitical Democracy

By Tomislav Sunic

Growing imprecision in the language of political discourse has turned virtually everyone into a democrat or, at least, an aspiring democrat. East,West, North, South, in all corners of the world, politicians and intellectuals profess the democratic ideal, as if their rhetorical homage to democracy could substitute for the frequently poor showing of their democratic institutions.[1] Does liberal democracy – and this is what we take as our criterion for the “best of all democracies” – mean more political participation or less, and how does one explain that in liberal democracy electoral interests have been declining for years? Judging by voter turnout, almost everywhere in the West the functioning of liberal democracy has been accompanied by political demobilization and a retreat from political participation.[2] Might it be, that consciously or unconsciously, the citizens of liberal democracies realize that their ballot choices can in no substantial manner affect the way their societies are governed, or worse, that the rites of liberal democracy are an elegant smoke screen for the absence of self-government?

Liberal Parenthesis and the End of the Muscled State

This paper will argue both that democracy is not necessarily an accompanying feature of liberalism and that liberal democracy may often be the very opposite of what democracy is supposed to mean. Through the arguments of Carl Schmitt, I shall demonstrate that: 1) democracy can have a different meaning in liberal society than in non-liberal society, 2) the depoliticization of liberal democracy is the direct result of voter mistrust in the liberal political class, and 3) liberal democracy in multi-ethnic countries is likely to face serious challenges in the future.

Over the period of the last fifty years, Western societies have witnessed a rapid eclipse of “hard” politics. Theological fanaticism, ideological ferocity, and politics of power, all of which have until recently rocked European states, have become things of the past. The influence of radical left-wing or right-wing parties and ideologies has waned. “High” politics, as a traditional action and interaction process between the rulers and the ruled, and as a guide for purported national destiny, seems to have become obsolete. With the collapse of communism in the East, modern liberal democracies in the West appear today as the only alternative forms of government on the barren political and ideological landscape. Moreover, in view of the recent collapse of totalitarian ideologies, liberal democracy seems to have gained even more legitimacy, all the more so as it successfully accommodates differing political views. Western liberal democracy, people believe, can satisfy diverse and disparate opinions, and can continue to function even when these are non-democratic and anti-liberal.

For Schmitt, liberal tolerance towards opposing political views is deceiving. In all of his works, and particularly in Verfassungslehre and Die geistesgeschichtliche Lage des heutigen Parlamentarismus, he points to differences between liberalism and democracy, asserting that liberalism, by its nature, is hostile to all political projects. In liberal democracy, writes Schmitt, “politics far from being the concern of an elite, has become the despised business of a rather dubious class of persons.”[3] One may add that liberal democracy does not appear to be in need of political projects: With its vast technological infrastructure and the free market network, argues Schmitt, liberal democracy has no difficulty in rendering all contending beliefs and opposing ideologies inoffensive, or, at worst, ridiculous.[4]

In liberal democracy, in which most collective projects have already been delegitimized by belief in individualism and in the private pursuit of economic well-being, “it cannot be required, from any thinkable point of view, that anyone lays down his life, in the interest of the undisturbed functioning [of this society].”[5] Little by little, liberal democracy makes all political projects unattractive and unpopular, unless they appeal to economic interests. “Liberal democracy,” writes Schmitt, “seems to be fitted for a rational, secularized environment in which the state is reduced to a “night-watchman” supervising economic transactions. The state becomes a sort of inoffensive “mini-state” [“Minimalstaat”] or stato neutrale.”[6] One could almost argue that the strength of liberal democracy lies not in its aggressive posturing of its liberal ideal, but rather in its renunciation of all political ideals, including its own.

To some extent, this apolitical inertia appears today stronger than ever before, since no valid challenger to liberal democracy appears on the horizon. What a stark contrast to the time prior to World War II, when radical left- and right-wing ideologies managed to draw substantial support from political and intellectual elites! Might it be that the “Entzauberung” of politics has gone so far as to contribute to the strengthening of apolitical liberal democracy? Very revealing, indeed, appears the change in the behavior of modern elites in liberal democracies; left, right, and center barely differ in their public statements or in their political vocabulary. Their styles may differ, but their messages remain virtually the same. The “soft” and apolitical discourse of modern liberal princes, as one French observer recently wrote, prompts the “liberal-socialist” to exclaim: “I will die from loving your beautiful eyes Marquise.” And to this the “socialist-liberal”responds: “Marquise, from loving your beautiful eyes, I will die.”[7] Leftwing agendas are so often tainted with right-wing rhetoric that they appear to incorporate conservative principles. Conversely, right-wing politicians often sound like disillusioned leftists on many issues of domestic and foreign policy. In liberal democracy, all parties across the political spectrum, regardless of their declaratory differences, seem to be in agreement on one thing: democracy functions best when the political arena is reduced to its minimum and the economic and juridical spheres are expanded to their maximum.

Part of the problem may result from the very nature of liberalism. Schmitt suggests that the notions of liberalism and democracy “have to be distinguished from one another so that the patchwork picture that makes up modern mass democracy can be recognized.”[8] As Schmitt notes, democracy is the antithesis of liberalism, because “democracy … attempts to realize an identity of the governed and the governors, and thus it confronts the parliament as an inconceivable and outmoded institution.”[9]

Organic Democracy vs. Apolitical Democracy

True democracy, for Schmitt, means popular sovereignty, whereas liberal democracy and liberal parliament aim at curbing popular power. For Schmitt, if democratic identity is taken seriously, only the people should decide on their political destiny, and not liberal representatives, because “no other constitutional institution can withstand the sole criterion of the people’s will, however it is expressed.”[10] Liberal democracy, argues Schmitt, is nothing else but a euphemism for a system consecrating the demise of politics and thus destroying true democracy. But a question arises: why, given liberalism’s history of tolerance and its propensity to accommodate diverse groups, does Schmitt adamantly reject liberal democracy? Has not liberalism, particularly in the light of recent experiences with “muscled ideologies,” proven its superior and humane nature?

The crux of Schmitt’s stance lies in his conviction that the concept of “liberal democracy” is semantic nonsense. In its place, Schmitt seems to suggest both a new definition of democracy and a new notion of the political. According to Schmitt, “democracy requires, first homogeneity and second-if the need arises-elimination or eradication of heterogeneity.”[11] Homogeneity and the concomitant elimination of heterogeneity are the two pillars of Schmitt’s democracy, something which stands in sharp contrast to liberal party systems and the fragmentation of the body politic. Democratic homogeneity, according to Schmitt, presupposes a common historical memory, common roots, and a common vision of the future, all of which can subsist only in a polity where the people speak with one voice. “As long as a people has the will to political existence,” writes Schmitt,” it must remain above all formulations and normative beliefs. . . . The most natural way of the direct expression of the people’s will is by approvals or disapprovals of the gathered crowd, i.e., the acclamation.”[12] To be sure, with his definition of homogeneous democracy that results from the popular will, Schmitt appears to be holding the value of the traditional community above that of civil society which, for the last century, has been the hallmark of liberal democracy.[13] One may therefore wonder to what extent can Schmitt’s “organic” democracy be applicable to the highly fractured societies of the West, let alone to an ethnically fragmented America.

Schmitt insists that “the central concept of democracy is the people (Volk), not mankind [Menscheit]. . . . There can be-if democracy takes a political form-only popular democracy, but not a democracy of mankind [Es gibt eine Volksdemokratie und keine Menscheitsdemokratie].”[14] Naturally, this vision of “ethnic” democracy collides with modern liberal democracy, one of the purposes of which, its proponents claim, is to transcend ethnic differences in pluralistic societies. Schmitt’s “ethnic” democracy must be seen as the reflection of the uniqueness of a given people who oppose imitations of their democracy by other peoples or races. Since Schmitt’s democracy bears a resemblance to ancient Greek democracy, critics must wonder how feasible this democracy can be today. Transplanted into the twentieth century, this democratic anachronism will appear disturbing, not least because it will remind some of both fascist corporate and Third World states with their strict laws on ethnic and cultural homogeneity. Schmitt confirms these misgivings when he states that “a democracy demonstrates its political power by knowing how to refuse or keep at bay something foreign and unequal that threatens its homogeneity [das Fremde und Ungleiche . . . zu beseitigen oder fernzuhalten].”[15] Any advocate of liberal democracy in modern multicultural societies could complain that Schmitt’s democracy excludes those whose birth, race, or simply religious or ideological affiliation is found incompatible with a restricted democracy. Foreign may be a foreign idea that is seen to threaten democracy, and a foreigner may be somebody who is viewed as unfit to participate in the body politic because of his race or creed. In other words, one could easily suspect Schmitt of endorsing the kind of democracy that approximates the “total state.”

Nor does Schmitt treat the liberal principles of legality with much sympathy. In his essay “Legalitat und Legitimitat,” Schmitt argues that the kind of liberal democracy creates the illusion of freedom by according to each political group and opposing opinion a fair amount of freedom of expression as well as a guaranteed legal path to accomplish its goal in a peaceful manner.[16] Such an attitude to legal rights is contrary to the notion of democracy, and eventually leads to anarchy, argues Schmitt, because legality in a true democracy must always be the expression of the popular will and not the expression of factional interests. “Law is the expression of the will of the people (lex est quod populus jubet),” writes Schmitt, [17] “and in no way can law be a manifestation of an anonymous representative or a parliamentarian who solely looks after interests of his narrow constituency.” “Indeed,” continues Schmitt, “an ethnically homogeneous and historical people has all the prerequisites to uphold justice and remain democratic, provided it always asserts its will.”[18] Of course, one may argue that Schmitt had in mind a form of populist democracy reminiscent of the 1930s’ plebiscitary dictatorships which scorned both parliamentary parties and organized elections. In his Verfassungslehre, Schmitt attacks free parliamentary elections for creating, through secret balloting, a mechanism which. “transforms the citizen (citoyen), that is, a specifically democratic and political figure, into a private person who only expresses his private opinion and gives his vote.”[19] Here Schmitt seems to be consistent with his earlier remarks about ethnic homogeneity. For Schmitt, the much-vaunted “public opinion,” which liberals equate with the notion of political tolerance, is actually a contradiction in terms, because a system which is obsessed with privacy inevitably shies away from political openness. True and organic democracy, according to Schmitt, is threatened by liberal secret balloting, and “the result is the sum of private opinions.”[20] Schmitt goes on to say that “the methods of today’s popular elections [Volkswahl] and referendums [Volksentscheid] in modern democracy, in no way contain the procedure for genuine popular elections; instead, they organize a procedure for the elections of the individuals based on the total sum of independent ballot papers.”[21]

Predictably, Schmitt’s view of democratic equality is dependent upon his belief that democracy entails social homogeneity, an idea Schmitt develops more fully in Verfassungslehre and The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy. Although liberal democracy upholds the legal equality of individuals, it ignores the equality of rooted citizens. Liberal democracy merely provides for the equality of atomized individuals whose ethnic, cultural, or racial bonds are so weakened or diluted that they can no longer be viewed as equal inheritors of a common cultural memory and a common vision of the future. Undoubtedly, equality and democracy, for Schmitt, are inseparable. Equality in a genuine organic democracy always takes place among “equals of the same kind (Gleichartigen).”[22] This corresponds to Schmitt’s earlier assertions that “equal rights make good sense where homogeneity exists.”[23] Could one infer from these brief descriptions of democratic equality that in an ethnically or ideologically fragmented society equality can never be attained? One might argue that by transferring the political discourse of equality to the juridical sphere, liberal democracy has elegantly masked glaring inequality in another sphere-that of economics. One could agree with Schmitt that liberal democracy, as much as it heralds “human rights” and legal equality and proudly boasts of “equality of (economic) opportunity,” encourages material disparities. Indeed, inequality in liberal democracy has not disappeared, and, in accordance with the Schmitt’s ‘observations regarding the shifts in the political sphere, “another sphere in which substantial inequality prevails (today, for example the economic sphere), will dominate politics. Small wonder that, in view of its contradictory approach to equality, liberal democracy has been under constant fire from the left and the right.[24]

To sum up, Schmitt rejects liberal democracy on several counts: 1) liberal . democracy is not “demo-krasia,” because it does not foster the identity of the governed and the governors, 2) liberal democracy reduces the political arena, and thus creates an apolitical society, and 3) in upholding legal equality, and pursuant to its constant search for the wealth that will win it support, liberal democracy results in glaring economic inequality.

The Rule of the People or the Rule of Atomized Individuals?

From the etymological and historical points of view, Schmitt’s criticism of liberal democracy merits attention. Democracy signifies the rule of the people, a specific people with a common ethnic background, and not the people construed, after the manner of some liberal democracies, as the atomized agglomeration flowing from a cultural “melting pot.” But if one assumes that a new type of homogeneity can develop, e.g., homogeneity caused by technological progress, then one cannot dispute the functionality of a liberal democracy in which the homogenized citizens remain thoroughly apolitical: Hypothetically speaking, political issues in the decades to come may no longer be ethnicity, religions, nation-states, economics, or even technology, but other issues that could “homogenize” citizens. Whether democracy in the twenty-first century will be based on apolitical consensus remains to be seen. Schmitt sincerely feared that the apoliticism of “global liberal democracy” under the aegis of the United States could become a dangerous predicament for all, leading not to global peace but to global servitude.[25] As of today, however, liberal democracy still serves as a normative concept for many countries, but whether this will remain so is an open question.

In view of the increased ethnic fragmentation and continued economic disparities in the world, it seems that Schmitt’s analysis may contain a grain of truth. The American experience with liberal democracy has so far been tolerable: that is, the U.S. has shown that it can function as a heterogeneous multi-ethnic society even when, contrary to Schmitt’s fears, the level of political and historical consciousness remains very low. Yet, the liberal democratic experiment elsewhere has been less successful. Recent attempts to introduce liberal democracy into the multi-ethnic states of Eastern Europe have paradoxically speeded up their dissolution or, at best, weakened their legitimacy. The cases of the multi-ethnic Soviet Union and the now-defunct Yugoslavia-countries in endless struggles to find lasting legitimacy-are very revealing and confirm Schmitt’s predictions that democracy functions best, at least in some places, in ethnically homogeneous societies.[26] In light of the collapse of communism and fascism, one is tempted to argue that liberal democracy is the wave of the future. Yet, exported American political ideals will vary according to the countries and the peoples among whom they take root. Even the highly Americanized European countries practice a different brand of liberal democracy from what one encounters in America.

Schmitt observes that liberalism, while focusing on the private rights of individuals, contributes to the weakening of the sense of community. Liberal democracy typifies, for Schmitt, a polity which cripples the sense of responsibility and renders society vulnerable to enemies both from within and without. By contrast, his idea of organic democracy is not designed for individuals who yearn to reduce political activity to the private pursuit of happiness; rather, organic, classical democracy means “the identity of the governors and the governed, of the rulers and the ruled, of those who receive orders and of those who abide by them.”[27] In such a polity, laws and even the constitution itself can be changed on a short notice because the people, acting as their own legislators, do not employ parliamentary representatives.

Schmitt’s democracy could easily pass for what liberal theorists would identify as a disagreeable dictatorship. Would Schmitt object to that? Hardly. In fact, he does not discount the compatibility of democracy with communism or even fascism. “Bolshevism and Fascism,” writes Schmitt, “by contrast, are like all dictatorships certainly anti-liberal, but not necessarily anti-democratic.”[28] Both communism and fascism strive towards homogeneity (even if they attempt to be homogeneous by force) by banning all opposition. Communism, for which the resolute anti-Bolshevik Schmitt had no sympathy, can surely be democratic, at least in its normative and utopian stage. The “educational dictatorship” of communism, remarks Schmitt, may suspend democracy in the name of democracy, “because it shows that dictatorship is not antithetical to democracy.”[29] In a true democracy, legitimacy derives not from parliamentary maneuvers, but from acclamation and popular referenda. “There is no democracy and no state without public opinion, and no state without acclamation,” writes Schmitt [30] By contrast, liberal democracy with its main pillars, viz., individual liberty and the separation of powers, opposes public opinion and, thus, must stand forth as the enemy of true democracy. Or, are we dealing here with words that have become equivocal? According to Schmitt, “democratic principles mean that the people as a whole decides and governs as a sovereign.”[31] One could argue that democracy must be a form of kratos, an exercise, not a limiting, of power. Julien Freund, a French Schmittian, concurs that “democracy is a ‘kratos.’ As such it presupposes, just like any other regime, the presence and the validity of an authority.” [32] With its separation of powers, the atomization of the body politic, and the neutralization of politics, liberal democracy deviates from this model.

Conclusion: The Liberal ‘Dictatorship of Well-Being’

If one assumes that Schmitt’s “total democracy” excludes those with different views and different ethnic origins, could not one also argue that liberal democracy excludes by virtue of applying an “apolitical” central field? Through apolitical economics and social censure, liberal democracy paradoxically generates a homogeneous consumer culture. Is this not a form of “soft” punishment imposed on those who behave incorrectly? Long ago, in his observations about democracy in America, Tocqueville pointed out the dangers of apolitical “democratic despotism.” “If despotism were to be established among the democratic nations of our days, it might assume a different character; it would be more extensive and more mild; it would degrade men without tormenting them.”[33] Perhaps this “democratic despotism” is already at work in liberal democracies. A person nowadays can be effectively silenced by being attacked as socially insensitive.

Contemporary liberal democracy amply demonstrates the degree to which the economic and spiritual needs of citizens have become homogenized. Citizens act more and more indistinguishably in a new form of “dictatorship of well-being.”[34] Certainly, this homogeneity in liberal democracy does not spring from coercion or physical exclusion, but rather from the voter’s sense of futility. Official censorship is no longer needed as the ostracism resulting from political incorrectness becomes daily more obvious. Citizens appear more and more apathetic, knowing in all likelihood that, regardless of their participation, the current power structure will remain intact. Moreover, liberal democrats, as much as they complain about the intolerance of others, often appear themselves scornful of those who doubt liberal doctrines, particularly the beliefs in rationalism and economic progress. The French thinker Georges Sorel, who influenced Schmitt, remarked long ago that to protest against the illusion of liberal rationalism means to be immediately branded as the enemy of democracy.[35] One must agree that, irrespective of its relative tolerance in the past, liberal democracy appears to have its own sets of values and normative claims. Its adherents, for example, are supposed to believe that liberal democracy operates entirely by law. Julien Freund detects in liberal legalism “an irenic concept” of law, “a juridical utopia . . . which ignores the real effects of political, economic and other relations.”[36] No wonder that Schmitt and his followers have difficulty in accepting the liberal vision of the rule of law, or in believing that such a vision can “suspend decisive [ideological] battle through endless discussion.”[37] In its quest for a perfect and apolitical society, liberal democracy develops in such a manner that “public discussion [becomes] an empty formality,”[38] reduced to shallow discourse in which different opinions are no longer debated. A modern liberal politician increasingly resembles an “entertainer” whose goal is not to persuade the opponent about the validity of his political programs, but primarily to obtain electoral majorities.[39]

In hindsight, it should not appear strange that liberal democracy, which claims to be open to all kinds of technological, economic and sexual “revolutions,” remains opposed to anything that would question its apolitical status quo. It comes, therefore, as no surprise that even the word “politics” is increasingly being supplanted by the more anodyne word “policy,” just as prime ministers in liberal democracies are increasingly recruited from economists and businessmen.

Schmitt correctly predicted that even the defeat of fascism and the recent collapse of communism would not forestall a political crisis in liberal democracy. For Schmitt, this crisis is inherent in the very nature of liberalism, and will keep recurring even if all anti-liberal ideologies disappeared. The crisis in liberal parliamentary democracy is the result of the contradiction between liberalism and democracy; it is, in Schmittian language, the crisis of a society that attempts to be both liberal and democratic, universal and legalistic, but at the same time committed to the self-government of peoples.

One does not need to go far in search of fields that may politicize and then polarize modern liberal democracy. Recent events in Eastern Europe, the explosion of nationalisms all around the world, racial clashes in the liberal democratic West – these and other “disruptive” developments demonstrate that the liberal faith may have a stormy future. Liberal democracy may fall prey to its own sense of infallibility if it concludes that nobody is willing to challenge it. This would be a mistake. For neither the demise of fascism nor the recent collapse of communism has ushered in a more peaceful epoch. Although Western Europe and America are now enjoying a comfortable respite from power politics, new conflicts have erupted in their societies, over multiculturalism and human rights. The end of liberal apolitical democracy and the return of “hard” politics may be taking place within liberal democratic societies.

Notes:

1. See Giovanni Sartori, Democratic Theory (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1962), 3. “In a somewhat paradoxical vein, democracy could be defined as a high-flown name for something which does not exist.” See, for instance, the book by French “Schmittian” Alain de Benoist, Democratie: Le probleme (Paris: Le Labyrinthe, 1985), 8. “Democracy is neither more ‘modern’ nor more ‘evolved’ than other forms of governance: Governments with democratic tendencies have appeared throughout history. We can observe how the linear perspective used in this type of analysis can be particularly deceiving.” Against the communist theory of democracy, see Julien Freund, considered today as a foremost expert on Schmitt, in Politique et impolitique (Paris: Sirey, 1987), 203. “It is precisely in the name of democracy, designed as genuine and ideal and always put off for tomorrow that non-democrats conduct their campaign of propaganda against real and existing democracies.” For an interesting critique of democratic theory, see Louis Rougier, La Mystique democratique (Paris: Albatros,1983). Rougier was inspired by Vilfredo Pareto and his elitist anti-democratic theory of the state.

2. See, for instance, an analysis of U.S. “post-electoral politics,” which seems to be characterized by the governmental incapacity to put a stop to increasing appeals to the judiciary, in Benjamin Ginsberg and Martin Shefter, Politics by other Means: The Declining Importance of Election in America (New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1990).

3. Carl Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, trans. Ellen Kennedy (Cambridge: MIT,1985), 4.

4. The views held by some leftist scholars concerning liberalism closely parallel those of Schmitt, particularly the charge of “soft” repression. See, for instance, Jurgen Habermas, Technik und Wissenschaft als Ideologie (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1968). See also Regis Debray , Le Scribe: Genese du politique (Paris: Grasset, 1980).

5. Carl Schmitt, Der Begriff des Politischen (Munchen und Leipzig: Duncker und Humblot, 1932), 36. Recently, Schmitt’s major works have become available in English. These include: The Concept of the Political, trans. G. Schwab (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Prress, 1976); Political Romanticism, trans. G. Oakes (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1986); and Political Theology, trans. G. Schwab (Cambridge: MIT Press; 1985). There may be some differences between my translations and the translations in the English version.

6. Schmitt, Der Begriff, 76.

7. Francois-Bernard Huyghe, La soft-ideologie (Paris: Robert Laffont, 1987), 43

8. Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, 8.

9. Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, 15.

10. Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, 15.

11. Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, 9.

12. Carl Schmitt, Verfassungslehre (Munchen und Leipzig: Verlag von Duncker und Humblot, 1928), 83.

13. See Ferdinand Tonnies, Community and Society (Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft), trans. and ed. Charles P. Loomis (New York: Harper & Row, 1963). Tonnies distinguishes between hierarchy in modern and traditional society. His views are similar to those of Louis Dumont, Homo Hierarchicus, the Caste System and its Implications, trans. Mark Sainsbury and L. Dumont (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980). Dumont draws attention to “vertical” vs. “horizontal” inequality among social groups.

14. Schmitt, Verfassungslehre, 234.

15. Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, 9.

16. Carl Schmitt, Du Politique, trans. William Gueydan (Puiseaux: Pardes, 1990), 46. “Legalitat und Legitimitat” appears in French translation, with a preface by Alain de Benoist, as “L’egalite et legitimite”

17. Schmitt, Du Politique, 57.

18. Schmitt, Du Politique, 58. See also Schmitt’s Verfassungslehre, 87-91:

19. Schmitt, Verfassungslehre, 245.

20. Schmitt, Verfassungslehre, 246.

21. Schmitt, Verfassungslehre, 245.

22. Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, 10.

23. Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, 13.

24. See, for instance, the conservative revolutionary, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Das Dritte Reich (1923) whose criticism of liberal democracy often parallels Carl Schmitt’s, and echoes Karl Marx, The Critique of the Gotha Program (New York: International Publishers, 1938), 9. “Hence equal rights here (in liberalism) means in principle bourgeois rights. The equal right is an unequal right for unequal labor.” See also Schmitt’s contemporary Othmar Spann with a similar analysis, Der wahre Staat (Leipzig: Verlag von Qnelle und Meyer,1921).

25. See Carl Schmitt, “L’unite du monde,” trans. Philippe Baillet in Du Politique, 237-49.

26. In some multi-ethnic states, liberal democracy has difficulty taking root. For instance, the liberalisation of Yugoslavia has led to its collapse into its ethnic parts. This could bring some comfort to Schmitt’s thesis that democracy requires a homogeneous “Volk” within its ethnographic borders and state. See Tomislav Sunic, “Yugoslavia, the End of Communism the Return of Nationalism,” America (20 April 1991), 438–440.

27. Schmitt, Verfassungslehre, 234. See for a detailed treatment of this subject the concluding chapter of Paul Gottfried, Carl Schmitt: Politics and Theory (Westport and New York: Greenwood Press, 1990).

28. Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, 16,

29. Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, 28.

30. Schmitt, Verfassungslehre, 247.

31. Carl Schmitt; “L’etat de droit bourgeois,” in Du Politique, 35.

32. Freund, Politique et impolitique, 204.

33. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1966), vol. 2, book fourth, Ch. 6.

34. There is a flurry of books criticizing the “surreal” and “vicarious” nature of modern liberal society. See Jean Baudrillard, Les strategies fatales (“Figures du transpolitique”) (Paris: Grasset, 1983). Also, Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism (New York: Warner Books, 1979).

35. Georges Sorel, Les illusions du progres (Paris: M. Riviere, 1947), 50.

36. Freund, Politique et impolitique, 305.

37. Carl Schmitt, Politische Theologie (Munchen und Leipzig: Verlag von Duncker und Humblot, 1934), 80.

38. Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, 6.

39. Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, 7.

 

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Sunic, Tomislav. “Liberalism or Democracy? Carl Schmitt and Apolitical Democracy.” THIS WORLD (An Annual of Religious and Public Life), Vol. 28, 1993. <http://www.tomsunic.com/?p=38 >. (See this essay in PDF format here: Liberalism or Democracy? Carl Schmitt and Apolitical Democracy).

Note: This essay was also republished in Tomislav Sunic’s Postmortem Report: Cultural Examinations from Postmodernity – Collected Essays (Shamley Green, UK: The Paligenesis Project, 2010).

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