Print this post Print this post

The Relevance of the Old Right

Giacomo Balla, Balbo and the Italian Transatlantic Flyers (Celestial Metallic Airplane), 1931

Giacomo Balla, Balbo and the Italian Transatlantic Flyers (Celestial Metallic Airplane), 1931

1,560 words

Audio version: To listen in a player, click here. To download the mp3, right-click here and choose “save target or link as.”

Spanish translation here

What is the relevance of what I call the Old Right — German National Socialism, Italian Fascism, and related interwar national-populist movements — to White Nationalism today? The question would not even arise, of course, if there were no connection at all. Many White Nationalist ideas are either direct descendants of Old Right ideologies, or they are their cousins, meaning that they share common ancestors, that they are branches of the same ideological tree.

This is what I take from the Old Right:

  1. Nationalism over globalization: the Old Right put the preservation and flourishing of historically existing peoples ahead of the imperatives of universal ideologies like liberalism and Communism and the homogenizing tendencies of globalizing institutions like the marketplace.
  2. The common good over individual liberty: the Old Right put the health of the body politic ahead of individual freedom and self-expression. One can still value liberty, private life, individuality, and private enterprise, but only to the extent that they promote a healthy society.
  3. Biology is central to politics: liberal individualism simply does not care about the demographic or dysgenic trends it establishes, because caring about such things is “collectivism.” The Old Right saw that the health of the body politic has everything to do with long-term demographic trends, and it took the responsibility of promoting positive rather than negative ones. Thus the Old Right promoted strong family bonds, healthy population growth, and eugenic rather than dysgenic breeding.
  4. Whiteness is a necessary condition of European identity. There is more to being a Frenchman or a German than being merely white, but no non-white can be a Frenchman or a German or a member of any other European people. Thus we cannot preserve European nations without preserving their racial purity.
  5. Jews are a distinct people who therefore belong in their own homeland, rather than scattered among European peoples. And if that were not reason enough to separate ourselves, Jews as a people are implacably hostile to non-Jews, especially Europeans, and their net effect on European civilization has been overwhelmingly negative.

Of course, since all of these ideas are based ultimately on reality, they are not unique to the Old Right. The first three principles, for instance, were simply political common sense before the Enlightenment. One could arrive at all five of these principles based on one’s own experience and reasoning, or through other intellectual and political traditions. Thus, there is no necessary connection between modern day White Nationalism and the Old Right. And that is the proper answer to those who wish to dismiss White Nationalism by linking it to the Nazis or fascists: not necessarily.

For instance, in my own intellectual biography, I arrived at the first three principles through the study of classical political philosophy. I arrived at biological racism and awareness of the Jewish question through observation, conversations with friends, and reading books like The Bell Curve and The Culture of Critique. And it was only on the basis of that background that I could see truth and value in the Old Right. For instance, before I read The Culture of Critique, I saw anti-Semitism as a serious flaw in National Socialism, which I regarded as otherwise highly attractive, both aesthetically and politically-philosophically.

Of course this does not imply that I learned nothing from the Old Right — that I already knew it all. First, the Old Right made sense within my worldview. Then it added to my worldview. But it never became my worldview. And that same worldview also gave me some critical distance on it as well.

I differ from the Old Right as follows:

  1. I am a “universal nationalist,” meaning that I believe that ethnonationalism is good for all peoples. Thus I am opposed to imperialism, whereas Old Right regimes practiced imperialism against their fellow Europeans as well as non-whites. Defending imperialism is basically telling your neighbors that you are not above a little murder and theft when it suits you. But that is no way to build solidarity among white nations or a peaceful planet in general, to the extent that these are possible.
  2. Given that White Nationalists today are concerned with the well-being of our race, both as a whole and in all its constituent ethnic parts, it makes no sense to identify White Nationalism with any particular Old Right regime, since those regimes pursued their particular national interests at the expense of other European peoples. For instance, identifying White Nationalism with German National Socialism is a self-defeating tactic when dealing with Poles or Ukrainians, regardless of the fact that a minuscule minority of these nations are broadminded enough to share such attitudes, or at least tolerate them.
  3. The Old Right was born in the struggle against Bolshevism, and it adopted the Bolsheviks’ organizational model and tactics to beat them, e.g., the paramilitary party and the totalitarian state, including terrorism and mass murder as tools of policy. Imitating such policies today, however, is ineffective (to say nothing of moral considerations). The postwar hegemony of the Left was not established by Bolshevik means but through institutional and cultural subversion. Thus the New Right must combat them through institutional and cultural renewal. This is the basis for the metapolitical strategy of the New Right. New Rightists do not object to taking a gun to a gunfight, but we do object to taking a gun to what is now essentially a battle of ideas.

Thus for my form of White Nationalism, the Old Right is highly relevant in terms of its analytical framework and political goals, but I reject imperialism in favor of universal nationalism, and I reject the Bolshevik organizational model and methods for metapolitics.

So how should White Nationalists today approach the Old Right? The same way you should approach any tradition or body of thought: with an open but critical mind. First, get enough education and experience to form your own worldview, understand who you are, and exercise adult judgment. Then, standing on that foundation, examine the Old Right, incorporate what is true and useful, reject what is not, and move on. This approach requires self-awareness, authenticity, and groundedness in one’s own identity and worldview.

The least productive engagement with the Old Right is when people who lack a worldview of their own go shopping for a complete and ready-made system of ideas that they can adopt as a package deal. Common examples in our circles include Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Traditionalism, and National Socialism. Old Right ideas are adopted essentially as religious dogmas, in which one defers to the thoughts and judgments of others rather than developing one’s own.

The danger is that such people will latch on to and repeat ideas and strategies that are no longer justified — if they ever were — and they will lack the experience and critical thinking skills necessary to get beyond them. They also lack the groundedness in present-day reality necessary to apply such ideas productively. The usual result is the strident, brittle, and quarrelsome people who populate internet forums and comment threads. However, trying ideas on for size is part of intellectual growth and exploration, and exposure to experience and counter-arguments generally tends to mature such people.

Another unproductive engagement with the Old Right is not just adopting a ready-made system of ideas but imaginatively identifying oneself with the Third Reich or another bygone fascist regime. This goes well beyond learning the lessons of history to apply them to the present and instead becomes escapism, a way of fleeing from the present rather than transforming it, a way of re-fighting the battles of the past, which cannot be changed, and avoiding the battles of the present, in which our race’s future is at stake. To accuse such people of LARPing is usually an undeserved compliment, because such role playing seldom leads to “live action” of any sort.

There is also something deeply inauthentic about identifying with a past regime, especially if it is a foreign one. White Nationalism is a form of identity politics. To be real identity politics, however, it has to be based on a real identity. We are not just creatures of our own time and place, since we reject the false and meaningless identities that the current system offers us: deracinated individuals, citizens of the universe, children of nowhere, defining ourselves by the plastic products and postures we consume and discard. Instead, our identity is defined by our whole biological and cultural lineage, which leads to the present day and cannot be re-routed to some other time and place.

We reject the modern “identity” because it is false, because it does not fit us, because it makes us miserable and base. But modern individualism can only be fake if we already have a real identity, although we might be largely unconscious of who we really are. Therefore, the answer to the modern malaise is to discover who we are and live accordingly, to be authentic rather than fake. It is no answer to simply replace the predominant fake identity with something equally fake but merely more eccentric or marginal. Adopting off-the-rack systems of ideas or living in the past are symptoms of rootlessness rather than solutions for it.

 

 

If you enjoyed this piece, and wish to encourage more like it, give a tip through Paypal. You can earmark your tip directly to the author or translator, or you can put it in a general fund. (Be sure to specify which in the "Add special instructions to seller" box at Paypal.)

11 Comments

  1. Catiline
    Posted June 2, 2016 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    Most anti-Fascist thought and activity is no less anachronistic or outmoded as the stereotype of pro-Fascism presented here. Furthermore, history, as Vico taught us, is circular not linear. Past, present and future are one.

  2. Sean
    Posted June 2, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    New Rightists do not object to taking a gun to a gunfight, but we do object to taking a gun to what is now essentially a battle of ideas.

    It may not be a gunfight at the moment (although that is disputable to some extent), but it most certainly will escalate into a gunfight on its current trajectory.

  3. Ea
    Posted June 2, 2016 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Great article. A must read for all Old Right and New Right activists and intellectuals.

    “trying ideas on for size is part of intellectual growth and exploration, and exposure to experience and counter-arguments generally tends to mature such people.”

    This is what we need the most. And the left, even with their intellectual fallacies, apply it… a lot.

    “Another unproductive engagement with the Old Right is not just adopting a ready-made system of ideas but imaginatively identifying oneself with the Third Reich or another bygone fascist regime. This goes well beyond learning the lessons of history to apply them to the present and instead becomes escapism, a way of fleeing from the present rather than transforming it, a way of re-fighting the battles of the past, which cannot be changed, and avoiding the battles of the present, in which our race’s future is at stake.”

    I’ve seen so much of this in my life. The escapism of the youth…
    Tough talkers. Who identify themselves with bygone regimens that they couldn’t survive under it.

    I have high hopes for the future.

  4. Joe
    Posted June 2, 2016 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    what are the author’s thoughts on paleocons such as Sam Francis, Joe Sobran, Pat Buchanan and Paul Gottfried? I never hear of them on this website … and yet Richard Spencer is continually referencing then over at radix journal.

    I mention this not because I’m trying to stray from the author’s topic, but because I thought by “Old Right” he meant the paleocons of the late 80’s, 90’s until their purging by Bill Buckley and the neocons (most especially the Jew David Frum who stabbed them in the back) in the early 2000’s.

    In short, is there any use we can make out of paleoconservatism, and does the NA New Right spring out of them?

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted June 2, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      I stipulate how I use “Old Right” very clearly. I don’t mean the paleocons, and I don’t mean the “Old Right” pre-WW II America.

      The Paleocons used to occupy a middle position between mainstream conservatism and White Nationalism, much as the nebulous Alternative Right does. Indeed, Paul Gottfried both declared paleoconservatism dead and coined the term Alternative Right. The Alt Right blog of Richard Spencer was basically a successor to the paleocon movement, although since then, the Alt Right as a general movement has become more and more White Nationalist.

  5. nineofclubs
    Posted June 2, 2016 at 4:06 am | Permalink

    The author notes that we reject modern identity, because it is false. I agree. If we accept that identity is – to some degree at least – biological, then each person’s identity is shaped by their forebears. For me this became apparent when I got into genealogy and discovered folk in my family tree who had been as I am; who had done as I have done. Nationalists and our allies who are struggling with identity issues can do a lot worse than checking out their own family history. There are many websites that make this easy. You may be surprised at what you find.
    .

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted June 2, 2016 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      I agree 100%.

  6. Joel
    Posted June 1, 2016 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    We are forming that authentic identity right now in the current year. What has exploded as the alt-right is still very new but is developing a fresh and unique culture, style, and language, all undergirded by the principles outlined in this article. It’s Trump, Twitter, fashy haircuts, lingo, humor, youth, and intellectual energy. Our enemies are left reacting to us and we are light years from being the Illinois Nazis of the past.

  7. Nestor
    Posted June 1, 2016 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    “I agree that living in the past and trying to adapt old ideas to a new world is silly, but as the Alt Right struggles to give itself a definitive identity I trust it will look to the past for guidance in embrace the heroes of a bygone era.”

    Absolutely. In fact, every authentic Rightist movement has looked to the past. That’s rather the point of being any kind of true Rightist — by contrast with the cultural Left, which ever seeks to sweep away or deconstruct the past.

    It is not inapt that we turn to the national socialists for inspiration, just as they turned to the great figures of German history for inspiration, from Bismarck to Frederich the Great to Barbarossa to Arminius.

    The very essence of any true Rightist movement (even one that calls itself a “New” Right) must be that it sees itself as part of a tradition, a heritage, stretching back to the dawn of the people.

    This is not to say that we simply mimic the past, any more than Hitler simply mimicked Bismack or Frederich the Great or Barbarossa or Arminius — he did not. Rather, he took much from them, but also adapted it for his own time and conditions.

    In my opinion, the tendency today in the Alt Right is not that there is too much veneration of the past but too little — we are still, many of us, too fearful of the brickbrats of the Left and fall into a pattern of denying (three times before the cock crows, as it were) the great heroes who preceded us (and, despite my reference, I don’t mean the Nazarene).

    We don’t simply copy the past, no. But we should most certainly be inspired by it and position ourselves as part of a great tradition.

    • Catiline
      Posted June 2, 2016 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

      Warum ist Barbarossa ein held? What exactly did he accomplish other than wrecking northern Italy?

  8. Thomas Orecchia
    Posted June 1, 2016 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    The question of modern day fascination with both German national Socialism and Italian fascism is more than just romanticism, though admittedly there is a bunch of that amongst white nationalists.

    Let us recognize that the Left since the end of the last world war, defined all far right politics as descendants of fascism and defined themselves and modeled their narratives in opposition to it, as if it still actually existed.

    As a consequence this ever living evil was a ready made vehicle for the dissenting right.

    I agree that living in the past and trying to adapt old ideas to a new world is silly, but as the Alt Right struggles to give itself a definitive identity I trust it will look to the past for guidance in embrace the heroes of a bygone era.

    Kindle Subscription
  • EXSURGO Apparel

    Our Titles

    Confessions of a Reluctant Hater (2nd ed.)

    The Hypocrisies of Heaven

    Waking Up from the American Dream

    Green Nazis in Space!

    Truth, Justice, and a Nice White Country

    Heidegger in Chicago

    The End of an Era

    Sexual Utopia in Power

    What is a Rune? & Other Essays

    Son of Trevor Lynch's White Nationalist Guide to the Movies

    The Lightning & the Sun

    The Eldritch Evola

    Western Civilization Bites Back

    New Right vs. Old Right

    Lost Violent Souls

    Journey Late at Night: Poems and Translations

    The Non-Hindu Indians & Indian Unity

    Baader Meinhof ceramic pistol, Charles Kraaft 2013

    Jonathan Bowden as Dirty Harry

    The Lost Philosopher, Second Expanded Edition

    Trevor Lynch's A White Nationalist Guide to the Movies

    And Time Rolls On

    The Homo & the Negro

    Artists of the Right

    North American New Right, Vol. 1

    Forever and Ever

    Some Thoughts on Hitler

    Tikkun Olam and Other Poems

    Under the Nihil

    Summoning the Gods

    Hold Back This Day

    The Columbine Pilgrim

    Confessions of a Reluctant Hater

    Taking Our Own Side

    Toward the White Republic

    Distributed Titles

    Tyr, Vol. 4

    Reuben

    The Node

    Axe

    Carl Schmitt Today

    A Sky Without Eagles

    The Way of Men

    Generation Identity

    Nietzsche's Coming God

    The Conservative

    The New Austerities

    Convergence of Catastrophes

    Demon

    Proofs of a Conspiracy

    Fascism viewed from the Right

    Notes on the Third Reich

    Morning Crafts

    New Culture, New Right

    The Fourth Political Theory

    Can Life Prevail?

    The Metaphysics of War

    Fighting for the Essence

    The Arctic Home in the Vedas

    Asatru: A Native European Spirituality

    The Shock of History

    The Prison Notes

    Sex and Deviance

    Standardbearers

    On the Brink of the Abyss

    Beyond Human Rights

    A Handbook of Traditional Living

    Why We Fight

    The Problem of Democracy

    Archeofuturism

    The Path of Cinnabar

    Tyr

    The Lost Philosopher

    Impeachment of Man

    Gold in the Furnace

    Defiance

    The Passing of a Profit & Other Forgotten Stories

    Revolution from Above