What is a true right-wing position? What is truly on the left?
Recent debates between Vox Day and Greg Johnson, and with Andrew Anglin, have called into question the true political allegiance of the German National Socialist Party, as well as that of national socialism more generally. It is a conversation matched by others in the alternative media, as well as by more mainstream commentators.
Finding where National Socialists, libertarians, communists, and others fit in the political puzzle requires an understanding of what the Left and the Right are.
It is no use going to the French Revolution, where the supporters of the king aligned on the president of the assembly’s right, while those opposed to the king stood on the president’s left. The political distinctions in interests and motivations between the left and the right long predated France, and have existed in virtually every society in which debate was allowed.
Vox Day defines the right based upon certain political policies, including religious freedom, abortion, gun control, state money standard, private property, freedom of the press, national sovereignty, standing army, state schools, and central state authority. These are convenient benchmarks for determining whether a 20th or 21st century American is of the right or of the left, but it isn’t so useful when looking elsewhere around the world, or even further back in American history.
Consider that religious freedom was unheard of in most of Europe and even in much of the United States, prior to Jefferson’s letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut. In fact, much of the divisions between the early colonies were founded exclusively on theological differences. This is why Rhode Island is separate from Massachusetts, for example.
This means that the sorts of people who stood on the right side of the aisle in France, for God and King, would be defined as “left-wing” by Vox Day, at least as far as their religious intolerance and preference for centralized authority in a monarch were concerned.
Similarly, “the freedom of speech” has become a right-wing talking point, but it entered into American legal precedent courtesy of explicitly left-wing intellectuals (namely Learned Hand and Harold Laski). Prior to 1919, the First Amendment guaranteed to Americans in binding law what was tacitly granted to Englishmen: the freedom of speech. But “the freedom of speech” didn’t mean what we think of today. In common law parlance, the freedom of speech meant the prohibition on prior restraint–you could say what you wanted without censorship, but the government could still come in and arrest you afterwards if they didn’t like what you said. Laski and Hand persuaded their friend, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., to dissent against his own ruling from a year and a half prior in the Schenck case, and redefine the “freedom of speech” to mean freedom from any government sanction or punishment at all.
Where did Laski and Hand get this intellectual argument? From the liberal-party member and women’s suffrage advocate John Stuart Mill, of course.
The point is not to say that Vox Day’s particular policy litmus tests are bad ones, but to say that any political litmus test used to determine whether an idea is “right” or “left” will be flawed, because the right and left don’t align with policy positions, but with different outlooks on the world.
In his book A Conflict of Visions, Thomas Sowell argued that the political left–whatever their particular policies–reflected an unconstrained vision of human potential, whereas the political right reflected a constrained vision of human potential. Modern neuroscience seems to support this theory: liberals on average had more grey matter in the anterior cingulate cortex, which is active in navigating social situations, whereas conservatives on average had more grey matter in their amygdala, which (among other things) orients us towards potential dangers and threats. Liberals see options and opportunities; conservatives see risks and dangers.
Free Speech has been in place for about 100 years with no obviously disastrous side-effects, so it is understandable why it can be taken as a right-wing position now. The leftists of today have different goals, because they are pursuing different possibilities, and free speech is now more of an impediment than an aid. From a policy-delineated view of the right-left divide, this reversal makes no sense, but from the orientation perspective, this is perfectly understandable.
Can a socialist be of the right?
The answer is that it depends on where you live and when. Adolf Hitler’s policies were broadly built off of Otto von Bismarck’s social policies of the 1870’s, which means that, for optical gain or loss, Hitler’s socialist leanings are not leftist by fiat. Bismarck himself was a conservative, albeit a wily and triangulating one, skilled in realpolitik dealings with the Social Democratic Party, which he successfully banned in 1878. Yet he instituted an innovative socialized health-care program, and invented the pension plan. Does this make him a socialist? Does this make him left-wing?
These are bad questions, because they misconstrue what the left and right are. When politics is known as the “art of the possible,” it is both false and unfair to characterize a socialist as absolutely “left-wing” if they are attempting to move their country marginally rightward in a socialist-monopolized country, such as Mexico or Sweden.
More common than reference to Sowell is breaking down the left and right between Plato and Aristotle, with Plato as the Leftist, idealistic dreamer, and Aristotle as the hard-nosed, right-wing empiricist. I think there is a similar breakdown that can be made between Homer’s Iliad, which is a poem about nobility and principle, even in the face of death, and the Odyssey, in which the hero chooses life and family over fortune, dignity, and even over a happy life married to a goddess. The Iliad is a fundamentally leftist book, in choosing principle over life to fulfill potentialities for glory, whereas the Odyssey is an essentially right-wing book, in choosing life over abstract moral principles.
Notice that there is no criticism of leftism per se here: I myself prefer the Iliad to the Odyssey. The point is that calling the German National Socialist Party “leftist” is wrong, because it misidentifies (or at least oversimplifies) the motivations of the NSDAP. More importantly, it blatantly misses the motives of modern members of the Alt-Right, however misguided, who borrow from the iconography of the Third Reich.
How big of a movement would this be if the white race were not presently under conscious and planned attack? Is survival or visionary dreaming the more likely motive behind the intentional revival of symbolism aligned with what society has been repeatedly told to be the highest form of evil? As a deterring defense, it almost seems reasonable. As a welcoming marketing strategy, perhaps not.
We can all agree it’s a bad idea, for multiple reasons. But that doesn’t make it left-wing. The motives of the “Alt-Reich” stem from a sincere concern about immigration, about safety, about their homeland, their culture, and about the survival and future of the White Race. None of these are even remotely left of center, no matter which policies they think will be most prudent in pursuit of these right-wing, life-embracing ends, even if they align with a left-wing party’s platform somewhere in the world. Embracing an aesthetic designed to make foreigners feel unwelcome is certainly not left-wing. To argue otherwise is a no-true-conservative fallacy, of a kind which would not benefit a Supreme Dark Lord, leading an evil legion of evil.
I like Vox Day. I considered it among the greatest compliments when my book was compared to Vox in style, and I continue to read his blog more regularly than any other site, and recommend his books to my friends and family. I myself am not a fascist, nor a national socialist, and so I do not have any dog in the fight on where it fits in the spectrum. I do believe that Greg Johnson is probably correct, however, in guessing that Vox has been gaslighted by press and less mature components of the Alt-Right, particularly in the aftermath of Charlottesville.
Being sent photoshopped images of family members being gang-raped by migrants will also take its toll. We can all guess which sort of people on the right might send such things. Vox can say it doesn’t bother him all he wants, but it sure as hell would bother me.
In short, I think the right-wing denouncers of Vox Day are at least as culpable of injustice as Vox Day is for characterizing National Socialists as “fake right.” It is a criticism which would not be relevant were it not for the insidious “don’t punch right” argument. National Socialism need not be left-wing to be wrong, just as Freedom of Speech need not be right-wing to be right. To put family first, and to be loyal to one’s friends, is about as right as we can get, and on this point, Vox Day is an ally, or at least a model, for anyone looking to the right for a solution to the problems of progressivism, globalism, and nihilism which have arisen out of the modern left.
Why bother defending the “Alt-Retards?”
I’m not. I think National Socialism is economically unsound, intellectually arrogant, and aesthetically counterproductive, especially in today’s age. But I do think that there are good people in the Alt-Reich, who share our concerns, who care about our future, and who, if their minds are to be changed, have to be taken seriously, and not dismissed as crazy. That rhetoric may work on SJWs, but no one voluntarily waving a swastika is worried or concerned about being written off as beyond the pale. They’re past that.
Our loyalty should extend not to people who merely share our beliefs, but to people who share our end-goals and our values. If the replacement of a native population–our native population–is of concern to me and to you, then we have an interest in at least taking each other seriously and listening to each other, even if we do not necessarily agree on the best way to act. This is especially true if we are in a minority. At the end of the day, people who hate whites are still going to hate whites, whether we disown those we disagree with or not. For them, more division is better.
This is not to say that we should not disavow based upon character. Recent events have taught us that. But political opinions will always vary within a group that shares a common goal, and disavowing entire schools of thought as fraudulent is divisive and self-defeating, even if you believe their conclusion to be incorrect.
If Vox Day wishes to wash out the taste of the underwhelming Andrew Anglin debate sometime, I would be happy to take up the challenge.