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My Debate with Vox Day

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In my August 17 debate with Vox Day on the question of whether National Socialism is a legitimate part of the Alt Right, Vox argued no, and I argued yes. I have not commented on the debate until now because, in all candor, neither of us was at his best. In fact, I think it is my worst performance ever. I was taken aback by Vox’s basic-bitch American conservative definition of the “Right” as excluding all forms of “socialism,” and I never regained my footing. I am moved to comment today because Vox is doing another debate on the same topic with Andrew Anglin, and the increasingly viperish puffery in the run-up promises a memorable clash.

I think Vox, like many on the Right, has been gaslighted by the bad press following Unite the Right in Charlottesville. He wants to read neo-Nazis out of the Alt Right and thinks it clever to simply brand them the “fake Right” by arguing that “Nazi” is short for “National Socialist,” and no socialist can be Right-wing. He also offers such throw-away arguments as Hitler was not sufficiently anti-Muslim, as if there were any question that a National Socialist Europe would ever allow Muslim colonization.

Vox’s argument presupposes that opposition to socialism and belief in capitalism is essential to being Right-wing. But this is simply false. Free-market economics and anti-Communism have only been central to the Right since the 1950s, when William F. Buckley created a coalition of religious conservatives, classical liberals, and Cold War hawks and called it conservatism, while marginalizing aspects of the pre-war Right that were isolationist, non-religious, and economically interventionist. (Vox himself is a critic of international free trade.)

Libertarians and Straussians have sold us a false vision of America as founded on Lockean natural rights liberalism, when in truth the primary influence on the American founding was the classical and modern republican tradition, which held that there is a common good that trumps individual freedoms whenever they conflict, and which believed that unlimited freedom of trade undermines political sovereignty, and unregulated lending and borrowing — especially with deflationary “hard” currencies that are a fetish of libertarians today — undermine a prosperous middle class, which is the bulwark of republican liberty.

Asserting an essential connection between conservatism and classical liberalism is possible based on a slanted reading of American and British history, providing plausible but false pedigrees for Reaganism and Thatcherism. But it has no basis at all when one examines the European Right, which draws its ethos from the church, aristocracy, and folk traditions; regards commerce and the bourgeoisie with contempt; and rightly regards classical liberalism as a universal cultural and political solvent.

National Socialism, moreover, was not Leftist merely by being critical of capitalism. Indeed, there is a long tradition of Right-wing critiques of free-market orthodoxy — including agrarianism, populism, distributism, guild socialism, and Social Credit — many of which were taken up by the National Socialists. (See Kerry Bolton’s series “Breaking the Bondage of Interest” and the articles at Counter-Currents tagged Third Way Economics.)

Beyond that, National Socialism in theory and practice did not advocate Communist-style collective ownership of the means of production. Instead, most property was left in private hands. There was no need to nationalize the means of production if the people could be nationalized instead, i.e., taught to place the common good over private interest whenever the two clashed.

This collectivist moral principle left a large realm for private life and individual initiative, but it also justified a mixed and regulated economy and a welfare state. But these policies were hardly revolutionary. Indeed, the Third Reich preserved and built upon institutions founded during the Second Reich, which was hardly a Leftist regime. Moreover, many of Third Reich’s interventionist and welfare statist policies are essentially the same as policies that center-Right governments in Europe and America have accepted for decades. If National Socialism is “fake Right” by those standards, then so is Reaganism and Thatcherism.

If opposition to the mixed economy and the welfare state is not an essential trait of the Right, then what is? On this matter, I follow Jonathan Bowden, who argued that the essence of the Right is the rejection of egalitarianism as the highest political value. That formulation does not imply that equality has no value whatsoever, and it leaves open the question of what is the highest political value, so there are many possible variations on the Right. The Left, by contrast, regards equality as the highest political good. (Paul Gottfried, by the way, has essentially the same view of the essential difference between Left and Right. I do not know if Bowden and Gottfried arrived at the same views independently.)

If the Right essentially rejects equality as the highest political value, then National Socialism is a genuinely Right-wing political movement.

But I really wanted to debate a different question. I don’t really care to debate questions like, “Is abstract art really art?” I am perfectly content to let people put anything they want in a gallery or museum and call it art. The real question for me is: “Is abstract art good or bad art?” Likewise, I don’t really care about the question “Is National Socialism Right-wing or not?” The only question I care about is: “Is National Socialism good for white people?”

The answer is: yes and no.

Yes, because many of the principles of National Socialism are true to this day and part of every sensible White Nationalist platform:

  • They preferred nationalism to globalization.
  • They put the common good before private interests.
  • They regarded biology and demographics to be central to politics.
  • They regarded whiteness as a necessary condition of German identity.
  • They regarded Jews as a distinct people that belonged in its own homeland.

Many of the principles of the 25 Point Program of the NSDAP are perfectly reasonable and valid to this day. Only point three, about foreign colonies, strikes me as completely indefensible. And point 25, giving unlimited power to the central government, was obviously an invitation to abuses.

No, for two reasons. First, as outlined in my essays “New Right vs. Old Right” and “The Relevance of the Old Right,” the National Socialists got a lot of things wrong, which is why we need a New Right. Second, the enemy has spent a great deal of time and money blackening the symbols and reputation of National Socialism, making them a heavy burden. Fortunately, it is a burden we do not have to carry, since the principles of ethnonationalism are based on objective reality: all white nations are faced with extinction, and creating racially and culturally homogeneous white homelands is the only solution. Nothing that happened in Germany between 1933 and 1945 changes those facts in the least.

I also think there is something slightly absurd about debating whether a world-historical phenomenon like National Socialism merits being included in a contrived, ephemeral, marginal, and increasingly ridiculous category like the Alt Right. It is like debating whether King Lear merits being classed among Saturday morning cartoons.

My view is that we should abandon the Alt Right “brand” entirely. It only functioned when it was sufficiently vague to allow there to be a conversation between White Nationalists and people who were closer to the mainstream, which allowed White Nationalists to make converts and build connections. But Andrew Anglin and Richard Spencer have pursued a strategy of polarization between the Alt Right and what is now called the Alt Lite that has deprived the term of its original utility. So they can keep it. There need to be new spaces, free from Right-wing sectarianism and purity spiraling, in which new lines of communication, influence, and conversion can emerge.

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23 Comments

  1. Oxy
    Posted September 20, 2017 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    I have met Greg twice and have been a supporter of C-C from the start. But I must confess I was very disappointed when I listened to the debate with Vox Day. A friend encouraged me to read this and I am glad I did as it addresses things such as the absolutely ridicules argument by Vox that Hitler was not sufficiently anti-Muslim. Vox Day misrepresented National Socialism and should have been called on it.

    But I have to say your arguments against National Socialism at 33:50 are equally strawmanesque Greg. ”Global extermination of non-whites, unhinged forms of misogyny – the white sharia phenomenon and dragging the Alt-Right towards the pathological skinhead culture,”

    Thats like saying Communism is bad because smoking pot is unhealthy, and having dreadlocks makes you look like hobo. The arguments you made against National Socialism, have nothing to do with National Socialism.

  2. Peter
    Posted September 10, 2017 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    I think you held back a little bit and maybe conceded some things to him you should not have. I think you’re a great thinker and very interesting.

    Where I think I may disagree with you somwhat (or maybe not) is point 3 of the 25 point program. I would say first, that countries make plans all the time and those planns should be understood in context and I think point 3 may have been a point only to be given consideration under certain circumstances.

    Germany was negotiating with Poland for the return of land stolen from the country after WW I and for the large number of Germans living on that land which many were forced to leave before WW II started and with others still their suffering under Polish rule. I’ve seen convincing commentary that Hitler was sincere in his desire for a peaceful solution, while Poland was being encouraged to reply to Germany in a way that would almost guarantee a war, including Great Britain’s guarantee to Poland in early 1939 (right in the middle of negotiations) that in any war between Germany and Poland, Great Britain would attack Germany. This appears to have guaranteed a hardening of Poland’s stance and war. I’ll add a personal note. I’m not a disinterested party. My mother grew up in what became Poland after the war and I feel Germany had every right to demand all the land taken from it after WW I back and in that regard it had a superior right to a war with Poland if that could not be done peacefully than the US had in any war it has been involved in since 1945 and probably the entie 20th century. Most of the wars in which the US attacked other countries were completely unprovoked, including the recent wars in Iraq (1991 and 2003), Libya and Syria in which the US attacked countries thousand of miles away from it (like virtually every war the US has been involved in). That said, I do understand it was wise for Hitler to try to solve things peacefully. But the other point is, if Germany desired a peaceful solution to the dispute with Poland and they had made an agreement, point 3 would have been dropped, certainly in regards to any European colonies, as Poland stood between Germany and the USSR, making any war between the two almost impossible.

    One additional point about point 3. You’re right that it would have been wrong to colonize Ukraine for instance, but I believe Hitler’s thinking was he did not want Germany to be in the position it was in during WW I when they were fighting Russia on one side and France, Great Britain and later the US on the other side and allow the British to threaten Germany with starvation again. I believe that is why Germany desired lebensraum and while this is an example of an illegal and maybe immoral demand, again I think Germany had a superior right to such a demand when compared to almost any war the US was involved in since 1914. I think it also compares favorably to any right Great Britain or France had in declaring war on Germany twice, precipitating both world wars.

    Also, from what I’ve heard, the people from western Ukraine in Lviv (formerly known as Lemberg when it was a part of Austria, which Hitler was also a citizen of) still have fond feelings for those days and they generally like Germans and Austrians because of that. That is what I was told by a friend who worked there as a language instructor in the early 2000’s. It’s also very easy to see these feelings on film when not just Ukrainians, but also those from Belarus in addition to people that were not Slavs like Latvians and Estonians welcoming the German army as liberators in the early stages of WW II.

    ‘Liberation From Bolshevism’: WWII German Troops Welcomed in the Soviet Union
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg6mukX9EsQ

  3. James Dunphy
    Posted September 10, 2017 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Classical “liberals” were liberal because they promoted unregulated trade when mercantilist policies of aggrandizing gold for the nation state were the “conservative” option. “Socialism” was irrelevant in medieval times because basically nobody had any wealth to redistribute in the barely functioning feudal economy. What little they had was communally put into building churches, and most people lived at a subsistence level. You might say socialism is an attempt to recreate the wealth equality that existed for all but the nobility in the medieval period. The implementation of socialism is recent, but what it strives for is something ancient.

    So far as socialism benefits the nation versus other nations, like mercantilism, it is conservative but so far as it is administered by a managerial state, a recent phenomenon, it is liberal.

  4. Posted September 10, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Brilliant, as usual

  5. Rob o
    Posted September 10, 2017 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    A core part of the alt-right was the satire, memes and trolling which laughed movement conservatism out of town. Anglin recognised this and was annoyed by Spencer co-opting leadership. Anglin decided to troll Spencer as neo-nazi leader and was entertained by the accidental hail-gate. Since then alt-right has become heavier and less of an agile floating signifier.

    The big problem with the alt-right now is that it crosses the streams between jokes and irl leading to the explosive results in Charlottesville. How can someone join a movement which results in loss of employment and worse. Spencer is independently wealthy – many are not. Anglin lives in an undisclosed location on Bitcoin donations.

  6. Gorgar Tilts
    Posted September 9, 2017 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Gorgar does not trust Vox Day. Never has. It has nothing to do with his views. He is simply the kind of person who it seems hard to like, and this is mostly a result of his personality. That is just the way it goes.

    Left? Right? Alt What? Does it matter? Trying to ideologically engineer everything out ahead of time is a modern conceit, wholly artificial, and generally wrongheaded. If people know who they are, and know what direction they want to move, and know about where they want to end up, the rest will follow, mostly through trial and error. The less spelled out ahead of time, the better.

    The American genius is for practical action, not ideology. Arguing about the theoretical is fun, but ultimately beside the point. With someone like Vox, arguing does not even seem like much fun.

  7. Ted
    Posted September 9, 2017 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    “I also think there is something slightly absurd about debating whether a world-historical phenomenon like National Socialism merits being included in a contrived, ephemeral, marginal, and increasingly ridiculous category like the Alt Right. It is like debating whether King Lear merits being classed among Saturday morning cartoons.”

    That’s one of the best quotes on this blog, ever. Maybe we should reverse it: does the “Alt Right” merit being a designation for national socialists (small “n”m small “s”)? I for one reject the label, and have for a long time.

    And, also, folks have been taking “Vox Day” too seriously for far too long. Yes, his SJWs book was good, and he’s done some good work in some other areas, but in general, he’s an intellectual lightweight who parrots flimsy arguments (including some discussed in this post).

  8. Posted September 9, 2017 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    As a european it seems to me that the two party system in the US may be partial to this discussion.
    There seems to be an innate desire in the US to lump everything in either a red or blue bucket. Possibly because there is (currently) no other way to gain political influence.

    The best thing that could come out of the current political mess is a multi-party political system in which both the dems and reps are broken up into more smaller fragments.

    Then it would become way easier to work together on points people agree on.

    Btw, it seems to me that Natl-Socialists and Alt-Right are sufficiently different to run on two different labels. There also seems to be sufficient overlap to work together on several issues.

    • Niels Ebbesen
      Posted September 9, 2017 at 4:01 am | Permalink

      At least in Denmark, I’ve seen the same tendency among the commentators at our leading ‘national conservative’ blog (www.uriasposten.net for those interested)

      A week or so ago, Kim Møller had a post dealing with ‘the international socialist Karl Marx’ supposedly being an anti-Semite. He actually does this pretty much whenever he blogs about socialists being hostile to Israeli interests, and I can only assume it is an attempt to establish some kind of equivalency between National Socialism and international socialism.

      The comment threads can be even worse: A few years ago some members of the now defunct Danskernes Parti (The Party of the Danes) were attacked by Antifa, and there made comments about “Socialists of the national and international variety fighting amongst each other*.” It really seems that to these people, if given the choice between counter-signaling National Socialism and a Danish entho-state, they’d choose the former…

      *Of course I can’t find the comment I’m thinking of any longer.

  9. Lemur
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    The Supreme Dark Lord is crowing about his utter annihilation of you. He seems to spend most of his time cultivating an air of intellectualism which he mistakes for the real thing.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAsJnX53Xsg

  10. Pietas
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Nice exposition. But why do we need to label ourselves as right or left in any case? Many of our shared goals, such as the environmentalist aspects, are usually grouped with the American left. The southern democrats, prior to 1970, were “left”, but had a strong sense of white racial stewardship, opposed desegregation, supported eugenics, and voiced gut instinct assessments on the move to change immigration policy that presage Kevin Macdonald’s more academic exegesis. I wouldn’t be shocked if that were where he found inspiration. Peruse senator rankin’s wiki article for an example.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted September 8, 2017 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      I agree. As I put it in my article, “Against Right-Wing Sectarianism,” victory is when white consciousness becomes hegemonic throughout the entire political spectrum.

  11. Ted
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    “My view is that we should abandon the Alt Right “brand” entirely. ”

    Yes, yes, yes. We need more folks willing to take this stand.

    Thank you.

  12. lostcausemonaut
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    beautiful job, Gregory. well done & much appreciated.
    you perfectly & succinctly nailed the bottom line/talking points:
    “…preferred nationalism to globalization.
    …put the common good before private interests.
    …regarded biology and demographics to be central to politics.
    …regarded whiteness as a necessary condition of German identity.
    …regarded Jews as a distinct people that belonged in its own homeland”

  13. Meatsuit Malfunction
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    This whole thing is weird. It’s metapolitical and semantic, by which I mean the *real* debate is on the establishment of a criteria for determining whether a political ideology is on the Right or the Left. The basic-bitch conservative criteria (muh capitalism) is, well, basic. And for Voxday, who wrote a book on cuckservatives, to be making this argument is… puzzling, to be charitable.

    Here’s a better criteria. In his book “Right-Wing Critics of American Conservatism,” George Hawley posits the defining feature of any political ideology is it’s highest value. That is, the one value that always wins when in conflict of any other. For left-wing thought this value is “Equality,” differing only in how they might define it, such as: outcome vs opportunity! (blah)

    A right-wing ideology is contrasted with this as any ideology that does *not* hold “Equality” as it’s highest value. National Socialism, it seems to me, is a strand of Nationalism more generally, which holds “The National Interest” as it’s highest value. What kind of Nationalist you are depends on how you define “The Nation” itself.

    NatSocs don’t seem particularly concerned with Equality, like the Bolshevik Communists they were fighting supposedly were. Anyway, the debate can be won or lost depending on how you frame the ***criteria*** for defining Left vs Right, before getting into the specifics of National Socialism. Voxday frames it retardly.

    Hopefully Anglin can learn by watching yours and win the (actual) debate about the terms of the debate before he starts debating

  14. Posted September 8, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I think we are far beyond yet more, futile intellectualising. For a truly united front, we must look towards a “Human Rights” platform, where right for European origing folks, are put on the world stage.

    We don’t need “leaders” as such, we need a single “Ambassador for People of European origin”. We have very little time left, and people like David Duke, Andrew Anglin, and many others, are not taking us to where we need to go.

    We need lines drawn in the sand. Those lines mut be non-negotiable. Also, an organisation that negates political and ego-driven goals, plus, one that is not toxic, would bring our enemies to book through law. If we genuinely want to bring our people together, we must be intelligent about it. Here’s my reasoning behind my comment:

    http://westernrennaissanc.wixsite.com/westernrenaissance

  15. Posted September 8, 2017 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    I don’t have a link, but William S Lind once wrote about the question of what ‘the right’ really means, and said that it was basically tradition, heritage, and continuity, all wrapped up in an eschewing of ideology in favor of common sense. I like that perspective. I think since the 1960’s ‘natalism’ can be added to that list too, as the left today has boiled away all but its nihilistic, cultural-marxist side, and represents nothing but societal suicide. It is the ideology of cat ladies and religious zealouts, while ours is the ideology of parents who want a future for our children.

    Economics comes second, as it is merely one of the logistical processes through which such goals are attained, and no economic system should be itself the goal.

    The same can be said for the term ‘alt right’. Its merely a tool. If it works to help achieve a future for our children and a continuity for our heritage then great, if it doesn’t then screw it. Making it itself the goal is missing the forest for the trees.

  16. Posted September 8, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    I feel like both of you guys were missing the point by discussing the fine points of a 1930s Munich manifesto or the motivations behind Nazi German foreign policy and how it relates to political theory.

    In real life, most Americans who are into swastikas know very little of actual Nazi politics. It’s best understood as a symbol of cultural defiance and breaking the ultimate taboo. I would say it has far more to do with American prison gang culture than German ethnic chauvinism. The nazi symbols have gained new life also by being a “naughty” way for gen Z teenagers to counter-signal a puritanical culture they feel no affinity for. I would say at this point it has become an organic part of the Euro-American counter-culture whether anyone likes it or not.

    I myself have no affinity for nazi imagery or ideas but denying the reality on the ground will be strategically counter-productive. Basically, you can work to make sure no one brings swastikas to rallies but beyond that you’ll just end up alienating a lot of the base.
    I actually see nazi signallers as useful in the sense that they draw away most of the energy from the censorship apparatus. When they do trigger a larger backlash everyone else gets reminded: we’ll all be treated as nazis if they win and all the political theory in the world won’t save us as we’re paraded to the guillotine.

    Finally, it’s time to stop letting optics be the primary worry but focus instead on the fundamental motivators that will radicalize people like status, resources, sex, power, and money. As the coalition of the fringes and the optimates get ever more aggressive and desperate, it eventually won’t matter if the alt-right marches with dead baby flags.

  17. Voryn Illidari
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    ” The only question I care about is: “Is National Socialism good for white people?””

    This is really all that matters. Vox wants to frame the current political milieu as “Right vs Left regardless of who believes in either one.” For him, it seems, all that matters is that what he calls “The Right” triumphs over what he calls “The Left.” As he continually reminds us, he has a really high IQ and participated in GamerGate, so anything he says on the matter should be taken as Holy Writ. Let’s also not forget that according to him, GamerGate was a much more important and stigmatized movement than the Alt Right…LoL.

    For us, the fight is about whether or not White people continue to exist on this planet. Who gives a flying f**ck if we secure our existence under the aegis of something that’s a little socialist? An all-White nation that has elements of ECONOMIC socialism can easily become a highly successful nation. Vox would rather have a nation of brown retards who embrace limited government, I guess. Perhaps he should move to Somalia. His high IQ will serve him splendidly there, I’d imagine.

  18. boxty
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    I’m one of the “mid wits” Vox likes to disparage. Bad rhetoric IMO since it’s the “elites” that got us where we are, but whatever.

    I saw Vox’s argument as:

    1. Nazis were bad
    2. Nazis were nationalist socialists
    3. Therefore nationalist socialists are bad.

    Stupid argument even a mid wit can see through.

    As a Gen Xer, that argument might have worked on me a year ago. I don’t think it works on alt-right Gen Y and millenials.

    Your argument sounded like ‘Nat. Soc. has about 25 points. Three or four are bad so we reject those and keep the rest.’

    I think Vox tried to equate nat. soc. political policies with economics which is stupid because then you could say the free market equals $20 trillion national debt. and therefore bad.

    Vox is a Gen Xer. He doesn’t seem to listen to any alt-right millenial or Gen Y folk outside of maybe Milo. I don’t know how effective he was with them.

  19. Samuel Nock
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Excellent, excellent piece. A few comments.

    1. “If National Socialism is “fake Right” by those standards, then so is Reaganism and Thatcherism.” Vox would probably agree with you: see “Cuckservative”.

    2. Egalitarianism is certainly the dividing line between Right and Left. Carlyle could be added to the list of people who defined Right and Left in those terms. He may be talked about hierarchy and order as well as the fact of inequality, but those are different ways of putting a similar concept.

    One other attempt to draw a single dividing line between Right and Left not based upon economics was Joe Sobran’s division of political philosophies along the spectrum of “Nativism” and “Alienism” (the second term, his own coinage).

    From Sobran’s classic “Pensees”: “Nativism: a prejudice in favor of the native, the normal, and so forth”. And: “Alienism: a prejudice in favor of the alien, the marginal, the dispossesed, the eccentric, reaching an extreme in the attempt to “build a new society” by destroying the basic institutions of the native.”

    In this way, Sobran was also able to clearly see Communinism as a Leftist political phenomenon, and National Socialism as a phenomenon of the Right.

    http://www.wildwestcycle.com/f_pensees.htm

    3. That Right-wing / Nativist / racialist politics need not be entirely defined in terms of Leftist economic theory is also amply demonstrated in some of the articles on Counter-Currents relating to so-called “West Coast Nationalism”, which is largely Leftist economic and social policies within a racially homogeneous group.

    4. Greg’s use of the term “New Right” might also be preferable to “Alt Right”, but at this point even the former term may require salvaging since the Alt Lite (Cernovich, Posopiec) are adopting the term New Right, in their ignorance of the European political movements that use the term (de Benoist, Faye). As an interim measure, John Derbyshire’s preferred term Dissident Right certainly captures the situation we find ourselves in vis-a-vis mainstream society.

  20. Proofreader
    Posted September 8, 2017 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    “If opposition to the mixed economy and the welfare state is not an essential trait of the Right, then what is? On this matter, I follow Jonathan Bowden, who argued that the essence of the Right is the rejection of egalitarianism as the highest political value. That formulation does not imply that equality has no value whatsoever, and it leaves open the question of what is the highest political value, so there are many possible variations on the Right. The Left, by contrast, regards equality as the highest political good. (Paul Gottfried, by the way, has essentially the same view of the essential difference between Left and Right. I do not know if they arrived at the same views independently.)”

    Gottfried might have been influenced by Norberto Bobbio on this point. In his article “The Legacy of a European Traditionalist: Julius Evola in Perspective,” Guido Stucco wrote:

    “Norberto Bobbio, an Italian senator and professor emeritus of the philosophy department of the University of Turin, has written a small book entitled Right and Left: The Significance of a Political Distinction. In it Bobbio, a committed leftist intellectual, attempts to identify the key element that differentiates the political Right from the Left (a dyad rendered in the non-ideological American political arena by the dichotomy ‘conservatives and liberal,’ or ‘mainstream and extremist’). After discussing several objections to the contemporary relevance of the Right-Left dyad following the decline and fall of the major political ideologies, Bobbio concludes that the juxtaposition of Right and Left is still a legitimate and viable one, though one day it will run its course, like other famous dyads of the past: ‘patricians and plebeians’ in ancient Rome, ‘Guelphs and Ghibellines’ during the Middle Ages, and ‘Crown and Parliament’ in seventeenth-century England.

    “At the end of his book Bobbio suggests that, ‘the main criterion to distinguish between Right and Left is the different attitude they have toward the ideal of equality.’

    “Thus, according to Bobbio, the views of Right and Left on ‘liberty’ and ‘brotherhood’ (the other two values in the French revolutionary trio) are not as discordant as their positions on equality. Bobbio explains:

    “‘We may properly call ‘egalitarians’ those who, while being aware that human beings are both equal and unequal, give more relevance, when judging them and recognizing their rights and duties, to that which makes them equal rather than to what makes them unequal; and ‘inegalitarians,’ those who, starting from the same premise, give more importance to what makes them unequal rather than to what makes them equal.'”

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted September 8, 2017 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      Good tip. I have just ordered the Bobbio book. His book on Hobbes was quite good.

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