From John Ray's shorter notes
February 04, 2005
ARE "THE FAR-RIGHT" SIMPLY OLD-FASHIONED LEFTISTS?
I seem to be doomed to challenging conventional ideas about the nature of the political spectrum -- most notably in that I often point out that Hitler was a Leftist. I also however, have done a thorough empirical examination (via survey research) of the libertarian idea that the political spectrum is two dimensional -- and found that the evidence is against that as well. I now think I have a third rebellion to undertake. I think that the term "Far Right" is a misnomer altogether. The Far Right certainly does not describe Hitler and the Fascists. They were Leftists, not Rightists of any kind. Conservatives opposed them. But I don't think Far Right even describes accurately the present-day racist groups who tend to attract that label. I think that the people so called are only another flavour of the Far Left. The so-called Far Right may say that they are against "Jews" whereas the Far Left say they are against "Zionists" but both are talking about essentially the same people. And even the "Anti-Zionist" mask of the Left tends to slip rather readily to reveal the real Jew-hatred underneath.
I am of course far from original in noting that there are very considerable similarities between the present-day Far Right and Far Left in what they say. When I have the stomach for it, I do read bits of what both of them say -- and on many occasions what the two groups say seems virtually interchangeable. And both of course have the same rage-filled tone. And both see themselves as a Herrenvolk, to use Hitler's word ("Master people"). The justification that the "Right" give for their claimed superior status is racial whereas the Left claim not only superior intellect but also (quite incredibly in view of their chronic rage) superior "compassion". But both see themselves as a misunderstood elite and as victims of conspiracies against them.
It certainly shows Hitler's cleverness in claiming BOTH greater compassion and racial superiority. He got the full range of nuts on his side that way. What I see is that the alleged Far Right are in fact simply old-fashioned Leftists -- Leftists who have been stranded by history, if you like. What they believe would have made them normal Leftists in the early 20th and late 19th centuries. There is certainly nothing that they believe that cannot be found in Marx & Engels -- even the call for racial unity is there and Engels was very nationalist and a believer in racial superiority. And of course Marx was vehement in his hatred of Jews.
And the Chomsky-like disrespect for facts is there in the "Rightists" too. A recent personal experience of mine illustrated that rather vividly for me: As well as posting to my own blogs, I also post to Majority Rights, which attracts frequent comments from vehement Far Rightists who constantly rave on about Jews. Being an awful tease, I posted something there recently under the heading "The neocons were right!" To both Far Left and Far Right, "neocons" = "Jews" so I expected eruptions in the comments boxes and I got them. And one of the eruptions was this: "Ray and Schwarz share an employer: David Horowitz Frontpage magazine"
Old guy though I am, I was still amazed that a lie could be so immediate, blatant, unfounded and shameless. For the record, David Horowitz has never paid me a cent, though in the last 12 months or so I have donated several times to appeals he has sent out in aid of his various causes. So rather than David paying me, I pay HIM! Just as Chomsky and his ilk do, however, my "Rightist" critic has taken a fact and distorted it. He sees deep meaning in the fact that David Horowitz did on five occasions in 2002 and 2003 publish articles that I wrote and then submitted to him. The idea that David had to pay me to write what I did is a laugh, though. We academics are thoroughly used to not being paid a cent for our writings and so it was with the articles I submitted to David Horowitz. So I don't think that even the remarkably inventive U.S. Supreme Court would be able to use any of that to deduce that David is or was in any sense my "employer".
I used to think that the "Far Right" differed from the Fascists and Communists in being anti-socialist. But when it comes to actual policy that is just not true. The "Far Right" are as heavily into autarky (national self-sufficiency) and against free-trade as the Fascists and Communists are. Both are thoroughly paternalistic economically.
I think the conclusion that I draw from it all is a very basic conservative one: All theories about society are oversimplifications and hence wrong but there is a great need that many people feel for oversimplifications and the the Left caters to that. So the oversimplifiers are all Leftists in the end, regardless of what their starting point may be and regardless of any claims to the contrary. And all the groups concerned seem to agree that if the facts don't suit the oversimplification, change the facts!
An important implication of what I am saying is that I don't think there CAN BE such a thing as an extreme conservative. Extremes are for theorists and conservatives are people whose modus operandi is to go by what can be shown to work for the good of people over the long haul, rather than going by any theories. And I just don't see how you can be extreme about that. So my (slightly) revisionist view of the political spectrum is that it has conservatives at one end and a motley assortment of dreamers at the other.
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