From John Ray's shorter notes
2 January, 2022
Clarifying the meaning of "Right-wing"
It does not always imply racial hostility
My son and I recently had a discussion about being "Right-wing". We agreed that I am. But in what sense?
I mentioned that Syngman Rhee was in his day notably called "so far Right he was almost out of sight". He was a South Korean politician who served as the first President of South Korea from 1948 to 1960. But there were no racial issues in his term in office so how was he Rightist?
Although they themselves -- from Karl Marx on -- are often antisemitic, Leftists today use the terms "Rightist", Right-wing", racist", white supremacist" for anyone they disagree with who has any group-denominated views. To the Left you can be a racist even if you express no views about any race. Opponents of vaccination mandates are, for instance, sometimes called racists even by mainstream voices of Leftism. See for instance here
So if Rightist implies racism, I am very clearly a Tory rather than a Rightist, as the term "Rightist" is commonly understood. By Tory I mean traditional conservatism as seen in the British Conservative party prior to WWII and as seen in the more traditional stream in the current U.S. Republican party. In line with that, I think the individual is much more important than any group that he/she belongs to. But, insofar as generalizations have some value, I think highly of both the Chinese and the Jews. And I have a very low opinion of Muslims and blacks.
That latter opinion will produce immediate howls of rage from Leftists, but, in their usual way, that is bereft of context. Am I a racist if I approve of some minorities and disapprove of other minorities? The Left in their simplistic way do not even consider that matter. To them it is just another opportunity for abuse and attack. They act as if all thoughts about race are fundamentally evil. Though if you speak well of one of their favoured minorities that is fine, of course
I would say that I am only a racist insofar as I think that group identity can sometimes make a difference. I don't think that the astronomical rate of violent crime among blacks is coincidence, for instance. It does NOT mean that I approve of bad treatment of someone solely on the basis of their race. I actually agree with the statement in the United Nations charter that says each case should be judged on its individual merits. The conservative whom I have quoted most in my writings is in fact a black man -- Thomas Sowell
And that non-hostile view is a Tory position, not a specifically Rightist one. There are indeed Rightists who wish to persecute all members of some race, usually Jews, but I am not one of them.
So let me allude to some famous Tories and their opinion of Jews. In the 19th century, the British Conservative party (Tories) made a proud Jew their Prime minister -- Benjamin Disraeli.
And the British Prime Minister who declared war on Hitler -- Neville Chamberlain -- had some antisemitic views. So conservatives can have some views about a particular group -- in this case Jews -- without wishing them ill. You can even promote their cause -- as the Conservative Party did in the 19th century and as Neville Chamberlain did in the 20th.
And the greatest Tory of all, Winston Churchill, voiced some very negative views of Muslims but pitied them rather than being hostile to them. See here
So my position on racial questions is in fact a Tory or conservative one, not a Rightist one. Leftists will of course be uninterested in that distinction. It does not give them enough opportunity for abuse
The great irony of course is that the old Soviet view of Hitler as a Rightist is now generally accepted. He was indeed to the Right of the Soviets in that he allowed more individual liberty than they did but that is not saying much. The truth of the matter is that Hitler called himself a socialist and had a broad range of socialist policies -- including comprehensive party control of industry. His deeds have lasting relevance but they are relevant to Leftism, not conservatism. He is another example of the generalization that hostile racial obsessions are mostly Leftist, not conservative.
So the grossly inaccurate view of Hitler as "Rightist" has thoroughly muddied the waters. People understand the meaning of the term "Rightist" to mean conservatism plus racial ideas. But the misattribution of Hitler causes people assume that all racial ideas must be hostile, including racial views among conservatives.
As we have seen, however, this is wrong. People with conservative views may see racial differences as significant without being at all hostile to the races they take an interest in. They may even favour and think well of some races.
I see myself as wishing no-one ill on account of their race and as having many conservative views. I in fact usually describe myself as a libertarian conservative.
Another huge irony, however, is that libertarian ideas are often described by the Left as "Right wing", when they are not. They are thoroughly opposed to both traditional conservatism and racial awareness. Conservatives who are sympathetic to libertarian ideas represent, in fact, a major stream in modern-day conservative thought.
The most loved and most influential conservative leader of the 20th century knew what conservatism was about, of course. He said: "If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism..... The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom" And if Ronald Reagan did not know what conservatism was all about, who would?
Reagan also conveyed the patriotic, pro-Christian message that Trump later used to such strong effect. I align with both those orientations. I am pleased to be born a 5th generation Australian and even more pleased to be a product of the Anglosphere. And I was a strong Christian fundamentalist in my teens. Subsequent to that, however, I have been a thoughgoing atheist (in the Carnap manner) for the whole of my adult life. Nonetheless I still have the warmest memories of my Christian days and still try to live by Christian principles. And I find that whenever I do the Christian thing I get a reward, often very rapidly. And when I allow the Devil to dominate I stumble. And there is a Devil. Whether you conceive of him as a man in a red suit with horns and a tail, or as a fallen angel or the destructive side of human nature, there is clearly much evil in human life. Freud called it "Thanatos", the death instinct.
And I still go to church on some (rare) occasions
So I do have many traditional conservative views -- also including the view that the justice system often goes too easy on criminals, that homosexual "marriage" is a travesty and that traditional sex roles are largely inborn. I even practice "ladies first" and open car doors for women. And such attitudes in combination with some libertarian views make me seen as extremely Right-wing. I readily accept that ascription as long as it is understood that my thinking about other races is of a conservative or Tory kind -- i.e. not hostile towards any individual solely on account of his/her race.
For a more detailed accountof my views, see here
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