The Essence of the LeftJonathan Bowden
This is the transcript by V. S. of Richard Spencer’s Vanguard Podcast interview of Jonathan Bowden about the Left. You can listen to the podcast here.
Richard Spencer: Hello, everyone! Today, it is a great pleasure to welcome to the program Jonathan Bowden. Jonathan probably needs no introduction for Alt Right readers as they know him through his Internet commentary at places like Counter-Currents, as well as many of his lectures on various subjects that are available at YouTube. Jonathan is a veritable Renaissance man in our movement. He not only is a commentator, but he is also a novelist and a painter. Perhaps his greatest gifts are for oration.
Jonathan, welcome to the program! I’m glad you’re here!
Jonathan Bowden: Thanks very much for having me on!
RS: Well, how is the weather in mid-December over in England?
JB: It’s not too bad at all where I am in the south of England. In the north of England and in Scotland, it’s pretty perishing by all accounts, but down here it’s none too bad.
RS: Well, that’s good.
Well, today, we’re going to talk about the essence of the Left. That is, what is it? What is its meaning? What is its history? Where is it going? And related questions. And I don’t think we should pussyfoot around. I want to ask two big questions to begin the conversation, and then I’m sure we can follow different strands that will lead off from these two big questions.
The two big questions are these. The first is, “What is the Left in its essence or at its core?” I think most Europeans and Americans, when they hear the word “Left,” they think of a variety of topics or issues, and thus “the Left supports regulation of business” or “it believes in global warming” or “it is more likely to support a welfare system” or “feminism,” or so on and so forth. But I think both of us agree that the Left is something much deeper and much bigger than just a kind of related set of issues.
And the second question, which is directly related to that one, is, “Is the Left a new phenomenon of the modern world?” Say, is it a product of the French Revolution or the French Enlightenment, or is it a product of, say, industrialization and things like this? Or is the Left, again, something bigger and deeper? Is it a kind of eternal temptation in the Western world and maybe the world in general?
So, Jonathan, why don’t you have a whack at those two biggies. What is the Left at its core?
JB: I think the Left, at its core, is the belief that equality is morally good, and almost everything that can be done in order to sanction and achieve equality is morally efficacious. The Left in all of its guises, because there are a multiplicity of Lefts, including various forms of liberalism at the present time that very much go under the general rubric of Left-of-center orientations, but all of them are very moralistic. The Left loves to moralize issues, loves to think of itself as morally on the right side, and loves to think of itself as the sort of harbinger of human liberation in various ways. And it all stems from the belief that equality is a good that must be maximized and legislated for whenever possible, and this means, perforce, that inequalities are bad, that anything that’s elitist, that anything that’s hierarchical, anything that sets man against man or versions of human beings against each other in any shape or form, needs to be, if not done away with, then legislated for, deconstructed, shifted about a bit, and changed so that the rising tide of equalness is always apparent and coming even more broadly into view.
RS: Do you think this originated in the Enlightenment period or the French Revolution itself, which of course announced égalité, fraternité, and . . . What else did they announce? One more. I forget!
RS: Liberty, excuse me!
JB: Liberty, equality, and fraternity, yes.
RS: Right, which are in some ways the three branches of the modern world that we see now. In many ways, one could say that the current so-called Right is the kind of liberté branch battling against the égalité branch.
JB: That’s right.
RS: I think we can go into that more later, but first let’s start here. Talk a little bit about the historical manifestations of the Left. Was it created in something like the French Revolution or the Enlightenment or industrialization, and so on and so forth?
JB: Yes, I think in its modern form it’s definitely codified. I think ideas can be nebulous, and can have a very long and even archaic history, and you could argue that some of the slave revolts in the ancient world had elements about them that could be regarded as Leftist in modern terms, and certainly have been interpreted by classic Communism and ideologies of that sort as having such affinities. But the Enlightenment and the French Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century codified the Left, gave it a modern stamp, put a form on it that can be recognized stretching from then to now so that it’s got a quite definite history as a phenomenon.
The ideas of equality, social impact, of using a government to legislate on behalf of citizens in order to achieve greater equality of outcome and aims, those all pre-existed the 1780s and 1790s, but that period of radical reorganization of the state as an idea certainly brought them into a sharper focus.
But it’s important to realize that socialism as such in the French Revolution was almost non-existent. There were sketchy ideals about liberating the slaves in the West Indies under the French dispensation, but that didn’t really come about, and the Emperor who emerged from the revolutionary period, Napoleon, was opposed to that. There was no talk about the emancipation of women. That was regarded as absurd by the Jacobin and Cordeliers and the other big, sort of Masonic-type revolutionary clubs that dominated the early phase of the Revolution. And when it comes to equalizing property, there was no concept of doing that at all. The only property that was sequestered and sort of nationalized, if you will, in modern terms was that of émigrés who’d gone into the Rhineland and were associated with foreign princes who wanted to overthrow the Revolution, and were part of the Counter-Revolution. And some of their property was reorganized using something called the Law of the 22nd Prairial, which was a French revolutionary calendar date. And that legislation would later be taken up by socialists in the nineteenth century in terms of expropriating property by the state intervening into the market to take property from one set of citizens and give it to another, but those ideas very much post-dated the French Revolution.
So, the French Revolution was much more limited in its Leftism than people imagine, but the ideas of the Left and the Left itself comes from the French Revolution. I do believe, though, that Left-wing ideas, as distinct from the Left, have always been with us in one form or another, usually as sort of radical and utopian ideas that the whole world and the whole circumstances of man could be different, that men and women could live radically different lives. And it’s always been a sort of a dream, a dream that’s part and parcel of certain religious urges as well that are very strong. Heretical utopian dreams during the Middle Ages, heretical utopian dreams during the ancient world, and heretical and utopian dreams at the margins of Protestantism as well, and various forms of non-conformism that seep into the modern Left over the last two hundred years.
The belief that everything can be different, but in a way man is cursed by biology, that biology shouldn’t matter to the degree that it does, and this takes various forms refuting the importance of biology for man’s existence on Earth, or denying certain verities of human nature: mortality, conservatism due to age, genetic and biological differences between humans, biological differences between the sexes, and so on, wishing that the world was other than it is, that human beings weren’t hardwired to be egotistical, territorial, and violent, for example, as it’s quite clear that our species is hardwired to be all of those things and many other things as well. This utopian plaint, the belief that things can be different, that God meant the world to be different from what it’s turned out to be, I think that’s always been a recurrent motif, but it was never taken up and standardized and put into a rigorous format until the Left got going during the French Revolution.
RS: Do you think in some ways we’re hardwired to have such utopian visions? I was thinking of, say, even early Christians and Paul, who had an apocalyptic vision. I mean, he thought that the Second Coming would occur within his lifetime, if not next week, or things like that. There’s maybe some aspect of European or probably man in general that has this longing to transcend himself, or something like that.
JB: Yes, I think it’s a recurrent dream. I think it’s strongly associated with adolescents and strongly associated with early sort of stirrings of social and political belief. It’s remarkable the number of people who end up with all sorts of very diverse positions who have a radical Left phase right at the beginning.
RS: (laughs) Yes!
JB: Which they often repudiate pretty quickly, because they tend to regard it as infantile or sort of slightly stupid.
JB: There’s an enormous number of people who have come to prominence in the literary, political, philosophical, artistic, and other related areas, social science as well, who have this sort of Leftist phase just for a moment. It’s like a sort of a wet dream fantasy, in a way, that the whole world can be constructed along other lines.
RS: Right. Did you go through this phase?
JB: Not really. I’ve always been a bit too cynical for that, really. Although, anarchism as an idea, through people like Max Stirner to one side of Nietzsche, did interest me when I was very young. So, I had a look at those sort of utopian currents, and that’s a creed that’s to the Left of almost everything else. And you can reach that through extreme forms of individualism. So, I had a look at that, partly to get hold of Stirner’s book, which you could only get from anarchist outlets at that time. There’s a Cambridge University Press edition of The Ego and Its Own now, but there wasn’t when I was young.
But no, I’ve never had those views in that way, because I’ve always regarded them as adolescent views, essentially, as views which are not tempered by the rigor of age and maturity and are immature attitudes towards life.
RS: Yeah. Well, I have a couple of different questions to ask you on this topic. But let me start with one that came to me when you were speaking of the French Revolution, and that is the strong Masonic element. And I don’t think we need to really get into conspiracy theories and all that kind of stuff, as fun as that might be, but one thing that I think is peculiar about our current elite is that it operates through a Leftist mentality, at least in terms of its civic religion, its ideology that it wants to instill in most everyone living under its regimes and outside them as well.
Talk a little bit about the relationship between the elites and the Left, how groups like the Illuminati and Masons and so on and so forth . . . These groups existed. It’s not just some wild conspiracy theory, clearly had a utopian view of a secular heaven on Earth or something like this. And then also that peculiar aspect of our current elites in the Western world, how, basically, Leftism, which is kind of inherently subversive and inherently leveling, and so on and so forth, can be a part of people who now are enormously wealthy and enormously powerful.
JB: Yes, that’s one of its interesting paradoxes. Of course, when humans take ideas up, they can morph and change their format in all sorts of ways, and socialism and extreme wealth often go together. I once remember Gore Vidal standing for US President on behalf of one of the tiny American socialist parties that was then in existence, and he spent his entire campaign trail talking to very small, ultra-elite groups of near-millionaires or actual millionaires, because that’s what the American socialist party consisted of at that time. They had no mass base at all. They were almost an invisible sort of club.
And the idea of the club, the revolutionary club, rather than the sort of conservative, self-satisfied club, comes back to the Masonic idea. The Masonic idea has remained in circulation because it works. It’s a way of putting people in contact with other people that you need to meet.
JB: It’s a way of rubbing shoulders with people that might be useful to you in the future. And all of these things, if you want to run a regime of any sort that doesn’t really rely on coercion, but relies on adaption and usage and the mechanism of form whereby people meet and greet and have the same values and go to the same watering holes and are members of the same clubs, is a very useful way of gathering people together and directing various energies.
And all of these groups, about which certain people on the Right obsess, are actually just the New Right groups. They’re just the talking shop groups of the elite that runs the world. They have their own little groups. They have their own talent-spotting outfits. They have their own groups where they decide some upcoming Swiss banker who’s got the right sort of ideas, needs to be given a bit of a push, and is therefore invited to some conference with all expenses paid, and he comes along and gives a promotional talk, and he’s taken up the network by various people, and then goes away again, and he’ll be found later for some sort of other event.
Now, that’s what happens at things like the CMS conference and that sort of thing, but the people who run the world at the present time use that way of organizing amongst themselves because it’s a very open-ended, loose, and reflexive way of doing it which is still hard enough to contain various energies and put the right people together for various projects.
And I think that type of clubbable organization goes back to the French Revolution, when there were no parties as such. There were just revolutionary clubs and committees of people that came together for specific purposes and often allowed quite a few loose ends. They allowed quite a lot of debate within themselves. Until the Terror got going, there wasn’t an attempt to systematize opinion. A million flowers were allowed to bloom, in a way, until the heads of many of them would be cut off by the revolutionary guillotine at a later date.
And the idea of the club, the idea of social government, which is what we had over here under Tony Blair, where traditional cabinet government was bypassed for this rather sort of cozy world of informal New Left chats, therapy groups, and social clubs that the Blairite elite favored, and which I am sure the Obama elite replicates, maybe in a slightly stiffer way.
RS: Well, let’s talk a little bit about Left and Right. At the beginning of this conversation, you mentioned that the core of the Left is a sense of the moral importance of equality, and in many ways the core of the Right is a sense of the moral importance of inequality.
I like also the definition of the Right which I associate with Paul Gottfried, but he’s probably not the first one to say it, that the real conservative conserves something. He conserves a social order and a hierarchy, oftentimes an aristocratic elite, but what we have today in America, in Europe, much of the modern world, is a kind of battle between two Lefts. And on the Left side, let’s say, we have people who are interested in the avant-garde of the Leftist worldview of multiculturalism, global equality not just on the national scale, promotion of non-Whites within multinational corporations, so on and so forth. And that’s being battled by a kind of older, outmoded version of the Left which is classical liberalism and individualism in the sense of “the free market will distribute resources,” “we shouldn’t treat people as groups, we should treat them as individuals,” and all those ideals are fine and good, but in a way you have the battle of two different Lefts, and thus the world keeps shifting Leftward progressively and inevitably, inexorably.
So, what do you think about that in terms of our current situation, where the people who claimed to be conservative and claimed to be Rightist really aren’t at all, and are impotent and powerless in truly combating the forces of the Left?
JB: Yes, I think that’s a good analysis. It’s almost as if the talk needs to be about the death of conservatism rather than the reality of the Left. I think conservatism has lost its Right-wing credentials throughout the twentieth century. The average attitudes in a conservative or center-Right party in 1920 would get you expelled from a center-Right party in 2010-11, in most parts of the Western world.
RS: Maybe the average attitudes in the center-Left or Communist Party might get you expelled! I’m sure a social democrat from the first half of the century would be horrified at the notion of gay marriage, or women, you know—
JB: Yes, of course, because many of them came out of Methodism and came out of forms of radical Protestantism, and also had sort of plebiscitary, working class-democrat sort of elements that were often deeply normative and deeply socially conservative whether they had the Christian stamp or not. So, yes, that’s indeed true.
The marginalization of all forms of conservatism, forms of upper class, middle class, and lower or working class conservatism throughout the twentieth century, is part of the triumph of the Left and triumph of various versions of the Left.
If you consider libertarianism, which has taken over the Right of most center-Right parties certainly in the Anglophone world, in Britain and the United States and Canada to a degree, the Right of the credited conservative party — the Republicans in the States — is now virtually co-determinist with what used to be and is still called libertarianism, but libertarianism isn’t really socially conservative at all in almost any respect, although as an individual you can choose to be socially conservative if you wish, in accordance with that ideology. But the ideology itself is deeply socially liberal, and indeed at times is to the Left of people who are further Left on socioeconomic issues.
So, the triumph of the Left is the death of the Right, but you also have to factor into this situation the European angle, which is slightly different to the United States, because unlike the US there were very large and very successful socialist and Communist movements in Western Europe through most of the twentieth century. The Communist movements only died out in the last twenty years of the twentieth century. There were Communists in the French government in the early 1980s. They were only Minister of Transport and that sort of thing, but Mitterrand had to include them in order to get a parliamentary coalition together.
And that old Left, that sort of dinosaur Left in contemporary terms, is in despair because they think the whole world’s gone against them, and everything’s Right-wing and capitalism, which they associate universally with the Right, is triumphant, and every form of socialism and progressivism has sold out to capitalist interests and that they are nowhere. The tide has receded and gone out on the beach, and they’re basically historically bereft, huddled together in not as great masses anymore but as tiny, shriveled little groups that no one bothers even to debate with anymore.
And that’s also true. The old, Communistic Left socialist current has died. It died in the United States in the middle of the twentieth century, except in relation to certain issues like Black rights and that sort of thing where it always had a certain currency, but it took another fifty years for it to die in Western Europe. Eastern Europe, of course, didn’t have a choice because it was ruled by Stalinist satellite parties and Soviet occupation until the collapse in 1990.
But you’ve got this paradox that the Left has lost, one definition of it has lost completely. The belief in state socialism, the belief in the nationalization of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, the belief in extreme intervention in the market to so skew the market that it has a different outcome completely to what was envisaged by the market’s founders: those ideas have gone, and yet the Left is triumphant in relation to the forces of the old Right in almost all areas of social and cultural policy.
I think this is the big issue of our time, really. Why the traditional Right associated with Christianity and conservatism in many people’s minds has so utterly failed and has been outmaneuvered by the forces of the center-Left, and effectively neutered and destroyed by them.
RS: I agree. Just to add on one note to that, I think the forces of the Left have recognized that it’s not always a good idea to literally nationalize business in the sense that these bureaucracies usually aren’t as efficient as an enterprise, but they do want to control it and they want to inform it and to make sure that capitalism kind of bends in their direction, so to speak, and they’ve been wildly successful at that.
So, in some ways, that dinosaur Left, the outright Communists, they think they’ve lost everything, but they just haven’t recognized that the Left keeps reinventing itself every decade or so, and that they’ve actually been quite triumphant. But keeping that in mind, what are ways that we can confront this as Rightists within our own historical situation, i.e., we’re out of power and we’re scribbling on various Websites and things like that?
I’m reminded of one thing about the conservative movement in the United States which always bothers me, which is that they like to attack their enemies in terms that don’t really make sense. One of them that particularly bothers me is this notion that the Left are moral relativists, that they have no morals or something like that. I’ve always thought that this was utterly incorrect, that the Left is based on some kind of deep, powerful morality. And moreover, I think there’s a kind of relativism to a true conservatism in the sense that you conserve and defend you and your own, your people, your civilization, your way of life. Your way of life, you may think it’s better and rational, but at the end of the day you conserve it because you live there. It’s yours. And I’ve always thought that because the Right articulates its criticism in this wrong manner that it’s kind of rendered powerless. But keeping something like that in mind, how can we in our own limited means and our own small way really confront the Left writ large?
JB: That’s a very big topic, but I think you’ve got to just step back from it for one moment and look at why the traditional, conservative Right in the United States chose moral relativism as the ground upon which to fight, a rather sort of slippery, sort of shale and sand-like and sandy ground, as you say. And the reason for that was because it wanted to base its own rejection of the Left in all of its forms on something which it thought was hard, something which it thought would yield good fruit, something which it thought wasn’t relatively-minded, and that was the Christian religion. Because if you have a metaphysically objectivist view and you have an absolute view of the Christian revelation, particularly in the Protestant sense in the text of the Bible, you’d have something that’s hard. You’ll have something that’s sort of not to be trammeled over, that you can confront all of the forms of wishy-washy liberalism with going on out through to the harder, more sort of structured forms of the Left that exist alongside it and to its Left side.
And in a way, of course, by defining themselves as a Christian conservatism, they’ve done themselves a disservice. Now, you could say that’s an intelligent tactic in a society where unless you are pronounced Christian, it’s probably impossible to get elected to a mainstream platform in the United States, whereas in Western Europe, outside of Catholic countries, to be a professing Christian is an extreme electoral disadvantage because the religion has collapsed to such a degree in a society like my own, where people go out of their way to deny a Christian inheritance. The complete opposite of the United States, even though the politics of the two areas are very similar in many ways.
I think the question about how the Right fights back is one of morals and values. What the Left has done in successfully morphing into endorsing and trying to manage a form of Left-wing capitalism, because all of the modern Western societies are largely Left-wing capitalist societies now, what they’ve done is that they’ve retreated to their core values and said that the form of the society that you adopt — naked state ownership and proprietarianism — is out, but coercion of business in order for it to adopt the correct values, if it isn’t prepared to adopt the correct values itself, is in. Those sorts of ideas are based upon the primary notion that equality is morally good and needs to be enforced, and you can do that civically, culturally, psychologically, sociologically, as well as just through blunt socioeconomic instruments like nationalization, which now don’t work. Most state socialist parties in Western Europe have engaged in one or more privatizations in recent lifetime. That’s no longer the issue now. The issue is what you enforce on the civic space, and you enforce on the civic space the moral notion of equality as goodness, and the Right does not have a coherent fight back on that, partly because of Christianity itself.
A large number of people on the conservative ground, or way of looking at things do not feel comfortable about arguing for naked inequality, do not feel comfortable about arguing for naked hierarchy, do not feel comfortable in arguing from an upper bourgeois or aristocratic position as it once was, in a democratic society filled with an increasing deficit to anyone who argues for rank inegalitarianism, and it’s because the Right ‘s been morally defeated in its mainstream forms that it’s powerless and quivering in relation to the Left.
RS: Yes. I think, just to add on to that, I think one quite unfortunate phenomenon is the Leftward transformation of Christianity. You can see that, to be frank, in the Catholic Church, you can see that in mainline Protestantism, you can see that even in the kind of Evangelical, more emotional Protestantism which is popular in the American South and Midwest, that they swallowed the Leftist pill and they think that their Bible is the ultimate foundation of equality and things like that. Despite the fact, of course, that written within it are instigations for slaves to return to their masters and so on and so forth. I think that in many ways, the Christianity of the past fifty years, and maybe even longer, has become essentially a kind of Left-wing religion in a way, in a very unfortunate way.
JB: Yes. Yes, very much so. Most Christian groups in Western societies where, even if the influence of the French Revolution is much less than in the United States, resemble socialist clubs with the religion added on.
JB: If you go to an Anglican church, which is a CoE church (Church of England), establishment here in Britain — Episcopalian would be the sort of synonym in the US — when you go in, it will all be about the Third World, it will all be about the need for equality, it will all be about the rights of refugees, it will all be about the agenda of political correctness, and that’s before you get through the lobby or the anteroom of the church to the place where the worship is to take place. So, there is a sort of socialist spin without the atheism and materialism that’s part of the socialist attitude as soon as you go in.
I think this all goes back to the issue of debate about morals and values. And this is where the Right has been fundamentally unclear and hesitant and has felt itself to be morally defeated. I think one has to bring in the reality of the Second World War here as well.
The morality of the far Left was never defeated. The far Left was defeated in all sorts of ways, and the morality of state socialist and Communist societies was defeated because of the atrocities that they went in for, primarily against dissidents and against those they reduced to slave labor and against enemy nationalities as they were perceived in terms of the structures that were built up across nations within the various Communist and state socialist blocs.
When I was a student, say thirty years ago, there would be an enormous plethora of far Left organizations in almost every university and college in this country. You know, at Freshers’ Fair, there would be Trotskyist groups. There would even be the odd Stalinist group. Not many then, but there would be the odd one. There would be sort of Left socialist groups that were just to one side of them before you reach the British Labour Party’s Left-wing, and so on. But none of those organizations exist now. In only twenty to thirty years, that entire area has been mopped up, but what’s happened is that the values that the Left has stood for have not been defeated. They’ve actually become stronger. The far Left has collapsed into liberalism and lost its harsh, Stalinist, and brutal features, and has become part of a hazy continuum of the belief in love and equality which cannot be gainsaid.
The center-Right feels it can’t gainsay that, and that’s why each generation that’s passed has given ground to the forces of the center-Left to such a degree now that it’s become slightly indistinguishable from it. It’s just a slightly more conservative form of management of what exists.
RS: Right. Jonathan, to bring this really fascinating discussion to a close, how can we on the Right articulate ourselves? What should we be saying? And obviously, we’re both well aware that we have limited means at the moment and things like that, but how should we be articulating our worldview for people that makes it attractive, and that also calls upon that eternal essence of the Right that was there long before, certainly, the happenstance of the Right and Left seating in the French revolutionary parliament? How do we evoke that real Right, that eternal energy that animates every true and good expression of the Right-wing?
JB: That’s a difficult one. I think the way to do it is to confront the Left on their own ground, where the center-Right and the forces of conservatism have largely given up, unless the forces of conservatism are so conservative that they’re not even regarded as part of establishmentarian conservativism any longer.
And I think that is to confront political correctness, which is the linguistic grammar of the contemporary Left. You have a large swath of opinion now, from the center of conservative parties like the Republicans all the way over to the far Left and back again, that morally are in agreement on politically correct matters.
JB: The moderate Right has all sorts of problems with that, but it nevertheless doffs the cap and touches the forelock to political correctness. But you have to oppose political correctness in a manner which is seen to be morally efficacious if you are to attract into your ranks people other than the usual suspects and the people who are always going to be Right-wing come no matter what. If you are to achieve large-scale social conversions to an extent that is required at this time and going forward into the middle of this century, you will need to do what the Left did when they provided a grammar for their own sensibility.
Political correctness is a happy-clappy, quite tight-knit set of encoded and rather puritanical ideals about what’s wrong and what’s right in a secular morality. And in some ways, the Right needs to create a political soundness, a political correctness, of its own. It needs to create a sort of “four legs: good, two legs: bad,” sort of Animal Farm scenario in reverse. It needs to think quite deeply about moral philosophy, which is where the Left started their purging of the institutions.
They decided a long time ago what was the essence of their ideas, how can they be boiled down to a compost that is assimilable by enormously large and disparate numbers of people, and how can the Right be dished by making its own ideas appear archaic, or authoritarian, or old-fashioned, or unpleasant, or against the grain of the age, or not nice to people, or unduly exclusive and intolerant, and so on. And they’ve done a pretty good job in demonizing not just the far Right, which is regarded as a demonic force in Western society now, but in demonizing conservatism itself.
And it’s partly because of the fear of the far Right, the fear that if the Right actually fights against the Left, it will have to use ideas which are radically Right-wing, at least philosophically. It will have to touch those ideas at least philosophically. And if it does that, it becomes embroiled again with all of those issues which go back to the Second Global War of the twentieth century, and that’s the last thing conservatism masquerading as anti-Communism, amongst other things, ever wanted to do.
But it’s deeper even than that, a sort of squeamishness about all of that. The deeper thing is the morality of it, and the fact that moral inequality is a goodness.
JB: That individual inequality is a goodness, that group-based individual inequality is a goodness, that group inequality is a goodness. It’s something that almost no mainstream conservative politician could put in unadulterated terms, and that’s because they feel the moral pressure of not doing so. They feel the moral pressure from the other side is so intense that they can’t live or get away in the media space with doing so. Only when they feel comfortable with doing so will there be a turn away from the morality that came in in the 1960s across the Western world, when the sort of soft Left power reached its zenith and then marched generationally through the institutions.
RS: I agree, Jonathan, and I think you’re going to have a major role to play in the formation of this new grammar and vocabulary of inequality of the Right. So, I would like to thank you for being on the program. I’d certainly love to do it again. I know there are a number of other topics that I’d love to talk with you about. So, I hope you can come on the podcast again in the future.
JB: Yes, anytime!
RS: Thank you!
JB: Cheerio! Bye for now!
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An interesting interview, though I think a clearer distinction between the variants of the Left would be in order.
There is in my view, an anti-traditionalist Left, and an anti-capitalist Left. Marxism combined the two, but since 1991, the former has grown in strength, whilst the latter has collapsed.
Within the anti-traditionalist Left, one may distinguish between nihilists and idealists. The former wish to destroy tradition because they regard it as oppressive, and believe that once removed, freedom will reign. The latter oppose tradition because they see it as outdated, and wish to replace it with something superior.
To this end, I’m reminded of something that Peter Kropotkin wrote, about the clash between idealists who wish to retain old institutions and idealists who wish to replace them, paving the way for the triumph of opportunists who remove the old without replacing them.
Here’s the exact quote:
‘When the Mutual Aid institutions – the tribe, the village community, the guilds, the medieval city – began, in the course of history, to lose their primitive character, to be invaded by parasitic growths, and thus to become hindrances to progress, the revolt of individuals against these institutions took always two different aspects. Part of those who rose up strove to purify the old institutions, or to work out a higher form of commonwealth, based upon the same Mutual Aid principles; they tried, for instance, to introduce the principle of “compensation,” instead of the lex talionis, and later on, the pardon of offences, or a still higher ideal of equality before the human conscience, in lieu of “compensation”, according to class-value. But at the very same time, another portion of the same individual rebels endeavoured to break down the protective institutions of mutual support, with no other intention but to increase their own wealth and their own powers. In this three-cornered contest, between two classes of revolted individuals and the supporters of what existed, lies the real tragedy of history.’ (Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid, Introduction; italics in the original.)
The Left may be said to comprise both sets of revolted individuals – the radicals and the liberals. Perhaps the post-1945 tragedy has been that the radicals and conservatives undermined each other, thus paving the way for the liberal triumph. Perhaps the real fear of National Socialism is the fear of a radical-conservative coalition against the liberals…
[In this context, it is interesting to note something that Henry Ford said, to the effect that the Jew is always against the Gentile scheme of things, (a republican against the monarchy, a socialist against the republic, a Bolshevik against socialism… and one might add, a Trotskyist against Bolshevism).]
For anyone who is interested, I have drawn up a list of Bowden’s talks and interviews for which recordings exist. It is in the form of an excel spreadsheet, and includes date and venue, duration and internet links to where the recordings can be seen or heard
I am pleased to share a copy with anyone wants one. Please email john.1905 AT hotmail DOT co DOT uk
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