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The Relevance of the Old Right
1,560 words / 10:47
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Slovak translation here, Spanish translation here
What is the relevance of what I call the Old Right — German National Socialism, Italian Fascism, and related interwar national-populist movements — to White Nationalism today? The question would not even arise, of course, if there were no connection at all. Many White Nationalist ideas are either direct descendants of Old Right ideologies, or they are their cousins, meaning that they share common ancestors, that they are branches of the same ideological tree.
This is what I take from the Old Right:
- Nationalism over globalization: the Old Right put the preservation and flourishing of historically existing peoples ahead of the imperatives of universal ideologies like liberalism and Communism and the homogenizing tendencies of globalizing institutions like the marketplace.
- The common good over individual liberty: the Old Right put the health of the body politic ahead of individual freedom and self-expression. One can still value liberty, private life, individuality, and private enterprise, but only to the extent that they promote a healthy society.
- Biology is central to politics: liberal individualism simply does not care about the demographic or dysgenic trends it establishes, because caring about such things is “collectivism.” The Old Right saw that the health of the body politic has everything to do with long-term demographic trends, and it took the responsibility of promoting positive rather than negative ones. Thus the Old Right promoted strong family bonds, healthy population growth, and eugenic rather than dysgenic breeding.
- Whiteness is a necessary condition of European identity. There is more to being a Frenchman or a German than being merely white, but no non-white can be a Frenchman or a German or a member of any other European people. Thus we cannot preserve European nations without preserving their racial purity.
- Jews are a distinct people who therefore belong in their own homeland, rather than scattered among European peoples. And if that were not reason enough to separate ourselves, Jews as a people are implacably hostile to non-Jews, especially Europeans, and their net effect on European civilization has been overwhelmingly negative.
Of course, since all of these ideas are based ultimately on reality, they are not unique to the Old Right. The first three principles, for instance, were simply political common sense before the Enlightenment. One could arrive at all five of these principles based on one’s own experience and reasoning, or through other intellectual and political traditions. Thus, there is no necessary connection between modern day White Nationalism and the Old Right. And that is the proper answer to those who wish to dismiss White Nationalism by linking it to the Nazis or fascists: not necessarily.
For instance, in my own intellectual biography, I arrived at the first three principles through the study of classical political philosophy. I arrived at biological racism and awareness of the Jewish question through observation, conversations with friends, and reading books like The Bell Curve and The Culture of Critique. And it was only on the basis of that background that I could see truth and value in the Old Right. For instance, before I read The Culture of Critique, I saw anti-Semitism as a serious flaw in National Socialism, which I regarded as otherwise highly attractive, both aesthetically and politically-philosophically.
Of course this does not imply that I learned nothing from the Old Right — that I already knew it all. First, the Old Right made sense within my worldview. Then it added to my worldview. But it never became my worldview. And that same worldview also gave me some critical distance on it as well.
I differ from the Old Right as follows:
- I am a “universal nationalist,” meaning that I believe that ethnonationalism is good for all peoples. Thus I am opposed to imperialism, whereas Old Right regimes practiced imperialism against their fellow Europeans as well as non-whites. Defending imperialism is basically telling your neighbors that you are not above a little murder and theft when it suits you. But that is no way to build solidarity among white nations or a peaceful planet in general, to the extent that these are possible.
- Given that White Nationalists today are concerned with the well-being of our race, both as a whole and in all its constituent ethnic parts, it makes no sense to identify White Nationalism with any particular Old Right regime, since those regimes pursued their particular national interests at the expense of other European peoples. For instance, identifying White Nationalism with German National Socialism is a self-defeating tactic when dealing with Poles or Ukrainians, regardless of the fact that a minuscule minority of these nations are broadminded enough to share such attitudes, or at least tolerate them.
- The Old Right was born in the struggle against Bolshevism, and it adopted the Bolsheviks’ organizational model and tactics to beat them, e.g., the paramilitary party and the totalitarian state, including terrorism and mass murder as tools of policy. Imitating such policies today, however, is ineffective (to say nothing of moral considerations). The postwar hegemony of the Left was not established by Bolshevik means but through institutional and cultural subversion. Thus the New Right must combat them through institutional and cultural renewal. This is the basis for the metapolitical strategy of the New Right. New Rightists do not object to taking a gun to a gunfight, but we do object to taking a gun to what is now essentially a battle of ideas.
Thus for my form of White Nationalism, the Old Right is highly relevant in terms of its analytical framework and political goals, but I reject imperialism in favor of universal nationalism, and I reject the Bolshevik organizational model and methods for metapolitics.
So how should White Nationalists today approach the Old Right? The same way you should approach any tradition or body of thought: with an open but critical mind. First, get enough education and experience to form your own worldview, understand who you are, and exercise adult judgment. Then, standing on that foundation, examine the Old Right, incorporate what is true and useful, reject what is not, and move on. This approach requires self-awareness, authenticity, and groundedness in one’s own identity and worldview.
The least productive engagement with the Old Right is when people who lack a worldview of their own go shopping for a complete and ready-made system of ideas that they can adopt as a package deal. Common examples in our circles include Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Traditionalism, and National Socialism. Old Right ideas are adopted essentially as religious dogmas, in which one defers to the thoughts and judgments of others rather than developing one’s own.
The danger is that such people will latch on to and repeat ideas and strategies that are no longer justified — if they ever were — and they will lack the experience and critical thinking skills necessary to get beyond them. They also lack the groundedness in present-day reality necessary to apply such ideas productively. The usual result is the strident, brittle, and quarrelsome people who populate internet forums and comment threads. However, trying ideas on for size is part of intellectual growth and exploration, and exposure to experience and counter-arguments generally tends to mature such people.
Another unproductive engagement with the Old Right is not just adopting a ready-made system of ideas but imaginatively identifying oneself with the Third Reich or another bygone fascist regime. This goes well beyond learning the lessons of history to apply them to the present and instead becomes escapism, a way of fleeing from the present rather than transforming it, a way of re-fighting the battles of the past, which cannot be changed, and avoiding the battles of the present, in which our race’s future is at stake. To accuse such people of LARPing is usually an undeserved compliment, because such role playing seldom leads to “live action” of any sort.
There is also something deeply inauthentic about identifying with a past regime, especially if it is a foreign one. White Nationalism is a form of identity politics. To be real identity politics, however, it has to be based on a real identity. We are not just creatures of our own time and place, since we reject the false and meaningless identities that the current system offers us: deracinated individuals, citizens of the universe, children of nowhere, defining ourselves by the plastic products and postures we consume and discard. Instead, our identity is defined by our whole biological and cultural lineage, which leads to the present day and cannot be re-routed to some other time and place.
We reject the modern “identity” because it is false, because it does not fit us, because it makes us miserable and base. But modern individualism can only be fake if we already have a real identity, although we might be largely unconscious of who we really are. Therefore, the answer to the modern malaise is to discover who we are and live accordingly, to be authentic rather than fake. It is no answer to simply replace the predominant fake identity with something equally fake but merely more eccentric or marginal. Adopting off-the-rack systems of ideas or living in the past are symptoms of rootlessness rather than solutions for it.
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You summed up exactly what I wanted to say. Excellent, well-crafted article, Greg. I hope we can keep the momentum going.
Thank you Greg. I am pleased these issues have been surfaced.
Personally, I agree with the inauthenticity / erroneous applicability of ready-made, past models of thought for our present contexts. The 3rd Reich, in particular, was its own time and place. There can be/are continuities but also differences between their context (1920s-40s +/-, Germany), and our present North American and Europeans ones.
Personally, I do not consider Jews to be the biggest concern for White Americans, less than Mexican/Latino-interests, Chinese & Asians, Blacks, etc. And numbers matter, Latinos more than Jews have been driving the biggest demographic changes, and this benefits Latinos most directly, not Jews.
Aspects of National Socialism certainly can and do apply to present contexts, yet my impression is that most neo-nazis, for instance, are not actually all that knowledgeable about the Nazis proper; which would require historical study (& which I think few have done at least adequately.)
Anyway, enjoyed this piece. I hope for more intra-movement, intellectual, bilateral debate and communication.
* “have surfaced”; correction above.
Excellent article, Greg. We can use these prior organizations as templates for our own, but not a carbon copy. While we share kinship and solidarity with our European brothers and sisters, an American form of National Socialism will look different in the America of 2016 than, say, France or Hungary. In the end, what will unite the White world will be our re-discovery of Family, Faith, Folk, and Fatherland.
Damn, those uniforms, though…
I too really enjoyed this article and with the NPI media frenzy it shows how trolling or LARPing can and should have its limits especially with the future of the movement. However we also shouldn’t discredit its effectiveness when it comes to mass media in which I do think MSM and fellow travellers of their cabal can be intellectually attacked in ways that point out the absurdities and and lies in a trollish way. But now that we’ve been able to get enough people interested and separate the wheat from the chaff my question is what’s next? In this article you talked about an important subject, copying what’s been successful in Marxist movements. The cultural Marxist movement has been going on for 7 decades now, what can we do now to catch up and keep pace? Trolling and getting young people interested is good, but trying to get things together on discord can be challenging. Do we bite the bullet and make ourselves more public? I don’t think so we’re not at our “hippy” stage yet. So I wonder what they did during the beatnik stage and how we can utilise that tactic?
A comment on imperialism. For most countries that practiced it it was not economically beneficial in the long run. Mercantilism was a mask for what in actuality was a means of enlarging the elite or noble classes of a country at the expense of foreign peoples by turning their countries into tax farms, either directly or indirectly. The American colonies began the same way, but when gold or other raw materials that were in demand by the venture capitalists who chartered the companies that funded their crossings of the Atlantic, interest in them was lost by the home country, and thus you had the “benign neglect” that served as incubation for self government over the next hundred and fifty years.
The monarchies in Europe were largely absolutist long before the term came into vogue, and they maintained power by sale of offices and influence peddling, much as the left tries to do today. When you have power but are unproductive, social parasitism is the only means of survival open to you, and the better you are at it and the more creative you are in finding new hosts the longer your regime survives.
The Spanish got the ball rolling, but relied on a Moslem system for their “instrument of expansion”, as Carroll Quigley would put it. New nobility was formed via sale of governorships where the governor was referred to as an Alcalde, a term you may remember from the Zorro stories and movies. A man in Spain would go very deeply in debt to purchase one of these offices and then would be given rulership over a portion of a foreign country for a fixed period of time in which he was given monopoly powers over the productive capacity, taxation, and imports and exports of his respective province. Essentially life and death powers over everyone and everything in the province. If the province was assumed to have unexploited amounts of precious metals and this turned out not to be the case, the Alcalde would have to find other means of exploiting the province in order to meet his debt obligations and see his goals met, usually involving marrying into an older noble family with old money. The power elite preceded Veblen by centuries.
Anyway, you can easily see where this led. When the bids on these governorships maxed out and men began to see that many of their friends never came back out of shame and poverty, the sale of these offices declined, and the inflation brought about by the influx of gold when it did come destroyed the local productive capacity of the peasantry in Spain. However, other nations had already began their imperialist ventures and imitated Spain with variations on the theme. Instead of selling governorships, governments created monopolies that were funded by other people’s money– the joint stock corporation. This is the means that England and the Netherlands used. France attempted to follow suit, and these three countries warred over the rule of the seas for a hundred years.
The final stage represented simple military acquisition of markets, which was a natural outcome of the capitalist competition we just saw.
Adam Smith was the first major thinker that I know of who addressed this and realized that it would be ultimately futile.
In a way, what you have is a message to anyone wanting to be a successful nationalist. Concentrate on your own economy. Let other people worry about theirs. Keep a strong as you can possibly be militarily in order to make others think twice about invading. And kill any general who starts to have any ideas about the use of the military outside of this, either domestically or in foreign relations.
Adam Smith was a man of the right.
Elevate this man now:
we need a new front man to wipe away the Spencer+Enoch+Anglin era.
The previous formula was much better: ordered liberty + the mantra against white genocide.
I’m not sure about the New Right label: though we are on the right relative to the current order, what we are proposing is a government of racial unity, involving much of the political spectrum while minimizing the disruptions of the uncooperative extremes.
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