Jeffrey M. Bale & Tamir Bar-On
Fighting the Last War: Confusion, Partisanship, and Alarmism in the Literature on the Radical Right
Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2022
Professors Jeffrey M. Bale and Tamir Bar-On have taken a look at the response to the increasingly vocal political Right in the Western world. What they found is that the establishment has used the specter of fascism as a shadow to box against since 1945. Politics is the application of the friend/enemy distinction, so shadowboxing against a phantom enemy is a good way to go about domestic politics without stumbling into a civil war.
The charge of fascism continues to be thrown about in an increasingly reckless manner, however. As a result, the American political scene is polarizing dangerously around a hysterical Establishment. The term is now used by the Establishment in Western societies against right-of-center politicians and those who don’t go along with the dubious schemes of, say, the DC security bureaucracy, among others. Furthermore, they point out that Left-wing movements such as Maoism have a much higher body count than anything on the Right, and Islamism is a far more dangerous and active movement than the “fascists.”
In other words, the Establishment is still fighting the Second World War. In their minds, it is always 1939, Hitler must be stopped at Munich, and the Brownshirts and Fifth Columnists are everywhere.
Bale and Bar-On describe the difference between Right and Left. It boils down to different ways of viewing society. Those views bifurcated along two poles during the French Revolution.
Rationalism: Human reasoning can resolve fundamental social problems.
Human nature is basically good: Society is the problem, not the actions of an individual.
Optimism regarding progress: Since humans are good and they use reason, all problems are fixable in the long term.
Egalitarianism: All individuals have rights which cannot be abrogated.
Cosmopolitanism: All human beings are interchangeable regardless of race, language, or culture.
Republicanism: Ending monarchies, which was a radical idea in the eighteenth century.
Secularism: Religion should be kept out of secular affairs. (p. 101)
Philosophical anti-rationalism: The idea that there are limits to reason and that people do non-rational things.
Human nature is essentially “evil”: The ideas of Original Sin and Calvinism apply here. In other words, individuals commit evil acts on their own, and society’s structure is irrelevant to crime’s causes.
Pessimism regarding progress: Flawed human nature makes it very likely that big schemes to improve society usually become disasters.
Elitism: Natural hierarchies are needed to maintain order.
Particularism: Human beings are not interchangeable. There is no generic human but there are Englishmen, Frenchmen, Germans, etc.
Monarchism: Support for the French monarchy in particular.
Clericalism: In France this meant support for the Catholic Church. (p. 102)
Since the eighteenth century, it has become clear that republics without an established church can otherwise be Right-wing, so the last two points are unique to the events in France from 1789 until Napoleon fired his first grapeshot in 1795. In other words, the definitions provided by Bale and Bar-On roughly align with the ideas of Seth David Radwell in his excellent book, American Schism.
Otherwise, charges of “fascism” are loosely and widely applied to ordinary Americans. The reason why this smear can be used in this way is that fascism has had a bad reputation since the end of the Second World War, and there are few consequences (for now) for using the term. Also, “fascism” is very loosely defined. Bale and Bar-On examine the academic literature on the subject and found that there is no overarching definition of fascism written by the fascists themselves. Books like Mein Kampf are unique windows into Hitler’s worldview regarding Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Treaty of Versailles, and the Soviet Union, but they don’t align with the ideas of the French or Italian fascists of the same time.
Other definitions are wide-ranging. Some reflect the ideas unique to the circumstances of the 1930s (nationalism + socialism = fascism). Some definitions are related to imperialism, although the National Socialists in Germany were very much against the French and British empires. All the definitions are distorted by academia’s universal and lock-step Left-wing ideological worldview.
Some of the definitions of fascism are quite petty. Bale and Bar-On look at the late Madeline Albright’s book on fascism and found that her ideas boiled down to the fact that she didn’t like Trump, so therefore he was a fascist. They didn’t mention the fact that most of her understanding of fascism seems to be based on the Charlie Chaplin movie The Great Dictator, so they actually went easy on her.
In the West, fascism, if one can apply the term to all conservative or Right-leaning thought, is usually two basic things: a reverence for Christianity in some form, and viewing the State as being based on a core ethnic or racial group such that the government’s primary is to align its policies with the needs of the core ethnic group.
Bale and Ber-On argue that, if viewed through the lens of the French Revolution’s idea of Left vs. Right, Islamism is a Right-wing movement, and which is quite violent. They show that Ba’athism, a political ideology based on fascism to a degree, was quite progressive. Its leading thinkers were often Arab Christians who sought to eliminate any religious divide in their societies and align those societies with the Arab race and language.
Islamism is a poor term for what are several purifying and violent tendencies in Islam. Bale and Bar-On remedy this flaw by describing Islamism in depth. They point out and define three strains of Islamism: Wahhabism, Salafism, and Deobandism.
Wahhabism is a puritanical revivalist movement that arose in Arabia during the eighteenth century. It started out by criticizing the sacralization of tombs, the veneration of Islamic saints, and astrology. They aligned with the Saud family in 1774, and in recent decades have sought to impose their worldview on Islam with violence backed by petrodollars.
Salafism is a movement which seeks to emulate the example of the first Muslim adherents. By the early twentieth century, it was increasingly radical. Its greatest proponent was Sayyid Qutb, who wrote the book In the Shade of the Qur’an. This movement was the ideological inspiration for the 9/11 terrorists and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Deobandism originated in South Asia as a response to what was believed to be the corrupting influence of British colonialism. They also sought to merge modern, Western technology with Islamic ideas. They encourage active participation in politics and a literal interpretation of the Qur’an. This ideology was adopted by Afghanistan’s Taliban after being spread there by the Deobandists when they instructed Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
These three movements have monastic adherents who separate themselves from a fallen world as well as public activists who wish to impose their views on other Muslims. They also have two strategic thrusts which can be complimentary or opposing. They seek to either attack the “far enemy,” the United States in particular, or the near enemy, such as Arab nationalists, monarchists, or those Muslims who follow a different path. All to a degree were inspired by genuinely violent American White Nationalists who pioneered concepts such as “leaderless resistance” in the 1970s and ‘80s.
The Biden regime’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan will certainly embolden Islamists in the future. We may already be seeing a resumption of Islamist terrorism since the fraudulent election of 2020. Recently, Salmon Rushdie was stabbed at an event in New York by an Islamist fanatic, and there have been other shootings. Islamism’s global death count is upwards of 80,000 since its full emergence in the 1990s, and this tally well surpasses the number of slain caused by “fascists” since 1945.
Islamism has a global and imperialist impulse. They seek to conquer. The Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual guide, an alleged “moderate” named Yusuf al-Qaradawi, wrote:
Islam will return once more to Europe as a conqueror and as a victorious power . . . I assume the next time the conquest will not be achieved by the sword but by . . . spreading the ideology [of Islam] . . . [The Islamic Caliphate] deserves to lead the umma to the plains of victory. (p. 112)
The Establishment’s War on “Fascists”
While European and American governments claim that “fascism” is always about to emerge, it never does. The specter of fascism is enhanced by Leftist academics and legacy media that have lost any sense of reality, as well as cynical political operatives in the Democratic Party in particular. The authors quote Greg Johnson in a chapter header:
Right-wing violence does not [currently] weaken the system. It strengthens it. That is why the system goes out of the way to manufacture Right-wing violence. (p. 165)
The professors argue that the Biden regime and the Establishment are the ones using authoritarian and fascist tactics. Instead of addressing any of Donald Trump’s concerns about deindustrialization or immigration, they chose iron-fisted suppression. FBI agents violated their oaths of office in order to manufacture charges against Trump. Mid-level bureaucrats colluded with Trump’s political enemies to impeach him. The media was openly hostile, so much so that they misinformed the public about “resistance” in his administration and other matters.
The purpose of the second impeachment was not to imprison Donald Trump, but rather to criminalize his 75 million-plus supporters. In the wake of the semi-riot on January 6, 2021, the FBI arrested and imprisoned many supporters for what amounted to misdemeanors. Additionally, the Establishment selectively enforced laws. Leftist activists who occupy government buildings are quickly released, and antifa and BLM thugs were also protected. The George Floyd riots were effectively supported by the Establishment throughout 2020.
It is also likely that the FBI itself was instigating the violence. The authors point out the fact that the “kidnapping plot” against Michigan’s governor was instigated by FBI informants and was likely just one of the FBI’s many “dirty tricks” in that wicked agency’s long history of doing so. It is further likely that the FBI was sponsoring people on January 6 to commit acts of violence. They point to the fact that the worst of the rioters have remained free, while others who did far less radical things are still being detained. Furthermore, leaders of groups like the Proud Boys have been shown to be FBI informants.
Bale and Bar-On also point out that the 2020 election was highly irregular. Election officials changed the rules at the last minute, possibly in violation of the Constitution; mail-in ballots appeared by the box-load in the dead of night; and many of the swing-state results came down to ballot counts in cities controlled by corrupt Democratic party machines.
The danger from Trump’s supporters as well as genuine white advocates is also exaggerated. Indeed, the truth is often inverted. The legacy media has often insisted that violence comes from the Right in situations where it was obviously carried out by BLM or antifa thugs. Bale and Bar-On not only point out the genuine threat and violence of Islamism, but they also refer to BLM arson in particular and sub-Saharan crime in general as major problems. While the Establishment failed to protect ordinary Americans and businesses from the BLM rioting in 2020, they made sure they were protected by armed soldiers and police at Biden’s inauguration.
The Biden regime is as Orwellian as they come. He was (probably) elected by fraud, his inauguration was held in front of an empty field, his first actions were executive orders that bypassed the legislature and immediately created border and energy crises, and he sent the FBI to turn ordinary protestors into political prisoners. For its part, the media encouraged ordinary Americans to turn in January 6 protestors. The parallels between that and the East German Stasi’s use of citizen informants are obvious.
The Professors argue that the Far Right is starting to make an impact on the mainstream, though this fact is largely being suppressed in the legacy media’s narrative. Additionally, the Far Right is engaged with democratic processes and civically active. Despite the actions of a few lone wolves, “fascists,” as defined by the Establishment, are good citizens.
They argue that academics who study the Right should drop their biases and genuinely seek to uncover their subjects’ motivations. They argue that people concerned about their nation’s cultural, trade, industrial, and immigration policies should not be considered “Far Right” or “fascist” at all.
Bale and Bar-On also provide specific definitions of Rightist ideas. This includes in-group affinity and civic nationalism, as well as highlighting the differences between nativism, racial nationalism, racial separatism, and racial supremacy. They also describe the differences between the Dissident Right, the Alt Lite, and the Alt Right. They point out that many of the Right’s concerns are shared by people across the political spectrum. They also write considerably about the concept of civil nationalism, the concept whereby peoples of different racial and ethnic backgrounds can successfully live together under the same government by adopting a civil creed and supporting shared institutions.
The authors warn that the current Establishment’s suppression of Donald Trump’s reforming message and civic nationalism is driving more and more people into armed camps. The Establishment is creating the very thing it purports to loath through its own actions. Especially onerous, in their view, is Critical Race Theory’s jettisoning of the hitherto ideal of a “colorblind” society. Should the colorblind approach be abandoned, it will
compel most individuals to adhere to their own ethno-cultural tribes if only for basic self-protection (much like prisoners are often forced to do in jails). This noxious and divisive process is already seriously corroded democracy in recent decades, and if unchecked it may end up destroying it altogether. Unfortunately, the prospects for a successful repudiation of today’s harmful race- and gender-based identity politics and a return to the promotion of color blindness when evaluating individuals seem very unlikely, since too many powerful segments of society and activist groups have a vested financial or political interest in fostering such identity politics. (p. 299)
With this book, professors Bale and Bar-On have written the clearest and most informative account of the current polarization of the United States and greater Western Civilization since Wilmot Robertson’s classic The Dispossessed Majority. Many on the Right will welcome Balkanization and polarization; they might, however, one day look back on what could seem to future generations as a golden age of peace and civility. It is certain that these professors are classical liberals who appreciate individualism. But however one interprets this book, it is clearly a triumph of scholarship, insightfulness, and truth-seeking.
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