The Populist Moment, Chapter 7:
Alain de Benoist
Money & the Right
Translated by F. Roger Devlin
“To be on the Right is to be afraid for what exists,” said Jules Romains. A nice definition. We find it again in many authors. “The Right,” wrote Amédée d’Yvignac in 1931, “is that group of politicians who think the permanent is the substance of things, and not change.” “The traditional Right,” observed Alain-Gérard Slama more recently, “has always been characterized by a distrust of man’s power over the world and a fundamental respect regarding the order of things.” Let us pass over ambiguities connected with that tendency to affirm a fact without wanting to qualify it. Traditionally, the Right has always been, if not the camp of conservatism, at least that of conservation.
The liberal bourgeoisie whose reign was consecrated by the capitalist system has, however, played a very different role in history. The pages in which Karl Marx emphasizes its revolutionary and destructive character are well known, but one never tires of quoting them:
The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors,” and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment.” It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless, indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. . . . The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. . . . Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. . . . All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned.
The sentence in italics is the key sentence. The bourgeoisie cannot exist without permanently revolutionizing society, for the capitalist system itself can only develop under the effect of a tendency for the unlimited, which demands a constant series of innovations to the detriment of the old order. The essence of capitalism is the suppression of all limits.
Jean-Claude Michéa has likewise shown that the capitalist system can only permanently “revolutionize” the social world insofar as it demands the systematic destruction of all common languages beyond the mere logic of self-interest and contract. “If the logic of consumer capitalism is to sell anything to anybody,” he writes, “it cannot do without eliminating all cultural and moral obstacles one by one (all the ‘taboos,’ in liberal and media newspeak) which might resist the commercialization of goods or services.”
So we can pose the following apparently naïve question: How has the Right, naturally attached to conservation, been able so consistently to support a capitalist system so destructive of what it means to conserve? How has it been able to believe that this system was intrinsically “conservative,” “patriarchal,” or “reactionary,” thus making a mistake symmetrical to that of a Left which used to fight it for exactly the same reasons?
A first possible explanation, which has become classic, is that the Right takes the side of the “haves.” This has not always been the case, but clearly there is some truth to it. Ever since the old aristocracy was devoured by the bourgeois class, the Right has supported capitalism insofar as it has identified with the bourgeoisie. Hence that remark by Beau de Loménie: “If capitalist society is still holding together, it does not owe this to businessmen who, beneath their realistic appearances, reveal themselves to those who look closely as the most chimerical of dreamers; it owes it to the patient and stubborn defenders of that old reactionary ideology which, in the eyes of the crowd, serves as a windscreen for the contrivances of the most skillful.”
The Right, which knows society is anterior to exchange, rejects the idea found in most liberal authors according to which it is from the market or self-interest that human societies are created in a contractual manner. Moreover, it likes to profess that principles are more important than interests. But it also knows how to transform its own interests into principles, as its conception of property shows. Undoubtedly, when it defended property in the nineteenth century, it was not in the manner of Locke or Adam Smith. It did not say that property is a “natural right” given to man with his nature, nor an institution which by itself realizes human freedom. When it speaks of property, it is thinking of patrimony, especially land, often associated with a family, far more than of capital, which must be mobile to make greater profit. Nonetheless, in a second phase it ends up seeing in property an abstract asset which can give rise to market exchanges.
In his book on the French forms of the political Right, René Rémond distinguishes three principal varieties: the Orléanist or liberal Right, the legitimist or counter-revolutionary Right, and the “Bonapartist” or plebiscitary Right. It is easy to see that over the course of time, the first has won out over the other two.
The term “Orléanism” refers to the Duke of Orleans, the son of Philippe-Egalité, the the regicide member of the revolutionary convention, who himself became King in 1830 under the name Louis-Philippe. The golden age of Orléanism runs from that date until 1848, a period in which the liberal Right held uninterrupted power to the detriment of both the legitimist Right and the republican Left. Greeted it its time by Jules Michelet as the “liberal resource of France,” Orléanism is a not very democratic parliamentary regime largely dominated by the great landed proprietors, manufacturers, master blacksmiths, and other manufacturers, whose electoral base was limited by property qualifications. It consecrates the power of the bourgeoisie and especially of the grand bourgeoisie. “Orléanism,” emphasizes René Rémond, “is nothing but the regime and political thought corresponding to the reign of the bourgeoisie: a regime of interests by definition, and thought subordinated to the justification of those interests.”
We will not rehearse the list of traits characteristic of Orléanism. The point to remember is that it marks the moment politics began to give way to a “managerial” conception of the State, where the principle of honor faded before the logic of money. The liberalism proclaimed by the men of the July Monarchy was still at the beginning of this process, however. In an age when the principal industrial enterprises were still family-run, when capitalism was itself above all “national,” and when the bourgeoisie was above all represented by the “notables,” land remained the principal form of wealth (rent on land provides most capital), which allowed the aristocracy to rally to the system. Liberalism then went hand-in-hand with paeans to the bourgeois virtues (Guizot: “Make yourselves rich by work and savings”), as with a certain form of rationalism which values the spirit of compromise and the “juste milieu,” along with social conservatism.
Another possible explanation is that, historically, the Right has not been especially fond of the common man [démophile]. Above all, it does not like the idea that power can be exercised by the people, which it considers lacking in “competence” (an argument which will later nourish expertocracy). At bottom, this is its main criticism of democracy: making the legitimacy of power reside in popular sovereignty (the “government of the crowd” as opposed to that of “elites”). Whence its frequent mistrust of the people.
In the nineteenth century, the Right was divided between those whom the social question left largely indifferent and those who realized its importance, but limited themselves to seeking how they might aid the poor in order to achieve the “extinction of pauperism.”
In August 1832, Saint-Marc Girardin explained in the Journal des débats: “The barbarians who threaten society are not in the Caucasus or on the Tartar steppes; they are in the suburbs of our manufacturing cities!” On the bourgeois Right at this time, the denunciation of the “dangerous classes” became a commonplace, and a number of economic proposals in fact aimed at preventing social outbreaks. The social question was thus reduced to the “social danger.” The factory was a place of production, but also became a place of surveillance. Strikes were perceived as an “attempt at social disturbance that cannot be tolerated” (Adolph Thiers). Jean-Baptiste Say and Frédéric Bastiat defended free trade and devoted themselves to the radical critique of all state intervention. Others, such as Charles Dunoyer or Alfred Deseilligny, did so by calling for “moderation,” if not resignation, and relied on employment contracts, religion, and charity to mitigate inequalities. Everyone was in agreement that salaries must not be raised, whether because this would diminish the profits of ownership, or because it would only increase the workers’ tendency to “laziness,” in a rush to spend their money at the café. The poor, as was well known, use their income badly and only to satisfy their vices: alcoholism, criminality, attempts at insurrection . . . .
At this same time, however, socialism was beginning its rise — and certain developments made themselves felt on the Right as well, especially in Catholic milieus. Arnaud Imatz reminds us:
Beginning in 1834, Villeveuve-Bargemont, a former prefect under Louis XVIII, attacks the harm done by wild [sauvage] capitalism and proposes cures in a Treatise of Christian Political Economy. In 1840, another legitimist, Dr. Villermé, carries out the first significant study of the terrible working and living conditions of workers in large-scale industry. Numerous authors such as Msgr. Ketteler, Frédéric Le Play, Albert de Mun, Armand de Melun, and René de La Tour du Pin take over from these precursors.
Bonald, for his part, forcefully denounced the domination of civil society by the market. Let us also recall the Open Letter to the Workers published in 1865 by the Count of Chambord: “To individualism oppose association; to unbridled competition oppose the counterweight of common defense; to industrial privilege oppose the voluntary and regulated constitution of free corporations.”
After the Commune of 1871, two great parties opposed one another in France: the republicans and the conservative monarchists, but the rift between the center-Right and center-Left passed through the liberal family. Capitalism was the object of criticism from the Right, but such criticism, often drifting into anti-Semitism (Edouard Drumont), targeted “speculation,” the “big-shots,” the “200 families,” and so on. The socialist workers’ movement was not insensible to these problems.
The first Catholic Workers’ Circles, created in 1871, marked the beginning of social Catholicism. Bills proposed in the Chamber of Deputies by La Tour du Pin, theorist of a “Christian social order” based on a corporatism nearly amounting to a return to the Ancien Régime, were fairly dramatic, for he proposed “the elaboration of international workers’ legislation, assistance to elderly and sick persons, limits on work by children and women, shortening of the work day, the establishment of pension funds and workers’ insurance funds, protection for workers injured on the job, the establishment of a minimum wage, obligatory weekends off, the settling of social conflicts by arbitration boards, sanctions against employers who dismiss workers for trade union membership, the struggle against unhealthy living quarters, education for prisoners, judicial assistance, etc.” While criticizing “class hatred,” La Tour du Pin also denounced economic liberalism. This got him accused of “socialism” by the liberals, especially Charles Périn, an economist close to Msgr. Freppel and the Angers School, which published a book directed against the Catholic Workers’ Circles, Christian Socialism, in 1879. Georges Valois saw in them merely an “authoritarian corporatism full of archaic traits.”
The “Bonapartist” current, for its part, made much of the “appeal to the people.” On a basis of anti-parliamentarism, plebiscitary rhetoric was often directed at the working class. This had already been seen with the revolts by the Lyons silk workers (1831-34), whose background was the alliance between Bonapartism and textile workers. It would become even more obvious with Boulangisme in 1888-89 (two-thirds of the Boulangist deputies came from the Left at that time), then with Pierre Biétry’s “Yellow” movement in its beginnings, before 1902. In 1894-95, workers’ socialists such as Camille Pelletan, Eugène Fournière, and Clovis Hugues collaborated on Maurice Barrère’s La Cocarde.
The original Action Française, born in 1898 in a milieu still imbued with Boulangism, and of which it has been rather accurately said that its nationalism was based on “a patriotism much closer to the spirit of 1793 than to that of the old France,” displayed a certain anti-capitalism. “If the proletariat is resisting, if that resistance has taken the form of a violent offensive, they are not the ones who began the fight,” observed Charles Maurras. “Capitalist oppression and exploitation came first.” Léon Daudet for his part expressed his sympathy for a General Confederation of Labor which, under the influence of revolutionary syndicalism, rejected “electoral humbug” (Emile Janvion), while the Maurrassian Jean Rivain, in an article entitled The Future of Syndicalism, wrote: “The capitalist who has money has the power, and for the worker who is obliged to sell his services to earn his bread, it is freedom which oppresses him and rules which liberate him.” We also remember Maurras’ positions taken in 1908 following the events of Villeneuve-Draveil and the Proudhon Circle’s ephemeral experience. But this promising movement did not survive the First World War. From the beginning of the 1920s, Action Française was increasingly held prisoner by a reactionary and self-righteous [bien-pensant] public which led it to condemn unconditionally all the Popular Front’s social reforms.
Between the wars, doctrinaire liberalism appeared discredited for a time by the rise of planning and fascist temptations. But the Right-wing leagues fell into the orbit of conservative and petty-bourgeois nationalism. A large part of the Right, out of hostility towards the Left, rejected any idea of social justice, just as part of the Left, out of hostility towards the Right, rejected the political idea of the nation, although born of the Revolution. “Supporting labor union demands amounts to playing Moscow’s game,” said some people. “To fight in the name of the nation is to play the extreme Right’s game,” said others: crass stupidity on both sides. To find any critique of capitalism one must turn to the non-conformists of the 1930s, nearly all of whom appealed to Proudhon and Péguy.
The Right in France long remained an essentially sociological phenomenon, expressing class interests but not basing itself on any intellectual capital peculiar to itself. Its anti-intellectualism and relative indifference to economic questions have often been mentioned. Albert Thibaudet said of Orléanism that “it did not represent any idea; it was merely against ideas.” An undoubtedly exaggerated statement when one recalls Guizot glorifying the July Monarchy, Benjamin Constant theorizing the “Liberty of the Moderns” by opposing it to that of “the Ancients,” Victor Cousin, and so on. But there is still an element of truth in the remark. The Right is mistrustful of doctrines, in which it claims to see merely “intellectual constructions” or “utopias,” but is all ears for those who claim to speak in the name of “facts,” beginning with economists and financiers. Then it rallies, naturally or by default, to economic liberalism, which it makes into a pillar of support for a wavering pragmatism. “Marxism teaches historical materialism,” said Emmanuel Berl, “but in fact I have always seen faith in historical materialism to be much stronger among men of the Right than those of the Left.”
The few times the Right has developed an economic and social doctrine, it has always been with a declared intention of putting an end to the class struggle. Corporatism, “popular capitalism” (or “capitalism for all”), the capital-labor alliance, or any other doctrine of this sort aims to demonstrate that, in a society conceived in a healthy manner, the interests of the propertied classes and those of the working class can be naturally harmonized. The idea that a good economy is that which assures the harmony of class interests is also found among liberals (Bastiat, Economic Harmonies, 1849), paired with a theory of the spontaneous harmonization of individual interests and the general interest. But this will to “reconcile” the boss with the worker, and capital with labor, often by way of a mystical idea of national unity, will also be found in fascism. The great idea is always to “harmonize” existing interests instead of opposing them. The aim is “social peace,” by attempting to convince the workers and bosses that their true interests are the same. It is an idea that would scandalize Georges Sorel.
This idea seemed to justify itself in the Fordist era, which saw the formation of a large middle class when the holders of capital understood that raising salaries allowed a rise in purchasing power, and thus the flow of merchandise. At once the class struggle seemed to dissipate, which facilitated the acceptance of the capitalist system on the Right as well as the Left. The anti-liberal current within the Right has never ceased to diminish since that time, with the market system finding defenders even in the ranks of the radical Right.
After the Revolution of 1917, anti-Communism also played a very negative role. There were of course good reasons to criticize the Soviet system. Its true nature also had to be revealed, viz. that of a totalitarianism associated with a form of State capitalism. At the time of the Popular Front, this anti-Communism made any social legislation suspect in the eyes of a great part of the Right.
“The exclusive nationalism practiced by the Right,” writes Paul Sérant, “led the world of the Right to misunderstand the economic and social upheavals of the modern world.” “Economics depends on politics,” said Maurras; but many men of the Right used this statement as a pretext for refusing to examine the problems of the common good except in terms of national politics. We see this clearly in 1936, at the moment the Popular Front triumphed. Most on the Right were indignant at the alliance between radicals and Communists, and they referred to the Soviet danger — but they did not understand that it was dangerous to seem to be tying the defense of the nation from Communism to the cause of conservatism. Young writers — and more generally the young elements of the Right who were able to see this danger and who, appealing at once to Proudhon, Sorel, and the young Maurras, stated the need to go beyond the old positions of Left and Right, and to struggle as vigorously against liberal capitalism as against Marxism — only won over a rather small audience within the Right. For most men of the Right, the strikers of 1936 were no doubt fine Frenchmen, but Frenchmen who had fallen victims of Moscow’s agitators, and who had to be set right. . . . The drama of 1936 lies in this: the French Left and Right divided as they had never been, the country proclaimed on one side, social justice on the other, in a tumult that prefigured Civil War.”
After 1945, in the context of the Cold War, anti-Sovietism not only led the Right to assume solidarity with a “free world” dominated by American imperialism, which it loudly supported in its predatory political, commercial, and military undertakings (recall the displays of fidelity with the very corrupt regime of South Vietnam), making it the forward point of a “defense of the West” which was never in the end more than the defense of international capital. The obsession with “Communist subversion” and “Moscow’s hand” also led to the condemnation not only of decolonization (Mossadegh’s Iran, Lumumba’s Congo, and Salvador Allende’s Chile, not forgetting Fidel Castro, who at the beginning was merely a revolutionary Cuban nationalist), but also all attempts by oppressed peoples to rid themselves of capitalist domination.
With the exclusive goal of not “playing the Kremlin’s game,” the Right validated every system of exploitation set up by bourgeois compradores, and all acts of pillage by oligarchies enriched by commercial traffic. It supported the most odious dictatorships as soon as they opposed the “subversives” who demanded agrarian reform, the sharing of land, and a bit more social justice. The only result was to throw all these popular revolts against social injustice into Moscow’s arms; they only became “Communist” because they were left no other hope.
And this is how we came to be in the situation described by Alasdair MacIntyre in these terms:
The contemporary debates within modern political systems are almost exclusively between conservative liberals, liberal liberals, and radical liberals. There is little place in such political systems for the criticism of the system itself, that is, for putting liberalism in question.
After the Second World War, liberal ideas never stopped gaining ground on the Right, less in their doctrinal form than by the effects of a gradual contagion. Georges Pompidou’s liberalism already represented a stage in this process. In the 1980s, the apostles of deregulation, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, became idols of the Right, while the social-democratic Left rallied unhesitatingly to the market society. A few years later, the “new economists” (Jacques Garello, Henri Lepage, Alain Laurent, etc.) tried to popularize the ideas of the libertarians (Murray Rothbard, David Friedman) and Friedrich Hayek, according to whom “the concept of social justice is strictly empty and without meaning.” This was also the era when the Club de l’Horloge held a colloquium on “liberalism in the service of the people” (Nice, October 20-22, 1989)! We had to wait for the crisis of 2008 to witness a certain questioning of this perspective. But by that time, we had long since entered the era of “winners” and “easy money,” with all of social life operating in dependence on the market.
The critiques contained in Church’s social doctrine had themselves long remained a dead letter. At the Vatican, these critiques went back to Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891) and its condemnation of an “unbridled competition” resulting in the “concentration of industry and commerce in a few hands . . . imposing an almost servile yoke on an infinite multitude of proletarians.” “The rich and the bosses,” we read, must not “treat the worker as a slave; it is just that they respect human dignity in him, heightened by the dignity of a Christian. . . . What is shameful and inhuman is to use man as a cheap instrument of gain, not to value anything but the strength of his arms.”
The Rerum Novarum amounted to an encouragement of that social Christianity, made famous notably by Albert de Mun and La Tour du Pin, which we have already spoken about and which would give birth at the beginning of the twentieth century to a whole galaxy of organizations and journals (Action Populaire was founded in 1903, the first Semaine social was held the following year in Lyon). But the Papacy quickly intervened, notably with the encyclicals Graves de communi (1901) and Singuli quadam (1912), to turn social Catholics from political action and remind them of the priority of moral action. The movement, marked off on the Left by the condemnation of Marc Sangnier’s Sillon movement in 1910 and on the Right by that of Action Française in 1926, never transcended a purely reformist perspective.
None of these proposals, however judicious they may have been, were accompanied by any fundamental analysis of the nature of capitalism. At the end of the nineteenth century, the social doctrine of the Church inspired primarily the sermons of lady patronesses. Rather than appealing to the law or political decision-making, they appealed to the moral conscience or even “natural law”; they cited examples of “good bosses” who concerned themselves with the fate of their workers; and they spoke of “just wages,” recommended “good works,” paternalism, the spirit of charity that was supposed to correct the misdeeds of the “invisible hand.” From bosses to patrons . . . . [Du patronat au patronage] At best, they were preoccupied with improving the fate of proletarians, but did not really ask themselves about the deeper causes of the proletariat’s rise. One wanted to “help the poor,” but while preserving the system which produced poverty. Remaining in a moral key — it was a matter of moralizing both the bosses and the working class — one did not ask oneself about the dominant system of production, nor about what fundamentally moved it. As for poverty, it was considered inevitable. “The dyad paternalism-pauperism satisfied Christian and police demands as well as liberal or reactionary aspirations,” writes Anthony Rowley. This is what explains how the Church continued to play the role of a “holy gendarmerie” for so long, which cooled things off and disarmed the spirit of revolt by preaching resignation and acceptance of the social disaster.
The proof of this is that, despite the principles of the Church’s social doctrine, capitalism never ceased finding defenders in the Catholic world. In 1989, Pierre de Calan, an eminent member of the National Council of French Employers, published a series of articles on “liberal Catholic capitalism” in the Revue des deux mondes. More recently, the critical reactions to Pope Francis’s publication of the “ecological” encyclical Laudato si have been revealing.
In an article entitled “There Is No Infallibility in Economics,” published on July 24, 2015 on the website of the Institut de recherches économiques et fiscales, the Christian Jean-Philippe Delsol assures us that the Pope “goes too far,” is lacking in “prudence,” is stepping outside his area of competence (“Is it his vocation to pass judgment on privatization?”), has fallen into the error of “constructivism,” etc. Delsol says of course that “it is not by sharing that one enriches the poor,” and takes up the old refrain according to which the market “is the best tool and the best approach the world has ever invented to favor its development” — the assumption that one must at all costs “favor development” never being examined, of course. After this, Pope Francis is kindly advised to return to the care of souls and the virtue of charity.
The congenial review Limite, on the other hand, founded in September 2015, groups together a certain number of Catholic authors, young for the most part, who do not hesitate to pronounce themselves in favor of degrowth or “integral ecology,” nor to condemn liberal capitalism in light of the writings of Jacques Ellul, Chesterton, Ivan Illich, Orwell, Michéa, and many others. This orientation has been described as a “waking dream” by Gaël Brustier, who thinks “the conservative camp should, by its social composition, remain more closely bound to economic liberalism from an ideological point of view and to the (moderate or extreme) Right from an electoral point of view rather than be tempted by the integral ecology of Gaultier Bès or the ‘Christian anarchism’ of the veterans of Immédiatement.” Obviously, it remains to be seen whether Limite addresses itself only to the “conservative camp” . . .
Equally revealing is the very interesting study carried out between October 2014 and October 2015 by the Catholic journal La Nef in collaboration with the Socio-Political Observatory of the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon on the theme of “Liberation from Liberalism?” The responses, quite varied, show to what extent the Catholic world remains divided regarding liberal ideology and capitalism.
The first problem was well-put by Falk van Gaver: “Isn’t liberal conservatism, a kind of continuation of Orléanism crossed with Bonapartism, a contradiction in terms?” But van Gaver is very nearly the only contributor, along with Philippe Conte, Frédéric Dufoing, and to some extent Bernard Dumont, to condemn liberal ideology consistently. While rejecting philosophical or “societal” liberalism, a number of other persons who were asked continue to look lovingly upon economic liberalism. Thus, Chantal Delsol declares that “the peculiar character of Western culture is that it occasions a gradual retreat of holism, because it believes that each of us is a person.” (!) She adds: “It goes without saying that I do not consider liberalism a structure of sin. Pierre de Lauzun assure us that the Church has always recognized “the market as natural.” François Huguenin thinks “political freedom is a fortunate attainment of liberal thought in the modern era.” Pascal Salin assures us that “liberal values are Christian values, or at least entirely compatible with them,” for “liberalism and Christianity share a common base from the perspective of universal values,” while Bernard Antony confesses his desire to defend liberalism “at least in the economic realm,” etc.
In the best case, the dominant opinion on the Right is that one might possibly make accusations against “wild” capitalism, namely its “excesses” or “perversions” — but not the logic of capital itself. This lazy line of argument rests on commonplace observations constantly repeated: The market economy is “more efficient” at creating wealth and producing ever more merchandise; it is the best way of favoring “development,” allowing the gradual enrichment of all social classes (the poor certainly still exist, but their relative standard of living is rising), and so on. No one asks about the price to be paid for this “efficiency” of the system, nor about the impact of commodity fetishism on social relations, nor about the primacy accorded commercial values, nor about the anthropological model of the Homo oeconomicus, nor about the well-foundedness of the logic of surplus accumulation, nor about the possibility of infinite material growth, etc.
Undoubtedly, as long as capitalism “marched in step with the nation” [« marchait à la nation »], its expansion could be presented as an addition to national greatness. This no longer applies in a time when the world economy is attempting to suppress all local singularities which present an obstacle to its own movement. Henceforth, liberal capitalism cannot have any “national strategy”: the arrival of the globalized economy leads it to assign the State as its principle task of supporting ongoing globalization by means of appropriate politico-economic legislation, along with new and matching internal controls to disarm any form of social opposition.
The money-Right does not really have any principled convictions, but only principled interests. “This is one reason why it shows itself so masterful at what might be called the relativism of ideologies. All [theoretical] representations can be useful to it, provided they do not contradict its system of interests.”
The recurrent idea is that “one must distinguish between liberalism and liberalism,” and not confound “good” productive capital with “bad” financial capital, either. Philosophical liberalism might deserve condemnation, and “social” liberalism as well, but political liberalism might under certain conditions be perfectly acceptable (“We are not going to deprive ourselves of liberty!”). As for economic liberalism, there are grounds to condemn only certain “excesses.” Such is the position of all those who adhere to one form or another of “national liberalism”: Liberalism can be “national,” and one must only separate the wheat from the chaff, and so on. Éric Zemmour has not been the last to denounce the “swindle” of that branch of the Right which “venerates the market while rejecting its effects: consumption, globalization, immigration, moral degradation.”
Now, if there is one thing Jean-Claude Michéa (to name only him) has demonstrated, it is the deep unity of liberalism and the natural complementarity of liberalism’s different forms which, on the Left as well as the Right, people persist in distinguishing in order to oppose them to one another. All are based on the same anthropology, whose principal trait is to legitimate the egoistic impulse considered as a “natural impulse”; i.e., the individual desire to maximize one’s material and private interest. Obviously, the same goes for capitalism, which is not a mere form of economic organization that could be improved (or “moralized”) to make it tolerable, but a “total social fact,” generative of a real system of (de)civilization.
Similar to one form of the Left which long saw in capitalism only a means for exploiting the working class, and never ceased cherishing the idea that capitalism would cease to be bad the moment the workers succeeded in assuming control of it, a certain form of the Right remains unable to reflect on the very essence of capitalism, on the logic of the unlimited, on commodity fetishism, on the theory of value, on the concept of the market, on the nature of money, etc.
Bernard Charbonneau was able to write: “That is how love of country, justifying the protection of economic interests by the State, became its caricature: chauvinism. And leadership by the best justifies the arbitrary will of the richest, making it impossible for us to distinguish between a living aristocracy and a so-called elite designated by money alone.” The Right thereby condemned itself. Charbonneau continues:
For the values to which the Right appeals are precisely those which condemn it: What are the criticisms the Left makes of the Right in comparison with those the Right could make of itself! It champions property, and for the benefit of an individual, capitalism dispossesses millions, carrying out the first mass expropriations of modern times. It champions the nation, and for the greatness of an individual, nationalism nourishes a will to power which tends to destroy all nations. It celebrates decision and character, and for the arbitrary will of an individual, whether monarch or boss, it transforms all the others into serfs. Defending freedom, everywhere the Right tends to encourage monopoly. . . . Against Marxist materialism, [it] poses as a champion of the authority of the spirit, but it serves a social class whose economic activity is its raison d’être . . . .
Correctly considering that society comes prior to individuals, the Right has come to adhere to a system of which one of its postulates is that a society can function by associating individuals bound only by legal contracts and commercial exchange. It might praise the “common good,” but it adheres to an ideology which only wants to recognize independent individuals; i.e., an atomized society. Sometimes it claims to be opposed to modernity, but it continues to support the most modernizing system that has ever existed. Wanting to be spiritual, it finds nothing to criticize in the materialist logic of interest and profit. Defending political sovereignty, it supports a system which involves submitting politics to economics and considering borders non-existent, since nothing should hinder the free circulation of men, merchandise, and capital. Occasionally it criticizes commodification, but never commodities. It does not see that genuine socialism rests on the central notions of mutual aid and community, which scarcely differ from the organic bonds of traditional society, and ends by falling into their opposite: individualism. It does not realize that the new industrial order being put in place is based on the Enlightenment’s abstract universalism. It remains silent on the generalized alienation of the contemporary world, which makes man a stranger to himself.
Decidedly, nothing can be expected from a Right like this.
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 In Emmanuel Beau de Loménie (ed.), Qu’appellez-vous droite et gauche? (Paris: Librairie du Dauphin, 1931), 96.
 Alain-Gérard Slama, “Considérations sur la droite,” in Contrepoint, January-March 1978, 57.
 Karl Marx, Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1848, Chapter 1.
 Jean-Claude Michéa, Le Complexe d’Orphée.
 Emmanuel Beau de Loménie, in Qu’appellez-vous droite et gauche?, 164.
 René Rémond, La droite en France, de la premiere Restauration à la Ve République (Paris: Aubier, 1963), 82.
 Arnaud Imatz, Par-delà droite et gauche. Permanence et évolution des idéaux et des valeurs non conformistes, (Paris: Godefroy de Bouillon, 1996), 105.
 Ibid., 106.
 In December 1891, Paul Laforgues, Karl Marx’s son-in-law, greeted a speech by the Catholic deputy Albert de Mun as “one of the best socialist speeches which has been delivered here.”
 Paul Sérant, Ou va la droite? (Paris: Plon, 1958), 24.
 Cited by Hervé Bizien, “La vraie droite française contre le capitalisme,” in Le Choc du mois, September 2007, 23.
 A strike in the suburbs of Paris during May through July 1908 in which six workers were killed. — Tr.
 Cf. especially the texts published by Jean-Pierre Maxence and Thierry Molnier in l’Insurgé beginning in 1937. Cf. also Jean de Fabregues, “Capital et capitalisme,” in Réaction, March 1932. In June 1936, Pierre Gaxotte writes: “The working class is part of the nation, the poverty of workers is that of the fatherland” (quoted by Eugen Weber, L’Action française, translated by Michel Chrestien [Paris: Stock, 1985], 416).
 On the inability of the Right to formulate an alternative economic theory, cf. Pierre Rosanvallon, Misere de l’économie (Paris: Seuil, 1983) (“Une droite sans idées,” 134-138).
 Paul Sérant, Ou va la droite?, 62-63.
 A Jesuit association. — Tr.
 Anthony Rowley, “L’économie et le marché,” in Jean-François Sirinelli (ed.), Histoire des droites en France, vol. 3: Sensibilités (Paris: Gallimard, 1992), 407.
 Gaël Brustier, website Slate, September 11, 2015.
 A concept which originated in Latin American “liberation theology.” — Tr.
 Cf. Falk van Gaver & Christophe Geffroy (eds.), Faut-il se libérer du libéralisme? (Paris: Pierre-Guillaume de Roux, 2016).
 Sami Nair, “Le socialisme n’est plus ce qu’il était,” in L’Événement européen, no. 1, 1988, 101-102.
 Éric Zemmour, in Valeurs actuelles, May 30, 2008.
 Bernard Charbonneau, L’État (Paris: Economica, 1987), 153.
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