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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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HomeCulture WarThe so-called far right are really far left

The so-called far right are really far left

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IN HIS address to the nation on Friday, Rishi Sunak said: ‘Islamist extremists and the far right feed off and embolden each other.’ This casual reference to ‘far-right extremists’ is made again and again, almost always as some sort of leavening to placate all those people worried about right-wing extremists who, so the narrative runs, are lurking in the shadows, ready to revisit the horrors of The Third Reich upon us. But there is a problem. Not only is there, as Douglas Murray once remarked, a bit of a supply side shortage when it comes to right wing extremism, there is no such thing as the far right in politics.

That needs a little clarification. I don’t mean that there are no people with far-right opinions. I don’t mean that there is a potential for far-right opinions but that there is a shortage or absence of people willing to hold them. No, I mean the far right doesn’t exist as a logical proposition. There are no far-right opinions to hold.

Of course, there are things that people call far-right. For many, ‘far-right’ conjures up images of slogan-chanting skinheads carrying the Union Jack in sinister parades and they think of such people as fascists.

In reality those things that get called far-right are actually far-left, but having been fed a relentless diet of disinformation about what constitutes left and right in politics, people get confused. Maybe it would be useful to get ‘back to basics’, which for those of us of a certain age, is nearly as ill-used a phrase as ‘far-right extremists’.

Firstly, the so-called far right is supposed to be tribal and opposed to those who don’t match its group identity. But isn’t that exactly what proponents of critical race theory and radical feminists are like? They anathematise and exclude white people and men, don’t they? It’s not obvious what the difference is between tribalism based on nationality and culture and tribalism based on genetics or sex. Yet the critical race theorists and feminists would, I am sure, claim to be part of the socialist movement; definitely of the left, not of the far right.

Secondly, the so-called far right claims special privileges for its group and preferred treatment for its culture and ethnicity. Once again, this is a mark of critical race theorists and radical feminists with their demands for positive discrimination for their cliques and reparations for perceived ancestral wrongs and for leniency before justice because of their supposed vulnerability. The ‘far right’ and ‘progressive’ left meet again, here.

Thirdly, the so-called far right are perceived as resentful and self-pitying. They claim that other groups enjoy special and unwarranted treatment and have taken things from them and denied them access to things, for example, access to social housing and welfare benefits. Yet again, we see this mirrored in the critical race theorists’ claims about unfair schooling systems that discriminate against them and even complaints that the countryside is somehow racist against them. Not to be left out, the radical feminists return again and again to the claimed pay gap with men and a UFO-like belief in the existence of a glass ceiling that prevents women fulfilling their career potentials. This meeting of minds must be more than pure coincidence.

It is possible to give many more examples demonstrating that the so-called far right has essential characteristics in common with the far left, so much so that it is difficult to see how they can ever be regarded as political opposites. Nevertheless, if those of the left still insist on the existence of the far right, perhaps we should examine the following question:  What is the pathway connecting mainstream politics to the so-called far right? It must come from the conservative tradition. Surely, socialists would identify Conservatism as the mainstream manifestation of right-wing political thought. Yet the conservative tradition emphasises not group identity but individuality. The purer and further from the centre ground of politics that we go in the conservative direction, the more individualistic the tendency becomes. Individual rights, not group identity, becomes the defining characteristic. Taken to its logical conclusion, extreme conservatism should look like some form of individual anarchy. The so-called far right is not part of the conservative tradition at all, nor an extension of it. Instead, it belongs with radical feminism and critical race theory on the far left of the political spectrum.

But why did these left-wing groups become assigned to the far right instead of where they belong? To begin with, because there is no far right, there is no one to complain about being lumped in with them. If a supercharged conservative movement existed, wouldn’t some of those people try to argue that they have nothing in common with neo-Nazis and racists and violent tribalists? Isn’t that what the Labour Party has done recently over anti-Semitism? Hasn’t it hurriedly tried to distance itself from anti-Semites whenever it can?

In truth, there really is a vacuum on the far right of politics (supposing that there is a space where such a vacuum could exist). It is in that perceived vacuum that the left has chosen to dump its embarrassing political siblings and relabelled them as ‘far right’. It has been doing so since at least the 1940s when it quietly and quickly disowned both the Fascists from Italy and the National Socialists from Germany. The Fascists and National Socialists have been reviled as the product of the far right ever since but both of those political movements were undeniably socialist.

That idea comes as quite a shock to many people, who have been fed, all their lives, the idea that Mussolini and Hitler are examples of just how dangerous right-wing politics is and how easily it can get out of control. In fact, before becoming Italian premier, Mussolini had been successful as the editor of the chief Italian Socialist newspaper Avanti and had been praised, fulsomely, by Lenin. He had formed the Fascist party to be the representative of the Italian trade unions.

In the same way, Hitler considered himself to be a socialist and was proud of it. It was Hitler, as he rose to power in the National German Workers Party, who insisted on including the word ‘socialist’ in the party name and it was Goebbels who noted in his diary on June 16, 1941, six days before the German invasion of the USSR, that Nazi Germany was about to show the Russians ‘der echte Sozialismus’ (real socialism).

The Fascists and the Nazis become branded as far-right because they were an embarrassment to the political left. Who would want to be associated with book-burning lunatics who had murdered millions, stifled and then persecuted all opposition and started a disastrous world war? It was especially embarrassing for the USSR. How could they be seen to have waged war on fellow socialists? They couldn’t and so they seized control of the language and the Nazis and the Fascists were excommunicated from the socialist sphere as ‘right-wing’, the furthest place they could send them politically. Western socialists eagerly followed suit.

The denial of embarrassing, unacceptable socialists and their banishment to the imagined desert of far-right politics has been a triumph of left-wing propaganda that has endured, without reformation, for eighty years and is possibly the one, true success of international Socialism. It leaves us with an intriguing question: If far-right politics actually existed, what would it look like?

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Nigel Drake
Nigel Drake
Nigel Drake is a bank employee and former further education lecturer, married with two daughters.

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