Of Interest


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Are conservatives "Right-wing"?

Are conservatives "Right-wing"?

For the excellent reason that Right is the opposite of Left, opponents of the Left are commonly referred to as Rightist -- and that should be the end of the matter. But it is not. The problem arises from the expression "extreme right". What is "the extreme right"?

The answer to that has been greatly distorted by Leftist disinformation about Hitler. Hitler was by the standards of his day a fairly mainstream socialist. Even his ideas about "Aryans" were shared by such Leftist eminences as U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. But Hitler's defeat in war created a desperate need in Leftists to deny all that. So they invariably describe him as "right-wing" to deflect attention from the fact that he was in his day one of them. He was in fact to the Right of Stalin's Communism only -- so the Communist view of Hitler has been conveniently adopted by the Left generally. See here for full details about Hitler's ideas and background.

So Leftists tend to describe all tyrants and dictators as extreme Right on the grounds that their behaviour is like Hitler's. But all the great tyrants of the 20th century -- Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot -- were in fact Leftists so the various postwar tyrants should logically be called "extreme Leftists" -- though that's not logic that Leftists like, of course.  It's only when a tyrant or a tyranny is clearly Communist (as in, for example, Peru, Nicaragua and Nepal) that Leftists will generally desist from calling the tyrant  "Right wing".  It would probably be most accurate to say that most tyrants are wingless:  They believe only in their own personal power

So calling conservatives Rightists does little harm when normal everyday democratic politics is concerned but once we start talking about extremes of belief a large problem arises. Conservatives reject utterly the association with Hitler that Leftists try to pin on them.

There is clearly a lot of variation among postwar tyrants so presumably some are better examples of what Leftists call "right-wing" than others. The Latin American dictators seem to be prime candidates but what do we make of clowns like Idi Amin or democratically elected authoritarians like Lee Kuan Yew? Exactly WHICH dictators are good examples of "Right-wing" seems to be vague.  Leftists appear to have no systematic thinking on that. So some lists include Fascists like Chiang Kai Shek, the monarchs of the Muslim world and even in some cases undoubted Communists like the Kim dynasty of North Korea.

So I too will have to leave vague just who is a good example of an "extreme Rightist".  For the sake of looking at the subject at all, I will use "Hitler-like" or "Fascist" as a specification of what Leftists are talking about when they say "Right wing extremist"  -- and leave it at that.  I have however given separate coverage of the Latin American dictators further below.  They have mostly been Bolivarists, a form of Fascism.  And that Fascism is/was Leftist I set out at length here.

There are also of course a few individuals around in Western countries who are Hitler sentimentalists but they are so few and so unorganized that they are essentially irrelevant to modern politics.  I do however have a discussion of them here.

Extremism versus stability:  Taking things to extremes is the Leftist "modus operandi"

We are accustomed in political discussions to describe both ends of the political spectrum as "extremists". But what are the extremes? In the case of the Left it is easy: Communism. But what is an extreme conservative? The Left are sure that it is someone like Adolf Hitler but the logic of conservative commitment to individual liberty and suspicion of government makes libertarianism a much likelier extreme form of conservatism.

At this point I am going to skip forward a little, however, and say where I think people go wrong. I don't think there IS any such thing as extreme conservatism. Libertarians believe in a lot of stuff that conservatives reject. But I do believe that there is such a thing as extreme Leftism. How come?

I think that the whole polarity of politics is generally misunderstood.  The contest between Left and Right is a contest between stability and the results of irritability/anger/rage. Conservatives are the sheet anchor of society. They ensure that there is some continuity and predictability in our lives. They are the anchor that prevents us all from being blown onto the shoals of arrogant stupidity in the manner of Pol Pot and many others.

For various reasons most people in society have gripes about it. Even conservatives can usually give you a long list of things that they would wish otherwise in the world about them.

But some of the discontented are REALLY discontented -- discontented to the point of anger/rage/hate -- and among them there is a really dangerous group: Those who "know" how to fix everything.

So the political contest ranges across a spectrum from valuing stability to various degrees of revolutionary motivation.

But can there be an extreme of valuing stability? In theory yes but I have yet to hear of ANY conservative-dominated government that lacked an active legislative agenda. BOTH sides of politics have changes they want to legislate for. Conservatives don't want stability at any price any more than they want change that threatens stability. So as far as I can see, ALL conservatives want change PLUS stability. And mostly they get that.

Pulling against that anchor that keeps society going on a fairly even keel, however, there is the Left -- who want every conceivable sort of change. Some just want more social welfare legislation and some want the whole society turned upside down by violent revolution. And the latter are indeed extremists.

So there is no sharp Left/Right dividing line -- just a continuum from strong support for stability amid change to a complete disrespect and disregard for stability among extreme advocates of change.

It is possible that there is somebody somewhere in the world who values stability so much that he/she want NO change in the world about them at all. If so, I have never met such a person. Everybody has gripes and change is a constant. The only question is whether we can manage change without great disruptions to our everyday lives. Conservatives think we can and should. Leftists basically don't care about that. For them change is the goal with stability hardly considered.

Now let me skip back to a question I raised earlier. I think we are now in a better position to answer that question. The question is why do conservatives and Leftists disagree over what extreme conservatism or extreme Rightism is? And the answer is now obvious. If it does not exist, no wonder people disagree over what it is. The theoretical inference would be that an extreme conservative wants ZERO change: he/she wants stability alone. But, as I have noted, such people appear not to exist and if they do exist they are surely too few to matter.

But what about the Leftist conviction that society is riddled by people like Hitler: "Racists" and "Nazis". Leftists never cease describing those they disagree with that way. Even a moderate and compromising Christian gentleman such as George Bush Jr. was constantly accused of being a Nazi during his time in office.

Again our conception of stability versus extremism helps answer that -- particularly if you add in a dash of history.

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