Political tags—such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and. so forth—are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
Robert A. Heinlein
As far as the modern political and economic sciences are concerned, a rightist is someone who strives to minimize the role of state in the economy. Such concepts as federalization, guaranteeing the civil rights and liberties (freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, right to self-defense, etc.) follow automatically. A leftist, on the other hand, is someone who considers the state the most effective guardian of prosperity, abhors the notion of a citizen with a rifle, freedom of speech and independent courts, and strives to delegate to the state the safeguarding of his and everyone’s rights and liberties. This, however, is not even a model – it’s an ideal. It practical life we don’t deal with ideals, we deal with people, and we know that almost no one can be defined as pure right or left; those that do claim the honor are in the margins of the map and have no strength or influence.
For a typical example, let’s take a look at Indonesia. A military coup of 1968 replaced a pro-Soviet Sukarno with a reasonably rightist, secular, pro-American Suharto. He implemented an extensive privatization policy, hired economics advisors analogous to Pinochet’s “Chicago Boys” (sometimes bad-mouthed as the “Berkeley Mafia”). Seeing as how Naomi Klein disparaged him in her “The Shock Doctrine”, he was probably doing good work. Still, the public sector was a significant factor in Suharto’s Indonesia, and the almighty BULOG (Indonesian Bureau of Logistics) was one of the state’s more important pillars.
Another example, that of Perez Jimenez (sometimes known as a Caesar), the man behind the “Venezuelan Economic Miracle”, spent a goodly part of the state’s budget on building public housing, infrastructure and parks, and also sponsored the foreign education of the Venezuelan experts.
Margaret Thatcher, idolized by most Western right-wingers, she was quite strongly opposed to the idea of the civil arms. Does this detract from her being a prominent rightist politician? Certainly not.
And the list goes on. Many modern right-wing politicians in both the US and Latin America are working to solve the drugs problem by means of legalization, decriminalization and factoring the drugs in the economy. Many of Russian or Asian right-wing politicians, on the other hand, would probably claim they are not really rightists but rather ‘stinking liberals’.
In all, a practical right-wing politician is rarely that 19th century idealist pictured by most as an epitome of rightist ideology. Nor are most of the rightists insane ignoramuses turned by the ideas of theocracy or dictatorship, who swear by prohibitions and punishments – all the name of “freedom”. Sure, such people still exist; paleocons, for instance, or the Neturei Karta of Israel, they would forego there countries and the Western civilization in general in favor of anyone – Putin, communists, Europe, Asia – anyone who would help them live their own mumbo-jumbo scrunched-up boorish dreams. Those who defend the Islamic business model don’t see anything wrong in the situation where there is free market for half the population, while the other half has almost no rights. The numbers of these narrow-minded marginals are dwindling; it is to be hoped that in time they will disappear completely.
With the loss of the original, ideal meaning of the word ‘rightist’, with the loss of the word ‘liberal’ to the left-wingers, people are inventing their own definitions and attributes of what a ‘right-wing politician’ is or should be. In Marxist argot, this means putting parts of the superstructure into the base and pretending the secondary issues are among the main ones. In formal logic this is called the Association Fallacy. For instance, people often and strongly, if wrongly, associate such traits as ‘morality’, ‘religiosity’ and ‘nationalism’ with the political right.
The infamous Paul Gottfried in his “Strange Death of Marxism” goes as far as almost giving the Nazism absolution, on the grounds that the Nazis were ‘moral’ people, and therefore they were rightists. But why not take this one step farther, and say that – based on “Gott mit uns” on the belt buckets of the Wehrmacht makes them good Christians? The politicians espousing such tripe seem not to realize that their “strict morality” owns little to the authentic Christinaity, and is based on a mishmash of badly remembered Christian upbringing and some rather dumb social ethics – be they Soviet (for those who preach in Russia) or Western Christian (for those who live in the West).
In their adherence to this basis, they cut loose a rightist Hindu praying to Shiva; a Shintoist; a Buddhist, whose morality has little in common with either Christianity or Western values. And what about a Venezuelan, belonging to a quite erotic cult of María Lionza? What about Jenna Jameson, a porn star, a Republican voter, who keeps saying “were you in my financial position, you would have voted for lowering the taxes, too”. Should she be excluded from the rightists? While we are at it, maybe we should create the Great Censorship List and forbid the people on that list the right of political self-identification, forever more, amen? Should we put the Negro right-wingers on this list as a group, or force them to identify with nationalism (and which kind – Black or White)? No wonder most of the Negro nationalists are radical leftists. Don’t forget: most of the old-school leftists have been nationalists and proud of it.
The answer is quite simple, actually. Neither ‘morality’, formed by the famous ‘there is no sex in the Soviet Union’, nor and the disgraceful European religious ideology, nor ‘nationalism’ should be directly associated with the right doctrine. They can be espoused by some of the right-wing politicians, but this doesn’t make them either necessary or sufficient for defining the discourse. The claim that they are more often heard from the right than from the left should be considered false until proven otherwise. This is especially so in light of many examples of political unions between the proponents of “morality” and their bitterest enemies, the left-wing feminists, in their demand for more better sexual bans and censorship. That’s because the people who “fight for moral society” are neither left nor right, they have no political identity, they have no economic affinity, their struggle can best be categorized as a sexual perversion, and instead of political attention they should be given psychiatric help.
Let us now analyze the basis and the implication of this thesis: “nationalism is a fundamental attribute of rightist ideology”. This meme is especially wide-spread in Russian-speaking and in the European communities, for two reasons. Imprimis, the Soviet propaganda was very effective into turning the Bolsheviks and the Communists in general into “internationalists” and “cosmopolites”. Secundus, the same kind of lies made the German and, worse, the Italian fascism into some vague, undefined ‘rightist’, because they “fought against the USSR”. Because of this skullduggery, and because most people have hard time getting their logic straight, the conventional reasoning goes as follows: the leftists support the USSR; the rightists support Hitler and Mussolini; Hitler and Mussolini were nationalists; therefore all rightists are nationalists, and the ultra-rightists are Nazis.
To refute this chain of pseudo-logic it’s enough to realize that neither Hitler nor Mussolini have been rightist in any way. The economies in their countries have been strictly state-regulated, and Mussolini especially have always had close ties to the Socialist doctrine. He was known and remembered for it, by his friends as well as his enemies. The Portuguese dictator Salazar, a fervent Catholic, called him bawdy and sleazy, whereas Angelica Balabanoff often reminisced about the trust she put into Benito’s ideas, because he was a socialist, if not a very good one.
It’s important to remember that the concept of nationalism, in and of itself, has no direct connection with the concept of free market; that at an advanced stage of the latter the former will become a hindrance. This is especially true in large, influential countries, for they tend to imperialism, thus giving the nationalists an excuse to force a rigid nation-protecting economic model, closing the internal markets from all the “strangers” and their “wrong” influence.
Finally, let’s just state directly that there are in all probability more leftist national-oriented states than there are rightist ones.
1. The Kim dynasty of DPRK. Notorious for their ultra-nationalistic rhetoric, Anschluss inclinations towards their closest neighbors, high degree of patriotism – and, since we have mentioned this above, a mild form of mass fixation on “morality” (Koreans, having no use for Christianity, call it a “socialist morality” instead).
2. Pol Pot. His were a radical nationalism and isolationism, tendencies to building an autarky, proclaimed love to archaic “völkische” technologies. Undoubtedly, he would have found a lot to talk about with Himmler or Richard Darre: the mystique and the duality of agriculture, where the same tool can give life by assisting in food growth or take life by crushing a skull. Pol Pot never failed to remind everyone that the Kampucheans are special, extraordinary, having outdistanced both the Chinese and the Russians and are already on the home stretch towards Communism. The sexual mores in Pol Pot’s Kampuchea were unbelievable – they were indoctrinated to consider sex as an act of procreation, to be performed only by a special permit.
3. Sukarno. In his case it’s enough to give this quote. “Certainly, honorable judges, my language is radical. I don’t speak the same languages as old women, who faint at the word ‘freedom’, my oratory doesn’t resemble that of a priest or a mullah. I’m a radical nationalist, a revolutionary nationalist, a nationalist who has chosen a buffalo’s head for his crest! My words come directly from heart, the heart burning with nationalistic fervor, overflowing with grief at the sight of his people’s suffering”. Sukarno was a pro-Soviet Indonesian dictator, a nationalistic patriot and a ardent opponent of the West.
4. Jawaharlal Nehru. A Hindu nationalist, a zealous preacher of the “Hindu way” and the “Hindu greatness”. A complete and utter leftist, whose ideas were somewhat reminiscent of Tito’s, though more inclined towards a democratic society.
5. Enver Hoxha. An isolationist, an autarkist, a patriot – and a radical Marxist.
6. Benito Mussolini. The founder of fascism, he was an Italian “non-Marxist” socialism. He tightened the state’s control over economy to the point where it was nigh total, started wars, and was also an acknowledged nationalist.
7. Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro: both were left-wingers, patriots of their countries, nationalists. Both were radical “left imperialists”, forced their political ideas on several other countries in the Latin America, supported the leftist terrorists in the region and posed a serious military theat to Columbia and Honduras.
8. Juan Velasco Alvarado, the head of the Peruan Junta, who implemented of the most leftist regimes in Latin America, was also a co-author of an extreme and ambitious “Plan Inca”. The Junta’s ideas were as follows: “The goal of this Military Revolution is to transform the economy, the society, the politics and the culture, to create a new kind of state in which the women and men of Peru will live free and will be governed by a just law. Our revolution is nationalistic, independent and humanistic. We do not abide by foreign schemes or templates. We are only guided by the needs of Peru. Our nationalism is inspired by the highest of all human values – that of our Fatherland, and we act only in the interests of our people. The revolution will not be bound by any ideology or political party, we will fight for the life of each man, for humanism moves us to build a caring society based on the ideas of justice and freedom.
9. Ollanta Humala, the current president of Peru, is Alvarado’s follower and disciple. His methodology is less brutal, which is mostly due to a strong rightist opposition.
10. Huey Newton – a black racist, a negrituder and a radical leftist.
11. Che Guevara – a radical nationalist, a leftist, a terrorist, a revolutionary.
12. Fidel Castro – a nationalist adhering to “socialist morality”, he imprisoned sexual minorities in labor camps. A leftist terrorist and an icon of leftist success, long supported by the USSR and by Putin’s Russia.
13. Evo Morales – a radical Indian nationalist, who crushed the federalization and separation attempt of West Bolivian territories; a socialist.
14. Daniel Ortega, Nicaraguan president, a sandinist, a socialist, a radical nationalist. After gaining power in a crisis-ridden, poor country, he prohibited all abortions and installed a “Moral Dictatorship”, claiming this would solve all the problems with Nicaraguan socialism. Now try to find 10 differences between him and some “rightist” characters who claim that capitalism would fail if women won’t wear long black skirts.
This list could go on and on; or we could turn a page and start listing right-wing politicians whose views do not include any sexual prohibitions or nationalist angles. This is quite natural, really, for a lot of politicians, especially those on the right side of the map, have no intention of forcing any life style on their people; they aren’t trying to institute a hijab dresscode, or bring chastity belts back in fashion, or start differentiating the people based on their race or nationality. While national identity is important to a rightist politician, and he would be naturally more inclined to do right by the nation who put him in charge, he won’t wave his purebloodedness around, or shout offensive slogans about past faults and the need for revenge. Politicians who take a “nation” to mean anything more than a fact, who take it to some metaphysical level, should be treated by a psychiatrist alongside the sexual-morality-crazed ones.
Truth be told, a pure, uncontaminated rightist approach to economy doesn’t touch the question of nationality or race with a long pole; it discusses only competition and respects the winners, regardless of their other characteristics. It is consumer-oriented, therefore anything not provided by the internal manufacturers will be provided by the foreign companies filling the gaps. So tying nationalism, racism or morality together with economic views is not only wrong, it’s illogical. People tend to confuse social conservatism with economic conservatism, and social liberalism with economic one.
To sum up: all and any attempts to associate secondary, purely psychological and individual qualities, such as nationalism and puritanism, with rightist economy is irresponsible and wrong. It leads to blurring of borders between the social and the economic conservatism. This is all the more harmful to the righists’ ideas as the social conservatism is being readily and effectively exploited by the leftist propaganda, a scary bogeyman portraying the right as mired in the mores.
This is exactly what happened in Europe. Once the lines were blurred, the terms became abused and lost their meanings. A “leftist” came to mean a broadminded, multi-cultural socialist. A “rightist” was downshifted to a homophobe, anti-multi-cultural, but still a socialist. The economic program of the European “left” and “right” is not much different – they agree in principle that a “social, responsible state” should be created and disagree only on the methods – such as morality and immigration politics. This must not be allowed to happen in the USA, Russia and Latin America – in spite of the efforts of both the leftist and, worse, the wannabe-rightist politicians to put forth the “rightist moralizer” in place of the “rightist capitalist”.
The left and the right diverge in their approach to economics and to freedom. The rightists are working towards free economics, broadening the private sector and teaching all men to be independent and self-sufficient. For them, all people are truly equal, regardless of the color of their skin, their sexual preferences or anything else. The leftists’ struggle is for planned economy, narrowing and subjugating the private sector, and turning freedoms into entitlements given out by bureaucrats. This is the basis of our strife and stand. Everything else is individual, irrational, apolitical… Menschliches, Allzumenschliches. Human, all too human.
Kitty Sanders, Eugene Wolodarsky, 2013