Far Right?

how should we define the term?

Jonathon Davies, Going Postal

“What about the far right!” is the cry from the mainstream media and the left of politics. It’s the phrase we hear again and again, over and over. It is thrown around with seemingly wild abandon. The threat, we are also repeatedly told, is the growth of the “far right,” a menace that we should all be worried about. Many people, groups, organisations, political parties and policies are being labelled as far right. I thought to myself, “What does far right actually mean?” So I started to ask people. Those who follow me on Twitter (shameless plug here) will have seen me ask this question of a number of the hordes of shrieking SJWs who are labelling people as far right. For example, when mentioning Tommy Robinson (and yes, for the umpteenth time, I do know it’s not his real name). I simply asked for a definition of far right, and then evidence and examples of how this applied to Tommy. The replies were astonishing. Try it for yourself. Not one could give me a definition, let alone how it applied. All I received were obfuscations, diversions and downright drivel. “It’s widely known,” or “Look on Wiki,” or my personal favourite, “Just Google it you bigot!” Then I thought about it. Do I even know what far right means? Is there a definition? Am I far right without knowing it?

We should start with where we get the terms left and right in politics in the first place. Surely this will provide some clues? So I decided to take the advice of my detractors (don’t say I never listen) and look on Wiki and Infogalactic, which hold similar information. The original meanings of the right and left of politics came from the period of the French revolution. Those that supported the revolution sat on the King’s left in the National Assembly, those that supported him on the right:

When the National Assembly was replaced in 1791 by a Legislative Assembly comprising entirely new members, the divisions continued. “Innovators” sat on the left, “moderates” gathered in the centre, while the “conscientious defenders of the constitution” found themselves sitting on the right, where the defenders of the Ancien Régime had previously gathered. Following the Restoration in 1814–1815 political clubs were again formed. The majority ultraroyalists chose to sit on the right. The “constitutionals” sat in the centre while independents sat on the left. The terms extreme right and extreme left, as well as centre-right and centre-left, came to be used to describe the nuances of ideology of different sections of the assembly.“-Infogalactic

Would those who ardently supported a monarchy therefore be far right? Would they be extreme authoritarians who would accept no change?

Beginning in the early twentieth century the terms left and right came to be associated with specific political ideologies and were used to describe citizens’ political beliefs, gradually replacing the terms “reds” and “the reaction” or “republicans” and “conservatives”. By 1914 the left half of the legislature was composed of Unified Socialists, Republican Socialists and Socialist Radicals, while the parties that were called “left” now sat on the right side.“-Infogalactic

Okay then. That makes complete sense. The parties that were left now sat on the right? Hmmm…

“In British politics the terms ‘right’ and ‘left’ came into common use for the first time in the late 1930s in debates over the Spanish Civil War. The Scottish sociologist Robert M. MacIver noted in The Web of Government (1947):

The right is always the party sector associated with the interests of the upper or dominant classes, the left the sector expressive of the lower economic or social classes, and the centre that of the middle classes. Historically this criterion seems acceptable. The conservative right has defended entrenched prerogatives, privileges and powers; the left has attacked them. The right has been more favorable to the aristocratic position, to the hierarchy of birth or of wealth; the left has fought for the equalization of advantage or of opportunity, for the claims of the less advantaged. Defense and attack have met, under democratic conditions, not in the name of class but in the name of principle; but the opposing principles have broadly corresponded to the interests of the different classes.“-Infogalactic

So would far right then be those who fervently supported the upper classes and establishment? Would far right then be those that looked down upon the working classes and despised them the most? Would they be those who were the most extreme in their opposition to social mobility, and only favour those of “high” birth?

Next I decided to continue with Wiki and looked at the Far-right politics page. It reads:

“Far-right politics includes but is not limited to aspects of authoritarianism, anti-communism and nativism.”

Authoritarianism fits in with earlier suggestion of favouring a super strong government that brooked no dissent and no or little democracy. However, being anti-communist seems relatively sensible. Communism is estimated to have killed up to 100 million people in the 20th Century. There are many on the left of politics who would not go as far as communism, with a large portion of the centre left being against it. Sadly, not many of these are left in the current Labour Party. Nativism is promoting the interests of native inhabitants above those of immigrants. I have never seen a UK government elected on a manifesto of putting immigrants above natives, but there we go. Would this mean anyone who was against immigration is far right? We are constantly told the leave vote in the EU referendum was down to anti-immigration and nativism.  Was the leave vote therefore far right?

If we examine this further, the areas voting to leave are very revealing. Let’s take my native Wales. Wales voted to leave by 52.5% on a 71.7% turnout. So had the electorate in Wales gone far right? To put it simply, no. Wales has voted majority Labour almost since the Party’s inception. Especially in the more populous South Wales, both in the valleys areas and in cities such as Cardiff, Swansea and Newport. Every Welsh Assembly government has been Labour, or a coalition with a Labour majority. Maerdy was previously nicknamed as “Little Moscow” for it’s left leaning sympathies when the USSR was still a thing. Paul Robeson, while blacklisted for Soviet sympathies in the McCarthy era, recorded concerts for the people of Wales. In the 2017 General Election, Labour pretty much swept the board in South Wales, in both leave and remain areas. Prof. Roger Scully, political scientist at Cardiff University, writes that people in Wales are sceptical of the benefits of EU membership. He further says a major element was immigration. This despite them consistently voting for left wing Labour. Japan has an extremely tight immigration policy, which is highly popular. Is the majority of the Japanese nation far right? This why I don’t buy in to nativism or anti-immigration being exclusively “far right” traits, as much as the left want them to be or tell you they are. In fact their beloved Wikipedia goes on to state:

In scholarly studies nativism is a standard technical term. The term is typically not accepted by those who hold this political view, however. Dindar (2010) wrote “nativists… do not consider themselves as nativists. For them it is a negative term and they rather consider themselves as ‘Patriots‘”

So it is a matter of perception if you are even a nativist. Nativists don’t identify as nativists. The waters are muddied once more. Added to this:

Right-wing populism, a political ideology that often combines laissez-faire capitalism, nationalism, ethnocentrism and anti-elitism, is sometimes described as far-right“-Wikipedia

So now apparently laissez-faire capitalism is far right. That’s the idea that you should not interfere in the economy or the markets. This rather contrasts with the idea of authoritarianism seen earlier. Anti-elitism is also now apparently far right. This again contradicts the earlier idea of the far right being for entrenched upper class interests, looking down on the masses as somehow unworthy. Nativism also goes against this idea, as we have seen many of the traditional working classes show nativist tendencies. It does, however, fit with being anti-elitist. However, ant-elitist views also appear in socialism, which is left wing. Socialists often campaign for equality of outcome and redistribution of wealth, land, ownership of businesses, etc. So again it seems anti-elitism is an idea that is not exclusively far right.

So what about the Nazis and the Fascists? Surely these are cast iron examples of the far right? Well once again leftist Wikipedia says:

There is also debate about how appropriate the labels fascist or neo-Fascist are. According to Cas Mudde, “the labels Neo-Nazi and to a lesser extent neo-Fascism are now used exclusively for parties and groups that explicitly state a desire to restore the Third Reich or quote historical National Socialism as their ideological influence

So only people who call themselves Nazis and Fascists are Nazis and Fascists. Not far right. Interesting. I do wonder if those telling me to “look on Wiki” actually realise what it is they are reading? Infogalactic goes further:

In an extensive survey of the literature, academic Cas Mudde found 26 definitions of right-wing extremism that contained 57 different ideological features. Cas Mudde identified five key features of the “extreme right” – nationalism, racism, xenophobia, anti-democracy and the belief in a strong state – based on the fact that they appear in 50% of the definitions of the extreme-right that he surveyed

So there are as many different types of far right feature as there are Heinz varieties. 26 different definitions. No wonder my detractors on Twitter are confused. So am I. And so are many academics, it appears. There is no one overall definition of far right. Mudde also mentions being anti-democracy and belief in a strong state. But guess what? These ideas can also be found in Communism on the far left, both in the Soviet Union, North Korea and in China. Confused yet? You will be.

Next I took the other piece of advice, “Just Google it you bigot!” I got a similar mishmash of vague and contradictory results. For example the online Oxford Dictionary definition:

The extreme right wing of a political party or group.

Well that’s cleared up everything. So next I tried the Anti-Defamation League who also appeared on the Google list. Surely they would know? This is what they say:

The term “extreme right” is used to describe right-wing political, social and religious movements that exist outside of and are more radical than mainstream conservatism. In the United States, the extreme right consists primarily of two large, slightly overlapping spheres. In one sphere is the white supremacist movement, including its various submovements, such as neo-Nazis, racist skinheads, and the alt right, among others. In the other sphere are anti-government extremist movements such as the militia movement and sovereign citizens (collectively, this sphere is often referred to as the “Patriot” movement). Also in the extreme right are several “single-issue” movements, which each tend to be the extreme wing of a more mainstream conservative movement; these include anti-abortion extremists, anti-immigrant extremists, anti-Muslim extremists, and anti-public lands extremists, among others.

Wow. That’s a pretty broad base. Political, social and religious movements outside and more radical than mainstream conservatism. This could cover a vast number of things. Again we have contradictions between anti-government movements and previous ideas of authoritarianism and establishment interests. ADL also introduces the idea of “single issue movements, for example abortion. There are some pretty strong views on abortion, from religious groups such as Christians and Muslims. Are they far right? The Pope recently spoke out against abortion on the grounds of avoiding birth defects. He said it was akin to Nazi Germany. Is that extreme? Is the Pope far right? I guess it comes down to what you mean by extremism or being an extremist, which ADL mentions. This is another word with a vague definition that can mean different things to different people. I would take it to mean harming anyone else or damaging property. I wouldn’t take it to be holding those views, protesting or campaigning about them. But this is just my opinion. Others may consider just thinking those things as extreme. Where do we draw the line?

ADL mentioned white supremacists and Nazis. It’s here we shall look next. Surely the Nazi and Fascist regimes of Hitler and Mussolini will be able to define the term far right for us? Both Hitler and Mussolini had secret police, as did the Soviet Union. Both had one party states and were authoritarian, which fits with some previous traditional views of far right. Were they establishment figures? Hitler certainly didn’t start out that way. He was looked down on for being a “little Corporal” by the establishment bigwigs as that was the lowly rank he achieved in WW1. Yet he was appointed Chancellor by Hindenberg after letters by rich businessmen. Many of them were afraid of the rise of Communism, with Russia having had a revolution in 1917. Hitler initially wanted to seize power by force, as evidenced by the Munich “Beerkeller Putsch” in 1923. He later promised only to seek power by democratic means. Later he utilised big business for the war effort. At the same time there were elements of central planning in the economy. Once again there are contradictions.

Let’s examine the Nazi’s 25 points. There are certainly a number of what would be traditionally called far right ideas. For example, only a member of the race can be a citizen and no Jew can be a member of the race, as well as any further immigration of non-citizens is to be prevented. There is the demand that if it is impossible to sustain the total population of the State, then the members of foreign nations (non-citizens) are to be expelled from the Reich. But there are also ambiguous points, such as whoever has no citizenship is to be able to live in Germany only as a guest and must be under the authority of legislation for foreigners. This is the same as many countries in the world today, again we can use Japan as an example. But they are by no means the only ones who won’t let non-citizens remain permanently. There is the demand land and territory (colonies) for the sustenance of  people and colonisation for surplus populations. This was common practice at the time, with both Britain and France having colonial empires. There is a demand for national self determination. This was written in to the post war treaties for all other nations except Germany, and was a source of aggravation. So are these ideas far right?

Then there are points that appear to be left wing, such as all citizens must have equal rights and obligations. As well as this, there is the abolition of unearned incomes. This was traditionally income from land, property or inheritance. There was a demand for nationalisation of industries and an expansion to old age welfare. There is a demand for land reform and free expropriation of land. The state was to be responsible for national education and national health. It was this centralised health service that carried out the T4 program of involuntary euthanasia. There is a call for freedom of religion, and the statement, “It combats the Jewish-materialistic spirit within and around us and is convinced that a lasting recovery of our nation can only succeed from within on the framework: “The good of the community before the good of the individual.” Sound strangely familiar?

Hitler was certainly elitist and racialist, believing German Aryans to be the master race and Jews to be subhuman, and perpetrated the Holocaust. But was antisemitism a uniquely Nazi trait? Sadly no. The leftist’s beloved Wikipedia once again tells the tale from the Soviet Union:

The Bolsheviks were strongly opposed to Judaism (and indeed to any religion) and conducted an extensive campaign to suppress the religious traditions among the Jewish population, alongside traditional Jewish culture. In 1918, the Yevsektsiya was established to promote Marxism, secularism and Jewish assimilation into Soviet society, and supposedly bringing Communism to the Jewish masses.

In August 1919 Jewish properties, including synagogues, were seized and many Jewish communities were dissolved. The anti-religious laws against all expressions of religion and religious education were being taken out on all religious groups, including the Jewish communities. Many Rabbis and other religious officials were forced to resign from their posts under the threat of violent persecution. This type of persecution continued on into the 1920s. Jews were also frequently placed disproportionately on the front lines of Russian wars in the early 1900’s as well as WW2. As a result, large numbers of Jews emigrated Russia to places like the United States.“-Wikipedia

But that isn’t all. Things continued under Stalin and Brezhnez:

Antisemitism in the Soviet Union commenced openly as a campaign against the “rootless cosmopolitan” (a supposed euphemism for “Jew”). In his speech titled “On Several Reasons for the Lag in Soviet Dramaturgy” at a plenary session of the board of the Soviet Writers’ Union in December 1948, Alexander Fadeyev equated the cosmopolitans with the Jews. In this campaign against the “rootless cosmopolitan”, many leading Jewish writers and artists were killed. Terms like “rootless cosmopolitans”, “bourgeois cosmopolitans”, and “individuals devoid of nation or tribe” (all of which were codewords for Jews) appeared in newspapers. On February 23, 1979, a six-page article was distributed throughout the cities of Moscow and Leningrad, which criticized Brezhnev and seven other individuals for being “Zionist”. The article contained traces of deep-rooted antisemitism in which the anonymous author, a member of the Russian Liberation Organization, set out ways to identify Zionists; these included “hairy chest and arms”, “shifty eyes”, and a “hook-like nose”“-Wikipedia

Oh dear. Criticised for being Zionist. Now who does that sound like? Nazis often describe Jews as a “rootless cabal.” The modern Labour Party is also mired in allegations of antisemitism. They had an inquiry into it which many regard as a whitewash. Ken Livingstone has been banned for his comments. Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of being in a number of antisemitic Facebook groups, as well as somehow contriving to defend an antisemitic mural, for which he later apologised. There are numerous other reports. Most of the time Labour and Corbyn supporters try and defend it by saying they are criticising Israel and are anti-Zionist, not antisemitic. Then there is Ken Livingstone telling us Hitler was a Zionist. Round and around it goes…

This is just a brief summary, believe it or not. I didn’t even get around to Mussolini’s background or economic policies. There is far more detail I could go in to. The term far right is shrouded in confusion. It it a loose term that covers many areas, many of them contradictory to one another. A lot of them also apply to other political systems and ideologies, such as Communism, which is far left. Experts and academics struggle to come up with one definitive version or meaning. Many people use it and it seems to mean different things to different people. It is often used as a lazy smear by those who can’t be bothered to think very hard, which is why they can’t come up with a definition. They also use the terms Nazi and Fascist as if it means the same as far right and are interchangeable. Elements of the left, far left, conservatives, remoaners, certain EU officials and others take advantage of this and the loose definitions to label almost everything they disagree with as far right, Nazi or Fascist. I have written about the dangers of this previously, so won’t repeat myself again. Suffice to say it does the standard of debate in our country no favours, trivializes the Nazis and demeans the actual victims of Nazism, of which there were many.

I have also previously said that the old left-right split in politics is breaking down. As we have seen, features labelled as far right equally hold for parts of the left. The modern split is being seen as between globalism and nationalism. People from the old left divide are falling on either side regardless of party. Politician Kate Hoey is a Labour Party MP and pro-leave, while Anna Soubry is a Conservative MP and pro-remain. This is despite Labour traditionally being internationalist in outlook and the Conservatives being more nationalist (at least they used to be). The alt-right and parts of the left found themselves on the same side when opposing military action in Syria. The Socialist Worker put forward a pro-leave case during the EU referendum. It appears the globalists on the traditional right and left have chosen to abandon the white working classes ( also here) and view them with derision. They have embraced globalism and diversity. They often see themselves as being better or more worthy than the masses who voted to leave the EU. Ironically this was a feature of the far right identified earlier.

Are there people out there who want to emulate Hitler and others? Yes there are. Fortunately they are few and far between. If you check the UK government’s proscribed terror list you will find only one “far right” group on there. You will also find one “far left” group. However, you will find around 60 Islamist terror groups. The responses are very interesting. Islamist terror is called part and parcel, we are told don’t look back in anger and to look at the wonderful diversity of the victims. We are always told that not all Muslims are terrorists, which is clearly true. However, vast swathes of people are labelled far right on a whim if they say they don’t like immigration, the EU or criticise Islam. Those same people labelling others are often very quiet when it comes to terror.

It is easy to dismiss concerns over immigration, sovereignty and radical Islam as far right. Labelling people as such is a convenient way to delegitimise those views and people’s fears. They can be put in the far right racist box and conveniently forgotten. However, this can only last for so long. Words can be overused. When they do they lose their meaning. This is now happening with the term far right. Millions of ordinary people who have been given the label are beginning to ignore it. Witness the social media reaction in the UK and across the world to Tommy Robinson being arrested. 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU. Trump had a clear victory in the US. Poland and Hungary are refusing Migrants. Italy has a populist government and is refusing to let migrant ships dock. Austria has a coalition government with an alleged far right party. AfD form the opposition in Germany. Geert Wilders leads the opposition in the Netherlands. Support is rising for anti-immigration parties in countries like Sweden. Immigration is the number one issue across Europe, despite what they try to tell us. These are self inflicted wounds thanks to the EU, Germany and others having free movement, no borders and inviting everyone in. When people complain about the problems they are simply labelled as far right. How long can the EU, governments, media and the left keep calling all these people far right without losing all credibility? We are going to need to redefine far right, or scrap the term altogether.

©  Jonathon Davies 2018

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