Thursday, June 12, 2014

The "New Right" is a lot like the Old Right

I recently picked up a copy of New Right versus Old Right by Greg Johnson, the founder and editor of Counter-Currents, an overtly fascist-aligned publishing house and blog operating out of San Francisco. I found a used copy of another book from the publisher called Summoning the Gods, a neo-pagan argument by Collin Cleary stating that we need to search out the old gods of our forefathers and move beyond the Christian moralism now synonymous with "The West." I found it an interesting read, even though I recognized that the argument behind his work was anti-Semitic in its foundation (as some neo-pagan's profess, Christianity is a Jewish conspiracy to undermine traditional European culture). None-the-less, I was intrigued enough to hear how Johnson sees his "New Right" as distinct and dissimilar from the totalitarian, fascist, and conservative varieties that came before him.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the "New Right" sounded just as ridiculous and conspiratorial as the movements Johnson wanted to move past.

Johnson does make an attempt to repudiate genocide and totalitarianism embedded in right wing movements from the last century. Much like the post-modern left, the language of the "New Right" is one of community control, ethnic self determination, and cultural (yet separate) pluralism. In fact, if you replaced all of Johnson's talk about the "white race" with some other ethnic variety, much of his argument would be indistinguishable from the "cultural studies" pushed at many of our liberal arts institutions. I have written about this before, but it is telling how academics on the right have basically adopted the same approach used by their counterparts on the left to push for a white homeland here in North America.

What I did not expect from Johnson's work was an overt fascination with Jews. Anti-Antisemitism and racism was a hallmark of national socialism, and while fascism is not necessarily racist, historically it often manifests as such. I would have thought the old-fashioned Jew hatred would be tossed to make it more palatable and acceptable for the general audience, but I guess the "New Right" still sees Jewish manipulation behind every event.

Each year, prominent white-nationalist thinkers gather at a conference called the American Renaissance. Although the conference is overtly radical, prominent conservatives still show up to sabotage their careers. Having followed the conference for years now, I have seen fault lines develop between various white nationalists over "the Jewish question," especially following 9/11. An exchange between David Duke and Michael Hart at the 2006 conference pushed these divisions to the forefront.
"It began when David Duke, the former Klan leader and author of Jewish Supremacism, strode to a microphone after French author Guillaume Faye wrapped up a talk vilifying Muslims entitled "The Threat to the West." Duke thanked Faye for remarks that "touched my genes." But then he went one further. 
"There is a power in the world that dominates our media, influences our government and that has led to the internal destruction of our will and spirit," Duke said, according to an undisputed account in The Forward newspaper. 
"Tell us, tell us," someone in the back yelled. 
"I'm not going to say it," Duke replied. Laughter began to fill the room, until a short, angry man leaped from his seat, walked up to Duke and began to curse. 
"You fucking Nazi, you've disgraced this meeting!" he said. 
And with that, Michael Hart, a Jewish astrophysicist and long-time attendee at American Renaissance conferences, headed for the door. As many as 50 people at the conference began to jeer and point at the rapidly disappearing Hart. 
This extraordinary incident marked the beginning of an open rift between those on the radical right who see blacks, Hispanics and Muslims as the primary enemy, and those who say "the Jews" are ultimately behind every evil -- a split that has usually stayed just below the surface but now threatens a leading institution of American extremism. While in the past he has managed to bridge this divide mainly by ignoring it, American Renaissance founder Jared Taylor now must finally come to terms with the split. His dilemma boils down to this: Throw out the anti-Semites and try to build a larger movement with electoral possibilities like those increasingly seen in Britain and Germany; or openly join hands with the very energetic neo-Nazis even though that means the loss of any remaining shred of respectability."
Jared Taylor eventually came down against the anti-Semites, but it divided his community. Johnson references this specific incident in his book, clearly siding with the David Dukes of the world. Johnson argued that the movement must be bold enough to say what it knows to be true, and not fear the stigma against anti-Anti-antisemitism in our society. In his chapter titled "Why Conservatives STILL Can't Win," Johnson states:
"We few who know the most important truth in the world - that organized Jewry (not "liberals," not "Cultural Marxists) have set the white race (not "conservatives," not "Christians," not "Western civilization") on the path to extinction - have an absolute duty to get this message out and wake our people up."
In his chapter titled "Hegemony," Johnson argues:
"Of course Jewish hegemony extends well beyond two-party politics into all realms of culture - education, religion, the arts, literature, pop culture, economics, etc. - ensuring that all whites are distracted with an endless array of options, as long as they are trivial options that do not threaten Jewish hegemony."
Sounds a lot like the "Old Right" Johnson is claiming to be distinct from. There is even an attempt to present this out-dated, conspiratorial world-view as philosophical sound. The likes of Rene Guenon and Julius Evola are evoked to give this concept (that a grand conspiracy of unimaginable complexity is out to destroy "whites") ideological traction. The fact that both men were instrumental in the "Old Right" Johnson is attempting to distance himself from doesn't help his argument.

Upon finishing this series series of essays, I had the same nagging suspicion that Johnson is doing what the remaining dyed in the wool communists do: claim that they recognize the devastation their ideas have caused in the past, argue that their movement will never indulge in such destruction again, yet support the same initiatives and assertions that produced aforementioned ruin. There is very little in the way of "new" ideas here, just the same failed concepts repackaged for a new generation. 


TNC said...

This is a very strange title for this book. Between your review and a quick look at the description of the book via the link to the publisher it reads like a lesson in obfuscation. Either that or these dudes are so out there they have their own vocabulary. I realize language is contested but I also come from the old-school where words have certain meanings.

To be specific, the term “Old Right,” when used by historians and political scientists, refers to various forms of conservatism. Of course conservatism in the US and Europe are different. In the latter instance conservatism is linked to monarchism and the established state church, which we lack in the US. But in both instances we are talking about conservative ideologies or worldviews.

Historical fascism in Italy and France rejected both liberalism and conservatism, it was a radical ideology in the sense of wanting to overthrow the existing order and replace it with something else. I would go so far as saying it was a revolutionary, even utopian, ideology and movement. Another thing to consider is National Socialism is not synonymous with fascism although they share some similarities. On a very basic level, if the primary social actor of Marxist theory is class, for the fascists it is nation and for the Nazis it is race. But I would argue it is a huge error to lump Italian fascism and Nazism together when it comes to their ideas. Italian fascism, and to a lesser extent French fascism, took much more than rhetoric from radical socialism whereas Nazism utilized workerist slogans but did not modify socialist theory.

I am vaguely familiar with Counter Currents and find them to be a very weird outlier on the far right. They seem content on the margins of relevance, not engaged with politics, economics and society like Jobbik or other far right parties in Europe. Instead they are more concerned with obscure ideas and the occult. I had never heard of Savitri Devi before coming across their site a couple of months ago.

You mention:

“ I have written about this before, but it is telling how academics on the right have basically adopted the same approach used by their counterparts on the left to push for a white homeland here in North America.”

Do we know this is the case? Or did the radical left borrow from the radical right? My hunch is the trajectory is not so linear but there is more permeability between these tendencies than either side admits today.

I look forward to more of your writing on Counter Currents and the American Renaissance.

Roland Dodds said...

Let me provide Johnson’s definition of “Old Right”:

“For our purposes, the Old Right means Fascism, National Socialism, and other national-populaist movements, which are pre-eminent attempts to restore traditional hierarchical social forms within the context of modernity. Fascism and National Socialism were not merely reactionary, rearguard resistance to modern egalitarianism by partisans of corrupt hierarchies. They represented a genuinely revolutionary impetus to restore vital, archaic, hierarchical values within the context of modern science, technology, and mass society.”

Clearly, Johnson is using “Old Right” to describe the revolutionary right wing movements of last century, and not general, all-purpose conservatism. This book, and his program overall, is to resurrect what he feels was good and necessary from these right-wing movements and repackage them for a new generation. However, the fascination with the Jews was almost hilarious in its staging. From its basic premise, that one ethnic group would be capable of such nefarious actions and collective group-think so effectively, is truly laughable at face value.

As for the New Right sharing language and tactics with the New Left, you are likely right that these two positions developed in a similar strain and thus borrowed from each other as they came to fruition. There are a slew of folks who have swam between both streams and saw no ideological confusion in doing so (Horst Mahler of the RAF comes to mind).

TNC said...

A very strange use of this term. Nobody outside of his clique thinks "Old Right" = fascism and national socialism. If he used the terms "Old Radical Right" and "New Radical Right" it would more clear what he is writing about. I got that he was writing about the radical right rather than the conservative right through your review, but I am puzzled by the use of language on his part. Do you think it is intentional obfuscation? Or that the radical right is the "real" right and conservatism is not right-wing at all? I see at the link to the book he refers to conservatism as "the phony right." I guess I am trying to understand whether this is a serious attempt to engage with the world of ideas or something primarily written for his clique of believers. Most of the texts at Counter Currents have the latter feel. At least to me.

[DerHammer] said...

"Summoning the Gods" is btw. available here:

Ivan Contreras said...

Hello I just found this blog and I enjoy reading your posts. I think you will find this article interesting:

It is interesting how Fascism in Latin Europe was not necessarily racist like National Socialism was in Germany or many northern countries; Ernesto Gimenez Caballero actually thought that southern Fascist countries would eventually go to war with National Socialist Germany. Perhaps this French anthropologist Emmanuel Todd is on to something. Anyway please let me know what you think.