The Right Stuff

By David Solway on August 6, 2009

Many people today seem unable to discriminate politically between what we might call a “good Right” and a “bad Right.” From their perspective, the Right is one seamless, monolithic, invidious bloc, admitting of no distinctions. This is especially the case in Europe whose cultural and political blindness will predictably lead to protracted social upheaval in the foreseeable future. The plot goes something like this.

With the passing of time, the Left-oriented European Union will increasingly find itself trapped in a pincer movement launched by two aggressive far-Right-wing forces that will spell the end of its dream of multicultural beatitude. The Islamic theocratic Right is gathering strength with every passing day, intent on imposing sharia law through incremental advances and, ultimately, to acquire hegemony across the long historical haul, creating an Islamic brutopia on European soil. 

But this is only one side of the dilemma. Since the Leftist governing elite of the EU high councils puts up little significant resistance to the approaching takeover—peripheral bits of legislation passed by member states, such as France banning the head scarf or the burka, are not going to have much of a braking effect—the resentment animating large segments of the European public, which feels it has been betrayed by its leaders, is being co-opted by the indigenous parties of the hard Right. And in country after country, they are making important electoral gains. The fringe is fast becoming less fringey and, if not quite mainstream, is starting to resemble a rushing tributary.

These parties may vary in local particulars but they are united in their hostility to the foreigner in their midst, in their rejection of a transnational bureaucracy that both opens and dissolves the borders of the nation state, and in the expression of an authoritarian and chauvinistic species of nationalism. Supranationalism generates ultranationalism. Europe, with its long history of submission to totalitarian movements, has been there before and it appears to be heading inexorably toward the same political terminus. It is no paradox to say that, in the present context, the hard Right is the child of the soft Left. True, the latter does not advocate violence, but it is no less dogmatic and sworn to orthodoxy than the former.

One way or the other, Europe is on a collision course with the future. Bernard Lewis, the doyen of Middle East scholarship, sounded the European death knell in a briefing with the editorial staff of The Jerusalem Post (January 28, 2007). Under the rubric of “immigration and democracy,” Muslims “seem about to take over Europe,” he said; the only question is: “Will it be an Islamized Europe or a Europeanized Islam?” Allowing for topical differences, there is a salient historical parallel we might consult. Just as the Mamluks conquered their Egyptian masters and created a unique, 250-year Islamic dynasty, so the Muslim immigrant populations of Europe have, in their own way, embarked upon a march of conquest that would realize Lewis’ nightmare of dispossession.

But the situation has become far more complicated than even an authority like Bernard Lewis has been able to envision. When Europe awakens from its postwar fantasy of cultural and political harmony among peoples, it may well find itself back in the 20th century. It will have to face the growing strength of a far Right racist ideology that will not tolerate a repeat of a Mamluk-like ascendancy. And if the far Right achieves power, it will turn Europe’s multicultural clichés completely on their head, harrying or driving out the strangers among the heritage population rather than coddling and subsidizing them. In his 2004 book The Empty Cradle, Phillip Longman, an expert on population growth and decline, has made the same point from the viewshed of demographics, warning of “the possibility of a fundamentalist revival.” We have arrived, says Longman, at “the fundamentalist moment.” 

In the absence of common sense, adherence to the principle of civic stewardship and the consequent protection of core liberties, excessive tolerance has a way of ushering in the spectre of social repression. This is the lesson of the Weimar Republic we do not seem to have learned. It is no better today. Self-abasement, political correctness and the mantra of universal brotherhood—the European project—constitute a social pathology that can lead only to misfortune and collapse. Living in a multicultural rhapsody with its formulaic notion of the sacred equivalence of all cultural values, Europe now confronts a double danger: the invasion of radical Islam with its blood-hatred of its Western host, and the resurgence of the reactionary Right with its blood-hatred of its non-Western guests.  

The only feasible solution to the quandary resides not in the Left suddenly rethinking its social, cultural, political and economic policies—this is not going to happen anytime soon—but in the rapid emergence of the parties of the moderate Right which recognize the threat emanating from both flanks of the political spectrum and are prepared to tackle the problem. In other words, conservatism is the only viable alternative to the double bind represented by a moribund but pernicious socialism and a renewed fascism, whether of the Islamic or secular varieties.  

That is why, as I said at the beginning, it is vital to distinguish between the two Rights. There is the rational Right—as embodied in the Danish Freedom Party and Geert Wilders’ Party of Freedom in the Netherlands which, as political analyst Soeren Kern writes, have “called for stronger sanctions against totalitarian regimes and dictatorships, especially those in the Islamic world” (Pajamas Media, June 12, 2009), and which struggle to preserve the rights and obligations of citizenship against the multicultural fragmentation of national unity—and the irrational Right which finds its home in racist and intolerant organizations like the Freedom Party in Austria, Jobbik in Hungary, the National Alliance in the U.S., the Front national in France and the British National Party and its associated National Front, to mention only a few.

 But if the rational Right fails to consolidate its base in the European political landscape, then the European Left will have brought its own eventual demise upon itself in the form of militant, illiberal and xenophobic parties of the extreme Right. It will, in fact, find itself squeezed between the jaws of an ideological vise of its own making, as two competing fascisms, one Islamic and the other indigenous, engage in a battle to the finish. Absenting the rebirth of a hardy and vigorous conservative movement, which does not shrink from instituting stringent immigration policies and enacting rules for the deportation of those who undermine the common peace, the long-term prospect for Europe doesn’t look encouraging. Even a best-case scenario is problematic: it may be too late for a conservative “revolution” to forestall either an Islamic or an ultra-reactionary denouement. 

Europeans, says Walter Laqueur in The Last Days of Europe, idling away their future while Islamic political organizations patiently wait, “once the time is ripe, to launch mass violence” and the demographic time bomb is also ticking, are “quietly acquiescing in their own decline.” But, as I have argued, a growing number of Europeans are not, and the means they will adopt to counter the menace, whether successfully or not, will be harsh, coercive and turbulent. For as violence begins to move in from the Muslim enclaves in the banlieue toward the city center, as it were, and the authorities prove themselves increasingly helpless and vacillating before its progress, the reactionary Right will earn more and more legitimacy among the masses. We should make no mistake about this. The Jain-like attitude of the stimming political classes toward their avowed enemies, resulting in an anemic lack of fortitude that has become chronic, can only energize the factions of the extreme Right. The same applies to the Islamophilic and ever-compliant media, operating in tandem with a complaisant political establishment, whose motto might well be: Have pen, will grovel.  

The problem, however, is not confined to the Continent. It would be sheer folly to assume that we in North America are privileged spectators who are somehow exempt from the savage dialectic that Europe is now experiencing. It is starting to happen here as well. We may have a little more time at our disposal to try and come to terms with the predicament, but we are equally at risk. The gravest peril to America today is not an external enemy but its own developing fault lines. The tectonic plates that undergird the sense of national unity are moving apart. Strictly speaking, our situation is not identical to Europe’s, but close enough to warrant concern. If we are not vigilant and prepared to reconsider our generic assumptions about the culture of indiscriminate inclusion and the politics of spineless appeasement, Europe is our inevitable future.

Speaking at the National Press Club on June 10, 2009, Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center warned that a “perfect storm is brewing for the buildups of these hate groups,” of which the Center lists over 900. Many of the members of these cadres enlist in the army “to learn skills they will later take back to their groups while, in other instances, [they] work to recruit frustrated veterans.” Dees isolates the phenomenon of rampant Latino immigration as “the biggest engine generating increase in hate groups,” though Jew-hatred also figures prominently. But there can be no doubt that galloping Muslim immigration and high fertility rates, as well as the burgeoning influence of radical Islamic organizations, will fuel the rage felt and violence perpetrated by these virulent cells and networks. 

There is only one way to defeat the extreme Right as it rises to its own depraved version of the defence of the West, and that is to disarm the common enemy and, by so doing, deprive a nascent fascism of its populist fuel. Which is another way of saying that immigration policies currently in place will need to be rethought and rendered more appropriate to the nation’s requirements, as is the case, for example, in Switzerland, the sole western European country that attaches a high value to citizenship. And unpleasant as this may sound, we will also have to become less tolerant of the intolerant Other which refuses to recognize our values if we are to avoid the pendulum swing toward a vicious intolerance of all perceived outsiders. 

We will, in short, have to embrace the conservative tradition of the moderate Right, based on the liberty of the individual, the duties of responsible citizenship, a coherent pluralism that respects the customs of the majority culture rather than a fractious multiculturalism that corrodes them, and the robust defence of the homeland against the threats, both domestic and external, that mobilize against it. 

Given that we can manage to avoid the Islamic future prophesied by Ottoman thinker Said Nursi who, in his famous Damascus Sermon, predicted that “Europe and America are pregnant with Islam. One day they will give birth to an Islamic state,” there is only one conceivable way out of the corner we are backing ourselves into. By electing moderate Right administrations, we may—just may—slip between the Clashing Rocks of the defeatist Left and the triumphalist Right.

To put it succinctly: assuming that Nursi’s prophecy does not come to pass—and that is a very big if—survival dicates that, as a society, we will have to “go conservative” and abandon the doctrinaire Left if we are not to succumb to the doctrinaire Right. 


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