Some Lessons on What It Is to Be ‘Right’, By the Father of Communism
The Right ever seeks to define and redefine itself, and this seems to be a process that accelerates rather than diminishes. This is not because the Right has always been ideologically nebulous: precision of definition should not be such a chore and source of contention. If the Right is intrinsically based on honouring tradition, then is it not obvious that the first port of call in clarifying itself ideologically is its own traditions? But in looking to these there arises a multiplicity of terms, each one apparently a repudiation of the errors of what came before it: Nouvelle Droite (albeit a term coined by journalists to describe the ‘Grecist’ school around Alain de Benoist since 1968) in contrast to the Cold War Right with its obsession with the USSR; Alt Right coined by Professor Paul Gottfried to distinguish traditional (paleo-)conservatives from ‘neo-conservatives’, because the latter is laissez faire, Wilsonian-internationalist rather than coming from any Right tradition; Deep Right to distinguish what are considered to have been tactical blunders by the Alt Right.
I rather like a term ‘Organic Right’ that was used decades ago by the Russian Czarist émigré leader George Knupffer,1 who recognized that banking reform and integralism are the predicates of anything properly called Right. Knupffer stated of Capitalism and Communism: ‘In practical as well as philosophical terms there is no fight between the Capitalist system, based on usury, and Communism, since the former created the latter and gives it every support while pretending to oppose it; both are concerned with the identical aim; both are concerned with the identical aim of founding the materialistic world state’.2 This attitude is the same as that of Oswald Spengler and Julius Evola. Spengler had written:
Socialism contains elements that are older, stronger, and more fundamental than his [Marx’s] critique of society. Such elements existed without him and continued to develop without him, in fact contrary to him. They are not to be found on paper; they are in the blood. And only the blood can decide the future.3
To Marx and Engels such ideas would be outrageously metaphysical, even medieval, but they reflected German idealism, while Marx was a product of the British materialistic Zeitgeist, and hence was to Spengler the reflection of that Zeitgeist rather than its antithesis. Spengler termed the revolt against capitalism ‘Prussian socialism’ to distinguish it from the British school of economics, whether of Marx or Adam Smith.
[I]f we call these money-powers ‘Capitalism’, then we may designate as Socialism the will to call into life a mighty politico-economic order that transcends all class interests, a system of lofty thoughtfulness and duty-sense that keeps the whole in fine condition for the decisive battle of its history, and this battle is also the battle of money and law. The private powers of the economy want free paths for their acquisition of great resources.4
Spengler further explained the identity of Marxism with capitalism:
The concepts of Liberalism and Socialism are set in effective motion only by money. It was the Equites, the big-money party, which made Tiberius Gracchus’ popular movement possible at all; and as soon as that part of the reforms that was advantageous to themselves had been successfully legalized, they withdrew and the movement collapsed.
There is no proletarian, not even a communist, movement that has not operated in the interests of money, in the directions indicated by money, and for the time permitted by money – and that without the idealist amongst its leaders having the slightest suspicion of the fact.5
Here there was no identity crisis, according to which capitalism is assumed to be the foundation of the ‘Right’. Evola was unequivocal:
[I]t is absurd and deplorable for those who pretend to represent the political ‘Right’ to fail to leave the dark and small circle that is determined by the demonic power of the economy – a circle including capitalism, Marxism, and all the intermediate economic degrees.
This should be firmly upheld by those who today are taking a stand against the forces of the Left. Nothing is more evident than that modern capitalism is just as subversive as Marxism. …
Thus, despite the fact that the antithesis between capitalism and Marxism dominates the background of recent times, it must be regarded as a pseudo-antithesis.6
Evola’s answer to capitalism and its Marxist offspring was, again, the organic state. 7
Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft
The difference between what Evola called the condition of a ‘normal’ social order,8 whose last remnants were ended with the Jacobin Revolution, and the modern era of artificial societies, is the difference described by the sociological terms Gesellschaft – ‘a rationally developed mechanistic type of social relationship characterized by impersonally contracted associations between persons’ – and Gemeinschaft – ‘a spontaneously arising organic social relationship characterized by strong reciprocal bonds of sentiment and kinship within a common tradition – to resort to simple but cogent dictionary definitions.9 This is the difference between a society and a community; and it is a ‘society’, the ‘civil society’, to which we are told to aspire in the modern epoch. When these terms became a matter of wide sociological discourse after World War I (although they had emerged during the 1880s) they prompted efforts to revive organic communities, reflected in an interest in corporatism, a revival of the medieval ethos, and guild socialism. There was a movement prior to this to reconstruct the medieval social order during circa the mid-19th century, which Karl Marx vehemently damned as ‘reactionism’, because it disrupted the dialectical course of history – the class struggle:
The lower middle class, the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant. All these fight against the bourgeoisie, to save from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class. They are therefore not revolutionary, but conservative. Nay more, they are reactionary, for they try to roll back the wheel of history. If by chance they are revolutionary, they are so only in view of their impending transfer into the proletariat, they thus defend not their present, but their future interests, they desert their own standpoint to place themselves at that of the proletariat.10
Marx on Whigs and Tradition
The issue then that should delineate what is ‘Right’, and what can readily distinguish it from the absurdly broad definition ascribed to it by academics and journalists, who see everyone from Hitler to Milton Friedman as being its exemplars, is the difference between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft. Although the terms were not in use by sociology in 1852, that year Marx, who supplemented his freeloading off Engels and family inheritances, by journalism, wrote in the New-York Daily Tribune, on England’s electoral system and the electoral contest then taking place between the Whig and the Chartist parties. Given that Whig-Liberalism is now widely held to be an ideology of the Right, Marx’s observations as to the position of the Whig party and the effects of Free Trade on tradition are interesting. Marx saw Free Trade and the rise of the Bourgeoisie as representing ‘modern English society’. It should be kept in mind when reading Marx that he looked at history dialectically, as a conflict of opposites; hence he did not condemn this ascendency of Free Trade and the bourgeoisie, but saw it as a necessary part of the dialectical process. The bourgeois were the harbingers of a class revolution that had displaced feudalism and the aristocracy, landed gentry, and the remnants of medievalism. Without this bourgeoisie Free Trade revolution, the dialectical process could not proceed to the next phase: the ascendency of the proletariat and socialist production. He began his Tribune article:
While the Tories, the Whigs, the Peelites11 – in fact, all the parties we have hitherto commented upon – belong more or less to the past, the Free Traders (the men of the Manchester School, the Parliamentary and Financial Reformers) are the official representatives of modern English society, the representatives of that England which rules the market of the world. They represent the party of the self-conscious Bourgeoisie, of industrial capital striving to make available its social power as a political power as well, and to eradicate the last arrogant remnants of feudal society. This party is led on by the most active and most energetic portion of the English Bourgeoisie – the manufacturers. What they demand is the complete and undisguised ascendancy of the Bourgeoisie, the open, official subjection of society at large under the laws of modern, Bourgeois production, and under the rule of those men who are the directors of that production.12
Marx welcomed Free Trade and the bourgeoisie as the harbingers of revolution. In 1852 he described what is today called ‘globalization’:
By Free Trade they mean the unfettered movement of capital, freed from all political, national and religious shackles. The soil is to be a marketable commodity, and the exploitation of the soil is to be carried on according to the common commercial laws. There are to be manufacturers of food as well as manufacturers of twist and cottons, but no longer any lords of the land. There are, in short, not to be tolerated any political or social restrictions, regulations or monopolies, unless they proceed from ‘the eternal laws of political economy’, that is, from the conditions under which Capital produces and distributes. The struggle of this party against the old English institutions, products of a superannuated, an evanescent stage of social development, is resumed in the watchword: Produce as cheap as you can, and do away with all the faux frais of production (with all superfluous, unnecessary expenses in production). And this watchword is addressed not only to the private individual, but to the nation at large principally’.13
Today we should all be familiar enough with the process of globalization promoted by oligarchs who do not feel bonded to anything other than money – who promote a globalized economy ‘freed from all shackles’, as Marx put it. Most significantly, he points to the soil as having becoming a commodity like everything else, where the ‘lords of the land’, the landed aristocracy, are replaced by city manufacturers, and where Free Trade accelerated not only the dispossession of landed aristocracy, but the peasant and artisan who became the urban proletariat, working under conditions to ‘produce as cheap as you can’. Of this rural depopulation, which Spengler saw as a symptom of cultural decay, but Marx saw as the proletarianization of artisans and peasants, he wrote in The Communist Manifesto:
The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life.14
Marx had also foreseen that this process would not only be confined to ‘the nation at large’, but would place the British worker in competition with the foreign coolie, because the means of production, the machine, is not bound to any land, and the new processes of production have become international (globalized); as he wrote in The Communist Manifesto, ‘Just as it has made the country dependent on the town, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilized ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West’.15 This is today’s globalization, but in Marx’s day was called ‘imperialism’ and ‘colonialism’. Again, what the Left decries as ‘imperialism’ for the sake of political strategy, was in reality considered to be another necessary part of the historical dialectic leading towards socialism. It might be recalled that among the Bolsheviks the following century, it was debated whether socialism could proceed from a peasant society, or whether it must, as per Marxian dialectics, first go through the stage of capitalism.
The development of capitalism would also lead to the concentration of the economy in ever fewer hands: ‘The bourgeoisie keeps more and more doing away with the scattered state of the population, of the means of production, and of property. It has agglomerated population, centralized the means of production, and has concentrated property in a few hands’.16 Traditional society, so far from being centralized, was based on the federation of families, villages, regions, guilds; it was the federation of associations, the Gemeinschaft that had been struck by Jacobinism, and finished off by capitalism. Marx wrote of this that ‘the conditions under which feudal society produced and exchanged, the feudal organization of agriculture and manufacturing industry, in one word, the feudal relations of property became no longer compatible with the already developed productive forces; they became so many fetters. They had to be burst asunder; they were burst asunder’.17 Here also the ‘extensive use of machinery’ and the ‘division of labour’ has caused the work of the proletarian to lose its ‘individual character’, and ‘consequently all charm for the workman’. ‘He becomes an appendage of the machine’.18 Marx’s answer was to expropriate the ownership of the machine, as if that would cause a difference in ethos. Disaffected Socialists, such as Henri de Man, saw the inadequacy of Marxism in failing to transcend the bourgeois ethos with the aim of reviving the spirit of craft.
What remained for Marxian-socialism was for the proletariat to assume the position of the bourgeois: not to transcend the bourgeois. The answer of the Right was to restore the rights of group association, to federate and decentralize, and many states sought this renewal, such as Vichy and the Portuguese ‘New State’, inspired by papal encyclicals such as Rerum Novarum, inspiring alternatives such as the ‘distributist’ movement of G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, and guild-socialism.
Today the globalization process not only involves the ‘unfettered movement of capital’, and of machinery (technology) but also the globalization of the labour market via immigration. Again to quote Marx from The Communist Manifesto: ‘National differences and antagonisms between peoples are daily more and more vanishing, owing to the development of the bourgeoisie, to the freedom of commerce, to the word market, to uniformity in the ode of production and in the conditions of life corresponding thereto’. The victory of the proletariat would accelerate the process of internationalization, or globalization as it is now called. 19 Again, communism would assume the role hitherto assigned by the historical dialectic to capitalism, and the proletariat would become internationalized, due to the internationalization of economic processes by capitalism. The proletariat becomes an international economic class unattached to any organic bonds, as had the bourgeois and the modern oligarchy. The proletarian assumes the role of the oligarch.
Destruction of Tradition
Marx had stated in The Communist Manifesto that he was in favour of Free Trade because of its subversive character, and the class conflict that would result. He stated that Protectionism was a ‘conservative’ policy; Free Trade, ‘revolutionary’. In his Tribune article he commented on how the organic traditions would be weighed according to their effects on the balance sheets of the bourgeois:
Royalty, with its ‘barbarous splendors’, its court, its civil list and its flunkeys – what else does it belong to but to the faux frais of production? The nation can produce and exchange without royalty; away with the crown. The sinecures of the nobility, the House of Lords? faux frais of production. The large standing army? faux frais of production. The Colonies? faux frais of production. The State Church, with its riches, the spoils of plunder or of mendacity? faux frais of production. Let parsons compete freely with each other, and everyone pay them according to his own wants. The whole circumstantial routine of English Law, with its Court of Chancery? faux frais of production. National wars? faux frais of production. England can exploit foreign nations more cheaply while at peace with them.20
How precisely does this, written in 1852, express today’s mentality of the globalist oligarchs? Monarchy, aristocracy, armies, are weighed up according to costs; the ‘faux frais of production’. During 2015 and 2016 New Zealand held two referenda on whether to change the traditional flag, which includes the Union Jack, the legacy of colonialism. The issue was one of symbolism epitomizing the nineteenth-century materialist Zeitgeist under which we live: the demand for change came from New Zealand’s National Party Prime Minster, John Key, whose previous career had been with Wall Street, who campaigned for a flag that would better serve as a ‘trade mark’ for ‘New Zealand Inc.’ That is to say, replace traditional symbolism so that New Zealand can be better marketed in terms of world trade. National is described as a party of the centrist ‘Right’. It is symptomatic of how the proponents of capitalism are located on the ‘Right’ despite their historical record of subverting tradition since the days of Marx, while Leftist ideologues describe the ‘Right’ as a bourgeoisie reaction. They ought to consult Marx more diligently.
Marx further explains his dialectical analysis of the revolutionary role of the bourgeois and Free Trade:
You see, to these champions of the British Bourgeoisie, to the men of the Manchester School, every institution of Old England appears in the light of a piece of machinery as costly as it is useless, and which fulfils no other purpose than to prevent the nation from producing the greatest possible quantity at the least possible expense, and to exchange its products in freedom. Necessarily, their last word is the Bourgeois Republic, in which free competition rules supreme in all spheres of life; in which there remains altogether that minimum only of government which is indispensable for the administration, internally and externally, of the common class interest and business of the Bourgeoisie; and where this minimum of government is as soberly, as economically organized as possible. Such a party, in other countries, would be called democratic. But it is necessarily revolutionary, and the complete annihilation of Old England as an aristocratic country is the end which it follows up with more or less consciousness. Its nearest object, however, is the attainment of a Parliamentary reform which should transfer to its hands the legislative power necessary for such a revolution.21
Can it be more plainly stated? A ‘Bourgeois Republic’ based on Free Trade ‘is necessarily revolutionary’, and the aim was ‘the complete annihilation of Old England’. Today we can say that the aim of the oligarchy that emerged is that of a universal republic based on Free Trade, now called globalisation. Indeed, it is what we call ‘democracy’, which acts as a façade for plutocracy, whose authority has been perfected through international banking.
According to Marx’s historical dialectic, the Whigs had destroyed the aristocracy, but feared the rise of the working class.
But the British Bourgeois are not excitable Frenchmen. When they intend to carry a Parliamentary reform they will not make a Revolution of February.22 On the contrary. Having obtained, in 1846, a grand victory over the landed aristocracy by the repeal of the Corn Laws, they were satisfied with following up the material advantages of this victory, while they neglected to draw the necessary political and economical conclusions from it, and thus enabled the Whigs to reinstate themselves into their hereditary monopoly of government.
And if the aristocracy is their vanishing opponent the working class is their arising enemy. They prefer to compromise with the vanishing opponent rather than to strengthen the arising enemy, to whom the future belongs, by concessions of a more than apparent importance. Therefore, they strive to avoid every forcible collision with the aristocracy; but historical necessity and the Tories press them onwards. They cannot avoid fulfilling their mission, battering to pieces Old England, the England of the Past; and the very moment when they will have conquered exclusive political dominion, when political dominion and economical supremacy will be united in the same hands, when, therefore, the struggle against capital will no longer be distinct from the struggle against the existing Government — from that very moment will date the social revolution of England.23
The Diktature of capital will have ‘battered to pieces Old England’, and what remains, after the class conflict between aristocracy and capital, would be the class conflict between capital and labour.
1G. Knupffer, The Struggle for world Power: Revolution & Counter-Revolution (London: Plain Speaker Publishing, 1971), p. 205.
2Ibid., p. 207.
3Oswald Spengler (1919), Prussianism and Socialism.
4Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1972), Vol. 2, p. 506.
5Ibid. p. 402.
6Julius Evola, Men Above the Ruins (Rochester: Inner Traditions, 2002), pp. 166–167.
7Ibid., pp. 148–164.
8See Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World (Rochester: Inner Traditions International, 1995).
10Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto, ‘Bourgeois & Proletarians’.
11Followers of Sir Robert Peel, ex-Tory Prime Minister, who left the Tory Party in 1852 and with Whigs and Radicals formed the Liberal Party, advocating Free Trade. They formed a short-lived Coalition Government during the 1850s.
12Karl Marx, ‘Free Trade and the Chartists’, New-York Daily Tribune, August 25, 1852.
14Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto, ‘Bourgeois and Proletarians’.
19Ibid., ‘Proletarians and Communists’.
20Karl Marx, ‘Free Trade and the Chartists’, op. cit.
22A reference to the revolt of 1848.
23Karl Marx, ‘Free Trade and the Chartists’, op. cit.