18: The Relevance Of The Old Right

Johnson gives some very helpful clarification between the Nationals Socialism and the White Nationalist movement.  What are the pros and cons of the Nationalist movements?  

These lessons are part of a wider study seeking to answer a timely but age old question:

Psalms 11:3 If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

God set boundaries to protect us from evil. Underneath each boundary lays a foundation. When evil men redefine biological sex (Gen 1:27), they strike at that foundation. When evil men redefine marriage (Gen 2:23-24), they strike at that foundation. When evil men redefine nation (Gen 10:5), they strike at that foundation. When the footing is shattered, people lose hope and become easy prey to evil forces.

When God freed the sons of Israel from Egypt (Ex 1:1) He continued His promise to make them into a nation (Gen 12:1-2). He taught them as they marched through the desert to the Promised Land. He gave them their first lessons on nationhood. He reminded them of their history and origin. In the first 11 chapters, and of first importance, were the definitions of nation, marriage, and biological sex. From chapter 12 on, to the end of the New Testament, God persistently impressed these definitions upon His chosen, but deviant, people. His definitions were not contrary to the nature of things. This was His plan and means of bringing the world a Savior and conquering evil. What would have happened had He not held to these definitions or worked against His own laws of nature?

I hope to bring light upon these questions and others like them in this series of studies called What is a Nation? To explore this broader topic I will review a number of books, the first of which is The White Nationalist Manifesto by Greg Johnson. I will add some comments and study questions to each post to turn them into short 10-20 minute lessons. To go to the beginning of this series click here.


15: The Relevance Of The Old Right

What is the relevance of what I call the Old Right—German National Socialism, Italian Fascism, and related interwar national-populist movements[1]—to White Nationalism today? The question would not even arise, of course, if there were no connection at all. Many White Nationalist ideas are either direct descendants of Old Right ideologies, or they are their cousins, meaning that they share common ancestors, that they are branches of the same ideological tree.

No Necessary Connection

This is what I take from the Old Right:

(1)Nationalism over globalization[2]: The Old Right put the preservation and flourishing of historically existing peoples ahead of the imperatives of universal ideologies like liberalism and Communism and the homogenizing tendencies of globalizing institutions like the marketplace.
(2)The common good over individual liberty[3]: The Old Right put the health of the body politic ahead of individual freedom and self-expression. One can still value liberty, private life, individuality, and private enterprise, but only to the extent that they promote a healthy society.
(3)Biology is central to politics.[4] Liberal individualism simply does not care about the demographic or dysgenic trends it establishes, because caring about such things is “collectivism.” The Old Right saw that the health of the body politic has everything to do with long-term demographic trends, and it took the responsibility of promoting positive rather than negative ones. Thus the Old Right promoted strong family bonds, healthy population growth, and encouraged the healthiest and most intelligent to have large families.
(4)Whiteness is a necessary condition of European identity. There is more to being a Frenchman or a German than merely being white, but no non-white can be a Frenchman or a German or a member of any other European people. Thus we cannot preserve European nations without preserving their racial basis.
(5)Jews are a distinct people who therefore belong in their own homeland, rather than scattered among European peoples. And if that were not reason enough to separate ourselves, Jews have a long history of promoting values and policies that are objectively harmful to whites.

Of course, since all of these ideas are based ultimately on reality, they are not unique to the Old Right. The first three principles, for instance, were simply political common sense before the Enlightenment. One could arrive at all five of these principles based on one’s own experience and reasoning, or through other intellectual and political traditions. Thus, there is no necessary connection between modern day White Nationalism and the Old Right. And that is the proper answer to those who wish to dismiss White Nationalism by linking it to the Nazis or Fascists: not necessarily.

For instance, in my own intellectual biography, I arrived at the first three principles through the study of classical political philosophy. I arrived at race realism and awareness of the Jewish question through observation, conversations with friends, and reading books like Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve and Kevin MacDonald’s The Culture of Critique. And it was only on the basis of that background that I could see truth and value in the Old Right.

Of course this does not imply that I learned nothing from the Old Right. First, the Old Right made sense within my worldview. Then it added to my worldview. But it never became my worldview. And that same worldview also gave me some critical distance from it as well.

How Nationalism Differs From The Old Right

White Nationalism differs from the Old Right in three principal ways.

First, we are universal nationalists, meaning that we believe that ethnonationalism is good for all peoples. Thus we oppose imperialism, whereas Old Right regimes practiced imperialism against their fellow Europeans as well as non-whites. Defending imperialism is basically telling your neighbors that you are not above a little murder and theft when it suits you. But that is no way to build solidarity among white nations or a peaceful planet in general, to the extent that these are possible.

Second, given that White Nationalists today are concerned with the well-being of our race, both as a whole and in all its constituent ethnic parts, it makes no sense to identify White Nationalism with any particular Old Right regime, since those regimes pursued their particular national interests at the expense of other European peoples.[5] For instance, identifying White Nationalism with German National Socialism is a self-defeating tactic when dealing with Poles or Ukrainians, regardless of the fact that a minuscule minority of these nations are broadminded enough to share such attitudes, or at least tolerate them.

Third, the Old Right was born in the struggle against Bolshevism, and it adopted the Bolsheviks’ organizational model and tactics to beat them, e.g., the paramilitary party and the totalitarian state, including terrorism and mass murder as tools of policy. Imitating such policies today, however, is ineffective (to say nothing of moral considerations). The postwar hegemony of the Left was not established by Bolshevik means but through institutional and cultural subversion. Thus the New Right must combat them through institutional and cultural renewal. This is the basis for the metapolitical strategy of the New Right. New Rightists do not object to taking a gun to a gunfight, but we do object to taking a gun to what is now essentially a battle of ideas.

In sum, the Old Right is highly relevant to White Nationalism in terms of its analytical framework and political goals, but we reject imperialism in favor of universal nationalism and the Bolshevik organizational model and methods for metapolitics.

Think Critically

So how should White Nationalists today approach the Old Right? The same way we should approach any tradition or body of thought: with an open but critical mind. First, get enough education and experience to form your own worldview, understand who you are, and exercise adult judgment. Then, standing on that foundation, examine the Old Right, incorporate what is true and useful, reject what is not, and move on. This approach requires self-awareness, authenticity, and groundedness in one’s own identity and worldview.

The least productive engagement with the Old Right is when people who lack a worldview of their own go shopping for a complete and ready-made system of ideas that they can adopt as a package deal. Common examples in our circles include Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Traditionalism, and National Socialism. Old Right ideas are adopted essentially as religious dogmas, in which one defers to the thoughts and judgments of others rather than developing one’s own.

The danger is that such people will latch on to and repeat ideas and strategies that are no longer justified—if they ever were—and they will lack the experience and critical thinking skills necessary to get beyond them. They also lack the groundedness in present-day reality necessary to apply such ideas productively. The usual result is the strident, brittle, and quarrelsome people who populate Internet forums and comment threads. However, trying ideas on for size is part of intellectual growth and exploration, and exposure to experience and counter-arguments generally tends to mature such people.

Another unproductive engagement with the Old Right is not just adopting a ready-made system of ideas but imaginatively identifying oneself with the Third Reich or another bygone fascist regime. This goes well beyond learning the lessons of history to apply them to the present and instead becomes escapism, a way of fleeing from the present rather than transforming it, a way of re-fighting the battles of the past, which cannot be changed, and avoiding the battles of the present, in which our race’s future is at stake. To accuse such people of LARPing is usually an undeserved compliment, because such role-playing seldom leads to “live action” of any sort.

There is also something deeply inauthentic about identifying with a past regime, especially if it is a foreign one. White Nationalism is a form of identity politics. To be real identity politics, however, it has to be based on a real identity. We are not just creatures of our own time and place, since we reject the false and meaningless identities that the current system offers us: deracinated individuals, citizens of the universe, children of nowhere, defining ourselves by the products we consume and discard. Instead, our identity is defined by our whole biological and cultural lineage, which leads to the present day and cannot be re-routed to some other time and place.

We reject the modern “identity” because it is false, because it does not fit us, because it makes us miserable and base. But modern individualism can only be fake if we already have a real identity, although we might be largely unconscious of who we really are. Therefore, the answer to the modern malaise is to discover who we are and live accordingly, to be authentic rather than fake. It is no answer to simply replace the predominant fake identity with something equally fake but merely more eccentric or marginal. Adopting off-the-rack systems of ideas or living in the past are symptoms of rootlessness rather than solutions for it.

Fortunately, White Nationalists of every nation do not have to look too far back in the history of their own homelands to find prominent sages and statesmen who believed what we believe today. Many of the laws we propose were already on the books in most white countries. An authentic ethnonationalist movement needs to graft itself onto the living traditions of its own homeland, not exotic imports or toxic and highly stigmatized ideologies.

Contra those who would pretend that the Old Right never existed, it has much to teach us. But it is part of the past. It is dead, and it needs to stay that way. Those who would revive it are guilty of a number of serious errors: anachronism, because we are now in a battle of ideas; advocating patently immoral policies, such as imperialism; rootlessness and inauthenticity, for identifying with foreign ideologies and nations rather than seeking a basis for nationalist policies in their own political traditions[6]; and finally self-marginalizing, self-defeating behavior at the very moment when the broad public has never been more receptive to our ideas. We need to get serious, before we lose the historical moment and our race slips beyond the point of no return. Many Old Right revivalists sense this burning urgency, but if we don’t have time to do the right thing, doing the wrong thing won’t save us anyway.

Click on the "The White Nationalist Manifesto" tag below to see all the posts in this series. To go to the start of this series click here.

Questions & Notes

  1. What is the Old Right?

  2. Nationalism over _________.

  3. The common good over _________ _________.

  4. _________ is central to politics.

  5. True or False: The Old Right regime pursued their particular national interests at the expense of other European peoples.

  6. In the case of the Germans, however, they have to be highly selective about appeals to their own Rightist traditions.