Previous posts in this discussion:
PostAlain de Benoist's "Le Moment Populiste" (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela, 04/16/17 10:22 am)
Last month (March 26th) I wrote a WAIS post about how there is little difference between the Right and Left political parties. In this very same regard I came across an announcement of a new book by Alain de Benoist, Le Moment Populiste, Droite-Gauche Cést Fini! [Left-Right is Over!]
I do not think the book has been translated into English or Spanish, but according to the article where I read the announcement, the book´s central question is about pretty much the same one I was trying to raise in my post: at present there is little distinction between Right and Left, and the rise of new kinds of political identities, such as populism, are replacing traditional parties.
The article quotes from the book, "la gente hoy salta de derecha a izquierda o al contrario, sin ver nada más que política de derecha hecha por los partidos de izquierda o política de izquierda hecha por los partidos de derecha." My translation: "people jump from right to left, and viceversa... [and we] see only rightist politics carried out by leftist parties or leftist politics carried out by rightist political parties."
JE comments: I found this English-language interview with Alain. I send him a hearty congratulations on the publication of (yet!) another book, and hope that he'll check in with his old friends at WAIS.
How does "leftist politics carried out by rightist political parties" apply to the United States? Trump's trade protectionism--which we still haven't seen?
Is "Left vs Right" Over?
(Istvan Simon, USA
04/17/17 2:53 PM)
I never thought that there is much difference between extreme left and right. They were always the same. I should read Alain de Benoist's new book (see José Ignacio Soler, 16 April), but if Alain is now saying that there is no difference between left and right, he is stating something I have been saying for at least 50 years.
There is no difference between Hitler and Stalin, or Mao ZeDong. They are all three mass murderers, all three indifferent to human suffering, all capable of murder just to remain in power. Add Putin to this list, though he is not a mass murderer on the scale of the previous three. But Putin is very much willing to commit murder in order to remain in power. Numerous examples of this, from Alexander Litvinenko, to journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was also an American citizen, having been born in New York City, to Boris Nemtsov, murdered in view of the Kremlin.
JE comments: Is evil necessarily the Great Equalizer? By Istvan Simon's reasoning, couldn't we likewise say that all good public figures are the same? Tolstoy, in the opening sentence of Anna Karenina, saw more similarity in goodness: "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
But let us return to politics. Alain de Benoist's topic is populism, which (I presume) Alain sees as transcending the traditional left-right divide. Historically we saw such a phenomenon with Perón, who was a socialist for those on the Right who disliked him, and a fascist for those on the Left who disliked him. Where does Trump fit on this spectrum? Or Le Pen?
Rise of Populism in Europe, US
(John Heelan, UK
04/18/17 2:22 AM)
When commenting Istvan Simon's post of April 17th, John E asks an interesting question: "Where does Trump fit on this (Left/Right) spectrum? Or Le Pen?"
In my humble opinion, matching Trump's actions since becoming President against Dr Laurence Britt's "Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism" (http://www.rense.com/general37/char.htm ) makes uncomfortable reading. The saving grace, perhaps, is that in the long term, the US population is too savvy and independently minded to fall into the same populist trap as the Germans and Italians did in the 1930s.
As always, Alain de Benoist's works are thought-provoking. In this case, I wonder if there is any cross-contamination between populism and Samuel Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations"?
JE comments: Is the US population too savvy and independently minded, or is it a question of the strength and longevity of its political institutions? A case could be made that in political terms, Americans now are less savvy, and certainly more complacent, than Germans and Italians were in the 1920s and '30s.
Left, Right, Populism, and Gorsuch; from Gary Moore
(John Eipper, USA
04/18/17 3:06 PM)
Gary Moore writes:
This left-right thing--and the idea that the difference between the two
is some kind of illusion--may work in Europe, where it started out,
for all I know, but in American politics it's denied by current headlines.
Before pointing out how, I'll also say I agree with what Istvan Simon
seems to be saying (April 17), that if you take extremes of left or right
far enough, they look much the same: totalitarian and fanatical.
However, the shrug about US politics, claiming that both the major political
parties have grown so bloated that left and right are much the same,
looks strange in light of the battle over confirmation of Supreme Court
Justice Neil Gorsuch. Democrats who sought to block Gorsuch--and
forced some unsettling rules changes--said straight out that they opposed
him because he was a "Constitutionalist," that is, favoring the traditional
role of the Supreme Court as being the interpretation of the existing Constitution.
They said rather directly that in their view this was evil, standing in the way of
remaking the country in light of a fast-changing world.
Whatever one may or
may not think of these opposing opinions, they starkly frame the old left-right
split in Western culture, going back past the the striking British reforms
of the mid-nineteenth century. That history is not necessary to the present
circumstances, however. Bloated or not, the two political parties are espousing
different agendas--along left-right lines. I think the WAIS discussion of
slavery has shown there really is a current in Western civilization toward
more inclusive rights, and different groups respond to this current in different
ways. Slower is right, faster is left. Maybe the no-left-no-right polemic doesn't
refer to this, and has other agendas.
JE comments: Absolutely. But think of the fight to kill Obamacare. It was the Right that provide the vote to give it a stay of execution.
By the by, we need some levity, and that might come through Gorsuch-themed poetry. More such, nonesuch, some such: the rhyming options are endless.
- Left, Right, Populism, and Gorsuch; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 04/18/17 3:06 PM)
- Rise of Populism in Europe, US (John Heelan, UK 04/18/17 2:22 AM)