The European New Right

or Postmodernism of the Right? Part 2

I finished Tomaslav Sunic’s book on the ENR sometime ago, so I’ve had some time to let the ideas simmer. I have decided that I cannot subscribe to the right wing postmodern philosophy as the next step in conservative thinking. I do not consider its foundations to be flawed or neofascist, but there are too many ways that the theories could be manipulated once put into praxis. I think it best for me to describe the problems I had with the Manifesto for a European Renaissance which seems to be the scripture for the ENR or GRECE. If there was a way to rework the interesting new theories into Hayekian or libertarian IR theory, there may be some hope left for bringing conservatism into the second half of the 21st century, neoconservatism having dominated the first few years. I would even dare to call my new international relations theory neohumanism but there I get ahead of myself. Let me first do justice to the ENR.

Strengths

  • Against depoliticisation and for renewed democracy: The ENR becomes a crusader against apathy. Rule by the people as sovereign can ensure the freedom and variety of situations that Humboldt so passionately advocated for. It also assures political equality as an expression of the people, whether citizen or non-citizen. As Pareto and Constant asserts, there will always be cycles of tyranny and struggle which occur when civilizations become indifferent to their politics as in the case of Rome and Britain. Indifference is the indication of decline in liberal democracies and political fervour must be revived to prevent decay from progressing towards that utopia of the perfect form of governance.   A return to participatory versus representative democracy is advocated, but this too could have the same problems as representative democracy. Still, there is a sense that the democratic spirit must be instilled in the population to make them believe that their destiny and their well-being is at stake in every political decision. My suggestion: an informed populace?
  • Against uprooting and for strong/clear identities: This is often mistaken for an anti-immigration policy versus a reaction to global migratory flows and the loss of cultural identity in the melting pots of the world. The truth is many migrants forced to leave their countries due to political unrest or economic instability find themselves alienated from their identities and find themselves choosing between the identity of the host country and the identity of their home country. Fear of the Same replaces fear of the Other as immigrants are denied the right to locate themselves in a collective and cultural identity in their host country. The ENR wants to ensure a sense of belonging for displaced individuals and greater regionalization of cultural identities in response to the globalization and homogenization of  Anglo-American culture. The ENR also believes in cooperating with home countries, which are usually poor, to help them along the road of development to ensure that the loss of cultural preservation through a mass exodus of migrants from the country will not happen by stimulating economic opportunities at home and political stability.
  • Against racism and gender discrimination and for the right of difference: This is an interesting critique of multiculturalism as promoted by (social) liberal thinkers that blurs the lines of identity as a universalist anti-racism that chooses to recognize everyone as part of a particular species, which means nothing to individuals themselves. By reducing the Other to sameness, multiculturalism is unable to recognize or respect the otherness for what it is. Therefore, a refusal of exclusion and assimilation helps to recognize the Other as other through dialogue and engagement. As for gender, same idea: a lack of recognition of the inherent biological and psychological differences between men and women. Individuals are made to be abstract and detached from their sexual identities. The ENR upholds the recognition of “feminine rights” in addition to the Rights of Man and opposes sexism and unisex utopianism.It choose to respect the equal value of both men and women along with their distinctive natures.
  • Critique of socialist liberal democracy and the birth of totalitarianism as the ultimate political dystopia: Pretty self-explanatory if you’ve read Arendt or Hayek. The problem was that state terror could be derived from the reasoning of the state, once it had infiltrated all aspects of peoples’ lives.

Weaknesses

  • Anti-capitalist: Anyone that gives credence to the works of Marx is a socialist or communist and as such, Marx should NOT have been integrated into right wing postmodernism, not only for the above reason, but also because it’s regressive. Marxist theory has already moved into neogramscian theory with Hardt & Negri, as well as Robert Cox. Even after Sunic mentions the critique of homo sovieticus, he upholds a manifesto that stipulates that the international economy is fundamentally unequal and thereby, unfair. Classical liberals have never argued that the markets made everyone equal, but they certainly believe that it made everyone better off by raising standard of living and distributing benefits to unknown people as the result of a self-interest driven system. The analysis of capitalism is a fundamental principle of modern conservative theory, such that the way forward is to analyze and anticipate its benefits in a globalized world through non-state frameworks like MNCs and intergovernmental organizations like the WTO (see the works of Saskia Sassen). The book also asserts that people should work less in order to work better and lead more leisurely lives. I disagree simply by citing Fukuyama’s argument that capitalist labour gives a certain amount of recognition that individuals crave and provides outlets for them to exert positive energy in the Nietzschean sense. That is, some people view their jobs as leisure or their life. And since capitalism is a system of diverse opportunities, individuals are more free to choose jobs more in line with their ambitions and ensures greater social mobility if an individual works hard and connects well in the business world. It is quite a European thing to advocate for more holidays for everyone anyway…
  • Against gigantism and megalopolis, as well as “unbridled technology” and for localization of power: This is a Burkean or aristocratic sort of conservatism, one that would put us back to the Stone Age and maybe one that even the hippies and environmentalists could get on board with, strangely enough. I firmly believe in human progress, scientifically and technologically as the hallmarks of human innovation. If human technology can find the means to fight bloodless wars as in the case of DARPA producing robot soldiers, then by all means, speed it up! If human architects can build the cities of tomorrow, let them do it! I’m still waiting for my flying car by the way. The human imagination is only limited by itself and with human innovation, I’m sure biodiversity and ecology will become much more easier to accommodate once our clumsy machinery is modified.
In short, the ENR provides a new perspective on individualism in response to the totalitarian manipulation of the masses and ideological struggles of the past. Right wing postmodernism borrows from the left in its critique of liberal democracies and problematizes sovereignty ant its processes of homogenization: turning the Other into sameness, turning the individual identity associated with history and culture into a vagary of the human species, and infringing on liberties in the name of egalitarianism and totalitarianism. Perhaps the break from capitalism has turned away many conservative thinkers from pursuing this school of thought, but it could also be the hegemony of North American neoconservatism. Due to its association with neofascism, I think intellectuals will be careful to associate themselves with the school or study its principles, but it is certainly useful to know what you’re dealing with!
Further reading:
The works of Alain de Benoist
Nomos of the Earth by Carl Schmitt
The Concept of the Political by Carl Schmitt
The works of Vilfredo Pareto
Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy by Zbigniew Brzezinski
The works of Guillaume Faye
The works of Julien Freund

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