A recent comment on the VJM Publishing FaceBook page asked us to define far-right. This was in response to an article on the company page that had used this adjective in reference to the rising far-right populist movements in Europe. It was not our intent to use far-right as a pejorative, but simply to use it with precision. This essay elucidates.
Politics, correctly practised, is the successful pre-emption of violence. Way back in the biological past, a wise primate realised that if he ensured the bananas were fairly distributed, there was much less fighting. The great advantage with such an arrangement was that the troop became much better able to resist intrusions from other primate troops. Thus, the genes of the primates belonging to the wise one’s troop proliferated.
Human politics is not meaningfully different to monkeys fighting over bananas. As with primates, we don’t really fight over bananas, but rather over the land on which the bananas grow. More specifically, we fight for the right to ownership of land, which amounts to the right to tax the land of its bananas and anything else that grows or is produced on it.
Most of human history is the story of people killing each other over this right to ownership. Politics, when practiced well, is the art of avoiding this killing. Today, instead of the landowners and the peasantry violently fighting over who keeps what, we compromise through things like Parliamentary representation and democratic elections.
The Establishment Right are the remnants of those who first laid down the law. The Establishment Right started with the ancient kings, and membership of it is usually inherited. They naturally clash with those who inherit positions of weakness and poverty. The Establishment Right are those who don’t want any change at all, because they’re sitting sweet already.
On the right wing, there are two alternatives to the Establishment Right: the alt right and the far right. These two groups have several things in common, and overlap to a major degree. However, the distinction between the two is important, and the failure to clearly understand this is why there is so much confusion when it comes to use of the term ‘far right’.
The alt right, like the far right, are those who reject the Establishment Right on the grounds that the latter have compromised too much with the left. However, the alt right still seeks an accommodation with the Establishment. Rather than destroying the Establishment as the far right wishes to, the alt right wants to replace the Establishment Right. This they attempt to do by presenting a superior set of policies.
The far right also seeks to replace the Establishment Right – but as one step in the replacement of the entire Establishment. They’d rather rebuild the entire system from the ground up than merely replace one part of it. The far right is not interested in compromise at all – they would rather build a concentration camp network and put their opponents in there at gunpoint.
The far right, then, is that element of the right wing that prefers violence to compromise. This is different from the alt right. ‘Far-right’ is really another term for ‘extremist’. This follows naturally from the fact that they see their opponents as inherently evil. Because their opponents are evil, no compromise is possible – they have to be smashed.
One distinguishing characteristic of the far right is that their skewed perceptions leads them to see other right-wingers as leftists. People on the far right consider everyone in the Establishment Right and the alt right to be some kind of leftist. The far right operates on a “with us or against us” mentality.
‘Alt-right’, by contrast, is a term for right-wingers who want an alternative to the way things are currently practised. The alt right is separate to the far right, although they are not mutually exclusive. As mentioned in a previous essay from this column, there are two major strains to the alt right: the libertarian and the authoritarian strain.
The libertarian strain of the alt right is exemplified by David Seymour’s ACT Party. They’re not interested in carrying on the stupidities of the Establishment Right, such as the War on Drugs. Neither do they want a prohibition on abortion, prostitution, pornography or euthanasia. These libertarian alt-rightists agree with the Establishment Right that taxes should be low, but that’s about it.
The authoritarian strain of the alt right is very much far-right.
The New Conservative Party want to continue the War on Drugs, and to use violence to put drug users in cages. They are not at all interested in hearing why recreational cannabis users choose to use that substance instead of alcohol. They’re not interested in any compromise with recreational cannabis users – these people are scum to be destroyed.
Therefore, it’s entirely legitimate to refer to them as far-right extremists. All extremists gain power from hate, and the New Conservatives could be accurately placed alongside neo-Nazis in this category of hate-fuelled, authoritarian alt right (the only meaningful difference between the neo-Conservatives and the neo-Nazis is that the former are Abrahamist, the latter not).
These people are very different to alt-rightists such as David Seymour and other right-wing libertarians. If anything, they have more in common with the Establishment Right. The far right can at least agree with the Establishment Right that liberty is bad. Arguably, this means the far right is more accurately considered an extension of the Establishment Right rather than an alternative to it, as is the alt right.
In summary, the lines between the Establishment Right, the far right and the alt right can be drawn thusly: the Establishment Right are the foremost defenders of the Establishment and abhor change, the far right are those conservatives and reactionaries who do not want to compromise and the alt right are those who oppose the both the left and the Establishment Right, the latter who they hope to supplant.
If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2019 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 and the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 are also available.
If you would like to support our work in other ways, please consider subscribing to our SubscribeStar fund.