Why the Term ‘Far Right’ is Meaningless
August 18, 2012 - 9:50 am
What kind of political party rejects capitalism and globalization and despises Israel? A “far-right” party, according to the Associated Press.
AP has reported that Csanad Szegedi, a rather porcine fellow who is one of Hungary’s most vocal antisemitic politicians, has actually found out that his maternal grandparents were Jews. The report states that this makes him a Jew under Jewish law; insofar as I understand Jewish law, this is correct.
My enjoyment of this delicious irony was cut short, however, by the report’s persistent use of the terms “right wing” and “far right” to describe Szegedi and his radical nationalist party, Jobbik. This party, in true European radical fashion, subscribes to the conspiracist version of contemporary history, accusing Jews of eroding Hungarian greatness through globalized capitalism.
Consider the following group of people, all of whom have been labeled “right wing” or “far right” many times over: Adolf Hitler, William F. Buckley, Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand, Ronald Reagan, Slobodan Milosevic, Charles Coughlin, Chiang Kai-shek, Jean Marie Le Pen, David Duke and Tom Metzger. Forgive my including the obscure figure of Metzger, but he exemplifies just how ridiculous the term “far right” is: he was a neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard who nevertheless supported the Soviet Union for being a “white workers’ state.” On the above list are free-market libertarians, anti-capitalists, nationalists, anti-nationalists, Israel lovers, Israel haters, racists, anti-racists, fascists and anti-fascists. Where does this leave us in terms of a meaningful label?
Presumably, the AP believes the “right wing” moniker is correct because Szegedi and his party are rabid nationalists who reject Jews and minorities. Nationalism, however, began as a French leftist movement against the monarchy; moreover, at least before the 1960s, it was hard to find a socialist who wasn’t also racist and antisemitic. (Some might argue this is still true today, the only difference being the socialists are better at hiding it.) The European “right” has always been vastly different from the American “right.” These two “rights” are about as similar as root beer and Budweiser: hey, both are “beers,” aren’t they? They must be the same.
One of the hard Left’s most successful ploys over the past century has been convincing the world that their ideology is anti-racist. This has become such an acceptable definition of the Left that anything racist is considered to be a priori of “the Right.” This is actually a more subtle version of the No True Scotsman fallacy, in which any negative characteristics of the Left are said to be not “really” leftist. The Left thus can do no wrong, since the Left is Good by definition, so a leftist doing something Bad must be of the Right, which is Bad by definition. See how the word game works?