Libertarian meat eater, right wing in the sense of conservative with a small c.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Premises and Prejudices

I was wondering through the joyously batty world that is Liberal Conspiracy and found this little gem of an argument. That the BNP has some support is, for many, a great cause for concern and given that the BNP are nasty little tits that's no great surprise. My view is that reasoned argument can show the little beggars to be the scum they are so that should be encouraged but others prefer to go down the less liberal course of denying them the oxygen of publicity. Which is all very well but it's in the comments that things get interesting.

Nick kicks off with this: "The BNP, for all its rhetoric, is really just another faction of the far left" and links to a Samizdata article comparing the Green's manifesto to what you would expect of the BNP.

Sunny responds with this: "The BNP is right-wing not left-wing because its principle policies are social values, not economic values. Its pernicious because of its ultra-conservative and racist social attitudes. Frankly its economic policies, socialist in nature they may be, are irrelevant."

The above shows two views that are not simply irreconcilable but don't even connect in any fashion that could be a basis for argument.

Question That sums thing up rather neatly further down the page:

"Samizdata and other libertarians are up for lumping the BNP in with left, on the grounds that their economic policies are somewhat socialistic and their attitudes are more collectivistic than individualistic. In other words, not without some justification.

Others use conflate being ‘right-wing’ with being racist and having other BNP-type attitudes, rather than believing in maximal individual liberty (or, as Nick puts it, minimising state interference)."

For the record I think that Nick's point of view is far more reasoned that Sunny's. Not only is it impossible to completely separate economic and social policies but the idiocy of conflating "Right Wing" with "Racist" makes my blood boil. There are racist and non racists on either side of the political fence and it is a separate belief that has little to do with any other political affiliation.

The flawed logic of Sunny's position, (skip if you don't like logic), is:

Some As are Bs, therefore only As are Bs. I and others of my affiliation are not As therefore we cannot be Bs. The twat, (not part of the formal logic).

I think the basic problem is that Sunny and many other lefties simply take a basket, put anything they like in it and declare anything else to be right wing. If there's another expanation for their behavior I'd like to hear it


Sunny said...

let me clarify soemthing. Racists can be left as well as rightwing. No one is denying that.

It is also true that economic policies and social policies are connected, though not always. The "left" includes anarchists who dislike any form of state intervention or even existence, to hardcore social democrats who want state intervention on everything. I'm not in favour of state intervention in most cases.

My point about the BNP is based on the premise that the main thing that makes them stand out is social policies, not economic policies. Otherwise they'd be no different to the SWP and would have no problems allying themselves with socialists. but they don't. Why? Because the BNP are the BNP because of their social policies. That is what defines them.

Those social policies are right-wing and conservative - ultra conservative and not different to the mainstream right a few decades ago (remember that Tory slogan: "If you want a nigger for a neighbour vote Labour"?). So yes, the BNP are right-wing on account of their social policies. It might annoy you, but its the obvious answer. Otherwise, as I said, environmentalist anarchists would be seen as right-wing. But they're not because of their social views.

Falco said...

1st para, I'm glad you agree.

2nd para, you seem to be denying any definition of being leftwing. Personally, I believe that it is impossible to be for the redistribution of wealth and against considerable government intervention, one logically follows the other.

3rd para, quite apart from the generic factionalism that affects those at the fringes, the fact that the BNP have irreconcilable differences with others on the left does not place them on the right.

4th para, you are still, despite my obvious ire, conflating right wing and racist. One does not mean the other and as I explained above the relationship between racism and politics is both more complex and less fixed than you would seem to wish to believe.

I view the left, (please give examples of where is this not the case because my conception of what being on the left means renders this impossible, so we have to start somewhere), as having authoritarianism as a necessary part of it. I don't support the conservatives, again because they are authoritarian but I do tend to view environmental anarchists as poor students of science.

I look forward to your comments.

Sunny said...

On your second para - yes I also think its difficult to have re-distribution without govt intervention (hence I'm not an anarchist) but it doesn't mean they're into long term govt intervention. Remember, even Marx wanted the govt to be phased out. I'd say leftism is more suspicious of state power than even libertarianism. You may disagree.

BNP have irreconcilable differences with others on the left does not place them on the right.

Sure, but my point is they don't see themselves as defined by economic values, like say fiscal conservatives are.

despite my obvious ire, conflating right wing and racist

I'm not conflating the two, I'm saying that their ultra-conservative right wing values inevitably draws them towards racism. Ultra conservative (social) attitudes are quite insular, traditionalism and based on feelings of supermacy (cultural, religion, ethnic).

as having authoritarianism as a necessary part of it

Erm, no. I think the left broadly likes to have state intervention where the market is not the answer, but every lefty I know is more suspicious of the govt than demanding them. Admittedly, a lot of people in the wonkosphere, who advocate policy, like laws for everything.

For example, there are many on the left who want all women and all-ethnic shortlists for seats. They want them not because they like state intervention as such but because without it, progress towards equality and proper representation is very slow and doesn't make much progress. In such cases, one can argue that not doing anything is worse than having some intervention. I'm against all-ethnic shortlists but, assuming the right also wants a more representative democracy, they have no solutions on how to make that happen without state intervention.

My view is that this is a lot to do with the fact that we don't have civil institutions that act as a buffer or give us a voice. Instead we keep demanding state intervention.

Falco said...

Sunny I cannot agree that the left is more suspicious of state power as they require that power to reach their aims. I can appreciate that you may not WANT state intervention but you do admit that because people behave as they rather than you would prefer, you see it as necessary, (shortlists etc.).

I particularly liked your denial of conflating right wing with racist and then going on to assert that one inevitably leads to the other.

My view of the left is that you wish people to move in either a direction that they don't wish to go or simply speed up the direction in which they are going. To do this requires coercion which requires power, typically vested in the state. The right's solution to such problems as under representation of minorities is to encourage greater participation but not to force weaker candidates on a constituency in the name of social engineering. It is a lot slower but it will produce good minority candidates in the end. It's a typical fast or good situation; you can only have one of them.

Finally, what sort of institutions are you suggesting that we have in addition to those we've got? Wont they simply be a greater extension of state power?

John B said...


It's just the political compass. Falco is economically very right-wing and socially liberal; Sunny is economically slightly left-wing and socially liberal; the BNP are economically very left-wing and socially very right-wing.

But the reason they're counted as a right-wing party is because they spend 90% of their time talking about the ways in which they're socially right-wing, and only 10% of their time talking about the ways in which they're socially left-wing...

John B said...

bugger. "only 10% of their time talking about the ways in which they're economically left-wing...", obviously.

Falco said...

Or to put it another way, the BNP are socially authoritarian and economically left wing.

John B said...

Yes, but in actual public usage of words the term "right wing" means both "opposed to high taxes" *and* "in favour of hanging and flogging", depending on context.

(yes, I know Stalin etc don't fit this box, but that's the way the terms are actually used by real people in real life...)

Falco said...

Stalin was a real person in real life and because of him a great many people no longer were.