The “Right” Cont’d


From a reader:

Don’t get roped into going too far on this.

I think you only have legs to stand on that the general make up of fascist movements were left wing if you keep to the qualifiers you have used (Mussolini / leaders aside as, yes, I agree with you that he was a leftist…). re: ‘if we define this as left and that right, then its left’… then your safe.

or, you stick to the point you’ve used in the past about right wing socialists… I know they exist, I have a few close [Euro] relatives who fit that bill… Its like they managed to take the worst of both extremes of the political spectrum. :(

But, Europe did have a right.. who often supported fascist movements… don’t go too far claiming they didn’t or you’ll get clobbered.

I also think its fair game to talk about the left absorbing the much of the old right… Since the new left was raised on these myths that classical liberal types were the ‘right wingers’ (re: fascists) they had no natural immunity to actual right wing arguments and cultural memes… and ended up adopting a lot of them…

Me: I don’t know about clobbered and again it all depends what you mean by left and right. But I agree it’s silly to get too deep in the terminological weeds. Better to focus on actions and explain or provide context for the confusing terminology when necessary.

But one other point needs making. Even if the “Right” in Europe supported fascism — and obviously significant elements did, particularly when the choice of Lenin-or-Mussolini seemed forced on them,  that should not be allowed to obscure the fact that the European Right is not the American or Anglo-American Right. We did not use terms like Right and Left — a French term coming from the Estates General until very recently, historically speaking. The 1933 Oxford English Dictionary, for example, devotes six and a half columns to the meaning of the noun Right. But it dispenses with its political connotation in a single sentence. “In continental legislative chambers the party or parties of conservative principles.”   In the English parliamentary system , yea and nay or pro-and-con are the relevant distinctions. (There’s good stuff on this in Leftism, if I recall and will find the quote later). In other words,  politically speaking the “Right” was to a certain extent a foreign concept to the English-speaking observer, even in the 1930s.


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