So Who Is A Right-Wing Extremist?


From a reader:

I wonder whether your campaign to properly label extremist groups might be aided by a description of what a real right-winger would be like. Any thoughts on people or groups that could properly be labelled right-wing or extreme right?

I think it’s a very good question. I don’t have a systemic answer because I think the “right” in the Anglo-American tradition has a fork in it. One branch heads off toward extreme anti-statism, the other to extreme traditionalism to the point of monarchism or some such. I think you could make a persuasive case that a serious anarcho-capitalist libertarian was a rightwing extremist. I also think you could make the case that those who want to restore the monarchy in, say, France are rightwing extremists.

Here’s a curious irony that I don’t discuss much because it just confuses people. I think you can make the case that Franco was an extreme rightwing ruler, but not a fascist. You can see why this is confusing. Franco is for many on the Left the quintessential fascist. The problem is that he was far, far closer to an authoritarian caudillo than a totalitarian fascist. Indeed, the general consensus among scholars of fascism is these days is that Franco’s Spain should not be lumped in with Fascist Italy and  Nazi Germany. Anyway, as you can imagine, that argument gets awfully complicated given the history and the label profusion in the literature.

Many critics of the book think I believe that their can’t be anything like a “bad” rightwing regime. I think this is nonsense. I’m not an anarcho-capitalist, nor am I a hyper-traditionalist, a monarchist or even in significant respects a “reactionary” save perhaps in the Marxist sense. So, at least by own standards, I’m perfectly willing to concede that extreme rightwingery can be bad. But it can’t, technically speaking, be fascist.


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review