I expected criticism when I wrote Ideas not violence – A time and place for both? suggesting that dispensing righteous violence may be acceptable when dealing with fascists and racist such as Richard Spencer.
There was some, usually in the form of saying that fascists in a free and democratic society deserved protection under the law, the contrary view however of many was that they did not deserve to be protected.
I don’t accept any such exceptions should apply.
What I certainly didn’t expect was to be criticised by the right for expressing disgust and disapproval of Richard Spencer a key figure in the ‘alt-right’, which is a new strain of radical rightists that reject traditional conservatism who they consider weak and decadent.
But why didn’t you expect them to stick up for Richard Spencer?
Well I did and they didn’t.
The main focus of the criticism is that I believe in what is effectively ‘social justice warmongering’ and attacking conservatism by arguing that Richard Spencer is giving conservatism a bad name?
Do I recant?
Not bloody likely.
If the Conservative movement is unable to distinguish between itself and the alternative – right it will simply become marginalised for what may be decades.
Further background on Richard Spencer may assist in demonstrating why I have drawn this conclusion.
Spencer is the Director of the National Policy Institute which is a think (really) tank based in Washington DC (enough said about a USA who voted for Donald Trump).
If you look at his website you will see the organisations mission (why do these people always talk of having a mission) is all designed around and related to promoting “white nationalism.”
Where have we heard that before?
At the end of 2016 the institute held a conference in which Spencer gave a speech the text of which is published in the institutes journal Radix.
However to save you reading it all here are some of the lowlights or highlights if you are a supporter of his.
‘Liberals pay tribute occasionally to the early 1960s USA of the moon race, the lifestyles being enjoyed by the white middle classes whilst forgetting that the USA population was 90% white folk at the time’.
‘USA was until the most recent generation a White Country designed for us and ours. It is a white creation, it is our inheritance and it belongs to us’.
(It reminds me of the Crocodile Dundee comment that the Country ‘BelongaMick’ except of course that was a comedy film as opposed to a serious racist fascist attitude and belief)
‘To be white is to be a striver, an explorer, a crusader and a conqueror,
and perhaps most telling,
‘Donald Trump is deeply compromised by the perversions that define this failing decadent society’.
The accusation, if that is what it really was is that Donald Trump fought against having segregated establishments and that they were sentiments that are repugnant in form and content.
The reality is that Richard Spencer and Donald Trump both share deeply held conviction that some humans, chiefly those who look like them, and are male, are superior and have more value than those who do not look like them.
Yet when you point this out you are almost always guaranteed to face being denounced based on the behaviour of others where they point to groups like the Nation of Islam, a black supremacist organisation, that has called for the effective segregation of the races.
Where, Richard Spencer, Donald Trump and their type ask is the media condemnation of that organisation.
Of course this is a completely invalid response because the bad and unacceptable behaviour of one group does not excuse the bad and unacceptable behaviour of another and nor does any imbalance in media coverage of the issues.
It is not enough to point out how small the alt-right is in absolute terms and that only about 200 people attended the latest National Policy Institute conference.
The uncomfortable fact we have to recognise is that Conservatives need to be vigilant about the extremists and racists in their ranks because their philosophy is particularly prone to being subverted and tainted by association with those who have surrendered on the issue of racial prejudice.
That is not because there is anything innately racist about Conservatism per se but that racism tends to pervert the truth and in fact the true version of the truth rather than an outright rejection of it as we are seeing in the increase of politicians talking about ‘alternative facts’ to support their right wing policies.
All movements have their corrupting influences radical left wingers are prone to make excuses for and even admire murderers such as Fidel Castro and dare I even say it Che Guevara.
Fanatical environmentalists can show a shocking disregard for the primacy of human life and indifference to the misery ordinary people are sentenced to suffer in the absence of modern industry.
In case of Conservatives, the virtues of localism, traditions and mistrust of elites an be warped into a reactionary radicalism twisted be chauvinism and scapegoatery.
Intelligent and guarded scepticism about change becomes rejection of all progress and wilful blindness as to its imperfections.
In the 1950s there was McCarthyism a right wing politician who used his position to accuse people of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence.
Donald Trump with his continuous accusations making unfair and untrue allegations against individuals and organisations in order to restrict dissent or political criticism is a return to MCCarthyism politics.
The truth is McCarthy and Trump share the same traits in that both of them, and their supporters in congress aren’t so much ‘anti-something’ as suffering more of a case of paranoia and supporting alt-right extremism.
It is therefore one thing to defend the rights of Richard Spencer Donald Trump and their ilk to be able to say what they want which is required to safeguard the privilege of all of us to think and speak freely.
But you would have to be a crook or a bloody idiot or both to make common cause with them in relation to anything else.
Sadly conservatives across the globe, especially in the UK and USA have done exactly that, made common cause in promoting and condoning racism and fascism which appeals to the most base of human traits.