On the non-apologetic nature of the newly emerging Right
25 augustus 2023 | Sid Lukkassen
Many people, including conservatives, fiercely criticized Donald Trump, going all the way back to his initial debates that led to Trump winning the nomination for the Republican Party. The reason for this was that his style came across as too fierce and as too unpolished for many conservative sensibilities. We see the rise of a more direct and confrontational style on the right wing of politics, and I will endeavour to explain why this is so.
Conservatives have allowed themselves to be locked into conforming to the standards of their opponents. In order to win political battles, conservatives must first make substantial gains within the culture wars. For this, any established thought on ‘how to win a debate’, must be turned around. As long as the leading assumption is that people must like you, one cannot describe reality as it is, because reality as it is, is unpleasant.
This brings us to Trump’s appeal as a ‘wrecking ball’ against the establishment. One cannot prevail in debates for as long as debates are governed by a consensus of unspoken politically correct assumptions, which make certain topics no-go areas. For instance, some groups cannot be criticised, since they are portrayed as victims and doing so would allegedly be ‘insensitive’. All of this is an agenda of far-Left identity politics that even moderate conservatives have to a large degree internalised. The brutish language which Trump uses makes the implicit assumptions visible, so that they can at long last be subjected to criticism.
Aside from the language used, class conflict is a source of estrangement between the new right and classical conservatives. The traditional right is part of the higher echelons of society and has much to lose when being outspoken, risking many prestigious connections and access to platforms. Lofty respectability is therefore prioritised over gritty realism. Whereas those who suffer the direct brunt of unrestrained digitalisation, globalisation and immigration, are the working classes and the middle class. This causes a rift between conservative institutions and their voter base.
To put it more bluntly: in an age of compartmentalised relationships, unaffordable housing and the gig-economy – never mind the cultural fragmentation caused by mass-immigration, particularly in Europe – there ceases to be any broad electorate which corresponds to the classic conservative programme. This is similar to the way in which the original Labour parties have lost influence, since their electorate simply disappeared due to socio-economic changes. This fate now awaits classical conservatism.
Somehow, right-wing elites have begun to believe the Left, when it claims to stand for the little man and the downtrodden. This has endowed the traditional Right with a moral and psychological ‘bad guy’ complex. It is why the traditional Right is more restrained than Trump in attacking the Left, even when the Left openly advocates violence, communism and revolution.
What all of this means in practical politics, is that the mainstream Right behaves as part of the same moral consensus as the Left. The Left retains its role as trend-setter; the Right is the reluctant follower, meaning that today’s Right is basically the Left of ten or fifteen years ago. Both wings of politics are on the same train track towards the same destination – the train of the Left just moves at a greater speed. The only way for conservatives to break free from this dynamic, is actively to build their own moral consensus. This requires their own intellectual and financially self-supporting ecosystem.
It is both frustrating and demoralising to see that mainstream conservatives have lost every major battle over the past decades, looking at the long-term development of the culture of the West. The Left is always unapologetic in its views, always actively pushing its ideology into any topic and any debate, as can clearly be observed by anyone who works in the European Parliament. The Right consistently adopts a more ‘business-like’ and ‘neutral’ approach to the same topics, but this means that they cannot truly infuse the institutions with their own ideology. This always leaves a directional vacuum for the Left to fill, enabling them to capture institutions ideologically.
As an example, consider going out for dinner. What you will find on the plate is now a topic charged with ideological energy. Vegan, halal or haram, insects, palm oil, soya. Even in dating life, touching upon political issues in the embryonic phase of a relationship has become inevitable. The social fabric of life is now politicised, something that classical conservatives – keen on separating personal life from the political – have traditionally been averse to.
Conservative leaders such as Thatcher and Reagan were confronted by the New Left and Cultural Marxism. But instead of facing and opposing those ideologies head-on by imposing values of their own, they, for the most part, stuck to cutting subsidies for left-wing causes. But the leftist ideology survived within the state and academia apparatus and rebuilt itself promptly. The free market ideology espoused by right-wing liberals created a large cultural vacuum that the Left managed to fill and colonise.
Going forward, the Right must lead the battle of ideas, which is an area that conservatives have abandoned for years. Life in modern society is made up of the space that is claimed by the state wielding its executive powers, a space for commercial activities which is managed by private enterprises, and then the civic space which belongs to citizens united in philosophical views. Today, all of these three spaces – even churches – are occupied by the Left. Conservatives who seek to manifest themselves within these spaces, immediately face cancel culture and de-platforming, which today is magnified by the power of Big Tech. This means that conservatives will have to build a completely new space to develop their ideas and manifest their preferred way of living as a practical example.
Cafés and places where citizens used to meet and exchange ideas have largely been replaced by fast food corporations (based on rapid turnover, visitors are not supposed to linger) and Starbucks (which no longer wishes consumers ‘Merry Christmas’ but ‘Happy Winter Holidays’). What remained of medium and small enterprise fell victim to government-induced Covid measures.
The outcome pushes individuals from being active citizens in the civic sphere to being passive consumers in the private sphere. There they are exposed to the leftist ‘woke’ indoctrination which is now part of entertainment culture and streaming services. The technologies and (socio-)economic conditions of society itself are not ideologically neutral, contrary to what the Right often likes to imagine through its belief in ‘free market politics’. This even concerns dating apps like Tinder, which at first appear to be ideologically neutral consumer products, but which in fact restructure the way relationships are formed, and what social expectations people have, ultimately re-engineering the values that make up the moral fabric of society.
Not only has the right-wing spectrum suffered an ideological setback, it has regrettably also become a manager of the state administration, motivated by economic interests. In this way, right-wing parties have become the plumbers of the Left. The Left spends tax-payers’ money and creates cultural problems, then the Right gets elected and supposedly fixes things. Conservatives accept this role within the system, but do not pro-actively succeed in setting any of their own values in place. As said previously with the comparison of the trains, the Right remains responsive and reactive to the agenda set by the Left.
Now the time has come for the Right to abandon this toxic dynamic and to acquire a coherent understanding of itself as a breakaway society waiting to happen – as a completely parallel network within society. If not, conservatives will lose whatever influence they have, given that ‘woke’ ideology has already pushed its way into every dimension of life.
Whatever path conservatives choose, it must be non-apologetic and must be based on their own socio-economical ecosystem. The Right must set an agenda based on its own values.