Sunday, November 1, 2009

Would the Right Attract More Intelligent People If It Hadn't Been for Nazism?

Suppose Nazism had been aborted and the modern(secular, spiritual, and/or socialist) right hadn't been tagged with a terrible taboo. Would there been lot more intelligent and creative people on the Right? Perhaps. The balance between the left and right in the sphere of intellectualism &creativity might be 70/30 than 95/5. 30% representation is solid and respectable.

Consider intellectualism and culture prior to WWII. Though the left was dominant, there were fertile thinkers on the right as well--and unburdened by taboos. Though the left had a decisive advantage over the religious right(with ever new discoveries in science) and over the privileged right(especially as WWI had been ignited by the aristocratic class and the Great Depression shook people's confidence in capitalism), the modern right was on the rise. Even prior to the perversions of Nazism, the mighty German universities were dominated by modern right thinkers. Many key artists of the time were on the Right--Yeats, Eliot, Pound, Henry Williamson, Celine, etc--or at least opposed to the Left(not least because of the horrors of communism). Many modern rightist ideas were so powerful that they came to define much of postwar culture; the twist is that since the modern right become taboo as a result of Nazism, the left appropriated most of its ideas.  Jean-Paul Sartre is considered one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, but a key influence on him was Martin Heidegger.  Michel Foucault was perhaps the most admired intellectual of the 60s/70s, but he owed more to the Nietzschean than to the Marxist tradition. Carl Jung's ideas were adopted by the 60s generation with its penchant for neo-pagan nature-worship. Mircea Eliade has a huge influence on the understanding of world cultures. Celine was one of the greatest inspirations for many modern writers--Philip Roth for one. Isaac Bashevis Singer was a great admirer of Knut Hamsun. Allen Ginsburg was a great admirer of Ezra Pound. Though Hermann Hesse was essentially apolitical and pacifist, the main inspirations for his art came from the right side of German culture--Nietzsche, German romanticism, neo-paganism, Jung, etc. His novels were read by many in the 60s counterculture. Joseph Campbell, a rightwing scholar of world cultures, exerted great influence on George Lucas and some hippies. Before revelations of his less wiser observations--such as 'they should put the Jews on the moon'--he was a favorite on PBS(with help of Bill Moyers).

Because the modern right was both materialistic and mythic, it had a certain organic advantage over the purely materialist left(at least in terms of theory). The Right had a better understanding of human psychology than the left for whom 'material reality determined consciousness'. Even leftist regimes would eventually gravitate toward rightwing ideas--nationalism, the concept of the sacred, reality of bio-social hierarchy and class divisions, etc--as time passed. The right understood that people lived with spiritual myth as well as material math. The modern right was both progressive but also realistic. The radical left was purely materialistic and idealistic.

Well, that was until Hitler came along and turned the modern right into a crazy radical ideology. Hitler did to the organic modern right what Sith and Vader did to Jedi-ism in Star Wars--mechanized, regimented, and poured concrete on what had been spiritually alive. Nazism cloned and genericized what had been eccentric, personal, and individual. Since then, modern rightist ideas became acceptable only when appropriated by the Left. Darwinism is okay as long as it's controlled by leftists. Paganism is okay as long as it's the flaky New Age kind. Socialism is good only when embraced by the left since liberals are frightened by any idea of the right holding control over Big Government and its vast powers/resources. (No problem if FDR or Obama makes government as big as possible but liberals shat bricks when they suspected George W. Bush of trying to set up a 'fascist order'.)

Even so, a survey of the post-war Third War indicates that modern rightism was a better formula for development around the world than leftism. Compare Franco's Spain with Eastern Europe, Pinochet's Chile with Castro's Cuba, quasi-fascist China since the early 80s with Maoist China from 1949 to 1976,  South Korea under militarist rule vs communist North Korea, Chiang Kai-shek's Taiwan vs Mao Zedong's China, Singapore with communist Vietnam before economic reforms, etc. Modern right succeed better but we simply can't say so.

1 comment:

  1. That's kind of like saying, "What if the Jews hadn't dominated the twentieth century?"

    It's an interesting idea, but it's far away from the facts on the ground.