The Virulence of the New Right

Image: Luiz Armando Bagolin


New right thinkers paved the way for neoliberalism and neofascism

Wikipedia – “Roger Vernon Scruton (1944-2020) was an English philosopher and writer specializing in Aesthetics. He embraced the ideals of conservatism after witnessing the student protests in May 1968. He has been named as the most successful conservative intellectual in defending established order and institutions, opposing changes in the configuration of families, local communities and of social conventions, – since Edmund Burke (1729-1797), the noted member of London parliament for the Whig Party and staunch critic of the French Revolution”. For conservatives, even prejudices need to be maintained to ensure social stability. One understands, therefore, the aversion to progressive policies and revolutionary movements.

Camilla Rocha - Less Marx, More Mises (Still). “The consolidation of the new right in the Brazilian publishing market was accompanied by a cultural phenomenon that became evident in the traditional media: the politically incorrect”. The publication of the renowned Roger Scruton and the famous Olavo de Carvalho corresponds to society's fear and insecurity in the face of the shocks in the pillars of patriarchy and colonialism.

Scruton, author of New left thinkers (É Realizações), a book that the magazine Veja considered “a thorn in the side of politically correct ideology”, is a controversialist of great influence in the formation of contemporary conservatism. The British bulwark began publishing in the 1970s-80s, a period in which a new right emerged in the United States, which broke with classical liberalism centered on the economy and approached the anti-civilization divide of neoliberalism, based on a Worldview that penetrated the consumer society and the reified subjectivity of individuals.

At the time, in France, with coverage worthy of pop stars in the press, André Glucksmann and Bernard-Henri Lévy smeared the principles of Marxism, seen as the antechamber of the “real socialism” of the satellite countries of the former USSR. The winds had changed direction. When Rudolf Bahro, in The alternative (Stock 2), wrote about the gulf between the foundations of the “philosophy of praxis” and reality in East Germany had been applauded in the West. In 1959, sobriety still prevented throwing the baby out with the dirty bath water. Scruton, in two lines in a total of 334 boring pages, corroborated Bahro's methodology of analysis: “The totalitarian structure of the communist government is not an inevitable consequence of Marxist conceptions” (p. 310). The lapse, however, was a spasm of lucidity. It didn't take long for it to pay off the outbursts of new philosophes.

In the cultural movement that shook the foundations of political tradition, the new right it turned its back on the values ​​of social solidarity and distanced itself from the gravity field of European social democracy. See Michel Foucault's course on the Birth of Biopolitics (Collège de France, Jan-Apr 1979), mentioned above by Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval, in The new reason of the world: essay on neoliberal society (Boitempo). The right became synonymous with the irradiation of market reason. It is not surprising that Scruton participated, in Porto Alegre, in the 2019 edition of the frontiers of thought, an event that brings together anarcho-capitalists, neoliberals and conservative liberals.

In the provocative work, thinkers of modernity identified with the rainbow of “crooked angels” were thrown into the confused basket of “Marxist theorists whose speculations endorse dictatorships (the emblematic Cuba) and regimes like Chavista Venezuela”. The Presentation informs that it intends to fulfill the role of a “first aid manual”, useful to stimulate in young people the germs of mistrust even the names often “repeated with an unthinking euphoria by their teachers”.

The inquisitorial crusade to combat the impious targeted the revived "Jacobins", some "dumb and abject", others "intelligent" and, at least one, "a kind of genius". Admittedly, naive. The allusion would seem to fall back on Gramsci, reputed for his genius by Hobsbawm, Bobbio and Althusser. But the one chosen by the judge who leads to eternal damnation in hell was the famous author of the nausea, the companion of Simone de Beauvoir.

If those elected managed to gain an audience, it was because the XNUMXs/XNUMXs youth “was eager for indoctrination” and wanted “in a single gesture, individual liberation and social justice for the masses”. Did not include Chomsky in the parade. This would be “a pose… a lie… manipulated facts, hid everything that is terrible about communism and everything that deserves credit in the country he chose to live in (USA)… besides, it is too devoid of theory for my designs”. Marcuse was barred from the ball, having been exposed elsewhere.

About Foucault, he comments. "O leftist shares the rationalist suspicion of human institutions and contempt for superstition, but is distinguished by a cynicism… The hostility stems from the Marxist theory of history, with its separation of political superstructure and economic base. The case shows how the radical's hostility to power also leads to hostility to the law and a misperception of judicial institutions. That's enough. that after the bombast Affair Dreyfus (1894-1905), with a flagrant miscarriage of justice packaged in notorious anti-Semitism, re-edit advertising slogans about the impartiality of the toga is something that can only be explained by a cognitive ill will. To stay only in lawfare that mobilized minds and hearts at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

When addressing Gramsci, he accuses the “endless struggle against the 'fascist' enemy (put in quotation marks in the text)”. He interprets "its sudden canonization by features of fate". But there would be another reason for the glorious distinction, “establishing the right of the intellectual (true agent of the revolution) to political ascendancy… it offers complete justification to the left intellectual in his eagerness for power”. What academic acumen.

About Sartre, a “monumental talent”, he regrets having “given expression to the leftist falsehood and the disturbing condition that inspires it… for a religious function”. He concludes, constricted: “Read the Critique of Dialectical Reason it is a cruel experience. Nowhere is the division of society between the 'proletarians' and the 'bourgeois' questioned, the myth of the 'class struggle' examined, the theory of 'exploitation' condemned”. Sartre "challenges the imprisoning reality where human life and happiness are found". However, “no thinker is more authentically representative of intelligentsia post-war than Jean-Paul Sartre”. Having won and refused the Nobel Prize (1964) in literature contributed to the evaluation. It is an award with enormous recognition since its creation, back in 1900.

Habermas: "The difficulty of extracting meaning is compounded by the structuring of his books, composed of disconnected chapters and arguments that are not supported by more than a paragraph... Of world-wide reputation, he owes us an original thought". On the other hand, EP Thompson, “sentimentalized the proletariat, was less wise than gullible. His uncritical attitude towards his own sermons is repeated towards Marxism”.

The fourteen left-wing icons selected would have in common the desire for “social justice”, which would place them in a “morally superior position”, as members of a “sect” or “secular religion”. Five were pinched here to illustrate the modus operandi of the interpreter. Enough for an idea of ​​the style of fired criticism. The pattern repeats itself in far-right authoritarian populism, with a Caesarist bent in Brazil. It is enough to evoke the labels used by Bolsonaro et caterva about the policies implemented by progressive governments (2003-2016). Nothing is made explicit in light of the benefits received by the population. Moral judgments, embedded in fake news for swallowing in the toxic obscurantist bubbles, replace the place formerly occupied by politics.

“Demagoguery” would be the hallmark of social policies. The label of “attack on freedom” by investors (farmers, miners) refutes the care taken to preserve the lands of the original peoples. The cliché “political interference in the economy” contests the opposition's denouncement of the vile liquidation at ridiculous prices of large slices of companies, such as Petrobras, which can help regulate economic growth, and so on. Media regulation as it happens in nations with consolidated democracies is “censorship”. May it continue as it is, “with all the defects”. The background, grimy and never washed and extended, is in the common sense constructed by the commercial media controlled by financial capital, as a criterion of right and wrong. The published opinion serves as a beacon.

The last chapter of the pamphlet book of the fellow of the British Academy deals with “what is the right”. He admits that in the tributary formulations of Marxism “the concept of freedom matters a lot – emancipation is, simultaneously, the individual purpose and the great social cause”. Next, caveat. “Yet liberty is rarely analyzed, and the institutions necessary to secure it, more rarely discussed.” It demands imagination from a critique that lacks imagination, averse to the structural and institutional changes of a transitional society. The current Chilean Constituent Assembly illustrates the potency of popular creativity, with hints beyond bureaucratic servitude to the powerful.

Scruton seeks to contrast the right in a quixotic way, pursuing the mills that he supposes are the framework of a establishment alternative. In the topic about “power and domination” it says that the metaphorical mills want to put an end to the powers. Wrong. They want to expand public control over the state through participatory democracy. Further, it refutes the rejection of any coercion by utopian democratic socialism. Wrong. Those who imagine the ideal society without coercive dispositions are those who believe in the fetishized hyper-individualist freedoms, endorsing the hallucinatory riot of denialism against the vaccine passport and the obligation of antiviral immunizations in the pandemic.

"The new right believes more in responsible government than in impersonal government, in the autonomy and personality of institutions, and in the rule of law... which is not a thing, but a person." In his anti-republican view of governance, it is up to the law to prevent workers from reinventing the future. In civil society, “the interaction of contracting individuals, mediated by customs, tradition, authority and law” takes place. The action of atomized subjects is legitimate. While collective associations carry actions, axiomatically, illegitimate. “Collective action is a danger”, it reads. The proclaimed “good society” would be composed of “corporations”. The environmental norms are relaxed by the State, since “the factory that pollutes the river can be compelled to indemnify those who suffered the pollution”. All that would remain was to pray for corporate self-control.

The master of ceremony ends the crusade with anathema to the struggles fought under the banner of “social justice”, as they conflict with “human nature”. It mocks the hope of “liberation, democracy, equality and peace”. Such is an illusion, “obvious to those who have not succumbed to the ideological temptation of the left”. Then he confesses without regret. “I have often been led in my exasperation to err in literary politeness. But so what? Politeness is nothing more than a 'bourgeois' virtue, a pale reflection of the 'Rule of Law' which is the guarantee of bourgeois domination. By confronting the left, one confronts not an opponent, but a self-declared enemy.”

Scruton paves the bridge to neoliberalism and neofascism, to the sound of the funeral march. Plato's quote, taken fromThe laws and pasted at the end, it works as an appeal to the violence that murdered Marielle and Moïse. "We must be virulent and rebellious with those responsible for throwing the burden of the discussion on us." Oops, how?! Burden of discussion?! In the democratic rule of law?! With an authoritarian imposition of silence on argumentative communication, which civilizes politics through the persuasion of words?! Repressing the exercise of active citizenship that wants to build a dialogic sociability?!

Better to quote Waldick Soriano's poetic identity: “I'm not a dog, no / To be so humiliated / I'm not a dog, no / To be so despised”. The dog doesn't deserve it. But it wasn't the dog that invented hate in us. think tanks of the new right. Olavo de Carvalho, when proposing to the fanatical entourage the disqualification of the interlocutors to the left, without the restrained concern to argue in a rational and polite way, – did not uncover intolerance. It only added to the insanities the foul language and profanity. VTC is his contribution to the conservative verve. The tombstone of the man from Virginia could contain the Brechtian epitaph: “He was someone else / completely different from us”.

* Luiz Marques is a professor of political science at UFRGS. He was Rio Grande do Sul's state secretary of culture in the Olívio Dutra government.


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