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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

So let me get this straight…

Javier Milei elected in Argentina is being called “far-right“?

So, presumably he is obsessed by identity groups and demands everyone must be viewed collectively according to the status of their group; wants pervasive state control over every aspect of life (everything within the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State); wants a state directed economy; and will refuse to have further elections after this one?

Or does he sees all rights as individual rights; wants to slash the size of the state; reduce taxes; wants to promote free enterprise; and has no problem with elections?

Because our media class seem to think both of those things are “far-right”

62 comments to So let me get this straight…

  • Snorri Godhi

    Javier Milei defines himself as an anarcho-capitalist, according to another BBC article.
    What’s not to like?

    Incidentally, the name of his rival in the runoff, Sergio Massa, sounds Italian.
    The name of the 3rd-place candidate, Patricia Bullrich, might be German.
    Anybody knows where the name Milei might come from?

  • Deep Lurker

    They’re using Nineteen Eighty-Four as a how-to guide. And doubling down on the greatest fraud of the 20th century: The claim that Fascism and Nazism are completely totally 100% absolutely the diametric opposite of Socialism and Communism.

  • Penseivat

    To the Left, which seems to include Al Beeb, and most of the media,anyone who disagreed with their views, are far right. Not just right wing, but “far right”. Perhaps we should start referring to the “Commie Left”?

  • William H. Stoddard

    My experience has been that if you are a church-king-army-land conservative; or an American constitutionalist conservative; or a classical liberal; or a libertarian; or a nationalist; or a fascist; or an overt racist—on one hand, the left will call you “right wing” (unless it’s one of the forms of racism that the left approves on). And on the other hand, they really do not understand that any of those groups disagree with each other or oppose each’s other’s ideas.

  • Fraser Orr

    “far right extremist” means “has policy positions that disagree with the big government agenda.” Please remember that Hitler, head of the National SOCIALIST German Workers party was a “far right extremist”. We don’t hear “far left extremist” with scary music anymore because that is largely government policy.

    Really it is part of the way the discourse is captured by allowing your opponent to define the terms — as if political positions are on a one dimensional spectrum.

    FWIW, for those of you who are interested Tucker Carlson did a pretty extensive interview with Milei. He has a lot of good things to say, though to me his position on abortion is quite extreme.

  • We had Dems in the US praising bin Laden last week, so being a moderate leftist meant “Calling Osama bin Laden the bad kind of mass-murderer”. So I can understand the goalposts on right wing vs. far-right shifting a little.

  • Kirk

    When everything is “far-right”, nothing really is.

    The Leftoids believe that language controls everything, so they are incredibly focused on the words. That’s why their initial wave of “hope-n’-change” is always focused on words and language, forbidding one thing, demanding another.

    They fail to comprehend the basic fact that words and language are symbolic; if you change what you call something, then the changed term will eventually come to reflect what you’re using it for. Witness the progression of the terms “Idiot”, “Cretin”, and “Imbecile”, all three once technical terms for mental deficiency. They wanted to rename the condition, so as to “remove the onus” from it… Didn’t work, did it? The three once-clinical terms are now seen as insulting pejoratives.

    Their other changes to the language will go the same way. They want you to fear “far-right” by reflex, but what they’re actually accomplishing is merely renaming their opposition. It’s something that will only work in the short term, and is already being rendered meaningless.

    The left is essentially a collection of child-like minds, that believe in “magic words”. They think their labels really matter, but the sad fact is, the reality behind the label will eventually overwhelm their use of them. Eventually.

    Note the rather rapid drop in support for the cease-fire in Gaza, after the protests… The left thinks that if they make the right noises in the right quantities, then things will change.

    Reality is a bit different.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    It’s unequivocally good news for Argentina, marking a decisive break with the Peronists who have delivered only stagnation and failure for decades. But predictably The Great And The Good are bemoaning this victory for the ‘far right.’

    It is indeed odd how ‘far right’ is somehow now deemed to encompass both the fascist principle of ‘Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State’ as laid down by a certain wartime Italian leader, and those who want to see the State reduced to a minimum dealing with little more than national defence and maintaining law and order. It is no longer necessary to make stiff-armed salutes, do the goose-step in shiny boots or have a fondness for herding disfavoured groups into “showers” in order to be considered ‘far-right’. Simply believing in low taxes, free markets, individual freedom and a small State is enough to earn you that tag of ultimate iniquity.

    In 1981, 364 economists famously wrote to the Times lambasting Thatcherism. That aged well. But nevertheless, clearly having learned nothing, they tried to repeat the trick just now to scare the Argies: according to the Grauniad, “Economists warn electing far-right Milei would spell ‘devastation’ for Argentina: More than 100 economists including Thomas Piketty and Jayati Ghosh publish open letter ahead of country’s 19 November election.”

    Devastation, eh? Well, as James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg wrote in The Sovereign Individual back in 1996, “Between 1960 and 1991, when President Menem launched Argentina’s currency-board reform, inflation struck seventeen zeros off successive versions of Argentine currency. If all the wealth of the world had been converted into Argentine pesos in 1960 and buried, it would not have been worth the effort to spade it up by 1991. (My emphasis).

    With a track record like that, it has to be asked why ARE the Great And The Good so sh*t-scared of the prospect of Argentina trying something different?

  • Lee Moore

    The “right” just means “not the left”.

    The left, though it is always squabbling amongst its factions about “how ?”, and “how quickly ?”, seldom squabbles about “what ?” Which is more and bigger government, issuing more and bigger orders, all in pursuit of helping the poor / downtrodden / oppressed / whatev. It’s a more or less coherent program of megalomania.

    But the right ? It includes nationalists, conservatives (ie don’t change anthing). reactionaries (ie change things back to then“), religious types, rule of law enthusiasts, libertarians, business types, individualists, Uncle Tom Cobley and all. This is not a coherent grouping. Some on the right are quite as megalomaniacal as those on the left, just in favor of different ends. Some are not megalomaniacal at all.

    Anyway, as for “far right’ – which appears much more often on the BBC than “far left” – it would be nice if some very anal analyst did a proper survey of “far right” and “far left” on the BBC, going back fifteen or twenty years or so. I’m sure it would gather enough evidence for a clear conviction. But I’m way too lazy to do it. Might be willing to pay for it to be done (or a share thereof) if there are any volunteers.

  • Kirk

    The left-right thing is a useful tool for the ideologues of the left; it enables them to demonize “the other” with a convenient shorthand that is both inaccurate and entirely wrong.

    You get into the tenets and policies, fascism is more a leftist sort of thing… It’s all about the statism. When they describe anyone to their right as “fascist”, what they really mean is that they’re “slightly less leftist” than they are. The actual reality that the people they describe don’t hold a single actual fascist belief or tenet…? Escapes them. To the freaks of Antifa, anyone not of their ilk is a fascist, regardless of how they might feel about corporatism and the other actual fascist positions.

    The sad thing is, their incessant use of inaccurate labels is resulting in the total evaporation of actual meaning behind them. When everyone is a racist, then nobody is. The term is reaching a point where it’s not actually meaningful or weighted any more.

    Which means that one day, probably very soon, they’re going to call someone a “racist”, and that person is just going to coolly look into the camera and say “So? What does that mean, actually…?”

    Whereupon a lot of heads on the left are going to explode. They think they’re ohsosmart, using language to do their dirty work for them, but the fact is, after enough time goes by, their misuse and imprecision in the usage of these terms causes their effect to go away. When you call everyone from Mother Teresa to David Duke a “racist”, well… After a bit, it ceases to have real meaning. This is something the left does not comprehend; if they did, they’d be far less likely to use language for mere momentary advantage, which is all that they are getting from it.

    Unfortunately, they’re all big believers in “magic words”. The fact that the magic eventually goes away escapes them.

  • Chris F

    They (the powers that be) are definitely not happy with the election result.
    Not only “far right” but rather more confusingly “far right libertarian”

    Argentine far-right libertarian Milei sweeps to victory

    Argentina presidential election: far-right libertarian Javier Milei wins after rival concedes

    Add to that the fact they’ve also started conflating him with Trump and Bolsanaro just in case, though amongst his supproters this will likely be viewed as a badge of honour as opposed to a put down.

    Not sure that he will actually be able to do much about the state of the country as he does not have a majority in their congress and no state representatives but as Trump did in the US, he will definitely shake things up and maybe briefly make the contry a little better until he is outsted.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Zerren Yeoville
    “Economists warn electing far-right Milei would spell ‘devastation’ for Argentina:

    Given the current state of the Argentine economy, I think being merely “devastated” would be a big improvement. Over the past five years of the “correct” economic policy the Argentinian peso has lost 90% of its value. Inflation is currently about 140%. Unemployment I think 40%.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Perhaps we should start referring to the “Commie Left”?

    That would be an insult to Marx and Lenin.

  • Mr Ed

    At the risk of echoing an Alan Coren piece, after the fall of the Greek Colonels (North London Socialists rejoicing that they could not eat stuffed vine leaves again), I can now buy some Argentine wine with a clear conscience.

    I should have guessed that he had won as I hadn’t seen any coverage of the election result in the MSM. If he does even half of what he has promised, it would be transformational for Argentina.

    Perhaps when he realises what a Wooden God the US dollar is, he will go for gold?

  • JohnK

    Nowadays President John F Kennedy would be denounced as “far right”. It says a lot about the BBC’s leftist hive mind.

  • bobby b

    I would be interested in seeing/hearing what actual living libertarians think of Milei. The coverage I’ve seen runs the gamut from nutcase to brilliant libertarian economist. Tough to know who to believe.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    Mr Ed, 20/11/23, 7.16pm – “Perhaps when he realises what a Wooden God the US dollar is, he will go for gold?”

    It would be difficult to guess which would upset the Davos set more, going for a gold standard or following El Salvador down the Bitcoin road.

  • Snorri Godhi


    I would be interested in seeing/hearing what actual living libertarians think of Milei.

    Why not listen to the man himself?
    (Or more precisely, read subtitles to what he says.)

    Here is his pacate version (interview with Tucker Carlson).

    And here is his more “Latin”, justifiably forceful version.

    I must say, however, that in my opinion a man should keep his hair (and beard) so short that nobody can grab it in a fistfight.

  • Kirk

    Whatever the mainstream international media says or thinks, you can count on the opposite being true.

    After all, these are the same people who told us that there was nothing at all going on in what they then called “the Ukraine”, there was no Holodomor, and that Adolf Hitler was the greatest thing for Germany, ever… Even the sainted FDR bought into the BS, looking at both Hitler and Mussolini for inspiration in the things he tried doing in the New Deal.

    So… Trusting these perennial assclowns to get anything right? That’d be the triumph of hope over experience. I can’t think of anything the international media has gotten right during my lifetime.

    Whatever they’re saying about Milei, it’s probably inaccurate and untrue. The truth is probably only going to be known in the eventuality that he makes it into office, and then manages to eke out some actual bits and pieces of his program. Given the inertia in Argentina, he’s probably going to face even more resistance within the bureaucracy than Trump did, as well as the enmity of the “security apparatus”. Look at what the Brazilian courts did to Bolsonaro and his supporters… Observe what happened to Trump. Outsiders taking over these entrenched institutions have really lousy track records, unless they’ve got some decently well-crafted plans. Trump should have had those, but he didn’t.

    One reason I think his victory in 2016 came as a total surprise to him.

  • Mr Ed

    Of course, democratic elections returned to Argentina in the aftermath of the Falklands War, so this election could perhaps be said, should things go to plan, to be Mrs Thatcher’s most significant legacy.

    Years ago I said that every thieving, corrupt Argentine politician turns on the radio in the morning, and when they don’t hear military music, whisper a little ‘gracias’ to La Dama de Hierro for standing firm and reversing her error back in 1982.

  • SteveD

    We’ll never know what the term ‘far-right’ actually means.

  • SteveD

    ‘The claim that Fascism and Nazism are completely totally 100% absolutely the diametric opposite of Socialism and Communism.’

    Nazism, Fascism, and Communisms are flavors (types) of Socialism. They each have ideas particular to themselves, but they all rely on an omnipotent state.

  • Roué le Jour

    Fascism and Nazism are right wing because they are nationalist. What we call communism the actual communists called international socialism. Anything that smacks of patriotism is thus right wing.

  • lucklucky

    Incidentally, the name of his rival in the runoff, Sergio Massa, sounds Italian.
    The name of the 3rd-place candidate, Patricia Bullrich, might be German.
    Anybody knows where the name Milei might come from?

    Milei is Italian too.

  • lucklucky

    Fascism and Nazism are right wing because they are nationalist. What we call communism the actual communists called international socialism. Anything that smacks of patriotism is thus right wing.

    Then any anti colonial movements were right wing?

  • Fraser Orr

    @Roué le Jour
    Fascism and Nazism are right wing because they are nationalist. What we call communism the actual communists called international socialism. Anything that smacks of patriotism is thus right wing.

    But this is the problem I mentioned — the idea that politics is a one dimensional spectrum, which it isn’t. Certainly Fascism is nationalistic and right wingers are also nationalistic. But Fascism favors a strong state with individuals subordinate to the state, right wingers (supposedly) favor a small state with free individuals pursuing their own ends. Fascism favors censorship, right wingers do not. And I suppose I could list a hundred other measures by which fascism is more like classic left wingers than classic right wingers, but certainly there are ways it is more like classic right wingers than left wingers. So Fascism is neither left wing or right wing in entirety.

    And to be clear, most people don’t know what fascism is. For most people it means “the politics of the other side.” In fact the word has morphed to have more of a defacto meaning of “totalitarian”. There are no totalitarian free marketers as far as I know.

    It is a more and more common thing where the crazy politicos accuse the other of what they themselves are. The idea that Milie is a totalitarian because he wants to give people free choices in how they spend their money and live their lives is just mind bending. And here in the USA where the Democrats tell us every day that the Republicans are a threat to democracy, while they themselves are destroying the basic infrastructure put in place to ensure that only voters vote, using the power of government to suppress speech they don’t like and, FFS, trying to put the candidate that they will run against in jail. Talk about cognitive dissonance.

    People warn that America is in danger of becoming a banana republic. I disagree. It already is a banana republic.

  • Roué le Jour

    As I have commented here before, the problem is left and right are using different definitions of left and right. For the right, the left right dichotomy is collectivism vs individualism, but for the left it is internationalism vs nationalism. The comment I made above is from a left wing perspective.

    If you are OK with socialism but reject internationalism you are right wing. If you reject both socialism and internationalism you are far-right. Again, to be clear, this from a left wing perspective.

    I think we are in broad agreement. It is infuriating that the left can claim that a credible opposition is a “threat to democracy” and be taken seriously.

  • Kirk

    The problem is that the definition of these terms “left” and “right” has mostly been left up to the ideologues of the left, who are the only people who really bother thinking like this in the first damn place.

    I can’t remember when I first encountered my first Marxist dialectic session, but I can clearly remember thinking “This guy is dumb as a post, and clearly nuts…” His entire shtick was something I later encountered again with a recent convert to one of those religious cults so popular back in the 1970s; there was a similar “feel” to it all, a clear lack of actual thinking going on and it was really obvious they were both working off of very similar scripts. It was particularly noticeable whenever you brought up issues or questions that they hadn’t been prepared for in the script memorization sessions.

    It was also fairly obvious that drugs and “life failure” had primed both of these characters for ease of brainwashing. The amusing thing was, reading the Korean War-era descriptions I had access to of Communist brainwashing techniques in the prisoner of war camps, just how it had been done.

    I don’t think you can leave the study or definition of these matters to the left, and if you do? You use their terms? You’re already halfway to buying their arguments, because you have to use their language to argue it on their terms, very much the way the two converts I encountered did. If you never leave the reservation of their thought-patterns and language, the logic they use is unassailable and inarguable, because they prepped the battlefield and set the terms of the engagement before you ever got there.

    So… I would suggest abandoning the right/left dichotomy in favor of something else, something that actually describes the real differences between these ideologies.

    From my point of view, the essence is that the people of what we call the left, the progressives? They have this worldview that says that you not only can control humans and human behavior externally, but that you have an imperative to do that. The other viewpoint is one that says you have to inculcate self-control into yourself and encourage it in others, but that trying to actually control them via coercion is a waste of time and effort.

    If you read the books like “Nudge”, you rapidly reach the conclusion that the real dichotomy we have is between “control” via external pressures, and “self-control” via the development of human potential. One worldview demands constant intervention and deeper control and power for the “right people”, who’re obviously the ones who should be in charge. The other says “leave it alone”, and ignores the idea that you can control people at all.

    I think that a lot of the analysis we’ve done has been along the wrong thought-axes, mostly because the people doing the analysis were already convinced that they knew what was right, and they were going to impose their ideas on the world. Pragmatism and an empiric approach would argue that the mere attempt to impose ideas and ideology on a fluid universe is doomed to fail, no matter how pretty your words are. Observation and acknowledgment of actual fact would be the opposite of what the leftoids go for, and it’s fairly obvious that the idea of either one is entirely alien to them.

    Anyone that thinks they can project what the number of bras needed in Tashkent five years from now is something you can reliably predict and plan for…? Clearly insane, in my view.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    And here I thought that libertarians would be described as De-Centralists! We seem to want smaller governments, both in areas and laws. What is far about that? I am now describing myself as a Pro-Localist, meaning that small, local governments would be better able to govern local issues. That is my brand of libertarianism.

  • Paul Marks

    Apart from his regrettable support for the American Dollar (yes the Argentine Peso is a fiat currency – but so is the American Dollar, it has no link what-so-ever with gold since 1971), the President Elect of Argentina appears to be on the right lines.

    “right lines” = right? Well I suppose so if one means the right hand path, which is steep and difficult, rather than the left hand path, that is smooth and easy but leads to Hell.

    Will he prove to be a righteous man who will roll back the state and uphold individual rights against the state and private criminals?

    Well there is a test coming up – will Argentina opt out of the totalitarian World Health Organisation treaty amendments?

    Unless a country formally opts out of this “agreement” they are presumed to have consented to it – international censorship and the rest of the totalitarian Corporate State agenda with the “health” and “climate” excuses “justifications”.

    So we will soon see if the new President is “far right” or indeed righteous at all.

    If he does not formally declare then Argentina opts out of the amendments to the World Health Organisation treaty then we are all discussing nothing.

    And there is no excuse for following the “WHO” – remember Argentina had a Covid lockdown and next door Uruguay did NOT.

    Uruguay which did not have a Covid lockdown, had a lower (not higher – lower) Covid death rate than Argentina – which did have a Covid lockdown.

    Tell the World Health Organisation to go away – it is a political body, with a totalitarian international agenda.

    “And the United Kingdom?”

    Sadly, tragically, I believe there is no longer any point in discussing the politics of the United Kingdom – a country that can not feed itself and which submits to every international “governance” agreement.

  • Snorri Godhi

    As you can infer from a comment from an Argentine friend of the Good Professor, in Argentina the following equation holds true:

    ‘far right’ = ‘fascism’.

    That is hardly surprising, because the same equation is valid in Italy, at least in the last century. In fact, i do not believe that anybody used the term ‘far-right’ in the last century, except wrt fascism and maybe monarchism* and theocracy.

    * but only in countries where monarchy has been abolished.

    Anglosphere people might be surprised to learn that, in Italy, (classical) liberals have been considered ‘center-left’ at least to the end of the Cold War. (Perhaps lucklucky knows about their current status?)
    That, i believe, is because they are neither fascists, nor monarchists, nor theocrats — not even Christian Democrats.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Sorry, i forgot to add the link to the Good Professor’s post on Instapundit.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I myself think that perhaps the most fundamental dichotomy in politics is between those who accept reality as it is (eg Sun Tzu, Thukydides, Machiavelli, Gaetano Mosca, Hayek) and at the other extreme those who do not really believe that there is an objective reality, ie the Woke.

    Next is the dichotomy between statists, who want the government to have absolute and/or tyotalitarian power; and libertarians in the broadest sense, who believe in checks and balances (against absolutism) and/or inalienable rights (against totalitarianism).

    But there have also been systems that were totalitarian, but not absolutist; or absolutist, but not totalitarian.

  • Steven R

    It isn’t just the political arena where journalists put their thumbs on the scale in their use of descriptors. Every single use of an AR-15 includes the term “high-powered” without defining what “high-powered” actually means. A .223 Remington is certainly not high-powered compared to one of the most popular hunting rounds in use today, the .308 Winchester. It’s even worse when one considers that during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars the media ran all kinds of reports about how the exact same round was under-powered when US troops were firing them.

    It is no different than using “high-capacity” when discussing magazines. What defines “high-capacity”?

    But “high-powered” and “high-capacity” scares people who have no background in firearms, people like Suzy Soccermom.

  • Kirk

    Any commentator using the term “high-powered” in conjunction with “AR-15” or “AK47” instantly marks themselves as someone not worth listening to on any firearms issue, and likely everything else. A few moments research would tell them that the whole point of the “assault rifle” was a lower-power intermediate cartridge that was more controllable on fully-automatic fire for use within the 300m range.

    Really, truly “high-power” cartridges would be those older ones that most such idiots deem “safer”. Because, older. I guess. I had one such jackass tell me that a .75 caliber soft lead musket ball was less deadly and did less damage than a modern handgun cartridge. I don’t think she ever quite got over the demonstration we did with one of the replica Brown Bess muskets and a modern 9mm. Especially once she had it pointed out that we used to line up in these formations, march towards each other, and shoot the things at each other…

    Anyone thinking that “old” means less deadly and less bloody needs an historical lesson, stat. If anything, the modern weapons are considerably more “humane”, whatever the hell that means when you’re getting shot with something.

  • Steven R

    I just want someone in power to simply ask the journalist to define “high-powered”. Just once. Give specific numbers, tell me the cut off point between “high-powered” and whatever else there is. Tell me exactly why a .223 is more dangerous than a .308. If the .308 is less dangerous, for reasons, then would simply having Americans go from the AR-15 to a FAL or AR-10 be an acceptable solution? If the .308 is more dangerous, then surely banning one of America’s favorite hunting rounds would be worth it, after all, who needs a “high-powered” sniper platform in his closet, even if it is only taken out once a year to harvest deer.

    Which is where I will be tomorrow morning. Using my Remington 700 high-powered sniper platform and killing Bambi so I can fill a freezer with him instead of just buying my meat from a supermarket, where no animals are harmed.

  • Kirk

    And, again, to repeat myself:

    The whole “discussion field” surrounding politics is extremely deranged, and highly inaccurate. Mostly because that’s the way that most of the people trying to put one over on the rest of us want it.

    Consider that the entire Left-Right dichotomy once used to be the “Republicans vs. the Absolute Monarchists”, and you realize how useless that division really is.

    The thing to note in all of this is that the terminology has, by default, been set by the various “let’s change everything” types residing on the left, and that the language has been one of their preferred tools. A thing that they’re deluded about, because no matter how you manipulate and torture the verbiage, inevitably, the symbology will come to match the reality. Witness the evolution of the clinical terms for mental retardation… You can call something “liberal” all you like, but when you use it to label the control-freak policies of the modern left, it’s going to come to mean “tyranny” in everyone’s minds.

    You can drape a new map over the territory, but the inevitable fact is that the territory’s underlying terrain is going to turn your false map of the plains into mountains, no matter how carefully you label your new topology.

    This has been going on since forever, and the people doing it still don’t grasp that fact. Doesn’t help that their opponents aren’t all that bright about these things, and adopt whatever labels their enemies apply, like “capitalist”. That’s a Marxist construct, and should have never gained common usage, but here we are. “Traditional Economics” should have been what the non-Marxist called their system, or something lacking the weighting that the Marxists used. In argument, adopting your opponent’s terms is often the first step towards losing. It’s especially bad when you’re dealing with the lunatic left, in that their programs and ideas exist only inside the confines of their own minds.

    You get the feeling, with much of the discourse, that the left’s opponents are essentially fighting on a battlefield that they are unequipped to fight on. Which shows, because it’s like the manual laborer trying to argue with engineer about the possibility of building what the engineer found so easy to assemble on paper; the point that the welder needs to be able to get in and out of the pontoon section with their gear, in order to do the final sealing welds? That escapes the engineer lacking practical knowledge; he doesn’t have the instinctual understanding of what’s physically possible because that pontoon section exists only in his mind, not in concrete reality.

    Similarly, when the normal person goes to discuss things like “communism” with the typical adherent, the whole thing breaks down on the fact that a business owner knows full well that ain’t nobody doing nothing for free, while the the communist “true believer” is free to hypothesize the human equivalent of a spherical cow, the “New Communist Man”.

    In the event, the “New Communist Man” proved to be mostly a lazy petty thief, instead of a selfless Stakhanovite.

    You can’t get even partially accurate results out of a system where the terms are so thoroughly polluted with anti-reality. You say “right wing” and think “Nazi”, I say “right wing” and think “common sense libertarian”. The labels applied by our minds are to two totally different concepts, so for us to discuss them using those labels…? Insane. Won’t work.

    Confucius and his 13th Analect on the Rectification of Names yet again rears its ugly head. The man was utterly correct in what he said, and you can always tell the merits of a participant in any discussion by the way they use the terms of the argument: If they use their words to obfuscate and confuse, labeling their opposition with “bad thing” terms like “capitalism”, coining their own words…? Odds are pretty good that they’re con artists seeking to forward their own ideas at the expense of determining compromise and truth.

  • Kirk

    The actual problem with their arguments about “high-powered assault rifles made for killing” is that they’re sliding right by the actual points that might make sense, were they to argue them… Namely, the very characteristics implied by the intermediate cartridge.

    Were an actual rational firearms-knowledgeable person to make an argument for “harm reduction”, they’d probably say that you’d be way, way better off banning the low-power cartridges like 5.56mm NATO and 7.62X39, because those are the ones that you can handle easily in a handy package and get off more accurate shots with. If you wanted to “reduce harms” then you might find it worth arguing that the former high-power rounds like the .30-06 and other such turn-of-the-century heavyweights would be better choices to proliferate, if only because ain’t nobody going on a shooting spree with something like that unless they’re 90th percentile or better… Imagine the amount of rounds you could get off with something like the old Swedish 8X63mm MG cartridge that they put into rifles for a bit. I fired one of those, once upon a time, and it was… Enlightening. Only wanted one turn at the bench with that bastard, I’ll tell you what.

    They want to ban “high-power” cartridges? LOL… Yeah, baby… You don’t know what that means. Or, why you’re a fool for doing that… If the only thing out there that was legal was, say… .50 BMG or .45-70? Yeah, there’d be a lot more fatalities among those hit by the projectiles, and the wounds would be ugly as hell, but at the same time, the number of people hit would be far lower…

    The real reason they ought to be arguing a ban for the various intermediate calibers ain’t “high power”, that’s for damn sure. But, they’re mendacious idiots that don’t know the first thing about firearms, so they focus on the stupid.

  • Steven R

    My point is these terms are just thrown around without definition. “Right wing”, “extreme far right”, “white supremacy”, “Fascism”, “Nazi”, “high-powered”, “high-capacity”, and any number of other terms like them exist only to scare Suzie Soccermom. If you asked a reporter to define any of them, I would be willing to bet none of the talking heads could give a concrete definition for them. Ask them to define a right and they are just as unable to come up with an answer.

  • Kirk

    Like I said… 13th Analect is timeless.

    You can always identify the people who’re trying to put on over on you via their language, and the meanings they assign to terms.

    It’s very much along the same lines as the stuff they put out in sales and marketing, little of which has much in the way of positive value. If you’ve ever done any sales training, it’s all glib manipulation of emotion, all the way down. And, once you’ve been through one or two training sessions, nothing you see again along those lines can ever look the same…

  • William H. Stoddard

    Snorri: I’m not clear on how you define “absolutism” and “totalitarianism” here, so I’m not sure if I agree that you can have either without the other. Could you make the distinction more explicitly?

  • Snorri Godhi

    William: I am happy to oblige.

    Let me start with the distinction that Quentin Skinner makes, between freedom from coercion and freedom from *arbitrary power* of coercion.

    A ruling elite can have power of coercion over you, even though they have never used it. You are free from coercion, but not free from power, because they might use their power at any time, arbitrarily. That is absolutism.
    The remedy for that is check & balances: procedural constraints on arbitrary government power.

    OTOH you can have oppressive laws which regulate every aspect of life, but are applied impartially, without arbitrary discretion, even the rulers being subject to the law. That is totalitarianism.
    The remedy for that is enumerated powers, and a bill of rights.

    I believe that a bill of rights cannot be enforced without checks & balances, but again: violations of legal rights in the absence of checks & balances is *arbitrary*. On the contrary, in a totalitarian system, violations of moral (but not legal) are systematic.

    To give concrete examples: ancient Israel and ancient Sparta look to me like totalitarian, but not absolutist, systems.
    The same could be said of the philosophy of the late Plato. (But in “The Republic”, Plato was both absolutist and totalitarian.)

    OTOH Hong Kong is an example of a system which is absolutist, but not totalitarian: the rulers in Beijing have absolute power, but they use it only when they decide, arbitrarily, that it is expedient to use it.
    The same could be said of Hobbes’ philosophy.

    Needless to say, i prefer to live in a system which is neither absolutist nor totalitarian.

  • Snorri Godhi

    PS: Originally, i got the concepts of absolutism and totalitarianism from Samuel Finer’s magnus opus: The History of Government from the Earliest Times. But i think it easiest to explain them in Skinner’s framework.

    (Interestingly, Finer was English, and so is Skinner.)

  • Kirk

    It has occurred to me that there appears to be a need to split things neatly into categories, preferably bifurcating everything into “black” and “white”.

    This would appear, from the evidence, to be a very common human trait, seen universally. There aren’t too many religious pantheons that go any broader than “good” and “evil” within them; there’s no smorgasbord of choices to make, ranging from “absolute lawful good” through the varying permutations to reach “absolute lawless evil”. You don’t see that in much of anything humans do… It’s all very binary. Simplistic.

    The real world is a bit more nuanced. Were you to actually query and then try to fully categorize people’s ideas about politics, the usual run of us would be all over the map. In some regards, I’m libertarian and a classical liberal; in others, complete right-wing reactionary. I don’t think there’s an official political faction out there that I’d fit into, TBH.

    So, this discussion about terms and meanings falls flat on the face of our inadequate means of examining this aspect of the political realm.

    I would also propose that there’s another bifurcation to be made between political belief systems…

    You have, on the one hand, the “symbologists”, if you will, the people who arrange everything in abstract images. Typically, these are the leftists, although you will find some on the right that will conceptualize everything in the world around them in terms of the abstract ideas they were either taught or developed on their own. Most of these people tend to be ideologues that insist on imposing their ideas and symbols on the world around them, regardless of reality or the feedback that imposition gets them. These people are usually idealists, wanting things to be “perfect”, and demanding that the universe and the people in it conform to their pre-conceived ideas.

    As you’ll likely work out from the way I frame their thinking, I’m not a fan.

    The other half of this bifurcation could be termed “observationist”, people who look at things as they are, and then empirically work out how things actually work, and who then try to function within that framework. They don’t build theoretical cloud-castles of the mind, and then try to move everyone into them. They simply do their best to see things as they are, and deal with that. These people are the sort I sympathize with, as they are unfortunately in the non-vocal minority.

    Or, at least, appear to be. Hard to tell, really… I think there are rather more of them than the loud-mouth louts that “BELIEVE” real, real hard. We just don’t hear from them until they tire of dealing with all the BS, and feel that they have to do something.

    The symbologist types are the sort of people who work out a theory first, and then try to apply it universally, to everything. When reality fails to match their ideas, then they start having problems with it all and start crap up like the Cultural Revolution in order to fully impose their wunnerful, wunnerful ideas on everyone else…

    The pragmatic observationist types don’t do these things, instead trying to adapt and work within their observed constraints. They’re often castigated as “naysayers” and “wreckers”, but they often prove correct.

    People like to quote George Bernard Shaw, approvingly, with this bit of nonsensical doggerel:

    “You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?”

    I’ve always approved of another George’s addendum:

    Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.

    I find a lot of George Carlin tendentious and annoying, but I do have occasion to use what he so pithily said, now and again.

  • bobby b

    It’s all just relative ranking. I walk into one room, and I’m “high intelligence.” I walk into another room, and I’m “low intelligence.” Depends on who is already in there.

    I know that, amongst my lefty friends, as they get more “far left”, they consider me to be further “far right”, without me having moved.

    (After some plinking this morning with a low-power .22 pistol, I went out after coyotes with my high-power AR-15. Then, we set aside our low-power AR-15s and grabbed the high-power 30-06’s and tramped around looking for deer. At one point, I set aside my low-power 30-06 and shot a friend’s high-power .50 cal Barrett. (Ouch.) It’s all relative, unless you tie it all to foot-pounds of impact power and give it some definition – which leaves the much-feared AR-15 5.56 rounds at “too low-power to hunt deer”.)

  • Bruce


    “Sort the wheat from the chaff: Then print the chaff”.

    NEVER let the facts get in the way of a good story”.

    “Covering important stories: With a pillow, until they stop moving.”

  • A different JJM

    Both terms are mostly empty, beyond both strongly implying some form of statism and differing in one key respect.

    The left are collectivists who pretend that it will be possible for society to be an amorphous blob wherein us bits of the blob can slide around at will, and where leftists will bring in enforced hierarchies on the quiet to begin with. The right are collectivists who offer no such pretense and openly advocate those enforced hierarchies from the get-go.

    That’s not really anything new to this audience, but worth reiterating.

  • Paul Marks

    If “far right” means “Fascism” – then most of the governments in the West are “far right” as they endorse the Corporate State which is the core of Fascism – “public-private partnership”, “stakeholder capitalism” and so on.

    In Argentina this political position has been supported by the Peronists since the 1940s – General Peron was a Fascist, he supported the Corporate State. The Peronists just LOST the Argentine election.

    Big Business does not want a free market – a free market means competition (having to please CUSTOMERS rather than pleasing the government and BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard) and no government subsidies and protections – contrary to what is often taught, most of Big Business (there were some exceptions) loved the National Industrial Recovery Act and the National Recovery Administration (the Blue Eagle thugs) – Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” imitation of Fascist Italy.

    And a free market means having to attract Real Savings (the actual sacrifice of consumption) of commodity money (traditionally gold or silver) – rather than just getting endless funny money created (from nothing) by the government and the Credit Bubble banks. Mussolini, Franklin Roosevelt “FDR”, and General Peron hated commodity money (gold and silver) they loved fiat money – because they could create it (from nothing) and dish it out to their allies.

    As for “theocracy” – Mussolini and co were not known for deep religious faith, rather than contrary.

    Are such people as Mussolini, Franklin Roosevelt (“FDR”) and Joseph Biden (another Corporate State person who has pushed Big Government all his life – the idea that Mr Biden was a “moderate” is false, as his Senate voting record shows) really “far right”?

    Was the Peronist candidate who just LOST the election in Argentina, “far right”?

  • Paul Marks

    Adolf Hitler and his National Socialists are another matter.

    It is true that Mr Hitler and his associates supported Big Government policies – but they also had a fanatical obsession with RACE, which seems to have overwhelmed all other considerations for them. Even though, as they had no understanding of DNA, they did not really have a scientific concept of “race”.

    For example, the obsessive hated of “Slavs” who were the same biological race as the “Germans” – indeed the ancestors of the Germans came from the lands of the “Slavs” (the Indo Europeans came from the Pontic Steppe – modern Russia and the Ukraine).

    When challenged the National Socialists would either just kill the person who was raising doubts, or talk about how the Slavs had “interbred with asiatics”.

    The Japanese are “asiatic” – this did not stop the National Socialists allying with them. And even the Russians, let alone the Poles and others, do not have much “asiatic” DNA in them.

    Tracing back the “Nazi” (National Socialist) ideas on “race” one does not find scientists – one finds early 19th century German philosophers such as Herder and Fichte.

    Fichte, the radical (anti conservative) early 19th century German philosopher, taught economic collectivism and hated of Jews – just as the composer Richard Wagner (who wanted to abolish money – at least commodity money) later did, and he had a large streak of violence in his work.

    If judges had ruled that his statism was unlawful (as all nine Supreme Court Justices struck down the Fascist National Recovery Administration, the Blue Eagle thugs, of Franklin Roosevelt “FDR”, in 1935) I suspect that Fichte or (later) Richard Wager would just, if they had the power, have hanged them – much as Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt (another radical anti conservative) supported “lynching” – the execution of people without trial.

    Mr Hitler took such ideas to a wild, radical, extreme – in the end murdering millions of human beings. He took the ideas to “another level” as it were – and did not just talk and write, he put words into practice.

  • Paul Marks

    Herder appears to have been a gentle man personally – but in the 19th century he was known for his predictions that Hungarians would cease to exist, and that the Germanic peoples would eventually be overwhelmed by the Slavic peoples.

    Sadly this did help introduce an element of paranoia in Germanic politics.

    The influence of Herder, Fichte and Richard Wagner can be seen in the National Socialists – but it is hard to see it in Mussolini and his Fascists, at least not before they started to imitate the Nazis (a rather insincere imitation from the late 1930s onwards).

  • Snorri Godhi

    If “far right” means “Fascism” – then most of the governments in the West are “far right” as they endorse the Corporate State which is the core of Fascism – “public-private partnership”, “stakeholder capitalism” and so on.

    The above statement by Paul Marks contains truth, but also leaves much out.

    To start with, when talking about “”left”” and “”right””, we have to be clear which time+place we are talking about.

    Time is as important as place, since the Kisin criteria might have been valid in xx century Britain, but are no longer valid.

    Then there is the fact that fascism is absolutist (see my comment above), while all Western (or Westernized) countries still have some constitutionalism left; which makes the election of people like Milei possible.

    Then we should talk about nationalism, but i won’t bother.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Some thoughts on how to make sense of what Italians meant (during the Cold War) when talking about “left” and “right”. These are my own thoughts and you can take them or leave them.

    1. The “right” has nothing to do with the “far-right”. The latter is not an extreme case of the former, it is **qualitatively** different.

    2. The “left” has little to do with the “far-left”. They are both socialist, but the “left” accepts democracy and the Constitution, while the “far-left” doesn’t.

    3. One can think of 2 spectrums (spectra?):

    * The absolutist spectrum, including the commie “far-left” and the fascist “far-right”. Whether they like it or not, they were more similar to each other than to the other parties.

    * The constitutional spectrum, including (“left” to “right”) the Socialists, Social Democrats, Liberals and Republicans, and Christian Democrats.

    I think that this concept of 2 distinct, nearly orthogonal spectra in the same time+place, can help to understand the politics of other countries as well.

    This is why i strongly disapprove of the Confucius/Marks/Kirk insistence on the rectification of names: there is an objective reality to atoms, molecules, and biological species, but there is no objective reality to the political spectrum.

  • William H. Stoddard

    Snorri: I think it’s even more complex than that.

    On one hand, we have the fascists, who were fairly run of the mill authoritarians, who practiced the usual abuses of state power.

    On the other hand, there were the National Socialists, who practiced, among other things, mass murder of their own civilian populations. As far as I know, in this, they were different from the fascist regimes of Italy, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Brazil, and various other countries; but they were similar to the Soviet Union, China, and Cambodia. So perhaps there are three spectra: civil government, authoritarian government, and state terrorism. And the fascists are in one sense less similar to the Nazis than they are to commonplace socialists, whose economic policies are also authoritarian.

    I actually would say that political thought is multidimensional, and while you can collapse a multidimensional space onto a single line, you always lose information in doing so. Any one particular issue could produce a different spectrum from “left” to “right.”

  • Johnathan Pearce

    The language of “left” and “right” is even more bizarre and pointless when, for example, you see “Queers for Palestine” and sundry other idiots: people whose freedoms to engage in consensual sex would be crushed in seconds if the fanatics they associate with were to attain power.

    Oh well, it could be worse: the new Argentinian leader could be accused of being a “neo-liberal”.

    I understand that this gentleman wants the Falklands for Argentina. A wise UK Prime Minister would politely tell him to pound sand, but at the same time propose a sweeping free trade deal, and wish Argentina well in its attempt to move from monetary insanity.

  • Paul Marks

    Snorri – I suppose the real difference between New Deal America and Fascist Italy is when the, all nine Justices, told Franklin Roosevelt that his National Industrial Recovery Act, his effort to turn America into a Fascist economy, was unconstitutional he obeyed the judgement – he obeyed with very bad grace, but he obeyed (Mussolini would have had the judges beaten up).

    The United States Supreme Court came very close to restoring honest money and honest banking – 5 votes to 4.

    However, Chief Justice Hughes (who knew very well that what the government and the bankers were doing was turning the Constitution, and the rule of law, on its head) wimped out – he would not dare smash Washington D.C. and Wall Street in New York City (both based on corruption – even 90 years ago).

    Remember Johnathan Pearce that it is not just Argentina that has an insane monetary and financial system – all nations do, it is just more obvious (more “in your face”) in Argentina.

    What is your money based on? Answer – “men with guns” (Professor Krugman – who thinks this is a GOOD thing).


    Is your banking and financial system from Real Savings – the actual sacrifice of consumption?

    Honest answer – no it is not, our banking and financial system is a Credit Bubble farce.

    Not just in Argentina – everywhere.

  • Earnest Canuck

    Ain’t nothing more taxing than taxonomy, eh?

    I’ve really enjoyed the conversation here, but we have to concede that it might just be endless. You’ve got motivated actors muddying the waters, the ever-changing contexts of time and place (as Snorri pointed out) etc.

    Yet, as with the long and frustrating categorization of biological life, we simply have to make the effort. One thing that might help, in a small way, is the resuscitation of the prefix “ultra” in place of descriptors like “far” or “extreme…”

    Kirk, bobby b., may I recommend a great song with some hilarious lyrics about gun enthusiasm?

    “And he stopped off in Tushka
    At Pop’s knife and gun place
    Bought a SKS rifle and a couple full cases of that steel core ammo
    With the Berdan primers
    From some East bloc nation
    That no longer needs ’em
    And a Desert Eagle,
    That’s one great big old pistol,
    I mean, fifty caliber —
    Made by bad-ass Hebrews
    And some surplus tracers
    For that old BAR
    Up at Slayton’s, as soon
    As it gets dark, we’re gonna
    Have us a time
    We’re gonna have us a time”

    That’s ‘Choctaw Bingo” by James McMurtry.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Paul: arguably an even more important difference was that FDR, or W.Wilson for that matter, while getting the US into world wars (justifiably, in my opinion), did not have any expansionist ambitions, unlike Mussolini and Hitler — not to mention Trotsky and Stalin.

  • Kirk

    Snorri Godhi said:

    …while getting the US into world wars (justifiably, in my opinion), did not have any expansionist ambitions, unlike Mussolini and Hitler…

    Yeah. Let me correct you on that: The US did not have strictly territorial ambitions, outside of some key bases in the Caribbean and Indian Oceans, but… We damn sure had some economic ones, and we took full advantage of those, having broken the international cartels known as “colonial powers”.

    You can analyze the US as a not-empire, completely unlike the British Empire or earlier Roman Empire. However, you’d be fairly naive to do so, because we damn sure had the benefit of being an imperial power, without a lot of the overhead. We did accrue a lot of the costs, though, sooo… Yeah.

    FDR and most of his subordinates were doctrinaire anti-colonialists. They insisted on the UK giving up overseas territories, along with France. Note what happened when the UK and France both tried asserting colonial powers in Egypt, during the post-WWII era, and how little help France got in Vietnam. The US getting into Vietnam in the first place might be analyzed as the “new generation” leaders like Kennedy realizing that there were some positive points to colonialism, and acting on it.

    The US wound up being an imperial power sans imperial territories. How that’s worked out? Wait and see… It’s hardly a classic “hydraulic empire”, but wait and watch what happens to the world when the US ceases to police the international commons due to bankruptcy or self-destruction. Y’all will miss it most, when it’s gone… Visualize pirate raids on small towns in Europe, again, taking slaves and wealth. Consider the costs of commerce in a world whose maritime chokepoints are controlled by local despots or regional powers. Consider what happens when someone like the Chinese decides to repossess all the things their loans paid for, and what that’s going to look like.

    Same thing happened to the US, when it realized “Oh, f*ckWe gotta pay for all this BS, now that the Brits are out of business…?”

    It’ll be about like the fall of the Roman Empire. The US, having reduced the Europeans to domestication, will have re-created the same conditions of national defense capabilities that the Romans did in Gaul, leaving the deracinated locals vulnerable to the Eastern barbarians. Again. History may not repeat itself, but it sure as hell rhymes, now and again.

    I’d laugh, but it’s my Roman Empire doing the collapsing…

  • Snorri Godhi

    While looking for support of my ideas on this, i re-discovered something that i learned (probably from Wikipedia) a long time ago: the theory of René Rémond that, historically, there are 3 “rights” in France:

    Rémond is the originator of the famous division of French right-wing parties and movement into three different currents, each one of which appeared during a specific phase of French history: Legitimism (counter-revolutionaries), Orléanism, and Bonapartism.

    Where, to simplify:
    Legitimism = monarchism;
    Orléanism = classical liberalism;
    Bonapartism = authoritarianism.

    So, Samizdata is an Orléanist site.

    Strangely, Rémond seemed to think of fascism as closer to legitimism than to bonapartism.

    I am trying to read more about this on French Wikipedia, but my reading comprehension in French is mediocre. Some people here might find it easier going.

  • Snorri Godhi

    And now the Netherlands, too, has gone to the “”far””-“”right””!!!

  • Kirk

    Wait until someone from the EU tells them they have to follow the de-carbonization rules they didn’t vote for.

    I suspect the EU is going to disintegrate sometime in the next twenty or so years, as more and more people get fed up with the things they come up with at the behest of their globalist knuckleheadery. It will be interesting to watch. Maybe not live in the middle of, but to observe from well outside the impact area.

    Too many unelected and untouchable bureaucrats making life-altering decisions for the masses, ones they didn’t sign on for. Gonna be educational, for some. Wasn’t the Netherlands one of the countries that basically frauded the plebiscite for entry into the EU’s latest and most intrusive incarnation…?

  • PSOL

    Milei has done the easy bit by getting elected. Being able to carry out his agenda will be a hundred times more difficult.