Beyond Left and Right
by Mark Wegierski
The author grapples herein with the implications of the post-2008 financial and economic crisis. He suggests that there are difficulties with the conventional conceptions of both left and right and that we consider what the so-called “anti-system opposition” holds in common.
The U.S. government has extended over a trillion dollars in aid to the banking and financial sectors. This is a situation in which profits are private, but losses are made up by the public. This system could perhaps be called bankers’ socialism. Evidently, the financial and banking sector is quite happy to be part of the “welfare-state” gravy train.
The strictest competition continues to exist for small-businesses, however – they will not be receiving bail-outs in this increasingly difficult economic climate. Many people – especially in the private sector — are losing their jobs – and without the golden parachutes available to the highest-ranking executives. The current real unemployment rate in the United States has been estimated by some economists to be around twenty percent.
Former President Obama has attempted to extend government-funded healthcare “for everyone”. This cannot be a viable undertaking in view of the federal deficit that has been be reaching over a trillion dollars – year after year.
The financial and economic crisis which has overtaken America, Canada, and the rest of the planet since 2008 strains the conventional views of what constitutes capitalism or socialism. In the face of this conceptual confusion, one can see that the central conflict is not now between nominal right and left, but between two contrasting visions. One the one hand, we have hyper-modernity, or “the managerial-therapeutic regime” – a combination of soulless capitalism and the total administrative state. On the other, post-modernity – a term used eclectically here to denote a better synthesis of the old and the new – such as a return to heroism and “the erotic” sense of belonging, to a more artistic and creative existence, and to real ecology. Post-modernity combines elements of both the traditionalist Right and the ecological and alternative Left.
The New Class, the worldwide corporate/media oligarchy centered in North America, tries to delegitimize certain concepts and programs, whether these are critiques emanating from an anti-consumptionist and anti-capitalist left, typified by figures like Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader, and Ivan Illich, or those associated with the pro-ecological and pro-cultural aspects of serious thinkers on the right, such as G.K. Chesterton, Wendell Berry, and J.R.R. Tolkien. New Class propaganda dismisses those thinkers who are perceived to be “on the right” by means of the “reductio ad Hitlerum” technique.
One should not take the current Conservative Party of Canada, with its focus on tax cuts and budget cuts, as the best that the right can offer. Cutting-edge thought on the right today endorses the better aspects of social democracy, while discarding the worst. At its best, the right argues for a situated community, an authentic sense of meaning and belonging, which then serves as a real and plausible rationale for the welfare-state. In more recent decades, social democracy has been in retreat, under the pressure of globalizing and Americanizing hyper-capitalism. The true right believes that the best defence of the welfare-state would be its ultimate rootedness in a commonly-held national culture.
Immigration is not a natural process. It is the uprooting of peoples by the transnational corporations in search of cheap labour pools, and the product of strife in “the South” caused by the stresses engendered by “McWorld”. Immigration into Western societies is a profoundly unsettling force, subversive of rooted identities and cultures, which only strengthens the transnational corporations, as well as the administrative regime. [Editorial note; see “Immigration, the Reserve Army of Capital”, by Alain de Benoist, QR, Autumn 2011]. The offer of extensive aid to “the South” should be contingent on “the South” controlling over-population and mass emigration.
Lower immigration and fiscal probity are not right-wing policies per se. Canada’s immigration rate is three times as large per capita than that of the United States, and is likely to remain at a comparable level for many years to come. Even at the height of the alleged “boom” taking place in the late-1990s, Canada by some measures was still manifestly in the midst of a continuing economic crisis, with over a million persons unemployed, in a country with a total population of about (at that time) 30 million. Yet various government and academic pontificators, secure in their cushy positions, insist that burgeoning immigration numbers do not significantly increase Canada’s economic stresses and strains. The conventional view – that high immigration is Canada’s engine of economic growth – is palpably absurd. Indicatively, Canada’s highest-immigration province, Ontario, long-renowned for its prosperity, has now slipped into “have-not” status in regard to federal equalization payments (meaning that it now qualifies for equalization funding), whereas Newfoundland and Labrador (the perennial “have not” province) – which has had a long time outflow of population and near-zero immigration from abroad — will now not be receiving federal equalization payments, as it has finally achieved success on its own. The equalization payment program is a redistributive scheme whereby the so-called “have-not” provinces receive special funding from the federal government.
Canada today is under the cosh of a “politically correct” administration, an extension of the “Trudeaupia”, named after the transformative regime of Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Canada has had same-sex marriage since 2003. There have been no restrictions on abortion in Canada since 1988. Marijuana legalization is around the corner, and euthanasia (called “assisted death”) has also been legalized. Pierre’s son, Justin, is the current Prime Minister. Canada is spiralling into massive deficits, while the government is obsessed with fighting climate change with a huge carbon tax. The regime is upheld by the policing of free speech and freedom of religion by human rights commissions/tribunals, existing at the federal and provincial levels. At the same time, the regime deploys a hard capitalist edge against wide swaths of the population, who are unemployed or underemployed in a “hyper-competitive” environment. The real unemployment rate is probably close to fifteen percent.
Could there be a convergence between the true right and the better aspects of social democracy? There is no point in defending the various abuses of the welfare-state. Government reports some years ago uncovered all manner of fraud in the Province of Ontario’s health-care and workplace injury-compensation systems, to the tune of one-and-a-half billion dollars (Canadian) per year. The generous Canadian health-care system (envied by many Americans), likewise, is being run into the ground because of the refusal to enact even the slightest stringencies against fraudulent abuse of the system. The result is the equalization of misery for all of its users. When the provincial Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty introduced a significant healthcare levy on middle to higher income earners in Ontario, the medical system gulped down all the money with very little discernible improvement in healthcare provision. Meanwhile, the Canadian media whips up public fury over such comparatively insignificant government expenditures as the sale of the ex-Prime Minister’s personal furniture to the state, or ubiquitous jet-trips by politicians. The effective rationing of increasingly-precious resources is now imperative. Canada needs to start to living within its increasingly limited means.
People today have little notion of just how grinding the poverty in Europe or Canada once was. Sixty years ago, people had to work hard and to save money, without the benefits of an engorged welfare-state. In such times, state-sponsored medical insurance was a boon to hard-working people. If the effective collapse of the current welfare-system is virtually inevitable with spending at current levels, a reduced welfare-state is preferable to no welfare-state at all. The fiscal collapse of the government, brought about by its imprudence, is precisely what the transnational corporations are hoping for — giving them the opportunity to undermine the allegiances of the people to a supposedly “manifestly inefficient and bankrupt state”, and to then exercise virtually unlimited control — for example, by buying up Ontario Hydro (the major provincial utility company) and other government facilities at fire-sale prices. People can only be persuaded to make real sacrifices for what they deem to be part of their common good, as opposed to the involuntary rationalisations shoved down their throats by “the global marketplace”.
Beyond the exigencies of immediate politics, the authentic right envisages a saner, greener, less frenetic world. This program can be termed “the re-greening of the Earth.” However, the roar of New Class propaganda often drowns out the dulcet voices calling for a better world. The independent-minded left — looking for a way out of the quagmire of commodity culture and of U.S. policies of perpetual war – should embrace the arguments of the serious and thoughtful right.
Mark Wegierski is a Toronto-based writer and researcher