Review: The Real Right Returns: A Handbook for the True Opposition

rightreturnsPaperback: 138 pages
Publisher: Arktos Media Ltd (1 Oct. 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1910524492
ISBN-13: 978-1910524497

Let’s start with what I like about this book! Counter Culture has for years stressed the importance of metapolitics. For those not familiar with the term The Real Right defines it as:

“the process of disseminating and anchoring a particular set of cultural ideas, attitudes, and values in a society, which eventually leads to deeper political change.
This work need not – and perhaps should not – be linked to a particular party or programme. The point is ultimately to redefine the conditions under which politics is conceived”.

The ‘Metapolitical Dictionary’ toward the back of the book also defines metapolitics:

“Metapolitics is about spreading ideas, attitudes and values in a society, with the long-term goal of effecting a deeper political change.”

The authour, Daniel Friberg, acknowledges that the Philospher who first expressed this concept was the Marxist theoretician Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937). Like me Daniel Friberg cites the influence of his Prison Notebooks (Quaderni del carcere) on his thinking.

One of the key concepts dealt with in the Notebooks is that of cultural hegemony. Gramsci questioned the classical Marxist concept of base/superstructure. For classical Marxists the base comprising the forces and relations of production—employer–employee work conditions, the technical division of labour, and property relations determined society’s other relationships and ideas, which represent its superstructure. Gramsci split Marx’s superstructure into two elements: political society and civil society. Political society is the organized force of society (the police, courts and military for example) while civil society is the consensus-creating element of society that contributes to hegemony. Political society dominates directly and with force whilst Civil Society relies on persuasion and dominates culturally. Gramsci emphasised that attaining cultural hegemony came before the establishment of political power.

There is a clear and concise explanation of the view expressed in the Notebooks in the Return of the Real Right:

“In this work Gramsci claimed that the State was not limited to its political apparatus. In fact it works in tandem with the so-called civil apparatus. In other words every political power structure is reinforced by a civil concensus, which is the social and psychological support given by the masses. This support expresses itself in the assumptions which underlie their culture, worldview and customs. In order for any politcal ideology to maintain its grip on power, it must support itself by establishing and disseminating these cultural assumptions amongst the masses.” (p.22)

The ‘New Right’ on the Continent have drawn inspiration from this theory. Here in the UK some Nationalists in the 80s became aware of these ideas through both the original work of Gramsci and in translations of New Right thinking provided by The Scorpion, a magazine edited by Michael Walker.

The Real Right Returns looks at the application of metapolitics by the New Right in Sweden. The consideration of the role of the think-tank Motpol (founded in 2006) is fascinating. The book also acknowledges the key role of GRECE.

The Real Right returns takes a positive stance on ethnic pluralism which while emphasising loyalty to the nation advocates good will toward and co-operation with others. It condemns those warmongers who seek to impose values on other peoples.

The authour also recognises the move of the ‘Left’ away from class politics to both the cult of the individual and to an emphasis on particular identity politics.

There is an interesting analysis of the link between this and consumer capitalism.

So far, so good. Where I start to part company with the authour (and to be fair, much of the’New Right’) is the insistence of drawing values and points of orientation from a narrowly ‘traditionalist’ perspective. Perhaps it is inevitable that the starting point of a reaction to the “fragmented and relatavised reality” (p.19) we live in will be to look for the certainties of the past.

In The Real Right returns this is particularly evident in the advice given on gender roles and asides about the ‘LGBT’ lobby. Let me give just one example. Advice is given to men that they should learn self-defence (sparring is rightly emphasised). No such advice is given to women who, in keeping with the ‘traditonalist’ model are pointed to finding a protective male. I have a number of problems with this: protective males aren’t that common (as the authour bemoans); it is seldom a good idea to rely purely on others for protection; why should an ideological leaning trump the need and right of a woman to train for self-defence? Both my Son and Daughter go to self-defence lessons. We live in a wild, wicked world and we need to think about what ‘is’ as well as what ‘ought’ to be.

The Real Right Returns presents the values of the new society, the new hegemony, to be established as fixed, rigid. Of course they aren’t. The study of dialectics might also be something we could draw from Marxism or, earlier, Hegel. Part of the process of creating a new hegemony will be the debate about what shape it will take.

It is unlikely that a simple reversion to past values will provide a solution. In rejecting many of the cultural assumptions of today will we arrive back at yesterday? I don’t think so.

The Real Right Returns throws down a challenge in its assertion of traditionalist norms. Many of our current norms are assumed and we need to think critically about them and alternatives. It will be a shock for some to see these views expressed so well and forcefully but sometimes it is no bad thing to experience a cold shower! It certainly made me think. I was surprised by how far traditonal values resonated with me and also where I didn’t follow them. I have had a similar experience with the advice offered to families by Pope Francis (a man who is less strident, though no less ardent, than Daniel!).

This is a book which deserves to be widely read and considered.

Reviewd by Patrick Harrington

Daniel Friberg, MBA, is CEO of the Swedish mining corporation Wiking Mineral and was a founding member of the Swedish metapolitical think tank, Motpol. He has a long history in the Swedish opposition, and was one of the founders of the publisher Arktos.

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