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October 21, 2016


George Carty

How many people on the Western political right genuinely admired right-wing tyrannies such as Pinochet's Chile or Apartheid South Africa, and how many supported them purely because they thought the alternative was Marxist (even pro-Soviet) rule?

After all Pinochet overthrew an actual Marxist government (the first such government in the world to be democratically elected), and the ANC was also strongly Marxist in its politics (perhaps because of the Apartheid regime's unwillingness to compromise, and/or because South Africa's mining-dominated economy was very amenable to state control).


I read somewhere (Noah Smith?) that libertarians (in the US context) just want more power for the local bully. See also states rights (and Brexit?).

William McIlhagga

I think the people you're talking about are authoritarian, more than right wing.


"It is we Marxists, more so than rightists or centrists, who are the champions of freedom."

Evidently not freedom of speech as your unequivocal support for all forms of hate speech laws shows.

I have never read a bigger self-congratulatory, we-are-the-good-guys bullshit.


"It is we Marxists, more so than rightists or centrists, who are the champions of freedom."

Given the track record of Marxists in power, that statement is somewhat unbelievable...

True, many Marxists did and do see themselves as seeking freedom but they also seek other things (such as centralisation, nationalisation, a "workers'" state, etc.) which ensure that desire remains unachievable.

In terms of “freedom in the workplace”, as an example, have you not read Engels’ “On Authority” which proclaimed it impossible? Or Lenin’s arguments in 1918 on the need for “dictatorial” one-man managers?

I would suggest, as Engels' "On Authority" shows, this is because Marxism and (classical) Liberalism have a lot in common -- and classical liberalism is not that interested in freedom (property, yes, freedom not so much -- at least for the working class). Marxism, likewise, seems to view freedom as isolation rather than how we associate (unlike anarchism).

All in all, Marxism in power showed that the anarchist critique of it was correct. We have always opposed capitalism and state socialism, rightly arguing that they were both authoritarian systems.

In terms of the right, I discuss classical liberalism and propertarianism here:


Along with, of course, anarchist views on organisation -- and how we can remain free within associations.

Dave Timoney

@William McIlhagga

As even genuine libertarians like Bryan Caplan admit, the set of right-wingers who are not authoritarians is vanishingly small, and they have no meaningful influence on public debate or policy.

Dave Timoney

@George Carty

The instrumentalism went the other way. Authoritarian regimes during the Cold War were keen to paint their opponents as thoroughgoing Marxists in order to secure US support.

Allende headed a broad left coalition in Chile that included a number of non-Marxist parties, and he required support by the centrist Christian Democrats to become president in 1970. His government pursued policies within the mainstream of postwar social democracy, but with the addition of land redistribution.

The Apartheid regime in South Africa exaggerated the influence of the Communist Party on the ANC. To that end, it even sought to marginalise more "nationalist" opposition groups like the PAC and BCM in media coverage. As events after 1994 proved, the SACP was a paper tiger.


Yes, because the Left has such a long history of understanding its opponents may have a point.......from 'Lower than vermin' to 'Tory Scum', the Left sure has the moral high ground.


Just a reminder this is what that Express comment piece said

"You can sum up in one sentence the disgusting opinions of the rabble of MPs who are demanding a Commons vote on Brexit: 'The people have spoken, we don’t like what they said because they aren’t as clever as us so let’s ignore them and try to reverse the referendum result.'

Such snake-like treachery cannot go unpunished. Here’s what I would do with them: clap them in the Tower of London. They want to imprison us against our will in the EU so we should give them 28 days against their will to reflect on the true meaning of democracy"

Even allowing for hyperbole, and that it's the Express, this is still a fairly shocking thing from a national newspaper in a western liberal democracy.


I don't know why you say the ASI "seem" to associate more with the right than the left. They spit contempt for even the mildest of Social Democrats.

Churm Rincewind

The Sun criticises the BBC for allowing Gary Lineker to make (what it claims to be) misrepresentations, and calls for him to be dismissed.

This blog criticises the BBC for allowing its political correspondents to make (what it claims to be) misrepresentations ("trash journalism") and calls for their posts to be "abolished" (6 June).

Frankly, I don't see the difference.



The Sun takes issue with particular things one particular person said, about one particular topic.

Chris took issue with many things different political journos said, on many topics. He took issue with the nature of political journalism.

That's the difference.

Mark Scott

Freedom versus authoritarianism is orthogonal to left versus right. See e.g. https://www.politicalcompass.org


There is, of course, the unfortunate matter of the largest persistent rollback of Western Reproductive rights in the 20th century. But trans women have always been the lumpen class that cisfeminists have hoped would moulder away when the world became less sexist or something...



But we don't really want to talk about how that OTHER queer health crisis was a leftist project.

That you have a more socially acceptable out-group doesn't mean that you aren't disproportionately centering concerns and harm against people who suffer less harm. Just that your rent-seekers are more sympathetic and your pariah class more lumpenized.

Ralph Musgrave

The political left and centre ground's threat to arrest Le Pen for expressing politicial views they don't like is not exactly a shining example of the left's love of free speech.

But what is truely hilarious is that Sarkozy and other French politicians are now expressing Le Pen type views since they realize there are votes to be had there. But (gasps of amazement) they don't get threatened with arrest.

Churm Rincewind

@ A Different Chris:

No. Both The Sun and Chris regularly attack the BBC, often in colourful language. And although (as you note) The Sun may illustrate its objections by reporting specific anecdotes about named individuals, while Chris tends to exculpate these same by reference to institutional structures, I cannot see that this makes the difference you claim.

After all, if Chris was solely concerned by what he sees as the inadequacy of political journalism overall (which is what I think you're suggesting), we could expect him to launch similarly excoriating attacks on other media outlets, from The Economist to The Guardian and from ITV News to Talk Radio.

But no. Like The Sun, Chris's criticisms are specific to the BBC and I fail to see much difference between their arguments, though of course they come at it from entirely different directions.


it's difficult to see things that mean you're wrong



Have a cookie!

@Chris Dillow

Marginally disappointed to see you link to a sexist just-so post on brackenworld's blog.

Churm Rincewind

@ D: I couldn't agree more.


"immigration controls themselves are attacks upon freedom: they deprive people of the freedom to live where they choose or hire whom they choose."

There is a lock on my front door that prevents people from living where they choose. I am Bob, attacker of freedom!

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