Over the course of the last four or five centuries, the Right has essentially been on the receiving end of one big long kicking. The one time this failure was punctuated by real success was the period spanning 1890 – 1945.
During that particular period there were many, more or less similar, movements going under different names – fascism, national socialism, integralism, revolutionary conservatism, etc. The difference in naming is superficial when looked at in the context of their shared inner substance.
This ‘substance’ could broadly speaking be broken down into two elements:
(1) Adherence to the Right’s core principles + (2) adaptation to the external circumstances of the modern world.
The rest of the Right – that constant stream of failure, remember – has failed precisely through its neglect of one or the other of these two components.
Either they a) retain a commitment to their core principles, but flat-out refuse to adapt to the realities of the modern world. Think traditionalist conservatism, reactionary conservatism, radical traditionalism, etc. They thereby necessarily consign themselves to irrelevance, and ensure their own inability to ever have any effect on anything. Which, consequently, is why they’ve seemingly faded from the face of planet Earth over the past couple of centuries.
On the other side of the coin, are those ‘right-wingers’ who do everything within their ability to adapt to the changes of the modern world – but do so in such a way as to jettison all their own principles in the process. In doing so they simultaneously enable their own transient success, and render that success completely fucking useless. What use is getting your lifeboat to shore if you have to throw everyone overboard to do it? These forms of ‘the Right’ are therefore tolerated, co-opted and even welcomed by the Left as token opposition. The entire history of the conservative movement has come more and more to represent this kind – another obvious example would be civic nationalism.
Going back again, the movements of the early 20th Century punctuated that endless failure, in doing so showed us it can be done – and how. They kept up a strict adherence to the principles of the Right – hierarchy, objective quality, orientation towards the sacred, loyalty, supra-individual identity, the organic state, and an understanding of history as cyclical rather than linear (‘progressive.’) But they managed to combine this with an unswerving pursuit of victory – pragmatic; even ruthless – totally willing to adapt to whatever environment it found itself inhabiting in order to come out on top, in so far as that adaptation never compromised their core principles.
A closer look shows that this consisted of adapting to two things in particular: 1) technological modernity, 2) modern secularity. One way of looking at this – and of distinguishing between this truly radical Right, and the older reactionary Right – is this…
The fascists could look upon the Right’s perennial worldview, and could clearly distinguish between the essential and the inessential. They instinctively distilled it down to its core principles, and did away with everything extraneous. This gave them the ability to adapt to their environment and situation. Consequently it led to their success.
The reactionary Right – or Old Right – on the other hand perceived no such distinction. They simply sought a restoration of a prior societal form – at some preferred yet basically arbitrary point in the past – as a whole. They gave little thought as to principles vs. non-principles. They simply sought to restore it as it appeared back then.
This automatically put them on a collision course with some aspects of the emerging modern world. For example, the effects of modern technology on societal arrangements and forms (transport, economic and therefore educational systems); the general trend towards a loss of belief in a transcendent reality, and increasing secularisation of life as a whole. This meant the reactionary Right found itself holding an increasingly incoherent position; and intellectually on the back foot as a result. In pre-modern times it sought its justification in the Sacred. Monarchy for example was justified as the Divine Right of Kings in England; similarly the Mandate from Heaven in China. Essentially ‘God wills it.’ This is an increasingly unconvincing argument in the increasingly non-believing modern world. This left two possibilities: 1) they stick to their original justification and become rapidly irrelevant, OR 2) they construct new secular arguments for things which only ever made sense as sacred institutions and arrangements. The result is superficial ad hoc arguments which are philosophically incoherent and convince no-one. Thus the Old Right – the pre-modern Right – ensured its own demise.
As already stated, the way the fascist movements overcame this was to jettison everything from the traditional Right’s worldview which was inessential. They distilled down the principles that underlay the world the Old Right had wished to resurrect and which in actuality had given that world its real value. They sought to create a modern or futuristic social order based on those eternally true principles. At the same time they justified their ideas in secular terms – whilst retaining a more or less spiritual orientation.