Francisco José Contreras: “The renewal of the West is the historic task that the New Right must take on”
Francisco José Contreras is Professor of Philosophy of Law at the University of Seville and was a deputy for VOX during the last legislature (November 2019-July 2023). He is the author of numerous books, including: “La batalla por la familia en Europa” (The Battle for the Family in Europe), “Una defensa del liberalismo conservador” (A Defence of Conservative Liberalism) and “Contra el totalitarismo blando” (Against Soft Totalitarianism). His latest book, “Reflexiones sobre una Nueva Derecha” (Reflections on a New Right), is a joint work with Vanessa Vallejo, Agustín Laje and Renato Cristin.
Álvaro Peñas: The book argues that so far the Right has not understood the strategy of the Left. But do you think the New Right is aware that the Woke Left is a revolutionary change that has broken the old political frameworks?
Francisco José Contreras: It all depends on what we mean by revolution or old frameworks. What is true is that the Right has not realised the extent to which the New Left is no longer primarily concerned with the economy, and consequently is post-socialist. There has been a shift in the centre of gravity from economic issues – which were the epicentre of the 20th century left/right polarity (capitalism versus socialism) – to anthropological, moral and cultural issues. The New Left is revolutionary precisely on these grounds: I believe that the Left has transferred its revolutionary impetus from the economic-political system to questions of the family model, men versus women, the coexistence of the races, and so on. The Left has ceased to be Marxist in the classical sense and has now replaced the class struggle with the struggle of races, sexes and sexual orientations. These came to the fore with the fall of the Berlin Wall, which clearly showed the historical failure of socialism. At that moment, the Left should have disbanded after apologising to humanity for the hundred million dead. But what it did was to reinvent itself as radical feminism, radical environmentalism, indigenism, anti-racism, LGTBism, immigrationism - and this is where we are.
And sometimes the Right continues to behave as if the important thing was the economy, as if the epicentre of the confrontation between Right and Left were the question of more or less market freedom. It is not. Though I am not saying that it is not important - but I think it is not the core of today’s Left.
As for being revolutionary… if by that we mean the willingness to resort to violence to achieve its objectives: yes, that was the case with the original Left, which aspired to violent revolution. But very early on, however, there emerged another trend that sought the transition to socialism by peaceful means: the “revisionism” of Eduard Bernstein. The paradigm of a gradualist, possibilist and law-abiding socialist party was set by the German SPD, which by 1914 had achieved no less than 35% of the votes and more than 100 seats. After the Soviet revolution of 1917, radical factions broke away from the socialist parties and continued to aspire to violent revolution, thus forming the communist parties.
This duality between revolutionaries and gradualists is to some extent present again in the new Woke Left. Here the methods, the strategy, are non-violent. Although there can be violent episodes, such as what happened in the United States after the death of George Floyd. People were killed, whole neighbourhoods were devastated, thousands of cars burned, etc. Or the French riots this summer, which could well be described as “racial”: not in the sense that they were a reaction to racial discrimination – there is no racial discrimination in France or the US – but in the sense that the Left has stoked racial victimhood to the point where first, second or even third generation immigrants are revolting against the country that took them in.
But if by “revolution” we mean the radicality of its aims, then the New Left is as revolutionary as the classical Left was. The classical Left sought to destroy nothing less than the market, an age-old reality. The New Left does not want to destroy the market, but it does want to destroy the family, marriage, human sexual binarity and equality before the law. Let us remember that in Spain there are courts only for men, and there is a type of crime that by its own legal definition can only be committed by men: this is called Criminal Law by the author. This is a regress to the pre-liberal stage, when there were courts only for nobles, etc., and legal rights and duties varied according to the people’s status. And also everything to do with gender and race quotas, everything to do with the replacement of meritocracy by diversocracy. You no longer get jobs on the basis of your knowledge or skills, but on the basis of your gender, your race or your sexual orientation - because the stress is not on excellence but on diversity. These are all revolutionary goals.
When I asked you about the old frameworks, I meant that the Woke Left encompasses everyone from the socialists to the most radical extreme Left, and nothing remains of that Left with a minimum of common sense.
Yes, there is no common sense Left. This idea of the sensible and dialoguing Left is the white blackbird that many, even well-meaning right-wingers, would like to see. A civilised Left that one could interact with, but which does not exist. It is like the “good PSOE” that some people are looking for in Spain. Just as in the 20th century democratic socialism was sought, which turned out to be an oxymoron. Indeed, wherever socialists accepted democracy they ceased to be socialists (the German SPD or the Swedish Social Democrats), and wherever they did practise socialism, there was no democracy.
The book mentions the principle of reality versus the principle of pleasure. This quest for pleasure on the part of the New Left goes against all reality, even biological. Doesn’t this utopia, as history teaches us, lead to authoritarianism?
Yes, that’s why I recently published a book called “Contra el totalitarismo blando”. The title surprises many, and some people tell me that it is a contradictio in terminis or that it is an exaggeration. But what defines totalitarianism is not the use of brutal means to achieve its goals, but the goals themselves, i.e. the attempt to indoctrinate the whole society into a certain vision of things, an official ideology, a pseudo-state religion if you will, and Wokism is functioning as such state religion. You don’t get sent to Siberia or the Gestapo, but you do risk losing your job, for example, which is no small thing. Or you expose yourself to civil death, to being branded as a fascist, racist, sexist, homophobe, etc. That, which seems little, is enough to get millions to censor themselves; it can be more effective, for the purposes of standardising publicly expressible opinion, than the fear of being sent to Siberia. In the Soviet Union there were dissidents who risked their lives, and that created a mystique of resistance, an epic of heroic resistance, but in the face of this new soft totalitarianism there are no heroes.
May 1968 was the great explosion of something that had been a long time in the making, and we see this decades-long influence now in a society that is incapable of distinguishing between the good and the bad. Even, for example, in something as obvious as the invasion of Ukraine, there are many, including on the Right, who take the aggressor’s side.
Yes, this is something that worries me a lot. Indeed, there is an authoritarian temptation in some right-wing opinions because of what we have just said. In the face of this woke drift of the progressive West and all the destruction it entails, there is a danger of, as the Anglos would say, “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. As the idea of human rights is becoming absurd by infinite expansion, whereby every week a new right is invented (some aberrant, such as abortion or “sex change”), then we throw away the very idea of human rights. This is a mistake, because classical human rights, the real ones, still make a lot of sense. They are precisely the citizen’s guarantee of protection against the ever-possible totalitarianism or omnipotence of the state. We must continue to defend the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of thought and association, and equality before the law. We cannot give up the idea of individual rights just because the Woke invent an absurd right every week.
The same goes for capitalism. It is true that major corporations issued a statement in support of Black Lives Matter at the time of George Floyd and that they all have a diversity department dedicated to demolishing meritocracy and replacing it with diversocracy. Or that Coca Cola in the US forces employees to take courses on “how to be less white”: being less white would mean “being less arrogant, less rigid, less self-confident”. This means associating being white with arrogance, oppression and “white privilege”: that’s textbook racism! This is what we have now, but the solution is not to disown capitalism, which has lifted billions of people out of misery in a few decades; what we need to do is to reverse the wokisation of capitalism. And if anyone has any doubts, compare North Korea with South Korea: a perfect historical-political experiment of applying capitalism and socialism in the same country in two halves of its territory. Seventy years later, South Korea has the per capita income fifty times higher than North Korea.
And the same as we have said about human rights or capitalism can be said about Spain’s international alignment. Anti-NATO and anti-Americanism are a mistake. The United States, with all its faults, is still the world power most in tune with us, even despite its president and the Democratic Party being totally converted to Wokism. Even if classical freedoms are deteriorating, they are still much more in force there than elsewhere. There is still much more freedom in the woke West than in Putin’s Russia, Xi Jinping’s China or in the Islamic world, their geopolitical alternatives. For all its problems and all its decadence, I will stick with the West today and try to restore or regenerate it from within. I am not going to fall into idealising tyrants, because the existence of soft totalitarianism does not mean that hard totalitarianism does not continue to exist in the rest of the world.
Don’t you think the root of the problem is that Westerners have lost faith in the West?
Yes, absolutely. And I believe that the renewal of the West is the historic task that the New Right must take on. And this will not be achieved by imitating the enemies of the West, such as Putin or Xi-Jinping. In my contribution to the collective book “Reflexiones sobre una Nueva Derecha” I set out my vision of what the aspiration of the New Right might consist of: I believe that a balance must be sought between conservative, liberal and identitarian or patriotic ingredients, without any one of them being absolutised over the others. Balance is fundamental. Liberalism, conservatism and patriotism are not only compatible, but complementary.
Where do you see this New Right wing best represented?
I was a MP of VOX until recently; I am still in VOX, I still believe that VOX is a very successful and balanced embodiment of the ideals of the New Right. Contrary to those who say that "it has ceased to be liberal", I believe that VOX combines the three inspirations: liberal, conservative and patriotic. In the programme that VOX presented at the last general elections, there was still a commitment to radical reduction of corporate tax or income tax, fewer regulations, reduction of the state, lower tax burden. And of course, the guarantee of fundamental rights, which is also liberalism, such as equality before the law desecrated by gender laws. VOX continues to combine a liberal inspiration on these issues with a conservative position in the defence of life and the family. It is the only party that speaks clearly about our demographic suicide and about the need to restore the birth rate - because we are 45% below generational replacement - and that the solution to the demographic crisis is not to open the borders to mass immigration. Immigration which, as we have seen in other European countries, brings problems of cultural incompatibility and is impossible to assimilate. And the patriotic inspiration in the vindication of the nation-state as the ideal framework for liberal-conservative praxis and democracy. For democracy to work, at least a minimum cultural homogeneity of the society is necessary. There are many historical examples showing that democracy does not work in an overly diverse society. So I think VOX brings together the three inspirations of the New Right quite well. We also have good examples of the new right in European governments such as Morawiecki in Poland or Orban in Hungary, or Giorgia Meloni in Italy, and now the new candidates in Latin America, such as Javier Milei in Argentina or José Antonio Kast in Chile.
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