Thermidor

© 2017 Thermidor Magazine.

Designed by Jonathan.

The Caudillo Principle

In today’s America, “unity” and “togetherness” are imbued with almost divine reverence. When President Donald Trump criticized NFL players for protesting the national anthem, these players and their supporters castigated the president for his “divisive rhetoric” and for trying to dismantle America’s “unity.” Logically speaking, these complaints assume that America was a perfectly unified country before Donald Trump came along, and furthermore, such words indicate that a majority of Americans support the protests.

This is obvious rubbish.

The concern of this article is not about the details of the current NFL scandal or the minutia of free speech protections. Rather, this article wants to get at the actual root of America’s reverence for political harmony and consensus. I want to here put forward a modest proposal. Namely, in order for America to truly be harmonious, we must first dismantle this stupid allegiance to the liberal consensus.

Do not be fooled conservatives and members of the Republican party; you are members of this consensus too.

While the Democratic party is no longer “liberal” in any meaningful way (they can best be described as social democrats who support Third Worldism, positivism, and technocracy), Republicans are hardly “conservative.” As Louis Hartz explains in his seminal book “The Liberal Tradition in America,” America is a nation where, historically, both the left and right assemblies conform to the “Lockian” consensus. What this means is that America’s conservatives support the social contract theory of English philosopher John Locke and all the attendant theories about the liberal social order (ordered liberty, entrepreneurial capitalism, individualism).

While Hartz’s thesis is full of holes and barely scratches the surface in regards to early America’s Tories or those men in the South who chose Sir Robert Filmer’s ideal of patriarchy over the liberalism of Locke, he nevertheless accurately describes our political establishment as obsessed with maintaining an agreed upon stasis.

As America increasingly loses its white majority and the “little platoons” of civil society further decay into irrelevancy, such a “Lockian” consensus cannot hold. Even at this point, the Trump presidency proves that civic nationalism is terminally weak when a large swath of the intelligentsia cannot even bring themselves to support the basic symbols of nationhood (flag, national anthem, customs and courtesies). All Republican fulminating about “muh Constitution” will not save America’s old consensus, and it will do nothing to prevent “Brazilification.”

Only breaking the liberal consensus could halt America’s social decline. For this to start, Americans have to recognize the reality of von Clausewitz’s maxim that “war is a mere continuation of politics by other means.”

In more blunt language, “Anarcho-Fascism” author Jonas Nilsson reminds us that all political power is supported by threats of violence. Every political action is about “us” versus “them,” and this reality has to be grounded in the reality of violence and the ability of individuals within an in-group to exercise violence on behalf of their group’s interests.

The conflict-filled struggle that is politics should not be perceived as a game of sports, like wrestling, but rather a martial struggle. The insight into politics rests within the frame of understanding that violence is part of the struggle, that there is an actual possibility that people will die somewhere along the line.1

Nilsson essentially recognizes the reality that violence is a part of every political decision, but is especially true in democracies. In order for true democracies to work, the common body politic must be united by something more than a shared soil. Blood, religion, and tradition—these are the ties that bind. When they do not exist or have been significantly weakened (as is the case in modern America), oppressive state authority must be used in order to maintain compliance. Samuel T. Francis called such a society “anarcho-tyranny.”

For Nilsson, overcoming this tyranny means creating a “masculine elite” that is both anarchic and fascistic. The anarchy comes from those male bonds that exist without the state’s consent. After all, the state “is an entity that, if unrestrained, is an absolute.”2 The modern state is especially oppressive because it forces us to publicly accept the unnatural and the ungodly as normal. The state wants us to smile and lay back while we undergo the process of extreme atomization.

To break this state monopoly, true reactionaries must put their skin on the line by forming real-life groups that share the struggle together. This, for Nilsson, is also where the fascism enters into the equation. Fascism sees violent struggle as being good for the social organism, therefore engaging in political violence against both the state and the many manifestations of the Left is like a massive shot of health to the social body, especially the masculine elites that are in charge of the ideal anarcho-fascist society.

Of course, there are major issues with this kind of thinking. First and foremost, a majority of Westerners will always shrink away from anything bearing the label of “fascist.” Fascism conjures up images of jackboots and bodies burning in ovens. The abhorrence of fascism is so strong in this country that even supposedly “edgy” conservatives think that labeling someone as “fascist” is the most derogatory thing imaginable. This wordplay can be taken to preposterous levels, such as Paul Joseph Watson and Gavin McInnes labelling the obviously communist Antifa as “fascist.” The dirty little secret that none of them want to admit however is that if it came down to it, America’s republican ideals would be better protected under a fascist regime than the current leviathan of progressive social democracy.

…From the premises of libertarianism, fascism is a lesser evil than left-wing socialism. Fascism undoubtedly preserves property more than left-wing socialism does, thus fascist sympathies cannot be construed as completely anti-libertarian.3

Second of all, the allure of fascism and Sorelian violence invariably attracts the least desirable elements to any cause. For every noble soul who joins up, there are many more Neo-Nazis and modern day nihilists who crash the party. For them, “fascism” means action for action’s sake. Why be worried about a truly spiritual revolution when you can crack some skulls?

Finally, fascism is a totalitarian philosophy. Democratic liberalism is also a totalitarian philosophy. Exchanging one totalitarianism for another is never a good answer.

Knowing this, I propose something that accepts the general outline envisioned by Nilsson, but discards totalitarianism in favor of authoritarianism. I tentatively term this the “caudillo principle” after the name for the authoritarian dictators of Latin America.

Such states existed outside of Latin America, such as in Austria between the world wars. The state headed by Engelbert Dolfuss was an example of a truly reactionary state that made a valiant attempt to turn back the clock on the Enlightenment. In the words of Father Johannes Messner,

Hence the first task in the reconstruction of Austria was to fight those forces which had always torn the people asunder: the Liberal idea of freedom and the Marxian idea of class warfare. The natural links in the social life of the community must be restored and the natural foundations of the social structure laid once more.4

The rationale for eliminating Marxist dogma is self-evident. However, the desirability of dismantling liberal conceptions of “freedom” may be a hard pill to swallow for many. What in essence Dolfuss’ government and all governments of the caudillo principle mean is a different type of freedom—a freedom-centered around familial duties, kinship ties, and the laws of God. In the modern West, freedom is synonymous with the ability to do whatever one wants at any given time. Such a freedom can be cancerous, especially in conjunction with individualism, consumerism, rationalism, and cosmopolitanism.

Another caudillo state that tried to redefine freedom was Chile under General Augusto Pinochet. This “helicopterist” saw eliminating Chile’s powerful Marxists as the only way to save the country and its economy. Pinochet used authoritarian means to expand and enhance Chile’s capitalist economy. Such actions caused howls of rage from the worldwide Left, but thanks to Pinochet’s rule, Chile today enjoys the healthiest economy in South America and is by all standards the best place to live in that troublesome region.

The one weakness in Pinochet’s system was the very same thing that brought down the 20th century’s original caudillo, Spain’s General Francisco Franco. Both men embraced market capitalism, and it was market capitalism and the wealth and comfort that it generated that ultimately overthrew both regimes. Material comfort breeds easy universalism and left-wing values. As Nilsson points out, “Everything that is given to you lacks value.”5 The hard work of a past generation often means very little to later generations. These later generations take such gains for granted and have shown a frustrating willingness to give away invaluable liberties for the sake of more temporary comfort.

On the other hand, those caudillo states that embraced aspects of left-wing populism, such as the Argentina of Juan Peron, were undone by other left-wing forces. For Peron, the family and social security were the bedrock of freedom, and thus freedom meant the freedom from starvation and economic deprivation. This too has a built-in defect. After all, any state powerful enough to handout easy access to education and social benefits is one coup or election away from changing its mind.

Therefore, a truly ideal caudillo state would be one that is at once hierarchical, authoritarian, and anarchic. Picture this: the central state agrees that the home is ruled by the patriarch. The next level of power, the municipality, is ruled by the people, who in turn elect or somehow chose the best among them to wield power. The next highest level is the central state itself, which pledges to never interfere in either the home or the municipality so long all are loyal to the sovereign. Such a hierarchy contains enough decentralized power and guaranteed liberties that it meets the criterium of a libertarian state. However, on a philosophical level, this state also agrees to the idea of patriarchy as being the most divine form of leadership, thereby stressing the reactionary ethos. Most importantly, this hypothetical system would recognize the importance of struggle for the health of social organism, and would, therefore, encourage the creation of militias and private protection societies in lieu of standardized police forces or a standing military.

All told, the caudillo principle is a space where right-wing revolutionaries, anarchists, libertarians, and monarchists can meet and agree. Such a state would be built upon both liberty and reactionary freedom in the form of allegiance to supreme authority. Such a state would also be decentralized and would encourage citizens to think of self-defense as principally their own concern. While such a political entity is unlikely to exist anytime soon, it still bears acknowledging that such a state is preferable to all systems currently in use throughout the world.

References:

  1. Nilsson, Jonas (2017) "Anarcho-Fascism: Nature Reborn." Logik Forlag. 32.

  2. Ibid, 66.

  3. Qui, Insula. "On the Relationship Between Libertarianism and Fascism." (15 Aug 2017). Zeroth Position. http://www.zerothposition.com/2017/08/15/relationship-libertarianism-fascism/

  4. Messner, Johannes Fr. "Dollfuss: An Austrian Patriot." (2004). IHS Press. 108.

  5. Nilsson, 40.

Follow Thermidor Magazine: