If you’re like me, and you’ve been contemplating a lot when it comes to what lies behind Charlottesville, Trump’s presidency and the overall rise of populism all over the world, then I would recommend adding Jeffrey Tucker’s Right-Wing Collectivism: The Other Threat to Liberty to your reading list. It happens quite often that we libertarians rush into intellectual debates without having sufficient arguments to back our our point of view, and this is where this book as a guide into right-wing collectivism will be most helpful.
To avoid confusion with terms, Tucker primarily points to the complex nature of right-wing collectivism and draws a roadmap of his book by explaining why a clear understanding of its very essence is crucial. “What I’m calling right-wing collectivism really does represent a semi-coherent tradition of thought: the language, themes, resentments, answers, and visions are consistent for some two hundred years, intensifying by the decade. I trace this tradition in the course of this book.” In the next chapters he digs into every one of these constitutive parts and concludes with a look towards the future.
Tucker starts with a scene in Charlottesville to remind us that that the theme of his book is not a fiction movie, not a historical documentary, but an issue we have to deal with in real life. With these regards, he raises the question: “The social democratic welfare/planning state is tired, spent, and increasingly unpopular. The question is: what will replace it? Will it be freedom or some differently branded form of social and economic control? This is why right-wing collectivism matters right now.” While looking for solutions, the author claims the huge mess begins with bad ideas. By defining ideas in themselves as time-traveling spiritual DNA that move from brain to brain like a genetic mutation and just as unpredictably.
While reading this book, I felt like Tucker was puzzle after puzzle making up this picture of interplay between ideas, past and present in my head. And I must admit that “The Politics” chapter really stood out to me in this sense. It begins with a profound analysis of Trumpism and the politics of revanchism in itself by asking questions like “Do you know what a nation is?” and turning to prominent thinkers such as French historian Ernst Renan whose research on the quintessence of the nation has been deeply praised by liberty advocates. The crucial thing here is that even though Tucker provides you with the answer to this as well as to many other questions, he also triggers a greater interest and encourages you to delve further into all those issues.
Tucker’s book left me occupied with thoughts about the future and our role in tackling right-wing collectivism. And I believe there is no better thing we can do but this: “We can think, speak, and act with courage and conviction in favor of all that is beautiful and true. This is how the left/right cycle of violence will be replaced by the highest longings of the human heart.”
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