After seeing the events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, it is natural for normal people to ask how to prevent such events in the first place.
Ultimately, you cannot legislate a person’s heart. Even if banning so-called hate speech were permitted by the First Amendment, you would still not eliminate the hate. That would require something beyond politics.
Still, there are some ways to ensure that the fringe elements of society remain on the fringe. Unfortunately, many appear to be taking the direct opposite approach.
Understanding Modern Nazism
First of all, Nazism is a collectivist ideology. The full name of the original Nazi Party translates to The National Socialist German Worker’s Party. In other words, you cannot spell Nazi without “Socialist.” It is an ideology that thrives off of identity politics. It is also an ideology born out of the need to see yourself as a victim.
The Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville claimed to want to “Unite the Right.” However, they are just as clueless about the meaning of the term “right” as those on the left who flippantly overuse “fascist” and “racist.”
Not only are there no similarities between Nazism and American conservatism, Nazism has nothing in common with the original rightists. The original rightists were those who supported the monarch during the French Revolution.
Similarities With The Left
When the measuring stick is Bolshevism, then everyone is on the right. However, that does not mean Nazism and Soviet-style socialism or communism are the complete opposites some want us to believe they are.
Countering the Nazi gathering in Charlottesville was the group that calls itself Anti-fa. They demonstrated their distaste for the Nazis and Confederates in Virginia not by waving the American flag, but the Soviet flag. A similar event in Seattle also saw the Soviet flag fly and the American flag burn.
Communism is also a collectivist ideology. The Soviet Union’s formal name was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In the same way you cannot spell Nazi without “socialist” you cannot spell the USSR without “socialist.” Communism and Soviet-style socialism thrive off of identity politics of a different sort, but are also born out of the need to see yourself as a victim.
Seeing The Similarities
The demonstrators and counter-demonstrators in Virginia have more in common with each other than either one will ever dare admit. As Friedrich Hayek wrote in The Road to Serfdom
They competed for the same support of the same type of mind and reserved for each other the hatred of the heretic. But their practice showed how closely they are related. To both, the real enemy, the man whom they had nothing in common and whom they could not hope to convince, is the liberal of the old type. While to the Nazi the communist, and to the communist the Nazi, and to both the socialist, are potential recruits who are made of the right timber, although they have listened to false prophets, they both know that there can be no compromise between them and those who really believe in individual freedom.
As Hayek says, those of us who truly believe in individual freedom are the real enemy to both the national socialist and the international socialist. They are two identity driven grievance mongers who blame each other for society’s ills.
This country has a bleak future if the debate is going to between competing collections of Nazi and Soviet sycophants. The fighting between these two sides, both of which are comprised of identity based group-thinkers who think the system is out to get them, will only end in more Charlottesvilles.
Finding A Path Forward
Treating people as individuals, not monolithic blocs, with an emphasis on personal responsibility is the best way to achieve personal dignity and avoid constant victim-mongering.
Conservatives believe in American ideals laid out in the Declaration of Independence. They believe that all are endowed by God with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The idea that conservatives and Nazis are on the same side of things a disgraceful smear.
The Confederacy, which the alt-righters glorify, regarded that as a false proposition. It is also an ideal rejected by Anti-fa.
Further, it is conservatives who have the best way to prevent more Charlottesville-like events from happening. We are individualists, and they are collectivists. We believe in personal responsibility, while they believe in blaming others for their problems. We believe in the ideals that made America great in the first place, and they do not. We do not wave two flags that waged war on this country, but they do.
The solution to identity politics and victim-mongering is not identity politics and victim-mongering, but for different people. The solution is for individual liberty and personal responsibility. That is something that Anti-fa, or even the Democratic Party, cannot provide.
It is, however, something conservatives can bring back to the table.