The following is a TBC translation of a passage taken from Raymond Ruyer's Le Sceptique résolu .
Anti-egalitarianism and the political Right
Is it permissible to assert that the essential opposition between Right and Left lies between “believing in the equality”, and “believing in the natural inequality” of men?
It has been claimed that being an anti-egalitarian belongs to the essence of being a rightist [in particular by Alain de Benoist, in Seen from the Right ]. According to this view, a rightist believes in natural hierarchies, and that these reassert themselves when we try to erase them.
According to the same view, the leftist believes in a fundamental equality between peoples, and between individuals within one people. Races are merely ethnic groups, and ethnic groups are more cultural than biological. Their inequality is historical, momentary, variable depending on historical circumstances. Differences in individual performance are caused by education and institutions, rather than by innate gifts or heredity. Hierarchies are always artificial and precarious. They must always be contestable, and contested. The institutions that produce them are fugacious forms. Modify the institutions, and you modify the hierarchies.
Were the anti-egalitarian criteria the good one, if “being right-wing” essentially meant “to believe in the natural inequality of men”, — and above all to draw the consequences from this belief — it would be a sad thing for the future of the Right. The Right would have to pack up and leave, at least in approximatively democratic societies.
Aristocrats, oligarchies, minority but energetic parties have nearly always ruled throughout history. Their rule was anti-egalitarian by definition, wether they admitted so or not. However, to declare oneself “anti-egalitarian” in a democratic regime is suicidal. For a candidate in democratic elections, to proclaim: “I believe in the natural and irremediable inequality of men. Vote for me, citizens!” amounts to saying: “I judge myself to be superior”, or a least: “The party to which I belong is the party of the best, of the optimates, of the aristocrats.”
If the citizens are not oblivious, docile, or dull, addressing them in this manner is to provoque them to jeer the speaker: “Aristocrats to the lamp-post.”
In addition, this reaction against “anti-egalitarians” is so natural that is becomes legitimate. What man, with a conscience and dignity, can accept to hear being declared “inferior”? And this sudden burst of revolt, history proves it, can carry him to great heights.
The anti-egalitarian thesis is not factually wrong. Positive and scientific arguments stand on its side. The natural inequality of individuals is hardly contestable, and education is not almighty in correcting it. The inequality of races or of ethnic groups is more debatable, but can legitimately be asserted.
However any theory of inequality is opposed by what may be termed “virtual facts”. It is difficult to set in advance, today, limits to the power of education or of institutions, especially of institutions enhanced by enthusiasm and faith. So that the anti-egalitarian thesis, which is factually true right now, is, or always seems, virtually false.
In addition, it is impolite. It reminds one of the story of the little boy who asked old men their age and would then tell them: “Then you don’t have much time left to live!” Being impolite can be a good thing, but you can have too much of a good thing.
The true principle of the political Right
The essential and fundamental opposition between rightist and leftist beliefs is rather the following: either to believe in the allmightiness of Laws and Norms, of Possibles that set impassable limits to human desires and volitions — or to believe in the creative almightiness of Freedom and of the human Will, capable of creating even new Possibilities and new Norms.
Those who incline towards the first branch of the alternative are right-wing. They can’t be accused of being pretentious, offensive or impolite. They aren’t driven by pride. They say nothing injurious to leftists. Rather to the contrary: it is those assert the almightiness of Freedom, it is the Voluntarists of the Left, who appear to be the trespassers, in that they think themselves beyond the limits of nature, and of human nature — with all the risks inherent to such trespassing.
To believe in the almightiness of natural Laws, that exceed the human will, is modesty. And this modesty is a modesty that applies to all, to the leaders (elected or not, democratic, traditional, or charismatic) and to those who are lead. Both can together loudly proclaim : “God and my Right!”
Much more, this proposed criterion of right and left makes it possible to see that there can exist a legitimate, rational Left, as rational as the Right. And perhaps even more rational when it strips conservative traditions of their imagined and imaginary enveloppes, to bring out their pure kernel of effective value.
More rational also in another sense. The experience of political discussions, not subjected to the intellectual disorder and bad faith of pre-electoral contradictory meetings, but conducted in the calm and and philosophical atmosphere of thinking clubs, quickly shows that there is one argument against the Right that is formidable and staggering, a true medusa’s head. This argument is the argument of the “course of history” : “I am on the right side of history, says the progressivist thinker. Wether the Left wins the coming elections or not, I don’t care. The course of history is in our favor. You, conservatives or reactionaries, cling to forms that history condemns.” He might even add: “I believe as much as you conservatives in the almightiness of natural laws, in a Reason above human desires and volitions. However, I believe that Reason is auto-mobile, dia-lectic. It is not a cage fixed to the ground. You conservatives only see Reason and Laws in the actual, or in the actual inheritance of the past. We see them at work in the historical evolution, in time, in the future. To obey the direction of history is also to obey eternal laws.”
A conservative of the traditional right is embarrassed to answer this “academic” left. He usually answers that he too is a reformist and a progressivist in his own manner : “Order and Progress”.
A far better answer would be : progressivists, by constantly talking about the future and the both more liberal and more egalitarian, both closer to nature and more cultured society of the future, project into this future contradictory dreams far more than they obey a dialectical reason as severe and binding as reason, period. Traditionalist conservatives understand far better the imperatives of long time spans and of long-term survival, the absolute necessity of familial and national discipline, of healthy demographics, of a religious respect for proven traditions. The serial liberations of progressivists are often similar to the demolition of the arches of a bridge that goes from the past and the present to the future. They are similar to an unchecked unravelling of the social fabric, in which human will or history carve out the institutions. Haunted by the great changes of history — from mediaeval christianity to centralized monarchies, from feudalism to urban communes, from arts and crafts to industrial capitalism, from liberal capitalism to State capitalism — the progressivists forget that the unravelling of customs, or that demographic decadence can cause the ruin of any great institution, and that there is not future for a people undergoing micro-suicide and struck by a cellular disease.
He could also reply that the Left often errs by mistaking a momentary meander for the course of history, and by prolonging an aberrant curve into a straight line. The water drops of the Seine, between Rouen and La Bouille, might believe themselves to be truly on their way to the Atlantic, not towards the Channel. The left extrapolates arbitrarily. Its reasoning is based on misleading analogies. It forgets that history advances in a sinusoid, but within the limits of a valley of “possibles” and also of impassable “impossibles” — limits that constantly straighten it or brings it back when it loses its way. Human history isn’t an empire within an empire. The river flows and twists, but under “the gaze of the eternal”.
Because today the flow favors liberation in all domains, in the culture, at work, in the morals, in education, in the family, the Left imagines that the future shall see other, even more refined liberations and that nevertheless the peoples will continue to live within an order both supple, relaxed, non binding, and yet solid, that families will be both disintegrated and reassuring for the children, that the nations will be both epicurean and heroic, Athenian and Spartan.
To the staggering and dumbfounding argument: “I am on the right side of history”, the rightist can answer: “I have on my side a far more powerful principle: the impossible can never become real. We can’t violate the laws of self-coherence and balance for any meaningful duration without collapsing. Beyond the person-God in which you don’t believe, there is the Cosmos-God, the God-of-long-history, the Tao-God, who can’t be rejected without committing suicide.”