In 2022, Pay Attention to Right-wing Authoritarianism

It’s a tradition to set a few resolutions on the first day of a new calendar year. Although I am not able to make a resolution for myself, or anyone else, it is something I wish. In 2022, and beyond, my wish is that everyone who holds liberal ideals will join forces to resist the worrying rise of authoritarianism in the world.

Since the 1960s, people who favor free markets have been focusing on authoritarianism from the left. This has drawn our ire and we have not spared any effort to oppose it. Rightfully, we have been worried about federal government attempts to consolidate more power and increase the size and scope of the government. Consistently pursuing these policies will lead to what we call the “great F.A.” Hayek described this as “the road towards serfdom.”

This battle should be continued. But it is time to show the same harshness to those of right who seek to exert state power over individuals and demolish those they don’t agree with. This illiberalism is evident in America’s policies under former President Donald Trump. These policies included industrial policies that were rife with favoritism, hostility towards foreign workers, and discrimination against immigrants. The last months of Trump’s presidency saw it peak with conspiracy theories and claims of stolen elections.

This right-wing illiberalism is still evident with Trump’s allies pressing election officials to change the outcome of the 2020 election. And it has plenty of supporters in Congress. With some exceptions, the Republican Party has turned away from free-market ideas and embraced what can best be described as central planning: more government handouts, a continued affection for crony privileges—including protective tariffs—bestowed on its favorite industries, and a newfound opposition to free speech and enthusiasm for hyperactive antitrust campaigns against industries it doesn’t like.

Many conservative intellectuals have also adopted illiberalism. Although there were always different ways of thinking between neoconservatives and populists as well, they are now defining themselves increasingly by opposing the left, while supporting policies just as horrible.

Some people would like the government to establish a religious order. Kevin Vallier explained this at The UnPopulist Substack. Some have taken to heart the idea of Catholic Integralism. It is a belief that God has all power and the Church can call on the government to support its mission. The state could be directed to inflict civil punishments upon violating church law such as the imprisonment of heretics.

Although this is disturbing enough, there’s another danger. As Shikha Dalmia and Arthur Melzer argued, if the right uses the illiberalism of the left to justify its own—as happened in post-World War I Weimar Germany—America would risk falling into authoritarianism.

However, right-wing authoritarianism’s rise is not just a phenomenon in America. It is now widespread in other countries like India, France and Hungary.

Sweden’s Democrats—a nativist, right-wing party—had so many racists and xenophobes within its ranks that even it had to implement a zero-tolerance policy against such rhetoric. However, it continues to be hostile towards immigrants who are blamed in part for the problems that its progressive welfare system has caused.

In Hungary, President Viktor Orban has implemented massively generous welfare payments—like a $35,000 child tax credit for parents with over three children—but also made his ultimate mission to crack down viciously against any left-wing opposition. He has been admired by some American ideologues for this.

In my native France, rising star and presidential candidate Eric Zemmour has been open about his desire to return to a time when the country was run exclusively by and for French folks and immigrants who truly embraced French culture—preferably Christian—and gave their children names such as Jacques, Pierre, and Marie.

As I wish you all a Happy New Year, I ask that you also join me in fighting illiberalism. That means opposing unsustainable government welfare and draconian regulations. This includes opposing right-wing illiberalism, which is increasingly hostile to LGBTQ people and immigrant culture, wants to ban books and uses government power to realize its narrow vision of American society.