As part of my Neither right nor left mantra, another datum.

Most people use “right” and “left” journalistically: to designate shifting bundles of social-political beliefs and attitudes. The bundles are usually not internally coherent. So more analytic thinkers try to bring order out of mush by identifying multiple dimensions of contrast: individual versus collective, liberty versus authority, majority- versus minority-rule, etc. They abandon the simple one-dimensional left-right spectrum and use Venn Diagrams and other arrays better to capture the realities.

And/or they add adjectives to clarify the genus-species relations. For example, conservatives on the right become traditional conservatives, neo-conservatives, religious conservatives, and so on. And now we have Trump conservatives.

Here’s an important quotation from this helpful article by Matthew Continetti on what the “Trump right” is:

Beginning in 2016, intellectuals who favored Trump have been searching for a new touchstone for conservative thought and politics. These writers are often described as populists, but that label is hard to define. Broadly speaking, they have adopted the banner of nationalism. They believe the nation-state is the core unit of geopolitics and that national sovereignty and independence are more important than global flows of capital, labor, and commodities.

Pulling out the key phrases and their implications:

1. “Flows of labor”: Where and when to apply one’s labor is part of liberty rights.

2. “Flows of capital and commodities”: Where and when to use them are aspects of property rights.

3. “The nation-state is the core unit of geopolitics”: That means the individual is not the core unit of politics and the nation-state merely a proxy  or protector of the individual.

4. Integrating the above with “National sovereignty and independence are more important than …”, we get this result:

The nation is more important than the individual, and the sovereignty of the nation is more important than liberty and property rights.

And that is one more reason why I am not on the right, as much as I am not on the left. Both subordinate/suppress liberty and property rights, and both subordinate the individual to a collective (nation, proletariat, race/gender identity, etc.).

National conservatism is perhaps the best label for this post-2016-Trump package.

Yes, there are differences within conservatism and between conservatives and the left. But national conservatism overlaps with national socialism which overlaps with international socialism. And when drawing the Venn Diagrams to clarify who belongs inside which circle, it’s important to remember that there are other positions completely outside the circles.


“Making Sense of the New American Right: Keeping track of the Jacksonians, Reformicons, Paleos, and Post-liberals.” Matthew Continetti, May 31, 2019) 

“Conservatives Are Not Free-market Capitalists.”
“Conservatives: Get Over the Dark Ages.”
Both are part of my Open College with Stephen Hicks series. 

Stephen Hicks Ph.D

About The Author:

Author: Stephen Hicks Ph.D
Stephen R. C. Hicks PH.D. is the Senior Scholar for the Atlas Society, Professor of Philosophy at Rockford University, and the director of the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship at Rockford University. In 2010, he won his university's Excellence in Teaching Award. Professor Hicks has written four books; Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault, Nietzsche and the Nazis, Entrepreneurial Living, and The Art of Reasoning: Readings for Logical Analysis.

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