What really separates emancipatory thinking from its opposite? The prevailing Left defines itself against neoliberalism, conservative traditionalism, and fascism as a matter of course. The philosophical differences, however, may be more apparent than real. The Right-Wing Mirror of Critical Theory argues that dominant trends in critical and radical theory inadvertently reproduce the cardinal tenets of the twentieth century’s most influential right-wing philosophers. It finds the rejection of foundationalism, rationalism, economic planning, and vanguardism mirrored in the work of Schmitt, Oakeshott, Hayek, and Strauss. If it is to be more than merely an inverted image of the Right, critical theory must reevaluate its relationship to what Julius Nyerere once called “deliberate design” in politics. In the era of anthropogenic climate change, a substantial—not merely nominal—departure from right-wing talking points is all the more necessary and momentous.
Larry Alan Busk teaches philosophy and humanities at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Chapter I: Intelligent Design in Politics from Right to Left
Chapter II: The Fascist and His Shadow: Schmitt and the Question of Foundations
Chapter III: Oakeshott and the Purpose of Politics
Chapter IV: Hayek’s Game: Reification and the Production Paradigm in a Warming and Stratified World
Chapter V: Strauss and the Vanguard
Chapter VI: Limits of Reason or Distortion of Reason? The Case of Rand
Appendix: For the New Intellectual: A Critical Reading of Hochschild’s Strangers in their Own Land
Larry Busk's The Right Wing Mirror of Critical Theory is a book many of us have been waiting for. Functioning also as a trenchant critique of right wing philosophy, the book's main contribution is patiently showing how the trendy forms of "anti-foundationalism" and "anti-rationalism," which have long dominated left-critical theory, echo the reactionaries' cry. Funny, lucid, and above all brave, The Right Wing Mirror of Critical Theory calls on progressives to remember we can remake the world anew, and better.
With his signature acumen, Busk critically engages with the arguments of some of the most influential rightwing thinkers of the contemporary world. His objective is not simply to show that they are incorrect, but—more importantly—to demonstrate the necessity of a coherent and systemic left politics that embraces, unlike much of the Western left intelligentsia, the need for a self-consciously constructed and rationally planned socio-political project of emancipation. This is an urgent call to critically dismantle the right while reinventing the left!