Losing the labels

by Paul Cudenec | May 3, 2024

It’s no mean feat to have embedded no fewer than three false assumptions in the title of a single book!

And yet this is the case with Far-Right Newspeak and the Future of Liberal Democracy, edited by A. James McAdams and Samuel Piccolo (Routledge, 2024).

This is not to say that there is no value in the actual content, as I will go on to explain.

But, first, I do have to take issue with that trinity of tiresome terms…

The most obvious problem, I think, is the use of “Liberal Democracy” and, in particular, the assumption that this is what we are currently living in, here in “the West”.

The editors, two US academics, double down on this assumption in their introduction.

They explain: “By ‘democracy’, we mean a variety of fully functioning institutions such as courts, parliaments, constitutions, and constitutional principles that allow citizens to play an active role in public affairs.


“By ‘liberal’, we refer to the principles that democratic leaders are obliged to follow in their interactions with citizens.

“These principles include the rights to free speech, assembly, religious practice, and privacy as well as the guarantee of full equality.

“These values are also based upon universal norms, such as political tolerance and respect for the dignity of every person”. [1]

It is difficult for me to understand how anyone could actually believe that this describes our society in 2024, when citizens’ participation in public matters is quite clearly a manufactured illusion; when the right to free speech and assembly is violated time and time again when it challenges official narratives, whether on Covid or on Gaza; when privacy is being abolished by the smart surveillance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and when political tolerance has been replaced by the systematic stigmatisation, even criminalisation, of dissident views by use of terms such as “hate speech”, “denial”, “misinformation” and “conspiracy theory”.

Oh, and by the “far right” smear, of course, which leads me nicely on to the next problematic term in the book’s title.

As becomes very obvious in the various essays it presents, there is no clear definition of what the label exactly means.

What is for sure is that the term “far right” is being used today to indicate something much broader than the previous “racist” designation, which now rather serves as an insinuated evil with which to pollute the reputation of those henceforth included under the vastly-expanded umbrella.

We saw that very clearly with the anti-lockdown protests everywhere and in particular with the truckers’ convoy in Canada.


Because this new use of the term “far right” is spurious – I would say that it is a false assumption that it can readily be identified in the way the book’s title suggests – it is necessary to invent a frame of reference through which it can be presented as actually existing.

Hence the importance of claiming that we live in a “liberal democracy”. If the system is really liberal and democratic, then opposition to that system can plausibly be depicted as anti-liberal and anti-democratic.

Samuel Piccolo ends his conclusion to the book by claiming that “when people no longer believe they live in a liberal democracy, they no longer act as if they do—or care whether its principles live or die”. [2]

Is he trying to imply here that to deny that our society is really a “liberal democracy” is to undermine that supposed liberal democracy and thus to merit a “far right” designation?

I do hope not!

The editors claim that “‘far right’ is a useful umbrella concept because it allows for the systematic examination of the similarities and differences among a wide variety of cases”. [3]

Personally, I find it neither helpful nor valid to categorise a disparate number of individuals as “far right” and then to attempt to stigmatise them purely on the basis of that categorisation.

We certainly do need to dissect their pronouncements, and analyse what lies behind their rhetoric, but the key thing is to discover what agenda they are really serving.

For instance, when in 2023 I denounced Aleksandr Dugin – one of those analysed in the book – it was on the basis that he is demonstrably working for the very globalist entity he claims to oppose. [4]


Likewise, journalist Sonia Poulton’s 2023 exposé of Jordan Peterson, who features prominently in the book, was not based on categorising him as “far right” but on exposing him as controlled opposition, working for a corporate (and, in fact, Zionist) agenda. [5]

I can’t help wondering why the book does not mention Peterson’s vitriolic support for Benjamin Netanyahu’s assault on Gaza (“Give ’em hell”) [6] and how it can refer to Marine Le Pen’s focus on the threat of “Islamism” [7] without thinking to mention her Rassemblement National party’s “unconditional” support for Israel. [8]

Do such reflections unduly disrupt the “far right” versus “liberal democracy” narrative?

The third word in the title to which I take exception is “Newspeak”, in relation to the “far right”.

The term “Far-Right Newspeak” is deployed time and time again (103 times to be exact!) in the book, to the extent that it comes across as rather forced.

I think it is a false assumption that such a phenomenon genuinely exists, in the sense that Newspeak was imagined by George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four. [9]

His fictional Ingsoc (“English Socialism”) entity ran the state – was the state – and used its manipulation of language, including the creation of a pared-down and ideologically-correct Newspeak, to keep hold of and consolidate its power.

Now, I agree that many of those labelled “far right” by the editors and contributors are deceitful in their language, pretending as they do to stand for freedom and the common people when their real agenda is a completely different one.

But it nevertheless seems disingenuous to accuse these “right-wingers” of using phoney-liberal “Newspeak”, given that the editors themselves have used the highly dubious and Orwellian device of pre-defining the current criminocratic system as “liberal democracy” (think “Ministry of Truth”)!

It also seems somewhat pointless to accuse these same “right-wingers” of misappropriating Orwell’s critique of totalitarianism, when the editors themselves are also misappropriating Orwell’s heritage by using it to criticise people who are at least voicing dissent against the kind of totalitarianism Orwell abhorred.


The “right-wingers” concerned may well be misrepresenting their true position, but “Newspeak” strikes me as entirely the wrong label for that kind of deception.

Was the invention and use of the inappropriate phrase “Far-Right Newspeak” in this book motivated by a desire to reverse and pillory critiques of our current authoritarian plutocracy (oh, sorry, liberal democracy!) using an Orwellian lens?

The real problem with the phoney elements in the “freedom movement” is not that they misappropriate Orwell or that they are “far right” people pretending to be liberals, but that they are intent on turning short-term opponents of the system (over wokeness, lockdowns or jabs) into long-term supporters of its industrialist and imperialist agenda, as I have previously warned. [10]

Far from being a threat to “liberal democracy”, they are simply pretending to oppose that mislabelled system, while advancing its anti-democratic aims under a different banner.

The good news about the book is that the editors have at least embraced the understanding that there is such a thing as genuine and non-far-right opposition to the system – specifically to the Great Reset – despite the way in which rhetoric on the topic has been instrumentalised by the likes of Peterson and Le Pen.

Contributor Steven Pittz, for example, defends the democratic validity of a pragmatic form of “conspiracism” that “can reflect those liberal virtues that allow citizens to shine a light on powerful people and institutions” [11] – even if he goes on to suggest that it is a bad thing to “delegitimate those in power”! [12]

And, after acknowledging that certain positions categorised as “far right” are also held by the conservative mainstream, editor A. James McAdams concedes: “Nor are far-right actors the only critics of liberal claims to neutrality, neoliberal economic policies, and the self-seeking behavior of politicians and global corporations.

“In fact, in some cases, their arguments dovetail with equally vociferous critiques on the left and far-left sides of the political spectrum”. [13]

In an important contribution, José Pedro Zúquete, of the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Lisbon, explores the way that the Great Reset has sparked calls for a new convergence against the system, overspilling the traditional left-right divide.

He quotes Raw Egg Nationalist as noting that “the left has come down very firmly on the side of corporations” and that “a lot of the things we’re saying now sound almost like what the hippies and leftist environmentalists were saying in the 1970s”.

This “right-winger” continues: “For some reason the left that once upon a time was the sworn enemy of corporations — certainly up until Occupy Wall Street — I think something very strange happened”. [14]

Zúquete also quotes Glenn Beck, who made me laugh 15 years ago with his melodramatic denunciation on Fox News of the “extreme left” Invisible Committee and their “dangerous” book The Coming Insurrection. [15]

Beck now says, in regard to the New World Order agenda: “We [on the right] were wrong. We thought it would come as, you know, some sort of communist Marxist thing [but] this is coming through our corporations.

“They [the left] knew all this stuff. We mocked them. And now we’re standing where they were and we are like ‘guys, you were right. I mean, can’t you see this?’” [16]

Zúquete goes on to mention the beyond-left-and-right stance adopted “in the far-left French collective ‘The Invisible Committee’, which has assigned itself the task of imagining a new form of opposition to the system”. [17]

As Beck realises, the radical political landscape has changed entirely since he denounced The Invisible Committe in 2009.

Zúquete and I exchanged emails while he was preparing his chapter and he shares a few of my thoughts in this passage: [18]

“What happened to the left?” asks Paul Cudenec, an activist and writer who runs the anarchist collective Winter Oak and a prominent anti-Great Reset voice, who blasts what he sees as the “abject historical failure of the left at the hour of our greatest need”.


Cudenec blames this failure on identity politics, on the postmodernist tendency that pours “scorn on simplistic old-fashioned concepts such as class struggle or opposing state-corporate power,” as well as “the funding and/or infiltration of left/anarchist organizations by various billionaire-linked foundations and networks”.


Cudenec also sees the potential for new alliances: “Today, the ground has shifted and the dividing line is no longer the old left-right one. People who oppose a future of techno-totalitarian global corporate dictatorship have found themselves standing together on one particular side of a new political dividing line based around decentralization versus centralization, freedom versus authority, values against profiteering. This should be an encouraging moment for anarchists, who have every reason to participate in this embryonic ‘movement’ and help to shape its future evolution”.

Just to be clear, the convergence I would like to see is not between the “right” or “far right” and the “left” or “far left”.

These terms are false categories, designed to limit people’s critical thinking, close down proper discussion and pit us all up against each other rather than against the criminocracy.

No, the convergence has to involve the people, and the broad ways of thinking, that have thus far been corralled into these constricting constructs by the dominant political culture.

We have to break down the walls of dogma that divide us, deconstruct the very language with which we have learned to express ourselves, peel away all the levels of manipulation that keep us confused and powerless.

We will never all see eye to eye on absolutely everything, but I hope we can at least agree that we urgently need a future in which we are free from the totalitarian control of a worldwide organised crime syndicate!

[Audio version]

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[1] Far-Right Newspeak and the Future of Liberal Democracy, ed. A. James McAdams and Samuel Piccolo (Abingdon, Oxon; New York, NY: Routledge, 2024), p. xv. All subsequent page references are to this work.
[2] p. 256.
[3] p. xiv.
[4] https://winteroak.org.uk/2023/10/24/alexandr-dugin-a-globalist-pawn/
[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVXZlZ9cJRQ
[6] https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/gaza-israel-jordan-peterson-faces-criticism-netanyahu-unleash-hell
[7] p. 40.
[8] https://www.lemonde.fr/politique/article/2023/10/18/malgre-le-drame-humanitaire-de-gaza-le-soutien-sans-condition-du-rassemblement-national-a-israel_6195244_823448.html
[9] See my essay ‘1984/2024 – the hidden hope in Orwell’s warning’, https://winteroak.org.uk/2024/01/01/1984-2024-the-hidden-hope-in-orwells-warning/
[10] https://winteroak.org.uk/2023/11/27/when-will-the-real-opposition-emerge/
[11] p. 167.
[12] p. 174.
[13] p. 7.
[14] p. 199.
[15] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKyi2qNskJc
[16] p. 199.
[17] p. 200.
[18] p. 200.

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