TBG Conference 2013: Alex Kurtagić - Wanted: A Moral Critique of Egalitarianism
by The Editor
Alex Kurtagić's address in call for a moral critique of egalitarianism at the Traditional Britain Group's 2013 conference. Video and Transcript
I must admit that of all the ways of
approaching the issues of our times,
The one chosen by the organisers of this
Is about the most arid and pulverulent I
could have ever conceived.
I thought either the organisers truly
have a predilection for catacomb-like
And truly abide by my personal precept,
That every man over 40 ought to be
serious—and hopefully angry—90 percent
of the time,
Or else, the organisers have provided us
with an elegant media-unfriendly way of
having us talk about something else:
Because, to me,
to talk about the nation state,
And whether it has a future,
Is really to talk destiny—
About the ability to define that destiny,
And about the ability to remain masters of
It is also to do so,
Not only as heirs to a particular legacy,
Not only as islanders or as a specific
expressions of Europeanness,
But also as Europeans in general,
As well as individual families,
And even as individuals,
Because mastery of one’s destiny begins
With mastery over ones being and
Mastery over what we are,
And what we want to become.
The aim of the nation state
was to serve as an iron shield for the
sovereignty of a particular people living
within a geographical area.
And integral to the aims of the nation
Have been the promotion of a national
As opposed to a tribal or a regional
The promotion of an official national
As opposed to a Babel of tongues and
(Did you at the time of the French
Revolution, only in eight Frenchmen
spoke fluent French?);
The promotion mass instruction,
teaching the national history,
often with a semi-mythological
And mass media,
maintaining a national consciousness.
All of which has tended to maximalise
And accentuate differentiation without—
Which is the essence of nationalism.
The nation state is closely associated with
century European nationalisms—
Even though the nation state had
precursors in early modernity—
For example, in Portugal and the Republic
of the Seven United Netherlands.
So, it is a modern entity,
And, like much that is modern,
possibly also a transient entity.
The fact that it is considered to be in crisis
The fact that its future is now in doubt,
And the fact that some consider it to be
—as does the current president of the
Results from its defining characteristics,
Because its use of the state as an
instrument of national unity,
As an instrument of centralisation and
And from there as an instrument of
integration and conformity,
Together with some of the developments
that came about along with the nation
Such as the invention of the printing press,
The emergence of free market capitalism,
Together with the radical movements that
arose in reaction to capitalism,
Have, in late modernity and in post-
since proven agents of national
National industry has become global
National banking has become global
National media have become global
National airlines have become global
ARPANET has become the internet.
And in response to these processes of
There have been converse processes of
And in this rapidly destabilising
Of porous borders,
In such an environment . . .
Which for some is the conservation of
nativisms and nationalisms,
perceives itself as having a vital role,
More vital now than ever before,
Which is to serve as a bulwark,
To serve as a wall of containment,
Against undesirable forms of change—
Disintegrative forms of change that
Threaten the national identity,
And thereby the national sovereignty.
But, the truth is . . .
That conservatism has failed.
Politics across the West have drifted
further and further to the Left.
For decades, maybe centuries,
conservatism has only known one gear:
Mainstream conservatism has
compromised, accommodated, and sold
Even worse: it has cut itself off from its
Thereby justifying the perception that
That conservatism is bereft of ideas,
That conservatism is simply the politics of
And mainstream conservatives are afraid;
They are motivated by fear.
Which is why they are always on the
Never acting, but always reacting;
Reacting against the aggression of the
Allowing themselves to be shaped by it,
Rather than defining themselves on their
The Left is also a negation,
But it is active, and has the initiative,
Which is partly why,
Despite having been proven wrong,
Again and again and again,
The Left has been largely successful.
Now, there are reasons why conservatism
In this country, as we know,
one of them has been reliance on the
And not because it has ceased to be
But because it has remained conservative
The Labour Party under Tony Blair had
no problem adopting Conservative Party
policies for this reason.
The mistake is in confusing conservation
with keeping traditions.
Because it is possible to be a conservative
by conserving something that is anti-
And this is something that few realise,
Which explains why many of those who
are concerned with tradition
Continue to support the conservatives,
Because on the surface the conservatives
have retained vestigial trappings of
They get smaller and smaller over time,
And they become shallower and shallower,
But they are still closer to tradition than
Labour or the Liberal Democrats.
But any tendency towards tradition the
conservatives may have
Is purely sentimental, and has no
theoretical grounding whatsoever:
Ideologically, the Conservative Party has,
in fact, always been anti-traditional.
You may ask yourselves how it is that the
Conservatives can govern in coalition with
the Liberal Democrats?
Well, the answer is simple:
they both started out as factions of the
same political party—
Which was the Whig Party.
Which was a party that came to be defined
by liberal ideas,
Which is the reason why by the mid 1800s
it became the Liberal Party.
Which in 1989 would merge with the
Which originated as an offshoot of the
At a time when it had been so thoroughly
infiltrated by Trotskyists,
That old-fashioned socialism had come
to be regarded as conservative, and
reactionary, and Right-wing within that
The result of that merger was the Liberal
Whereas the Conservative Party has its
origins in the faction of the Whig Party,
That was led by William Pitt the Younger,
Who since his death has been described as
But who in fact, and like every politician
of his era,
Utterly rejected the label,
Describing himself instead as
an ‘independent Whig’.
And when, later on, Sir Robert Peel, laid
down the foundations of the modern
With the Tamworth Manifesto, in 1834,
For the most part it was a commitment to
The default position was for change,
And the non-default position was to reject
change only when deemed unnecessary.
Robert Peel’s supporters,
Would later join up with the Whigs and
Who were the Left of the Left at the
To form the Liberal Party.
The colloquial use of the label ‘Tory’ has
added to the confusion,
Because the original Tory Party was
effectively defunct already in 1714—
Well before the Pittites came along.
However ridiculous it was for him to say
that the solution to a problem,
Is more of what caused the problem in the
David Cameron was not a historical an
When he said that the solution to the
failure of multiculturalism
Was ‘muscular liberalism’.
In saying that he was perfectly consistent
with the conservative legacy.
They are quite happy with the way things
have been going,
But they just want to slow things down
And attenuate some of the most obnoxious
That have crept up under Labour
Although they are by now quite happy to
accept some of those too:
David Cameron is a signatory to the UAF,
Which descends from Trotskyist and
And this goes to the root of why
conservatism has failed.
Because commitment to liberal ideas
Has meant that the only tradition being
conserved in the long run
Is the liberal tradition of political
Now liberalism—particularly in its
Is not all bad:
It stands for individual liberty,
It also contains two very negative features:
One is that it stands against tradition;
And the other, is that it stands for equality.
And this is what I’d like to focus upon
Because equality is radically opposed to
Tradition is about meaning,
And meaning relies on making
And on the application of value to those
Which means tradition is also about
Not in an oppressive material sense,
But in a spiritual sense,
In the sense that there are things that make
And there are things that make us small,
And in the sense that we use these to
To invest our lives with direction and
All of which fundamental to being human.
And we consider egalitarianism immoral
For this reason.
In classical liberalism equality did not
have the pre-eminence
It came to possess in modern liberalism.
Initially, the highest value was individual
The liberal project was about the liberation
of the individual,
From the supernatural,
From the hierarchical society, in which
some individuals enjoyed semi-divine
And, in sum, from any transcendent or
Equality did not have, initially, the strong
moral dimension that it later acquired.
When Thomas Hobbs talked about
He saw it as a necessary condition for
entering into the social contract,
Because he thought that no one would be
willing to enter into such a contract,
Unless it applied to everybody equally.
Therefore, for him equality before the law
was a practical matter.
But by the time of the American
Revolution, and especially the French
Egalitarianism had become a moral
It was a secularisation of a principle that
already existed in Christianity,
Which was present in Stoic philosophy,
which Christianity had absorbed,
And in Cynic philosophy before that.
After the liberals attained political power
at the end of the 18th
They were challenged by Marxism in the
Now, the Right applies the terms ‘liberal’
and ‘Left’ almost interchangeably,
And this may have been correct once upon
but today this is inaccurate.
Firstly, because conservatives today are
And secondly, because Marxism is anti-
Marxism originated as a critique of
And the fundamental Marxian criticism
—Although they expressed it in a different
was that the liberals had failed to deliver
on the promise of equality,
Because, through private property and free
The liberals encouraged the development
Which perpetuated the subjection of one
class of individuals by another.
Later on, fascism came to challenge both
liberalism and Marxism,
Being an anti-egalitarian critique of both
But fascism was defeated in 1945,
And Marxism would later collapse in
But, as others have pointed out,
It didn’t matter that communism collapsed
in the East,
Because by then Marxism had been
successful in the West.
Not by making the West communist, of
But by influencing Western liberalism in a
You see, the liberals and the Marxists
share a belief in the goodness of equality,
So the liberals had to respond to the
Marxian challenge on this issue,
And although there was opposition to
curtailing individual liberty in favour of
—And we see this in Ayn Rand’s
movement, and in the libertarian
In the end, the liberals, because they
believed in equality, succumbed to the
logic of egalitarianism,
Resulting in a long period of
compromises, defeats, and realignment,
And the result of which was a brand of
liberalism in which equality is the highest
We can speak of a Hegelian synthesis.
Thus, classical liberalism gave way to
The Frankfurt School of Social Research
played a key role in mediating this process
after the war,
And more broadly so was the New Left in
the 1960s and 1970s.
But the battle is still raging—
Driven by the academic establishment,
which is committed to a Freudo-Marxian
which continues to shape the worldview of
future establishment leaders.
For many, the only morally viable
alternative today—and only just—is
But the libertarians are, politically, in a
For all intents and purposes modern
liberalism is the only game in town
throughout the West.
And this means that egalitarianism
is the single most powerful idea defining
the direction of thought,
And the direction of policy,
in all areas:
In politics, which is dominated by the
in academia, which is dominated by the
in the public discourse, which is
dominated by the liberal-Left media,
and by the desire of ordinary people to be
liked and accepted
by their friends,
by their families,
by their employers,
by their future employers,
and by their fellow citizens.
I’ve said this before,
but it bears re-stating:
We perceive the establishment as corrupt,
And we think of our age as the winter of
A twilight age of apathy, selfishness,
materialism, chaos, and moral dissolution,
But we are in fact living in a Puritanical
Because when it comes to the belief in the
moral goodness of equality,
The system demands from us absolute
purity of thought.
And those who deviate—
The proud heretics,
Who are vocal in their unbelief—
Are savagely punished,
They are mercilessly flagellated with
professional and fiscal sanctions,
They are ostracised, and in some cases
And, most importantly,
Their humanity is brought into question.
So, from the point of view of current
Here in the West,
We are living or approaching a Golden
Of Puritanical egalitarianism.
And the search for moral purity,
Bears obvious signs of religiosity.
We encounter endless soul-searching,
Endless acts of confession and atonement.
And even the policing of offenders
and of the criminal justice system
is not immune from the demand for moral
After the execution of Bridget Bishop,
During the Salem witch trials in colonial
The Court of Oyer and Terminer
adjourned for twenty days,
In order to seek advice from the most
influential ministers of New England.
When the reply came,
Item number three read:
‘We judge that, in the prosecution of these
and all such witchcrafts,
there is need of a very critical and
lest by too much credulity for things
received only upon the Devil’s authority,
there be a door opened for a long train of
and Satan get an advantage over us;
for we should not be ignorant of his
This was written in 1692,
And yet seems uncannily contemporary,
does it not?
It almost reads like the MacPherson
And the reign of fear extends beyond
public figures or institutions.
Because even private individuals who hold
Live in terror at the prospect of discovery.
And it is not necessarily that they express
politically incorrect opinion X,
And the next thing they hear is a knock on
their doors in the depths of the night,
Before they are dragged away by the
commissars of equality
and made to disappear in the gulags of
Because even non-conformists are careful
about what they say,
and among whom,
consequences are unlikely,
They couch their speech in euphemisms,
They talk around the issue,
They choke their statements with paranoid
prolepses and qualifications.
Even when they are alone,
The only space they feel safe
Is the space inside their skulls,
And even then, they live in fear of their
It’s easy to laugh at political correctness,
And yet we cannot just roll our eyes and
ask people to toss it away like a banana
Because it is not just propaganda
(although propaganda is a factor).
It’s much more powerful than that.
And it’s not that there is a lack of
In fact, one could say there is too much
information—people cannot make sense of
And they have neither the time,
nor the expertise,
nor the energy even to try,
and get to the bottom of things.
And neither is it that people cannot
It is now possible for people to research
everything imaginable, on their own,
And given how many conspiracy theories
People are quite willing to entertain
And to question the official histories, and
the official versions of events.
In fact, it makes them feel powerful,
and in the know, in a so-called democracy
where politicians do more or less whatever
And neither is it that politicians are so
That they manage to deceive their voters
in every single election:
Most people are sceptical of politicians
and their promises.
Many people vote for the least bad option.
Most people don’t bother to vote at all.
The reason certain opinions are
Is that they are considered to be immoral.
Political correctness may have become
But its power does not lie in money.
Its power derives from its perceived
Egalitarianism as an ethics,
Endures because there is a generalised
Which includes conservatives—
In which equality is seen as something
we have an absolute moral obligation to
Even if it is inconvenient,
Even if it is costly,
Even if it is inefficient,
Even if it has no basis in the real world.
The morality of an ideal trumps empirical
So we absolutely must look at this issue
From an ethical—from a moral
philosophical—point of view;
Not from a logical point of view,
Not from a logistical point of view,
Not from an economic point of view:
Egalitarianism is an ethical problem.
Before we can hope to make headway with
a traditionalist alternative,
Which necessarily implies hierarchy and
Egalitarianism must be attacked at the
level of theory,
At the level of first principles.
Because that is the foundation of their
Demolish the foundation:
You can build something new.
And this should have been clear decades,
if not centuries ago:
Because in any debate about sovereignty,
In a modern nation state like Britain,
Or France, or Germany, or the United
Whether it concerns immigration,
Whether it concerns globalisation,
whether it concerns citizenship,
or the welfare state,
Every single issue is filtered through the
Of whether or not it affronts the ideal of
Let’s begin with immigration.
When conservatives pronounce themselves
Their arguments are always practical
For the most part, they invoke economics:
Immigrants cost more than they
They put pressure on the benefits
They put pressure on public services;
They drive down property prices.
Sometimes they invoke legality:
They are breaking the law;
They engage in criminal activity.
And in the rare occasions when the
arguments are about identity,
They are purely sociological:
Some types of immigrants don’t
Lack of assimilation may lead to
radicalisation and social tension.
All of these arguments are easily defeated
by proponents of immigration,
Particularly when they are ideological.
Because they can—and they do—always
present their arguments in moral terms:
‘They come here to work and pay taxes’;
‘They come here looking for a better life’;
‘They come here escaping poverty and
‘There is no place for bigotry in the 21st
‘No human is illegal’.
And in all these high-flown statements
there is an underlying accusation of moral
Because everybody knows that the
word ‘immigration’ is a euphemism;
Because everybody knows that the
problem is not so much immigration per
se, but the types of immigrant;
Because, deep down, and despite any
protestations to the contrary
—And that includes the immigrants
many regard them as neither equivalent
nor interchangeable with the natives,
Nor with the broader European family.
Which implies that the natives, and that
possess an essential quality,
That makes them not the same,
Which is a violation of the ethical code,
And therefore cannot be allowed under
And the result is a loss of sovereignty.
And, because it is rooted in moral
Rather than on practical considerations,
Conservatives—who are allergic to
abstract thought—do not have an effective
They don’t have intellectual weapons,
Which is why they end up compromising,
over and over again,
On this and related issues.
And this makes conservatives look like
Because, on the one hand,
they present themselves as defenders of
the traditional nation,
But on the other they consistently betray it.
And they are made to look like hypocrites
in another way:
Because as soon as they begin to do what
they were elected to do,
They are reminded that there is a precept
they must never contravene.
And that those measures that they
promised, that they began to implement,
in the interest of tradition and of
They are reminded, in other words, that
their purpose is indefensible.
And the other side knows it:
The other side knows that as soon as
conservatives go over the line,
It’s just a question of applying enough
And deploying the usual arsenal of
Because, should conservatives attempt to
They can easily be made to look selfish
and can be broken every single time.
And who can respect people like that?
When there is resistance, it comes from
Who are invariably met with perplexity.
The Vice-President of this group was
attacked in the media back in the Summer,
For stating that Doreen Laurence lacked
merit to be a peer of the realm,
For suggesting that she was not an
example of the best that Britain can
Because that was the original idea, in the
days of yore,
one was ennobled, one was allowed to
become a member of the nobility, if one
was deemed to be of the highest character,
to have rendered singular service to the
to represent the best.
The Vice-President of this group was also
attacked for suggesting that people have
A suggestion that implies that a person’s
homeland is not determined by civil
servants using bureaucratic procedures.
Vanessa Feltz said in her radio programme
that Gregory’s views were ‘impossible to
understand’ . . .
‘Impossible to understand’!
She suggested that her colleagues were all
nervous in the studio,
Biting their nails,
Clinging to their controls,
Unable to compute!
Let’s talk about citizenship.
When Lee Rigby was decapitated in South
East London earlier this year,
One of his assailants, delivered a few
remarks to a bystander, who recorded
And among other things he said:
‘By Allah, we swear by the Almighty
Allah we will never stop fighting you until
you leave us alone . . .
I apologise that women had to witness this
today, but in our land our women have to
see the same.
You people will never be safe. Remove
your governments . . .
Tell them to bring our troops back so we
and then he corrects himself—
so you can all live in peace. Leave our
lands and you will live in peace.’
Now, Michael Adebolajo repeatedly
used ‘you’ to refer to British people,
And ‘our’ to refer to foreign countries
living under Islam.
And the interesting part is that Mr
Adebolajo is not a Nigerian immigrant:
He, like his accomplice, is a full British
Born in Lambeth, Central London.
His statements suggest clearly that neither
he nor his accomplice identify with Britain
or British people,
Even though the label ‘British’ has
become highly elasticated.
These are individuals who were born
in the mid 1980s and early 1990s
Who have lived in the United Kingdom all
And were educated in a British university,
in politically correct, anti-racist Britain.
Indeed, the younger assailant,
lived most of his life under the Labour
government dominated by Tony Blair—
The diverse immigrants’ best friend!
Clearly, their loyalties are commanded by
something more powerful,
More essential than their civic status.
Even though their parents live here,
Their real family, literally and
metaphorically, is elsewhere.
Their essential identity is something that
they carry with them,
That is inside, and that goes where they
And is not something to be acquired by
Or by education,
Or by length of residence.
It says something that Blair saw it
necessary to require a pledge of loyalty
From anyone wishing to hold British
Under ordinary circumstances,
This would have been deemed completely
And this is clearly not limited to a few
Because it was also deemed necessary to
have an American-style ceremony,
on the basis that those being welcomed
into the fold were not taking their
On the basis that they were seen to have a
purely instrumental relationship to it.
And yet anyone daring to suggest
that peoples from very different cultures,
and very distant origins,
have natural homelands elsewhere,
Will be regarded, not as mistaken or
But simply as immoral.
We could also talk about international
Mainstream conservatives feel that
they must absolutely commit thousands
of millions of pounds in international
And to increase that commitment every
This despite record deficits, and debt, and
This while pensioners and war veterans in
this country live in poverty.
It’s obvious that this is unfair.
But in this rich country, that charge is
easily countered with the notion
that those who have too little,
Have a moral claim on those who have too
It’s a Marxian notion,
Founded once again on egalitarian
So we see that Cameron, as an egalitarian
liberal, cannot possibly cut the funding for
He would be branded as heartless and
It is difficult to imagine that the nation
state will survive in this climate.
Particularly because the nation-state
already provides a template for the
creation of super-states.
And, because, as per the ideology of
Which is shared by the liberals and the
There is a perception that we must go from
less to more.
Therefore, the decline of the nation-
state and the birth of the multinational
—Defined, of course, not by anything
But by universalist-egalitarian
Seems like a logical and inevitable
A development that would be indicative of
But it’s not progress:
It’s just one model out of a possible many,
Some of which have yet to be imagined.
And I am not sure that the nation-state is
necessarily worth saving.
Because it is a product of its time.
It may have been adequate for the needs of
a previous era,
But there is a large question mark as to
whether it meets our needs today.
So I wouldn’t focus on preserving the
Simply because we are used to it,
Or it’s worked for a long time.
Nothing is eternal.
Our countries will eventually disappear,
And the question is whether we define that
Or whether the process comes to define us.
The issue then is how we regain mastery
In a world where old boundaries are being
re-defined, and re-imagined, or erased
And in which conservatism is not about
But about conserving what led us here.
I think that the biggest obstacle to the
continuity of our being and our destiny,
Is this immoral belief in equality as the
That is what prevents an open discussion,
That is what prevents what must be
thought from being thinkable,
That is what prevents the computation of
a much-needed traditionalist perspective
during the most important crisis facing the
And this is why I don’t think that we need
yet more facts,
Or yet more statistics,
Or yet more apocalyptic pronunciations.
The information is out there and has been
out there for at least a hundred years,
And a lot of people know it,
or know about it.
What they need is a reason to feel
righteous about possessing that
A reason to feel that they are good moral
while putting forth a radical and futuristic
argument for tradition.
Only then will they be able to do so
openly, with real conviction, and without
And for that we need a moral critique of
Not a demonstration of its lack of
correspondence with empirical reality,
But a moral critique.
Not an effort to disprove equality,
But an effort to discredit the pursuit of
To do otherwise is to deal with symptoms,
It is to get lost in the nettles and the weeds,
When the problem demands a solution that
goes right down to the root.
The application of a good dose of
In order so we may plant something new,
Which provides a moral justification, not
and certainly not for degrading anyone,
But for difference,
and for mutual respect.
This is what it means to be radical and
I have written about egalitarianism before,
And in another speech I will provide a
roadmap as to how egalitarianism can be
taken apart, as an ethical system,
But meanwhile I invite you also to explore
And redefine the rules,
And turn the tables,
And be radical,
And feel that you have something good,
and something that is worth fighting for,
Thank you very much!