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,

Here, today,

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

homogeneity within,

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

by some,

The fact that its future is now in doubt,

And the fact that some consider it to be

dead altogether

—as does the current president of the

European Council—

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





Identity politics.


And in this rapidly destabilising


Of porous borders,

Negotiated identities,





Diasporic liminalities,

Ambivalent loyalties—

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:

reverse gear.

Mainstream conservatism has

compromised, accommodated, and sold


Even worse: it has cut itself off from its

intellectual vanguard,

Thereby justifying the perception that

many have,

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

own terms.

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

has failed.

In this country, as we know,

one of them has been reliance on the

Conservative Party.

And not because it has ceased to be


But because it has remained conservative

all along.

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,

even today—

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


Of course—

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

Social Democrats,

Which originated as an offshoot of the

Labour Party,

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

a Tory,

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

Conservative Party,

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

the Radicals—

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.

And, therefore,

However ridiculous it was for him to say

that the solution to a problem,

Is more of what caused the problem in the

first place,

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

little bit,

And attenuate some of the most obnoxious

Leftist undertones

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

anarchist groups.


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

classical form—

Is not all bad:

It stands for individual liberty,

Individual rights,

Private property,


bodily integrity,

and consent;

But, unfortunately,

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

us great,

And there are things that make us small,

And in the sense that we use these to

orientate ourselves,

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 tradition,

From religion,

From the supernatural,

From the hierarchical society, in which

some individuals enjoyed semi-divine


And, in sum, from any transcendent or

supra-individual agency.

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

a time,

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

market capitalism,

The liberals encouraged the development

of hierarchies,

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

Marxian direction.

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

greater equality

—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

moral good.

We can speak of a Hegelian synthesis.

Thus, classical liberalism gave way to

modern liberalism.

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

scholastic tradition,

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

civilisation—the Kali-Yuga—

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 sceptics,

the unbelievers,

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

moral philosophy,

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 witch-hunts,

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

exquisite caution,

lest by too much credulity for things

received only upon the Devil’s authority,

there be a door opened for a long train of

miserable consequences,

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

deviant opinions,

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

liberal democracy,

Because even non-conformists are careful

about what they say,

even where,

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

own thoughts.


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

educate themselves—

It is now possible for people to research

everything imaginable, on their own,

And given how many conspiracy theories

there are,

People are quite willing to entertain

dissident perspectives,

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

they like.

And neither is it that politicians are so

fiendishly clever,

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 taxation,

or terrorism,

or the welfare state,

Every single issue is filtered through the

moral prism,

Of whether or not it affronts the ideal of



Let’s begin with immigration.

When conservatives pronounce themselves

against it,

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

any circumstances.

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,

And backtracking,

and capitulating,

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


Are unethical:

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

unfalsifiable slogans,

Because, should conservatives attempt to

defend themselves,

They can easily be made to look selfish

and small-minded,

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

natural homelands,

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

their lives,

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

legal means,

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

citizenship seriously,

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

cuts elsewhere;

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

international development.

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

human progress.

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

over ourselves,

In a world where old boundaries are being

re-defined, and re-imagined, or erased


And in which conservatism is not about

conserving traditions,

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

highest good.

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

West today.

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

for equality,

and certainly not for degrading anyone,

But for difference,

for excellence,

for uniqueness,

for tradition,

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

this issue—

And redefine the rules,

And turn the tables,

And be radical,

And traditional,

And feel that you have something good,

Something righteous,

and something that is worth fighting for,



And always.

Thank you very much!

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