Political Crossfront or Jeffersonian Factionalism?

The term “Crossfront,” in the context of the “Left-Right Political Spectrum,” refers to the coalescence of political interests held by those on the Far-Left and Far-Right. It is generally understood by most political scientists that anyone considered to be from the Far-Right or Far-Left is incapable of working with the other side. Their goals and views are so fundamentally different that it is difficult to envisage all notions of both working together against the Center. But as Bogumil of ARPLAN and I are both convinced, there are ways in which people of different political orientations will find themselves working together to spearhead the creation of a new consensus.

Our discussion on ARPLAN about the original Crossfront, which took place in the Weimar Republic, was the result of a breakdown in the Left-Right Political Spectrum. A person on the Right for instance might have had Monarchist and Socialist views or how somebody on the Left favored reframing the Class Struggle along national lines, between Proletarian and Bourgeois nations as opposed to classes within a single country. Ideas were exchanged between different movements, organizations, and parties, implying that there is a fundamental philosophical basis from which such points of agreements can be struck. One good example was the influence of Friedrich Nietzsche, whose ideas were familiar to and adopted by people from the Left and Right within the German-speaking world. Of course, that is not to suggest that the Crossfront can be guaranteed to succeed. In the Weimar Republic, the KPD and NSDAP were united more so by their opposition to the Liberal Capitalists, but when it came to specific ideological ideas, they had far less in common.

I wanted to mention my past discussions with Bogumil because a similar trend has been occurring in American politics for some time now. As I had pointed out on a few occasions, there was a brief moment in 2016 when the Trump and Sanders campaign supporters began sharing similar views and ideas. The goals were almost the same, except the aims were what distinguished them. Very few today remember because most Americans were swept so far into the fervor of 2016 that they did not bother to understand its historical significance. In the years since 2017, the Crossfront fervor has been dissipated for some time. There never was a philosophical foundation in the American sense, allowing a Trump supporter and a Sanders supporter to seek common ground.

Today, in 2022, another similar trend is emerging, this time among the Jeffersonians of the Democratic-Republican Party. Following the Russian “Special Military Operation,” certain tendencies among the Factions were quick to denounce the Ukraine and support Russia. A Foreign Policy article from July 4 documented those developments in great detail:

“Tucker Carlson, the face of Fox News and host of the most popular show on cable news in the United States, has been spouting pro-Kremlin talking points for months (and is frequently rebroadcasted on Russian state television). Other right-wing figures regularly spew out anti-Ukrainian disinformation and rail against sending heavy weapons to the country.

Meanwhile, the luminary of the American intellectual left, Noam Chomsky, has invoked former U.S. President Donald Trump as a model of level-headed geopolitical statesmanship for his opposition to arming Ukraine. Left-wing sources—such as Jacobin, New Left Review, and Democracy Now!—have hewed to a party line that blames NATO expansion for Russia’s invasion and opposes military aid to Ukraine.

Online, armies of left- and right-wing accounts find fault with Ukraine’s politics, policies, and president. In Congress, seven of the most fervent conservative Trump supporters voted alongside progressive champions Reps. Ilhan Omar and Cori Bush against banning Russian fossil fuels; even more surprisingly, Omar and Bush are joined by so-called squad members Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib as well as the far-right fringe of the Republican Party in opposing the U.S. government seizing Russian oligarchs’ assets.”

All of these developments highlight a bizarre alliance between the two ends of the political spectrum. The question is: Why?

The academic authors of this article are correct in asking why these developments are taking place in US political discourse. One of the explanations they provided, however, was less than convincing insofar as they tried to focus more on the superficial aspects, citing the infamous “Horseshoe Theory” as their basis. The Horseshoe Theory adheres to an overgeneralized, oversimplified understanding of political ideologies that prevents most people (like this Author) from taking it seriously. A more plausible argument is that the Populism of Trump and the Populism of Sanders are both hostile to the ongoing Jeffersonian consensus, even if they themselves do not have the proper intellectual guidance to promote an alternative Hamiltonian consensus.

This brings me to an important conclusion which I had made in The Work-Standard (2nd Ed.) that I find to be relevant. Whether they are from the Left or the Right, a “Left-Hamiltonian” is more likely to find common ground with a “Right-Hamiltonian” than they would if either were to apply the same for the Jeffersonians. A Jeffersonian, be they a Democrat or a Republican, will still adhere to the same shared set of psychic and psychological instincts preventing them from the wholeheartedly espousal of Hamiltonianism. The most obvious example of this instance in The Work-Standard (2nd Ed.) was the noteworthy instance of George Soros and Charles Koch helping found the Quincey Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a pet project of Andrew Bacevich. I argued that, given Soros’ belief that the Empire of Liberty can continue without the US and Koch’s pro-Isolationist tendencies, their contributions represented an example of Jeffersonian interpretations of US foreign policy. In fact, what distinguishes the Quincey Institute from other Jeffersonian think tanks is a greater emphasis on preserving the Empire of Liberty through diplomatic ploys, rather than military action.

While the article itself does mention Soros and Koch’s funding of the Quincey Institute, it does so in reference to the John J. Mearsheimer’s “Offensive Neorealism” of International Relations. Mearsheimer’s “Offensive Neorealism,” arguing from the standpoint of the Freedom-Security Dialectic, believed that nations are insecure by their very nature and thus free to engage in a “security competition” with other nations to become a regional or even world hegemony. What is really bizarre is that the “security competition” is purely military and internationalist in scope, leaving very little room in the way of domestic and national factors.

There are plenty of other observations made by the authors, so I do not want to go too far into a tangent on the realms of competing theories from an entirely different field. But other than that, the authors were adamant in their position that this aforementioned Crossfront needs to be as two sets of Populists against a perceived “Elitist” establishment. It is a shame because, as I had learned from Julius Krein, most Populist movements not only lack intellectual rigor, they also lack the sort of leadership which would give any government a newfound sense of direction. If anything, the Populist tendencies are a sign of a breakdown in consensus within the Left-Right Political Spectrum, which in itself can open the way to an exchange of ideas. And as I had stated earlier, whether a country’s political forces stand to gain from anything needs to be ascertained on whether said political forces have a shared philosophical and theoretical foundation.

Categories: Politics

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