| A lunatic Chaplin imitator|
and his greatest fans
|First as tragedy|
|Then as farce|
Third Positionism is a peculiar subspecies of political wingnut movements which attempt to mix neo-Nazism, antisemitism, and far-right ultra-nationalism with whatever economic and social issues of the left they want to throw into their toxic stew, including anything from neo-paganism, feminism, animal rights, and radical environmentalism, all the way over to old-left ideologies such as anarchism and Marxism, and sometimes trying to bring back nearly-forgotten archaic economic ideas such as Distributism and Social Credit.
The name refers to their claim that they have an ideology that is beyond both capitalism and socialism and represents a third pole in international politics distinct from, and in opposition to, the U.S. and Soviet blocs during the Cold War. This is dubious and gives far too much importance to this fringe movement, and far too little to the Non-Aligned Movement. Third Positionism is, essentially, nothing more than white nationalism with an economically leftist and/or countercultural spin.
One key difference from other white nationalists is that, while many of them tend to take a patriotic stance and romanticize European imperialism, Third Positionists instead embrace a third-worldist view of foreign policy, viewing Western imperialism and neo-colonialism as agents of multiculturalism and multiracialism (or, for those given to overt antisemitism, of Zionism) that allow non-white cultural influences to creep into white Western nations from the colonies, and vice-versa. Third world ideologies such as Muammar al-Gaddafi's Green Book, North Korea's Juche, and Arab nationalism are seen as sources of non-white racial nationalist resistance in the developing world, and viewed as kindred spirits to white nationalist movements in the developed West. Some Third Positionists in the US have even sought common cause with Black Power groups like the Nation of Islam over racial separatism and antisemitism, while the New Right in Europe cultivated ties with Islamist groups. By contrast, more conventional white nationalists often rail against the "Yellow Peril" and Islam.
Groups that fall into this category include the Official National Front (now defunct) in the U.K. and its offshoots (still active), and the skinhead organization American Front (now defunct) in the U.S. Tom Metzger, despite his heavy use of crude racist cartoons and rhetoric that most Third Postionists would distance themselves from, has often been described as Third Positionist.
More recently, third positionism has become a tendency within the alt-right, often castigating pro-business conservatives as useful idiots who have no effective response to perceived left-wing infiltration of major corporations. Groups cut from this cloth sometimes use terms like "National Anarchism" (a white nationalist version of the left-wing anarchism), "National Bolshevism" (think Soviet Communism of Lenin and Stalin mixed with Russian nationalism/Pan-Eurasianism of Limonov and Dugin), and "alt-left" (not to be confused with Donald Trump's use of the term to describe antifa). An American political party formed in 2010 calls itself American Third Position or A3P (now known as the American Freedom Party or AFP), though its stance is not really Third Positionism so much as it is producerist conservatism meets white nationalism. Another example is Matthew Heimbach's Traditionalist Worker Party, a now defunct neo-Nazi, white nationalist party has advocated for Third Positionism in articles such as "Class Cooperation Against Capitalism and Communism: Third Position" and "Social Nationalism: An Economic Future for our people", mixing it with the existing ideology of European fascism (German Nazism/Hitlerism, British Mosley Fascism, and Codreanu Romanian Legionarism) and Orthodox Christianity in addition to advocating for Strasserism (see more below). Yet another example, which is widely believed to be a stealth parody yet is a good illustration of what Third Positionism is, is a website purporting to be the "Libertarian National Socialist Green Party."
There are some regional differences. Continental European groups like Germany's The Third Path favor pagan and skinhead imagery and hearken to radical anti-civilization ideologues like Julius Evola and Pentti Linkola, as well as the writings of Francis Parker Yockey. By contrast, the American Freedom Party presents itself as a professional and businesslike political party, even avoiding any of Third Positionism's usual leftist flirtations in favor of capitalism, middle class social conservatism, and economic nationalism. Groups in the United Kingdom seem to favor radically traditionalist Catholicism and agrarianism.
This leaves open the question of why somebody would simultaneously mix up a stew of neo-Nazism with left-wing social and economic views.
For a more nuanced political analysis of this phenomenon, look to the original National Socialist German Workers Party of the 1920s and early 1930s. One faction, led by Adolf Hitler, was merely interested in raw power, hatred, and putting their genocidal and militaristic fantasies into practice as well as being anti-Slavic, anti-Communist, anti-Polish and expansionist. The other faction, led by the Strasser brothers (Otto and Gregor), took the "Socialist" part of the party's name seriously and espoused an anti-capitalist, anti-bourgeois left-wing working class revolutionary stance with redistribution of the wealth to Germans akin to communism in addition to extreme German nationalism and antisemitism (but on an economic rather than racial or religious basis opposing what they called "Jewish finance capitalism") this ideology was called Strasserism and the movement has its own flag created by the Combat Revolutionary League of National Socialists (aka the Black Front) which has a black background and a red hammer and sword with white outline. The Strasserite faction was violently purged by the Hitlerite faction not long after Hitler's rise to power, in the "Night of the Long Knives". Third Positionism, then, is more or less to neo-Nazism what Strasserism was to the original Nazism. Note the similarity of "national anarchism" and "national Bolshevism" to "national socialism".
There exist many syncretist political movements that mix left and right, such as libertarianism, the Hardline movement and some other hard greens, and some conspiracy theorists who simultaneously espouse conspiracy theories of the far left and far right. These are neither Third Positionist nor fascist and shouldn't be confused with such, but still illustrate how seemingly disparate political views can merge.
One curious footnote is the political cult of Lyndon LaRouche, which holds opposing views to Third Positionism in many ways but ended up evolving into a similar fusion of wingnuttery and moonbattery that, like Third Positionism, is often considered by critics to be a proto-fascist movement.
The authoritarian wing of the postmodernist-influenced hard-left has been accused of advocating for a form of "Left fascism", effectively making it Third Positionism in reverse by starting out on the extreme left before taking on traits of the extreme right. Like right-fascism it's functionally a counter-Enlightenment, anti-rational movement that borrows from Nietzschean concepts such as the "will to power", but whereas right-fascism desires to shield historically dominant cultures and/or races from being "weakened" by enlightenment ideals and liberalism, left fascism considers historically non-dominant cultures/races to be inherently purer and instead needing a strong leadership to protect them from being tainted by Western culture. These ideologies have been known to have some overlap with authoritarian communists and can have a weakness for Third-World dictators.
British right-wing ideologue Enoch Powell espoused many of the contrarian nationalist ideas that would later influence Third Positionism, often going against the conventional wisdom of the British right. Notably, he viewed the United States as a greater threat to Britain than the Soviet Union, feeling that the Americans had destroyed the British Empire for their own gain and wanted a united Ireland within NATO to combat communism (at the expense of British rule in Northern Ireland), and that Britain and Russia were "natural allies" in the European balance of power. However, his economic ideas were staunchly opposed to the left-wing populism of Third Positionism; he was a monetarist and one of the first major British politicians to call for large-scale privatization of state-owned industries, more than a decade before Margaret Thatcher took office and put such plans into action.
Paleoconservatism is an American movement that is explicitly right-wing rather than left-wing. While it has many similarities with traditional European conservatisms, American culture is different enough to make this movement distinct. Many of its critiques of globalization and modern capitalism are similar to those used by Third Positionists (i.e. "they're vehicles of multiculturalism that are destroying Western civilization"), but the critique is explicitly localist and in many ways pre-modern, rather than the modernist quasi-socialist critiques of fascism's variants. It shares this distinction in common with most strains of conservatism. Where paleoconservative philosophy departs from Continental European models is its different wellsprings such as Edmund Burke and the Federalist Papers, while hearkening back to an idealized version of America's agrarian frontier history as a cultural touchstone. There are dueling schools of thought regarding the school's relationship to "the other," but the behavioural fact is that paleoconservatives have traditionally been anti-immigration, even when most immigrants were European. Some are also foreign policy isolationists to an extreme degree.
One interesting note is that leftist critics of paleoconservatism see them as proof of Horseshoe theory, in which the left and right converge. Meanwhile, paleoconservatives frequently make the exact same observation about the totalist societal view of their leftist critics. Note that logic doesn't require one to choose between these contentions; each case can be evaluated independently on its merits.
- The Southern Poverty Law Center's profile on the Nation of Islam (links with Third Positionists are mentioned towards the bottom).
- American Freedom Party
- "Libertarian National Socialist Green Party", Green Politics Wiki
- Some conservatives claim that all Nazism and fascism were left-wing. This is a hotly disputed point.
- Hence Jello Biafra's response to 3rd Positionists that "In a real Fourth Reich you'll be the first to go."
- Kolozi, Peter. "Conservatives Against Capitalism: The Conservative Critique of Capitalism in American Political Thought." Particularly relevant for this footnote are chapter VI on the paleoconservatives, and chapter III on the Southern Agrarian ideology of the early 20th century, which in Kolozi's opinion is an ideological antecedent to paleoconservatism. Note that the frontier/ Yankee agrarian model had key differences from the Southern model, so a good case must differentiate between those.
- Sobran, Joseph. "Pensees: Notes for the Reactionary of Tomorrow." This is an inside view of Paleoconservatism from a long-standing exponent; see esp. its discussions of Alienism and fascism.
- Wikipedia, Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War. A book by Patrick Buchanan, arguing that World War I and World War II were unnecessary.
- SPLC profiles of Third Position websites. The article was written in 2000, and very few of these sites are still online (most have been defunct for years), but still a useful profile.
- Who Makes The Nazis? — a good blog on neo-fascist use of alternative music (including folk and punk) and the counterculture, which are exactly the playgrounds favored by Third Positionists.
- Third Position Chat room