Christopher F. Rufo
Christopher F. Rufo
Friends and Enemies

Friends and Enemies

A debate on how the Right should build—and limit—its political coalition.

On Tuesday, I hosted a debate on X Spaces on the proposition “no enemies to the right.” The conversation featured two teams of debaters: in support of the proposition, the right-wing polemicist Charles Haywood and American Reformer’s Nate Fischer; in opposition, the Christian apologist Neil Shenvi and Center for Renewing America’s Michael Young.

The proponents argued that constant infighting and gatekeeping have fractured the Right and rendered it ineffective; in order to salvage the coalition, they maintained, establishment conservatives must cease to exclude the voices to their right. The critics, on the other hand, argued that this position would lead to destructive purity spirals, reinforce left-wing narrative dominance, and forfeit any claim that the Right might have on moral action.

My goal with this debate—and perhaps with others in the future—is to start answering the essential strategic questions for the political Right. The following are lightly edited highlights from the opening statements. Listen to the entire conversation and leave your comments below.

In Support

Charles Haywood: The goal of the Right is to defeat the Left. That’s the only goal that matters because the Left is the enemy of mankind and mankind cannot flourish until the Left is defeated. That, of course, begs the question, or brings up the question, rather: What is the Left? And the Left is the essence of the enlightenment, which is the ideology that demands total emancipation from all unchosen bonds as well as total forced egalitarianism, all in service of a heaven on earth, a utopia that is possible to reach in the present age by following these ideological demands.

The Left is the enemy of mankind, but more specifically, it is the enemy of the Right. And the Right is people who are not Left—and that is a perfectly adequate definition, because the Left is relatively easy to define. This, of course, brings up another question: What is an enemy? An enemy is not someone whom you criticize or disagree with. Using the Carl Schmitt definition, an “enemy” is an adversary who intends to negate his opponent’s way of life and, therefore, must be repulsed or fought in order to preserve one’s own form of existence.

So, given that definition, we can of course disagree on the Right, we can dislike people on the Right, we can ignore people on the Right, we can attempt to prevent people on the Right from undermining us. But these people—anybody on the Right—are not an existential enemy in the sense that I just defined.

Nate Fischer: The question that the Right needs to ask, if it’s going to offer any viable alternative, is what we are building toward. I think there’s a lot of room to debate over what the appropriate vision for the Right is, but fundamentally, that’s very different than treating those people as enemies. It’s ironic to me that many of the people who criticize “no enemies to the right” seem averse to the very concept of enemies in politics.

My view is that we should be respectful of a wide range of views on the Right, even those held by people whom we would consider sharply wrong, while we also recognize that they are not ultimately our enemies. The large and powerful regime that’s trying to destroy us is on the Left—and those are the people who should be treated as enemies.

There’s room for tactical debate over how we can correct other people on the Right and challenge what we see as wrong ideas, while recognizing that we’re not trying to turn our guns on them. We’re not trying to employ tactics that will leverage the Left’s moral frame and bring down disproportionate destruction on people within the Right. We should be aiming at the Left.

In Opposition

Neil Shenvi: The strategy of “no enemies to the right” is both theologically impermissible for Christians and practically counterproductive. It will compromise and corrupt the Christians who embrace it, and will make it infinitely harder to defeat wokeness, which is my major concern. For Christians, Paul commands us in Ephesians 5:11 to “take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Throughout the Old Testament we see the prophets rebuking not only evil kings but also publicly rebuking good kings, such as David, when they sin.

So, as Christians, when we see people—even our political allies—doing what’s evil, we have to be honest and fair. That is God’s command. I’m going to argue, primarily for Christians, that if “no enemies to the right” is theologically impermissible, we must reject it. We must have equal weights and measures and call out sin wherever we see it. We have to be moral and obey God’s commands in how we deal with politics.

Michael Young: There is an axiom about leadership: who you win with is who you govern with. That means, between now and when leftist ideology is reduced to rubble, as Charles would like to see, we have to govern—we have to, at some point, be able to take power, establish communities, and we have to be able to live and work with people. And if you say, “no enemies to the right,” people who might be on the Right but who hold odious ideas can get into your leadership.

You punch right because you are keeping diseased minds out of your leadership, and you are doing this because diseased minds make lousy decisions. They wreck things. If we allow poor thinking into our process, then what we’re going to end up doing is shipwrecking our own movement. For that reason, we need to have enemies to the right, so that we can see poor thinking and prevent diseased minds from entering our leadership.

Christopher F. Rufo is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

Christopher F. Rufo
Christopher F. Rufo
Leading the fight against the left-wing ideological regime.
Listen on
Substack App
RSS Feed
Appears in episode
Christopher F. Rufo