The Shadows Grow

On election night last year, Fox News rolled out Britt Hume to editorialize on the results and what it meant for conservatism. Hume went through the list of things that he said defined conservatism over the last number of decades. He then pointed out how Trump rejected these items, in full or in part, to win the GOP nomination and then the general election. Hume’s definition of conservatism sounded like a lunch order. It it was just a list of policy goals, like cutting taxes, reducing regulation and free trade.

That’s because over the last several decades, Official Conservatism™ has been reduced to a soulless list of agenda items, based on the same assumptions about the human condition as Progressivism. In many cases, the official Left and the official Right agree on the same goals, but disagree on tactics. Tax policy is a great example. Both sides agree that tax policy is about social engineering, by rewarding certain behaviors and punishing others. The debate, such as there is, is about which behaviors to prioritize.

The critique of Official Conservatism™ from the Right is rooted in the observation that Conservatives now agree with Progressives on base assumptions about the human condition and human organization. Humans are infinitely malleable and human society has no organic, natural form. As a result, both Left and Right now share a moral code, which is a Progressive moral code. This has reduced conservatism to an assistant’s role, where its primary job is to police the Right and purge those who threaten the moral order.

For the last 25 years, the institutions of Official Conservatism™ have done a good job of imposing their will on the other elements that allegedly make up the coalition of the American Right. Social conservatives have been coerced into supporting globalist economics. Foreign policy realists have either been purged or forced into accepting the neocon position. Everyone has been marinated in immigration romanticism to the point where even the most sensible will genuflect when passing the Statue of Liberty.

The trouble is, the old paleocons were right all along. The hip and modern version of conservatism, what the alt-right boys call Boomer Conservatism, has been a complete failure, even by its own standards. Globalism has not made the typical American more prosperous. In fact, we have experienced a decline in living standards. Wars of choice to bring the joys of social democracy to the savages have resulted in America looking like a police state. The effort to spread liberty has made all of us less free.

It is the area of social policy where Official Conservatism™ has been an unmitigated disaster. It’s not just the trannies stalking the girls restroom or the degenerates running wild in the public square. Those are the sorts of things that can be rectified in an hour, if the state feels the need. The real disaster is in the institutions that define the culture at the street level. Social groups, churches, even religion itself, has seen its legitimacy undermined by the new consensus forged between the Left and the Right.

This post on National Review the other day by Ramesh Ponnuru is about the rethinking of this arrangement by social conservatives. He is working off this essay by the editor of First Things, a religious-right operation founded by Richard John Neuhaus. Ponnuru’s post is mostly hyperventilating and hand-waving, in an effort to not address the main observations made by the author. Guys like Ponnuru never imagined they would need to defend themselves from their Right, so they have no way to do it, other than dismissal.

One thing that stands out about the First Things post is the acknowledgement that the bargain struck between traditional Christianity in America and the political Right was deal salient in another age. It no longer makes sense in a post-Cold War America where the challenges are purely cultural. This is a critique of Official Conservatism™ that is popular with blogs like this one. The marriage of convenience between social conservatives, anti-communists and libertarian economists stopped being convenient when the war ended.

Now, First Things is not about to embrace the alt-right, or even biological realism anytime soon. You see that in the post, where the author goes through the usual rituals to signal his fidelity to anti-racism. His discussion of Charlottesville brings to mind a man trying to bury something that keeps rising to the surface no matter how much dirt he piles on it. The thing that is rising from the earth, despite his frantic efforts to cover it up with scare words, is the realization that the old moral paradigm is no longer useful in this age.

For the longest time, Official Conservatism™ was defined by the three key elements of its coalition. Social conservatives, free market libertarians and hawkish anti-communists made up the Grand Army of the Right. They even sang The Battle Hymn of the Republic at the GOP convention. Once the Cold War ended, the anti-communist leg no longer had a reason to exist, which is why the coalition spiraled out of control. Social conservatism had always been a junior partner, but after the Cold War it was reduced to window dressing.

Fundamentally, the Dissident Right, of which the alt-right is a part, is a reaction to the failures of American conservatism. If Official Conservatism™ is unable top keep men in sundresses out of the girl’s restroom, what good is it? The answer from the Dissident Right is that it is no good at all. Seeing elements of Official Conservatism™ begin to openly question their arrangements along the same lines suggests the shadow of the Dissident Right is starting to reach the walls of the Orthodoxy. They are noticing us.

It goes beyond noticing though. Read conventional right-wing journals and what you find is a vapid recitation of 1980’s dogma, salted with references to Buckley and Reagan. It’s like listening to disco. Read sites on the Dissident Right like American Greatness and you find thoughtful criticism and reasoned attempts at making sense of the current age. The shadow of the Dissident Right is growing, because relative to the legacy right, the people in this thing are intellectual giants. Ideas do matter and we’re the ones with the ideas now.

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51 Comments on "The Shadows Grow"

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Soren
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They’ve been noticing us for a long time… I mean, most of them probably read Sailer and many keep up with Derbyshire and frequent TakiMag. Richard Spencer never gave the “alt-light” time and room to ever work. If Spencer did nothing but keep writing for Radix, there would be a large “alt-light” alternative mediasphere created by now that would be able to slip in “dissident right” ideas easier. It’s impossible to get money to do this now and it’s completely Spencer’s fault.

Drake
Guest

I have no idea what Official Conservatism™ stands for. A year ago I would have guessed they stood for repealing Obamacare, at least pretending to contain spending, and cutting taxes.

Now – all I can think of is their continuing mission to campaign as conservatives and govern as moderate Democrats.

SES
Guest

Exactly. They were never conservative, they were always globalists. Controlled opposition. In the age before the internet it was easy to keep the wool pulled over the average prole’s eyes. Not anymore. Facts are pesky things, they keep popping up and disturbing the comfortable narrative.

Severian
Guest
This is why I joke with my liberal friends that I’m the only guy I know who *really* believes in Evolution. I ask them: We’re descended from apes, right? And ape society is ruthlessly hierarchical, patriarchal, and violent, right? (yes, even the fucking bonobos). Ok, so: At what point did we evolve The Blank Slate? Because y’all aren’t saying “we *choose* to live *as if* humans are blank slates;” you’re saying “humans ARE blank slates; things like race DO NOT exist.” At what point on the hominid ladder did we get there? Homo erectus? Australopithecus? They’ve usually called me rayciss… Read more »
Toddy+Cat
Guest
To be honest, there always was a lot of artificiality in the conservative coalition, even during its Reagan heyday. Many of the anti-Communists and social conservatives who voted for Reagan in the 1980’s were still very skeptical of big business, “Country Club Republicans” and free trade. But the collapse of the Scoop Jackson wing of the Democratic Party in the late 1960’s left the anti-Communists no place else to go, and the total sellout of the Democrats on race issues during the same period pushed a lot of moderate liberals into the Reagan camp.But they were never really happy there,… Read more »
Member

The Scoop Jackson wing of the Democratic party died along with Scoop Jackson in the eighties. They were essentially Neocohens. The fetid residue trickled over to the GOP and festered there between the administrations of Reagan and Obama. But the nasty toilet ring is still visible in today’s GOP.

Toddy+Cat
Guest

The Scoop Jackson wing of the Democrats was usually defined as being anti-Communist liberals. That was before there really were any NeoCons, who only really got started as an organized movement until the late 1960’s. But suit yourself.

Alzaebo
Guest

It sounds like the anti-Birchers eventually emerged as full-grown Neocons. Both Birchers and Scoops had to be neutralized.

Chiron
Guest

The Neocons have said that Scoop Jackson is one of their guiding lights, not surprising since Scoop was responsible in bringing Soviet Jews to the US.

Toddy+Cat
Guest

Yes, Jackson was very popular with the NeoCons because of that, but he wasn’t one himself. For Jackson, the whole Jewish emigration thing was more about showing up the USSR (which he hated with the intensity of a thousand suns) than anything having to do with Jews. It made the USSR look stupid and repressive, and if it got him a few more Jewish votes, so much the better.

Alzaebo
Guest
Aha. Russia cleaned out their prisons of the Red Mafya- the Jewish cosa nostra in the USSR- and sent them here in 1979 to cheers of “freedom wins!” Two years later, Fidel Castro sent his infected prison population in the Muriel Boatlift. AIDS, picked up by Cuban soldiers in Angolan villages, had been percolating in the closed Petri dish of those prisons. The human biowarfare bomb hit the queer kingdom of Key West, and AIDS exploded through the lavicious gay network. The USSR sent tuberculosis, Cuba sent AIDS, and we replied with gay marraige- a way for gays to rob… Read more »
Alzaebo
Guest

“actually libertarian policies developed in Continental Europe”

I never noticed that before, but I agree.
Sounds an awful lot like the 19 new professors in Columbia School of Journalism in 1959- well tailored, erudite men with suave East European accents.

So earnest, so naive.
Libertarians were played.
The alt-lite of their time.

We wanted to grow a pot plant and got meth lab zombies instead.

Tim
Guest

The challenges now may seem purely cultural, but I think that’s because the fault lines are being papered over with tons of borrowed money. Let the economy crack, and your standard closing of “This will not end well,” will seem like sunny optimism. To mount a real challenge to the globalist fake right, I think a cultural undermining of all their fake norms has to take place first, which is what is happening now. When the culture is changed, then opportunistic politicians will make themselves available.

Member

Which is why Spencer said, “Politics is downstream from culture.”

Member

I thought Andrew Breitbart said that.

Member

I stand corrected. Than you.

Tim
Guest

Epam…. I was a little uncomfortable, on re-reading, with that last line of mine. It sounded too much like No. 2 of the Underpants Gnomes get-rich strategy. I think it’s impossible to forecast politics any distance ahead, which is why I’m thinking changing the culture, as you say, is the first step. That’s why “It’s ok to be white” was worth 1000 Spencers.

Larry Darrell
Guest

Today’s National Review has a lengthy article, pumping Romney as Hatch’s successor in Utah, pending Hatch’s decision about re-election.

The NR author totally ignored a news article from last week in which appeared the following:
“I’m planning on running again because I still have the chairmanship of the Finance Committee and they’ll never be another Utahn that’s chairman of the committee, at least not for 40 or 50 years,” Hatch told the Wall Street Journal.

LFMayor
Guest

Girondists are good eatin’. Plumped, not too stringy from real work.

Your comment the other day about always violence and now you mention sides of the river.

We shall enjoy both the meal and the violence, or be the meal and not enjoy them.

Cui Bono
Guest

When all’s said and done, Black Friday at Walmart says everything you need to know about today’s America. A few years back I quit bemoaning the societal collapse, quit pissing into the wind and devoted all efforts to increasing preps as time and money allow. God be with you folks inasmuch as you wish HIM to be.

Dutch
Guest
My take is that Reagan, in his more coherent moments and policy actions, scared the crap out of what was already a somewhat Uniparty Washington. The Liberals set out to burn down any vestiges of Reaganism, and the so-called Conservatives attempted to intellectually reconcile the burning down process with a dress-up version of Reaganism that was soft and cuddly and did not really recommend a change in the political status quo. So now you get Trump, a rude and in-your-face version of Reagan, who seems to feed off of the resistance to him, and who seems much more determined to… Read more »
Member

I like American Greatness, but the commentariat there is still heavily laden with Neocohens. If you deviate from the standard platforms about race, Lincoln, or Israel, be prepared for a heated exchange. Personally, I enjoy warming my hands at a fiercely stoked Culture War bonfire.

TomA
Guest
Since the topic of this post is brutal honesty, how about addressing the elephant in the room? The misdeeds of the modern Official Conservative Movement are not due to benign incompetence or faulty reasoning, but rather are the result of deliberate collusion with the Progressives to implement a soft and bloodless tyranny. Illegal immigration and the welfare epidemic are about dominance of hive-minded sheeple over free-thinkers. Endless war is about building and training a police state armada to keep the lowlifes inline. Social engineering is really just industrial scale stupidity indoctrination. The most effective weapon of the cloud people is… Read more »
Dutch
Guest

Amen, brother.

Member

Agree.

Member
I only read a few lines of Ponnuru. R. R. Reno, unlike the founder of FT, is one of those Catholics who are susceptible to the siren call of social justice. If he can get closer to it by alliance with elements of the left or the alt right he will be tempted. I don’t know if Ponnuru directly addresses this or not, but having read plenty of both in the past, this is the core issue. Reno is hardly anything like Neuhaus, who was much more open to radical ideas. I think he saw with much greater clarity the… Read more »
Toddy+Cat
Guest

Like so many other “conservatives” today, Reno’s heart is in the right place, but he’s terrified of being called a racist. Neuhaus may have been something of a NeoCon, but he at least had guts.

Member

He was a neocon only in so far as it was an inevitable transition point for him. You don’t go straight from marching with MLK to being a race realist overnight. He never got to race realism and may never have done so. But he wouldn’t write them off out of fear and would have engaging their thinking, always with an eye toward defeating the left.

A B Hall
Guest
As evidenced by Britt Hume’s comments, this article does not understand true conservatism. To wit: is is not about “moral code” or “social democracy” or more accurately about “how to react to Progressivism.” The writer seems more aligned to Rousseau than to Jefferson or John Adams – and is at outright odds with Milton Friedman. True conservatism is about Liberty – and especially the personal kind. It abhors the notion that “all sovereignty resides in the state” (words of the 3rd para of the Declaration of the Rights of Man). Modern conservatives have been mired down in issues of equality,… Read more »
Alzaebo
Guest

That the State’s highest value is to protect the individuals within- yes, absolutely, that’s why conservatism, libertarianism, and even leftism must be compromised.

Christopher S. Johns
Guest
The discussion on Charlottesville in the First Things piece is worth reading. Consider the following: “A vicious white identity politics may gain traction because it draws upon the categories and assumptions that dominate higher education and have a great deal of currency in the media and the business world. Richard Spencer sounds like someone who has read Mein Kampf and Queer Theory, studied intersectionality, and recently attended a conference of corporate diversity officers. He can frame his agenda in terms of our present politics of grievance and victimhood, casting “whites” as disenfranchised and scheduled for “replacement.” Given the way that… Read more »
Member

Good observation. Thanks.

Alzaebo
Guest
Libertarians like me are also outdated. Whigs. Libertarian fathers were Constitutionalists reacting to the Prohibition racket; libertarian sons were drafted into the Vietnam racket and fled the Great Society Model Cities; libertarian grandsons were sent to the Mideast and thought corporations had the right to be free. Our dry appeal to Constitution was a secular version of the Christian appeal to Bible…and about as joyous a gospel as sucking lemons. Some goals are being achieved, such as legalization or a volunteer army, making us obsolete. Some, we got what we wanted, and boy do we regret it. We ended up… Read more »
james+wilson
Guest

“Life is a series of one bubble breaking after another.”–Derb. Progs excepted, apparently.

Member

May I make a Modest Proposal and suggest that you call Official Conservatives™, Neo-Whigs?

Al fron da Nort
Guest
You know, in 1989 when the USSR collapsed, it wasn’t so immediately obvious that this was the complete end of the Cold War. Quite a number of us kept expecting a possibly stronger spring-back like occurred in pre-Napolianic France or Bolshevik Russia following their initial revolutions. In this mistake we were abetted by the Cloud Press who kept fishing for hope that the commie zombies they had invested so much hope and effort in would re-awake and walk the earth once again. It was at this point that ‘Official Conservatism’ lost the plot. Instead of saying ‘Hooray, we won, time… Read more »
Toddy+Cat
Guest

That’s a very good observation. A lot of us anti-Commies just couldn’t believe that Communism was finally gone, and (relatively) quietly. So, we won the war, and lost the peace. Again.

newrouter
Guest
Alzaebo
Guest

Don’t be an idiot.
Just fucking leave already, you stupid kid

StanFL
Guest

Remind me of the place where the main ideas of the alt-right are collected and (mostly) agreed upon.

zreader
Guest