The Book Of Spite

I think the main reason for the popularity of Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism was the claim that the liberals were the real fascists. The book itself was a bit of a slog and as David Gordon noted, it was riddled with factual errors. I’m not an expert on historical fascism, so I did not take the fast and loose treatment of the facts personally, but the people who know the subject treated the book as an insult. Paul Gottfried has never forgiven Jonah Goldberg.

When I saw that Jonah Goldberg’s next book was titled Suicide of the West I was reminded of that reaction by the old paleocons. The title is, of course, a deliberate reference to James Burnham’s classic text. Then there is Patrick Buchanan’s classic book, Suicide of a Superpower. Of course, it is also hints at Oswald Spengler’s classic The Decline of the West. For a neocon lightweight to pick such a title and topic, well, it suggests it is another deliberate swipe at an old enemy.

To make matters worse, the entire tribe of neocon grifters have tumbled out of their clown car to promote the book. David Brooks calls it “Epic and debate-shifting.” Yuval Levin says, “More than any book published so far in this century, it deserves to be called a conservative classic.” The Weekly Standard treats it like a newly discovered part of the Torah. I get how the commentary rackets work, but this degree of rumpswabbery is unseemly.

That said, I decided to give the book a read and write a review, fully expecting to use it as a segue into some points about Burnham, Buchanan, and others. The rest of the book’s title sums up the neocon argument against Trump. The rather mild pushback against cosmopolitan globalism we have seen in the last two years has been treated like the end of the world. My assumption going in was that it was going to be the long play version of every Weekly Standard editorial since 2016.

I was wrong. This book is terrible in ways that I did not expect. The terribleness starts in the introduction, which is written in the jocular style you would expect from a short blog post about a television show or a movie. In fact, he relies on quotes from movies to make his points. When you pick up a book with the pretentious title Suicide of the West, it better read like a serious book. Instead, Goldberg becomes Shecky Goldberg doing a vaudeville routine based on Western philosophy.

The first clue that he is in over his head is the superficiality. The introduction is a rambling and shallow discussion of religion and human nature, which somehow veers into a discussion of the movie The Godfather. When he gets into his discussion of human nature, it’s obvious that he is way out of his depth, and he knows it. Frankly, it reads like something submitted by a freshman coed. If he had dotted his i’s with little hearts, it would have been more authentic.

The book is really three books. The first part is just rambling nonsense about human nature that would embarrass anyone on our side of the great divide. The second part is a grammar school social studies book. The third part feels like it was written by a committee of people not on speaking terms with one another. Big chunks of it undermine his main thesis. Even accounting for my own deep skepticism about his motives, it is a surprisingly weak argument.

Goldberg is a good example of the defects of the American commentariat. There is an army of mediocrities, hired to sing the praises of the managerial state, perched on media platforms in New York and Washington. They are close to being an inherited class, a chattering aristocracy. Many of them are handed titles like “senior fellow” or “scholar” by think tanks, so they start thinking they are academics. Instead of relying on people who know the material and reporting their arguments, modern pundit pick up a few things and start thinking they are the experts.

The other odd thing about the book is he tries to frame current events as a war between populism and capitalism, nationalism, and democracy. He makes no effort to explain how un-elected supranational organizations are democratic or how global oligopolies are capitalistic. What it reveals is the neocon ideology, whatever it was, is now just a defense of soulless transactionalism and materialistic score keeping. American society is just a deracinated collection of economic units.

In all candor, I found myself skimming about midway through it. I kept wondering why he picked the title, given that his product falls far short of his ambitions. Then I remembered the old paleocons and how they responded to his first book. My hunch is he picked the title out of spite and then started writing the book. At some point, he either got lazy or realized he was in way over his head, so he reverted to goofy pop culture references and superficial banter.

The result is a dull book by an equally dull writer.

126 thoughts on “The Book Of Spite

  1. Pingback: Squid Ink | The Z Blog

  2. You’ll have to forgive Goldberg. Everytime he stays the night at a Holiday Inn Express, he wakes up feeling like like a bonafide author.

  3. Bogger Mark Steyn interviewed Dr. James E. Mitchell last year and sent a link to the interview yesterday, in response to the current confirmation hearings for Gina Haspel for CIA director. Dr. Mitchell was an interrogator for the CIA, and specifically asked Kahlid Sheikh Mohammad, the man who planned the 9/11 attacks, what he thought the U.S. response would be. He replied he took his clue from past attacks, where it was turned over to the FBI as a domestic crime incident. He didn’t anticipate the “War on Terror” declared by the Bush administration, and the subsequent attacks on Afghanistan, then Iraq. It seemed Bush wanted a war somewhere to damage Muslim extremists and defer future attacks, but where? Saudi Arabia may have been the better target, but Iraq was chosen. And how do you get public support? Here is a quote from policy planner Paul Wolfowitz in 2003;
    The truth is that, for reasons that have a lot to do with the U.S. government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason [to go to war]. [Wolfowitz, 5/9/03]

    • “KSM, the man who planned the 9/11 attacks.”

      LOL, no. You just got gaslit by that NeoCohen lie.

      YOU need to spend some time watching the Corbett Report & Ryan Dawson videos regarding the truth events of 9/11.

  4. Neocons take palecon output, neuter it, sanitize it, make it “ready for prime time” and all that. Its dull and phony. I imagine that something called Suicide of the West ought to read like a heady, heavy tome but instead probably reads like this nepotistic pantload’s insipid G-Files. This is like the oversocialized leftist twits relating everything to pop culture drivel like Harry Potter and the Avengers. Jonah is old and boring and fake and gay so he talks about stuff like Godfather that he thinks make him seem like a macho right wing man instead of the pudding soft and juvenile nebbish that he is.

    Its not a suicide, its an attempted homicide. People with surnames like Goldberg are doing it.

    • “Jonah is old and boring and fake and gay so he talks about stuff like Godfather that he thinks make him seem like a macho right wing man instead of the pudding soft and juvenile nebbish that he is.” Funny as shit.

  5. Wolfowitz and W had me convinced the Iraqis were just waiting to embrace democracy. Had I thought it through at the time, why would the Iraqis be any more supportive than the majority of college professors in the U.S.?

  6. “Instead of relying on people who know the material, they pick up a few things and start thinking they are the experts”

    Which demonstrates a modern twist to the cliche “A little knowledge… is just stupidity in action.

    Back in 2007 when Ron Paul ran for President, he was crucified by his own party and the press for among the many things he said due to his critical observations of his fellow faux GOP conservatives in office who failed to put their vote where their mouth was.

    Now the worm has turned, and many of these same former so-called conservatives who dissed Dr. Paul are now preening themselves as born-again independents making the same criticisms that he voiced. I hear this new tone today from the likes of Hannity, Levin, and Limbaugh, the very ones who scorned him back then. Say what you will of Ron Paul, he at least had the guts to point out the emperor had no clothes, and not blindly toe to his party line.

    • Boomer conservatives have a feeling of guilt due to the fact that they lost in Vietnam. Our endless war perceived by boomercons as an act of penance for their youthful hedonism. The Millenials and Zeds send abroad will “redeem” the Empire. It has many similarities to liberal thinking about race.

      It is no surprise to me that Iraq/Afghan vets are mostly left-wing, conservatives really need to become anti-militarist.

      So to the typical boomercon: criticize the war = personal attacks on the troops. Ron Paul also indicated some sympathies with the 9/11 conspiracy theories, boomercons really hated that.

      • Only 34 percent of people who had served in the military voted for Hillary Clinton whereas 61 percent voted for President Trump. While the military may not be Republican its much more right wing than the general public.

        Furthermore, Barack Obama did not get a majority of the military’s vote in either of his presidential elections. To the best of my knowledge, no Democrat has won the military’s vote in decades if ever. Maybe Perot sucking up the votes led to him getting more votes than George H.W. Bush, but 50 percent or better? I doubt it.

        I remember the military as substantially more right wing libertarian than the general public. I’d never met anybody who was a libertarian who supported Ron Paul or anybody like him but within a few years of being in the Army I had two roommates who donated to his campaign and had Ron Paul bumper stickers and posters on their cars and in their rooms!

        The left wing set of the military is the officer and upper crust sergeant class, usually. I’d say the enlisted, especially the lower enlisted, was and is one of the most reliably right wing voting blocs in America.

    • People like Hannity, Levin and Limbaugh are mercenaries and cucks. They go where the wind blows and where their masters tell them. During the Bush years it was rah,rah, war and “regime change”, supporting globalization and the de-industrialization of America.

      I remember when Trump criticized the Iraq war, the Cucks flipped out and thought it would doom him. What they didn’t get was that the people whose sons fought in the war had a much different view than the pampered multi-millionaire class does from their mansions. To the elite war is some abstract thing they watch on TV while boffing a hooker.

      If it’s the Neo-cons, they just probably think war is some kind snuff video to get off of.

      • I’ve never listened to Levin. But Hannity/Limbaugh aren’t complicated enough to be cucks. That’s a different thing. They’re just flag respecting guys. Besides I repel at real men being called that. If a guy could kick my ass in his prime I don’t feel right calling him a cuck.

        • You should listen to Levin. He has had great guests on his new show. Charlie Kirk has even given me a bit of optimism.

          • Thanks man. I didn’t know about it. I thought Tucker was the only brainy guy they had. I’ll start recording the show. Hope it’s good. (Within the bounds of what Fox can be anyway).

          • Charlie Kirk is a NeoCon Boomer Civic Nationalist, wearing a Millennial skin suit.
            I’d love to punch that little suck up right in the blow hole.
            He’s much too much like a young, gentile version of Lil’ Benny Chickenhawk Shapiro.

            Nick Fuentes, despite a handful of cringey & wrongheaded CPAC approved opinions and devout Catholicism, along w/ American Nationalist, James Allsup, are far better ‘under 25’ trad right role models.

            There are also many, many other under 25, true alt-right guys, that can blow Fuentes & Allsup away, but are just lesser known.

  7. Wow. I happened on an audiobook copy of Goldberg’s scribblings years ago, never relistened and found it unmemorable. Instead of DR3, it was DRRF.
    I recall the thing had a breezy, adolescent tone that suggested unseriousness. Having read Zman’s link to Gordon’s review, the poor scholarship of the book rankles in retrospect. I’m ashamed to have said in the past it was useful scholarship and I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Acton and Napoleon errors were coarse ignorance and bald editorializing at best.
    There’s a screw loose in that guy. He revealed his womanish irrationality when he went Never Trump during the election. He actually said (on air to Dennis Prager) if somehow his one vote could swing the election to Trump, he would vote Trump… yet he still maintained people at large shouldn’t vote Trump. Makes no sense? No. It doesn’t. But that’s what he said.

    • “he thing had a breezy, adolescent tone that suggested unseriousness.”

      This. All of NR is like this now. As noted a few weeks back, Buckley’s NR did actually have some heavy hitting intellects writing for it back in the 50’s and 60’s, agree or disagree with them as you might. Since then, each generation of writers hired for NR has gotten more callow, more juvenile, and more sophomoric. I once kind of like Goldberg as a humorist, and I figured that his Fascism book was going to be humorous, sort of a Jewish P.J. O’Rourk thing (remember him?) When I realized that Goldberg was actually trying to write a book about serious political philosophy, I expected the worst, and it seems that I was not mistaken.

      • It’s hard to believe there was a time at NR that Joe Sobran was there shining star.

        • Right? I always think of the Neo-Con writers they had (years before they took over), keeping a nervous eye on him from the get-go. I picture them in their living rooms over cocktails. “Say Jeffrey, what do you make of this Sobran kid? A bit rough around the edges wouldn’t you say?”

          • Buckley liked Sobran, and really promoted him in the 1980’s, but running afoul of the Jews ended that, very quickly. Buckley was always all too worried about “respectability”, and in New York, that meant keeping in with the Tribe. All things considered, it’s really hard to say how much WFB locating his mag in New York has led to its secular liberal drift, but it certainly hasn’t helped. Had he set up shop in Omaha or Wichita, NR might actually still be somewhat conservative. That’s the price you pay for hot pastrami at 3 am, I guess.

          • Holy crap I just found out Jeffrey Hart is still alive. I vividly recall him dying and feeling kinda bad about it.

    • That’s the thing: Goldberg – somewhere down the rabbit-hole of his being – is a conservative, or at least, sufficiently sane to know what a historic disaster HC would have been. But, like all cloud people he is terrified by the rest of us, the rabble; HE’D be casting that deciding vote because he “sees the shape of history”. But the rest of us voting for Trump, under the same binary limitation, having no feel for history like the author of ‘Liberal Fascism’ – and self-admitted fan of the zombie genre – lacking as we do the agency proper only to the NY/DC verbal class, would be voting for Trump for all the wrong reasons.

      We’d be voting as beasts, not like real history-sensitive men like Goldberg.

  8. Z: “…the German word fremdschämen, which loosely means the shame you feel when seeing someone humiliated or embarrassed.” Efficient American translation: “cringe”.

    Good post. Goldberg fails at both light and heavy. He’s so awkward. I think at the very beginning his stuff in NR was entertaining. But only for like a few months. He got lucky or something. Then fell on his face forever.

    • I remember reading Golberg’s “Couch” blog on NRO twenty years ago, when I assumed he was supposed to be the light comedy writer, the opening act for the intellectual heavy hitters. When he got promoted to online editor, I remember thinking, “Really? This is the best they’ve got?” I chuckled at the Simpsons references, but he was never going to make anybody forget Hayek. In hindsight, this probably speaks to the dearth of talent at NRO during the Bush years.

  9. The real reason for the title: it’s that junk of the Canucks, of course. There must always be a reference or exhortation to suicide.

  10. “…goofy pop-culture references and superficial banter” – man, that has been Jonah’s schtick since forever. Its supposed to be endearing, you know, just the tone WFB wanted for NR, lol. My over-under on how many Simpsons references in the book: 27.

    Liberal Fascism was a 55 gallon toxic spill on the conservative intellectual nature preserve.

    • When NRO had a comment section, I’d call him Schecky Goldberg. I’m told he really hate that.

      • Visited NRO to see the Living Meme “Transgenderism Is the Real Conservatism” or whatever article by some Canadian queer vegan crossfit NRO author. Nosed over to the comments. Worthless and sparse. Oh, and the article was a wonderment.

        Note to meme-masters and parody-makers: You’ll have to work harder.

        • If you want to see an active comment section on NRO articles check out the National Review feed on qwicket/Disqus. You don’t have to subscribe to NR, and that’s where a lot of the commenters went when NR went to Facebook, two iterations ago in their now-successful attempt to escape feedback and criticism from their readership.

    • It was clever the first time around when he ran more of a stream of consciousness blog. But it soon became pathetically repetitious, like watching an old comedian doing the same jokes 20 years later. His attempt to grow into a serious thinker failed because, as Zman alludes to, he was too fat and happy in his bubble filled with like-minded, sycophantic lightweights to ever reach any level of academic rigor.

  11. Can someone remind me what Jonah Goldberg’s qualifications to be editor in chief of conservatism’s flagship publication are other than that his mom was besties with Monica Lewinsky and blabbed her friend’s secrets to Matt Drudge twenty years ago?

    • People forget how he came to prominence, holding on to his mommy and walking along with the media circus. I still have a memory of him and mama sitting side by side on Larry King’s show. Now he is a Conservative and a freakin intellectual.

      Only in the sideshow that is America.

    • Goldberg’s origin story is interesting. It’s like a child actor’s bio. He was sent to Goucher College, which prior his arrival was all girls. Back then, it was a big deal that some of these girls schools were being forced to admit boys, so that was the attraction. From there he got a job as the gofer of Ben Wattenberg, who was a lefty PBS guy. Then he got a job at American Enterprise and then wound up as the web guy for National Review.

      Cronyism is pretty much the rule in the chattering classes. It’s why they so aggressively defend one another, even when they are allegedly rivals. That’s the country club fee. Given that a guy like Goldberg lives in a seven figure home in one the nation’s tonier neighborhoods, it’s not hard to see why he enjoys being Gunga Din for the political class.

      • Wattenberg did write a good book, the Birth Dearth

        It is excellent and is the early canon of the fertility decline crowd of which I am something of a spectator and rather junior member.

    • He started out as the online guy writing light and fun pop culture pieces for the then-young gen x crowd. He was kind of funny. Needless to say it’s been over a decade since he’s made anyone chuckle.

  12. I have to admit that I was completely taken in by Liberal Fascism, but at that time I was also swimming in neocon literature and thought Pat Buchanan was a troglodyte. Having subsequently become a troglodyte myself I understand things a bit better.

    • Liberal Fascism isn’t wrong, per se, and the many errors pointed out in the linked review don’t negate the central thesis, but they cast doubt on the thesis in the mind of a skeptical reader — that’s why the reviewer accuses Goldberg not of writing a bad or misleading book, but of ruining a good book.

      The book was the one halfway decent thing Goldberg ever did.

      • I had mixed feelings at the time. On the one hand, it had a low-brow, Michelle Malkin vibe to it. You could just see how Sean Hannity types would wave it around to call their favorite enemy a fascist. On the other hand, he did gather up a bunch of stuff into one book and that has utility. On the other other hand, he ended up conceding moral ground to the Left in an effort to condemn them as hypocrites and immoral.

    • Same story here. And the anti Buchanan brainwashing was really effective. Because I know that it’s not true now but I still have a visceral reaction to his name based on the brainwashing

      • Whatever propaganda was out there (and I’m a bit younger than Jonah) never effected me or maybe I was never exposed to it.

        I always considered Pat Buchanan a personal political hero as his philosophy and beliefs made up the core of mine

        I have a Left Libertarian streak as well which leads to ideological incoherence on occasion but the latter is more a product of the post industrial age and its unpleasant tech driven policy choices I guess

  13. In essence, this post just says that an idiot is idiotic. Goldberg is a lazy and bad thinker/writer. Avoiding idiots is a mildly useful caution, but you can do more good by disseminating the wisdom of great thinkers and their writing.

  14. I belonged to Regnery’s Conservative Book Club in the eighties. Burnham’s book was one of my best purchases. I also have all of Buchanan’s books and by are far the best and insightful books on my shelf. I would cringe to see Goldberg on the same platform with Pat, what a revolting and superficial insect.

    • The Oklahoma wiz kid, Willmoore Kendall, was no slouch either. One of my favs from before NRs Birch bashing days.

  15. Liberal Fascism tried to be the Classic Comics version of Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s magisterial Leftism Revisited. I expected his current book to be the same of Burnham’s classic. Thanks for confirming Zman. Sorry you had to read it.

  16. I’ll take your critique under advisement Z, but with one caveat: you have to understand that you are looking back at Jonah and the Paleocons with we/20 hindsight. Back in their day the monsters we have today didn’t exist – or at least not in the light of day. I’m talking about the angry gays and pervs, the feminist cat ladies, the race whores, the rape hoaxers, etc etc. Back then, in their day, our enemies were all external like the Iranians, the Russians, and so forth. Back in the days that forged the paleo cons, America’s internal enemies were still safely chained up in the closet.

    The paleocons are actually good men. Most of them are geriatrics now, and are products of better times and better people. The world has since moved on without them and changed in ways they don’t understand. They’ve never lost a job to an SJW witch hunt, they’ve never had to work with or for an unqualified affirmative action hire, and they haven’t seen enough of the fall out from single parent families to understand it for what it is. Many of yesterday’s social experiments had not conclusively failed yet. In their day it was still possible to believe that women could do everything a man could, that our values were universal and sprung from magic dirt.

    Jonah is trying to make sense of a world that he hasn’t experienced and doesn’t understand. He’s in a hermetically sealed idiot chamber, located on a remote island where the rules of our world do not hold.

    One day the world will leave us behind too.

    • Paleocons lost jobs and positions because they were forced out of them by people on the right, the neocon crowd like Goldberg and his forerunners. They did suffer for their beliefs. And their persecutors were Goldberg and people like him.

    • There is a great distinction between not understanding the world and refusing to understand it.

  17. I looked at John Burnham’s the machiavellians also and it’s very expensive but I got it on audiobook. Don’t do it. The guy that reads it has an unpleasant voice. I had to stop. It was painful and ultimately unbearable

  18. That was a helpful review in terms of what to read and what not to read. I just bought James Burnham’s book

    • I read most of Burnham’s Suicide back in the 90’s. He was wrong in predicting a Soviet/Communist take over. But if you read it as a Cult-Marx takeover it still resonates.

  19. Look up “Asshat” in the dictionary and you’ll find Jonah Goldbrick’s picture. Goldbrick is one of the main reasons I quit watching FNC’s horrible “Special Report” years ago.

  20. One of the things about neocons which I find interesting is their propensity for self deception. If they don’t like certain narratives or new information that is in conflict with their own agenda, they simply redefine the words and reality to suit themselves. Of course, this self deception only works when you can stifle the dialogue, or shout it down, to prevent anyone from pointing out that you are a damned fool. Zman is a great example of our ability to hold up a mirror to these clowns so they finally get to see themselves. I can foresee the day when our mental institutions are overflowing with neocons like Goldberg. They can only handle so much (unwanted) feedback.

    • Their self-deception is what Leo Strauss advocated as “esoteric writing”. One message for the gullible Inquisition, and another message for the intended audience.

      The lot of them would be of mediocre status in Israel, and none of them have the courage of their convictions to go live in a West Bank trailer park.

      • I used to think esoteric writing was bullshit. But then I thought about how we read writing in modern times. We deduce facts specifically by what isn’t told us as opposed to what is. For instance, the race of the perp.

        We’ve learned to translate euphemisms such as “good schools” and “bad schools”, and we know what “teens” are.

        I began to think that Strauss was on to something when I realized how much in current media is esoterically written. We just don’t think of it that way, because we reflexively know how to deduce the truth from the obfuscated media we consume. We have the “key”.

        We don’t necessarily have the “key” to media produced in other times. We take older accounts at face value, not having the familiarity with the culture to help us to read between the lines.

        I have no reason to think controversial ideas were handled any less gingerly in times and places prior. I suspect Strauss is correct: to understand what writers in other times, you need to be able to infer what’s being communicated from what’s not said, and how to extract the meaning from what is said. You need the “key”. Just like we do now.

        • I remember reading Ovid’s Metamorphoses in Latin (in school) and it was clear he was snarkily mocking the mythology he was supposedly recounting, he clearly didn’t believe in the Roman-Greek gods. But in English translations this didn’t come over at all.

    • Are you sure that their goal is self deception rather than that they are just shameless liars?

  21. When I hear someone of Goldberg’s lineage exhort us to abandon tribalism, I wonder if he is lying to himself or lying to us.

    • Us,

      Goldberg isn’t a bad guy and he’s almost a conservative but Neo Cons and Jews alike both fear tribalism. Jews because tribes resist tribes but Neo Cons are Imperialistic by nature and its much harder to exploit or control tribes.

      Conservatives too fear tribalism because tribal societies are all low trust, not with each other, even an Arab can trust his tribe mates to a degree but with everyone else.

      Conservatism in all its various forms malevolent and benign requires high trust ,

      • Homogeneously white societies are high trust, regardless of the political order. White tribalism is our friend.

        • Pre-1960s societies, I’d agree. But our society is quite untrustworthy today. Dissident Right organizations have severe problems with infighting, and we are almost certainly shot through with police informants, and in certain cases agents of influence sponsored by foreign governments. Trust must be rebuilt.

          • You’re talking past one another. The trust level of a society is a function of it’s makeup. This is mostly biological and somewhat circumstantial. When discussing the need for “building trust,” in an embattled minority group, you are outside the original category of how a “white society,” can be characterized as the society is everyone adjacent and not simply the ethnic subclade. Even if a conscious white minority found itself as tribal and effective as say, my diaspora cousins, they would still not be reproducing the equivalent society of their majority ancestors.

        • .TL;DR The Know Nothings were right

          It is biological in origin but the only high trust race is White people West of the Hajnal line raised in Christian societies.

          White people East of the Hajinal line like Russians and the like are typically low trust.

          Also Irish and Southern Italians are typically far more clannish and do not operate as well in a high trust system.

          They seem to be able to be mixed in but its not s surprise for example that gun control like the Sullivan Law was often pushed by these peoples. They don’t trust others as much

          The edge case seems to be the Scots and Ulster Men who IMO get a pass.with me.

          If we truly wanted the founders republic to have lasted longer we would have had to prohibit slavery and to have listened to the No Nothings limiting immigration to English speaking Protestant Anglos mainly from the UK

          For future USA immigration after deportation should be limited to a few thousand a year, maximum from high trust countries

          Given our population ,permanently

          After a few generations if we have a religious revival or the Left is utterly gone trust will slowly return.

      • No, he’s not almost conservative, at all. He has some classic liberal/libertarian flashes that sometimes may obscure his true, rabid, Straussian NeoConnery, but he holds no true traditionalist, nationalist, or populist ideologies.
        Similar to fellow tribesman, Lil’ Benny Shapiro, et al.

  22. I remember when some book by Yuval Levin came out a couple of years ago and Rod Dreher (ostensibly some kind of trad-con or whatever) praised it to the skies. I got it from the library (no money of mine going into Levin’s pocket!) and found it underwhelming. I also remember Dreher proudly posting a picture of himself sitting around David Brooks’ breakfast table sometime in the past year or so. These guys all log-roll for each others’ stuff, no matter how mediocre. Sometimes Dreher can seem almost red-pilled, but he can’t cut the leash the neocon intellectual establishment has him on. He wants too much to be praised by Conservatism Inc.

    • RE: Dreher. It’s useful to check out his interaction with the Twitter guy Wrath of GNON. Wrath is an architectural, social, & religious traditionalist who argues against the soul-less globalism & consumerism of the modern age. Imagine Dreher, but smarter and who really believes his own arguments.

      Well, Dreher finally got exposed to Wrath & wrote up a nice piece about him. Until someone pointed out that Wrath also observes that you can’t create this better world if you refuse to limit the people you let in your country, city, guild.

      At that point Dreher disavowed. It’s so tedious.

      • I saw that. Dreher is the sort of guy I point to when criticizing the alt-right. These are not brave men and they go where they are pushed. In his head, he knows culture is rooted in biology, but he is not taking any risks, so he hunkers down and avoid the topic as much as possible, The trick in fighting back against the gathering darkness is to make our seem like a safe space for these people. You don’t do that by staging riots and confirming your critics worst charges.

        • “These are not brave men. They go where they are pushed.”

          So good. The visual in that really captures their situation and their essence.

  23. Buchanan also wrote The Death of the West, which was (a) very good and (b) ripped off by neocon ally Mark Steyn in ‘America Alone’. Neos ripping off Paleos seems to be standard.

    • Mark Steyn is no neocon ally. Since he was fired from Neocon Central, aka National Review, that should be obvious. He was fooled by the war party during the Bush years, as was I, and, I’ll bet, as were 75% of the people reading this. We were all fooled, and thought that Conservatism, Inc. knew what they were doing, and with just a little more effort, we’d turn the corner and start winning again. I didn’t wake up until Trump ran for president. Now I know what a bunch of phonies were running the “conservative movement”. Mark Steyn wrote years ago that the problem with it is that it never actually moves. It was all a con, and now we realize it, but 10 years ago I was completely ignorant.

      • Well I was only fooled until about May 2003.
        Re Steyn – I meant he was a neocon ally when he wrote America Alone, I agree he seems to have matured a bit now.

        Edit: I see Steyn only got fired from NR in 2013.

      • Not all of us. I still think of the name Hans Blix a few times a month. The man just wanted to complete his job. When Bush pushed him out of the way, the jig was up.

        • Hans Blix in Team America World Police: “If you don’t comply with our inspections, we’ll write you an angry letter!” Then fed to a shark!

      • Well said. I bought the neocon argument in the early 2000s that all people want to be free and we should plant seeds of democracy wherever possible. Trillions of dollars and thousands of lives later, you would never know we were there. You cannot force low IQ muslim goatherders into democracy.

        • Never bought the argument that inside every Arab there was a small d democrat screaming to get out. But after spending most of the end of 2001 going to memorial services, funerals and subsequent burials of identified body parts, I was simply ready for some serious payback. Afghanistan should have simply been a punitive expedition with the admonition that if Al Quaeda and the gang are found her again, we’ll field test some tactical nukes, for shits, giggles and data points.

      • During the Bush years (and Clinton years) I was one of the 25% (maybe it’s lower?) reading this blog who opposed the Iraq War and also the involvement in the Balkans. I was a subscriber to Chronicles Magazine where I read Samuel Francis, Thomas Fleming and Serge Trifkovic, and enthusiastically supported Pat Buchanan when he ran for president and read all of his books and never missed an appearance on TV. I generally looked at the neocons as the enemy. But there were some, like Steyn and Ann Coulter who I kind of liked, just thought they were misguided on the war issue back then. There was never anything good about guys like Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer and Jonah Goldberg.

        • I supported the Iraq war because I believed the claims that Iraq was a threat to us. When I listened to people argue against the war, they sounded like pacifists, like people who were afraid to face obvious threats or who believed self-defense was immoral. Do you remember the arguments that you made to people like me? What did you see that I didn’t?

          • I’ve thought about doing some posts about my own views in the Bush years. I think the rage heads in opposition to Bush warped a lot of people’s minds. I know it effected me. The arguments against the Iraq War were so nutty and shallow, it made the Bush argument seem quite sensible.

          • I too am ashamed to say that I supported W Bush and his foolishness back in the day. I realize now that the Bush Criminal Organization is worse, if possible, than the Clinton Crime Family. God will Damn them all.

          • That’s where I was. I was in a college town at the time, and so surrounded by people who thought getting naked in public was a sophisticated statement about foreign policy. Compared to those people, W. really WAS a conservative… but back in the real world, he was Jimmy Carter without the excuses.

          • I have some liberal friends who said, “better we fight them over there than over here” until things got ugly in Iraq, Then, like most everyone, they started rethinking things. Looking back, it’s almost as if one side of the political class let their crazies off the leash on purpose.

          • You are saying that the pro-war left promoted the crazy anti-war left as a strategy to galvanize support for the war? I must admire the subtlety of their insight.

          • I doubt they are that clever, but the arguments from democrats were astonishingly poor. People forget that after 9/11, the democrats gloated about how Team Bush was screwed. Then when Afghanistan went off and it was not a cluster, the Democrats shifted strategies and started demand action on Saddam Hussein. Tom Daschle was running around DC saying Afghanistan was a distraction from the real problem, which was Iraq. I had liberal friends peppering me with that line.

            Then Bush began the march to war with Iraq and the Democrats couldn’t figure out where to turn. Fundamentally, the neocons did to the political class what the left has always done to us. They redefined the terms of debate. Even now, no one has dared question the idea of the US being the world cop. if we’re going to be the world police, the only question is about how much force to use on those that get out of line.

          • 9/11, quite naturally, made us feel vulnerable; so it made sense to take the threat of Iraqi wmd’s more seriously. And everything was so politicized that it was hard to believe those claiming the intelligence was faulty were speaking in good faith.

            The war turned out to be a mistake, but I don’t think it was the main mistake. The main mistake was attributing some absurd “yearning for freedom” to the Iraqi people and to frame the war in terms of their “liberation.”

            Perhaps there was no good end game with regard to Iraq, but basing the whole thing on Bush’s childish delusions guaranteed a disastrous result.

            Intelligence is often faulty and sometimes a wrong decision can seem like a right one, so I’m not that hard on Bush for getting us involved. But there was no excuse for the fairy tales that guided his policy.

            With regard to the fairy tales, I think a lot of us knew that they were nonsense but that there simply wasn’t a lot of space to make that point. As you have pointed out, Bush’s critics were, by and large, so irrational that one instinctively didn’t want to be on their side. In retrospect, I think my attitude should have been that prosecuting a war based on childish fantasies was the grossest incompetence, and I should have been flabbergasted by the dangerousness of Bush’s naivety. But that was a kind of lonely place to be at in the early 2000s

          • Preach it brother: The main mistake was attributing some absurd “yearning for freedom” to the Iraqi people ”

            May I suggest that we are currently making the same mistake with the secular Iranian youth.

          • Well…while it can be rather-cogently argued that the same (or perhaps more-accurately “a similar”) mistake is being made by some re: the nominally-secular Iranian “youth” – not all of “us” are prepared to “buy-into” any great amount of effort being put forth on an overt, FedGov thrust of assistance in that direction.
            If, in fact, there is a “there”-there WRT a secular “yearning towards freedom” among any appreciable portion of the Iranian populace, it can quite clearly develop on its own – and, beyond a tacit acceptance (and agreement-with, even) of any efforts they may make, the folks who might be inclined towards “assistance” from our direction seem (for now, anyway) to be keeping to a “hands-off” approach – which is all to the good.

          • “Do you remember the arguments that you made to people like me? What did you see that I didn’t?”

            It was hard to get through to well-intended Hawks like you if you weren’t aware of Christian-NeoCon-Jewish forces at work. Also, the U.S. preventing the IAEA inspectors from doing their job, was a huge red flag.

            I’ll admit though, that the passionate democracy speeches etc. moved me. I really thought this was a chance to change the Middle East for the good of all the oppressed people there. So while I was against the invasion mentally, I was sort of for it emotionally. I really thought we could fix Iraq for the better.

          • It looked quite different to me from where I was, fresh out of Parris Island. None of us gave a shit about bringing “democracy” and even less about “Iraqi Freedom” (a term that has mercifully gone away along with the neocons). We were going there to kill Hajjis, which we did quite effectively. The problem was after the conventional war was over, they had no strategy.

          • The left stands for the destruction of America by any means, so in the time which we reveal their arguments to be lies and dissembling propaganda and are left exhausted by this unexpected achievement, we have not devoted time enough to the consequences of being right. It is like being married to a bitch from hell, and although you think you are keeping your wits about you for the sake of the kids, your perspective is actually quite compromised.

            It is remarkable how well the English understood the Arab one and two centuries ago. Worse still than forgetting valuable lessons, we never learned them in the first place. No one who read Seven Pillars of Wisdom would have pushed occupying an Arab “country” unless they hated their own.

            In 1967 a twenty year old Yugoslavian girls told me matter of factly that once Tito was dead Yugoslavia would resemble a knife fight in a mosh pit. We fail to understand because we are raised in the religion of democratic quality, not because this is complicated.

          • I was against Iraq, thought it was about oil. It turned me towards the Democrats, basically. I was young and lacked insight. Then I read Patrick buchanan’s 2008 book, which happened to be in my school library, and the shells fell from my eyes. He outlined the neocon agenda perfectly. Within a week I was “red pilled.”

          • The Paleoconservatives, including Buchanan and Sobran, were very vocal about the US fighting for Israel in going to war in Iraq. They said it’s not in the US interests. Not worth the blood and treasure and the damage to relations with other Middle Eastern nations. Buchanan even asked “What happens after Saddam is dead?”, knowing that history tells us chaos will follow in that part of the world. The Paleos knew that spreading democracy and universalist values there wouldn’t work. They were rewarded with the infamous front page National Review hit-piece by neocon David Frum, “Unpatriotic Conservatives.” It’s still online for those who want to read it.

          • Today, I’m having this same discussion with my neocon brother. How can you demonstrate that fighting Iran and Syria serves no interests but Israel’s? The same arguments that people like you tried to make to people like me in 2003 I need to make to my brother in the Current Year.

          • I was staunchly opposed to the Iraq war from the beginning, and engaged in many arguments with friends and colleagues in 2003 and 2004.

            My arguments were that 1) the people of Iraq were not worth one American life. 2) the idea that they wanted democracy was moronic wish casting. 3) we weren’t going to stay there forever and as soon as we left something worse than Saddam would take over the country 4) trying to control Iraq would change us more than it would change them.

            I was mostly correct about all of that and my counterparts gradually came to the sameness positions by 2008.

      • I was on to their scam by the end of the Bush 1 administration. I suffered through 24 years of hellish politics and frauds, the GOP being only slightly more desirable than the ghouls in the Democrat party. Between Bush 1’s first term and Trump, I did not vote for any president. And in hindsight, I was correct in my estimation that one candidate would have been as good as another. Had Hillary prevailed, I would probably be finalizing my citizenship in Argentina by now.

    • There’s a lot to steal on Z’s blog.

      “….. If he had dotted his i’s with little hearts, it would have been more authentic…….”

      LOL…..It’s been 40 years since I last thought of that.

      • A tidied-up, lightly-radacted presentation of the Z man’s writings on this blog would result in a 21st century version of Montaigne – only without all the ponderous Latin quotes.

    • Me, too. That’s one of the best lines I’ve read in quite some time, and is a great descriptor of the phenomenon I’ve noticed in various other examples of Goldberg writings, but had no way to describe it as such.
      Kudos on that bit of brilliance, Z.

  24. The original book, by James Burnham, is great, although I like “The Machiavellians” more. Burnham’s candid talk about human nature, especially about race in America and in Africa, is honest, measured, and brutal, and shows that, no, we are not crazy or evil, and yes, the people who’ve been moving the goalposts over the last few decades are both crazy and evil. Jared Taylor is moderate; Pat Buchanan is about as “right-wing” as a normal Jesuit brother who a couple decades ago would have made sure kids weren’t dancing too close at the local parish on Friday night. Hopefully Jeffrey Goldberg soon offers Jonah Goldberg a job at the Atlantic, and then shortly thereafter Jonah and Kevin Williamson end up sharing an apartment.

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