Probably the worst thing Buckley conservatives did to their middle-class white supporters is instill in them an unconditional love of rich people. Conservatism accomplished very little, but one thing it did amazingly well is hypnotize middle-class whites into instinctively and ferociously defending the rights and privileges of the rich and powerful. Even today, the most racially aware white still gets a little angry when they hear an Ocasio-Cortez or Liz Warren rail against the rich.
This conditioning, of course, was deliberate. The super-rich donors that made Buckley conservatism possible saw the movement as a vehicle to protect their interests from the Left during the Cold War. It’s not that the American Left was ever a real threat to the rich and powerful, as most of them came from rich and powerful families. Progressivism has always been a rich man’s religion in America. It’s that the Left put a lot of conditions on the rich, something we see today with the Left-Corporate alliance.
With Buckley conservatism, the middle-class could be turned into an army of defenders that put no conditions on the rich. By the 1980’s, the anti-communism of Buckley conservatism was turning into the worship of rich people. The movie Wall Street or the popular TV show Family Ties are good examples. There you have heroic figures, who are pure materialists, with no sense of duty to their fellow man. Getting rich, by any means necessary, was a social good in itself.
This conception of conservatism is thoroughly at odds with any past conceptions of conservatism. In fact, there was never anything conservative about Buckley conservatism. From Joseph de Maistre to Russel Kirk, conservatism accepted that every society has a ruling elite. In order for a society to function, that elite must be explicit and indebted to the welfare of the society over which they rule. Conservatism always started with an understanding of duties and obligations.
Whatever Buckley may have said or written in his younger days, by the time the conservative movement reached it maturity, it was something that would have been unrecognizable to a historic conservative. It was a celebration of materialism and individualism that placed no obligations on the elite. Instead, it divorced the rich and powerful from their duties, turning their indifference into a virtue. That virtue has now curdled into a contempt not seen since the French Revolution.
To this day, the few intellectual hobos shuffling around the ruins of Buckley conservatism still try to peddle this lie. They wave around the Medusa head, painted up as Ocasio-Cortez, in an effort to scare their dwindling ranks into thinking socialism is their great enemy. That only a suicidal defense of those terribly vulnerable billionaires will prevent the Left from raising their taxes. It is a revolting display of toadyism that makes a decent man ball his fist and have dark thoughts.
Much of what ails the American Empire today is rooted in this terrible trick played upon the white middle-class of America. Once the Cold War ended, vast resources used to fight the communists could have been turned toward addressing long ignored problems in the homeland. Instead, the white middle-class went on a long orgy of pointless consumption, while a new class of super-rich oligarchs rose up, unconstrained by any obligation to the society that spawned them.
The truth is, if America had better rich people, rich people who felt a sense of duty to their fellow citizens, there would be no dissident right. Even putting aside race realism, if the rich just embraced an immigration and economic policy that was explicitly good for Americans, there would be no Donald Trump. The political center of America would be to the Right of the current GOP. The debates would be about how best to manage trade with the world and how best to guard the border.
Instead, we have political parties that despise their own voters, financed by billionaires, who despise the American people. Of course, this culture of contempt is not just an American phenomenon. It has spread throughout the empire, infecting the rich and powerful of the West. This story about the billionaires of France reneging on their commitment to rebuild Notre Dame is a perfect example. These people carry on like spoiled brats, living in the moment, indifferent to everyone.
In a business, bankruptcy is when the current arrangements are no longer sustainable, so the enterprise is either liquidated or reconstructed. That requires terminating current management, either to be replaced with better people, who will bring the firm back to solvency or so the firm can be dissolved. In a nation, revolution is similar, in that current elites need to be eliminated so a new set of elites can retool the country and bring it back to health. Bankruptcy and revolution are about new beginnings.
That’s where things are in the West, but America in particular. The current elites are rotten to the core. They are irredeemable. There’s no talking them out of their corruption or appealing to their humanity, at least not until they are on the gallows. These are people who now define themselves in opposition to that which makes nations possible and makes a people possible. For the people of the West to regain their sense of self, to make countries into homelands again, it means replacing the current elites.
The people can not be all, & always, well informed. the part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. if they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. we have had 13. states independant 11. years. there has been one rebellion. that comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. what country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? let them take arms. the remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. what signify a few lives lost in a century or two? the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. it is it’s natural manure.
–Thomas Jefferson, Paris 1787
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