One of the more interesting developments of the last half dozen years is the collapse of the old neoconservative order. By the Bush years it was no longer possible to question the presence of these people at the heart of conservativism, but a little over a decade on and the neocons are happy to exclude themselves from the Right. More important, they seem to be unambitiously antiwhite now. That was always the subtext of paleocon criticism of them, but now they are happy to confirm it.
It is as if someone blew a whistle that only the neocons could hear, and they abandoned their former friends on the Right. Look around conservative media and it has been like a weird form of the rapture. One by one they have disappeared from Fox News, National Review, and other conservative outlets. They have quietly tapped into hidden wealth to start up new outlets like the Bulwark and the Dispatch. Others have moved onto the pages of far-left scandal sheets like the New York Times.
The thing is this departure has not just been a change of direction for them or an adaptation to new reality. These new sites are not an effort to build a better mouse trap or find new intellectual freedom. In fact, they are not trying to influence right-wing discourse at all. Instead, they are at war with their former friends, desperately trying to prevent anything like a right-wing from emerging from the tumult. They are anti-Trump, anti-populist and most important, anti-white.
Again, this was always the claim from critics. The first generation of neocons started out in life as Trotskyites and transformed into conservatives when the Left started saying nice things about their ancient enemies. There was also the Israel question. The Left was siding with nonwhites, like Palestinians, while the Buckley crowd was happy to side with the Israelis. The neocon phenomenon was a marriage of convenience for the first generation and has suddenly become inconvenient.
Neoconservatism has not collapsed, of course, as they are like a drug resistant virus or an invasive species. Short of a nuclear holocaust, there appears to be no way to eradicate them. Given the track record of the neocons, they should have gone to the trash heap of history a long time ago. They are responsible for the worst presidency in modern American history. Somehow, as if by magic, they have found new hosts and carry on as if everyone else is to blame for their failures.
What is most amazing about all of this is the mask dropping. Back in the Trump years, Jonah Goldberg amplified every left-wing criticism of Trump. He was also enthusiastic about calling Trump voters every left-wing epithet he could remember from his days working for Ben Wattenberg, the old Bolshevik TV presenter. Bill Kristol, of course, sounded like one of screeching harpies from the Daily Beast. His bizarre outbursts and predictions suggested he was having a psychotic break.
It was not just an over-reaction to Trump. The mean old orange man is gone and there is no rapprochement between the neocons and their former friends. If anything, the neocons are getting more aggressive. This post from Cathy Young is a good recent example of the neocon war on the conservatives. She manages to weave together the familiar paranoid delusions about antisemitism with left-wing conspiracy theories into an indictment of conservatives as hypocrites.
It was not so long ago that Cathy Young pitched herself as a right-libertarian, posting at Reason, National Review, the Federalist and so forth. Everything about her was a fraud, including her name, but she was able to fool Conservative Inc. The fact that she warms herself on a large rock every morning should have tipped them off, but conservatives are not known for noticing these things. Still, her shifting into an antiwhite bigot at war with conservatives is a telling transformation.
The question that naturally arises is why have they suddenly abandoned the old host, despite not having a new host? Perhaps the assumption is that after a clear separation they will be welcomed by the Left. This is something a pupa stage for them. The next stage is the imago when they will mature into left-wing warmongers. Many of them do still pose as conservatives at left-wing tabloids like the Washington Post. Jennifer Ruben and Brett Stephens are two examples.
Of course, there is the possibility that intellectual decline has hit them hard. Read the first generation neocons and there is no missing their intellect. These were smart and shrewd men with the animal cunning of revolutionaries. Their descendants, in contrast, are obnoxiously dull-witted. Bill Kristol spent his life as a freeloader, cashing in on his father’s reputation. Jonah Goldberg made armpit noises as the house jester for National Review, before declaring himself an intellectual.
This is something that cannot be dismissed. David French is the house intellectual at Goldberg’s Dispatch. Tucker Carlson nailed it when he said, “David French is a buffoon, one of the least impressive people I’ve ever met. Only in nonprofit conservatism could he have a paying job.” This is true across the neocon spectrum. Recall this is a crew that seriously considered running Evan McMullen for president. For those in need of some clown horn, here is more on that topic.
The other possibility is that neoconservatism was always a long con, but it has finally run out of road. The disastrous Bush years brought this reality to the fore and the neocons had no willingness or ability to answer for it. Eric Hoffer pointed out that mass movements in America end up as a racket, a cult, or a corporation. In the case of the neocons it is just a racket now. They are happy to run the pro-Israel racket as long as it keeps them in the lifestyle they believe they deserve.
Regardless of the the causes, the slow death of neoconservatism is a net positive for right-thinking people. The reason conservatism was a disaster is it cloaked anti-Western sentiment in liberal principle. The neocons were always the quintessential wolf in sheep’s clothing, so their departure offers clarity. That is, the people on the Right can now think in terms of their own interests, rather than the interests of esoteric principles or carefully cultivated and ennobled outsiders.
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