“The future is certain; it is only the past that is unpredictable” is an old Soviet era joke about the party’s habit of rewriting history to serve the current moment. Like so many things Soviet, it applies well to the current American regime. Not only do they rewrite the past, but they also magnify events from the past to make them seem like they just happened yesterday. They diminish more recent events so they seem distant. The old communists were amateurs compared to liberal democrats.
The rewriting of history is best done by people who have a certain historical outlook and a facility for language. It is a unique sort of sociopathy that allows them to create highly complex models of the past that are decorated with well-established facts, but are otherwise filled with distortions and outright fabrications. Erasing a man from a picture and banning any mention of him still leaves a hole. Rewriting the man’s history, weaving it into the story of the opponents solves two problems.
You can see how this works in this hysterical screed from the left-wing propaganda site the Bulwark. At this point it is inaccurate and dishonest to put the neoconservatives on the political Right. They agree with the establishment Left on everything except some foreign policy items. They actively make war on the establishment Right. Of course, they are even more hostile to dissidents, nationalists, and populist than the most deranged lefty. Neoconservatives have returned home.
Putting that aside, note the natural way in which the writer builds an intellectual framework that fits the needs of the moment. Within in that framework are all of the usual bogeymen that haunt the minds of these people. We have various internet characters who have tormented them. There is the Russian conspiracy hoax and the foaming at the mouth Trump hatred. Of course, Evangelicals are in there. The only thing missing from the list of bad actors is Tsar Alexander III.
All of this is designed to dirty up the Claremont Institute, which is the only establishment Right operation to take seriously the crisis of the present. They operate American Greatness and the site American Mind. Of course, they have been willing to look at Trump and the movement that carried him to office in a serious way. Michael Anton was one of the first establishment figures to make the case for Trump in 2016. This is why the fevered minds of neoconservatism despise them.
The psychopathic hyperventilating is amusing at a certain level, but it obscures the really important nugget at the start of the screed. “The Claremont Institute was founded in 1979 by Peter W. Schramm, Thomas B. Silver, Christopher Flannery, and Larry P. Arnn, all students of Lincoln scholar Harry V. Jaffa.” Then just a bit later, “Jaffa’s work on Abraham Lincoln was groundbreaking, and can be credited for recovering a sense of Lincoln’s intellectual seriousness.”
It is easy to skip over that as the cult of Lincoln has become a fixture in both the establishment Left and the establishment Right. Both left-liberals and right-liberals claim Lincoln as their own. National Review trots out Lincoln every time the left-liberals are banging them over the head about race. You see, Lincoln was a Republican, so it means it was right-liberals who saved America from slavery! They do the same ridiculous thing with MLK, even though he was a Marxist.
Forgotten is how this cult of Lincoln was created and who created it. That person is Harry Jaffa, who should go down as history’s greatest fabulist. He is responsible for what is known as the second founding thesis. You see, the real founding the country was not with the Constitution. That is just words on paper to solve practical issues facing the newly independent colonies. The real founding of the country, the moral and spiritual founding, was with the Declaration of Independence.
According to Jaffa, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” is the primal roar of the new people, a new concept of a people. The Founders wanted America to be a land of universal equality. That was the ideal they setup for themselves. The Constitution fell short of that because of the needs of the moment.
The Civil War, however, was not a continuation of a cultural dispute dating back to the English Civil War or even a war over slavery. It was the second founding. The old errors and sins of the first founding were washed away with the blood of millions so America could continue toward that original ideal. Slavery was abolished and the Constitution was modified. Those modifications have been used ever since to alter the country in pursuit of the founding ideal contained in the Declaration.
This is also where we get the proposition nation stuff. “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” You see, that original rhetorical flourish was actually a call to create an entirely new type of nation, a proposition nation based on ideas, rather than people. It is not hard to see the mischief that has come from the embrace of this rewriting of history.
In a slightly different context, John Derbyshire noted that some people have an unnatural skill at creating “elaborate, plausible, and intellectually very challenging systems that do not, in fact, have any truth content”. Harry Jaffa and his followers were such men. For that matter, Strauss falls into this camp as well, but that is a topic for another day. Because the second founding idea provided the right-liberals with a fig leaf over the race issue, it has become their creed.
That does not change the fact that this is nonsense, but like Stalin rewriting history, it is powerful nonsense. In fact, the current antiwhite pogroms aimed at extirpating all signs of whiteness are rooted in this. The advocates justify their cultural genocide on the grounds that it is part of this process to reconcile America with its long failure to live up the original idea. Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo are really just modern day manifestations of the Founders, dreaming of a proposition nation.
At the core, the dissident project is about peeling back the layers of lies and fabrications like second founding theory. History is a story of a people and our story has been rewritten by strangers who see us as enemies. Correcting the record is not just an exercise in trivial exactitude. It is about re-centering a people on the foundation of their past so they can once again reach for the stars. If the folks at the Bulwark want to know “what they hell is happening” there is the answer in a nutshell.
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