Way back in the Reagan years, the people taking over the foreign policy establishment were often accused of being Trotskyites. The reason is many of them had been Trotskyites into the 1960’s and 1970’s. They were men of the far left until they were drawn into the neoconservative movement. Most were drawn into the movement through opposition to Stalinist communism. Some broke with the Left over the state of Israel, while others were concerned over the domestic issues.
The accusation was not without roots in reality. Trotsky was the leader of the left-Bolsheviks in the 1920’s. His faction opposed Stalin and Bukharin, who led what was known at the time as the right-Bolsheviks. Of course, Stalin’s faction won the dispute, driving the Trotskyites out of the party and eventually driving an ice ax through the head of Trotsky himself. Stalin’s later suspicion of Zionism would only add to this old dispute between the founding generations of the Left.
The Left-Right dynamic within radical politics is something that gets very little attention, because it does not serve ruling class interests. In 1920’s Russia, the Left side promoted radical reorganization of society, while the Right side wanted to take a gradualist approach. Critics of the conservative movement in America have relied on this comparison to chide them over their diffidence. The paleo criticism of Buckley conservatism was that it was just the slow version of Progressivism.
What this means is that the ruling dynamic of America since the middle of the last century has been a form of party rule. The communist had informal factions within a formal party structure, while the liberal democrats prefer formal factions within an informal party structure. The Democrats are the left-liberals while the Republicans are the right-liberals. They have the same goals, but disagree on the best approach for achieving those goals. They also serve the same interests.
Looked at in this light, the alliance of former radicals with the Buckley conservatives makes much more sense. It was not simply over opposition to the Soviet Union or even communism itself. It was a lesson learned from experience. The Trotskyites were slow to realize the danger of Stalin and it cost them their lives. The neocons were not going to make the same mistake twice. In other words, the shift from the Left to the Right within the ruling party was a continuation of an old struggle.
Within this framing, the recent break between the neocons and their former allies in the decaying Buckley coalition is a journey home, of sorts. Their alliance with the right-liberals, whose appeal was always to the heritage stock of America, was always about the old struggle. The crusades against Islam in order to secure Israel’s dominant position in the region was a natural consequence of winning the Cold War. Now that those battles are done, the Trotskyites are heading home.
This political Aliyah is why someone like Jonah Goldberg are pulling out all the stops to present himself as a grotesque antiwhite fanatic. He dresses it up in anti-Trump sentiment, but his rhetoric would be at home on MSNBC. Bill Kristol, of course, sounds like a socialist history teacher in the 1960’s now. His new venture, The Bulwark is underwritten by a Persian. One suspects that they secretly call him Cyrus and they think of him as freeing them from the right-wing captivity.
The most egregious of the crew, with regards to the bomb throwing at their old friends on the Right, is David French. His physiognomy suggests there are a few surprises in his 23andme, but putting that aside, he now sounds like an adjunct professor teaching critical race theory. It is as if he has been tasked with making it clear to all that the old Trotskyites are not only breaking with the Right, but they are ready to come home and take up their position on the Left.
Now, shape shifting in politics is nothing new. Bismarck was a famous shape-shifter, who would take any side to advance his overall agenda. He wanted to secure a united German empire and would partner with anyone to do it. Churchill is another example of someone who could change form quite easily. The great political operators of history were always men who adapted to their circumstances. They were implacable and tenacious, but always able to survive to fight another day.
For this quality to become a group attribute really is impressive. It suggests there is something preternatural at work. The fact that is seems to be working is an even more amazing phenomenon. The major left-liberal media organs are now welcoming these people home and adopting their foreign policy positions. Note how the Biden administration is growing more hawkish with Iran. Instead of embracing the old Obama approach, they are sticking with the Trump approach.
One cannot help but be impressed with the resiliency of these people. None of them are terribly bright. Jonah Goldberg is just a smarmy simpleton. David French could be legally insane. Bill Kristol is as dumb as a goldfish. Taken as a whole they look like a warning about the perils of inbreeding. Despite this, they are slowly transforming themselves back into that old shape and rejoining the left-liberals. It gives a whole new meaning to the term “drug resistant virus”.
Step back from it a bit further and it brings up an interesting parallel between the Bolshevism of the East and the liberal democracy of the West. Both became single party ideologies with an internal left-right dynamic. Despite destroying the Trotskyites in the 1920’s, Stalin embraced their agenda to secure power. We see the same thing in liberal democracy where “free market capitalism” supposedly won the day, but it is now fully animated by the people it allegedly defeated.
At an even higher level, the war between liberal democracy and communism that defined the late 20th century can now be seen as a macro version of the party politics in 1920’s Russia. The “right-side” defeated the “left-side” in the Cold War, but now the winners are embracing the policies they once criticized. It all suggest the last century or so of history is a drama played out on behalf of people operating in secret. The current crisis is just the final act in that drama.
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