The Great Transition

Back in the 90’s, the set of things called conservative began to merge with the set of things called Republican. By the time George Bush the Minor was crowned, the two words were interchangeable. Liberals would start hooting “extreme right-wing Republican conservative” as soon as you mentioned Bush. It was not just liberals doing it. The Conservative Industrial Complex was happy to make the two things synonymous. It made it easier for them to raise money from GOP donors.

At the same time, the folks who had been the core of American conservatism were pushed out of the set of things called conservative. There was lip service paid to things like abortion or homosexual marriage, but traditionalism was reduced to a marketing concept. Big foot conservatives and the GOP no longer cared about social issues. Instead, they were obsessed with globalism and making war on the Muslims. “Conservative” became Frank Meyer fusionism without the traditional social conservatism.

I have written a lot about how Buckley Conservatism is exhausted. It existed primarily as an argument in favor of a tough line with the Soviets and secondarily as an argument against 19th century socialism. It was a reaction to American Progressivism, not an independent intellectual movement. The Soviets are gone and no one, not even Progressives, think the worker’s paradise is a worthy goal. Conservatism no longer has a dance partner so it staggers around looking for a reason to exist.

Buckley Conservatism is now a collection of slogans mostly, but it is also a massive money making racket. The collection of monasteries around Washington DC are still cranking out policy papers and think pieces for the political class. On the Left there is nothing to write, but their monasteries are still in place, just looking for tenants. They busy themselves now with Democratic party politics, but the rickety state of the party reflects the Left. It is an old woman clutching at power.

The result is we have a strange period in American life. The old binary style of politics that has been with us since the Civil War now has a vacuum on both sides. The Left has no economic arguments and the Right has no cultural arguments. The reason the two sides scream bloody murder at one another over trivial stuff is they have no other way to distinguish one side from the other. Both sides are a straw-man for the other.

That does not mean we are headed for the singularity. The neo-cons are still with us and they may be ready to make the return trip from neo-conservative to neo-liberal, by moving out of Republican politics into Democratic politics. Intellectually, the Left has been an abandoned building since the fall of the Soviets so there is a vacuum to be filled. The coalition of groups on the Left are emotionally hostile to traditionalism, but they are open to the authoritarian globalism favored by the neoconservatives.

That Tevi Troy piece is worth reading and is probably more wishful thinking/veiled threat at this point. We are not going to see the American Enterprise Institute change uniforms overnight. That is not how these things work. Instead, it will be a slow evolution as we see guys like Jonah Goldberg, for example, transition from conservative to moderate and then liberal or whatever label they settle on at that point.

I’m picking on Goldberg because he is already laying the groundwork for his break with the Republican Party this fall. You can almost see the wheels turning as he tries to figure out how to argue that sitting out the election is the “conservative” position, despite arguing against that same position for two decades. Many of his fellows in the Conservative Industrial Complex are struggling with the same dilemma.

Now, Trump and the groundswell carrying him to the nomination is not an intellectual movement. It is not really a movement at this stage. It is simply a reaction to the fundamental contradictions in the globalist world view. You cannot have national governments beholden to their citizens in a purely global economy. If national governments are not beholden to their citizens, there is no point in being a citizen. More important, there is no reason for people to remain loyal to their rulers.

That said, ideological movements always start this way. Most peter out or become narrowly focused on achievable ends. Still, we see a lot of very smart people writing out on the fringe. If you are curious about the world and are looking for arguments about what is happening, you are not reading the mainstream guys. You are reading the weirdos of the Dark Enlightenment. That is where the action is now.

Political and ideological realignments happen in fits and starts so Trump could fizzle out only to be replaced the next time by a more polished version that is more complete as a political leader. Alternatively, the Conservative Industrial Complex could go through a counter-reformation and tilt back toward the traditionalist-conservative side. There is a large and growing mass of people rejecting the status quo. It is a market that will be met by someone.

18 thoughts on “The Great Transition

  1. It will be very interesting to see what the American political system turns into. I have often wondered how the limits of a two party system work out and it seems they have become, as far as anyone can tell, just one party. While the parliamentary system we have has it’s own limits, the creation of new parties is straight forward as we have seen with the Pirate party and the most recent attention to the AfD. While I doubt the AfD will have any serious significance, the ability to form a new party so quickly, in reaction to whatever crisis people feel needs attention, does have some advantages.

  2. Those under the age of 40 may not remember that Soviet communism was the monster that Buckley and everyone else on the Right in the 50s up through 1989 saw as the most important battle facing the West. Read ‘Witness’ by ex-Soviet agent and Time magazine editor Whitaker Chambers for a first-hand account. Chambers switched sides and helped to convict Soviet spy Alger Hiss (architect of the Yalta Agreement), but at the end of ‘Witness’ was despairing of any victory of the West. Paraphrasing: “communism would triumph, growing mushroom-like in the rotting corpse of Capitalism.” Who could have imagined the swift collapse of the Soviet Union (not the CIA), and the current situation where an ex-KGB man leads Russia and is trying mightily to rebuild the Orthodox Church, fighting on the side of rationality against the homosexual lobby, and trying to defend the Russian nation against the predations of an Imperialistic and highly pozzed West. That I, a former Reaganite who relished arguing with Manhattan leftists, who hung out at the NR office on 35th Street, who was honoured to meet Joe Sobran and Linda Bridges, am an admirer of Vladimir Putin as against the neocons who have infested our body politic, is merely one example of how far gone is the cause of liberty. Buckley seemed to grow soft-minded after the collapse of Soviet communism, but back in the day there was no one more eager or more able to engage in battle with the Left. I was a great admirer, and it is with disgust I watched him betray Sobran, Chilton Williamson and the others, and let his (yes, CIA-funded, just like Encounter and so many others) magazine get taken over by the current rank of swine. The old Buckley was simply the razor’s-edge of anti-communism, at a time, don’t forget, when there really were Soviet agents in high positions in our government: Harry Dexter White, anyone? But for a glimpse of what the old Buckley was like, and why we all tuned in every week to Firing Line, here’s a nice clip of him lobbing soft underhands to Ron Reagan in 1967. Starting at 9:20, watch Reagan smash the ball out of the fucking park when asked about States’ Rights.

  3. I don’t think there will be a “next time,” barring some unforeseen natural, atomic or economic catastrophe that thrusts the country into extremis. If Trump doesn’t win, the country becomes Brazil, it’s as simple as that. The demographic reality is already manifest in California and Texas, and HC or whatever other puppet the Dems place in the White House will only accelerate the inflow of Moslems, Africans and other peoples not interested in the niceties of American pluralism. Trump, as you and others have noted, is not perfect, but he is one thing that, say, Pat Buchanan wasn’t: he’s effective. Halting immigration is priority no. 1 at this point–that’s clear as day. Not completely losing the Supreme Court and preventing gun registration/confiscation are also important, obviously.

    The people who say “let Hillary win, worse is better” are not understanding the ground situation. Day one she will institute nationwide gun registration, guaranteed, and then either we go the way of Australia and Britain or we devolve to full-on crisis. Undoubtedly she’ll continue the transmogrification of the Supreme Court into a truncheon used only to advance the SJW/Marxist narrative. And also without a doubt she’ll accelerate the importation of people unaccustomed to even a passing familiarity with Constitutional government. The only thing that might self correct is the current fast-tracking of degeneracy, such as the attempted public shaming of those who don’t agree with the suddenly all-important rights of transgendered. But even that is highly doubtful–look at what happened in Soviet Russia, the demonization of the kulaks and the Orthodox church, or in Mexico when their Masonic government came into power, banning the Catholic mass and murdering priests. Or for more extreme but not unimaginable examples look at Mao’s Cultural Revolution or, shudder, Pol Pot’s Cambodia. Already “scientists” are calling for those who question climate change to be treated as formal heretics, and imprisoned. Torquemada was a piker compared with these people!

  4. I’m completely convinced at this point that National Review’s entire business plan is based around online trolling. They know that the more articles they publish pandering to the Left or insulting their own base, the more clicks they get from people surfing over there to trash them in the comments. For anyone who was still inclined to take them seriously, this flap over the Tubby has to have been the last straw. The speed with which they were elbowing each other aside to be first in line to give a tongue bath to Harriet Tubman was beyond parody. Not even a half-hearted tut-tut over radical redesigns to the nation’s currency.

    My question at this point is how much longer do their cheap labor donors think it’s worth keeping a Buzzfeed-style clickbait site afloat? “Donald Trump’s Most Doody-Headed Supporters! #17 Will Blow You Away!” My guess is that it’s not too much longer before the deep pockets decide that their money is better spent trying to buy votes for Paul Ryan’s latest amnesty bill on Capitol Hill.

  5. There are some underlying factors here in amongst those dynamics you listed ZMan.
    Intellectualism is over rated, the world isn’t fed and clothed and supplied with durable goods because the intellectual oligarchy rules the narratives and has a death grip on a fiat money crime syndicate, I don’t give a shit what anyone says to the contrary. Your talking about the kind of people who reliably through history are in some way or another via consent or direct involvement are responsible for a lot of people taking a dirt nap.
    I think it is a pretty certain thing being this is one hell of a large country with a lot of people who still have an inkling or better what freedom is and why we are America to begin with, the current cultural marxists and their absurd pogroms notwithstanding, culture is upstream of these corrupt politics, so are primal things involving liberty.
    At some point here the dirt people are going to revolt in ways unimaginable to the political and intellectual snobs running things. Flyover country is a lot different place than the cities and metropolitan zones of state slavery. Remember, lot of us have guns.

    And by the way, how has it all worked out so far? Pretty peachy right?

  6. Buckley was a CIA asset, his function was to purge the Right from the isolationists and anti-semites like Lindbergh and Father Coughlin and make the Right safe for jews who were mostly Communist sympatizers at the time, he opened the doors for the Jewish-Troskyits take over of the GOP and Conservatism, Inc.

  7. Have to agree with this post. The cucks at the Brothers Judd Blog are all for “importing the superior culture” and Trump has pushed them over the edge.

  8. There really are not many political archetypes in humans. I think there are only two major political divisions amongst us, roughly, cavaliers and roundheads.

    The cavaliers want to have their fun and be left alone and have little inclination to order others about.

    The roundheads want to order others about, that is their fun. They usually honestly believe it is for the good of those they order about, the good of mankind, the children, the poor, the environment et endless cetera. Their egotistical claim to the high moral ground seems to be their major motivation in life.

    The roundheads are in the minority but often succeed in controlling society because their ordering about is their fun, it’s all they do, they are endlessly persistent, while the rest of us are hunting, fishing, bowling, riding our motorbikes or just lazing about having beer and pizza.

    I am by nature a cavalier. The thought of telling someone what to do politically, other than shut the fcuk up or leave me the fcuk alone, horrifies me. The essence of conservatism was, and ought still be, the spirit of the cavalier.

    The essence of socialism was, is and always will be the spirit of the roundhead. Here’s a lovely painting of what Bernie Sanders was, about 1650.

    One of the results of the political persistence and energy of roundheads is that they burrow into conservative groups under a false flag and take them over. Most nominally conservative groups in the USA have suffered this fate, and always will. When that happens those nominally conservative groups collapse as their cavalier members flee. We do that too slowly because we are to busy eating pizza to pay much attention to the endless senseless activity of the roundheads. Eventually new conservative groups form, which are effective for a while, until new roundheads burrow in.

    I used to subscribe to NR, now I rarely read any of it because most of their writers are revealed as roundhead putzes.

    Periodically there is open and vicious war between us. I hope it does not come to that.

    • You have nailed the core characteristic of each group. This is why the arc of history bends toward the busybodies having more and more influence and control. It is their reason for existing. When they have full control, and I don’t think it’s too far off, all bloggers like Zman and all of their commentators will be rounded up and sent to rehab camps. We’ll all meet in the prison yard.

  9. Buckley Conservatism is by no means exhausted! It has never been put into practice. Limited government, personal responsibility, Judeo-Christian values and defending our national sovereignty are always worth fighting for, regardless of external circumstances. The Soviet Union may be a bad memory, but the Neo-Left, the Gaystapo, Black Lives Matter, militant Islam, La Raza, Occupy Wall Street, et al are stronger than ever and must be defeated. Ted Cruz is the only candidate fighting for true conservative and we must make every effort to see that he defeats both Trump and HildaBeast.

    • Paddy, your dopey “Buckley Conservativism” is the problem, not the solution. Any brand of conservatism that stood by for fifty years and watched this country sink into its current condition is worthless by definition. In fact it’s worse than useless as Buckley personally assassinated worthwhile parts of the right wing like the John Birch Society. Ted Cruz is a shallow ideological and religious poser and who got in front of the Tea Party parade and helped lead it nowhere. Anybody with even a modicum of common sense can see that he’s a piece of shit as likable as a 3-week old dead fish.

      • Very good. The crucial point is that standing by for 50 years. The betrayal of the Court on the Commerce Clause was monstrous and it was only a short, straight line to the bloated, insufferable, freedom-killing, federal monstrosity. But it went unchallenged after some short period of grumbling. Was the craven GOP surrender on the last spending bill not emblematic? Granted conservatives were beaten back by GOPe but they went meekly to their assigned places. 50 years later – my entire adult life – all I can look back at is some Heritage monographs and the admirable Mr. Reagan who nevertheless was a sap on amnesty and did nothing to roll back the state.

        I dislike Cruz intensely for his having the gall to contend while shucking and jiving on the natural born citizen issue. I do applaud him, however, for his profile in courage moment with his filibuster.

        At this point, I feel nothing but contempt for Buckley. He hungered for social acceptance and basically did what he could to take the steam out of conservatism by harming its most able thinkers.

        I resent the wasted time and lost opportunities. Jonah Goldberg is contemptible for his scurrilous criticism of Trump. Conservatives should have rejected the neocons. They should have attempted to impeach Ginsburg. And, yes, NR is worthless. However, I have to say that the fundamental flaw is still that politicians can buy votes with taxes. Glorious words can and do issue forth in great quantity about black pathology, Muslim horror, feminist filth, the homosexual agenda, the loathsome MSM, foreign adventurism, oleagenous rot about exceptionalism and the world’s clamoring for our leadership, fiscal excess, rampant socialism, and the abandonment of the Constitution. However, the voters couldn’t care less, don’t know Damascus from Fargo, and want their free [stuff]. As Franklin observed, experience keeps a dear school but a fool will learn in no other.

  10. Goldberg comments on Trump supporters: “Indeed, the only childishness I see are the masses of beer-muscled goons and sycophants stomping their feet over the object of their man-crushes.”

    Sounds like the protestations of a fat boy cuck who sees dollars about to slip through his fingers.

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