Category Archives: Political Philosophy

New York Times Attacks Rand Paul, Ron Paul, Mises Institute, Lew Rockwell, Tom Woods etc.

The New York Times recently ran a front page hit piece against Rand Paul and the usual cast of boogeymen the centrists and liberals trot out every time they have one of their periodic spasms about alleged extremism. They attack a lot of different people and groups, but Rand Paul is the obvious target. He must have them running scared. It would probably blow their poor little pristine mainstream minds to know that some of us don’t think Rand Paul is extreme enough.

Lew Rockwell responds here

Tom Woods responds here (on FaceBook so I’m not sure everyone will be able to see it)

Tom DiLorenzo responds here and here

Bob Wenzel (Economic Policy Journal) responds here and here

Ralph Raico here

Chris Rossini here

Update: Walter Block replies here

Tom Woods replies here on YouTube

Will the Real Jordan Bloom Please Stand Up

Walter has already commented below on Mark Shea’s recent PC rant against the Dark Enlightenment. Shea’s post is a virtually content free denunciation of wrongthink, but I want to comment on one of the comments. That comment is by Jordan Bloom, and is an eminently sensible response to Shea’s rant. What stands out about it is that Jordan Bloom (or J. Arthur Bloom) is the same guy who recently wrote a hit piece against Richard Spencer and the National Policy Institute for the Daily Caller. We discussed that hit piece here. I replied to Jordan in the comments. I should have replied specifically to his comment, but I wasn’t thinking at the time and just commented in general, so who knows if I he has seen it. So what gives? Does Jordan oppose PC denunciations of wrongthink, or does he engage in them? Will the real Jordan Bloom please stand up.

Mike Church to Get a Weekly Column at the Daily Caller

Here is his announcement copied from his FaceBook post:

IT’S OFFICIAL – Daily Caller’s Jordan Bloom announces “Sad to lose Jack Hunter to Rare Liberty, but excited to announce that next week Mike Church will be debuting a weekly column at The Daily Caller!”

I am humbled to accept this tremendous opportunity to inform and inspire our fellow citizens in the cause of [r]epublicansim and though I fear my meager composition skills are inadequate to the task, I will exert all my energies to the task on behalf of Our Cause. Deo Gratias.

This is a big deal because Mike Church is substantially on our side. He is no shrinking violet. It is good that he will be exposed to a wider and more “mainstream” audience outside our usual echo chamber.

For the 1000th Time … Martin Luther King Was Not a Conservative

Every year in the days leading up to the MLK Holiday, we are subjected to the absurd spectacle of mainstream and other neutered conservatives attempting to claim that MLK was one of our own. This rant is occasioned by several such posts I have seen today on FaceBook. I don’t know whether this is more pathetic or transparent, but it is clearly both. Anyone with any intellectual honesty at all should be able to see through this foolish narrative. It is rank historical revisionism, and I highly suspect that most of the people who do it know this. It certainly does not fool liberals who mock us for it. The only people it seems to fool is the mainstream conservative masses who lap it up. “See, we’re not the racists. It’s those evil Democrats who are the racists.” But I’m not convinced that even most of those folks believe it. It is simply a narrative thay can latch on to to innoculate themselves against charges of wrongthink, and think they can get the better of liberals in a debate.

MLK was a man of the left. This is not debatable. It is a fact. King is sometimes accused of being a communist (either big C or little c) by his opponents who have yet to sell out. While King was never, as far as we know, a Communist, he surrounded himself with Communists, addressed Communist front organizations, and attended a Communist front training facility (the Highlander Folk School). As I said with regard to Nelson Mandela, I don’t really like communist (big C or little c) as an epithet so I don’ necessarily hold his associations against him per se. MLK was a far leftist by the standards of his day and such people were bound to interact with Communists because that was the far left milieu at the time. But his associations with Communists and other radical leftists does contextualize who he was in his time. He is never accused of being a secret McCarthyite, for example, because that is not the milieu he traveled in. This was obvious and taken for granted by people at the time. Conservative voices like National Review and Human Events had no problem placing King on the left in his day. Attempts by conservatives striving to prove they are not politically incorrect to appropriate King and his legacy is a relatively recent phenomenon, and only passes the laugh test because enough time has passed and people forget their history.

The narrative goes something like this: King was allegedly a Republican. It was Republicans who were largely responsible for the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and mean nasty ol’ Southern Democrats who opposed it. If they’re really laying it on thick, they’ll cite Lincoln freeing the slaves and how blacks voted Republican during Reconstruction and for decades beyond. Since the Republican Party is supposedly the conservative party today, ipso facto, King was a conservative. While this is all technically true up to the assertion at the end, it is meaningless.

First of all, it is not even true that King was a Republican even thought this is widely asserted by the craven cons. See here for example. For the sake of brevity, I’ll let the link speak for itself, which it does, although I’ll take up Kings’ opposition to Barry Goldwater below.

That said, yes, it was Southern Democrats along with self-identified conservative (that should tell you something) Republicans like Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley who opposed the Civil Rights Acts, but Southern Democrats and self-consciously conservative Republicans were the conservative element of the day. It was liberal Democrats and liberal Republicans who supported it. Some free-market and small government conservatives will protest that Southern Democrats couldn’t have been the conservative element of the time because they openly loved their pork, which is true, but again largely irrelevant to the point at hand. (A lot of modern conservative Republicans love their pork too, despite their rhetoric to the contrary, but that is for another post.) The two parties have not always been aligned as they are today. The division of the two parties along perceived left vs. right lines was just beginning in King’s day as was the transformation of both parties, which is what makes this all more confusing than it ought to be.

Historically we have traditionally had two parties that were organized around the perceived commonality of interests of a rather diverse coalition of forces. The Republicans were the Court Party and the Democrats were the Country Party, so to speak, and whatever ideological considerations there were were primarily a pretext for self-interest. Since the 60′s, the parties have largely switched roles and taken on the left vs. right dichotomy. White Southerners have migrated to the GOP and blacks have migrated to the Democrat Party, the latter a phenomenon that started with FDR and the New Deal. Now why and how this happened deserves a discussion of its own, but happen it did and racial issues clearly had a lot to do with it. To pretend otherwise, as the PC cons do, is to be willfully ignorant.

The PC preening conservatives sit on their high horses and bash those bad ol’ Southern Democrats, but demographically speaking those old Southern Democrats and their progeny are the modern base of the GOP and they know it, although they may pretend not to. Five Deep South states, including my own state of Georgia, broke the strangle hold that Democrats had had on the “Solid South” when they voted for Goldwater in ’64, largely based on Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act. Did, the alleged Mr. Republican Martin Luther King support Goldwater in ’64? Inconveniently for the PC cons’ tidy little narrative, no he did not. See the link in paragraph 4 above. Most of those same states, again including my own state of Georgia, voted for George Wallace four years later in 1968. This gradual transition of the South from a Democrat to a Republican bastion was seen up through the Clinton elections. That transition is now complete. (And potentially being reversed again due to other demographic forces.)

Do the PC grandstanders assert that all these suddenly enlightened white Southerners who now dutifully pull the lever for Republicans are actually all transplants from the North and Midwest who have demographically displaced those mean nasty ol’ racist Southern Democrats who continue to remain a small remnant of the Democrat Party? In fact, the opposite is the case. It is the migration of liberal whites (along with immigrants) into the South that has made states like North Carolina turn purple. Who were the whites in North Carolina who pulled the lever for Obama in 2008 that gave the state to him? Was it the old Southern Democrat remnant? That is absurd on its face, and again the grandstanders know it. When they bash those mean ol’ racist Southern Democrats, they are bashing their own demographic base. But I guess scoring PC brownie points is more important to them than honor and intellectual honesty.

Regardless of what someone may think about Martin Luther King and his legacy, he was not a man of the right and to argue that he was is intellectually discrediting. The PC cons should just be honest and admit that they have turned over their intellectual man card to the Cultural Marxist Division of PC Rightthink Enforcement, and spare us all, left and right, their farcical historical revisionism.

Addendum: I understand why some conservatives might want to sit out the MLK debate in order to not bring the PC rightthink enforcement apparatus down on their heads. I think it’s weak, but I can understand it. But it is one thing to sit the debate out cautiously and another thing to join in the debate on the side of the Cultural Marxists. Even though their revisionism is obviously inaccurate, their regurgitation of it still feeds into the PC narrative and empowers the PC Beast. As I have said repeatedly, conservatives who feed the PC Beast are fools. They will never keep it from attempting to devour them and the civilization they say they want to conserve. They are contributing to their own demise. This is ultimately what I am decrying even more than the specifics of their MLK retelling.

The Libertarian Alliance (UK): “Paleoism and the Traditional Britain Group”

Here is an interesting article from The Libertarian Alliance blog, a libertarian organization based in England. The article does a good job of chronicling the “paleolibertarian” phenomenon of the ’90s. Paleolibertarianism seems to mystify some people, so I thought it was worth posting.

In January 1990, Lew Rockwell wrote in the magazine ‘Liberty’ on ‘The Case for Paleolibertarianism’[1]. In this manifesto, he argued that while libertarians are often correct in their criticisms of conservatives, conservatives are often right in their criticisms of libertarians. He cites people like Russell Kirk and Robert Nisbet, with the latter claiming that libertarians were drifting so far from conservatism that they were coming to view the “coercions of the family, church, local community and school” as almost as corrosive of liberty as that of the state.

In this paleolibertarian manifesto, Rockwell states that if libertarianism is to make any real progress, then it must do away with its “defective cultural framework”, stating that Western civilisation is worthy of praise and that social or ‘natural’ authority – like the authority of the family, the church, the local community and the school – is essential to a free society. Libertarianism’s cultural framework had become a blend of moral relativism, egalitarianism, modernism and libertinism with the modal libertarian often conflating legality with morality. In addition to the error of assuming that because X must be legal, X must also be moral, the modal libertarian had conflated freedom from aggression with freedom from social authority, tradition, and bourgeois morality.

See more here…

Hat tip to my FaceBook friend Rex May, whose post directed my attention to this article.

Cross posted with some slightly different wording at Independent Political Report.

Some Advice to Libertarians

This post is inspired by New Year’s Eve.

If libertarians really want to broaden their appeal to redneck types, they should focus their legalization battles on fireworks. A lot of self respecting rednecks aren’t going to want to be associated with legalization of pot and prostitution even if they might secretly want to indulge on occasion*, but every red-blooded American wants the legal right to set off fireworks free from the fear of snitching neighbors and pesky police. :-)

* Present company excepted, of course.

More on Alternative Right

Alternative Right has a statement up on it’s FaceBook page.

The FaceBook statement as well as some additional explanation can be found here at the new temporary home of AltRight.

It is not the intention of this website to take sides here. We simply intend to report on issues of interest to our sphere. The alternative (small a) right sphere is unfortunately full of contention and we generally try to remain above the fray and retain friendly relations with all sides. We have a friendly relationship with Richard Spencer, and I assume Andy Nowicki and company have no issues with us either. While we represent a more traditional paleo perspective than Spencer or AltRight, we have no desire to be part of a chorus denouncing either.

Update: Colin Liddell, the co-editor of Alternative Right along with Andy Nowicki, is not at all happy with the way things went down. He expresses his displeasure in a comment here.

A Couple of Links on the Budget Deal

We criticized Jack Hunter here for his PC inspired backtracking, but that doesn’t mean he is no longer capable of good commentary. Here is a Hunter column on the budget deal. The GOP can’t be trusted to cut spending because they are too wedded to big spending on the military. Military spending is the untold story behind why so many Republicans went with Ryan’s budget cave. On a side note, I guess Hunter is back with a regular column at The Daily Caller. I suppose his Politico mea culpa was the price of re-admission.

We also recently criticized Jim Antle for his attempt to finesse the Mandela issue, but he is still capable of good commentary as well. Here he is on the budget deal. He sees the budget deal as what it is, a big cave-in for the House GOP.

My Thoughts on Jack Hunter’s Mea Culpa at Politico

Let me begin by saying that I have always liked Jack Hunter. I have only met Jack once at a Ron Paul event in Georgia, but I consider him a virtual friend. He is my Facebook friend. I was always especially fond of Jack because in addition to us both being Southern paleocons, we also shared a love of professional wrestling, especially of Ric Flair and the old NWA/Georgia Championship Wrestling on TBS era. We also shared a fondness for old school action movies.  Jack, while a few years younger than me, reminded me a lot of myself. He was an intelligent guy who talked about Kirk, defended the South and seemed to really get it politically, but also couldn’t get beyond his Southern, blue collar tastes. The combination of someone who could talk intelligently about Kirk and Weaver one minute and then be a geeked out fanboy of Ric Flair and Sylvester Stallone the next was rare. Most people who can do either, can only do one or the other. Very few can do both. Hence I always felt a kinship and familiarity with Jack that exceeded our actual familiarity. While I don’t know if Jack felt the same way, I know he knew who I was and that he was familiar with this website.

I have been aware of Jack’s Southern Avenger persona since well before he revealed his identity. In fact, I recall going on an internet snooping session at one point to see if I could figure out who he really was. (To no avail.) The reason I was curious to figure out his true identity is because he seemed so well versed in paleospeak that I figured he might be someone I was (virtually) familiar with. We frequently posted his videos on this site. Contrary to Jack’s protests that he was young and naive, part of the reason that I liked his commentaries so much was because he was very articulate and often threw in references to Kirk and others that seemed intended to established his paleo bona fides. They struck me as winks of a sort. His way of saying “I’m one of you” without wearing it on his sleeve.

So it was with dread that I read his “Confessions of s Right-Wing Shock Jock” which appeared yesterday at Politico. I knew before reading it that he was going to prostrate himself before the gods of political correctness begging forgiveness and seeking to be accepted back into polite company, and he did, as I expected, just that. No worse than what I expected but no better.

I don’t now dislike Jack. I’m not going to disown him. I’m not going to call him names. I’m not going to un-friend him. In fact, when this “scandal” first broke, I counseled others against attacking Jack personally. Since I do consider Jack a virtual friend, to now attack him would be disloyal. It’s also unhelpful. I will say that I’m disappointed that this is the way Jack has responded to the “revelations,” which as someone noted (David Weigel maybe?) when this first broke, had always been hiding in plain sight.

When this came out, Jack had two options. He could do what he did and is doing which is backtrack and denounce his past. Or he could defend what he said vigorously. As I pointed out at the time, nothing he said, taken alone, was all that scandalous. Everything he said was common amoung paleos and in many cases mainstream conservatives. He could have appologized for some of the way he put things – suggesting that Lincoln and Hitler would have been best of friends is a bit provocative – without apologizing for the substance. He could have said he had become more libertarian over time, without casting aspersions on his old belief systems. His backtracking didn’t save his job them, and I’m not sure it will get him back into polite company now. What I do know is that he has hurt the cause he once (maybe still?) supports by accepting the framing of the enemy that what he said was scandalous. It was not. What the system needs is not another generic libertarian. What the system needs is smart articulate people like Jack who aren’t afraid to defend authentic conservatism against the PC mobs whether they be liberal “anti-racists” or Lincoln idolizing neocon thought policers.

I don’t doubt that Jack over time has become more libertarian. The simplicity and reductionism of libertarianism is seductive and has a way of drawing in people who are around it. And while I never got the impresion that Jack was hostile to religion, I did sense that he wasn’t personally very religious, so the slide into libertarianism was likely easier for him than it is for religious socons. Also, I don’t doubt that Jack has become over time more politically pragmatic. Playing the political game tends to do that to people. I had noticed this myself as Jack became somewhat of the designated spokesman for the Ron Paul campaign against conspiracy theorists and no-compromise libertarians. Now whether this was a job Jack was asked to do because it was felt he had credibly with the proponents of these issues or if this was a cause he took upon himself, I don’t know. It is possible that realizing his own past put him in jeopardy, Jack was trying to establish his reasonable bona fides, but this is just speculation.

That conceded, his handling of the racial and Southern issues in the article struck me as completely craven. Jack sort of walks back his support of secession as a principle for example. The passage where he addresses it is confusing. Jack is a good writer and there was no need for the passage to be confusing. I think the passage reflects his own ambivalence.  I suspect he felt he needed to say something that he didn’t really want to say. Jack is schooled enough in Southern conservatism and Rockwell style libertarianism to know that secession is on firm intellectual and historical grounds.

His framing of racial and immigration issues as largely matters of sensitivity was pretty pathetic. As I pointed out at the time, the shock quote that was trotted out in the original hit pieces that was supposed to be so damning regarding race, wasn’t shocking unless you’re a lefty PC hysteric or an easily PC intimidated cowardly conservative. It wasn’t pro-white racialism. It was a standard color-blind conservative denunciation of the racial double standard. Jack’s yammering on and on about the need for conservative sensitivity on racial issues per se and Southern issues in general is profoundly harmful because it gives aid and comfort to the enemy. It accepts their framing of the debate. When a PC hysteric points and sputters because you denounced Cultural Marxist double standards, the way to respond is not, “Oh I’m so sorry. I’ll be more sensitive next time.” The way to respond is “You’re darn right I decried the Cultural Marxist racial double standard! What kind of conservative would I be if I didn’t? Do you defend it?”

My hunch is that Jack doesn’t believe his own crap here, and is just throwing himself on the mercy of the PC rightthink guardians. While he may believe that more care when discussing racial issues is prudent, in the same way he now embraces more pragmatic politics, I don’t think he really accepts that conservatives should abide by PC strictures with regard to language and policy lest they be guilty of wrongthink. Likewise I don’t think he really believes that defense of the South, secession, states rights etc. automatically means one is guilty of thoughtcrime. He’s too smart for that and too much a product of the roots that gave rise to the Southern Avenger.

So I am disappointed that Jack has chosen this route. I wish he had chosen the honorable route that Jason Richwine chose which was to vigorously defend himself because he knew he hadn’t done anything wrong. If Jack wants to remain a libertarian and a politcal pragmatist, I’m fine with that. I think that transformation is genuine. But accepting the framing of left-wing PC obsessives and neocon hit men is not OK. Hopefully Jack’s conscience and pride (the good kind) will set him back on the right path and one day he’ll write a mea culpa for his mea culpa. Maybe Jason Richwine can give him a call.

The Rise of the Neoreactionary Techies

I’ve followed this neoreaction thing somewhat. I don’t think that paleos are generally counted among the ranks of neoreactionaries, but we’re kin so to speak. By my understanding, the neoreactionaries are in general an irreligious lot, which is what separates them from paleos. Also, I don’t think they necessarily look fondly upon any particular era of the past. They just don’t like modernity. But their ranks seem to be growing, especially among the techie crowd. And this rise  has not escaped notice. This is not a bad summation, although the author can’t help but throw in a couple of PC digs.

Many of us yearn for a return to one golden age or another. But there’s a community of bloggers taking the idea to an extreme: they want to turn the dial way back to the days before the French Revolution.

Neoreactionaries believe that while technology and capitalism have advanced humanity over the past couple centuries, democracy has actually done more harm than good. They propose a return to old-fashioned gender roles, social order and monarchy.

You may have seen them crop-up on tech hangouts like Hacker News and Less Wrong, having cryptic conversations about “Moldbug” and “the Cathedral.” And though neoreactionaries aren’t exactly rampant in the tech industry, PayPal founder Peter Thiel has voiced similar ideas, and Pax Dickinson, the former CTO of Business Insider, says he’s been influenced by neoreactionary thought. It may be a small, minority world view, but it’s one that I think shines some light on the psyche of contemporary tech culture….

Read more…

To Support His Position Michael Cushman Quotes … George W. Bush?

I can’t make this stuff up. Michael Cushman, to prove that America is a proposition nation, quotes George W. Bush.

Since everyone won’t be able to see the link here is the George W. quote he is using. It is from Bush’s 1st inaugural address.

America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests, and teach us what it means to be citizens.

It really don’t know what Cushman is trying to prove. Does he really think citing George W. Bush helps his case?

Michael Cushman Has Engaged Me and CHT at Southern Nationalist Network

For those who don’t follow these matters, there has been an ongoing feud between what I am calling the “New Direction Caucus” in the League of the South and some of us who have been alarmed by some things about this New Direction. I have been planning to address the issue here, but haven’t had the time recently, but I now see that Michael Cushman, who is the clear leader of this New Direction Caucus, has engaged me by name at his website. This is a good thing. These issues need to be debated openly. I will work on a reply. For now I will let the Cushman’s article stand on its own. Please read the article, read my comments, and then read the entire comment section of the post where my comments were taken from to understand the argument.

I don’t want to go into a lot of details about what the debate is about, since I plan a separate post (several really) on the issue, but briefly at issue is whether the US was conceived as a deliberate Enlightenment egalitarian experiment from its inception. I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I think it is fair to say that Cushman believes it was. I say it wasn’t. (There is more to the problem with the New Direction Caucus than just this. There are a suite of interrelated issues and attitudes, but more on that later.)

I think my position stands on its own if you read the comment section. I don’t have any issue with the way Cushman characterizes my position. In fact, oddly, he doesn’t really attempt to counter my position. He doesn’t attempt to demonstrate that my history is faulty and his is accurate. He simply states his alternative. He seems to be primarily motivated by the fact that he believes that his conceptualization is more useful, not more accurate. He calls it a position of strength. But it’s not a position of strength if it’s wrong.

Please read the links and then give me your thoughts.

Townhall Publishes Jack Kerwick’s Defense of Paul Gottfried

Jack Kerwick responds to the critics of Paul Gottfried here.

In addition to defending Gottfried, he bemones the state of conservative affairs that too often substitutes ad hominem attacks for actual debate.

That Gottfried’s critics here are doubtless people of the right, self-avowed “conservatives,” is a tragic commentary on the times. More specifically, it is a tragic commentary on just how successful the left has been in commandeering our culture, for the insults that now bombard Gottfried are textbook exhibitions of precisely the sort of ad hominem attack that the left has always wielded to terminate debate while destroying—professionally, politically, and socially, destroying—its opponents.

It is bad enough that Gottfried’s detractors readily substitute insult for argument. Far worse, however, is that in addition to being anti-intellectual in character, his critics’ insults are baseless.

Read more…

I’m leaning toward the belief that Townhall generally publishes whatever Jack sends them, but that they didn’t round file this one is something.

Paul Gottfried Responds to His Critics at Free Republic

Prof. Gottfried saw our post below, and passed along this response (very slightly edited) to his critics at Free Republic, where the review was posted:

In his very generous, widely distributed review of my book on Leo Strauss and Strauss’s effect on the American conservative movement, Jack Kerwick observes that amidst our ideological division, my study stands out as “model of civility.” Apparently this judgment didn’t sit well with some commentors at freerepublic.com who weighed in against me as a nasty controversialist. Among my transgressions is to have defended the notorious anti-Semite Joe Sobran. Further, in my presumed attacks on Leo Strauss in a book that my ungrammatical critics never bothered to read, I besmirched a true patriot, who loved our liberal democratic government. Since Strauss defended what he thought America had been set up to represent, he must have been an authentic conservative, and it was therefore wicked on my part to challenge his political credentials. One critic even went so far as to describe me as driven by “anger,” that is, as someone who is no longer capable of rational judgment. This rant replicated almost word for word the unprofessional opinions that had been sent by a referee for an outline of my (then unwritten) book on Strauss that had been submitted to Yale University Press three years ago. Although my alma mater was about to give me a contract for the book Cambridge later brought out, after the receipt of the poison pen letter, the editor broke off negotiations.

These comments occasion certain thoughts, or more accurately, force me to revise certain preconceived notions. Up until a few days ago I had assumed that my adversaries in the conservative media simply ignored my critical writings. They treated me as an inconsequential rightwing kook, whom they had no interest in calling attention to. Last week I encountered a young gentleman who told me how at “conservative” youth conferences he attended, he was warned against my uncooperative attitudes. I was certainly a presence at these events, in the same way that Goldstein was in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four. And I suspect I enjoyed about the same degree of popularity among the organizers as Big Brother’s straw man.

For the record, my well-prepped critics are wrong on two points, in addition to their egregious syntax. One, I never defended Joe Sobran as an “anti-Semite” or as a critic of the policies of the Israeli government, which for some of my critics are the same. I simply noted somewhere that Sobran was unjustly treated by the movement to which he had devoted his life. I never expressed approval of his judgments about Israel, which I do not happen to share. Two, my work on Strauss, which my detractors obviously never looked at, is every bit as civil as Jack Kerwick suggests it is. One would be hard pressed to find a single snide comment about my subject and in fact one encounters in the biographical sections many empathetic remarks about Strauss’s treatment as a scholar in Germany before he was forced by the Nazis to leave. I note parallels between my family’s experiences and those of Strauss and stress repeatedly the breadth of Strauss’s erudition. I have absolutely no idea how anyone but a driven fanatic could find anything demeaning about my descriptions.

My downfall with this book is that I’m not a Straussian or someone who interprets Strauss and his disciples as “conservatives.” Since as an intellectual historian I treat even classical Marxists with sympathy, the fact that I don’t characterize the Straussians or their master as conservative should not be viewed as an insult. But it may be a costly faux pas. Strauss’s more prominent disciples are used to being slobbered over in certain magazines conventionally associated with the right. Unfortunately for my sales, I don’t follow this party-line.

Townhall Publishes Review of Paul Gottfried’s Book on Leo Strauss – Progress?

Recently I asked if Townhall’s publication of an anti-neocon article represented progress? Now they have published a review of Paul Gottfried’s Leo Strauss book (which is now available in paperback and reasonably affordable.) I don’t know if Townhall just likes Jack Kerwick and publishes most of what he sends them, or if this demonstrates some sort of progress. Thoughts?

One thing that I think is hurting the neocons with the activist base, is that they are being increasingly associated with the Establishment faction in favor of moderation, compromise and coming to terms with big government. This association is not at all unfair as most of the notable neocon spokesmen sided with the Establishment against Cruz and the defund ObamaCare effort. I don’t believe that most of the base has abandoned interventionism in theory, but I do think they now have little stomach for actual wars as demonstrated by their strong opposition to intervention in Syria. And I do think they are becoming increasingly aware of the budgetary consequences of our current policy. This linkage of the strongly interventionist faction with the centrist faction can only help the cause of non-intervention.

Op-ed Specifically Denouncing Neoconservatism Published at Townhall.com

Townhall.com is as generic a movement con organ as you can find, yet they published this op-ed from Jack Kerwick specifically condemning neoconservatism. This is progress. I don’t think this would have passed muster five years ago, certainly not ten years ago.

If the Democratic Party’s control of the presidency and the Senate can succeed in provoking the base of the GOP to reevaluate its collective political identity, then it all may just have been worth it.

Maybe—maybe—the internecine conflict currently on display in the GOP indicates a breakdown of that political philosophy that has dominated Republican Party politics, as well as the so-called “conservative movement,” for decades.

The name of this philosophy is neoconservatism, and it isn’t a version of conservatism at all.

Read more …

The truth that neoconservatism is not a form of conservatism is one that can’t be repeated often enough, even though it’s a point that is well understood by most readers of a site like this. Sometimes repetition is necessary if people have repeatedly been told the opposite.

Does Anyone Know What Happened to Blogger Daniel Larison?

There used to be this really good paleoconservative blogger I enjoyed reading named Daniel Larison. He had this cool blog called Eunomia and even endorsed Chuck Baldwin in 2008. Now I can’t find his work anywhere. I Goggled his name, and it took me to some guy at The American Centrist by the same name, but it’s clearly not the same guy. This other Daniel Larison is all worked up about extremist Republicans and reads like some wannabe David Brooks.

See here

and here

and here

So if anyone knows where I can find the original Daniel Larison, please let me know. I really miss him.

Who Shot JFK? The Return of JFK Conspiracy Theorizing

Below, Hawthorne mentions the recent proliferation of books about the JFK assasination.

Jesse Ventura, Roger Stone, and now Jerome Corsi, are all riding new books on the JFK Assassination, and if you have to ask, none of them support the Lone Gun Man theory.

(As an aside, I think Jerome Corsi has taken to writing books as a form of income generation. He has really been churning them out recently. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I just think he may pick topics he knows will sell books, which makes for a rather random list of books to his credit.)

I have never looked into the Kennedy assassination that much. It happened before my time, unlike Vince Foster, for example, whose investigation I followed pretty closely at the time. But I am somewhat familiar with the various theories, simply because you can’t travel in outside the mainstream circles and not be exposed to them.

With the Kennedy assassination, there are two issues that are often conflated but shouldn’t be. First, was Oswald the Lone Gun Man. The other largely separate issue is, whether he was or wasn’t the lone shooter, did he act on his own or was he acting for someone. Because so much has been invested by both sides in the first question, the second question has sometimes gotten lost.

The pro-conspiracy side believes that if the Lone Gun Man theory is disproved, then the whole story comes crashing down. The pro-official story side believes that if the Lone Gun Man theory is upheld, then the conspiracy theorists will lose face and can be ignored. From the beginning this has always seemed unfortunate to me. Yeah, if there really was more than one shooter then that would seal the deal of a cover-up, but that has always struck me as the secondary, not the primary issue.

Hence, I have never had a problem accepting the Lone Gun Man theory. It’s plausible. But I have always taken for granted that it is entirely possible some other forces were behind the shooting. I don’t assert definitively that others were behind the shooting, because I don’t know that. But it seems to me that that should be the default assumption and that Oswald acted on his own should require the burden of proof. That Oswald acted alone is plausible on the surface, but it is not a conclusion you jump to. If a wife turns up missing, you default suspect the husband. Doesn’t mean he did it, but you don’t default assume a benign explanation.

This is the problem with conspiracy theories. They make otherwise intelligent people stupid. People invested in disbelieving the official explanation will often believe highly implausible things. But people who are invested in believing and defending the conventional wisdom will often cast all their critical thinking skills aside in defense of the official story. Any questioning of the official story is tantamount to full bore conspiracy theorizing.

This dynamic was much in evidence in the Birther debate. Because the issue initially was about Obama being born in Kenya, something that always seemed highly implausible to me, then the defenders of the official story always made it about Kenya, but it is entirely plausible that Obama was not born in Kenya but that his story is still false in some other way. Anti-Birthers act as if it is inconceivable that anyone would ever lie about their past.

So I guess what I’m saying is that we need a more nuanced class of conspiracy theorists and a less lickspittle class of official story defenders, but what explains the recent proliferation of JFK books? I honestly believe that people are beginning to question the official line more and more. Doubt of the official story for more and more is becoming their default rather than acceptance. I noticed this with the Syria chemical weapons attack. The official story provoked immediate eye rolling in many. The people most accepting of the official story seemed to be the press who were trying to convinced a skeptical public, which is the opposite of how it should be. This changing dynamic bodes well for our cause IMO.

A Little Strauss Bashing and Paleo Inside Baseball all in One

Here is a slightly dated essay from Paul Gottfried that appeared at VDARE. I don’t know how I missed it when it came out. I post it now because any opportunity to take a swipe at Strauss and the neocons is a good one. And also because it recounts a little paleo intrique that not everyone may be familiar with.

Here’s the inside baseball stuff. I like Cleas Ryn. I think his insight into the neocons as modern day Jacobins is spot on. But this episode was pretty wimpy:

Full disclosure: Professor Ryn and I have known each other for more than thirty years and spent considerable time together, socially and professionally. In 2007, we cofounded the Academy of Philosophy and Letters , aiming to fill the Philadelphia Society’s former role as a forum for conservative discussion, before it fell under neoconservative control.

But we came to a parting of the ways when Professor Ryn and an assistant,  NHI President Joe Baldacchino, demanded the removal from our organization of anyone who had addressed the IQ question or even been present at conferences in which this delicate subject was broached. My admission that I did indeed believe that individuals and ethnic groups have differing cognitive abilities resulted in Ryn’s unexpected insistence that I myself should leave.

 I took along those who opposed the censorship and set up the H.L. Mencken Club.  From what I can determine, our side has many more members than APL—and more open discussion. (HLMC has its sixth annual conference in Baltimore November 1-3—register here!).

And here is some Strauss/neocon bashing:

Conservatism Inc. has been so totally infiltrated from the Left that those ideas that used to define the Left—abstract universalism, the rejection of ethnic differences, the moral imperative to extend equality to all human relations—has spread to the official Right. The political debate in America now centers on Leftist propositions. Accordingly, someone like Bloom, who could barely conceal his animus against what remains of a traditional Western world based on what Ryn rightly calls a “classical and Christian” heritage, could be featured in the late 1980s as an American patriot and cultural traditionalist.

Originalism is Not That Complicated

This is a post about Justice Scalia, but Daniel McCarthy uses the opportunity to take a swipe at movement conservatism (what else is new) and a rather obtuse swipe at originalism. For this new iteration of Daniel McCarthy talk of nuance, thoughtfulness etc. is a synonym for moderation. But an honest examination of originalism leads to more, not less, radical outcomes. Below is my post which has not yet been approved. I can’t see why it would be censored, unless they are balking at my reference to natural born citizen, but that is a perfectly legit example.

There are issues with originalism. Do you go with what what was actually written or what was likely intended? And whose intent? The Framers only? The state ratifying conventions only? Popular understanding at the time? Some combination? But that said, most issues are not murky from an originalist standpoint, particularly the doctrine of enumerated powers. So if we have all these originalist jurists then why aren’t they striking down programs on the basis of enumerated powers? Saying “you can’t do that” is not activism. Expanding powers and rights is activism.

One issue where original intent really is murky is just what they intended by requiring that the President be a natural born citizen. Perhaps they could look into that. But whether the Framers/state conventions intended to allow the Feds to run a healthcare program is not murky. They didn’t.

Modern conservative judges are only originalists to the extent that it doesn’t strike at longstanding programs. They are originalists around the edges.

Note: My comment has been approved.