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We’re approaching the one-year anniversary of the fateful Unite The Right Rally, at which the violence that took place was all blamed on the “Alt-Right”, leading to much persecution (deplatforming, firings, conferences cancelled) of people identified with that movement. It’s been said repeatedly that the Alt Right is dead or dying—but it can’t be, if Conservatism, Inc is still trying to kill it.

It seems that Jonah Goldberg has time left over from beating up on Trump and refurbishing his credentials as a leading “conservative” Never-Trumper to hobnob with House Speaker Paul Ryan at Jonah’s stamping grounds, AEI. The two of them agreed recently that the “Alt-Right is about “identity politics.” In what appears to be a mutual congratulation session, the interlocutors proclaimed that “conservatives must reclaim “hijacked” terminology.”

“Intellectually do everything you can to defeat the alt-right,” Ryan said Thursday in an interview with Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor at National Review and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where the interview was held.

“It is identity politics, it is antithetical to what we believe, and it’s a hijacking of our terms, just like the progressives hijacked the word, ‘liberalism,’ the blood-and-soil nationalists of the alt-right have hijacked things like ‘Western civilization,’” Ryan, R-Wis., added.

“So we have to go back and fight for our ground and re-win these ideas and marginalize these guys as best we can to the corners.

Paul Ryan: ‘White Identity Politics’ of Alt-Right Isn’t Conservatism, but Racism, by Rachel del Guidice, July 19, 2018

But there was absolutely nothing in this interview that leads me to believe that the Alt-Right, or what it’s imagined to be in this interview, “hijacked” anything from the Right—if that Right is represented by Goldberg and Ryan. In fact, I can’t imagine how Ryan, who is a very centrist politician, or Goldberg, who seems to be a badly-educated Leftist in all but name, have any better claim to the “conservative” label than those on the Dissident Right whom they’re laboring to marginalize. Having these characters define the legitimate Right is like asking zealous vegetarians to judge the quality of meat dishes in a cooking contest—or having Hillary Clinton give out prizes for feminine charm.

Of course, I have my own horse in this race, if only by association. George Hawley explains why in Making Sense of the Alt-Right, his balanced, book-length examination of the Alt-Right: “There are only two people from the paleoconservative movement associated with the Alt-Right in any meaningful way. The first is Paul Gottfried…” (The second: the late Sam Francis.) Although I don’t classify myself as part of the Alt-Right, Hawley notes that my scholarly work certainly influenced many people on the Alt-Right—especially his [my] books and columns critiquing the conservative movement.”

I was also “something of a mentor to Richard Spencer, who coined the term ‘Alt-Right,’ and he [I] wrote articles for both Taki’s Magazine and Alternative Right, where the term was first popularized.”

George, to his credit, does dissociate me from some of the more unsavory positions attached to the Alt-Right. He points out that I am “not an anti-Semite,” which (apart from the fact that I am Jewish) is certainly true providing one accepts H.L. Mencken’s definition that “an anti-Semite is someone who dislikes Jews more than is absolutely necessary.”

George also correctly notes that I “reject white nationalism,” for all the good it’s done me in winning favor from the obsessively virtue-signaling members of Conservatism Inc.

My own relations with the Alt-Right took a noticeable plunge from about the time that the Left began smearing Donald Trump as the voice of the Alt-Right. That was also around the time that Richard Spencer began identifying his movement more explicitly with white nationalism. Then last year came the clash at Charlottesville. This brought news coverage that was less than objective. In its wake, I found that I had to protect myself against a Canadian celebrity who claimed in the National Post that I was the spiritual force behind a neo-Nazi riot. Never mind that said riot took place when well-armed “Anti-fascists” attacked right-wing demonstrators who had a legal right to assemble; and after the police failed to protect those who were exercising their legal right.

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I wrote a lot in the early aughts about Jonah Goldberg’s apotheosis at National Review in the wake of William F. Buckley’s purge of immigration patriots like John O’Sullivan and Editor Peter Brimelow because I regarded him as a symbol and a symptom of the intellectual and moral degeneration of a magazine I once loved, and of the movement it purported to lead. Indeed, I gather that my habit of referring to the post-purge NR as “The Goldberg Review” caused Norman Podhoretz to ostracize Brimelow, once his close ally in Manhattan conservative circles, an unimaginable disaster for which I am deeply sorry. Subsequently, Goldberg apparently lost his editorship of NRO for some trivial reason of girly-boy intrigue. But Conservatism, Inc-ers never die. For his newest venture into deep thought, Goldberg has crassly stolen the title of James Burnham’s great work, Suicide of the West, published in 1964 at the height of the Cold War.

That is where the similarity ends. Unlike Burnham’s scalding indictment of liberalism as “the ideology of Western suicide,” Goldberg’s random opinions represent the very pathology that Burnham railed against. Goldberg hates national identities (although he makes an exception for Israel), opponents of the Deep State, immigration patriots, and those who imagine that democracy has something to do with the popular will. Rather his “conservative” view of democracy privileges public administration, the operation of multinational corporations, and socially sophisticated journalists such as like himself.

One need only cite this passage from Burnham’s work to grasp the extent to which Burnham might have been thinking of someone like Goldberg when he described the quintessential liberal:

“Liberalism has always stressed change, reform, the break with encrusted habit whether in the form of old ideas, old customs or old institutions. Thus liberalism has been and continues to be primarily negative in its impact on society: and in point of fact it is through its negative and destructive achievements that liberalism makes its best claim to historical justification.”

By now, however, Burnham’s Leftist hallmarks are “conservative” positions. After all, Goldberg’s book, which abounds in the Leftist virtue-signaling mandatory for Main Stream Media Token Conservatives, is being sold by “conservative” book clubs. It is also featured in a Crown Forum Series devoted to conservative thought (whose editor pointedly refused to correspond with me about a book proposal).

For those who may doubt whether the author is an authorized “conservative,” one need only turn to National Review, a publication at which Goldberg still holds an editorship, or else watch him jaw with other Fox News Allstars as a designated Man Of The Right.

I regard Goldberg as a prime example of the near-total ideological primacy of the Cultural Marxist Left. We are living in a time and place in which what would be crazy-Left up until about two generations ago is assigned a “Right-Wing” label, in order to keep alive a dialectic that is transparently phony.

In about a ten-page digression into the nature of conservatism—his entire book is really nothing more than a series of digressions—Goldberg identifies “conservatism” with resisting Donald Trump. The U.S. President, whom Goldberg with other Never-Trumpers has inflexibly opposed, is described as a vulgar throwback to the 1930s “on both sides of the Atlantic.” People back then (let’s guess who they were!) believed “decadent Western capitalism and ‘Manchester liberalism’ were inadequate to the challenges of the day.”

All of this coming from Goldberg is utter chutzpah, considering that he now happily accepts massive social engineering in order to overcome “discrimination” against certain groups.

His version of Suicide Of The West indicts—in what by now is neoconservative ritual—Bismarck, the Prussian state and the administrative model of late nineteenth century Germany. All these pernicious forces allegedly laid the conceptual foundations of American managerial democracy.

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I’ve just been looking at an interview by clinical psychologist and University of Toronto Professor Jordan Peterson dealing with postmodernism and the triumph of Marxism in Canada. In view of Peterson’s brave struggle against Political Correctness at the U of T (which my late wife attended in more tolerant times) I was ready to treat his venture into my own field (European intellectual history) with a certain indulgence, until I encountered this opinion:

Communism was not popularized in the West under the direct banner of communism. Instead, it came largely under the banner of postmodernism, and aimed to transform the values and beliefs of our societies through its Marxist idea that knowledge and truth are social constructs.

Why should we think that Communism did not enter North America under its own banner? The CPUSA had 100,000 members by the end of World War II and loads of fellow-travelers who had profound influence on American culture and education. Furthermore, for many decades Canada was home to a thriving Communist Party under the leadership of Tim Buck, whose son attended Yale with me. Marxists I’ve known or read do not believe that “knowledge and truth are social constructs.” The theory they propound is that belief systems belong to the superstructure of a society. What really determines a society’s direction is who controls productive forces; and this control brings political, economic, and, at least derivatively, cultural power.

More importantly, I’m underwhelmed by the assertions that postmodernism, which Peterson tells us entered Canada sometime in the 1970s, has transformed Canadians into Marxists. I shall readily concede that some self-described French postmodernists, like Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, and Jacques Derrida, voted for the French Communist or Socialist Party and expressed personal dislike for bourgeois society. What is more problematic, however, is that someone who reads postmodernist texts will be transformed into a Politically Correct leftist.

Although I’ve read such texts extensively, I’ve never felt the slightest urge to march in a Black Lives Matter demonstration. Nor can I locate anything in Derrida, Roland Barthes, or any other French postmodernist that would make me inclined to speak at a Women’s March. I’m certainly not a fan of these authors who try to deconstruct and decontextualize established meanings. They also inconsistently expect to be taken seriously as semanticists while reducing those shared understandings that create and sustain community to subjective interests. I’m also aware that Lacan, Giles Deleuze, and other postmodernists identified mental disorders with a capitalist economy. Less evident is that these attacks fueled contemporary political radicalism, which Peterson sees as penetrating Canada through postmodernist deconstructionism. The ascription of psychological disorder to capitalism was a favorite theme of the Frankfurt School, which belabored it for thirty years before Deleuze took it over in the 1960s. (Deleuze expressed a debt of gratitude to Herbert Marcuse for his fusion of erotic gratification with revolutionary politics.) Since the war against social normalcy pioneered by the Frankfurt School is flourishing in most Western countries today, why should I go to French deconstructionists in order to look for its source?

The suppression of free speech by the Canadian government and Canadian universities, a situation that Peterson has doggedly resisted, has nothing to do with Marxist beliefs. Peterson’s observation on this matter does not demonstrate such a connection:

The postmodernists built on the Marxist ideology. They started to play a sleight of hand, and instead of pitting the proletariat, the working class, against the bourgeois, they started to pit the oppressed against the oppressor. That opened up the avenue to identifying any number of groups as oppressed and oppressor and to continue the same narrative under a different name.

Postmodernists may or may not have “built on Marxist ideology” but the “sleight of hand” they carried out in order to create their own version of “the oppressed against the oppressor” generated ideas that are not Marxist in origin. No Marxist government I’m aware of has prohibited gender-specific language or criminalized negative references to gays and the transgendered. I couldn’t imagine any self-respecting Communist leader mandating transgendered toilets in public restrooms. Where exactly would I find such an idea in Das Kapital or in Stalin’s Foundations of Leninism? Communist states, moreover, have usually persecuted gays, and dealt quite harshly with drug-users and others they perceived as social deviants.

What we call “Political Correctness” is not a Marxist creation, as I argue strenuously in The Strange Death of Marxism. Rather, we are looking at a post-Marxist leftist ideology stressing universalism, equality, and the social guilt of white Christians, and more particularly heterosexual, male white Christians. Those who are labeled victimizers (and often accept this label for themselves) are charged with oppressing a steadily expanding range of designated victims, and they are expected to expiate their guilt by showing said victims special verbal and behavioral consideration. Conditioning factors that may help us understand what’s going on are the cultural Marxist-inspired war against “prejudice” and the social engineering imperative of the modern administrative state. Only by considering such variables can we explain the forces that have invaded Peterson’s country and threatened his job.

I’d caution against taking too seriously what Communist Parties out of power in Western countries say and do to attract support. The shrinking CPUSA in present-day America presents women’s issues and racial discrimination as key issues in its advertising for members. A bizarre entry for the CPUSA on Wikipedia would make it appear that American Communists spent most of the last century fighting for black civil rights while being viciously tormented by anti-Communist bigots. This, of course, is PR gibberish. The party leadership was almost always unswervingly Stalinist, as long as that Soviet mass murderer was in power; and it collapsed into total irrelevance after opposing Mikhail Gorbachev’s efforts to liberalize the Soviet regime. If the Communists came to power, judging by their behavior elsewhere, their present showcase “victims” would probably disappear into a re-education camp.

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Franklin Einspruch, A commentator in The Federalist, describes me as a “circumspect conservative” scholar who has written responsibly about Cultural Marxism. I’m also deemed to be a conservative who agrees with other conservative critics of the Frankfurt School on the harmful effects of this group’s radical ideas. But I must part ways with Mr. Einspruch when he tells us: “It’s plain fact that political correctness and multiculturalism derive from notions hailing from the Frankfurt School, which in turn took most of its cues from Karl Marx.” Although I can discern a connection between feminist attacks on inherited gender roles and Frankfurt School views on sexual liberation, I’d have to question whether the present war against Christian, bourgeois institutions can be traced back in any meaningful way to traditional Marxism.

Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer (my teacher), Herbert Marcuse and other members of the Frankfurt School in interwar Germany worked to fuse Marx’s theory of class struggle and the contradictions of capitalism with a Freudian-based vision of erotic pleasure. In this remarkable fusion, it is hard, at least for me, to recognize Marx’s socioeconomic critique. Marx was concerned about man’s alienation from his own work as a result of productive forces over which he had no control. The father of “scientific socialism” never focused on abetting sexual revolt or fighting the emotional repression created by sharp gender distinctions or the failure to give proper social recognition to homosexuals. Orthodox Marxists and Marxist Leninists from the 1920s on vigorously denounced the Frankfurt School and its exponents as social decadents posing as Marxist revolutionaries. Communist regimes would later engage in similar attacks on representatives and sympathizers of the Frankfurt school, such as the Hungarian radical literary figure Georg Lukacs.

They accused their targets of attack of subverting orderly human relations and would have nothing to do with their forced marriage of Marxism and eroticism. Not surprisingly, it was Communist regimes and Communist parties in post-World War II France and Italy that were among the harshest critics of what we now call “Cultural Marxists.” The term “Cultural Marxist” was meant to express derision for this sect; and Orthodox Marxists as well as the European Right seized on it to discredit the Frankfurt School.

In my studies I examine how Cultural Marxists acquired respectability in the U.S., once they set up shop here. They gained recognition for fighting fascism as a cultural and emotional danger and for advocating for a progressive democratic society. Since the Nazis were violently anti-Semitic and since most of the Frankfurt School’s representatives in the U.S. were Jewish, much of the School’s energies after 1933 were focused on “preventing” the eruption of anti-Jewish “prejudice” in their adopted land. But the School also castigated prejudice against other groups, such as blacks, social revolutionaries, homosexuals, and women who were revolting against what they viewed as the patriarchal family.

The best known English work written in this vein, The Authoritarian Personality(1950), an anthology of polemics warning against “prejudice” in American life, was sponsored by an emphatically liberal but also anti-Soviet sponsor, the American Jewish Committee. The same patrons also sponsored Commentarymagazine. Among many others, distinguished sociologist Seymour Morton Lipset hailed TAP (and the series to which it belonged, Studies in Prejudice) as a blueprint for rebuilding American society. Contrary to what some may believe, Lipset was only slightly left of center politically. Even more interestingly, as cultural historian Christopher Lasch points out, Lipset praised the work spearheaded by Adorno in the U.S. as a means of fortifying the U.S. internally to fight Communism as well as the ideological vestiges of Nazism.

Despite the anti-Communist mood in the U.S. at the outset of the Cold War, in the 1950s an Americanized and mainstreamed form of Cultural Marxism made powerful inroads here. Leaders of the Frankfurt school were sent back to Germany by the American State Department to “reeducate” the former subjects of the Third Reich and to make them “good antifascists.” Meanwhile psychological tests were devised for private jobs, government employment, and educational institutions to determine the “f scores” of applicants (as indications of pro-fascist leanings). Equally noteworthy, Frankfurt School pioneers like Eric Fromm became popular authorities on psychological well-being and had their works distributed through Book of the Month clubs.

This was only the initial phase in an Americanizing process for Cultural Marxists that would continue down to the present. Since the 1960s a political and social struggle has been waged here and in other “liberal democracies” to empower disadvantaged minorities in the name of fairness and human rights. Here too the plans and proposals of The Authoritarian Personality are easily discernible: e.g., combatting through sustained political indoctrination antifeminist and homophobic prejudice and isolating the putative Christian poison that has infected the body social. These now familiar initiatives are driven not so much by the claim to be protecting us against mental sickness (although that too has been advanced) as they are by the themes of fairness and “fundamental rights.”

Even self-described conservatives now deplore the unwillingness of the Russian and Serbian governments to allow gay pride parades to take place in their cities, a civic event that I could hardly imagine having been encouraged in the America I grew up in sixty years ago. And I couldn’t imagine even the founders of the Frankfurt School going quite so far in their embrace of “gay rights” as to welcome what we now hail as part of a new political consensus, including the affirmation of gay marriage as a human right and family value. These ideas are admittedly derivative from an older Cultural Marxism, but I can’t find anything here that I would pin specifically on Marx.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Cultural Marxism, Frankfurt School 
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Looking at a French nationalist website Boulevard Voltaire this morning, I notice a repetition of the conventional American media account of what occurred in Charlottesville on Saturday. The news commentary explained that a white racist had run down and killed with a vehicle a thirty-two-year-old “anti-racist” demonstrator, Heather Heyer, while injuring other anti-racists who were protesting a “Unite the Right” rally in downtown Charlottesville. The supposed occasion for the demonstration, the removal of a twenty-six foot statue of Robert E. Lee, did not seem to interest the French commentator, although presumably if French anti-fascists were calling for dismantling statues of Charles de Gaulle or Joan of Arc all over France, the writer might have reacted differently. As an American observer of these events, who makes no bones about his utter revulsion for contemporary American “liberal” and “conservative” commentaries (which I find mostly indistinguishable), I think there’s more to the story of what went on in Charlottesville on Saturday than our authorized political sides want us to believe.

First of all, I find no heroes emerging from these events. The police showed no ability or perhaps no willingness to keep the two sides separated; and when they met it was inevitable that these armed partisans who hated each other’s guts would clash. Although the dismantling of Lee’s statue (in May a judge placed a six-month stay on this outrage) may have been only the pretext for obnoxious youth to raise holy Hell, the removal of Confederate statues and the renaming of parks and streets commemorating Confederate commanders is sheer lunacy. It should be opposed by all possible legal means. The NAACP and leftist cranks like Max Boot who push this agenda are the American equivalent of the Taliban. Are we supposed to do the PC cringe again when the usual pests demand that we remove the names of Jefferson, Madison and Washington from every city in this country because our country’s Founders owned slaves?

As for the bloody clash in Charlottesville, it’s impossible for me to read the account provided by neocon princeling John Podhoretz in the New York Post this morning without losing my breakfast. The villain for Podhoretz (as it always is these days when’s he’s not attacking critics of the Likud Party) is Donald Trump who refused “to denounce Nazis and white supremacists unqualifiedly and by name.” It seems that Trump had the “shamelessness” to suggest that there were two sides involved in the clash in Charlottesville. (Donald Trump has since unloaded all his fire on Pod’s target.) The anti-fascist and BLM protestors, according to Podhoretz’s doctored narrative, were merely “responding” to hate; and the president whom Podhoretz wouldn’t back against Hillary and whom he continues to denounce “refused to name the evil in our midst,” thereby showing “the behavior of a man whose moral sense is stunted.” On Saturday evening, Fox-news offered an interview by Julie Banderas of a Weekly Standard senior editor who scolded Trump for not treating the Altright in the same denunciatory manner as ISIS. Both, according to Ms. Torrance, were equally dangerous terrorist organizations.

Needless to say, I’ve never heard our authorized conservative opposition vent the same ferocious denunciations they’re now showing on anti-fascist vandals or on the Bernie Sanders supporter who tried to kill a crew of Republican Congressmen while practicing for a baseball game in Arlington, Virginia. Nor did the authorized leftist media agonize in the same way about left-wing extremism as Fox-news commentators did when they began screeching on Saturday night about right-wing dangers that are comparable to ISIS. The Left acted according to script, when their commentators tried to blame the attempted annihilation of Republican Congressmen on our right-wing extremist president.

But our bogus Right couldn’t leave their pandering to the Left with calls for special vigilance against a pervasive right-wing danger. On Fox’s Judge Jeanine segment we had the pleasure of listening to various Republican Congressmen from Virginia defining their “conservatism” as some kind of diversitarian globalist fantasy. One Latino Republican Congressman described the US as the world’s greatest multicultural success. All the Republican interviewees gave the impression that Charlottesville had been a sleepy serene college town, like a throwback to Monty Wooly’s “Halls of Ivy,” before it was invaded by neo-Nazis. These saccharine comments revealed little about the reality of life in an area controlled by the PC Left and led by a bona fide leftist radical from New York City, Mayor Mike Signer.

I’ve also come to doubt that the group organized by Richard Spencer et al was more responsible for violence than the anti-fascist side. From the film I’ve just seen it seems conclusive that leftist thugs were at least as ready to rumble as were the white nationalists and neo-Nazis. Whether or not the Left initiated the fisticuffs (and there’s a high probability that it did) those who led it were far from naïve humanitarians who were “shocked” by white racists. Moreover, both sides, including the white nationalists, integrated into their demonstrations basically decent people, who were simply reacting against something they found intolerable, such as a PC police state or neo-Nazi symbols. Such people were used by others on both sides who were looking for trouble. And the police did little to prevent it.

Finally I would observe as a representative of the independent Right that Richard Spencer and his friends did us a horrible disservice by contributing to the confrontation that took place on Saturday. Much of what Richard and other members of the Altright say about the growing indistinguishability of our authorized Right and authorized Left is entirely on the mark. But the way to combat this deplorable situation is not to team up with Nazis and encourage demonstrators to come armed to Charlottesville to protest the leftist Taliban. One has to create a counter-media to what our shared enemies have done and be willing to accept decent people, whatever their race, to combat left-wing totalitarians and fake conservative enablers.

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Although I generally agree with the Latin adage “de mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est,” sometimes the death of someone leads one to reflect on the gushing eulogies that are showered on the deceased. The recent premature passing at the age of sixty-five of Peter Lawler, a professor of political studies at Berry College in Georgia and the Editor of Modern Age, is a case in point. Although from all accounts a decent person and a genuine devotee of Southern literature, Lawler provided, perhaps unwittingly, the textbook case of how a “conservative” academic can keep his professional standing without becoming, to use John Derbyshire’s phrase, the new “Emmanuel Goldstein” in our emerging 1984 society.

Lawler’s passing set off an explosion of praise in the authorized “conservative” press. National Review devoted a glowing eulogy to Lawler [Peter Lawler, RIP, by Peter Spiliakos May 23, 2017] The Federalist and Weekly Standard spoke about him even more extravagantly. [In Fond Memory Of Peter Augustine Lawler Upon His Sudden Death, By Yuval Levin, Federalist, May 24, 2017] And there were many others.

Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in AmericaFrom these eulogies, it is possible to infer that Lawler was a faithful Catholic, but one with a sense of humor; he was also a devotee of Leo Strauss (on whom I’ve written an unmentionable book) and was on exceedingly friendly terms with Strauss’s disciples. Above all, he was a “thoughtful” conservative, who was polite about Bernie Sanders, described the notorious John (“Civil Rights icon”)Lewis, as heroic, and was offended by the bullying behavior of Donald Trump. [Lewis Baits and Trumps Trump, by Peter Augustine Lawler, NRO, January 17, 2017]

On the few times I met Lawler, it seemed that he was a low-key kind of person, who liked to talk in a non-threatening way about “values.” Both of us wrote at one time for ISI’s Modern Age, and I noticed that Lawler’s views, unlike mine, were safely conventional. It’s not that Lawler ever landed up in a really cushy job at a distinguished university. But he remained in good standing with Conservatism, Inc. by not taking on what the late Sam Francis once called in conversation with me “the hard issues.”

Let me explain what these hard issues are by providing illustrations of the opposite, starting with those positions taken by “cultural conservatives” that couldn’t hurt their careers because most Leftists don’t give a damn about them. Favoring the wider use of the Latin Mass, proposing more concentration in public education on classical languages, deploring the lack of “values” in the contemporary West, and mixing in the phrase “permanent things” during cocktail conversation all exemplify “soft” stands. These are the stands taken by intellectuals who are trying to navigate through life without Tsuris (go look it up).

Although one can certainly take some of these positions out of genuine conviction, they also provide an easy way out for someone who wants to be known as a genteel “conservative” but who doesn’t want to catch flak as a journalist or academic.

In the political sphere, one can easily recognize the advocates of soft positions, because they abound in Republican think-tanks and throughout Establishment Conservative journalism. They lament the racism of Democrats who refuse to pay for the charter schools attended by blacks (although for some reason blacks don’t seem to mind this outrage and vote overwhelmingly for the “racists” who won’t pay for their charter schools.) Then there’s the one-note “moderate feminists” whom I see on Fox News warning women who wish to be liberated not to vote for the Dems. The Republicans, we are told by these blond-haired adolescent deep thinkers, will do more for “moderate feminists.”

Another soft or safe position for “conservatives” to embrace: supporting the right of the Israeli government to build settlements on the West Bank until this area is made to look like a replica of Long Island. Indeed, being for the right of any Israeli Right to do anything it wants will not likely hurt any budding “conservative” career. Nor will denouncing Islamicist oppression, directed against women, gays, Jews and (oh yes!) Christians.

Another soft position mentioned by John Derbyshire: inviting Leftist professors on to “conservative” talk shows and weeping with them about how badly their more demonstratively Leftist colleagues have been treating them lately.

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Thanks to at least nine opposing Republican senators, Congress left for its July 4 break without passing a replacement bill for Obamacare.

The opposition from these Republicans was two-fold: Four conservatives thought the GOP bill on the table went too far in retaining government control over the medical insurance market, while five centrist members complained it doesn’t go far enough in providing federal funding for Medicaid in their states, and would leave 22 million Americans overall without medical insurance.

The free-marketers in the party have countered the centrist Republicans by indicating that many of the 22 million who will not be insured under the new system are young people who were forced to buy Obamacare insurance. Why should they continue to be forced to buy what they don’t want and probably don’t need? Moreover, payment for Medicaid expenses will be left to the states, which will be free to deal with this arrangement as they see fit. And within a few years both medical premiums and the taxes currently being raised to cover Obamacare will fall dramatically. None of these arguments seems to carry weight with Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Sherry Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who seem to think they can please their voters by tinkering with Obamacare rather than replacing it.

There may be many reasons why the Republicans can’t muster enough votes to pass this replacement for Obamacare. But high on the list is the fact that the present GOP Congress differs from its Democratic predecessors in a way that hurts them grievously. The Democrats were and are internally unified to a degree that Republicans can’t hope to match. The Democrats passed Obamacare by making sure that every Democrat in the Senate voted for it. The same party in Congress continues to practice exemplary party discipline by standing as a monolithic bloc against anything attempted by the divided opposition. Even those of us who disagree with the Democrats about 99 percent of the time have to marvel at the united front they maintain. The party is not full of warring contrarians like John McCain and Rand Paul; nor does it have to worry that one wing will do in the other.

Part of this difference stems from the fact that most of the media, Hollywood, and the so-called deep state have the backs of congressional Democrats. The more vociferously and ferociously they resist the Republicans, the more backing they can count on from CNN, the national press, and other voices of the Democratic Left. The Republicans have nothing like this massive support system; and even if the chief executive were less reckless in his speech, he would still likely be pummeled by the media since he’s willy-nilly a Republican. (I don’t remember the media showing any special fondness for moderate Republicans like George W. Bush and Mitt Romney.)

But there is another reason that Democrats seem far better unified than Republicans. They are more driven by ideology, and as more and younger Americans are raised in the same ideology, Democrats may be able to create a consensus for what drives them and provides internal unity. This ideology is a combination of statist control of social behavior and an extended welfare state, both in the name of achieving greater human equality. This ideology depends for support on racial minorities, increased immigration, mass education, and radicalized social and entertainment elites. One needn’t like what the Democrats are pushing and what they themselves embody to notice how well it sells in our changing American society. The Republican Party by contrast stands for nothing in particular, except for a more slowly growing federal welfare state, a neoconservative foreign policy except at its libertarian margins, and government incentives for business. Republicans in Congress have a sprinkling of libertarians, mostly on its right, but otherwise it’s an organization that wants to manage public administration, keep down the minimum wage, and get its candidates elected.

In any case I’m challenging the “conservative” talking point that Democrats don’t have a unifying philosophy or program but are a collection of grievance-driven constituencies. Although this observation includes more than a grain of truth, it also understates the ideological unity that holds the Democrats together. We are talking about an ideology of the cultural Left that also attracts, perhaps out of opportunism, Republicans and “conservatives.” In social questions the establishment Right has come to embrace just about everything the other side has advocated. The conservative press is now praising gay pride parades and calling for more anti-discrimination laws to protect the employment prospects of the LGBT community. When Democratic mayors started pulling down the statues of Confederate heroes, objections from the GOP were not even audible. But I did notice foreign policy think tank fellow and leading pro-war neoconservative Max Boot extolling the mayor of New Orleans for his facelift and calling upon Americans to do more to obliterate any token of honor paid to the slave-owning racist traitors in the Civil War. When action was taken to deal with illegals who committed felonies, the initiative came from the populist president who imposed himself on the Republican Party. If left to their own devices, the GOP Congress would in all probability have done little to rectify this problem, lest it be accused of xenophobia or racism.

Unless I’m mistaken, the direction in which social policy has moved for both parties is toward the Left. Republicans have typically followed the Left in this tendency rather than vice versa. The worldview represented by the Democrats has long-term power, while the moderateness and piecemeal concessions featured by the other side betrays weakness and indecision. Appearances in this case are not deceptive. Democrats in Congress look much more cohesive than their opposition because they really are.

I would also note that the incriminatory speaking style of Democrats in Congress and of Democratic Party operatives should not be taken as literally as Republican talk show hosts are inclined to do. When Elizabeth Warren or Maxine Waters rails against the racists, homophobes, sexists and plutocrats in the other national party, their remarks should not be judged by the standards of scientific research. They are engaging in illocutionary rhetoric, a form of speech that politicians often resort to in targeting particular constituencies. These Democrats are “appealing to their base,” something Republicans do less effectively when they promise to “get government off our backs” or insist that “government is the problem.”

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Democrats 
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The most recent of incident of Cultural Marxist commissars refusing to admit that dissidents are to be treated as fellow citizens is the crazed female professor who accosted the NPI’s Richard Spencer while he was exercising at a Alexandria gym. She, recognizing him from coverage of the election campaign, started haranguing him and calling him a “Nazi.”

Instead of having her ejected for this behavior, the gym’s management terminated Spencer’s membership. [Georgetown professor confronts white nationalist Richard Spencer at the gym — which terminates his membership , By Faiz Siddiqui May 21, 2017]

Back in 2011 VDARE posted a commentary of mine on the legitimacy of the “Cultural Marxist” concept. (I reluctantly accepted the term only because I couldn’t think of a better one.)

As I pointed out, this ideology was very far from orthodox Marxism and was viewed by serious Marxists as a kind of bastard child. Yet many of those designated as “Cultural Marxists” still viewed themselves as classical Marxists and some still do.

Exponents of what the Frankfurt School called “critical theory”— like Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, and Erich Fromm—were considered by orthodox Marxists to be fake or ersatz Marxists. But they did adopt orthodox Marxist-Leninist theory in key aspects:

  • Like orthodox Marxists, they viewed the bourgeoisie as a counterrevolutionary class.
  • Like orthodox Marxists, they viewed the world, arguably simplistically, in terms of interest groups and power relationships.
  • Like orthodox Marxists—whose break from Victorian classical liberalism in this respect was shocking in a way that is easily overlooked after the totalitarian experience of the twentieth century—they explicitly eschewed debate in favor of reviling and if possible repressing their opponents. (This is fundamental to the Marxist method: although it claims to be “scientific”, it is in fact an a priori value system that rejects debate and its concomitant, “bourgeois science”. Hence Political Correctness—the most prominent product of “cultural Marxism”.)
  • Like orthodox Marxist, they supported, at least in principle, a socialist i.e. government-controlled economy.
  • Like orthodox Marxists, they inclined, in varying degrees, toward the Communist side during the Cold War. (Marcuse, who cheered the Soviet suppression of the Hungarian uprising in 1956, was an outright Stalinist—as I can confirm from personal knowledge as his onetime student.)

These disciples of the Frankfurt School, like Marx, were eager to replace what they defined as bourgeois society by a new social order. In this envisaged new order, humankind would experience true equality for the first time. This would be possible because, in a politically and socially reconstructed society, we would no longer be alienated from our real selves, which had been warped by the inequalities that existed until now.

But unlike authentic Marxists, Cultural Marxists have been principally opposed to the culture of bourgeois societies–and only secondarily to their material arrangements. Homophobia, nationalism, Christianity, masculinity, and anti-Semitism have been the prime villains in the Cultural Marxist script.

This is especially true as one moves from the philosophy of the interwar German founders of the Frankfurt school, like Theodore Adorno, Max Horkheimer and Herbert Marcuse, to the second generation. This second generation is represented by Jürgen Habermas and most of the multicultural theorists ensconced in Western universities.

For these more advanced Cultural Marxists, the crusade against capitalism has been increasingly subordinated to the war against “prejudice” and “discrimination.” They justify the need for a centralized bureaucratic state commanding material resources not because it will bring the working class to power, but to fight “racism,” “fascism,” and the other residues of the Western past.

If they can’t accomplish such radical change, Cultural Marxists are happy to work toward revolutionizing our consciousness with the help of Leftist moneybags– hedge fund managers, Mark Zuckerberg etc. Ironically, nationalizing productive forces and the creation of a workers’ state, i.e. the leftovers from classical Marxism, turn out to be the most expendable part of their revolutionary program, perhaps because of the collapse of the embarrassing collapse of command economies in the Soviet bloc. Instead, what is essential to Cultural Marxism is the rooting-out of bourgeois national structures, the obliteration of gender roles and the utter devastation of “the patriarchal family.”

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The story of Eastern European Jews who immigrated to America in the beginning of the twentieth century is a story of “self-marginalization.” The more dramatically Eastern European Jews progress socio-economically, the more strenuously they identify with “marginalized groups” and seek to undermine the white Christian majority population. And though he takes care to guard against charges of being Politically Incorrect, David R. Verbeeten’s The Politics of Non-Assimilation: Three Generations of Eastern European Jews in the United States in the Twentieth Century (De Kalb: NIU Press, 2017) is a goldmine of sociological evidence revealing this critically important phenomenon which so many scholars are happy to ignore.

The Dissident Right may find Verbeeten controversial as well. Though Kevin MacDonald argues his theory about Jewish group behavior ably, I believe it is unwarranted to generalize about the social behavior of all Jews simply because of the behavior of Eastern European Jews. [In Search of Anti-Semitism, by Paul Gottfried, Takimag, April 6, 2009] Other Jewish immigrants in other times and places have behaved very differently, including backing causes which today would be called reactionary or even “racist.”

Most Sephardic and German Jews who came to this country disappeared quickly into the gentile gene pool. As late as 1920, a plurality of American Jews, mainly those of German and Sephardic descent, voted for the Republican presidential candidate, Warren Harding. (Presumably the 38% who voted for the socialist Eugene Debs came from the newly enfranchised Eastern European Jews) [U.S. Presidential Elections: Jewish Voting Record, Jewish Virtual Library, Accessed April 20, 2017]. One of the earliest religious congregations to declare for Southern secession was the Temple in Charleston, Beth Elohim, the congregation of Confederate secretary of state Judah Benjamin. Thousands of Jews, of German or Sephardic origin, fought for the Confederacy [Jewish Confederates, by Hunter Wallace, Occidental Dissent, June 5, 2013].

Verbeeten gamely attempts to explain the change in American Jewish political attitudes but sometimes avoids the obvious. There is no demonstrable correlation, he tells us not very convincingly, between the fear of anti-Semitism and the compulsive affinity of Eastern European Jews for “left-wing activism.” Although Eastern European Jews went into the Democratic Party en masse, we’re told the party they chose may have “harbored” more anti-Semites than did the Republican Party. He also claims that “rather than antisemitism, the Jewish Left is far more decisively correlated with secularization.” The proof we are given is that Orthodox Jews, even of Eastern European provenance, remained “conservative.”

The author, a Cambridge PhD with whom I’ve corresponded for years, is far too intelligent to take such assertions seriously. It seems unlikely those Jews who eagerly assimilated feared and/or loathed the goyim whose company they were seeking. It’s equally unlikely Jewish leftist organizations like the Anti-Defamation League, which constantly claim rampant anti-Semitism among white Christian heterosexuals, are free of any fear of antisemitism.

Besides, the attraction of Eastern European Jews to the Democratic Party was not the chief measure of their radicalism. There was a disproportionately large Jewish membership in the Communist Party. Verbeeten analyzes this inconvenient truth in his discussion of Eastern European radical Alexander Bittelman, one of the architects of the American Communist Party. He also notes the heavy Jewish vote cast in 1948 for the Soviet-appeaser Henry Wallace and the very noticeable Jewish presence in almost every culturally Leftist pressure group in the US for the last century. This radicalism tells us more about American Jewish political attitudes than the fact Jews voted for FDR.

Verbeeten’s insistence that Jewish radicalism and Jewish self-marginalization correlates not with fear of antisemitism but secularization raises an obvious question. Why were earlier Jewish immigrants to America far less likely than the Eastern European latecomers to become permanently radicalized once they stopped attending synagogue or performing Jewish rituals?

• Category: Ideology • Tags: American Jews, Jews 
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Recently, one of my neighbors saw students from Elizabethtown College, where I taught for many years, walking down the street wearing what looked like the puzzle pieces featured as symbols by Autistic Awareness.

When he asked why they were wearing the all-white puzzle pieces, one of the coeds proudly explained that they were dramatizing the outrage of “white privilege.” About 50 students and alums had pledged to wear these puzzle pins for the next month, until everyone became sensitive to how we were oppressing blacks.

A detailed Daily Mail story concerning this campaign against “white privilege” informed readers, “The school’s 203-acre campus is situated in Lancaster County, where according to the latest US Census data from 2015, more than 90 percent of the population is white.” The article also featured a picture of our administrative building, which it noted was packed full of white people. The borough where the president of the College Democrats wants “to get people to talk openly about race and white privilege” is likewise overwhelmingly white.

The student handing out puzzle pins poured her heart out to the local CBS affiliate with these words: “People of color have to wake up everyday and think about race and just about their life. What they have to do to not negatively impact their life. As a white person we don’t usually have to think about that.”

If this young woman is as deeply concerned as she suggests about the presumed suffering of blacks in the U.S., she should go somewhere where she can find some to help. The few blacks who live in Lancaster County don’t need her help and live here precisely because they want to wake up each morning without having to fear the crime that infests our large cities.

One of our close friends in the borough happens to be a black woman, an accountant, who voted for Trump. She scoffs at the idea that the problems of many black Americans are caused by the “privileges” enjoyed by whites.

The British paper correctly underlined the hypocrisy of whites pretending to be advocating for oppressed blacks while choosing to reside in a lily-white environment. This is the dirty little secret at Elizabethtown that I indiscreetly revealed in newspaper articles while I held an endowed chair at the college.

For decades, some of our departments, such as social work, education, and communications, have been full of young radicals who opt for a college that is at a safe distance from the minorities whom they claim to be championing. More than one such student has complained to me: “We don’t recruit enough students from inner cities to give us diversity.” To that I usually responded: “If you want diversity, then why don’t you go to a college in a black neighborhood, say Temple in Philadelphia?” This invariably caused the complainer to walk away.

The adolescents sporting the puzzle pins exemplify the prevailing spirit at the institution, but such grandstanding hasn’t always been the custom at the college. When I arrived there in the 1980s, Elizabethtown College seemed to be on the right path, educationally, fiscally, and in most other ways.

The president who hired me, Gerhard Spiegler, was a German scholar who hoped to make the institution into a first-rate center of learning. Spiegler hoped to elevate academic standards for students and faculty alike, and he practiced Teutonic thrift by keeping the size and salaries of the administration exceedingly low. He was hated by most of the old guard on campus, particularly by the faculty with terminal master’s degrees in education who taught their courses, as he would say, on “automatic pilot.”

Spiegler also hired assistants who were able to increase the school’s meager endowment and to raise funds for new buildings. Among the buildings that he arranged to erect were a state-of-the-art library and an Anabaptist Center, created for the study of the German Pietist sect that had established Elizabethtown College in 1899. He worked energetically to retain the loyalty of traditional Brethren alumni and donors and continued to look upon their coreligionists as a recruiting base.

Unlike much of the faculty, Spiegler leaned politically toward the Right and had no patience for academic agitators, especially for troublemakers who combined radical political views with a lack of professional accomplishments. Unfortunately, the troublemakers outlasted Spiegler, who laid down his duties in 1996.

During the next two administrations, the troublemakers got the “hope of change” they thought they wanted. It came in the form of lavishly salaried administrators (certainly by comparison to those who preceded them), rapidly escalating tuition, and a shifting emphasis at the college from a strict Pietist environment to the PC fad du jour, lately “white privilege.”

I’ve never seen an institution change so fundamentally within just a few years. The changes came on a number of fronts.

The cultural transformation moved from such Anabaptist-sounding activities as peace studies, to diversity deans and diversity studies through consciousness-raising events for blacks, women, and gays, “safe spaces” for LGBT, and special living arrangements for the transgendered. Black History and Women’s Months went on interminably and brought to the college a steady stream of outraged victim speakers.

Such commotions served a practical as well as ideological function. They gave special prominence to non-ideational disciplines (that is, majors that are more open to expressing grievances than teaching written bodies of knowledge), and the social justice exhibitionists are usually drawn from the students and faculty in these areas. Not insignificantly, those departments are now the cash cows at the college: they don’t require much in the way of equipment and have delivered loads of tuition-bearing students.

Needless to say, there’s no way the college could return to its historic Anabaptist roots. When I retired six years ago, less than one percent of the students belonged to one of the German “peace churches” once heavily represented at the college. The largest religious denomination among the student body is now Catholic, and our students, faculty, and administrators all lean strongly toward the left wing of the Democratic Party.

But the increasing emphasis on PC and diversity is bringing declining benefits. The incurious students who praise “hands-on learning” (which typically involves little serious learning) seem less and less likely to choose a middling college with a price tag of $55,000 a year. (Even with the negotiated bargains given to prospective buyers, the average yearly cost is around $30,000.) Students can major in primary education, social work, and communications for considerably less at a state institution, where they can also do their demonstrating.

In a nutshell, the college has become too expensive for what it offers its average student; an erosion of the customer base has started. Since 2009, the student body has declined from 1,866 to 1,707 and the school is encountering increasing difficulty meeting its annual goal of 450 entering freshmen. This year it trimmed $3 million from its budget. Justified fear has set in among the faculty that further savings will be extracted from their salaries and benefits.

It’s hard to imagine why one would go to Elizabethtown to partake of a uniqueness that no longer exists. If someone wants safe spaces for LGBT or intends to march against “white privilege,” why choose an expensive college that’s unknown to people outside our region?

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Academia, Political Correctness 
Paul Gottfried
About Paul Gottfried

Paul Edward Gottfried (b. 1941) has been one of America's leading intellectual historians and paleoconservative thinkers for over 40 years, and is the author of many books, including Conservatism in America (2007), The Strange Death of Marxism (2005), After Liberalism (1999), Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt (2002), and Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America (2012) . A critic of the neoconservative movement, he has warned against the growing lack of distinctions between the Democratic and Republican parties and the rise of the managerial state. He has been acquainted with many of the leading American political figures of recent decades, including Richard Nixon and Patrick Buchanan. He is Professor Emeritus of Humanities at Elizabethtown College and a Guggenheim recipient.