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 VDARE.com 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.