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Thanks are due to Greg Hood for an outstanding, comprehensive review of my book on antifascism. Mr. Hood wrote an admirably thorough review, which I could not improve on even if I tried. I agree with his implied criticism that I do not fully explain the bizarre relationship between wokeness and corporate capitalism. That troubling connection continues to puzzle me, and I’m not quite sure which is the stronger force in driving it: the fear among the corporate class of irritating BLM, the LGBT lobby, and other woke activists, or the sympathy felt by this class for what I call the “post-Marxist leftist ideology.” Given the firm hold this ideology exercises on the urban and affluent, it seems that both motives may be at work here.

The most compelling aspect for me of Greg’s review is his recognition of the radical nature of my critique of the antifascist scam. I do not view those who scream “fascism” whenever some public figure resists the latest form of thought control to be simply pests or nervous nellies. Nor am I doing something as academic as trying to demonstrate the current inflated use of the F label. I regard the current obsession with a no longer even minimally recognizable fascism to be pathological, and those who incite anxiety about a return to Nazism or even to a more generic fascism to be dangerous totalitarians. Equally frightening has been the spread of this madness outside the US and the introduction of speech codes and steady indoctrination throughout the Western world to contain a phantom danger. A far graver danger is coming from an increasingly repressive Left, which in the name of resisting fascism seeks to destroy all traditional human relations and to abolish our civilization.

Most disturbing is the inability of Western countries to mount any kind of credible resistance to this antifascist hysteria. Attacks on a church, college, or any other traditional institution as fascist, for not doing something as ridiculously irrelevant as providing unisex restrooms, will put the antifascist mobs into a frenzy. This in turn will typically elicit paroxysms of regret from their target. No significant pushback has come from the other side, which is terrified of the antifascists and may even half-believe what the antifascist mob and media present as reality. Since those who push the antifascist narrative are already in power, those they intimidate or influence may no longer see them as a revolutionary force. Actually, the antifascists are engaged in a continuing upheaval, while pretending to oppose a threat that is of their own making.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Political Correctness 

Joe Scotchie’s recently published anthology Writing on the Southern Front: Authentic Conservatism For Our Times made me aware of the task that confronts every serious student of the Right—recovering what otherwise might slip down the Memory Hole. Both the American media and, more generally, American political culture have moved so far away from anything that looks even vaguely non-Left that we may soon need archeologists to rediscover what has been driven underground. American “conservatism” (yes the scare quotes here are very deliberate) is now represented by Jonah Goldberg, telling us how frighteningly homophobic, racist, anti-Semitic and sexist the 1950s were and Rich Lowry calling for the removal of all statues of Robert E. Lee, since they may offend American blacks.[Mothball the Confederate Monuments, National Review, August 15, 2017]. It is therefore comforting to read Scotchie’s latest effort to revive and defend an “authentic conservatism.”

Similarly, I’ve also been watching on Fox News the steady procession of “proud, Republican” homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals, and “moderate” feminists and wonder whether I’ve tuned in by mistake to a multicultural festival. Recently, I heard the “conservative” Geraldo Rivera explaining on Fox News how truly blessed we are by having so many Latinos streaming across our borders and assimilating “at a rate that’s faster than any ethnic group” in US history. [Tom Brokaw’s Hispanic remarks were ‘shockingly uninformed,’ Geraldo Rivera says, by Joseph A. Wulfsohn, January 30, 2019] My cup runneth over with such “conservative” verities.

Scotchie, a native of Ashville NC who now works as a journalist in Queens NY, has returned to his task of recovering ideas and traditions that don’t pass the current PC litmus test. In books on paleoconservatism, the “Southern” history of Ashville, Richard Weaver and Pat Buchanan, (The Paleoconservatives, A Gallery of Ashevilleans, The Vision of Richard Weaver, and Street Corner Conservative) Scotchie has tried to bring to life what the American Right, when it still existed as part of the permissible political conversation, believed and revered.

Not all of his heroes, like Robert E. Lee, the Southern Agrarians, Thomas Wolfe, Sam Francis, M.E. Bradford, Douglas Southall Freeman, the biographer of Washington and Lee, and Patrick J. Buchanan, would necessarily have agreed on all basic moral and political questions.

But they all fit easily into a plausible Right, a position that I explore in an essay “Defining Right and Left” included in my 2017 anthology Revisions and Dissents. Scotchie associates the Right (even when he doesn’t use that term) with a strong sense of family and place, a settled authority structure, deep reservations about modernity, and the belief in a fixed human nature.

Scotchie is also intensely loyal to the historic South, which he understands as did one of his subjects Richard Weaver, as a premodern, hierarchical society. Throughout his essays and commentaries, including the ones on literature, it is hard to ignore Scotchie’s revulsion for globalism and uprooted anthropoids.

I was particularly struck in reading his anthology by how, in the last piece in the book, Scotchie eulogizes his recently deceased friend “Mark Royden Winchell, the Last of the Vanderbilt Greats.”[PDF]. Like Joe, I was moved by the early death of this brilliant essayist from Clemson University, who rarely expressed political opinions but whose sensibilities were apparent:

More than ever, Mark sided with the cause of the Old Right and the conservative South. He opposed the Iraq War, and on the pages of The American Conservative, offered up the America First foreign policy of his fellow Ohioan Robert Taft as a proper antidote to endless foreign meddling. Mark was also a member of the League of the South, for which he published an extensive critique of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. one that not only focused on King’s plagiarism, adultery, and support for leftist politics, but one that also mourned the passing of the George Washington—Abraham Lincoln America of Mark’s youth. [Links added].


A review of The Land We Love: The South and Its Heritage (Scuppernong Press, 2018) by Boyd Cathey

I must confess that I feel a bit awkward about reviewing Dr. Boyd Cathey’s outstanding anthology, The Land We Love: The South and its Heritage. I am, as the reader may notice, mentioned in the preface, along with Clyde Wilson, as one of the author’s two most significant guides in preparing these essays. And despite the fact that unlike Clyde I didn’t write the foreword, I do appear with this eminent Southern historian on the back cover, as one of several bloggers praising the many fine qualities of Dr. Cathey’s work.


Notwithstanding my obvious conflict of interests, I did volunteer to review the book because it illustrates an observation that I’ve been making for the last forty years, namely, the most provocative writers for the onetime American conservative movement have been generally Southerners. Moreover, what’s rendered them worth reading is that their perspective is unlike the one that has prevailed elsewhere in the US. Southern conservatives wrote and still do, if this book is any indication, with a tragic sense born of defeat, an ingrained sense of place, and an appreciation for older, European conservative traditions.

The Southerners to whom I’m referring were and, remain even now despite their reduced numbers, the most relentlessly principled conservatives of my acquaintance. They conspicuously refused to bend their knee when the neoconservatives took over the establishment Right in the 1980s. Like Clyde and Boyd, they paid for their defiance by being marginalized by what Clyde mockingly described in 1986 as the “interlopers.” But significantly the true Southerners whom the movement’s hired hands expelled, never changed their stripes and still show contentiousness as well as a deep sense of honor. Anyone who surveys the titles of Boyd’s essays, e.g., “A New Reconstruction: The Renewed Assault on Southern Heritage,” “How the Neoconservatives Destroyed Southern Conservatism,” “How You Stand on the War Between the States: A Window into your View of the Western Christian Heritage,” and “Merchants of Hate: Morris Dees, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Attack on the Southern Heritage,” knows that the author has come to fight. He does so in essay after essay, attacking the SPLC as “merchants of hate,” exposing its longtime head Morris Dees as a corrupt profiteer playing on usually baseless fears about “extremism,” and assailing the various detractors of the Southern cause.

Although the anthology under review covers other worthwhile themes, there are two topics on which I’d like to focus. One, the author recognizes genuine conservatism, the presence of which he points out in his subjects. Presbyterian theologian and political theorist Robert Lewis Dabney, Southern literary scholar M.E. Bradford, the Agrarians, US Senator Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis are all cited as representing a well-defined conservative worldview. A sense of place, reverence for one’s ancestors, deep reservations about an expanding commercial society because of the cultural change that follows in its wake, resistance to administrative centralization and an unbending principle of honor are all conservative characteristics stressed in this anthology.

A worldview enriched by these elements seems so imprinted in the conservatives under discussion that they could not have acted in any way that contradicted who they were. Thus Lee felt compelled to resign his commission in the Union Army and to defend his beloved state against invasion by the federal forces. He was first a son of Virginia, born to its first family, and then only a citizen of a larger political entity. Dr. Cathey cites Jefferson Davis, addressing the Mississippi legislature in 1881 and telling its members that despite “all that my country was to suffer, all that our posterity was to endure, I would do it all over again.” Despite all the suffering that Southern secession brought his region and him personally, Davis did not regret his struggle for Southern independence, because he thought it was a just (and constitutional) course.

Dr. Cathey has observed a conceptual parallel between those Spanish aristocrats and legitimists he has studied (and indeed written a dissertation on) and Robert Lewis Dabney, the stern Virginia Calvinist who ended his life in Texas. Like the great historian of the American South, Eugene G. Genovese, Dr. Cathey views Dabney as the full-package for those who are looking for a prototypical man of the traditional Right. Dabney was a defender of fixed gender distinctions and viewed the idea that women should vote as being laughable, perverse or possibly both. Dabney regarded universal suffrage as a monstrous conceit: although all members of a political society “bear an equitable relation to each other, they have very different natural rights and duties.”

Further: “just government is not founded on the consent of the individuals governed, but on the ordinance of God, and hence a share in the ruling franchise is not a natural right at all, but a privilege to be bestowed according to a wise discretion on a limited class having qualifications to use it for the good of the whole.” Dabney also vocally opposed the introduction of free public education in Virginia in the 1870s. He considered such an enterprise to be an attempt by the state to supersede the authority of parents and the family. If the proposed reform took place, Dabney feared, the government of Virginia would be engaging in a “leveling action” “countervailing the legislation of nature.” In such a measure Dabney discerned the early stages of what would later be called “social engineering.”

Dr. Cathey never states (nor would I) that a conservative worldview provides the only path to understanding social or political relations. What he does indicate repeatedly in his essays is that advocates of gay marriage, feminism, and massive government interference in the family are most definitely not “conservative,” even if they happen to be involved in the questionable media operation that goes by that name. He also revives the debate that the late M.E. Bradford, “arguably the finest historian and philosopher produced by the South” had with the Lincoln admirer Harry V. Jaffa on the pages of Modern Age in the 1970s. Bradford fiercely resisted Jaffa’s notion of America as a propositional nation founded on the overarching principle that “all men are created equal.”

Unlike Jaffa, who celebrated Lincoln’s crusade against slavery in the American South as a vindication of what was supposedly our foundational belief in universal equality, Bradford defended the social and cultural particularities of his region, and above all its right not to be invaded and reconstructed. Behind this debate, in my view as well as in Dr. Cathy’s, was Bradford’s defense and Jaffa’s rejection of the “inherited traditions” of Southern society and the strict constitutional republicanism on which the South’s relation to the federal union was based. Equally relevant was Bradford’s obvious contempt “for the abstraction equality” and for the imperative to which it led among our political and journalistic elites to “impose our democracy and equality on the rest of the world.”


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.


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 i n 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.


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.


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 

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.


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.


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 
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.