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Joe Scotchie: Recovering Authentic (= Politically Incorrect) Conservatism
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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].

Although I was hardly aware of Mark’s strong political statements until I read this eulogy, produced in 2008, I am delighted to discover that we were all on the same page regarding the Zeitgeist. It is also good to know that Mark came to the defense of the Southern Agrarians against the charge that they were (what else?) racists.

But I am even more pleased that Mark managed in his abbreviated life to expose the multiple shortcomings of that now exemplary conservative saint, Martin Luther King. [Canonizing Martin Luther King, League of The South Institute, via, 2005] The cloying tributes to this glaringly flawed Leftist that come each year around January 19 from Heritage Foundation and other outlets of Conservatism, Inc. were particularly oppressive this year. It is gratifying to known that our fallen comrade weighed in against this mendacious hagiography, variously featuring King as a lover of family values, a traditional Christian theologian, and a martyr for conservative causes.

For clarification: I’ve never shared the deep disgust for King felt by my late friend Sam Francis and by other members of the Old Right. I just loathe the transparent lies told about him by phony conservative journalists and foundations. The fact that these contemptible fabrications don’t attract minority support is not at all surprising, given their nonsensical character and given the now fixed political identity of blacks and the white Left.

Among Scotchie’s topics and personalities for discussion, another that especially interested me, given my preoccupation with modern European history, is the essay devoted to British statesman Enoch Powell. Scotchie approaches this British Tory opponent of immigration through Simon Heffer’s exhaustive biography, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell, which was published in 1999. Despite his lustrous careers as a classics professor, British officer during World War Two, and member of the Tory shadow cabinet in the late 1960s, Powell fell from grace after delivering what is misleadingly called the “Rivers of Blood” speech against unchecked immigration in 1968. The most offending line from that speech, about “the Tiber River foaming with much blood,” was drawn from Virgil’s Aeneid—a Latin epic that Powell had no doubt taught during his years as a classics professor in Sydney, Australia. Immediately after giving this oration, Powell was dropped by Tory leader Edward Heath from the shadow cabinet. Misnamed Conservatives then alternated with the Labourites in denouncing this moving target as a xenophobe.

Powell, one of the most learned and intelligent Englishman to enter national politics in the twentieth century, was destroyed socially and professionally (although Editor Peter Brimelow argues he in fact came much closer to returning as Tory leader than is generally realized) for expressing views on immigration that in 1954 his mentor Winston Churchill had stated far more boldly. [What Churchill said about Britain’s immigrants, by David Smith, Guardian, August 4, 2007] By the late 1960s the political pendulum on immigration and other social questions was moving rapidly Leftward; and so even slightly right-of-center celebrities were being hammered by the Leftward-moving media for stating what had been previously unexceptional views.

Scotchie notes in praising this fallen victim of PC:

Powellism lives, but not in England. Meanwhile the civilization he loved and honored may yet survive, but throughout Western Europe and North America, it is more imperiled than ever.

This judgment may be overly sanguine.


Paul Gottfried [email him] is a retired Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College, PA. He is the author of After Liberalism, Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt and The Strange Death of Marxism His most recent book is Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America.

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
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  1. Allowing for the fact that an author has the right to choose his topics, this article is still depressingly delusional.
    I even sympathise with the author’s disgust with hypocracy & PC etc.
    But to write about conservatism & the Right & fail to mention economics, money, power etc is little more than an exercise in nostalga.
    Perhaps the author simply does not understand that the Right has limited uses for family, place, settled authority structures etc.
    PC works for the Right & the (pseudo) Left.
    It (PC) has two main functions; distraction — people fighting over cultural issues the 0.01% could not give a tuppney-fuck about is useful.
    Secondly, it’s very useful to have wage earners etc fighting about cultural trifles. No one wants workers, the middles classes etc to actually agree. Agreement might lead to unified action & a threat to the lifestyles of the 0.01% of professional parasites.
    Republicans, democrats, the right, the left, it’s not ALL about the Benjamins….its also about raw, melt-in-your-mouth POWER.
    So, let’s all get fighting over deadshits like that Smollett character, & micro-aggressions, & hate speech & whatever …we’ll be literally doing our Lords’ work.

    • Agree: dfordoom
    • Replies: @Jim Brewer
  2. I’ll say it because (((Gottfried))) didn’t:

    Conservatism – and most of the Right –

    is now a left-liberal wasteland because

    during the 1970’s-1990’s

    it got ‘jacked by “ex”-Trotskyite communist


    • Replies: @Fidelios Automata
    , @anon
  3. captflee says:

    Professor Gottfried;

    Many thanks for this post, and for your many previous ones, which invariably provide the reader with considerable fodder for further investigation.

  4. @Haxo Angmark

    Yes, and also the disgusting CIA plant Bill Buckley.

    • Agree: Ace, Father O'Hara
  5. Realist says:

    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.

    Geraldo Rivera has never been billed as a conservative….he is one of their token liberals.

    • Replies: @Matra
    , @Twodees Partain
  6. Tulip says:

    Modern conservatism is a bizarre contradiction devoted to preservation of the status quo, when the status quo is consumed by progressive visions of a dawning utopia just around the corner if we simply expand government control over personal freedom, implement bigger hiring quotas, raise taxes and let violent criminals go free to expiate for racism.

    If you actually believe in the progressive cant, then you don’t oppose progressive laws. If you oppose progressive laws, then you can’t actually believe in progressive cant.

    If Martin Luther King, Jr. is really your hero, then you should support socialism like King did, and remain open-minded about the future possibilities of communism. Instead, you believe in the true conservative and canonized Saint Martin Luther King Jr., a completely fictional character who never existed.

    If you really had any values based in any kind of religious faith, then your Judeo-Christianity would be an actual world religion, or at least an actual sect of an actual world religion, rather than another made-up fictional religion which presumably was responsible for the canonization of fake conservative hero St. MLK Jr.

    When conservatives use the adjective “true” as a modifier of anything, you can be assured that they mean the item in question is “fake”, “false”, and “fictional”.

    Conservative Inc. is based on the desire to negate threats to the given. Its greatest threat is human imagination, which imagines possibilities and alternatives to the given. Hence, true conservatives have no imagination. The second greatest threat is human passion and will, which translates into struggle and action to negate the given. Hence true conservatives lack passion and will. While these qualities make it attractive to those extracting disproportionate benefit from the status quo (donors), it means as a political movement it is useless and impotent.

    One may oppose AOC’s policies, perhaps even regard her as an airhead. But at least she has imagination, passion and will, that is to say, she is not a bloodless soul sucker hocking a product she doesn’t actually believe in.

    • Replies: @anon
    , @Anon
  7. a native of Ashville NC

    Asheville. It was named for Gov. Ashe.

    “Ashville” sounds more appropriate for places named Durham, Raleigh, or Winston-Salem.

    Scotchie’s revulsion for globalism and uprooted anthropoids.

    “Globalism” may be new, but the “uprooted anthropoids” have been here for 400 years. Exactly, this August. And their presence here is the very opposite of conservatism. Or would be, if being conservative were an “ism” at all.

    as a premodern, hierarchical society.

    Premodern? A third or more of the population was pre-civilization. Some would say pre-human.

    • Replies: @captflee
    , @anon
  8. If Martin Luther King, Jr. is really your hero, then you should support socialism like King did…

    And oppose abortion. Which almost none of his acolytes on the Left do.

  9. who now works as a journalist in Queens NY

    Technically, there is no “Queens, NY”. It’s Queens County. Or the Borough of Queens.

    Mail is never sent (properly) to “Queens”, but to the villages and towns in Queens County that were swallowed up in 1898. Which can be seen here:

    So calling it “Queens, N.Y.” is like assuming all those cities in the Commonwealth of Virginia are in the counties that surround them. Something a Tarheel like Scotchie would never do!

    • Replies: @Twodees Partain
  10. captflee says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Very droll, Reg…

    As a scion of “The City of Oaks”, I am honor bound to dispute your contention that Raleigh was much involved in that trade. As the seat of gummint, honest labor was traditionally not encouraged there…

  11. anon[194] • Disclaimer says:
    @Haxo Angmark

    Conservatism has been jacked by Jews long before the 1970’s. “Salvation is from the Jews.” (John 4:22) Conservatism = Jew-huggery.

  12. anon[194] • Disclaimer says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    “Globalism” may be new? Not hardly. L’Internationale Jewsus and his acolytes have been preaching the Globalist Great Commission “go ye into all the world” for 2000 years.

  13. It would be nice to know just what is being conserved. I mean, Joseph Stalin probably wanted to conserve Communism.

    Today’s American Conservative might be yesterdays Communist. Who knows?

  14. Matra says:

    Geraldo used to describe himself as a “John McCain Republican”. Maybe he still does.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  15. anon[417] • Disclaimer says:

    Judeo-Christianity is an apt descriptor of the co-dependency of Christianity on Jews, which is evidenced by the New Testament’s heavy reliance on the Judaism’s Torah/Tanakh (Old Testament.)

    How many times do the writers of the New Testament quote the Old Testament? An index in the Jewish New Testament catalogs 695 separate quotations from the books of the Old Testament in the New (Jewish New Testament Publications, Jerusalem, 1989). There are many other passages where the Old Testament is referred to , as in cases where an Old Testament figure is mentioned, but no specific scripture is quoted. Depending on which scholar’s work you examine, the number of quotations and references in the New Testament to the Old may be as high as 4,105.

    The Expositor’s Bible Commentary
    Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1979, Vol. I, p. 617

    • Replies: @Tulip
    , @Ace
  16. @Matra

    Geraldo Rivera has never been billed as a conservative….he is one of their token liberals.

    Geraldo used to describe himself as a “John McCain Republican”. Maybe he still does.

    John McCain was “one of their token liberals”, too.

  17. There is no way to recover something that was never a viable construct to begin with. The effort would be a complete waste of time, energy, and money, a house built on sand.

    Ever since the Deep State operative Bill Buckley ostracized traditionalists such as the John Birch Society in the 50’s, conservative ideology has been little more than a defensive posture. It is not essentially for anything, which has made it vulnerable to accommodating leftward shifts of the Overton window via incessant compromise, without any concomitant rationale to go on the offensive. That has also rendered it easily bamboozled by (((neoconservatives))) and their serial wars for “democracy”.

    Consequently, conservatives have conserved nothing, not even women’s bathrooms. The left have understood this about their opponents for quite a while. Through psychological conditioning of rewards and punishments, conservatives/Republicans are little more than the Washington Generals to the left’s Globetrotters. Conservatives are now so used to dancing with the Devil that the time required for them to make excuses for each next leftist policy has grown shorter and shorter, to the point where conservatism is now only an exercise in kneejerk acceptance. Its enemy is not the left, but the rest of us who are castigated about the sanctity of compromise and non-aggression as ultimate morality.

    Back when the Democrats used to be liberals, conservatives could pretend to themselves that they were actually achieving something. But as progressive ideology progressed, liberals have been supplanted by leftists. We are now in an existential civil war. Conservatives can keep going to their hands-across-the-aisle cocktail parties while raking in remuneration from conservative extra-governmental organizations funded by the oligarchs. However, these days the number of nitwits fooled by conservatives has become diminishingly small. When the civil war finally goes completely hot, conservatives should be the first to be handled as traitors. After that, resources can be focused exclusively on eradicating the left.

    • Thanks: cronkitsche
  18. @captflee

    FYI, fun side note, Union soldiers generally considered Raleigh by far the most boring of all significant Southern cities they visited, especially in comparison to the lovely Savannah.

  19. captflee says:

    No doubt. An entirely artificial, planned state capital, barely seventy years old then, chock full of Babdists (thereby fewer prostitutes, on the theory that sex could lead to dancing), I suppose I should be appreciative that they did not, in their ennui, burn it as they did Columbia.

    Savannah indeed has a lovely square mile, maybe two at the outside, fantastic history, and is great to visit, but for some reason is insufficiently attractive to relocaters, which no one would ever accuse Rawlee of. Despite having three times the population of Raleigh back then, now they’re down to one third. And not exactly likely to improve anytime soon, although they have at least stopped the population loss in the last decade or so.

    Not to mention the comparative demographics… back in the 60s I reveled in hearing the tales told by my then realtor father, who was selected by IBM as a designated agent for their relocatees, from such earthly paradises as Vestal and Armonk. When dealing with the all too typical provincialism of the type of proto-SJW who can’t wait ten minutes before launching, with that God awful fingernails on the blackboard nasal whine so common to the type, into the usual ,”It’s just terrible how you poor inbred rednecks treat those wonderful black people!” diatribe, such missionaries were then taken post haste to what are now termed “vibrant” neighborhoods, my father thoroughly enjoying watching their increasing discomfort, venturing deeper into such “sketchy” neighborhoods as existed, until finally relenting and taking them, to their obvious relief, to one of the few “IBM approved neighborhoods”. Kind of along the lines of Dick Gregory’s “Down South white folks don’t care how close I get as long as I don’t get too big. Up North white folks don’t care how big I get as long as I don’t get too close.”

    I don’t expect we’ll ever see Savannah crack the top ten of “best places to live”. If Raleigh has departed the that list in the last couple of decades I’d be shocked.

  20. Tulip says:

    And the Quran quotes apocryphal Christian writings, so I suppose it should be Islamo-Judeo-Christian. Tash is Aslan!

  21. MLK was killed by conservaliberals (opportunistic nothings) as soon as he went all working class unionizing anti-war left-wing radical. As long as he messed with ID politics, they were glad of him. The more the merrier, they said. But the minute he started trying to organize the garbage-men, boomboom. Get real. Real conservatism is isolationist, egalitarian, conservationist, and anti-monopoly anti-corporate control.

  22. @HallParvey

    It would be nice to know just what is being conserved.

    I often ask this question to self declaring “conservatives”, and get a blank stare.

  23. Anyone who has paid attention to Enoch Powell, could see what was happening in UK politics. Political parties were separating from their supporters. While the political parties were lining up against him, he was very popular among the working classes beyond. The dockers’ union was solidly behind him. Of course the spin in the article is about racism, but in reality it was about mass immigration providing “surplus” labour, as the dockers also supported striking “Asians” at a factory. In those days, they would have been protesting against masses of Italians coming.

    There are many Powell interview videos on youtube. The man’s thought processes and articulation are so far beyond those of the interviewers that when trying to make him a “racist” they make themselves look foolish. He even challenges them on the term “racist” as it was new at the time. It’s no wonder so many today say “Enoch was right”.

    • Replies: @Leon Haller
  24. Enoch Powell was a great man, and like many great men was trashed for being right. I’m always astounded at how “PC” the British are. Anyone who thinks they are stuffy Colonel Blimps, are completely off track. From what I can tell, every British Lord who isn’t a Labour Supporter is a Red Tory and in favour of nothing conservative except support for Big Business and reasonable taxation.

  25. FYI, fun side note, Union soldiers generally considered Raleigh by far the most boring of all significant Southern cities they visited, especially in comparison to the lovely Savannah.

    In 1864, Raleigh was one-step up from a cow-town. The biggest cities in the Confederacy, were New Orleans (that dwarfed everyone else), Richmond, Hampton Roads-Newport, Alexandria, Memphis, Nashville, Atlanta, Savannah, Augusta, Charleston, and Mobile.

    One funny thing about the Civil war, is most of the Cities did quite well out of the war, and didn’t suffer much damage. Exactly the opposite of say, WW2 Germany or Japan. Vicksburg, Atlanta, and Columbia were damaged, but most of the others weren’t.

  26. @Reg Cæsar

    “So calling it “Queens, N.Y.” is like assuming all those cities in the Commonwealth of Virginia are in the counties that surround them. Something a Tarheel like Scotchie would never do!”

    True, if He knows that the county seat of old Virginia counties is named the same as the county name with the addition of “Court House”, as in “Amelia Court House”, which is the seat of Amelia County..

  27. @Realist

    Of course, at Foxnews, conservatism isn’t actually a thing.

  28. Anon[387] • Disclaimer says:

    This assuredly gets the Blue Ribbon for Utterly Incoherent Rant of the Day.

    The only clearly implied or expressed thoughts that are anchored to anything else in this stream of consciousness is the author’s repeated appeals to communism as well as their massive over confidence in their writing style.

    Here’s a tip for the future to avoid posts that read different from how they sound in your head: don’t write while high.

  29. Ace says:

    What is Christian about “Judeo-Christianity” when Jews denied the divinity of Christ and rejected Christianity at the outset? The Talmud is full of contempt for non-Jews and scurillous in its mention of Jesus. Not 1 Christian in 5,000 can explain what a seder is or what Rosh Hashanah is about.

    Why do we tolerate this ridiculous phrase?

  30. A very interesting review of Paul Gottfried can be found on the American Renaissance website:

    Dr. Gottfried is easily one of the most brilliant men alive today. He can read TEN languages.

  31. @Curmudgeon

    Powell was the best British leader since Churchill (although I am not a huge fan of Churchill, and for many separate reasons – his net effect on Western survival was disastrous – he was clearly a grand and great personage). Still, he was actually more liberal than he should have been. Powell was weak on race, on simply and publicly recognizing the obvious: that Britain is and always must be a White nation, and that nonwhites have no place residing on British soil, let alone being members of the UK polity.

    A politically astute person I once met compared Powell to Pat Buchanan. The comparison is apt. Magnificent and even nation-saving as a Buchanan presidency would have been, Buchanan, too, was weak on race: ie, on White preservation, race realism, race betterment, and the need for White separatism to ensure Occidental survival. Neither Powell nor Buchanan were the racists they were castigated as by leftists.

  32. @HallParvey

    To any who are perplexed by what true conservatism might be I recommend Russel Kirk’s “The Conservative Mind”, or, indeed any reasonably sympathetic treatment of Kirk and his thought, which you may stumble upon, online. Conservatism is not a goal post receding further and further to the left with time. It is an approach to existence with a clear philosophy and a set of principles, based upon that philosophy, which one can use to evaluate the current state of the world and policies intended to change or maintain that state. A true conservative is repulsed and nauseated by the entire current establishment of the United States of America, the culture it has created, and its entire political class from ultra-prog to self-proclaimed conservative.

  33. @Ace

    Because some of us are very, very sick.

    • Replies: @Ace
  34. @animalogic

    Power is a vector. If you don’t define the goals of power its existence is meaningless. You see the .1% as motivated by money but I think money is the tool by which the destroy Christendom and related institutions.

  35. northeast says:

    Enoch Powell never stood a chance in 1960s England. The rot was deeply set by then. They easily made him a non-person.

  36. @Ace

    “Judeo-Christian” , a phrase that would be totally meaningless (except perhaps in reference to a converted jew) to any clergyman of 100 years ago, started to figure with the vomiting of the State of Israel on the people of Palestine.

    Among the current low-life yidererati it’s the upscale “Fellow White People”.

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