This is a good book to get into the hands of normie conservatives. Small-c classical so-called conservatives. I mean those who think they are true men of the Right but who aren’t because of some gap in their knowledge. Sincere men who listen to Sean Hannity and aren’t quite sure why he’s always raving about Israel, bombing remote countries, and capital gains tax cuts, but who think these must be genuine conservative topics since The Big Con and Neo-Conmen are always on about them.
The Big Con was coined by Jack Kerwick, one of the younger scholars Paul Gottfried gathered to show that there is nothing conservative in professional conservativism. A.K.A. Conservative, Inc., cruise-ship or think-tank conservativism, or the Republicans.
Neocon, the term, has been with us a while, and it does a job conveying the swindle of neoconservativism. But Neo-Conmen, my preferred term, does it better, as it removes any hint there is any Right in the movement. All of us should adopt these new terms and spellings. After all, the neo-conmen were able to infiltrate the Right so successfully in part because their sheep’s clothing term included “conservative”.
Gottfried is the man to write about these topics as he is a scholar (I almost said the forbidden “expert”) on the infiltration of left and the subsequent purges of the Right from conservativism, having suffered one himself. Cancel culture has long been a thing on the Right.
The story of the purges is not well known to the average normie conservative, whose exposure to watered-down Right ideas is usually limited to talk radio, Fox News, and, at one time anyway, neo-conmen and Big Con magazines like NRO and The American Conservative (motto: Where feelings matter more than facts).
National Review, the creation of Bill Buckley, who was once perhaps sensible before going mad, has been thoroughly Dranoed. There’s nothing left but a steady stream of “The Conservative Case For” articles. Think about that title schema: it necessarily signals surrender. This is all the Big Con and neo-Conmen are good for. Surrendering gracefully.
The question is why Big Conmen and neo-Conmen are take-it-slow progressives and not Right men. The answer is easy. Thanks to the purges and leftist entryism, few hear from the true Right. Purging works. Yet those purges would not have happened had the Right stayed strong. Truly, the Right has been fading for a long time. It was weak men who, for instance, when they did not have to a century ago gave women the vote. They already believed Equality then, but of course they believed that, and many other wrong ideas, a great deal earlier than that.
Repairing the damage is not what this book is about. It’s a modern history of the disgraces of those who falsely called themselves conservatives. The backstabbing, turn-coating, and deliberate ruinations of the greedy bloodthirsty cowards (there is no contradiction) who vanquished the remnants of the Right from polite society makes for a good story, and will help those with natural Right tendencies to see who their enemies are.
Here are one or two of many incidents.
One of the first tricks neo-Conmen pulled was to convince conservatives that American was exceptional because it was a “creedal nation”, that we were not like other nations a people and thus beholden to our own traditions, the distilled wisdom of the ages. Instead we’re Americans because we believe a set of propositions. This is now a staple of the Big Con, but it is as progressive a notion as you can find, because the set of propositions is never fixed, but fluid. What we were all supposed to believe even last year has been supplanted by a whole new set of proper thoughts. And will change again maybe even days from now. If we still hold with the old ideas, the tacit argument is that we’re no longer good Americans, but outsiders in our own land.
Besides, everybody knows it’s only one set of folks who are told they are not a people, while all other peoples are celebrated, and some are even worshiped. For that reason, and for raw greed (more helots, cheaper wages), the Big Con and neo-Conmen are happy to allow unlimited immigration, and to screech “racism!” at critics. For it is the forbidden people that must assimilate themselves to the creeds of the new arrivals, and not the other way around.
Keith Preston: “The neoconservatives”, who were all former open leftists, “were staunch Zionists and regarded American power as a critical protector of Israel.” Any criticism of that fine country was met with direct and vicious attack. “[T]he neoconservatives have persistently raised cries of racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia when attacking their opponents on the right.” They always punch Right.
Boyd Cathey recalls Russell Kirk, who in 1988 said, “Not seldom has it seemed as if some eminent Neoconservatives mistook Tel Aviv for the capital of the United States.” Incidentally, Kirk’s most famous book, The Conservative Mind, had the original, and far superior, title The Conservatives’ Rout.
The most infamous example was smearing Pat Buchanan when he ran for president. The neo-Conmen went after Buchanan for “homophobia” when, as Gottfried reminds us, Buchanan called out “San Francisco values.” But this “was not the real cause for the animus against Buchanan. He is a harsh critic of the Zionist lobby and is perceived as an isolationist.” Buchanan’s mistake was to voice his criticisms during the primary. Marjorie Jeffery and other authors show how the neo-Conmen abandoned all pretense of conservativism and attacked in full force from the left.
As they have been successfully doing then and since. Cathey: “[W]e have such neoconservative notables such as Ben Shapiro, Jonah Goldberg, George Will, Guy Benson, and others essentially endorsing same-sex marriage and wishing to accommodate transgenderism but also insisting that they are moderate ‘conservatives’ who are recognized by reasonable liberals as such.”
Neo-Conmen forays are not always negative. No, sir. The neo-Conmen convinced the Big Con that ever more spending on the military and needless wars were “conservative” positions, which required forgetting the Founding Fathers warned repeatedly and forcefully against foreign entanglements. The wars were needless, that is, from an American perspective. Maybe not so needless for others.
Then there’s the idea that democracy should be forced by the point of a gun on the peoples of the world. Pure progressivism. A religious enforcement of the creedal notion, a godless jihad, if you like.
Support for the military industry complex was a boon for think tanks, which were and are still flush with the green. “Needless to say,” says Joseph Cotto, “Heritage and AEI were far more willing to jettison opposition to gay marriage than support for increased military spending and the policy of ‘standing up’ to the supposed thug in the Kremlin.”
There is a rich chapter by Jesse Russell on the infiltration by neo-Conmen of Catholicism. All the usual suspects: George Weigel, Robert George, Michael Novak (until he saw the light), First Things (same thing), and so on.
Then came Monsieur Le Trompe. “A populist!” neo-Conmen and Big Cons shouted. And are still shouting, their voices finding new strength because of coronadoom and the riots. A risible charge in a democracy with the direct election of a president. It hasn’t helped Trump that he embraced many neo-Conman ideas. With these guys, as with all progressives, it’s all or nothing.
Nicholas Drummond on the great god Diversity:
Uncomfortable as it may be for scholars to admit, the Founders established a republic that assumed racial and cultural homogeneity, and they attempted to preserve this homogeneity with government control of naturalization….John Jay…”A people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs…”
All gone. The enemy knows the strategy of divide and conquer, and uses it well.
As we all know, there are no more than a handful of Republicans who are conservatives. They won’t be coming back to that party, either. You know the names of the neo-Conmen who support progressive Republicans: Breibart, Kevin D Williamson, Jonah Goldberg, Michael Reagan (son of Ronny), Dinesh D’Souza, George Will, Kurt Schlichter, Glenn Beck, William Kristol, John Podhoretz, David French, Sohrab Ahmari, Adrian Vermeule, Steven Calabresi (Federalist Society) everybody at NRO, almost all of talk radio, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal. On and on.
It’s not that these men have no Right ideas, it’s that they are progressives at heart and will always be swayed in that direction when under sustained fire. They want to stay in the system more than they want to remain Right. The Big Con, says Gottfried, “seeks to be ‘inclusive,’ but not by embracing those on its Right.” Real conservatives have no political home; they are disorganized and spread thin.
True men of the Right, like Gottfried and these scholars, are now classed as “alt right”, a term the media loves because they can paint it as violent, or paleo-conservatives, or dissidents, or whatever. In truth, the Right, being consigned to the wilderness, has no unification.
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Categories: Book review