The state of the conservative mind—mainstream and paleo

It’s fantastic. America’s mainstream conservative writers not only know how to conserve the best of the past, they also know for a certainty what the future has in store. Thus, at The American Speculator, excuse me, The American Spectator, R. Emmett Tyrrell expresses his belief or wish as though it were a fact:

Next week President Obama goes into retirement. I hope he will consider Hawaii.

Meanwhile, at Republican Triumphalist, a.k.a. American Thumper, excuse me, American Thinker, a contributor named C. Edmund Wright speaks with certainty of

… Barack Obama’s pending landslide loss. I submit that a more sober analysis indicates that November 2012 has been inevitable for at least four years…. [A]s the inevitability of Obama’s defeat seeps in a little deeper each day….

C. Edmund Wright, like the father of modern intellectuals, Georg Hegel, has the wonderful ability to predict future events, because he understands the process of historical inevitability. No wonder he has such an intellectual-sounding name himself.

Meanwhile, another American Thumper, William Gensert, writes:

Does anyone believe that when Barack Obama loses on November 6, he will go quietly?…. This election is shaping up to be a landslide loss for the president, and by the ever-present look of desperation on his face, he knows it…. Barack Obama will lose this election in a landslide….

Also, see Gensert’s December 2011 article at American Thinker where he declared that “The only thing standing between the United States and continued exceptionalism is the dreary delirium of Barack Obama….”

About which I commented:

American Thinker keeps posting articles by authors whose intellectual life as conservatives seems to have begun yesterday, and who thus believe that America’s decline began with Obama’s election, making any reliable progress beyond the kindergarten stage of conservative understanding impossible.

Given the glandular conservatism of the mainstream conservative media, where does one go for a mature, intellectual conservatism? Well, there’s The American Conservative, three quarters of whose contributors (as we reported yesterday regarding their election symposium) either support or will not oppose Obama’s re-election, and whose founding editor, Scott McConnell, writes:

I’m voting for Obama without qualm or hesitation…. [H]is temperament is steady and his results are, actually, better than decent…. The verdict is out on Obamacare, but it if turns out badly, it will be modified or repealed.

McConnell, rather than supporting a Republican nominee who is pro-Israel and influenced by neoconservatives, endorses the pro-jihadist, pro-amnesty, anti-American leftist Obama. To make his choice seem acceptable, he goes to the fantastic extreme (where no man, on the left or right, has gone before) of deluding himself into thinking that if Obamacare is implemented, and if (if!) it turns out badly, it could be easily repealed or modified. As I keep saying, the paleoconservatives hate Israel and the neocons more than they love America. They are guided not by a rational love of the good, but by the resentments that are forever boiling in their heart.

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Gintas writes:

The problem with the conservative mind is that there is not much of a conservative mind. Russell Kirk is spinning in his grave.

LA replies:

Russell Kirk would never do anything so indignified.

Daniel S. writes:

The truly pathetic thing about Scott McConnell is not his knee-jerk opposition to anything seemingly related to Israel or the neocons, but rather that he actually promotes Obama qua Obama. In his remarks he praises both Obama’s temperament and his domestic policies (i.e., he is not merely passively supporting Obama because he thinks he is less belligerent on foreign policy than Romney). He even ventures the suggestion that Obamacare might not be all that bad. He has gone beyond his ressentiment into positively embracing Obama and leftism.

LA replies:

But what was the source of his positive embrace of Obama and leftism? It was his obsessive reaction against the neocons, which in turn drove him to, among other things, total identification with and support for the Palestinian cause, his concomitant demonization of Israel, his reactive opposition to America and especially regular American conservatives for supporting Israel, and thus, finally, into his embrace of leftism.

LA notes:

Last year, Scott McConnell wrote me a nice note wishing me well with my medical situation. I thanked him for it and replied in like spirit. But that kind personal gesture by him does not change my view of his political positions, which I have been stating consistently for ten years.

Timothy A. writes:

Scott McConnell canvassed for Eugene McCarthy as a 16 year old in 1968. In 1972 he supported George McGovern. In 1976 he worked on Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. In the last three elections he has publicly supported Obama, Obama and Kerry. He is neither anti-immigration nor pro-Christian. Is there any reason that he should have been the editor of a publication called The American Conservative?

LA replies:

For the record, I campaigned (as a freshman at Columbia University) for Eugene McCarthy in 1968. I voted for McGovern in 1972, and voted for Carter in 1976.

Also, it is not as if someone hired McConnell to be editor of The American Conservative. McConnell was the driving force behind the creation of the magazine. Of the other two founders, Taki and Patrick Buchanan, Taki supplied the money, and Buchanan supplied a column. TAC was McConnell’s idea and his baby from the start.

Daniel S. writes:

Dr. Paul Gottfried is someone who clearly has an obsessive reaction to the neocons (he never fails to remind his readers that the neocons denied him a sought-after academic position), yet I could never conceive him positively (or even passively) embracing Obama or leftism. McConnell on the other hand doesn’t even offer up the pretense of disliking Obama or liberalism. Exactly what is conservative, even on a superficial or rhetorical level, about this man?

I find Scott McConnell and his fellow travelers to be an excellent case in point about the danger of a worldview based on ressentiment (I prefer the French rendering of the word, as it carries more meaning than its English equivalent). His deep seated hatred toward the neocons and Israel leads him to embrace anti-white, anti-Western leftists like Obama, and leaves him perpetually trapped in a childish either\or mentality. I find this trend among Robert Spencer and friends as well, whose ressentiment toward Islam and Muslims leads them to embrace disgusting degenerates like the pop singer Lady Gaga.

LA replies:

In fact it is exactly the psychology which is normally found on the left. The individual feels himself as being deeply hurt or betrayed by his father, or by some father figure. Instead of getting over this hurt, he carries it through his entire life. Everything he does is a way of expressing his hurt and his unappeasable anger. His ideas are not led by rationality, but by irrational emotion.

This lifelong immature psychology is the most common and most characteristic feature of the paleocons. The father figure who has betrayed them is, generally, the neocons or America as such, which in their view is run by the neocons, so the two are practically identical in their minds. This is why they are always talking about their feelings and about how some party—usually the neocons—has hurt them personally, not about the rationally perceived, objective rights and wrongs of the issue at hand. This is why they repeatedly side against America. They are expressing their still-unresolved rage against their “father-figure.” This is why they are incapable of making any positive contribution to the national debate.

And this is what most of them were doing in their syposium on the election.

LA continues:

There is another aspect of this phenomenon, which is the need to find a replacement for the hurtful or traitorous father. This was discussed by me in a February 2003 entry, “Hating the Father”:

Miss Germany flies to Iraq, says she hopes to meet with Hussein and discuss peace.

What can explain the phenomenon of apparently normal Western people not just despising America and opposing the U.S.-proposed war, but actively expressing their solidarity with the mass murdering tyrant Hussein?

Once you conceive an abiding and unappeasable resentment against your symbolic “father,” whether it’s your country, or your civilization, or nature, or God, or any other principle that embodies the structuring principle of your existence, you are compelled by an internal logic to embrace whatever is the opposite and adversary of your “father,” seeing it as the embodiment of the warm humanity—or the powerful authority—that your “father” lacks. Thus the recent photo of the America-hating film director Oliver Stone standing next to Fidel Castro, looking content and at home for the first time in his life—and also looking a bit like a Latin American dictator himself.

stone and castro.jpg
Stone finally finds a real buddy: Director Oliver Stone
talks to Cuban leader Fidel Castro after finishing
shooting a documentary in Havana last year.

This is part of the reason why you find paleocons taking the side of our jihadist enemies, or of social or demographic forces that are harming our country.

The comments following the 2003 entry are worth reading.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 01, 2012 10:13 AM | Send

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