The Next Conservatism?
William Lind & Paul Weyrich’s The Next Conservatism
Paul M. Weyrich and William S. Lind
The Next Conservatism
South Bend: St. Augustine’s Press, 2009
There are, in my view, but a handful of contemporary American “conservatives” worth reading. William Lind is one of them.
Associated with the “cultural conservatism” of the Free Congress Foundation (which “advocates the creation of parallel institutions to counter the dominant left cultural forces”), Lind’s main claim to fame is the leading role he’s played in developing the theory of “Fourth Generation Warfare” (4GW), which is why I read him.
His “weekly” column “On War,” posted at the website “Defense and the National Interest” (now defunct), offered not just one of the best analyses of America’s imperial misadventure in Afghanistan and Iraq (especially in explaining why America’s Second Generation Warfare is so inept in its struggle against stateless 4GW guerrillas), it mapped out a strategy we secessionists will need to heed, if we are ever to free ourselves from the unholy United States.
It was thus with a good deal of anticipation that I picked up The Next Conservatism, his latest book, written in collaboration with the recently deceased Paul Weyrich.
The book’s premise is that political conservatism, despite its numerous electoral victories, has failed.
Intellectually inspired by the work of Russell Kirk and William Buckley’s National Review, postwar conservatives, Lind and Weyrich argue, succeeded in capturing the Republican Party and, under Reagan, gaining national power. This did much to discredit liberalism and contribute to subsequent conservative victories.
But once having won the Cold War, which beat back the threat of Communism and ensured the triumph of the liberal market, conservatives became complacent, failing to respond, in effect, to their own success.
This complacency has since rendered conservatism so intellectually vacuous that under Bush II policies that were clearly anti-conservative—such as the Wilsonian crusade for “democracy,” globalization, massive trade and budget deficits, etc.—were not only labeled “conservative,” they were legitimated as such.
But more than eviscerating the meaning of conservatism, Republican rightists have remained indifferent to the left’s real source of power: its near monopoly over the culture.
Culture, for Lind and Weyrich, is more powerful than politics, influencing, as it does, nearly every facet of life. Thus, despite numerous conservative successes at the polls, the nation has continued to shift leftward, so that today the real forces animating it are those disordering and perverted ones fostered by the ongoing subversion of “Judeo-Christian, Western Civilization.”
The Next Conservatism, accordingly, will have “to renew the work Kirk, Buckley and others did so well in the 1950s and ’60s,” but do so by addressing the challenges specific to the 21st century. Foremost among these is the task of restoring both the republic and the culture. The Next Conservatism, then, will absorb whatever remains pertinent in the old conservatism (traditional marriage, balanced budgets, border controls, lower taxes, etc.), but at the same time it will need to refocus on fighting the culture war and opposing the forces that have destroyed the former republican forms of American governance.
Basic to Lind and Weyrich’s vision of the Next Conservatism is their understanding of the left’s source of power.
Once conservatism discredited liberalism, they claim it was replaced by an even more potent ideology—that of Political Correctness or multiculturalism (as if these weren’t also forms of liberal thought).
In their view this new ideology is a form of “cultural Marxism,” as developed by the Frankfurt School, whose goal was allegedly to destroy Western Civilization for the sake of imposing the “soft totalitarianism” described in Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel Brave New World.
Their argument, in a word, essentially rehashes the usual stock-in-trade of Cold War conservatives, only culture is now recognized as the key to power, and the state is seen as increasingly unrepresentative of the nation.
It would be difficult to convey my disappointment with such a tepid understanding of the situation facing Americans today. It did, however, convince me that the sort of political gruel it serves up as an alternative to the established right must be at least partially responsible for starving the anti-liberal right, leaving it too weak to combat the actual forces of subversion.
It would take a small book the size of Lind and Weyrich’s just to mention the historical, political, and theoretical problems with their proposed Next Conservatism. But if I had to express it in just a word, I would compare their argument to the vulgar anti-Semitism often found in white nationalist ranks—the sort that thinks everything wrong with white society is attributable solely to the omnipotent Jews—though in their case the key to every secret is cultural Marxism.
Such reductionist prattle stems usually not just from an ignorance of the real forces shaping American society and history, but from a refusal to own up to our own failings as a people.
What Lind and Weyrich call “cultural Marxism” and blame for much of the current disorder ought, more accurately in my view, to be seen as a “cultural liberalism.”
Having spent 20 years studying the history and theory of Marxism, I can say with some confidence that Lind and Weyrich, like most American conservatives (as well as most white nationalists), know hardly a thing about it.
I also suspect, given their view of it, that they don’t know much about the “civilization” they defend.
The first point that needs raising, then, is that the left in general and Marxism in particular (including the Frankfurt School) have almost nothing to do with what today passes for the left—which instead of defending the popular classes from the market’s predatory forces endeavors now to remake them in the therapeutic image of the postmodern tribes (feminists, gays, nonwhites, etc.) it champions. (In this context it’s worth noting that white nationalism, like fascism and National Socialism before it, owes as much to the historic working-class left as it does to the anti-liberal nationalist right).
Historically, both liberalism and the anti-liberal left (Marxism, anarchism, utopianism, etc.) arose as political offshoots of Enlightenment rationalism. Rationalism’s critique of Catholicism, aristocracy, and the traditional organization of Indo-European society served, as such, as a political/intellectual battering ram to clear away whatever impediments the ancien régime had posed to the ascent of the newly emancipated forces of late 18th and early 19th-century capitalism.
Because the anti-liberal or socialist left saw the capitalist market as an irrational force at odds with their program to rationalize the social order in ways favoring greater equity, and because these leftists sought an alliance with the working classes ground down by industrial capitalism, the distance between liberalism and socialism, especially Marxism, began to diverge in the second half of the 19th century (though they continued to share the same roots).
Yet however anti-Catholic and subversive, liberals, socialists, and Marxists were not consciously subverting “Western Civilization.” In the eyes of these leftists, they themselves were the true representatives of the Renaissance humanism, Reformation individualism, 17th-century science, and 18th-century Enlightenment constituting the fundament of modern European civilization. (Consider the cultural history of the former Soviet Union, which was culturally truer to the Western cultural heritage than the liberal, bourgeois regimes of the West.)
Today, of course, we know that the left’s vision of “Western Civilization” threatens not just the existence of Europe’s cultural heritage, but its genetic heritage as well. This, though, is something quite different than arguing that such was its self-ascribed aim.
A second point worth raising, especially for those in our own ranks who share the conservative view, is that liberalism was qualitatively more ruinous of traditional European values and beliefs than Marxian socialism (Communism). When Thomas Molnar, who played an important role in the US conservative movement of the 1960s and ’70s, returned to his native Hungary after the collapse of the Soviet empire, he found, to his astonishment, that traditional culture and education, which had virtually disappeared in the West, were still very much alive in the former Soviet bloc. Relatedly, the Italian conservative Catholic philosopher, Augusto Del Noce, could write shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall that “Communism died in the East because it had triumphed in the West”—and by “Communism” he meant the leveling, quantitative forces of economic society, whether in its Soviet command-style form or its liberal/Keynesian one.
A third and final point I think worth making is that the Frankfurt School—the great bugbear of Lind/Weyrich and much of the racially conscious right—was largely irrelevant to the Cultural Revolution of the ’60s, whose devastation Lind and Weyrich attribute to “cultural Marxism.”
The problem with this line is that only the work of Herbert Marcuse was known in this period and then only among a few. Indeed, much of the Frankfurt School’s work was translated only after the Cultural Revolution.
And revealingly, the foremost American proponent of Frankfurt School Marxism, Paul Piccone’s Telos, evolved (on the basis of its “critical” Marxism) toward a “federalist,” anti-statist populism akin to Lind’s own brand of conservatism.
What Lind, Weyrich, and most conservatives seem unable (or unwilling) to recognize is that the nihilism assaulting our culture—along with the family, the existing institutions, and everything else that once made up our historic way of life—is a product not of a tiny group of exiled German Jews. (Incidentally, our two conservative authors refrain from casting the slightest aspersion on the Frankfurt School qua Jews and even treat Jews as part of our cultural/civilizational heritage.) Rather, this nihilism grew out of a political-economic system indigenous to the American experience.
In other words, the cultural/psychological conditioning that has turned most of our countrymen into giant digestive tubes wasn’t the work of a few exiled Jewish misfits intent on destroying Western Civilization. As the most cursory glance of the last century’s developments suggests, it was, instead, a product of Big Business and the consumer capitalism necessary to its new forms of production. All the things that Lind and Weyrich identify with cultural Marxism were, in fact, already at work in the early 1920s, before the Frankfurt School had even come into existence. It was only the Crash of 1929 that temporarily sidetracked the ascent of the subversive cultural forces associated with the new corporate forms of mass production.
From this perspective, it should come as no surprise to learn that once the forces of Anglo-American liberalism, in alliance with Russian Communism, succeeded in destroying Europe—not just politically, but physically, reducing much of it to a heap of rubble—corporate capitalism, in tandem with the new managerial state, began redesigning American culture and society to accord with its specific social-economic imperatives.
In this spirit, what was good for General Motors was deemed good for the United States; military Keynesianism replaced the free market and became a welfare provider for the corporate sector; the country’s historic racial hierarchy, the one thing preventing it from succumbing to the market’s nihilistic egalitarianism, was overturned; cities, in the name of “urban renewal” (i.e., social engineering), were ethnically cleansed and white communities destroyed; masses of Negroes, many of whom, contrary to Lind’s claim, were incapable of sustaining civilized forms of urban life, were not just allowed into, but imposed on, white society; suburbanization and television began to resocialize whites as mindless, deracinated consumers; the state, now an empire, no longer a republic, started assuming traditional communal and familial functions; and, not least, most cultural and educational institutions were taken over by Jews or market forces hostile to tradition.
The list could go on, but the upshot is that our present predicament is the consequence not of the esoteric ideas of a few unpleasant people with names like Horkheimer, Lowenthal, Benjamin, etc., but of the “progressive” techno-economic civilization that arose in early 20th-century America.
I hate to disappoint Lind (whose works, especially on 4GW, I’ll continue to read), but there will be no “next conservatism.” There is, indeed, no longer anything left to conserve—except our imperiled generic heritage. And that will be preserved not by promoting retroculture, the dead forms of the old republic, or “parallel structures”—an exercise in futility if ever there were one.
Our people will survive only if white men learn again, in struggle, to stand, like their ancestors, on their own two legs, as they fight for a land of their own, free from everything associated with the monstrous Leviathan that the United States has become.
Perhaps one day our conservatives, many of whom remain decent and sympathetic people, will discover, once their backs are up against the wall, that the sole political option at this point is either the ethnostate of the white nationalists or the Judeo-capitalist ethnocide of the Obama Nation.
TOQ Online, July 10, 2009