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Sam Francis’ Beautiful Losers

[1]2,650 words

Beautiful Losers is a collection of essays by the late Samuel Francis, who influenced not only my work, but much of the Right in America today. The omnibus opens with an introduction and brief history of the post-World War II conservative movement in America up to 1993, when Beautiful Losers was published. Francis notes quite plainly that the real Right in America was supplanted by neoconservatives, both by starving the Right of funding, as well as by outright attacks on such figures as Joseph Sobran and Pat Buchanan. The mostly Jewish neoconservative intellectual movement was now free to pursue Wilsonian internationalism, adopt liberal views on race and immigration, and offer no genuine resistance to the liberal agenda. 

In the essay “Foreign Policy and the South,” Francis uses the Vietnam War as an example of how Wilsonian interventionism to “make the world safe for Democracy” delegitimized the United States not only to the world, but also to its own citizens. [1] [2] In Vietnam, America did not use power to pursue legitimate national interests, such as protecting her people and allies, but to embark on needless ideological crusades. [2] [3] Attacking the conservatives on their foreign policy obsession is a recurring theme through this work, and indeed a theme with tremendous roots in the American Right that has been nearly eradicated from the permissive discussions on our “polite society.” Indeed, once a mainstay of American Right-wing politics, isolationism has been wholly cast aside in today’s political order.

“Messages from MARs (Middle American Radicals) is an important essay dealing with the kind of American populist voters who ended up putting Donald Trump in the White House — those critical of both the elite and the underclass. Diverging from the Left who may criticize the wealthy, and from the standard conservatives who think the government gives too much to the poor, Middle American Radicals feel caught in the middle of two parasitic classes: one above, one below. Francis explains how current elites seized and consolidated tremendous power during the Great Depression. The government, joining with large corporations, labor unions, universities, and the media, sought to consolidate and expand their power. This new “cosmopolitan elite” is united by disdain for traditional Americanism, close-knit communities, and the family unit, in favor of an atomized mass with no connection to history or discipline, motivated merely by material self-indulgence. [3] [4] Old American elites were localized, diverse, and easy-going. The new elite is much more homogeneous and aims to expand its power through bureaucracy and social engineering. [4] [5] This essay is important in explaining that middle Americans like us have no real representation or protection at any level. It further offers a necessary demarcation, a sort of “us and them” explanation to the political divides we see, making it clear that mainstream conservatives are certainly not us, but “them.” 

Middle American Radicals take a more isolationist, protectionist, and nationalist approach to politics over the Left and the old Right. Large corporations make “enemy lists” of Middle American Radicals because publicly-owned corporations with a managerial class running them have interests that diverge significantly from smaller, private businesses. If the Middle American Radicals are to succeed, Francis urges that they must not focus narrowly on winning elections and voting, but on all levers of power in modern society, including the media, means of production, and instruments of force. In short, Middle American Radicals must become the new elite for themselves.

Two essays in the middle of the book critique neoconservatism, comparing it to both the old Right, which opposed FDR’s New Deal, and the new Right, as described in “Messages from MARs. 

Francis opens the essay “The Harmless Persuasion” by observing that the exponents of neoconservatism tend to be urbanite intellectuals, residing in the northeast, who are predominantly Jews from Eastern Europe. [5] [6] He writes that while the old Right was interested in conserving America as a direct descendant of Anglo-Saxon, Christian, and Western civilization as a whole, the neoconservatives feel excluded by such an America; thus, they promote the liberal universalist idea of an America that anyone can belong to. Instead of defending European civilization, Irving Kristol defends “bourgeois civilization” and “liberal capitalism.” Francis notes several times that while Kristol appears to be fully aware that the once-high standard of virtue in the West has been supplanted with paralyzing collectivism and mass hedonism, Kristol defends rather than resists this trajectory. Francis remarks that at no juncture does neoconservatism ever break with modern liberalism. Instead, neoconservatives are squarely embedded within the “managerial-verbalist” order, evidenced by their acceptance within and support of the “consensus” consisting of academia, the mass media, and mega-corporations. 

Francis notes in the essay “Neoconservatism and the Managerial Revolution” that neoconservatives are mostly concerned with economic, defense, and foreign policy. When one understands that the movement is made up primarily of ethnic Jews, one can see why economics and the defense of Israel take precedent over old Right values such as family, morality, and community building. Francis quotes Ben Wattenberg, who argued that if we are more concerned with foreign policy spooks than with domestic social issues, we will soon have men in the women’s restrooms. This essay was published in September of 1986. Upon reading this line I immediately recognized how truly prescient it was — perhaps best exemplified by neoconservative intellectual David French, who recently reaffirmed that he believed the Iraq War to be justified and proper, and within months of that publication, defended “Drag Queen Story Time” (where men, many times child predators, dress up as women and read books to young children) by referring to the disturbing spectacle as one of the “blessings of liberty.” [6] [7]

This foreign policy adventurism is exemplified by such positions as supporting sanctions against South Africa’s so-called apartheid, sanctions against Pinochet in Chile, Genocide Convention ratifications, and generally reducing the idea of the United States’ “national interests” to a perpetual revolution around the planet in order to secure a globalist world order. Francis remarks that the most insulting epithet to a neoconservative is not to be anti-American, or a communist, or a globalist, but an “isolationist.”


You can buy Greg Johnson’s White Identity Politics here. [9]

Concluding the chapters on neoconservatism, Francis says the Right and the neoconservatives not only have incompatible goals, but also that the goals of the right — achieving an American Renaissance and continuation of the Western (White European) tradition — will be rendered impossible if the neoconservatives continue to gain power and subrogate the Right as the dominant political force standing against the Left. While Francis notes the internal contradictions and unworkable ideology of neoconservatism, its profit-driven hedonism, and its general shallowness, there is perhaps a very subtle undertone: they are not simply oblivious and effete losers, but deliberate actors with malice. I found myself wondering what he would have said about these “intellectuals” in private. 

As Francis continues to traipse through the endless failures of conservatism, we realize that much of the true Right was purged by neocons and liberals who had small, nearly cosmetic issues with the modern Left who styled themselves as “conservatives.” Then, once firmly within the liberal hegemony of culture, news, and politics, the neoconservatives offered no genuine opposition, as they had no true fundamental disagreement with their so-called opponents.

“The Evil That Men Don’t Do” is an interesting look into the career of Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. Francis posits that McCarthy is so demonized not for his criticisms and sometimes bombastic methods of attacking those subverting the nation, but for his lack of participation in the evil they had brought about in the United States (and indeed, the world). A list of atrocities committed by the United States government follows: Eisenhower’s Operation Keelhaul, the Yalta agreement, sending young American men to die in Cuba and Southeast Asia, promising to “fight communism” then providing them no way to do so, thus ensuring their certain death and suffering. The “evil” of McCarthy was that he discovered and exposed these evils to the American people, something those in power could not stand. 

In “The Cult of Dr. King,” Francis takes to task the conservative class that allowed a degenerate puppet to be exalted as some latter-day saint or Founding Father of the United States. He provides examples of what is now commonly called “cancel culture,” such as when sportscaster Jimmy the Greek was fired for speaking briefly on genetic differences between blacks and whites, and when a school teacher who was critical of King in 1983 was subsequently reprimanded for her private comments. Francis also foretold the now-common occurrence of removing, defacing, and destroying Confederate flags and monuments. Again, writing in 1988, we once more see Francis far ahead of his time and any “peers.” 

Several times throughout the book, Francis mentions the subversion of the Declaration of Independence — specifically the phrase “all men are created equal” — being so often taken as a promissory note to nonwhite races to be redeemed for material goods and capital, rather than an assertion of the legitimacy of transgressive action against the King of England. Another recurring theme is the further subversion of founding ideas, such as the destruction of the property and association rights of Americans via the installation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and judicial activists perverting the 14th Amendment into a mechanism to re-create the United States. 

The essay “As We Go Marching is a heavy critique of democracy, the idea of “freedom,” and current foreign policy. Francis comments that when Franco took control of Spain, he did so entirely in an undemocratic manner, yet he secured true freedom all the same from the communists. Immediately and concisely, we see the idea that democracy equates to freedom is patently incorrect. Authoritarianism often secured more freedoms for people when they are being attacked by an equally authoritarian Left. Francis rightly attacks the idea conservatives have that the purpose of America is to export and expand the “rights of men” across the globe. There are endless examples of this ending not only horribly, but leaving Americans wondering “how does this help Americans?” Does the United States putting pressure on Botswana and other nations to decriminalize homosexuality help Americans? [7] [10] Does ensuring Israel is a “functioning democracy in the Middle East” really matter to anybody in the heartland? Is democracy even that self-evidently valuable? Why can’t these questions even be asked? 

Taking an exceptionally rare position, Francis addresses the issue with unrestrained capitalism and its relationship to communism on a level far beyond material issues and petty squabbles about production. He writes, “Like the materialism of ‘godless communism,’ the hedonism of godless capitalism winds up as a tool of a political despotism that manages the pursuit of happiness as pleasure. Man becomes merely the most consuming of animals.” [8] [11] 

In his 1990 essay “The Secret of the Twentieth Century,” Francis discusses economic problems faced by middle-class Americans: The cost of living rising while real wages decline, young people finding it increasingly difficult to buy a home, and the inability of Republicans to remedy any of it. These ills did not occur by happenstance, but were a calculated part of the managerial revolution that sought to liquefy the middle class. The rolling up of small businesses and farms by corporate powerhouses is one manifestation of this. Excessive bureaucracy becomes increasingly difficult to navigate if you are not part of the managerial elite class who does nothing but extract resources from the white middle class into the hands of the elite. We have seen this exacerbated to its zenith in 2020 and beyond, during mandatory lockdowns and the continued liquidation of an entire class of people. 

This essay contains an interesting note about the “politics of cultural despair” and how it would likely give rise to a movement similar to what occurred after Weimar Germany. From a 1982 book called Post-Conservative America: “[R]acial, national, and social hostilities and dislocations . . . would coalesce with economic frustrations to yield a chauvinist, authoritarian, and perhaps overly racialist political movement on the order of what occurred in Weimar Germany.” [9] [12] 

Finally, some good news!

Francis mentions James Burnham with a certain reverence throughout these essays. “The Other Side of Modernism” takes special care to discuss the influence Burnham’s framework of the managerial revolution had on Francis, which appears to be critical to the way Francis understands the political world. From Burnham’s work The Machiavellians, he quite accurately posits that “No theory, no promises, no morality, no amount of goodwill, no religion will restrain power . . . . only power restrains power.” Written in 1943, we can now look back on nearly 80 years of history and see how true this maxim must be. 

Writing about Burnham’s passing, Francis takes a tone that borders on scathing at the fact that there was little mention of his passing among the so-called conservative movement. Perhaps this was due to Burnham’s aloofness in social circles; or, more accurately, Burnham’s Nietzschean appeal to power and attacks on inferior morality put him in a sphere beyond those of his supposed colleagues. Francis saw himself in a long line of traditionalists dating into antiquity and Burnham as the one who came before him — a bit too romantic and too honest for what passed as conservatism in the twentieth century. 

Concluding, Francis remarks that the Right is rarely engaged with. Only the “permissible Right,” made up of losers and neocons, receive any attention. The rest of us are simply labeled and ignored as racists, anti-Semites, crackpots, kooks, and one that hits very close to home personally: “simply nostalgic.” 

An important distinction to make per Francis is knowing that we are not part of the incumbent class protecting our status, but we represent a subordinate and displaced people. The current conservatives of today still tend to believe they have something left they are protecting. They are not actually “preserving the Constitution” anymore, for example, and to what degree they are, it’s likely they are merely preserving the modernized version that has more concern with the rights of gays and non-whites over things like freedom of association.

As part of the same lineage as Francis, a man concerned deeply with the changes of history, I’d like to conclude with a quote he found useful and profound. When talking about the chaotic changes that have taken place during the twentieth century, many thinkers were under a sort of illusion. There was political, economic, and intellectual wreckage and chaos, but many failed to make sense of it all or to rise from the ashes. Francis quotes Vladimir Lenin: “When the train of history makes a sharp turn, the passengers who do not have a good grip on their seats are thrown off.” [10] [13] I will add one of my favorite Lenin quotes: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” 

As we continue towards the edge of chaos, a place where we may remain for an uncertain amount of time, I will take those quotes to heart. When this train we are riding takes its next sharp turn, may we be holding on with a firm grip and make decades worth of history in the weeks that follow. 

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[1] [14] Samuel Francis, Beautiful Losers (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1993), p. 24.

[2] [15] Ibid., 28.

[3] [16] Ibid., 62-64.

[4] [17] Ibid., 65.

[5] [18] Ibid., 89.

[6] [19] David French, “In Defense of the Iraq War [20],” National Review, March 20, 2019. [https://archive.is/yR8by]

Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “David French, Sohrab Ahmari, and The Battle for the Future of Conservatism [21],” New Yorker, September 12, 2019. [https://archive.is/pvnYn]

[7] [22] Josh Lederman, “Trump administration launches global effort to end criminalization of homosexuality [23],” NBC News. February 19, 2019.


[8] [24] Francis, 197.

[9] [25] Ibid., 205.

[10] [26] Ibid., 194.