Neoconservative war against Communism and the Traditional Right

Neoconservative war against Communism and the Traditional Right

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Ronald Radosh

WASHINGTON, September 5, 2014 — Back on March 15, 2014, Neoconservative leading light Ron Radosh, authored a hatchet piece attacking Patrick Buchanan and other traditionalist conservatives and Christians for their defense of Russia and their opposition to the globalist aspirations of the EU and the United States. What is interesting about Radosh’s attacks is not so much the tried-and-true shibboleths he trots out against the traditionalists, but the obvious debt, intellectually, he owes to the historic Left.

Radosh’s article illustrates extremely well that the inherited framework of Trotskyite ideology survives and continues fundamentally to motivate American (and European) Neoconservatives. For Radosh and his compatriots, the double-front war against old-fashioned “Communism” (which he calls “Stalinism,” to distinguish it from an earlier love affair that many older Neoconservatives had with Trotskyite Marxism) and “reactionary traditionalism” continues unabated, finding its newest cause celebre in the situation unfolding in Ukraine, where the Neocons are pushing for confrontation with nationalist Russia. Their deep-seated motivating belief combines the internationalism of Trotsky with a commitment to universal and, in the words of Allan Bloom, imposed global egalitarianism and liberal democracy.

This egalitarianism includes, implicitly, the eventual and logical normalization and acceptance of across-the-board sexual and gender equality.

Such views on morality violate the beliefs of traditional conservatives and Christians. Yet, in recent years we have witnessed a growing parade of Republicans and so-called “conservative” leaders announce their support for same sex marriage: both Laura and Barbara Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton, Jonah Goldberg, Senator Rob Portman, just to mention a few. And in 2013, George W. Bush declared “that straight people should not cast the first stone when it comes to judging gay couples.” [Timothy Stanley, Citizen Hollywood, 2014, p. 225] How could it be otherwise, with Neoconservatism and its dogma of equality dominating the present-day “conservative movement”?

The Neoconservative belief in worldwide liberal democracy transforms the old Trotskyite concept of “peoples’ democracy” into a talismanic standard, not just “one man, one vote,” but understood as a final step in creating a “peoples’ utopia” in which all in theory rule the newly-democratic commonwealth; the unfortunate fact is that, as recent history demonstrates, if everyone rules, then no one rules, and in reality, it is the new managerial elites (or the organized extremists) who actually control and manage society and the state. The disastrous results of the American-sponsored so-called “Arab Spring” in the Middle East—Egypt, Iraq, Libya—have demonstrated this dramatically.

Radosh, of course, has an interesting history. Like many New Yorkers of Eastern European Jewish background, he grew up a “red-diaper” baby, a Communist within a Communist family within a New York Communist milieu. In the 1950s, after the revelations (under Khrushchev) of Communist crimes, he broke with what he termed “Stalinism.” But that in no way altered his commitment to hard Leftist views. Indeed, he was a veritable founder of the New (and arguably neo-Trotskyite) Left in the 1960s (and was very active in the Students for a Democratic Society), the intellectual father of the anti-Viet Nam war demonstrations.

His intellectual migration to the Right into what is now termed Neoconservatism followed the pattern of other Neocons: he came from a Marxist background, and he was well-connected in New York and academic circles. Recognizing, with exasperation, the failure of Communism in Russia, he made his pilgrimage, but he never left behind the essential motivating shell of principles of that other lodestar of Marxism, Leon Trotsky. In his belief in egalitarianism and liberal democracy, Radosh and others like him grafted themselves onto an older American conservatism that had posited a rejection of those very ideas. Nevertheless, by the 1990s these epigones of the Trotskyite Left had convinced most “conservatives” that their ideas were, indeed, the proper conservative way of viewing society and culture.

Thus, Radosh’s attack piece offers a window into archetypal Neoconservative thinking, its rejection not just of the “stodgy” and parochial Communism of the fossilized leaders of the old Soviet Union, but its real hatred for and opposition to traditional (“medieval”) Christian and non-egalitarian belief. For Radosh—as for a Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Jonah Goldberg, George Will, John Bolton, and most of Fox News and the Murdoch media empire, not to mention politicians like John McCain and Lindsay Graham—opposition to liberal democracy and equality, which are seen as a global panacea, is unacceptable, a modern heresy.

At the base of the extreme difference between Radosh and the older traditional Right is a division over the idea of Progress. Radosh, despite his passing resemblance as “man of the Right,” on this question is squarely on the Left, historically and theologically. For him and for his Neocon compatriots, Progress is not just material, it also implies a spiritual dynamic of increasing human/social perfection, a struggle to reach that terrestrial utopia that their forefather Trotsky fought for and, as they retell it, died for.

On the ostensibly “conservative” NationalReviewOnline, a few years back, Neoconservative writer Stephen Schwartz let the cat out of the bag:

To my last breath, I will defend Trotsky who alone and pursued from country to country and finally laid low in his own blood in a hideously hot house in Mexico City, said no to Soviet coddling to Hitlerism, to the Moscow purges, and to the betrayal of the Spanish Republic, and who had the capacity to admit that he had been wrong about the imposition of a single-party state as well as about the fate of the Jewish people. To my last breath, and without apology. Let the neofascists and Stalinists in their second childhood make of it what they will.” [see Paul Gottfried’s commentary on, April 17, 2007]

Such an admission should send a chill down the backs of thinking conservatives and Christians. That apparently it does not, is one more indication of the defecated mentality that dominates now in America and Western Europe.

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Boyd Cathey
Boyd D. Cathey holds a doctorate in European history from the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, where he was a Richard Weaver Fellow, and an MA in intellectual history from the University of Virginia (as a Jefferson Fellow). He was assistant to conservative author and philosopher the late Russell Kirk. In more recent years he served as State Registrar of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. He has published in French, Spanish, and English, on historical subjects as well as classical music and opera. He is active in the Sons of Confederate Veterans and various historical, archival, and genealogical organizations.