Paul Gottfried and John Derbyshire on the future of American conservatism

Paul Gottfried and John Derbyshire on the future of American conservatism

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OCALA, Fla., March 3, 2014 — So, what is next for the American conservative movement?

With this year’s midterm election cycle kicking into full gear and special interest groups fighting a tug of war with grassroots activists over issues ranging from gay rights to illegal alien amnesty, there are few dull moments. Unfortunately, little of what has been going on brings about positive change, either for the nation or its rightish stalwarts.

“(T)he non-PC Right may be able to survive only by becoming a quasi-socialist but culturally conservative party. One current example of this  is the Front National in France. That’s one of two courses I’ve plotted in my mind for avoiding total control by the Left,” Dr. Paul Gottfried explains to Communities Digital News.

Gottfried is an outspoken paleoconservative intellectual who recently retired from Elizabethtown College. As one might imagine, Dr. Gottfried’s observations of the human condition reliably generate both accolades and animosity. Having befriended such figures as Richard Nixon and Herbert Marcuse, his views are not always easy to pin down. Perhaps the only constant is that Dr. Gottfried calls the shots as he sees them — with no apology.

Dr. Gottfried continues: “The other is working to achieve decentralization, so that the more conservative regions of the country could govern themselves independently of the leftist central government and the media priesthood. Unfortunately I’ve no idea how such a plan could be made to work. Both national parties favor a powerful, interventionist central government.  

“The population is used to looking for direction from Washington, and this tendency is not likely to change, no matter what we may wish for the future. State bureaucracies operate in the same ideological universe as the federal administration and take their cues from Washington. The court system is set up in such a way that the state courts follow the precedents and decisions of the federal courts. The only solution therefore must come from the center.”

Some say that modern movement conservatives never really take hold of an issue, but instead allow leftists to define it. This then leaves conservative politicos in a never ending game of defense. What can be said about this idea?

“Well, I agree with it,” John Derbyshire tells CDN. One of America’s more notable conservative commentators for decades, he became a virtual household name in early 2012. This is when he was fired from his longtime post at the National Review. To make a long story short, his termination came about after alleged anti-racist activists took issue with one of Derbyshire’s articles. The piece dealt with black race relations and human intelligence.

Although it was not published in National Review, the publication’s editors let Derbyshire go all the same. 

“Jonathan Haidt, in his splendid book THE RIGHTEOUS MIND, shows that conservatives are more susceptible than liberals to appeals to authority,” Derbyshire elaborates. “Cultural Marxists hold the commanding heights of the culture:  the universities, media, the big established churches, corporations, . . .  Of course they get to define most issues.

“An interesting exception to that is in the sphere of the sciences, issues like evolution and global warming, where big blocs of movement conservatives defy authority.

“I wish they’d defy cultural and judicial authority that energetically   I wish I could persuade those blocs that (a) biology is their friend, revealing that human nature is much more like what conservatives say, than like what liberals say, and (b) that the facts of global warming can be accepted without you having to sign on to grandiose globalist agendas to address the issue by taxing us all to death.” 

Getting back to the possible appeal of big government rightism, Dr. Gottfried says that he doesn’t “think limited, decentralized government could work any longer in this country, given the degree of centralization that has occurred in administrative management, the court system, the two national parties, and media indoctrination.

“The only possibility for an endrun by the Right may be to adopt the strategy of European populist parties like the Front National, combining welfare state measures with socially conservative stands. The light at the end of the tunnel is that the present leftist alliance of aggrieved minorities, public sector unions, and lifestile radicals and exhibitionists is inherently fragile and is likely to collapse from its own contradictions.

“Why would black and Latino nationalists want to take orders from a gay public sector employee or find continued common ground with a socially liberal Jewish stock broker?  The present leftist alliance will eventually pass. What is important is keeping the world sane until it does”.

This final note indirectly raises a very important question: What impact has political correctness had on the modern conservative movement?

“Poisonous,” Derbyshire states. “It has been the Cultural Marxists’ most brilliant strategy — a judo move, making key conservative virtues work against conservative group interests.

“Conservatives are nice people, well-mannered and well-socialized.  They hate to think they are giving offense; they hate to think that people see them as not-nice.

“To escape the trap, conservatives need to be meaner.  That goes against the grain, though.

“Conservatism needs more sociopaths.”

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