Paul Gottfried and John Derbyshire on today’s “conservative” movement


OCALA, Fla., February 19, 2014 — The American conservative movement can’t seem to figure out what it stands for.

In an age when mass technology has made the future not just now but yesterday, this is a very dangerous prospect. As modern liberals and progressives make ancestral appeals to ethnoracial minority groups, consensus rightists persecute anti-illegal immigration activists as “racist.” While the emerging leftist majority talks of income redistribution, establishment righties harp about criminalizing abortion.

At the same time as our nation’s position on the global stage inches out of the spotlight, a new generation of “conservative” politicos pander to left-wing communities about school vouchers. 

One might ask if such an inept movement deserves to win at all. Sometimes, its leading voices sabotage themselves with glee; always seeming ready for another try.

Two independent thinkers from the Old Right have much to say about what has happened.

Dr. Paul Gottfried is an outspoken paleoconservative intellectual. A recently retired professor at Elizabethtown College, his observations of the human condition have generated both accolades and animosity. Having befriended such figures as Richard Nixon and Herbert Marcuse, Gottfried’s views are not always easy to pin down. Perhaps the only constant is that he calls the shots as he sees them — with no apology.

“I think that the successful, professional WASPs, as opposed to most of the inhabitants of the Florida Panhandle (yes I’ve been there), are afflicted with both guilt about the supposedly bigoted past of their class and ethnicity and a suicidal desire to be liked by minorities, especially non-white ones,” says Gottfried.

“The male members of this group have the additional problem that their wives and kids are already saturated with PC and Cultural Marxist ideology, which the non-male WASPs have picked up from the media, Hollywood, and the largely state-run educational system. The desperate confusion of this class or group could be seen in the truly disastrous presidential campaign of Mitt Romney, a corporate executive who looked like a Mayflower descendant and was a shrewd businessman but who refused to lay a glove on the demagogic presidential incumbent.”

Considering that Anglo-Saxon Protestants traditionally ruled the conservative movement without question, there might be more to consider here than some would like to think.

Beyond the now-decrepit, if even existent, Anglo-Saxon establishment,  social issues function as a collective lightning rod for movement conservatives. Consequently, extreme and unelectable candidates often win primaries by campaigning on a very narrow platform. What sort of role does religion typically play here?

John Derbyshire has an answer.

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.

Such a development prompted extensive criticism, and for many highlighted the increasingly waffling nature of center-right institutions.

“If a candidate can connect with religious passions,” says Derbyshire, “he can bring out a big cohort of voters for a low-turnout primary.

“I think the real problem here is structural, though — to do with the primary system, and the way House district boundaries are drawn.  Solutions are easy to come up with — compulsory voting, perhaps, or mandated lower bounds on the convexity of districts (trickily mathematical, but can be done). Nobody seems much interested in correcting the structural flaws, though.”

Getting back to the WASP issue, Gottfried claims that “the declension of WASPdom can be dramatically seen in the history of the Bush family, which have been RINOs since the senatorial career of the grandfather of W and Jeb. Prescott Bush, who was our senator from Connecticut when I was a kid, stood well to the left of the Democrats on every social issue. He and his wife were leaders of Planned Parenthood and if they were alive today, would no doubt be strongly supporting Jeb.

“Jeb, who will probably take the place of Christie after the media have totally picked apart the NJ governor, is the ultimate WASP deadend. He is married to a very dark-skinned Latina, converted to her religion, favors what looks like total amnesty for illegals, and tried to come up with his own version of affirmative action for minorities while governor of [Florida]. I’m sure the party bosses have already begun to drool over Jeb, with whom they think they can reach out to someone or something.”

On the ever-important subject of abortion, why do so many conservatives continue to oppose a woman’s right to have one?

“Most American conservatives are devout Christians for whom the sanctity of innocent life is a core value,” Derbyshire says. “Fortifying that, a disproportionate number of conservative intellectual leaders are obedient Roman Catholics for whom the sanctity of innocent life is literally an article of faith.”

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  • DavidVick

    The “Old RIght” sinking into irrelevancy with its racism.