Wednesday, September 27, 2017

September 27, 2017

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

 The Pseudo-Conservatism of Ben Shapiro and the Unraveling of the “Conservative Movement


Recently, an acquaintance asked me if I had seen any of youngish “conservative” Ben Shapiro’s supposed “take down” of the Left at UC-Berkeley. I responded that “Ben Shapiro gives me indigestion!” Well, you could of heard a pin drop—the expression on my friend’s face was one of stunned amazement. “How do you figure that?” he exclaimed, half in wonderment, half in disbelief.  And my reply was that Shapiro was, and I will quote what I remember saying, “a self-important pseudo-conservative who believes he is brilliant and knows it all, but whose essential credo and eventual goals are parallel and symmetrical to those of his so-called leftist opponents.”

I didn’t have that much time to elaborate, but I did explain that Shapiro, like Guy Benson, Marc Thiessen, Jonah Goldberg, and others like them (who show up regularly on Fox) were second-generation (or even third-generation) “neoconservatives” whose staunch belief in egalitarianism, globalism, and “moderate feminism,” invalidated and negated most of the supposed “good” that they did in their shadow boxing with the far Left. I mentioned the case of Marc Thiessen, a speechwriter for former President George W. Bush, who had zealously supported the election of globalist, open borders candidate Emmanuel Macron in the recent French national elections because, he said, Macron’s opponent, Marine Le Pen, “represents a return to the old-fashioned right wing belief in nationalism and is a danger to world integration.”  

I mentioned Goldberg’s recent speech (televised by C-SPAN) to the Young America’s Foundation (supposedly “conservative” youth), fueled by his admission that he had just smoked some marijuana prior to giving it—a speech in which he criticized the “ultra-rightist, nationalist, and populist” beliefs of President Trump, and, huffily, stated that he and others like him wanted to “preserve Conservatism” from the influence of all those rednecky types out in rural West Virginia or in Alabama.

Shapiro was a rabid NeverTrumper all through 2016. In an (in)famous interview given to the leftist webzine,, on November 23 after the election —people like Shapiro always like to ingratiate themselves with influential Leftist bigwigs for “acceptance”—he let all his anti-Trump animus out. Most of the interview he spent bashing the “Alt-Right,” Steve Bannon, and anyone else advising Donald Trump to actually implement his American First agenda. 

The Alt-Right was his punching bag mostly. It, he declared,

“[Is] a group of thinkers who believe that Western civilization is inseparable from European ethnicity—which is racist, obviously. It’s people who believe that if Western civilization were to take in too many people of different colors and different ethnicities and different religions, then that would necessarily involve the interior collapse of Western civilization.”

And, he pronounced ex cathedra, that belief is “racist,” adding that that belief “has nothing to do with the Declaration of Independence,” which for Shapiro, like other Neocons, is a basic “charter of universal rights and universal equality applicable everywhere and for everyone.” America, you see, is some mystical and misty “idea,” a “proposition,” as if God Himself had come down and, like the Ten Commandments, inscribed it on a tablet and in the minds of the Founders.

Those “Alt-Right” folks, he continued, have made common cause with the “paleo-conservatives”—the older, “nativist” conservatives—“like Pat Buchanan and other folks of that ilk.”  And finally, he suggested: “More than anything, Trump is willing to pay heed to and wink at anybody who provides him even a shred of good coverage.”  That is, according to Shapiro, those “right wing extremists” who have been latching onto Trump:

“I don’t think that Trump [himself] is particularly racist. I think he’s an ignoramus. I think that more than anything, Trump is willing to pay heed to and wink at anybody who provides him even a shred of good coverage. So if the alt-right, which worships at the altar of Trump—if they provide him good coverage, he’s willing to wink and nod at them and not wreck them.”

Like the Republican “amnesty” crowd, now reappearing in not-so-obscured “open borders drag” with a new amnesty bill introduced by culture traitors Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC ) and James Lankford (R-Okla), Shapiro says certain things on occasion to appease his conservative viewers or the readers of his Daily Wire webzine, but his essential core is always moving Left. And his dislike and disdain for that “ruffian,” that “uncouth interloper” Trump who refuses to acknowledge the insufferably snooty and kleptocratic “conservative establishment” (of which he is a self-promoted part) and its “rules,” is never far from the surface.

Trump is—Shapiro is aghast—for Americans, that is, for native, tax paying citizens, mostly white, largely Southern, Mid-Western, and Western, you know, those folks who raise traditional families, who work sometimes ten hours a day and who attend traditional Christian churches and who are suspicious of foreigners, especially when they sneak into the country and take jobs away from citizens and dramatically alter our culture.

For him a rainbow America is the future and we should welcome it with open arms.

Again, from his interview, just to take Donald Trump down a peg or two and remind him and those who voted for him, he adds:

“…people are taking it like Trump won this big, broad victory; Trump lost the popular vote by over 1 million votes, and he won by very, very narrow margins in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida. And the fact is that when all is said and done, the groups that are growing demographically in the United States are minorities, women, young people—millennials will be 40 percent of the voting population in 2020. And so if you’re banking on this ever-shrinking group, the alt-right, in order to put you over the top, that seems like bad politics. It’s alienating politics; it’s not something that’s going to help.”

Lastly, he concludes:

“I understand why people are concerned about Trump being president; I’m concerned about Trump being president. I think that it’s up to everybody to hold him accountable. But if you’re asking what’s going to impact policy? As I said to Charles Blow on CNN…wait until he’s using the White House to do business for Trump Inc. Look at what his people want. And I’m not talking about the alt-right; the alt-right is going to back him no matter what. I’m talking about the traditional Republican voter who wants to see him do certain things. Watch where he commits a heresy....”

Another Neocon, Dana Perino, a true believing “Bushie” from the George W. days, likes to have Shapiro on her Fox News program. The other night Shapiro, while berating the president for his remarks on the NFL, wore his Yarmulke on the air; he likes to boast that he is the nation’s leading target for anti-semitic slurs, even citing the Anti-Defamation League’s dubious statistics that put him near the top.

Yet, what comes through each time I hear his cloyingly whiny voice is not so much his exaggerated persecution complex, but what an acute writer has called the voice of a “mini-con,” a “big Con(servative)” wannabe who has more or less figured out that he must climb the greasy ideological pole to “conservative movement” stardom, but still must compete with others—the Guy Bensons, the Thiessens, the pot-smoking Goldberg, and all those other second and third generation Neocons who are thrashing about in the weeds, seeking fame while ingratiating themselves at Washington and New York cocktail parties with their supposed opponents on the Left who will still control the narrative and most of the goodies of fame and fortune.

Like them he enjoys flaunting his vaunted “knowledge” and his debating skills. But he remains a “whiny-con.” In short, Ben Shapiro is—how shall I say it?—a turd.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

September 24, 2017

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

Professor Eugene Genovese’s Query to the Left: “What did you know, and when did you know it?” Should be Asked Again; Confederaphobia Volume is Published



For over twenty years I was associated with the old Southern Partisan magazine, writing for it beginning in 1983 and actually serving as a contributing editor/advisor for over a decade. The Partisan, based in Columbia, South Carolina, featured some truly remarkable writing by some truly remarkable writers. The late Russell Kirk, the actual founder of the old American Conservative Movement back in the 1950s; Andrew Lytle, the famous and prolific author and last of the noted Southern Regionalist writers; Reid Buckley, the novelist brother of William F. Buckley; Mel Bradford, the brilliant defender of the South and acute observer of constitutional history; and Eugene Genovese, perhaps the finest historian of the South in recent years—these and many others published their labors in the SP. It was, without doubt, a very significant voice for not only what is called “Southern Conservatism,” but for a tradition of American constitutionalism and history, explained and written about on the highest level.

The Southern Partisan finally came to an end about ten years ago. Like other such journals, internal disagreements and turmoil, and competition from the electronic media, were too much for it. Yet, during its more than two decades of scholarly but always accessible publishing, its collective output represented a legacy and inheritance of thought and culture that remain unsurpassed.

Other than a couple of early reviews, my first major assignment was a big interview I conducted with the late historian Eugene Genovese in 1985. “Gene” Genovese, the author of more than a dozen important books and hundreds of articles, was so significant in the study of Southern and American history and his views so non-conformist (by “modern” standards)—and so opposed to the current imposed multiculturalism that reigns supreme in most college faculties—that he was even attacked in an editorial in the Raleigh, NC, News & Observer. He had dared criticize the cultural Marxist (pro-Stalinist) historian, the iconic Eric Foner, in print. He had zeroed in on Foner’s defense—and the defense by other historians like him—of the barbarities and persecution inflicted by Communism on millions of peoples around the world.

You see, during his early professional life, Gene, like many other academics, had been a militating Communist and a member of the Communist Party. But he eventually broke with them and found his way back to the Christianity of his youth.  In his famous and strikingly disruptive essay, “The Question,” he demanded of Foner and others who not only did not break, but doubled down in defense of Communism: “What did you know, and when did you know it?” For Gene had learned of, knew of, and had seen what Communism had wrought—he knew of the more than 100 million dead and piled up bodies, the wrecked societies, the uprooted traditions, the bitter illusions and dashed hopes, the Gulags and concentration camps, the subversion and destruction of a myriad of institutions not just behind the Iron Curtain, but in Europe and America. Gene had witnessed the false god that failed and the gruesome harvest that followed in its wake. And Foner and the other philo-Communists knew too… but turned resolutely away from the light of truth, and, instead, sought solace in the lies of Marxist Revolution—a revolution against both God AND man.

And as Soviet Communism disintegrated in Eastern Europe and the Berlin Wall came down with the defenestration of the doddering old oligarchs of Red Square, Gene also viewed the rapid growth of Marxism’s (or, better stated, Leon Trotsky’s) infectious modern bastard child, cultural Marxism, and the ravages it was inflicting on the supposedly “victorious” West. He witnessed first-hand the increasing devastation of our universities and system of education; the ideological rot festering in Hollywood and in our entertainment industry; and, most egregiously, the seemingly unstoppable decay of our culture. As he wrote to me a few years before his death in 2012: “Soviet Communism died a miserable death in Russia and Eastern Europe, revealed there as a brutal failure, but its bastard step-son survives and thrives here in the United States. How ironic to see this!”

Through his very close friendship with the late Professor Mel Bradford, Genovese, who was fascinated by the South, also came to love it profoundly. He was not afraid to appear in pages of the Southern Partisan or to be associated with its writers, always attempting to set the historical record straight. In many ways, his legacy has been carried forward by historians and writers like Clyde Wilson, Marshall De Rosa, Brion McClanahan, Paul C. Graham, and James Kibler, who continue to battle against the giant and imposing ideological windmills of our dominant culture and the new take-no-prisoners totalitarianism of Leftist academia.

The question I would add to Gene’s set of magnificent queries is this: When will our intellectually bankrupt politicians and propagandists, when will a Governor Roy Cooper or a former Governor Nikki Haley, or a Senator Tim Kaine, of this world understand what a brilliant once-diehard Communist finally saw and understood? Or is their intellectual blindness to the fatal corruption and contagion so strong that that they will die, equally miserably, in a pit of putrid moral vomit?

Today, then, I reproduce portions of Gene’s famous and provocative essay, “The Question,” which first appeared in the leftist journal, Dissent, back in 1994, addressed to his erstwhile “comrades” on the Left.  Much of his brilliant written text and many of his questions chillingly apply with burning urgency to the “all-consuming fire” of the militant and seemingly successful cultural Marxism of 2017, a Marxism which bids fair to devastate entirely what is left of our historic Western Christian culture—a culture, indeed, that Gene Genovese came back to love and treasure after years in a secularized Progressivist wasteland.

And, secondly, I append information on a newly-published and highly recommended book by our friend, Paul C. Graham. Its title is: Confederaphobia: An American Epidemic, and it explores in revelatory detail what seems to be the last “acceptable prejudice and hatred” that Americans are permitted, even encouraged, to have: against the South, and especially against the “burden” of Southern history.  Paul Graham is a capable scholar and a fine writer. More details about his book, and how to order it are included. I warmly recommend it!


From “The Question,” Dissent, Summer, 1994:

Am I crazy to think that if we do not understand why and how we [Marxists]did what we did, we shall certainly end by doing it again—and again? Crazy I may be, but I try not to be a fool.  And only a fool would trust those who are now playing possum with even a modicum of political power.

What did we know, and when did we know it? We knew everything essential and knew it from the beginning. This short answer will doubtless be hotly contested by the substantial number of leftwingers now ensconced in the academic establishment. I can hear them now: "Where does Genovese get off speaking for us? Yes, he himself always knew. He never even had the decency to pretend not to know. He thereby proved himself the cad we have always known him to be. But we ourselves never even imagined that we were hearing anything more than the usual stories circulated by imperialists and reactionaries. Honest." I am prepared to accept those pleas of innocence, and I hope that everyone else exercises Christian charity and accepts them too. But I do worry about where pleas of innocence will land those who offer them.

It occurs to me that it would be much safer to admit complicity. For Americans who honor the spirit and content of the Constitution would feel compelled to defend our academic freedom, including our right to have borne with equanimity the blood purges and mass executions. If, however, our innocents insist upon pleading ignorance rather than a complicity permitted by the Constitution, they ruin themselves. Especially the historians among them. For they thereby admit to a willful refusal to examine the evidence that had been piled high from the beginning. Thus they confess to professional incompetence. I counsel against such a plea, for it would constitute grounds for revocation of tenure. Safer to plead nolo contendere. When someone gets around to asking me The Question I shall answer frankly, explaining as best I can my reasons for having gone along. But I shall insist upon doing so in a forum in which "democratic socialists," "radical democrats," and liberals are called upon to answer too.

For it is our collective dirty linen that has to be washed. And besides, our right-wing adversaries already know the answer, even if they have no few hard questions to answer themselves.

For the moment I shall settle for a few topic sentences. The horrors did not arise from perversions of radical ideology but from the ideology itself. We were led into complicity with mass murder and the desecration of our professed ideals not by Stalinist or other corruptions of high ideals, much less by unfortunate twists in some presumably objective course of historical development, but by a deep flaw in our very understanding of human nature—its frailty and its possibilities—and by our inability to replace the moral and ethical baseline long provided by the religion we have dismissed with indifference, not to say contempt[….]

Our whole project of "human liberation" has rested on a series of gigantic illusions. The catastrophic consequences of our failure during this century—not merely the body count but the monotonous recurrence of despotism and wanton cruelty—cannot be dismissed as aberrations. Slimmed down to a technologically appropriate scale, they have followed in the wake of victories by radical egalitarian movements throughout history. We have yet to answer our right-wing critics' claims, which are regrettably well documented, that throughout history, from ancient times to the peasant wars of the sixteenth century to the Reign of Terror and beyond, social movements that have espoused radical egalitarianism and participatory democracy have begun with mass murder and ended in despotism.

[…]The allegedly high ideals we placed at the center of our ideology and politics are precisely what need to be reexamined, but they can no longer even be made a subject for discussion in the mass media and our universities, to say nothing of the left itself. They are givens: an unattainable equality of condition; a radical democracy that has always ended in the tyranny it is supposed to overcome; a celebration of human goodness or malleability, accompanied by the daily announcement of newly discovered "inalienable rights" to personal self-expression; destruction of all hierarchy and elites, as if ideological repudiation has ever prevented or ever could prevent the formation and reformation of hierarchies and elites; condemnation of "illegitimate" authority in the absence of any notion of what might constitute legitimate authority; and, at the root of all, a thorough secularization of society, bolstered by the monstrous lie that the constitutional separation of church and state was meant to separate religion from society.

And we have yet to reassess the anti-Americanism—the self-hatred implicit in the attitude we have generally affected toward our country—that has led us into countless stupidities and worse. Let us give ourselves some credit: through it all we have preserved a rich sense of humor. The destruction of hierarchies, elites, and authority is to be effected through the concentration of power in a Leviathan state miraculously free of all such reactionary encumbrances.

No wonder liberals are ready to absolve us from our sins without first hearing our confession. No wonder we are witnessing the virtual fusion of left-liberalism and revolutionary radicalism in the wake of the collapse of the socialist countries. For most left-wing liberals share with radicals much the same ideology of personal liberation.

Radicals and conservatives alike have always charged liberals with bad faith in refusing to carry out the logic of their own egalitarian and radical-democratic premises. They have been right about the refusal but not necessarily about the bad faith. There are more charitable explanations, including a healthy gut revulsion by humane liberals against the substitution of logical consistency for common decency and common sense.
I have been piling up assertions and may be wrong on all counts. But am I wrong in believing that unless the left reopens these fundamental questions it will have no future and deserve none? The deepest trouble with "political correctness" arises from its thinly disguised invitation to an endless repetition of crimes, atrocities, and, worst of all, failures. Yes, worst of all the failures. For the deepening horror that Black America faces, to speak of no other impending horror, cannot be arrested by a morally bankrupt movement with an appalling record of political and economic failure, no matter how many pyrrhic victories it piles up on deranged and degraded college campuses….

NEW BOOK! CONFEDERAPHOBIA: An American Epidemic - Hot off the Press!
As the cultural cleansing of all-things-Southern continues to rage on in the land of the free and the home of the brave, we are pleased to announce the release of our 19th book:  Confederaphobia: An American Epidemic by Paul C. Graham.

There is an epidemic of hate and fear sweeping the land; a wave of hostility and intolerance that shows no sign of slowing or stopping; its fury is directed at Southern symbols—flags, monuments, and other displays—in fact everything Southern now appears to be a target. Paul C. Graham has courageously examined this case of mass hysteria; a condition he has aptly dubbed “Confederaphobia.”

“It’s one thing,” writes Graham, “to acknowledge that the meaning of symbols is one of perspective. It’s quite another thing to have the meaning dictated by ideologues who are not participants in the cultural tradition . . . .  Southern symbols mean to the Southerner exactly what they say that they do . . .speak for those people for whom Southern identity is a living reality.”

Southern people are growing weary of the ongoing demonization; of being bullied and harassed; and have begun to realize that Confederaphobia is not a matter of monuments, but a campaign to expunge their identity. If you are a self-identified Southerner, you are a potential target!

It’s not too late to inoculate yourself from the dangerous effects of this disease, but this is only possible if you recognize the problem. The problem is not Confederate flags, monuments, markers, belt-buckles, stickers, do-dads, knick-knacks, what-nots, or Dukes of Hazzard re-runs—the problem is Confederaphobia!

How to Get Yours
Confederaphobia is now available at
Subscribers (this means you) can receive a 33% discount if they purchase their copy through Amazon's CreateSpace by using the following code: HWR87CCX.
A downloadable edition is available directly from our web site at a reduced price, or may be purchased directly from all major online outlets (Kindle, Apple, Nook, etc.) by following THIS LINK.

Friday, September 22, 2017

September 22, 2017

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

American Exceptionalism and the Great Brain Robbery of Conservatism



I return today to a fundamental consideration that underlies much, if not all, of the commentary I’ve written over the past few years. It concerns the very creation, history, and essential characteristics of the American republic—and the implicit attempt to offer a clearer and more genuine and accurate understanding of who we are as a people and who we have been, not just since the American Founding and the Framing of our Constitution, but dating back to the first settlers on these shores (and most of those since then), and, indeed, to an understanding of the traditions and inheritance, and the hopes and dreams, that they brought with them.

Throughout this series I have been extremely critical of those supposed “conservatives” who are denominated “Neoconservatives,” and over time, I have attempted to offer bits and pieces of a definition or definitions that could be applied to them, in contradistinction to those of an older tradition with deeper roots in this country historically whom I have labeled (true) “traditional conservatives.”

In this I have not been that original, but rather I have used a long list of writers and historians, including the late Richard Weaver, Russell Kirk and Mel Bradford, and more recently, Dr. Paul Gottfried and Gary Dorrien—plus my own up close experience in witnessing what I term “the great brain robbery of the American conservative movement.”  That is, what can only be described as an infiltration, subversion, and, ultimately, perversion of an older American “conservatism” and pattern of thinking by what, again for lack of better words, must be called “leftist refugees” from a globalist Trotskyite form of Marxism, largely but by no means completely Jewish in origin.

Shocked and horrified by the recrudescence of Stalinist anti-semitism in the post-World War II period and disillusioned by the abject economic failures of Stalinism and Communism during the 1960s and 1970s, these “pilgrims from the Communist Left” moved to the Right and a forthright anti-Communism. Notable among their number were such personages as Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol, both of whom had sons who figure prominently amongst the current Neocon intellectual establishment.

At first welcomed by an older generation of conservatives, and invited to write for conservative publications and participate in a panoply of conservative activities, they soon began to occupy positions of leadership and importance—and most significantly, to transform and modify historic views associated with conservatism to mirror their own vision. For, in fact, even though shell-shocked by the effects of Soviet Communism, yet they brought with them in their pilgrimage an overarching framework and an essential world view that owed much to their previous militancy on the extreme left. And they brought, also, their relentless zeal.

Often well-connected financially, with deep pockets and the “correct” friends in high places, within a few years the “Neocons” had pretty much captured and taken control of most of the major “conservative” organs of opinion, journals, think tanks, and, significantly, exercised tremendous influence politically in the Republican Party (and to some degree within the Democratic Party, at least during the presidency of Bill Clinton).

This transformation—this infiltration and subversion—within conservative ranks, so to speak, did not go unopposed. Indeed, no less than the “father” of the conservative intellectual movement of the 1950s, Russell Kirk, denounced publicly the Neocons in the early 1980s, as essentially “unpatriotic,” that is, placing their zealously globalist “values” of equality and liberal democracy ahead of their allegiance to their country, or, rather, converting their allegiance to their country into a kind of “world faith” which trumpeted disconnected “ideas” and airy “propositions” over the concrete history of the American experience, itself.

The late Mel Bradford, arguably the finest historian and philosopher produced by the South since Richard Weaver, also warned, very presciently in the pages of the Modern Age quarterly (in the Winter issue, 1976) of the incompatibility of the Neocon vision with the inherited traditions and republican constitutionalism of the Framers. In his long essay, “The Heresy of Equality,” [] which was just one installment in a longstanding debate he had with Dr. Harry Jaffa of the Claremont Institute, Bradford laid bare the abundant intentions of those who came together to form an American nation, while giving the lie to the Neocon narrative that the republic was founded on universalized notions—those “ideas”—of equality and liberal democracy. Those notions, he pointed out perceptively, were a hangover from their days and immersion in the globalist universalism that owed its origin to Marx and Trotsky, and to the Rationalist “philosophes” of the 18th century, rather than to the legacy of kinship and blood, an attachment to community and to the land, and a central religious core that annealed this tradition and continued to make it viable.

What Bradford revealed in his researches (ultimately distilled in his superb study, Original Intentions) and later confirmed overwhelmingly in the massive work of Colgate University historian Barry Alan Shain [The Declaration of Independence in Historical Context: American State Papers, Petitions, Proclamations, and Letters of the Delegates to the First National Congresses, 2014] was that our old republic was not founded on abstractions about “equality” or “democracy,” or some fanatical zeal to “impose [our] democracy and equality” on the rest of the world, or that we were “the model for the rest of the world,” to paraphrase the Neocon writer, Allan Bloom.  America in 1776 and in 1787, and long before those dates, was a  patch work quilt of communities of families, most of whom had made the voyage to the “new world” to find land and new opportunities to succeed, but had done  so communally, bringing with them their customs, traditions, and religious faith in tact to these shores. Farthest from their minds were abstract ideas about “making the world safe for democracy.” Indeed, although certainly defensive about their own familial liberties, most of them would have scorned and did scorn the modern conceptions of “democracy” and “freedom” so often peddled by far too many modern “conservative” pundits and authors.

Richard Weaver aptly described the civilization that came to be created in America, even a century before the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, as one based on a “communal individualism.” By that he meant that those transferred communities from Europe brought with them a communal conformity which offered certain enumerated liberties to each of its members, or at least to the heads of households of families within those communities. There was a degree of autarky that existed; but in many respects those little communities brought with them inherited mores and beliefs that they had held in the old country, and those beliefs were based essentially in ties of blood and attachments to the soil, to the land.

Let me give a personal, and I think representative example: my father’s family is of Scottish origin. Actually, after leaving ancestral homes Counties Argyll and Ayrshire, then passing  about forty years in County Antrim in Ulster, they made the voyage to Philadelphia, arriving in 1716-1717, and settled initially in what is now Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (as deeds show). Their object was cheap and good land on which to raise their families; they were already able to practice their faith in County Antrim, just as they were able to do in Lancaster. And the same “liberties” they had in the old country they also had in Pennsylvania.

Seeking newer and fresh lands, whole families picked up in the later 1730s and made the trip southward along the Great  Wagon Road to Augusta County, Virginia, and then, by the 1740s to Rowan County, North Carolina. And what is truly fascinating is that from Scotland (in the early 1600s) to Ulster, to Pennsylvania, to Rowan County, North Carolina, it is the very same families in community, the very same surnames and forenames that one finds in the deed and estate records. Robert W. Ramsey, in his path breaking study, Carolina Cradle: Settlement of the Northwest Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762, platted the land grants of those pioneers in Rowan County, and over 90% of the family names are the same as those we find in Ulster a century and a half earlier and in the parish registry books of Scotland before that.

And perhaps more striking is that this pattern continued on for another century and more; collateral members of my father’s family made the trek to California in 1848-1849, enticed by promises of gold and new, unploughed lands. There in a community still known as “Catheys Valley” (near Yosemite Park) where they settled, and as late as the 1950s, the same old names in the telephone directory still predominated.

But not only do we find the geographical movement of entire families and communities, in the existent correspondence that we do have there is, almost without exception, no word about traveling west or crossng the ocean to seek “freedom” or “equality” or to “create a new nation founded on [globalist and egalitarian] principles.” Our ancestors were not seeking to “create a new people,” but rather to preserve and enhance the old. When those settlers wrote about their experiences, if at all, it was about their respective families and communities having a better life, about cheaper and virgin farm lands, and about conserving the inheritance and traditions they took with them.  In other words, the 18th century philosophy of Rationalism, and the ideas of “equality” and “democracy” that we are too inclined to attribute to them, don’t really appear on nearly any level.

And this, at base, practical and communal individualism is reflected in the deliberations preceding the Declaration and then, even more so, by the Framers in 1787—as both Bradford and Shain have convincingly shown. The documentary evidence in every form confirms that. The “right to equality” enshrined in the Declaration is an “equality” viewed from the Colonies across the Atlantic to the English Parliament, to the “rights of Englishmen,” not to social or economic revolution in the former colonies.

Those deliberations in Philadelphia were the product of a community of states, each with their own peculiarities, their own communities of families, with traditions inherited from Christian Europe (largely from the British Isles), and the desire to both preserve that inheritance while co-existing and collaborating with other communities and states in the creation of the American republic, where those traditions and that inheritance would be protected and respected, and could prosper as its families and communities prospered.

Thus, given this history and this context, both the War Between the States and subsequent American history after that conflict, and with the modern displacement by the Neocons of the traditional conservatives and their opposition to the growth in government and to the destruction of those bonds and traditions that characterized the country for centuries, the results we observe around us do not augur well for the future. While the hard core cultural and political Marxist Left continues its rampage through our remaining inherited institutions, those self-erected Neocon defenders accept at least implicitly, many of the same philosophical premises, the intellectual framework of argument, and the long range objectives of their supposed opponents.

Ironically, although they may appear at times in major disagreement, both the hard core and multicultural Left and the Neocon “Right” share a commitment to a globalist belief in an American “exceptionalism.” In explaining this “exceptionalism,” they use the same language—about “equality” and “democracy” and “human rights” and “freedom,” its uniqueness to the United States, and the desirability to export its benefits. But, then, the proponents of the dominant Left and of the establishment Neocon Right will appear variously on Fox or on MSNBC, or in the pages of National Review or of The New Republic, to furiously deny the meaning given by their opponents…but all the time using the same linguistic template and positing goals—in civil rights, foreign policy, etc.—which seem remarkably similar, but over which they argue incessantly about the “means.”

Thus, for instance, in their zealous defense of the “civil rights” legislation of the 1960s and their advocacy of what they term “moderate feminism” and “equal rights for women” (now extended to same sex marriage), the Neocons mirror the ongoing revolution from the Left and accept generally its overarching premises, even while declaring to anyone foolish enough to listen, their fealty to historic American traditions and historic Western Christianity.  

It is a defense—if we can call it that—that leads to continuous surrender, if not betrayal, to the Revolution and the subsequent acceptance by those defenders of the latest conquest and advance by the Left, and their subsequent attempt to justify and rationalize to the rest of us why the most recent aberration—same sex marriage, or “gender fluidity”—is  actually conservative. Or, that it is critically necessary to send American boys to die in the jungles of Lower Slobovia to “establish democracy,” that is, prevent one group of bloodthirsty fanatical Muslims from killing off another group of bloodthirsty fanatical Muslims—this latter group, of course, willing to do our bidding economically and politically. And all in the name of spreading—mostly we should say imposing—global “equality” and “freedom” and the “fruits of American exceptionalism.”

Neither the leftist Marxist multiculturalists nor the Neoconservatives reflect the genuine beliefs or inheritance left to us by the Framers and those who came to these shores centuries ago. They offer the spectacle of factions fighting over the increasingly putrid spoils of a once great nation which becomes increasingly weaker and more infected as they assume the roles similar to that of gaming Centurions at the Crucifixion.

The election of Trump threw them off stride, both the cultural Left but also the establishment (neo) conservatives, and the history of the past ten months has been a continuous sequence of their efforts to either displace the new administration (by the hard Left and some Never Trumpers) or surround the president and convert him, or at least neuter his “blood and soil,” America First inclinations (by many of the establishment Neocon and their GOP minions).

Who wins this battle, who wins this war, will determine the future of this nation and whether the dominant Deep State narrative, shared by both the establishment Left AND the establishment conservatives, will complete its triumph.

Today, then, an essays by Dr. Jack Kerwick in which he analyzes and picks apart logically the widely used template of “American exceptionalism” as used by the Neocon Right, but also, in some ways, by the Left.  

Dr. Boyd D. Cathey

American Exceptionalism Considered—and Rejected

By Jack Kerwick  September 20, 2017

Since the crushing, truly humiliating defeat that it suffered with the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency, neoconservatism, at least temporarily, experienced a dramatic reversal of fortunes.

It isn’t, of course, that neoconservatives have gone away; and it certainly isn’t the case that they have lost power and influence in any substantive—as opposed to symbolic—respect.  Still, the sort of standard GOP/neocon agitprop that prevailed during the George W. Bush days, and even into the Obama era, has been less audible in the Age of Trump.

We should not, however, be misled by this into thinking that some of the distinguishing ideas of neoconservatism don’t continue to inform American domestic and, especially, foreign policy. In fact, there is a real sense in which some of these ideas inform the contemporary cultural consciousness.

Within the ideological solar system that is the neoconservative view, there is one idea specifically that is arguably the sun around which all of the others revolve. This is the idea that America itself is an idea—or what is otherwise known as the doctrine of “American Exceptionalism” (AE).

AE Considered

What can it mean to say that America (or anything) is an idea or concept or “proposition?”  An idea is an intangible or incorporeal sort of thing.  Ideas, in other words, are without bodies, nonphysical.  They are without borders.  In principle, then, any given idea can be discovered and, hence, endorsed by anyone, irrespectively of culture or history.  One may become consciously aware of an idea at a specific juncture and courtesy of culturally and historically-specific circumstances; but the idea itself, considered as an idea, needn’t owe anything to the contingencies of space and time.

An idea, inasmuch as it is thought to transcend all civilizational differences, is universal.

That the proponents of AE think of America the Idea in just this way is borne out by their insistence that anyone can become an American. We receive confirmation of this as well whenever the members of Respectable Society, both “liberal” and “conservative,” talk about immigration, whether legal or illegal: Although it is only ever recognizable leftists who use the term “undocumented” to describe illegal immigrants, those on the official right implicitly endorse the idea behind this term when they too speak as if the only meaningful difference between immigrants and American citizens is that the former haven’t yet satisfied the formal or legal criteria for American citizenship.

To put it another way, as long as a person affirms America as Idea, then regardless of where that person resides, that person is an American.

When George W. Bush says that “family values” don’t end at the Rio Grande, or Barack H. Obama tells us that foreign immigrants and refugees differ from Americans only inasmuch as they were born elsewhere, they are telling us that America is, ultimately, borderless, for it is an Idea or Creed that, as such, can be embraced by anyone anywhere.  Borders are arbitrary lines on a map, symbolic and capricious walls, and the requirements for official or legal citizenship are so many bureaucratic hurdles.

America the Idea is, essentially, the ideal of what neoconservatives and those further to their left call “Liberal Democracy.”  It is the idea of a Universal Regime of Equality, a Democracy under which the “human rights” of all find protection.  The champions of AE maintain that the territorial expanse that the world recognizes as the United States of America is Liberal Democracy in the flesh.

To put it another way, just as Plato believed that the particular, temporal instances of imperfect justice, truth, beauty, and goodness that we find in our world are but shadows or reflections of eternal, universal archetypes—Justice, Truth, Beauty, and Goodness—so too do the proponents of AE regard the geographical and historical entity of America as but a shadowy imitation of the real America, the Idea of a Universal Nation.

Implications & Criticisms of AE

Ahistorical Fiction

First, AE is as ahistorical a fiction as any of which Western political philosophy is littered. This being said, we must resist the temptation to place it alongside such other political-moral fictions as the State of Nature, the Classless Society, the Original Position, and Plato’s perfect Republic, for unlike the merchants of these imaginary devices, the peddlers of AE indicate not the slightest awareness that their doctrine of choice is an ideal, a thought experiment, a theoretical construct.

AE’s handlers are true believers—or at least they sound as if they are.

Rationalization for the Universal Empire

Second, AE is ahistorical, but it is a fiction the political and ideological benefits of which seem to be bottomless.

To put it bluntly, if one is in search of an intellectual rationalization for the Universal Empire, one needn’t look any further than AE. Being an abstraction, America as Idea is utterly devoid of every vestige of historical contingency.  Emptied of all of those racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural particularities, the individual and collective experiences of the generations of human beings who made America what it is, AE is bloodless, lifeless, an eternal, timeless category that is designed to accommodate a virtually infinite number of pieces of machinery (human beings)—as long, of course, as those pieces are either indistinguishable from one another or at least treated as if they are such.

Thus, we find American Exceptionalists enthusiastically supporting relentless and potentially limitless immigration from practically anywhere and everywhere in the world, but mostly from countries and cultures whose mores, histories, and traditions are often not only distinct from, but antagonistic toward, those of Americans.

Yet at one and the same moment, American Exceptionalists swear to us that America, being the Liberal Democracy par excellence, must make war, or threats of war, so as to make the rest of the planet safe for Liberal Democracy, for Equality, for Human Rights.

So, since Americans are constantly in danger of being destroyed by non-Americans who despise “our values” (Liberal Democracy), we must make sure that the threat of American force is omnipresent.  However, in the meantime, we need to continue to allow into the United States millions of non-Americans, often from these very same lands that American Exceptionalists assure us pose an existential threat to it.

AE squares this circle.

Learned scholars, like my friend and esteemed scholar, Paul Gottfried, have long argued that contemporary America (along with other Western societies) are presided over by regimes that are best characterized as “administrative/managerial” States.  This characterization is true as far as it goes.  However, in light of the centrality with which AE figures in our political universe, it is most apt, I believe, to see the first role of the American government as that of Educator.  More specifically, it has assumed the persona of a Trainer.

As the philosopher Michael Oakeshott was quick to note, between a genuine education and a training there is all of the difference.  An educator seeks to teach his students how to think—regardless of what it is they choose for themselves to think about.  A trainer, a seminar instructor, in dramatic contrast, is essentially concerned with teaching his students what to think.  And because he wants to make it stick, because training requires far less time than an education, the content of the training must consist of propositions, statements that are explicit and that, therefore, can be seared into memory.

The doctrine of AE, the doctrine that America is an Idea, a Proposition of Equality or Human Rights that anyone can affirm, delivers in spades:

Those foreigners who want to destroy us, who “hate us for our freedoms,” differ from those foreigners who continue to pour into our country insofar as the latter have endorsed AE while the former have repudiated it.  Immigrants, even illegal immigrants, are enlightened and, thus, good Americans.  Those non-Americans who detest us haven’t yet been instructed in the Truth.  Like Socrates, the supporters of AE think that evil (or evil as they understand it) must be a function of ignorance.

According to the logic of AE, America is the Great Teacher.   Actually, given that it is only content that can be learned by rote that she is interested in imparting to her students, America here is the Great Correspondence School: After she has scrubbed the minds of her subjects clean, making of them blank slates, America seeks to drill a small handful of propositions into the minds of the Uninitiated.

Against Patriotism

Third, the champions of AE have been remarkably successful in convincing Americans, particularly self-described “conservatives,” that the affirmation of AE is nothing more or less than the expression of patriotism.  Yet not only is a commitment to the ideology of AE and a commitment to America two different sorts of commitments; they are mutually incompatible.

Alasdair MacIntyre, a Catholic philosopher of the Aristotelian-Thomist persuasion and a proponent of patriotism makes the point.  He observes that insofar as the patriot has “a peculiar regard…for the particular characteristics and merits and achievements of” his nation because they are his nation, “the particularity” of the patriot’s relationship to his country is “essential and ineliminable.” The patriot’s morality is “a morality of particularist ties and solidarities,” of “a class of loyalty-exhibiting virtues” like “marital fidelity, the love of one’s own family and kin, friendship, and loyalty to such institutions as schools and cricket or baseball clubs.” The morality of patriotism demands of the patriot “a peculiar devotion” to his country.  It demands that he “regard such contingent social facts as where I was born and what government ruled over that place at that time, who my parents were, who my great-great-grandparents were, and so on, as deciding for me the question of what virtuous action is [.]”

AE, in glaring contradistinction, is a species of what MacIntyre calls “liberal morality,” an outlook that demands of moral agents that they abstract “from all social particularity and partiality” in rendering “impersonal” judgments.  Yet “liberal morality” is not only “systematically incompatible” with viewing patriotism as a virtue, it actually “requires that patriotism—at least in any substantial version—be treated as a vice.”

AE is a species of “liberal morality:” America the Idea has no history, no particular culture, religion, ethnicity, or nationality in which to ground it.  AE, comprised as it is of abstract propositions, is a universal creed.  Affirmation of its principles requires an attitude of, not partiality, but impartiality.

As eminent neoconservative Allan Bloom expressly acknowledged, given the neocon’s vision of America as Idea, “patriotism” must be reconfigured accordingly.  Whereas traditional societies instilled in its members “an instinctive, unqualified, even fanatic patriotism,” education in the United States has been geared toward inspiring in its citizens a “reflected, rational, calm, even self-interested loyalty [.]” Yet this loyalty is not to the country as such, but to its “form of government and its rational principles [.]”

From this moral perspective, “Class, race, religion, national origin or culture all disappear or become dim when bathed in the light of natural rights, which give men common interests and make them truly brothers.”

Notice, from this vantage point, it is abstract principles and “the form” of government that exists in America that become proper objects of the patriot’s devotion.  This form of government is the “Enlightenment” ideal of…“liberal democracy.”  “There is practically no contemporary regime that is not somehow a result of Enlightenment, and the best of modern regimes—liberal democracy—is entirely its product.”

Liberal democracy is “the regime of equality and liberty, of the rights of man,” and “the regime of reason,” and America is its epitome in that it is the first country in all of human history to have been founded upon “rational principles.

Irving Kristol, “the godfather” of neoconservatism, identifies “the equality of natural rights” enshrined in the Declaration of Independence as “the principles of” America’s “establishment,” the principles of “the universal creed” upon which the nation is “based.” The United States, then, is “a creedal nation” with a “‘civilizing mission’” to promote “American values” throughout the world, to see to it “that other governments respect our conception of individual rights as the foundation of a just regime and a good society.”

Kristol is unambiguous in his profession of the American faith: the United States, given its status as a “great power” and its “ideological” nature, does indeed have a responsibility “in those places and at those times where conditions permit” it “to flourish” to “‘make the world safe for democracy.”

However, from the standpoint of “liberal morality,” patriotism has been decried as a vice.

Take, for example, David McCabe, a contemporary philosopher and champion of “liberal morality.”  McCabe unabashedly declares that “liberal morality” is “fundamentally at odds” with patriotism, for the latter “may help tempt people away from the appropriate claims of equal moral treatment and towards something resembling group egoism.”

Paul Gomberg is another philosopher and proponent of “liberal morality.”  He is even more to the point in remarking that “on the most plausible assumptions about our world, patriotism is no better than racism.”  After all, Gomberg explains, “moral universalism implies that actions are to be governed by principles that give equal consideration to all people who might be affected by an action.” But patriotism is “a preference for one’s fellow nationals or for one’s own traditions and institutions over those of others,” and this in turn sounds dangerously like “ethnic and national chauvinism.”

The American patriot, whatever else he may be, most definitely cannot be an American Exceptionalist.

Against Christianity

Finally, as we have seen, AE is every bit as much an expression of dogma as is the Nicene Creed.  This consideration alone should suffice to deter the traditionally religious from embracing it. Traditional Christians especially should scorn it.

AE is, in a very real sense, blasphemous.  It is unthinkable that the doctrine of AE could have emerged in any cultural context other than that in which it in fact did emerge, the context of a civilization that was once known as Christendom and that, even if largely unbeknownst to itself, continues to depend upon its Christian inheritance for much of its self-understanding.

AE presupposes the framework of the Incarnation.  This framework has its roots in Judaism, but it assumed center stage with the advent of Christianity.  The Jews maintained that God became embodied or “incarnate” in the Temple.

Christians, though, believe that God did indeed become incarnate in the Temple, yet they think that this Temple, a Temple not made by human hands, is the Person of Christ.  God became a human person in Jesus of Nazareth.  This is the uniquely Christian doctrine of the Incarnation.

American Exceptionalists preserve this Christian doctrine—but without the Christos.  They divest the Incarnation of the God-Man while substituting for the latter the country of America, which is now the incarnation of the ideal of Liberal Democracy.  Or, to put it another way, America-as-Idea (Liberal Democracy) assumes flesh or becomes embodied, or most fully embodied, in the admittedly imperfect and finite concrete, historical country that the world knows as America.

Being pseudo-Christianity, this drivel must be rejected by all Christians—and, hopefully, by everyone else as well.


As I shown here, it is exactly because it is an ahistorical fantasy that the doctrine of American Exceptionalism serves as the perfect justification for the Universal Empire that its peddlers want for the United States to be.  In addition, its packaging easily lulls the unsuspecting into thinking that it is compatible with America’s traditional Christian faith and demanded by love for America. In reality, though, AE is at odds with true patriotism and a perversion of Christian orthodoxy.

Jack Kerwick [send him mail] received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His area of specialization is ethics and political philosophy. He is a professor of philosophy at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jack blogs at At the Intersection of Faith & Culture.

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