Tuesday, May 7, 2024

                                               May 7, 2024



MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey






The recent controversy over the Israeli incursion into the Gaza strip has also revealed some deep fissures within the Conservative Movement. For despite the massive support for the Israeli invasion from both establishment Democrats and Republicans, there have been cautionary voices raised on the Right, in particular, by significant journalists such as Tucker Carlson (via his popular podcast) and Candace Owens (in her dispute with Ben Shapiro over her use of the phrase “Christ is King,” deemed by Shapiro to be antisemitic).

To understand the essentials and issues involved it is necessary to understand the significant role and the complex history of the movement labeled “neoconservatism” as an intellectual determinant in contemporary America, with its roots in Marxism and in a secularized reimagining of Zionist-inflected universalism. And to do this we must return to its origins and the aggravated differences between developing ideological factions within Communism in Russia after the death in 1924 of Vladimir Lenin, and the resulting political struggle between the two major leaders who emerged, Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky.

Trotsky, a secularized Jew, advanced a Marxist-Leninist position that would stress global proletarian revolution and a dictatorship of the proletariat based on working class self-emancipation, and a form of universal mass (workers’) democracy to be accomplished by bloody revolution. Unlike the Stalinist position which posited the establishment of “socialism in one country” as a prerequisite for furthering the socialist cause elsewhere, Trotsky advanced the theory of “permanent global revolution” among the working class leading to a kind of eventual Parousia, a global paradise which would extirpate not only capitalism but all the inherited remnants of the historic and Christian past.

Differences within the branches of Marxism and Communism, between devotees of Trotsky’s approach and the more insular Stalinism, existed equally in the United States, despite the seeming unity on the Left in support of the war effort after the attack of Germany on the Soviet Union in 1941.  The friction never subsided.

The final breaking point for many of those Marxists who would within a few decades gain a foothold in the American conservative movement probably came with the rise of antisemitism under Stalin immediately before and after World War II in Russia (e.g., the infamous “doctors’ plot” and the Stalinist purges of Communist intelligentsia, some of whom were Jewish).  Horrified and disillusioned by what they considered to be the perversion of the socialist revolution, these “pilgrims from the Communist Left”—who were largely Jewish in origin—moved toward an explicit anti-Communism. Notable among them were Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol, both of whom had sons who would figure prominently in the current neoconservative establishment.

These former Marxists soon began to be known as “neoconservatives,” a label which a number of them accepted readily, due to their position on the Cold War Communist threat. Kristol even authored two books, Reflections of a Neo-Conservative: Looking Back, Looking Forward (1983) and The Neo-Conservative Persuasion: Selected Essays, 1942-20o9 (2011), in which he proudly laid claim to that title. Yet, he also acknowledged his roots in the Trotskyite version of Communist ideology [See, for example, his essay, “Reflections of a Trotskyist,” included in Reflections of a Neo-Conservative, also printed in The New York Times Magazine, January 23, 1977].

Embraced by an older generation of conservatives, and invited to write for conservative publications, the neoconservatives soon began to occupy positions of leadership and importance. More significantly they altered positions which had been associated with the older conservative movement, often termed “paleoconservatism,” to mirror their own vision. For even though repelled by the effects of Soviet Communism, they nevertheless brought with them a world view drawn from the Left. And they brought with them relentless zeal for furthering their own form of globalism.

A remarkable admission of this genealogy came in 2007, in the pages of NationalReviewOnline. Here one finds the expression of sympathies clearly imported from the onetime far Left and presented in a onetime Old Right publication.  As explained by the contributor Stephen Schwartz:

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.” 

By the late 1990s the neoconservatives had taken over most of the major conservative organs of opinion, journals, and think-tanks. They also, 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). Kristol carefully distinguished his doctrine from Old Right traditional conservatism. It was “forward-looking” and progressive in its attitude toward social issues like civil rights, rather than reactionary like the earlier conservatism. Its adherents rejoiced over the Civil Rights bills of the 1960s, unlike Buckley’s National Review at that time (which, of course, fell into line afterwards). Neoconservatives were also favorable to the efforts to legislate more equality for women and for other groups whom, they believed, had hitherto been kept from realizing the American Dream.

Rather than simply attacking state power or advocating a return to states’ rights and more local self-government, the new conservatives, according to Kristol, hoped to build on existing federal law. They believed that the promise of equality, which neoconservatives found in the Declaration of Independence, had to be promoted at home and abroad, and American conservatives, they preached, must lead the efforts to achieve global democracy, as opposed to the illogical and destructive efforts of the hard Left, or the reactionary stance of the Old Right.

Neoconservative rhetoric and initiatives did not go unopposed in the ranks of more traditional conservatives. Indeed, no less than the “father” of the conservative intellectual movement of the 1950s, Russell Kirk, publicly denounced the neoconservatives. Singling out the Jewish intellectual genealogy of major neoconservative writers, in an October 1988 speech at the Heritage Foundation, Kirk threw down the gauntlet. "Not seldom it has seemed as if some eminent neo-conservatives mistook Tel Aviv for the capital of the United States—a position they will have difficulty in maintaining as matters drift," Kirk declared. The Jewish author Midge Decter, wife of Norman Podhoretz and the director of the Committee for the Free World, called Kirk's remark "a bloody piece of anti-Semitism."

Kirk’s resistance, and the warnings of Paul Gottfried, Sam Francis, Patrick Buchanan and others of like mind emphasized the sharp differences between the Old Right and the ascending neoconservatives. Even more so than the attacks on Kirk, Patrick Buchanan became a target for neoconservative and Jewish attacks. Buchanan accused neoconservatives of stirring up Iraqi war fever at the instigation of the "Israeli foreign ministry." Writing in The Washington Times, Mona Charen, a former Reagan administration official, accused Buchanan of using "neoconservative" as a synonym for "Jew."

As those former Marxists made their progress rightward more than a half century ago, the linguistic template and ideas associated with “American exceptionalism” were refined by them to signify the universal superiority of their vision of the American experience, in many cases through the lens of political Zionism. For example, neoconservative favored political thinker Allan Bloom offers this in his The Closing of the American Mind: “And when we Americans speak seriously about politics we mean that our principles of freedom and equality and the rights based on them are rational and everywhere applicable.” Americans must engage in “an educational experiment undertaken to force those who do not accept these principles to do so.”

Although Bloom’s volume was published in 1987, do not the imperatives enunciated then find expression in the movement towards a “global reset” today?

Further, these recovering Marxists read their conception of a crusading American social democracy back into the American Founding. Gone were any admiring references to the great Southern constitutional thinker John C. Calhoun, so favored by Kirk in The Conservative Mind (1953); and significant authors like the Southerner Mel Bradford or the paleoconservative Paul Gottfried were summarily removed from the mastheads and editorial boards of journals of opinion now newly controlled by neoconservatives, their once-eagerly sought and highly respected essays now refused publication.

In reality, both the multicultural Left and the neoconservative Right share a basic commitment to certain ideas and expressions. Both use comparable phraseology—about “equality” and “democracy,” “human rights” and “freedom,” and the desirability of exporting and imposing “our democratic values,” whether in Ukraine or elsewhere. Despite this overlap, both the dominant Left and the neoconservative Right try to give differentiated meanings to the  doctrine of equality that the two sides share with equal enthusiasm.

But all chimerical appearances aside, in their zealous support for imposing a secular globalism, their defense of the civil rights legislation of the 1960s, and their advocacy of equal rights for women (now extended to same sex marriage and even transgenderism), the neoconservatives mirror the political stances of the Left. As such, insofar as they claim to represent conservatism or the Republican Party, their purported opposition to the leftward tsunami engulfing what is left of the American nation is mere window-dressing at best, and outright collaboration at worst, only enabling the deadly virus destroying our civilization.

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