Jeremy raises an interesting question in the Comments section:
I don’t think the Left is so utterly irretrievable as you seem to, but a line must be drawn in the sand when it comes to revolutionary potential. Many on the Left (and Right, no doubt) will be found wanting.
And Mike offers a few important observations as well:
The analysis of today’s “liberalism” as totalitarianism is spot on. I would only add that there is a like tendency of thought from those on the â€œconservativeâ€ side of the political sphere that would likewise recognize no limitation or boundary to the use of state power to create their utopia.
Over at the Ancien’ Regimer page Taki’s Mag Kevin DeAnna has a piece that is highly relevant to this issue:
Most of DeAnna’s piece is an attack on the Left, but look at what he says about what passes for the mainstream “Right”:
In contrast, the majority of young CPAC attendees believed the purpose of political action was wearing a suit and preparing for a career. It is the difference between activists and politicos. Many Beltway conservatives are not activists and despise those who engage in protests or think of political alternatives beyond voting for Team Red. A mainstream conservative organization awarding young activists for direct action is simply unconceivable. Conservative organizations systematically funnel them into the dead end of Republican business as usual. Culture is largely ignored. The result is a youth “movement” that is actually less committed and effective than the older conservative grassroots. Campus Progress is building activists and the campus Right is building politicians and politicos.
In other words, the mainstream Republican-oriented “Right” is simply a movement of careerists and opportunists for whom political or party affiliation is simply seen as a career move. Well, duh, who would have ever thought that about Young Republican-types? This gets us to the difference between “conservatives” and a wide body of perspectives that might be called the “revolutionary Right”. What is a “conservative”? Roughly defined, a conservative is someone who wants to conserve a particular status quo (in the tradition of De Maistre) or is suspicious of change, or at least rapid or radical change (in the tradition of Burke). American conservatism also has a classical liberal strand to it, particularly the Lockean emphasis on property rights, though many right-wing histrionics over “property rights” amount to little more than an apology for the state-capitalist status quo (see Kevin Carson).
There is still another branch of “conservative” thinking, and one which I personally adhere to, that does not necessarily commit one to a particular ideological outlook in the political realm. This perspective draws on the realist tradition of Machiavelli and Hobbes and is found in modern thinkers like Carl Schmitt, Ernst Junger, Vilifredo Pareto,Â Georges Sorel, James Burnham, Lawrence Dennis, Robert Michaels and Gaetano Mosca. This point of view is elitist, anti-egalitarian, pessimist, anti-utopian, social Darwinian (or at least recognizes the inevitability of conflict), anti-humanist, cynical and espouses no small degree of moral skepticism. Unlike other brands of “conservatism”, this outlook does not commit one to the preservation of any particular status quo. One can be a “rightist” in the Machiavellian tradition, as I am, and also be an extreme revolutionary, as I also am.
The bottom line is that most of the American right-wing is a bunch of jingoistic flag-wavers or a bunch of middle-class people whining about taxes. Of course, we should want nothing to do with such people. Instead, we should seek to cultivate a “revolutionary right” that is far outside the mainstream “conservative” milieu. But what about the Left?
Back to Kevin DeAnna’s experience of attending the conference of some lefto-freakazoid outfit called “Campus Progress”. Here’s some of the better gems from DeAnna’s review:
I reported to registration to receive my official totebag, T shirt, and condoms. In the bustle, I was only able to grab three packs, but luckily, Students for a Sensible Drug Policy and NARAL were handing out prophylactics in the display area (unfortunately labeled “Screw the Drug War”). The Campus Progress National Conference had begun.
This is genuinely sad, because the drug war is a serious issue, a foundation of the exponential expansion of the American police state over the past twenty or so years, and a means by which the state has tyrannized millions and brought about all sorts of social wreckage in the process. However, the approach of these folks is to make opposition to the drug war look like just another PC joke issue like demands to change the names of sports teams named after American Indian tribes or the right of men to use women’s restrooms in public buildings.
New Republic editor James Kirchick made an appearance during the panel on gay rights,”his Barack Obama-style flag pin being the only American flag at the entire conference. At CP, Kirchick was the official representative of right-wing extremism in that he argued that gays should become “normal” by gaining entry to bourgeoisie institutions such as marriage and the family and disowning terms like “queer.” This prompted cries of disapproval.
We know we’re in the Twilight Zone when the “conservative” representative at a leftist conference is a neocon homo who did a hit piece on Ron Paul for the center-left New Republic.
Richard Kim of The Nation argued the queer agenda should be about pan-sexual liberation, including liberalizing divorce laws and pushing for acceptance of alternative family models beyond squares like Kirchick and his hypothetical partner. A matronly trans-queer named Mason rumbled in a deep baritone that before openly becoming “trans,” he had “no identity.”
If the purpose of radicalism or activism or whatever we want to call it is simply to promote one big fuck-fest, wouldn’t it be easier to forget about politics altogether and just open an adult film company?
The Young Democratic Socialists handed out a flyer featuring Martin Luther King stating, “We are saying that something is wrong with capitalism, there must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism” which would shock my movement colleagues who tell me every January that MLK was a conservative Republican.
Compared to these folks, MLK was a conservative Republican.
The fact that an organization that has hosted senators, presidents, and the current Democratic nominee shares space with racists, communists, and homosexual activists that consider gay marriage to be reactionary is newsworthy.
Gay marriage is reactionary. The radicals of yesteryear would denounce marriage as a bourgeois institution and burn their marriage certificates, and this was true not only of free-lovers, free-thinkers, anarchists and bohemians but even many old guard socialists of the Fabian ilk. Nowadays, we have gays running out to join the bourgeoisie. Well, actually, we don’t. In Holland and other countries where gay marriage is recognized, only a small number of homosexuals have taken advantage of this “opportunity”.
As Campus Progress also recruits and advertises at the even more radical National Conference on Organized Resistance, which openly promotes force against military recruitment centers, the links between Democratic Party leaders and violent extremists goes well beyond Obama living in the same neighborhood as Bill Ayers. Campus Progress’s magazine’s feature on the “Lessons of the Weather Underground” is no aberration.
Well, now we might actually be getting somewhere. All Hail Violent Extremists!
It is to Campus Progress that U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison can speak, in his own words, “vanguard to vanguard.” The tendency of attendees to speak of overthrowing the “system” and in the next sentence talking about the upcoming Obama Administration is exactly how activists should think. While participating in Democratic campaigns, Campus Progress and the activists that work with it are building a force independent of partisan efforts, but not irrelevant to it. They understand that the role of activists is to push politicians towards an independently defined agenda rather than serving as cannon fodder.
Hence, a common concern of many activists was how to avoid being “co-opted” by the Democratic establishment, even if that establishment is headed by the most liberal candidate in American history. Similarly, a comment during the civil rights panel about how any movement needs a “militant resistance” was met not with nervous glances but agreement to what all perceived to be an obvious point.
This is an illustration of the split between mainstream liberal totalitarian humanism and the more hard-core PC cultural Marxist Left. I don’t know that there are any significant doctrinal differences, except maybe on a few economic points, e.g., welfare-capitalism vs outright socialism/Marxism. It’s basically the same as the historic divisions between Social Democrats and Commies. How fast do we want to go, and all that.
Is the Left salvagable? In and of itself, it does not appear to be. Instead, it appears to be more along the lines of a demented cult whose counterparts on the Right might be folks like the followers of Rev. John Hagee. But before I get too self-righteous about it all, I should point out that as a pan-secessionist I would welcome the development of both “Campus Progress” lefto-freakazoid secession movements as well as John Hagee Fan Club secession movements. Also, I was an evangelical Christian with views not unlike Hagee’s until I was a teenager and I also participated extensively in lefto-freakazoid activities not unlike these “Campus Progress” loons for a few years when I was in my early twenties.
I basically see both “movement conservatism” and lefto-freakazoidism as useful transitional phases for superior people who will eventually move on to something more concrete. For instance, some of the better people in the paleo milieu – Tom Woods, James Wilson, Joe Sobran – came out of “the conservative movement” (forgive them, for they knew not what they were doing). And many in the “beyond left and right” milieu came out of the Left-myself, Ean Frick and a number of other folks around Attack the System. I think we should look at both movements – conservatism and leftism – as sinking ships that may contain rare individuals actually worthy of being thrown a life preserver or picked up by a rescue boat. Let the rest of them drown.
What do others think about this? Is the Left salvagable?