I first read Alan Pell Crawford’s Thunder on the Right in the late 1980s, and to this day I continue to think he is one of the very best critics of so-called “movement conservatism.” I have certainly spent more time in recent years criticizing the Left rather than the Right, and I do this for good reason. The Left (as least in its progressive-liberal form, rather than its historic anti-capitalist form ) is a rising force in Western societies, while the Right mostly represents dying forces (e.g. social conservatives, traditional religion, the 1950s model of the nuclear family, “whiteness”). The present day Left is created a whole new authoritarian paradigm in the form of totalitarian humanism. Further, the Left has a much tighter grip on the general anarchist milieu than the Right (which has only a marginal presence, at best).
However, I have always been 100% opposed, and zealously so, to the Republican-oriented “conservative movement.” In fact, having grown up around it and having a strong motivation to oppose it is in part what led me towards radicalism in the first place. In fact, the criticisms of “movement conservatism” offered by Noam Chomsky here, here, and here are largely the same as my own. I included three chapters in my book criticizing “mainstream” American conservatism, all of which are available online. See here, here, and here, along with a critique of what Kevin Carson calls “vulgar libertarianism” (see here).
Of course, there are strands of the U.S. Right that I might have a more favorable view of including the anti-statist or anti-ruling class strands of the populist right (e.g. sovereign citizens, the militia movement, right-wing secessionists, Alex Jones-style anti-elitists), the “unpatriotic conservatives” so hated by the neocons, the Burke-influenced “traditional Right,” sincerely anti-statist libertarians, the libertarian-populism of “The American Conservative,” and the Nietzscheanism, anti-totalitarian humanism and opposition to U.S. imperialism of the neo-reactionaries, dark enlightenment, and alternative right (even if I find the racialism and neo-monarchism often found in those circles to be a bit, well, “over the top.”).
The American Conservative
It is the night of August 15, 1973. I’m at Washington’s Sheraton-Park Hotel, now the Marriott-Wardman. The occasion is the annual convention of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), formed 12 years earlier by, among others, William F. Buckley Jr. While nearly 1,000 YAFers are elsewhere in the building, I, by special invitation, am at a reception hosted by R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. Tyrrell—who had been kind enough to help me land an internship that summer at the right-wing weekly Human Events—was then the dashing editor of The Alternative, a magazine for undergraduates with Tory sensibilities.
Categories: Left and Right