The Forgotten Men You Should Know About (“Forgotten Conservatives You Should Remember Versus the neocons you should forget”) by Thomas DiLorenzo
Recently by Thomas DiLorenzo: Time’s Rx: More Politics, More Politicians, More Lincoln Worship
In their new book, Forgotten Conservatives in American History, Brion McClanahan and the great Clyde Wilson discuss how the Machiavellian-minded connivers and plotters known as “neoconservatives” weaseled their way into the Reagan administration and hence “became the accepted, respectable Right in American discourse . . .” Genuine conservatives, which during the ‘60s and ‘70s included traditionalists, libertarians, anti-communists, and other opponents of leftism, “became an irrelevant and possibly dangerous fringe, disdained by all decent people. . . ” This latter category would include most readers of LewRockwell.com and certainly all the writers.
The “new conservatives” who now run the Republican Party and much of the Democratic Party as well, are a peculiar bunch. The leading lights of “neoconservatism” during the Reagan years “were Trotskyites who had replaced their hereditary agenda of global socialist revolution with one of a global revolution of ‘democratic capitalism.’ Unashamedly embracing Machiavellian tactics against opponents and against the American people, they gloried in ‘big government’ and fervently planned to project American armed force around the world, the national debt be damned.” None of this “could be considered a “conservative” agenda . . .”, they write.
McClanahan and Wilson don’t mention it, but the intellectual guru of most of the high profile neoconservatives was the late Leo Strauss, a University of Chicago professor. Strauss was quite the crackpot. He was an atheist who “scoffed at the idea of God,” wrote Daniel Flynn in his book, Intellectual Morons, but who nevertheless preached about the value of using religion to dupe the masses into accepting the neocons’ interventionist foreign policy agenda. The “evangelical Christians” in America would be Exhibit A of the success of this Machiavellian strategy.
Strauss’s nuttiness was nowhere more on display than when he bloviated on about the “value” of numerology in reading books. For example, in his book, Persecution and the Art of Writing, he insisted that “a book’s first and last words have special meaning.” The famous book The Prince, about Machiavelli, “consists of 26 chapters and twenty six is the numerical value of the letters of the sacred name of God in Hebrew,” Strauss wrote. Wowwwww. Far out.
Strauss’s followers, wrote Flynn, are a bizarre cult whose members claim to know TRUTH that “lesser humans fail to grasp”; they “talk in a kind of code to one another”; and “genuflect to their great guru” Strauss. They steadfastly believe in the idea of “the noble lie” and “exalt dishonesty in the service of supposedly noble causes.” As such, they are among the worst of the Lincoln mythologists, among other things.
But I digress. The real focus of Forgotten Conservatives in American History is the ideas of sixteen or so historical figures who espoused genuinely American, conservative ideas, as opposed to the weird and creepy Eastern European totalitarian schemes of the “respectable” neoconservatives . These men include John Taylor of Caroline, James Fenimore Cooper, Condy Raguet, President John Tyler, Abel Upshur, Grover Cleveland, William Graham Sumner, H.L. Mencken, Mel Bradford, and others. All of these men could have been listed as former LewRockwell.com columnists had the Web site been around in some published form since the early nineteenth century.
What do these historical figures have in common? They all share, to some degree, a belief in genuine American conservatism as defined by McClanahan and Wilson (drawing on the late Russell Kirk). This includes avoiding burdening future generations with government debt; honoring the Constitution; remembering the founders’ warnings about “entangling alliances” with foreigners; valuing “voluntary community” and “a larger sphere for private society, and a smaller sphere for government, especially the federal government”; opposition to “multiculturalism” or “an enforced monolithic non-culture”; and belief in the necessity of free markets and opposition to corporate welfare and other forms of neo-mercantilism.
The writing in the book is eloquent, and the substance is inspiring, informative, and entertaining. The chapter on H.L. Mencken alone is worth the purchase price. The authors discuss Mencken’s famous statement that “government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.” Mencken was a relentless critic of all politicians, but especially of the worst of the worst, such as Woodrow Wilson, whose professorial writings were described by Mencken with “its ideational hollowness, its ludicrous strutting and bombast, its heavy dependence on greasy and meaningless words . . . and almost inexhaustible mine of bad writing, faulty generalizing, childish pussyfooting, ludicrous posturing and naïve stupidity. To find a match for it one must try to imagine a biography of the Duke of Wellington by his barber.”
The Virginia senator John………