Saturday, March 14, 2009

In Defense of McCarthyism

It's not online yet, but Dan McCarthy's piece for the first issue of Young American Revolution, is remarkable for a number of reasons. Aside from the fact that Dan gives a shout out to a certain "left conservative" blogger, turned YAR contributing editor, Dan also hits home on a couple of major points that are too often missed by political commentators of every political persuasion.

For starters Dan points to the transcendent quality of the Liberty Youth Movement in a particularly cutting way. By noting that YAL and company are "to the right of the Right and to the left of the Left," Dan echoes my father who once noted that his wayward son had always been sympathetic to the radical spirit of dissent on the extremes of both political poles. In actuality this phenomenon is common and shows us just how meaningless the artificial political distinctions are these days. In arguing on behalf of a "left conservatism," I have often talked about alliances formed to combat empire. In truth though these "alliances" are more than just pragmatic coalitions. They are natural outgrowths of overlapping philosophies that are more often than not in synch. In a decentralist world the supporters of Ron Paul and Ralph Nader would not look very different. It is only because of the problem of artificial institutional bigness that the gap appears so large today.

Dan is also wise to point out that "left conservatives" like myself "combine anti-corporatist sensibilities with a respect for established folkways, whether in city neighborhood or rural communities." In fact this is a near perfect description of the guiding principles that define Kirkian populists like myself. Localist ideas are the bedrock principles for which we stand, and as Dan notes we don't deny the tradition of leftist anti-statism in order to conform to a narrow right wing caricature of the Left.

Finally in writing about the "wildly eclectic" nature of the Liberty Youth Movement, Dan correctly hones in on the complexities that made the Ron Paul campaign so exciting to so many young people. In pulling from a wide variety of intellectual traditions, college age kids used to being victimized by the worst aspects of mass education, got their first looks at Austrian Economics, anarchism, secession, and a whole slew of other taboo topics. It is for this reason that the first generation of this movement must be on guard against the fierce sectarianism and the fantasies of street fighting militancy that sunk the New Left. Right now we need folks who are looking to build from the bottom, not lecture from the tops. To borrow an old DIY punk rock slogan, "by the kids, for the kids" should be our calling card and hands on education and application an immediate goal.

In a recent Taki's Magazine podcast, Richard Spencer suggests that the "alternative Right" look outside of the conservative movement for converts to the cause. I couldn't agree more. And while Richard never explicitly mentioned disaffected leftists, it is notable that a growing portion of them are fed up with the identity politics masquerading as anti-imperialism that has come to dominate its most influential media and cultural outlets.

On a playing field this large, with the stake so high, we can no longer afford to waste opportunities or bicker about trivialities. There can be a State and an Empire or Communities and Individuals. There cannot be both. Those that realize this much are welcome aboard, no loyalty oaths required.

9 comments:

blog@polidoc.com said...

I appreciated your reflections. Nomenclature and "party" affiliations have been used against us.

rmangum said...

It seems to me that there is a parallel with the birth of the New Left on the Berkley campus in the 60s, in the sense that the students were then rebelling against cold-war corporate liberalism that wanted to use them as fodder for the machine (University President Clark Kerr referred to "knowledge production as a new growth industry"). Students wanted a society they could participate in as human beings, not just as part of a system.

One major difference though, was that those kids were still in the midst of the post WWII economic boom, with no premonition of the 70's stagflation mess that was to come. They were galvanized by civil rights and the war. For us, the former is more than a fait accompli, and the latter is mitigated by the lack of a draft, but it is the economy that looms large in our minds.

Jake - but not the one said...

There is definitely a new left out there, and it shares much with "right of right" conservative viewpoint. What it does not share, and what you completely gloss over in your references to Ron Paul, as that the new left is rooted in a shared and common sense approach to reality. That, in fact, there is a reality out there and that no amount of blind faith can make it one iota different from what it is.

Ron Paul does not believe in that same reality. Whatever else he does not share with GWB, that much he does share - the belief that he can create a new reality through his disbelief in the current one. This is a fine and noble approach when he speaks of politics. It is blind hubris when he speaks of science. No more can he make gold from lead than can he make global warming a lie, or evolution a lie. They are the most accurate description of the reality we see around us every day.

His politics appeal (some of it), his faith based approach to reality, not so much.

Jake

Steel Phoenix said...

"In a decentralist world the supporters of Ron Paul and Ralph Nader would not look very different."

Awesome quote. Being something of a progressive Libertarian I see a lot of truth in this. Those of us on the far left and right are finding a lot more in common of late than we do with the center.

I've only just arrived here (referred by Carl, (you can curse him later)), but I look forward to reading further, since from the glance down your topics, I see they mirror my own, which I find rather novel after a day of arguing with centrists.

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John M├ędaille said...

Excellent points. "Left" and "right" have taken on meanings roughly analogous to "Dallas Cowboys" and "Philadelphia Eagles." The game is very entertaining, but not very important. Frankly, there is more genuine "conservatism" in Mother Jones News than in most "conservative" (and especially of the "neo" variety) publications.