Forget the Left

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by Paul Gottfried

Lew Rockwell got it right when he introduced David Corn’s commentary for The Nation (November 11) by explaining that Corn was "defending his fellow social democrats [the neocons]." Corn emphatically rejects Ronald Radosh’s statements about a "convergence" between the anti-war Left and the isolationist Right. He also showers contempt on Buchanan’s talk about the need to "deneoconize" the American Right. Corn compares that to Buchanan’s unsuccessful bids for the presidency and to his dubious attempts to promote "cultural wars."

The Nation may be sending the paleos an unmistakable warning. The Left, which is a multicultural big-government force, is not looking for allies on our side of the aisle. It is happy with the current arrangements, in which Bill Bennett and Dinesh D’Souza get to speak for the "Right" while most of the political class continues to speak for the leftwing social democrats. Although there may be occasional intramural bickering, e.g., among the various Middle East factions or about how far to push the feminist agenda or socialized medicine, leftists are content to disagree among themselves — while consigning our guys to the outer reaches of Hell.

By this stage of the game, you would think that all right-wingers would see the picture. But they don’t and still dream of grand alliances that will stretch across the ideological chasm. There are, in my opinion, two reasons for this persistent illusion. One, some of those on our side have personal ambitions and are susceptible to the hope that they can make friends with influential leftists by stressing a few overlapping opinions. Unfortunately the political world doesn’t work that way. The Left hates us viscerally, the way Nazis hated Jews, even if Hitlerites were willing to negotiate with Zionist representatives to make Europe "Judenrein." Sucking up to powerful leftist literati won’t change this situation, as Corn’s fevered attempt to find evidence of fascist (or Pinochetite) tendencies in Buchanan’s anti-war polemics amply demonstrates.

Two, some on our side are driven by an understandable desire to fight the political establishment with well-positioned allies. Thus Murray Rothbard and Leonard Liggio, who could never be reasonably accused of compromising their beliefs, tried to build an alliance in the sixties and seventies with leftist opponents of the warfare state. Nothing much came of this enterprise, except for a few scholarly ventures most notably with the pre-neocon Ronald Radosh, and as far as I know, this alliance-building was subsequently abandoned by the Right, where it had been taken more seriously than by the other side. Despite such setbacks, some rightists continue to hope that the Left will stop slamming the door in their faces. If only lefties and misnamed liberals would join hands with us, we would be able to move forward and push the neocons out of their position in the right-center of a leftward moving spectrum.

This may happen in one’s imagination but nowhere else. The neocons are where they are because that’s where the Left wants them to be, whether or not we and the Left may occasionally agree for different reasons about some fleeting issue.

The true strategy for our side is the one that Corn scornfully attributes to Buchanan, fighting house-by-house to get back our occupied city. And without allies, that war of attrition will be tough and (God willing!) ugly, too ugly for the girly boys who appear on TV with air-blown hair to push this country into war. Those media types are the preferred debating partners for David Corn and others like him. On the social and most political issues, they can at least agree to disagree, unlike a harder Right or a libertarian movement, which yearns to junk anti-discrimination laws, entitlements, liberal immigration, and other marks of leftist progress. On the things that really count, like an all-controlling centralized managerial regime, David Corn and Bill Kristol have far more in common with each other than either does with our side.

October 31, 2002

Paul Gottfried [send him mail] is professor of history at Elizabethtown College and author of, most recently, the highly recommended Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt.

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