through David Frum's Unpatriotic
Conservatives, a shabby indictment against those
he lazily blankets as "paleoconservatives," I was reminded of a
fascinating paper Jörg Guido Hülsmann of the Mises Institute
delivered some years back entitled The Production of Signs and
the Growth of the State.
most important class of signs are the words we use, in particular
the words of the written language," explained Hülsmann. We
come to understand "the fundamental facts of moral and political
life: religion, liberty, love, hope, faith, property, justice, and
all other purely intellectual things" through the configurations
we create with letters of the alphabet.
fragile then are those cherished concepts, and all the more so in
the hands of a manipulator such as David Frum. Frum's style of debate
antiwar conservatives aren't satisfied merely to question
the wisdom of an Iraq war. Questions are perfectly reasonable,
indeed valuable. There is more than one way to wage the
war on terror, and thoughtful people will naturally disagree
about how best to do it, whether to focus on terrorist organizations
like al-Qaeda and Hezbollah or on states like Iraq and Iran;
and if states, then which state first?
how Frum dictates the terms of debate. He starts off by generously
welcoming "questions" about the war on Iraq. But with the next breath
Frum constricts the scope of discussion, making the acceptance of
the "war on terror" a prerequisite.
the by, the National Review's blog really showcases the essence
of the "girlie-boys," to use Ann Coulter's coinage for this lot.
Recall, the "boys with the bowties" dropped Coulter's syndicated
column after September 11 when the firebrand columnist suggested,
tongue-in-cheek, that we should invade Muslim countries, kill their
leaders, and convert them to Christianity. Considering that the
neoconservatives at the NR advocate the two of Ann's moves,
I've a strong suspicion as to what prompted the firing caprice.
more appropriately, Coulter's contention that converting Muslims
to a religion of peace might do the trick. This was beyond the pale
for the multicultists at the NR (who also regularly chide
hard not to notice how similar the simpering on the NR's blogistan
is to Mrs. Frum's infamous e-mail. Danielle Crittenden had done
a mass mailing to her pals after her hubby had coined the axis of
evil phrase, expressing her "hope you'll indulge my wifely pride."
Dreher of NR exudes the same fake saccharine humility: "I
suppose it might be unseemly to praise one's own magazine," he blogs,
"but I am proud to be associated with a publication responsible
for David Frum's magnificent essay." As Golda Meir once said, "Don't
be humble. You're not that great."
response to Jonah's whine that "paleos have been goading and mocking"
him, not least by naming his mag the "Goldberg's Review," I suggest
substituting the "Goldberg Variations."
monumental score for the keyboard ought to remind Jonah that the
West that paleolibertarians and conservatives love and wish to peacefully
restore is the civilization epitomized by the faith-inspired beauty
of Bach. It's the West reflected in the poignancy and "deep pain"
John Paul II expresses these days with every fiber of his crippled
frame. The picture of this righteous man, head clasped in hands,
overcome with sorrow at the savagery unfolding, trumps the nasty
specter of the American metropole at its most shameful, cheered
by the "girlie-boys" at NR.
testament to his manipulation of language is that the "facts"
Frum marshals for each of the raps he draws up against paleos don't
coincide with the accusations:
antiwar conservatives have gone far, far beyond the advocacy
of alternative strategies. They have made common cause with
the left-wing and Islamist antiwar movements in this country
and in Europe. They deny and excuse terror. They espouse
a potentially self-fulfilling defeatism... And some of them
explicitly yearn for the victory of their nation's enemies.
mode of argument is slightly more sophisticated than Michael Savage’s.
Savage yelled that he'd demonstrate to his viewers "Why We Fight."
If language means anything, then the reason we fight against Iraq
must directly relate to an aggression Iraq has visited on us, at
the very least.
Savage began screening and rescreening the attack on the Twin Towers,
amidst hysterical yelps of, "This is Why We Fight." His frenzy incites
the same in the recipient of the distorted message, thus subverting
reason. Note how the signs Guido Hülsmann speaks of have been
severed from what they signify – the message Savage conveys is that
we fight Iraq because Saddam brought down the Twin Towers. On the
facts, this is false.
sophistry of the State's speechwriter is similar: As evidence that
Pat Buchanan "espouses defeatism," Frum dredges Buchanan's observation
that other than to use their might, Americans do not understand
the conflicts and terrain they plunge into. This is an intelligent
observation about American insularity and cultural chauvinism.
affects a similar disconnect between the indictment and the evidence
he advances against Toronto Sun foreign correspondent Eric
Margolis. Margolis recommended non-aggressive ways in which Arabs
might prevent war against Iraq. This Frum labels as a "yearning
for defeat." If one respects the words used by the communicator
– Margolis – and their meaning, rather than resort to conjecture,
then what Margolis was saying was aimed at trying to peacefully
thwart American aggression and prevent defeat for all involved.
is evident from his tittle-tattle tome (and like his wife), Frum
is a gossip. His essay is in keeping with this unfortunate character
trait. He produces a series of vignettes designed to "prove"
that paleos developed an ideology (which, in the case of paleolibertarians,
is as old as the natural law), in order to compensate for alleged
we discover that the delightful Paul Gottfried doesn't entertain
his students and that paleos are among the more "fractious and quarrelsome
folk in the conservative universe." (Frum fails to allow that non-conformists
do tend to be "belligerent," the word my spouse uses for his wife.)
To discredit paleoconservative or paleolibertarian ideas, however,
one must tackle the ideas, not the personalities. Claiming that
Paul Gottfried, a consistently engaging and interesting intellectual,
didn't win a popularity contest with a bunch of 19-year-olds fails
to tackle his ideas. Nor can he be refuted by the fact that he teaches
at a small college. In order to be taken seriously, Frum must deal
with the substance, not personalities or professional travails vis-à-vis
can't speak for paleoconservatives, but paleolibertarians care first
about the effects of the state on civil society. In the words of
holds with Lord Acton that liberty is the highest political
end of man, and that all forms of government intervention
– economic, cultural, social, international – amount to
an attack on prosperity, morals, and bourgeois civilization
itself, and thus must be opposed at all levels and without
flows from the passion for "the Old Republic of property rights,
freedom of association, and radical political decentralization."
What Frum calls our "obsessive denunciations of Martin Luther King"
is borne of the understanding that "civil rights" legislation is
inimical to property rights and freedom of association.
Frum charges paleos with racism. And he mocks us for allegedly being
incapable of reconciling our alleged belief in "the incorrigible
inferiority of darker-skinned people," with our perception that
"darker-skinned people are gaining advantage over whites."
a skilled obscurantist!
the strength of the paleolibertarian team comes from its enduring
commitment to natural rights and justice, the strength of the Frum
faction comes from its endorsement of the Almighty State. Yet, the
State is conspicuously absent from Frum's silly screed.
must certainly be aware that the State redistributes wealth from
those who create it to those who consume it. Frum must also be aware
that libertarians oppose this coercive distribution of wealth by
the State. And even Frum must be cognizant of discernible trends
in wealth creation and wealth consumption. Ditto where crime is
concerned: Certain populations are more likely to be perpetrators,
others more likely to be victims.
these observations racist? To the extent that it is a relevant variable
in crime and welfare, paleos comment honestly about demographics.
certain segments of society are gaining at the expense of others,
but there is nothing inexplicable here if one considers the entity
whose bidding Frum does so effectively. The ousting of white males
from positions of prominence is courtesy of State directive! Surely
even David Frum knows that. The beef paleolibertarians have is with
the State for seizing and redistributing private property, for prohibiting
the rightful exercise of freedom of contract and freedom of association,
and for making all-out self-defense impossible.
claims, incidentally, that David Frum is "libertarian on the economy."
I don't know any libertarian who supports the pseudo-science of
climate change and the concomitant advocated policies, which Frum
apparently does. But if he has a libertarian streak, Frum must have
heard of property rights. Why, then, is it a racist notion that
productive Americans should not have to subsidize free riders? Frum
heaps scorn on Buchanan for having said that "many Americans in
the first country are getting weary of subsidizing and explaining
away the deepening failure of the second."
as property rights are not a new paleo idea, but rather a little
Lockean indulgence taken very seriously by the American founders,
so too are paleo ideas on foreign policy and American adventurism,
rooted in, to quote Felix Morley, the traditional American attitude
of "opposition to what George Washington called ‘overgrown military
establishments.’" Frum's attempt to cast paleo ideas as new and
discontinuous is ignorant of the history of the ideas.
revealing about the Frum framework is his aversion to objective
truth. He says that "race and ethnicity are huge and unavoidable
issues in modern life, and the liberal orthodoxies on the matter
tend to be doctrinaire and hypocritical." Paleo refutation, however,
he condemns because it too advances orthodoxies. Does it not occur
to this doxy of the State that some "orthodoxies" may be true? Is
it not possible that what Buchanan and Harvard economist George
Borjas report about immigration is simply correct?
I've written, and with reference to Borjas' work, it is true that
since the 1965 immigration amendments, "the United States has been
granting entry visas to persons who have relatives in the United
States, with no regard to their skills or economic potential." "Immigrants
today are less skilled than their predecessors, more likely to require
public assistance, and far more likely to have children who remain
in poor, segregated communities." An influx of the unskilled is,
moreover, responsible for the lowering of wages across the board,
something that hurts poor Americans, especially blacks.
1965, mass immigration has constituted the quintessential "swamping
by the central state of an existing population for political ends,"
to quote paleolibertarian economist, Murray N. Rothbard. Those who
laud the changing US, and want more of the same, ignore the fact
that this radical transformation, good or bad, has been engineered
by the State, to which Frum is in thrall.
the State's speechwriter pries words from their meaning. This time
Chronicles' Thomas Fleming catches static for asserting that
we "would soon be a nation no longer stratified by class, but by
race as well. Europeans and Orientals will compete, as groups, for
the top positions, while the other groups will nurse their resentments
on the weekly welfare checks they receive from the other half."
pray, is this statement evidence of "racial animus"? Orientals and
Europeans, if I am not mistaken, are the highest earners. They shoulder
the tax burden. I would think that as a "libertarian on economics,"
Frum would be irate that, for being high achievers, certain people
are denied equal treatment under the law.
again, Frum's appended slur doesn't jibe with the utterance of the
impoverished coda is full of journalistic jingoism about the epoch
September 11 has unleashed. Paleos, spoilsports that they are, have
failed to celebrate one of the most formidable consolidations of
State power in recent American history. For this failure, David
and the "girlie-boys" are going to turn their backboneless backs
Frum's "War is a great clarifier," we offer Ludwig von Mises' words:
"War only destroys; it cannot create. War, carnage, destruction
and devastation we have in common with the predatory beast of the
jungle." A good synonym for neoconservative.
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is a columnist for WorldNetDaily.com. For more about
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© 2003 LewRockwell.com