The Irrepressible Rothbard
Essays of Murray N. Rothbard
Edited by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
THE EVIL EMPIRE STRIKES BACK:
THE NEOCONS AND US
It was bound to happen, as the night follows the day. Organized Neocondom, perpetually manning the parapets against heretical challenges to their rule, would attempt to Strike Back. Sure enough, the first fruits have arrived in the form of an extension of the usual Anti-Buchanania in the May issues of two prominent neocon monthlies...a lead editorial in the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus's First Things ("The Year that Conservatism Turned Ugly,") and an article by Norman Podhoretz in his Commentary ("Buchanan and the Conservative Crackup").
The Rev. Neuhaus is an interesting case. Once the neocons' tentacle inside the Lutheran clergy, pastor Neuhaus has recently flip-flopped to become one of their appendages in the Catholic priesthood. A former employee of the Rockford Institute, the then-Pastor betrayed his employers with their donors behind his employers' back, for which he was properly ejected by Rockford. It was that firing that gave rise to the neocon smears of Rockford for "anti-Semitism," "nativism," and all the rest of the neocon variant of the bundle of Politically Correct garbage. Things have come to a pretty pass in America when the firing of a disloyal Lutheran/Catholic employee can automatically give rise to accusations of "anti-Semitism."
Norman Podhoretz, of course, is the Field Marshal of the Neocon network and Commentary its central organ. As they say in the espionage business, Podhoretz is the "control" of Neuhaus and the other neocons operating in the field.
It is important to realize that, for all their complaints about left Political Correctness, it was the neocons who pioneered in that odious practice. For the neocons first developed the practice of smearing all critics of Israel or of Zionism as "anti-Semitic," and all opponents of civil Neocons, Mensheviks, Social Democrats rights despotism and of compulsory integration as "racist." It was the neocons who first developed Victimology to a fine art by egregiously extending collective guilt for Nazi crimes first to all Germans, and then to all of Christendom. Left Victimology simply shifted the victimological emphasis to blacks beyond what neocons would accept, and then to women, homosexuals, Hispanics, and finally to anyone not a white, heterosexual, middle-aged, male. In a sense, then, Left Victimology is just punishment for the neocons: chickens coming home to roost. Unfortunately, the rest of us, of course, are caught in the crossfire.
The first point to make about the two articles is that they are oddly or not so oddly alike. Their line is much the same: that we are marginal no-account inhabitants of the remote "fever swamps" of the right, and yet, contradictorily, that we are in danger of taking over the conservative movement. Even more revealingly, Podhoretz and Neuhaus quote at length almost the same words, in the same paragraph, of my speech. Surely this is coordination and concordance (dare we call it "conspiracy"?) rather than the effusions of two independent minds.
Of the two, Poddy is far less interesting, so we will dispose of him first. In style as well as in thought, Poddy is very much the stolid, plodding Commissar of Thought Police, much like his Kremlin counterparts of days gone by. There is the usual hackneyed recitation of Buchanan's alleged sins; Poddy is particularly agitated about the name of "America First," which sets him off on the usual smears of Charles Lindbergh, et al. "musingly, Poddy cites for support the fevered smear of Joshua Muravchik in his own Commentary, adding as a supposedly objective historian of America First, Alonzo Hamby, without noting that Hamby is a notorious isolationophobe. If Poddy were a serious intellectual, he at least would come to grips with the recognized leading authority on the America First Committee, Professor Wayne Cole, but serious intellectual discourse is hardly what Commentary or the neocons are all about. Poddy is a commissar, not a thinker.
There is one interesting revelation embedded in Podhoretz's rant. He mentions that Governor Wilder of Virginia stressed the term "America First" when he launched his brief campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. But then, says Poddy, Wilder was "clearly unaware of or had forgotten about these [terrible, terrible] associations [of the term America First], and he dropped it as soon as they were called to his attention." Interesting use of the passive tense: just who called them to his attention, Poddy? Which lobbyists or smear artists? What pressures (threats?) were used to induce Wilder to drop the centerpiece of his campaign?
Poddy expresses satisfaction that most of the conservative spokesmen fell into line in not supporting or not smearing Pat Buchanan. One exception was Human Events, whom Poddy writes off as such blind admirers of Buchanan that in their eyes "he could say or do no wrong." Ridiculous. At the beginning of his campaign, Human Events was cautious about Pat's foreign and trade policies, and it was only the malignantly vicious smear of Pat by the neocon shrink Krauthammer that led Human Events to all-out support of Pat's campaign. Actually, Human Events' policy is genuinely what National Review's is supposed to be: an eclectic supporter or friend to all movements on the right. Human Events is therefore not at all anti-neocon (except for the monster Krauthammer) but it is not anti-paleo either, and for that Poddy cannot forgive it.
Evans and Novak (who surmounted neocon smears in the past) are attacked as "even more hostile to Israel" than Buchanan. (Are they then "anti-Semites?" Tell us, Poddy!) The paleos are "a group of enraged academics whose isolationist fervor" predated Buchanan's "and was if anything more extreme." (Hooray!) He also says that the paleos are "fanatical nativists," to whom "immigration from anywhere except Western Europe (or perhaps only England)" is a great threat to "the health and integrity of American society."
Sorry Poddy, you were only accurate on the previous point. Paleos, including Pat Buchanan, have no quarrel with immigration from any section of Europe, West or East. Pat Buchanan is deservedly a hero to all Croatian-Americans, and to virtually all East European nationality groups in the United States (with the understandable exception of the Serbs). Chronicles' first editor, the late Leopold Tyrmand, was a Polish Jewish immigrant, but he was not a Menshevik, and so he doesn't count among the neocon scorekeepers. Paleos are all committed to a Euro-American culture as a vital groundwork of the American Republic. But, unlike the neocons, there are no commissars and no party line amongst the paleos: and so we differ, for example, about the value of the North Asians, particularly the Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese, to American culture.
After praising conservatives who went along with the "anti-Semitic" smear of Buchanan, Poddy spends the rest of his article denouncing Bill Buckley for betraying the anti-Buchanan cause by not being anti-Buchanan enough, especially in his tactical support for Pat in the New Hampshire primary. How, how, Poddy wails, can his old buddy Buckley support a horrible anti-Semite, even tactically? Podhoretz cites the Neuhaus article in blaming National Review editor John O'Sullivan for (a) believing that Pat is not an anti-Semite, and (b) for convincing Buckley to go along with the tactical support of Pat in New Hampshire. In a gentle reproof of his Lutheran/Catholic satrap, Commissar Poddy states that "Neuhaus is being too kind to Buckley"; after all, Buckley allowed himself to be convinced by O'Sullivan and is therefore equally culpable, and even added an allegedly new sin: guessing that Buchanan is "not anti-Semitic." Poddy treats this as a new horror injected by Buckley in his reply to a letter of "thirteen eminent conservative intellectuals" in National Review who had protested Buckley's tactical support of an "anti-Semite." But Poddy conveniently forgets that in his original "In Search of Anti-Semitism" essay, Buckley had already guessed that Buchanan's statements stemmed not from anti-Semitism but from an "iconoclastic" turn of mind. ("Thirteen eminent conservative intellectuals" is neocon talk for thirteen willing stooges, who include, of course, Pastor/Father Neuhaus. Poddy's sense of intellectual discrimination may be gauged by the fact that this label includes American Spectator editor R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., but then, of course, commissars can't be choosy.)
Poddy then turns to the correct point that O'Sullivan's attempt to bring all sides together, and, even more bizarre, to get Pat to "apologize," is doomed because one of Pat's major goals is to "take back" the conservative movement from the neocon conquest. That's where Paddy quotes my speech, astonished that "even Buckley and National Review themselves have come under assault." And high time, too!
Poddy is worried that I might be right, and that the Buchananite legions might actually gain control of the conservative movement. It's Poddy's worst nightmare, and he then rants about the usual villainies in the neocon catechism: anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, and nativism. In short: all the shibboleths of the older Political Correctness of the neocons. (With "sexism" and "homophobia," of course, missing from the incantation.)
In the course of his peroration, Poddy lets the cat out of the bag on the genuine nature of neo-"conservatism." Our takeover of conservatism would be "as destructive in its way as the obverse radicalization of liberalism turned out to be in the late 60s." Poddy adds: "The surrender then of so many liberals to the perspective of the New Left resulted in the corruption of a healthy political tradition." And there we have it: Poddy, is not a "conservative" at all, but still a Truman-Humphrey liberal driven by the New Left and its successors out of the Democratic Party, and roosting among conservative Republicans. Podhoretz and his ilk are simply Old Leftists: not of the Bolshevik, but of the Menshevik wing of the church.
In contrast to the habitually plodding Poddy, Pastor/Father is a snarling pit bull, straining at the leash to impress his Master. Certainly, there is a striking lack in Neuhaus of the Christian love that is supposed to be suffusing the works of the rev. clergy.
Plunging into the Buckley/anti-Semitism question, Neuhaus writes of the "vicious" personal attack on Buckley launched by Chronicles, "the flagscow publication of something called the John Randolph Society." It is remarkable how many errors the Rev. Neuhaus, in his own mind a distinguished editor, can cram into a mere half a sentence. In the first place, Chronicles, as the Pastor/Father knows only too well, is not the publication of the John Randolph "Society" (sic), but of an organization which he, the Rev. Neuhaus, used to work for: the Rockford Institute. Second, it's not "something called the John Randolph Society," but the John Randolph C-l-u-b. Third, it was not Chronicles that leveled the attack, but an author named Dr. Samuel Francis. F-r-a-n-c-i-s. It would be nice, Pastor/Father, if you get a few elementary things straight, in order to justify the lush neocon funding of your magazine.
Then, revealing the inner workings of National Review editorship, the rev. goes on to denounce O'Sullivan for betraying the anti-anti-Semitic cause in re Buchanan. The rev. professes himself astonished how Pat Buchanan could vigorously deny being anti-Semitic, and yet persist in "refusing to...apologize for making statements that lent themselves to such hurtful misunderstanding." Look, Pastor/Father: I'll do my best to explain. Pat Buchanan, as he insists, is not anti-Semitic; therefore, the "misunderstanding" for these statements is the fault of "the malevolent and the manipulated" as you correctly if satirically put it, who are determined to smear any conservative leader who refuses to truckle to the victimology of the Israel First lobby. Capice? Our culture is suffering from an epidemic of absurd and generalized apologizing, apologizing to the world, to every conceivable victim group. In Pat Buchanan, you and your neocon ilk tremble because here is a man who will not bend the knee to your victimological blackmail. If any apology is in order, it is that of you and your malignant crew of neocon hatchetmen, all the more repugnant for your wearing the cloth of the Christian clergy.
When the Pastor gets to the substance of the anti-Buckley replies in NR, he inadvertently makes the mistake of quoting a few sentences from the scintillating retorts in National Review of Joe Sobran and of the great literary critic Hugh Kenner. For their quotes stand out as a sparkling beacon in the malignant miasma of the Pastor's prose. "An 'anti-Semite,'" Neuhaus quotes Joe Sobran, "in actual usage, is less often a man who hates Jews than a man certain Jews hate." And this marvelous quote from Hugh Kenner: Anti-Semitism "has no stable meaning; it can run all the way from gas ovens to a mere wish that Abe Rosenthal...would moderate his frenzies."
Even the Pastor/Father balks at calling Kenner an "anti-Semite." Instead, he pronounces himself intrigued by Kenner's point: indeed, he runs up against the crucial question in this whole miserable controversy: what is an "anti-Semite" anyway? How can one "convict" (as Poddy puts it) Mr. X of anti-Semitism if we are never enlightened on what in blazes we're talking about? Neuhaus goes on to say, in the neocon manner, that Kenner is right on such recent left terms as "sexism" and "homophobia," but not on "racism" and "anti-Semitism." Why the difference? Because, says the Pastor/Father, "Sexism' and 'homophobia' are terms of recent ideological invention and are designed to discredit opponents in the culture wars in which our society is embroiled." But, gotcha! Pastor/Father, for that is precisely the function of your beloved terms, "racism" and "anti-Semitism." The only difference is that these latter terms are of slightly less recent origin, employed continually by you and your buddies in the culture wars. Both terms have been mainly used during this century, for smear purposes.
Neuhaus does try to come up with a definition of "racism": "the view that different races are inherently superior or inferior, and that the superior race(s) should dominate the inferior." Not a very satisfactory definition, because it contains two clauses that don't necessarily go together. The problem is the "and" term: for (a) one may hold that Race A is superior to Race B, but not advocate that the former dominate the latter-one may advocate, for example, separateness of the races rather than domination; and (b) one may hold that Race A should dominate Race B even though the former is not necessarily superior, but for various utilitarian or religious reasons. Very foggy, Reverend.
But though he at least makes a stab at defining racism, the Reverend comes up empty on the issue he clearly considers the most crucial of all: anti-Semitism. He simply airily refers to his previous editorial; but, look at his previous editorial in the March issue and there is no definition at all, but only cloudy vaporings. Carefully avoiding a definition, the Pastor/Father can feel free to accuse me, and virtually everyone else, of "trivializing" anti-Semitism.
In my defense of Pat Buchanan in the Los Angeles Times (Jan. 6), I offered a definition: of personal anti-Semitism as someone who hates all Jews, and of political anti-Semitism as someone who wishes to levy political disabilities on Jews. Not only is this the only cogent definition I know of, but it's the only one that accords with the ordinary-language view of this concept. Put this baldly, it is patently obvious that neither Pat Buchanan nor Joe Sobran nor any other prominent American could possibly qualify under this dread label. Far from "trivializing" anti-Semitism, this definition at last reduces the term from a bogey to a sensible concept, and reveals that whatever the state of anti-Semitism in other countries it is, as it has always been, virtually non-existent in America.
Pastor Neuhaus then arrives at my speech before the John Randolph "Society." Humorless like all neocons, he of courses misses the wit. When I "rant" and "rail" against Buckley's long-time self-appointed role as Pope of the conservative movement excommunicating heretics, Neuhaus absurdly implies that I endorse each of these "heresies": Randians, Birchers, anti-civil rightsers (not "white supremacists," Pastor/Father) and "anti-Semites" (no, I said anti-Zionists, Father, a slip that obviously stems from your own neocon belief that the two are identical). It's not that I agree with all of these variants, Pastor; it's that I am opposed to their being excommunicated from the conservative movement. Neuhaus's mindset should be clear: this Pastor/Father/Commissar cannot conceive of peacefully co-existing with views with which he disagrees. Scratch a neocon, and you get a totalitarian, but of course always a "democratic," a Menshevik, totalitarian.
Not catching the wit is evident in Neuhaus's simply stating, as if it were self-evident, that Gore Vidal is filled with "anti-Semitic bile," and he darkly notes that Chronicles admires Vidal. Well, look Pastor/Father: Gore Vidal is anti-war and anti-imperialist, he is an American patriot, and he is very, very funny. But of course your neocon tin ear can never pick up the vibes.
The Pastor ends his philippic by solemnly averring that the "heresies" I mention "are in fact heresies." And then he runs down his familiar neocon Politically Correct litany: "racism," "nativism," "paranoid conspiratorialism," and "anti-Semitism." "Paranoid conspiratorialism" is the neocon Establishment smear term against any radicals who are outside whatever respectable consensus happens to exist at any given time. It is the use of psychobabble to discredit opponents and to make sure their ideas are never heard. And indeed, that is exactly what our Totalitarian Pastor/Father wants: these heresies, he thunders, "have no place in civilized public discourse," and, furthermore, "those who invited them back in to the public square invite the conclusion of others that they have no place there either."
Well, so much for us, and so much for freedom of speech and inquiry, and all those other goodies that most people think are implied in the neocons' vaunted concept of "democracy." No, "democracy" is very much democracy guided by the Pastor/Father and his cronies, to make sure that dissident voices, politically incorrect voices, are permanently barred from "the public square." Neuhaus goes on to say that he and his ilk are "defending the civitas "against "barbarians at the gates and within the gates." Well, if that's democracy, and that's the civitas, then I say the Hell with them; give me the "barbarians" any day in the week. For it is crystal clear that the "heresies" that the Pastor/Father is so worried about constitute, plain and simple, opposition to neocon rule. "Democracy" and "civitas " are only code words for the submission of all of us to that rule.
Like Poddy, Neuhaus is worried, that despite all this kookiness, we might well win! Yes, say your prayers to the god of your choice, Pastor/Father, for the future does belong to us.
And I'll make a deal with you, Pastor/Father: let me worry about anti-Semitism, and why don't you devote yourself for once to your allegedly real job: defense of the Catholic faith against a host of enemies from without, and against a horde of modernist heresies from within. So far, all you seem to have done to defend the Catholic faith is to praise Martin Luther (!) after becoming a Catholic priest, and to worry your head about the spectre of "anti-Semitism." Why don't you clean up the mess in your own house?
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