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January 20, 2016

Rush Limbaugh: The Thing That Unites The Conservative Movement Isn't Actually Conservatism

I didn't catch his whole talk on this, but he's recommending this article about an old adviser to Pat Buchanan (who later became a white supremacist, or at least was accused of such).

Samuel Francis wrote in 1996 that Buchanan -- or any would-be conservative-leaning president -- should just jettison all the philosophical curlicues of conservatism and just run on nationalism and patriotism.

I think.

[S]ooner or later, as the globalist elites seek to drag the country into conflicts and global commitments, preside over the economic pastoralization of the United States, manage the delegitimization of our own culture, and the dispossession of our people, and disregard or diminish our national interests and national sovereignty, a nationalist reaction is almost inevitable and will probably assume populist form when it arrives. The sooner it comes, the better…

The writer of the above-linked piece uses the quote to explain Trumpism, which I guess is a sort of nationalism plus temperamental conservatism without much actual conservative thought or specific policies attached to it. That is, it's conservative-sounding impulses (occasionally) that frequently conflict with the actual settled conservative policy consensus.

I don't think Trump knows enough about conservatism to even know there is a consensus among the thought leaders on a whole range of topics.

This makes him simultaneously infuriating, embarrassing, and exhilarating. It's embarrassing he didn't even bother to pick up three or four easy-reader books that would have sketched the main parameters of conservative thought, and it's infuriating he repudiates it all so breezily.

But, for anyone who think the conservative thought class has itself gotten too hidebound and dogmatic, it's exhilarating to see it all shaken up and so many things considered Beyond Question suddenly subject to question.

By the way, I don't say that the things Beyond Question should be discarded. Most of them are probably considered Beyond Question for a good reason. *

I just don't know if the greater mass of the party has ever really engaged in thinking about these things. Maybe people need a new round of debate and explaining -- even if this seems like repetitive work to those who've already thought all this through.

On the greater point, I think the piece is right. "Conservatives" aren't all actually conservative. I'm considered a sort of "hard rightwing conservative firebrand" or something, but in fact I'm really a pissed off liberal who's angry that self-claimed "liberals" claim a string of propositions, most of which I agree with, and then proceeds to violate all of these claims without any compunctions at all, in order to gain political power and pay off political constituents.

So I'm not sure that there's really a "conservative line of thought" that really animates the right.

I've also thought, for a long time, that the left is pretty coherent in goals, if not in philosophy. They do not have consistent philosophical reasons for their demands, but all of their demands are perfectly consistent in this sense: All of their demands boil down to using government power to take money or freedom from those outside the coalition in order to redistribute those goods to those within the coalition.

It's like a gang of thieves: They all might have different philosophical justifications for their thievery, but they all agree that at the end of the day you're getting fucking robbed.

What we call the "conservative movement" is simply a reaction to that. I don't want to use the word "reactionary" because it's considered a bad word but I think it's reactionary in the sense that the left attacks and steals, and then all the people they're running roughshod over have to band together defensively to oppose them.

And I don't know our movement has any actual agreed-to philosophy behind it except that we all agree we would like to stop being attacked and robbed by the left.

It could be that a dumb bunny, unschooled in actual conservative thought, might actually be an unexpectedly strong candidate precisely because the only "conservatism" he knows is the actual glue that holds the "movement" (if it is that) together: a simple opposition to being robbed and attacked by the left.

Note: I originally wrote that Limbaugh was endorsing this view. I am told I was wrong, and that in the several minutes I missed, he took the exact opposite position.

* Not being schooled in conservatism myself, I frequently consider conservative verities kind of dogmatic and arbitrary -- until they're explained to me as if I were five.

For example, I have become much, much more convinced that the gun rights people are right by reading arguments about it, even though I frequently mentally start in these arguments more to the left.

But on the other hand, I, like most people, don't want to spend my life studying politics. As many of you may have noticed, especially lately, I just don't think it's a particularly interesting subject. I'm not saying it's not an interesting subject, I'm just saying it's not the subject that gets my wheels going.

I just want to be left alone so I can pursue the subjects that actually do interest me.


Update: Apparently I missed a key part -- Rush wasn't agreeing with this at all.

Boone writes:

I actually heard this. Limbaugh was taking the opposite stand. He said that the media wants you to think that conservatives aren't United behind conservatism.

He was refuting, not advocating that position.

Oh okay then I definitely did miss some key parts when my browser crashed. (I had one of those tabs that refused to close.)


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posted by Ace at 02:02 PM

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