A Hundred Books to understand the World

Charles-Henri d’Andigné is a journalist for Famille chrétienne and also contributes to Figaro Magazine. Here he talks about his latest book, Cent livres pour comprendre le monde: petite bibliothèque pour un catholique d’aujourd’hui (A Hundred Books to understand the World: A little Library for Today’s Catholic)—a remarkable synthesis of one hundred important works to know.

He is in conversation with Christophe Geffroy, the publisher of La Nef magazine, to whom we are grateful for this opportunity to publish the English version of this interview.


Christophe Geffroy (CG): In this book you present an impressive array of authors. What was your goal and how did you choose?

Charles-Henri d’Andigné (C-HA): My goal is to offer Catholics, and men of good will in general, a set of books that provide reference points in an era when everything is fluid and changing, and when we are losing sight of the most obvious facts.

Charles-Henri d’Andigné. Credit: DR.

Modern man believes he can do whatever he wants, say whatever he wants, think whatever he wants! We Catholics are more affected than we think by this generalized hubris.

The one hundred books I have written about are so many beacons in this uncertain and changing world: philosophical, theological, historical and sociological beacons.

I wrote my book like a bouquet: there are lilies and roses, and then there are violets—I borrow this metaphor from Saint Therese of Lisieux. In other words, there are the great authors, Maritain, Bernanos, Camus, Brague, and then more modest authors, Alix de Saint-André or Gerald Durrell, to form a whole that I hope is harmonious. And accessible—I am addressing the general public.

CG: Why is it important for a Catholic to have a certain culture when Christ rejoices that his Father did not reveal the things of Heaven to the “wise” and the “clever” but to the “little ones” (cf. Mt 11:25)?

C-HA: The Gospel tells us that Christ did not come for an elite group of people who know, but for everyone, young and old, without leaving anyone by the wayside.

Christianity is not a gnosis for the initiated. However, we must cultivate ourselves, as the farmer cultivates the land, so that it may bear beautiful fruit. As François-Xavier Bellamy reminds us in Les Déshérités (The Disinherited), to which I dedicate a chapter, culture humanizes us, helps us to be more ourselves. This is all the more vital in an era rich in mortifying ideologies. Without true culture, there is no intellectual immunity—ideologies penetrate you easily like a hot knife cutting through butter.

CG: Man, God, history, society are the four main parts of your book. In what way do these themes intersect with the essential problems facing our us?

C-HA: Simply because the great ideologies to which I referred are all more or less materialistic. They turn us away from God; they turn us away from man, who thereby becomes only be an individual driven by his economic or sexual interests; they turn us away from the historical and social facts that then used to impose their propaganda.

I don’t need to tell you to what extent this propaganda is present in schools, in the media and now in big companies which impose re-education courses to their employees.

CG: Although all the authors selected are not Catholics or “conservatives” in the broadest sense, this dual belonging is nevertheless dominant. Do you also take on this marked commitment? And what do you say to those who would reproach you for it?

C-HA: I take on this commitment perfectly. We suffer a lot from “deconstruction,” based on the belief that nothing exists in a natural way, that everything is a social construct and that therefore everything is “deconstructable;” better that everything must be deconstructed, so that we can finally be free. The result is an isolated individual, an offspring of his own works, who does not inherit, does not transmit anything and has no other links with his peers than those related to his interests.

It is therefore urgent to reconnect with our religious, philosophical and historical traditions, in order to preserve what deserves to be preserved. Gustave Thibon, one of “my” hundred authors, defines himself as a conservative anarchist. Of course, conservative does not mean narrow-minded. One can have a conservative sensibility and read authors considered as left-wing, Orwell or Simone Weil to name but a few. Hence my chapters on Nineteen Eighty-Four and The Need for Roots.

CG: For Christians, how do you see the struggle of ideas in society (its importance, its influence)? And do Christians seem to you to be up to this struggle? In other words, is there today a credible Christian intellectual succession?

C-HA: Some Christians seem to have understood the importance of the struggle of ideas after the adoption of “marriage” for all. Having never heard of gender theory, they could not even conceive of the notion of same-sex marriage. Are they now up to the task of fighting this battle of ideas? I fear that this is not yet the case.

But the Christian intellectual succession is there. Let us mention just one name, that of the philosopher Olivier Rey—I dedicate a chapter to Une question de taille (A Question of Size)—one of the finest and most profound minds of his generation.


Featured image: “The Library of Thorvald Boeck,” by Harriet Backer; painted in 1902.

Christopher Lasch: Historical Continuity and Memory

The American historian and sociologist Christopher Lasch (1932-1994) expressed his distrust of the ideology of progress in the context of the New Deal. His works analyzed in particular the new mentality generated by the consumer society (The Culture of Narcissism, 1979), or the rupture between the people and the elites (The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy, 1994). In Christopher Lasch face au progrès (L’Escargot), journalist Laurent Ottavi provides keys to understanding this complex and unclassifiable thinker.

This interview is made available through the kind courtesy of PHILITT. (Translated from the French by N. Dass).


PHILITT (PL): Christopher Lasch made the “ideology of progress” his primary target. In the post-war American context, what exactly does this mean?

Laurent Ottavi (LO): For Lasch, the “ideology of progress” is modern liberalism—the political philosophy of capitalism, born in the writings of Adam Smith and his immediate predecessors. It is based on the promise of a satisfaction of the desires of individuals, held to be insatiable, by the unlimited increase of production. Its fulfillment requires the liberation from particular frameworks of belonging (family, neighborhood, nation, etc.), traditions, nature and morality that set limits to individual desiderata. In this way, an ever-perfected earthly paradise of abundance and enjoyment is born.

Lasch began his research in the post-World War II era, at a time when American capitalism was centered on the consumer, to the detriment of the producer, which the New Deal had greatly contributed to—while power was increasingly in the hands of experts and multinationals—resulting in a serious democratic collapse. This was coupled with a fracture, which began a few decades ago but was unprecedented in its magnitude, between the “elites” and a people considered backward, clinging to their traditions and work ethic and deploring the collapse of legitimate and identified authority.

PL: Does his anti-progressivism necessarily make him a conservative or reactionary thinker?

LO: The reactionary is only the mirror image of the progressive. The former idolizes a past frozen in an eternal perfection, while the latter sees in the past centuries only, with the lesser good to be wiped away. The conservatives, on the other hand, have according to Lasch, a right conscience of the inescapable limits posed on human freedom by nature, the past or History. The historian also rejects the idea that conservatives are necessarily authoritarian, centralizing and unequal. Instead, they identify the need for social structures that discipline individual appetites and the importance of separating powers that might otherwise quickly be monopolized by one man.

Laurent Ottavi.

Conservatives, Lasch adds, know that respect and love are for particular individuals, accountable to each other, and not the result of invoking “universal brotherhood” or “tolerance” that locks people into welfare or victimhood. That being said, Lasch criticizes conservatives for having too often confused the acceptance of limits with submission to the authority in place and, above all, for having adhered to the ideology of Progress that destroys communities, morals and traditions to which they claim to be so attached. If he is not fully a conservative and even less a reactionary, Lasch describes himself best as a populist.

PL: The figure of Narcissus, thematized by Lasch, is a degraded version of Prometheus, “archetype of liberal modernity and its ideal of autonomy.” What characterizes the culture of narcissism?

LO: The culture of narcissism is the product of a capitalism freed from the corsets that hindered it since its beginnings. Drawing lessons from the Frankfurt School thinkers, Lasch judges that all society reproduces itself in the individual, in particular through the family. He identifies the narcissistic psychology of the new generic man, obsessed with the survival of his own person, in the age of mass capitalism.

In a world where insatiable desires collide with the wall of reality, which is close enough for great catastrophes to strike us but too far away to act on it, individuals have defense mechanisms similar to those of the child developing a narcissistic personality. The latter denies the distressing reality of the separation between him and beings that cannot satisfy all his desires. He then takes refuge in a painless union and in ecstasy with the mother or lends his parents the power to satisfy all his desires and imposes them on everyone.

At the level of a society, this translates, in the first case, into the search for a regressive symbiosis with the world typical of transgenderism, of the New Age, or of an ecology divinizing nature. In the second case, it is expressed by a desire to remake the world in one’s own image, such as the desire to exert absolute control through technology in spite of nature and biology. Without practical experience of the world, the psychological man of our time also abdicates the possibility of forging an individuality because that requires the consideration of limits. He is a dependent and deeply anxious Prometheus.

PL: In Lasch’s eyes, you write, “the American elites are less a ruling class than a ‘managerial professional class.’” What does he criticize them for and what conclusions does he draw from this fracture between them and the people?

LO: Lasch observes that the elites, that is the richest 20% who are largely executives and intellectual professionals, have lost the sense of reality because they are cut off from everything (nature, manual labor, etc.) that resists the will of man and keeps them in the illusion of wanting to reconfigure their environment and themselves as they please.

On the other hand, the elites aim not so much at ruling as at escaping the common fate within gilded ghettos where they concentrate economic, educational, leisure and transport advantages. Lasch reproaches them above all for betraying democracy, which is based on popular sovereignty, a shared ordinary life and virtues, foremost among which is moral responsibility, all of which are mocked by the elites. Fatally cornered with the reaction of the people, against a background of accumulated emergencies (social, health, security, etc.), they risk becoming more and more authoritarian in order to preserve their privileges and to maintain an unsustainable economic organization or a fractured society. For its part, the former lower middleclass risks giving in to growing resentment.

PL: Like George Orwell, Lasch seems to have identified a “common decency” among ordinary people. Many have denounced the essentialist character of such a notion. How do you respond to them?

LO: To use the expression “common decency” is not to claim to describe in an exhaustive way the characteristics of ordinary people. It simply underlines one of their dimensions, their instinctive sense of limits drawn, writes Kévin-Boucaud Victoire, “from the ordinary practice of mutual aid, mutual trust and social but fundamental bonds.”

Today, common decency is most prevalent among the former lower middleclass. It has inherited a sense of limits from the petit-bourgeois sensibility because of the difficulties of its daily life—its empowering practice of manual trades or hobbies, or its inclusion in the community framework. Lasch does not hide its possible failings by mentioning the racism, the anti-intellectualism and the resentment into which the petty-bourgeois sensibility can sink. The populism of the historian would help to defuse such failings.

PL: How precisely is Lasch’s “populist sensibility” defined? In what way can populism, often reduced to a form of “extreme right,” allow for the foundation of a post-capitalist society?

LO: His populist sensibility articulates the best of conservative, religious, socialist and liberal traditions. It would be the best way to turn the page of capitalism democratically and without the illusion of a revolutionary evening, and thus of growth, excess, wage-labor, centralization, inequality, abstraction and the fracture between the people and their elites. It requires four democratizations: economic, reviving a Republic of producers; political, involving citizens as much as possible at the local level; intellectual, reviving the lost art of controversy; cultural, finally, through popular sport and art.

Christopher Lasch adds to this an indispensable revitalization of the family, too isolated today from work, from intermediate places, such as bars, or even from neighborhoods. He opposes the progressives’ primacy of the future with a historical continuity based on memory, the mother of hope, as well as a consideration of the moral depth of the tradition of Christian prophecy.


Conservatism And The Christian Religion

From among the various ideological and political movements, the conservative movement is widely considered as a natural ally of the Catholic Church. This claim is made not only by its opponents, who for more than two centuries have been presenting the Church as the most backward of institutions, hostile to the spirit of progress, but also by those, who see in the Church the last defender of natural social bonds.

However, this thesis cannot be applied to all of Christianity. When we take other Christian communities into consideration, especially those which have their beginning in the Reformation, it is difficult to assign them en bloc conservative sympathies. On the contrary, some of them exhibit features of almost revolutionary radicalism. But this is not surprising, as the Evangelical message has always brought, and still continues to bring, a breath of refreshing “revolution.”

Therefore, is not the simplified identification of Christianity with an attitude that only preserves and strengthens the existing tradition, as inappropriate a simplification as the statement that, in reality, only “new things” are important? Even if the alliance between the Church and conservatism has been a relatively constant occurrence since the French Revolution, it is worth considering whether this is a result of actual similarities between the Christian (or broader, religious) and the conservative perspectives of the world, or whether it is a result of random historical circumstances.

In this necessarily short analysis, I would like to consider the sources of the conservative attitude and its similarities to the religious view of reality, to show the characteristics of conservatism as political phenomena, and to have a closer look at the relation between conservatism and Christianity.

1. The Natural Character Of The Conservative Attitude

While conservatism as a political movement is a relatively recent phenomenon, the conservative attitude seems to be timeless. The problem it faces, namely the problem of our attitude towards continuity and change, is connected not only with the social or political dimensions of life, but remains directly rooted in the human condition itself, as well as in our metaphysical understanding of the world. As is known, already at the dawn of European civilization, in the philosophical dispute on what really exists, beside Heraclitus’ vision—which above all noticed the constant struggle and movement in the world (which takes place, however, in an order strictly imposed by logos)—the vision of the most radical “conservative” of all times appeared—that of Parmenides, who managed to preserve reality in a state of perfect unity and stability at the price of ignoring and repudiating as non-existent all diversity and change.

However, it certainly is not the speculations on the first principle which constitute the origin of the conservative attitude, but rather this attitude finds its initial source in the internal structure of the human being itself. This is because the conservative attitude is deeply rooted in the very essence of being human. It is natural and spontaneous. Although human life consists of a series of changes and ever new experiences, a constant concern is ineradicably present; a concern for the preservation of everything that is considered as one’s unquestionable good, starting from the most basic values, such as physical existence, and ending on the highest values—a concern, which is simultaneously a concern for the preservation of one’s own identity and for the preservation of one’s own self in the fullness of one’s own personal and communal existence.

An important philosophical standpoint, which emphasises this concern for the preservation of one’s own self while also making it the central anthropological theme, is that of St. Thomas Aquinas. St. Thomas, who, in his concept, refers to Aristotle, brings our attention to the fact that every living creature without exception has a natural inclination towards the protection of its own existence. Furthermore, the behaviour of animals is determined by an equally natural disposition, which drives them to protect their offspring—it is precisely in this disposition that it is possible to find the source of the most elementary social behaviour. On the other hand, more developed forms of such behaviour and the uniquely human tendency to social life, have their source in rational human nature . These three natural inclinations not only influence humans directly (that is, they define one’s spontaneous reactions even when one is unaware of them), but also through reason, when one is aware of them as their “natural laws,” as one’s obvious objective, which one should always strive for. The classical standpoint on natural law presented by St. Thomas is based on just this natural human tendency to care for the preservation of all, which constitutes one’s unquestionable, natural good: for one’s self, one’s family and for the broader community with which one permanently identifies one’s self.

This powerful charge of conservatism, deeply rooted in metaphysics and in the concept of being human, has left us by a thinker, whose influence on the development of the Christian, especially the Catholic, outlook on the world cannot be overstated, undoubtedly had a considerable influence on the affability with which, since the nineteenth century, the Church has looked upon conservative groups. However, it is worth mentioning, when recalling St. Thomas’ thoughts, that he noticed, apart from these natural conservative inclinations which operate in humans, a powerful dynamizing tendency—the infinite drive for the truth, as “man has a natural inclination to know the truth about God,” which, besides the tendency to social life, determines the way of existence typical of rational beings.

2. The Communal Significance Of The Conservative Attitude

Let us take a moment to look at the communal dimension of human existence, where the conservative attitude finds its specific, political significance. What does it mean that a human is a social being? As Aristotle had already noticed, in contrast to animals, which instinctively group into flocks and herds, humans, as beings endowed in speech and reason, are bound together by a common belief in that which is good and that which is evil. The human community is, therefore, an ethical community in the deepest sense. Caring for one’s own ethical community, for its ethos (the system of values, customs and behaviour accepted within its framework) to be upheld and to remain unquestioned, is equally obvious to every person, just like his concern for his own self—in fact, they are one and the same. This is because who we are—how we understand ourselves, our objectives, our tasks, our calling—remains closely bound to our sense of belonging to an ethical community.

Of course, people may also group together based on short-term and instrumental objectives, and in this way create a social network of various communities, groups and associations. However, given human nature, there is always a community which constitutes the final point of ethical reference—as easy or difficult it may be to define. It is precisely the ethos of this community, that is, the set of values professed within it, which constitutes the unquestionable, absolute good for the individual who identifies himself with this community. Absolute, in the sense that, when looking from within the community through the eyes of its members, apart from the specific contents of the given ethos, there is nothing else, which could constitute a measure of good and evil.

Such communities that, for the individual, constitute the final point of ethical reference, could just as well be called religious communities, if it were not for the fact that some of them, by definition, are un- or antireligious, as in the case of many contemporary ideologies. Their antireligious—which in our cultural circle simply means anti-Judeo-Christian—nature should not conceal from us the fact that they are also communities built on absolute (in the sense described above) values. They are, to their members, the final point of ethical orientation; hence, also shown to be quasi-religious communities.

This is because, religion, in its deepest sense, is the bond between people. It must be stressed that this is the strongest possible bond, based on a common belief in that which constitutes our absolute good. Religion is the formation and nurturing of such deepest ties, and is, therefore, also the continuous concern for sustaining the community and for the preservation of its ethical foundations. If we look at religion through the prism of its binding function, perceiving it primarily as the adhesive (based on absolute values), which holds human communities together, then in every religion or quasi-religion without exception, its essential and necessary element turns out to be an attitude that preserves its ethos, irrelevant of the religion itself and of the ethos that binds its followers.

3. The Paradoxes Of Political Conservatism

Without the conservative attitude, there can be no talk of identity, either individual or communal. Without it, we could neither be ourselves, nor would there be any strong ties connecting us to others; ties, which constitute the basis of our closeness to, and responsibility for, others and for the whole community. The conservative attitude is so natural to humans, so obvious and spontaneous, that it normally is not noticed or even thought of. In order for it to become something that people are aware of and which is consciously chosen as a political program, certain exceptional circumstances must occur, which openly question its obvious and natural character. Conservatism, now understood as an ideological and political movement, is by no means natural, but rather, it is reactive—it is the reaction to certain phenomena and events, in the face of which ethical communities recognize that their way of being and the values which they wish to preserve are direly threatened.

Revolution proved to be such an event-catalyst, which somehow forced the birth of the ideological conservative movement and which still sustains it in existence. Although the revolution broke out in late eighteenth century France, it was not a one-off event; but rather, it continues—constantly undergoing metamorphoses—to this very day. Before the Revolution there was no place for conservatism as a political ideology. It was not only unnecessary, but even unthinkable in a situation where any breach of the ethical foundations of a community (which nowadays occurs always and everywhere) was generally regarded as shameful and as a violation. This ideology could only emerge once the public opinion was dominated by ethically uprooted people, who in the name of a projected, abstract community, were prepared to destroy the previously existing community and its ethical foundations—everything, which up until then, had been considered sacred, permanent and inviolable. Even if, therefore,

conservatism as an ideological formation is presently still an intellectually and politically attractive movement, and even if it is currently undergoing its renaissance, this does not as such prove the strength of its ideas—the conservative attitude is, after all, always alive—but rather the strength with which the idea of revolutionary destruction is attacking the world of values in which we feel at home. The assertion of conservative ideas only makes sense, and can count on support there, where the ideas of revolution are widespread and where the threat of annihilating the existing ethical order still exists.

However, it is difficult not to notice that conservatism as a political formation remains entangled in deep paradoxes. The first of them is its above-mentioned reactive, and, therefore, negative or even defensive, nature. Conservatism, although asserting the positive idea of protecting the ethical foundations of the community, in fact—just like every political movement, which must win its identity in the struggle for power with its opponents—builds its program and its identity on the negation and rejection of the program proposed by the advocates of radical changes. Meanwhile, the ethical foundations of the community are protected and strengthened, not merely through political activities, but by living “in accordance with values,” through the daily cultivation of all, which, for the community, constitutes its essential ethical core.

Moreover, conservatism as the conservative attitude is something formal, empty in content; therefore, something which is dependant and incomplete. Not only does this make it different to Christian and non-Christian religious communities, but also to other political movements, such as socialism, liberalism or nationalism, which build their identity around a particular leading idea that is based on some defined system of values. Conservatism as such does not in itself contain any particular leading idea. It always exists in symbiosis with an “ethical feeder,” by which it can develop and which, at the same time, it strengthens. It always assumes the previous existence of some particular community, which possesses a defined ethos, that is, a set of values which constitute it, and, therefore, something, which in itself is not conservative, but rather something which can and should be preserved. However, this means that depending on the circumstances, diametrically different programs may be concealed behind the slogans of political conservatism. We can find an example of this already at the beginning of conservative political groupings: on the one hand, the movement initiated in England by Edmund Burke, who aimed to protect social life based on liberal (in the classical understanding of this term) values, on the other hand—French conservatism, a traditionalist movement, which refers to the pre-Revolutionary order, for which, many of the values advocated by British conservatives would be unacceptable.

Reaching back in our memories to more recent times, it is worth remembering that the label “conservative” was also used—and not without reason—in reference to members of the PZPR [Polish United Worker’s Party], who were called the “party’s hard hats,” because they were hard to influence, resistant to any changes. Although such an interpretation of the term “conservatism” may, understandably, seem distasteful to advocates of conservative ideas, the meaning of the term “conservatism” in itself does not exclude it.

Moreover, it is easy to imagine that even that, which seems to be the exact opposite of conservatism, may also undergo preservation—that is, the idea of revolution itself, thus taking on the form of permanent revolution. When this idea becomes the common element that binds a group of revolutionaries, it immediately takes on the role of the ethical basis of their community, which, within the framework of this community, must be protected and preserved as a permanent constituent of it. This is very well illustrated by one of the most influential mechanisms that preserves a certain type of social behaviour—a mechanism, which is contemporarily called fashion. Fashion, based on the natural reaction to adjust to the prevailing customs, acquires a conservative function within a community. When it reaches the point that the violation of the prevailing principles and the breaking of taboos in all dimensions of life cease to be considered excessive and become fashionable, we are dealing with an obvious case of preserving the revolutionary attitude in the form of a custom.

Yet another paradox of conservative thinking is revealed when we consider the ambiguous situation that the advocates of conservative ideas find themselves in, in a world ploughed up by revolution. When a new order emerges after a sudden political change, and if this order continues for a longer period of time, both new institutions, as well as new attitudes among the people, are perpetuated. Finally, the moment comes when the conservative supporters of the old order, no longer have anything left to preserve—that, which was old, has irrevocably gone, and that, which is new, has been perpetuated. At a certain point, a conservative must, if he wants the return of the old world, become that, which he hates the most—he must become a revolutionary. This is the paradox that French conservatives experienced in the nineteenth century. Many of them came to the conclusion that it was necessary to destroy the prevailing new order, which had emerged many years before and which had been accepted, in large, by society, and, with the use of force, to reinstate the old order—they called for a conservative counterrevolution, which would not in so much be a program of action directed against the revolution, but rather a new revolution directed against the new, already implemented, order.

It is hard not to notice that, to some degree, the countries, which, after 1989, broke free from the shackles of totalitarianism, also found themselves in a similar situation. Decades of the “new totalitarian order” left their mark and advocates, who, attempting to operate under the banner of conservatism, should ask themselves what can and should be preserved, and what it would be necessary to abolish and uproot as quickly as possible, in order to ensure that the construction of a new society and a new state does not prove to be merely a slightly modified version of the previous one. Also, the years following the fall of communism was a time where the new (old?) behaviour had already taken the form of habits and social customs, defining, whether we liked it or not, the ethical identity of our country [Poland].

4. Is Christianity Conservative?

The Church as a religious community, the members of which are bound by a specific, defined set of values, and which is, moreover, the most numerous community of this type in our cultural circle, has obviously become the main subject of attack by advocates of the revolution. It is, therefore, not surprising that the political conservative movement, which formed as a reaction to the revolution, emerged as its natural ally. However, an ally, which declares its alliance on the political level, when faced by an obvious common threat, does not necessarily prove the existence of a deeper unity of ideas or identity. As already mentioned above, there is a fundamental disparity between the conservative and the Christian perspective of the world: on the one hand, we have the conservative attitude, empty in terms of contents, on the other—a particular religious community founded on a defined system of values. This disparity does not prevent the symbiosis between political conservatism and Christianity in our cultural circle, and, furthermore, already as “Christian conservatism” protects the sustainability of a community based on “Christian values.”

Conservatism, although not necessarily, may certainly be Christian, but the key question is: in how much is Christianity essentially conservative? Of course, as in every ethical and religious tradition, the conservative element is ineradicable; hence Christianity must also be, to some degree, conservative, as must every community—including a community of radical revolutionaries—which wishes to maintain its identity. However, it is worth asking whether, in the Christian community, this conservative element does not undergo substantial modification because of its particular Christian contents? The essential content of the Christian message is, after all, not based on the possibility to, once and for all, reduce its principles to an established code of proper conduct, the observance of which makes us members of the Christian community. While it is inconceivable for a Christian not to observe the Ten Commandments, in this case, their conservative attitude concerns respecting basic values, which, as necessary conditions for the existence of any community, bind all people of good will, regardless of their ethical or religious origins.

What is specifically Christian is not a closed system of norms, requiring continuous protection, but an openness to an infinitely rich reality, with an excess of meaning, inviting one to plunge into it, even if they will never be able to fully penetrate it in this world. A Christian’s ethos is dynamic; it is something that has not been defined once and for all, but is rather given as a path for one to take, along which new challenges constantly await. God, in which Christians’ put their trust, wants us to give Him praise, not in any fixed location, but in Spirit and in Truth.

Among the many places of the Gospels, revealing this extraordinary identity of the Christian community, which aims to maintain old proven values, but also, to be open to new things, Jesus’ conversation with the rich young man seems especially significant—the man asks Jesus what he should do to achieve eternal life. He receives a twofold reply: above all protect and care for that, which you have been given within the framework of the community in which you live—keep the Commandments: you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother and love your neighbour as yourself. But this is only the first step, the bare minimum; the observance of which seems to be essential in order for the community to be able to continue to exist safely and in peace.

On the other hand, whoever really aspires to perfection, is called to something more. He is called to sell everything he has and give it to the poor, and having freed himself of all which bound him, to then follow Jesus, wherever this path is to take him. This radical call to perfection, the call to follow the path of Christ, seems to protect Christians against the absolutization of the conservative attitude, from the excessive attachment to all that, although making up our evident good, belongs to a world in which we are only passers-by.


Zbigniew Stawrowski is Professor at the Institute of Political Science, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw. and Director of the Józef Tischner Institute of Thought, Krakow. He is the author several books on political philosophy. A version of this article appeared in Religia I Konserwatyzm: Sprzymierzency Czy Konkurenci? Translated from the Polish by Ania Morisson.


Featured image: The three orders (the clergy, the nobility, and the Third Estate), in Honoré Bonet’s L’arbre des batailles, ca. 15th century.

Sir Roger Scruton: A Platonic Tribute

Sir Roger Scruton—professor of aesthetics, author, political thinker, composer, theorist of music, ecologist, wine connoisseur, publicist and gadfly at large—passed away on January 12, 2020. As the sad news broke out, a global outpouring of tributes began, testifying to the magnitude of Scruton’s achievement and provoking questions about its meaning. Among the first, Timothy Garton Ash tweeted his sadness for the loss of a “provocative, sometimes outrageous Conservative thinker that a truly liberal society should be glad to have challenging it.”

Sir Roger’s passing is of special significance to my instution Bard College Berlin, which hosted him on two memorable occasions. It is also of personal significance to me. Though I was never a student of his, I had the privilege of knowing Professor Scruton since 1993, when a chance encounter proved to be a turning point in my intellectual path.

The Encounter

I first met Scruton in Krakow, at a conference on national stereotypes. At the time I was a student of psychology at the Jagiellonian University, gearing up to write a master’s thesis on the subject of how and why different nations perceive each other. Poland in those post-Cold War years was in the grip of regime change and a far-reaching cultural transition. Although many aspects of that transition were as contested then as they are now, there seemed to be a broad consensus: in the wake of the Soviet empire’s collapse, rejoining Europe and returning to the West where, as was said, Poland rightfully belonged was the most important political and civilizational objective. And rejoining the West meant embracing liberalism—as a political creed, economic program, and self-critical spirit.

The conference, which took place in Krakow’s newly renovated Theater Academy was imbued with this spirit. Paper after paper denounced cultural stereotypes and brought forward new examples, from the early Disney films to the latest political contests, to evidence and critique of the pervasive presence of prejudice in Western culture. With the message so monotonous, it was difficult to stay attentive.

Then came Roger Scruton. His lecture on Edmund Burke’s defense of prejudice as a distillation of collective experience sought to explain why we should not simply dismiss a phenomenon that might be constitutive of social life. Before rushing to repudiate prejudice, we had better examine its psychological origins and seek to understand its social function. Nor would repudiation help. If stereotypes are indeed necessary, repudiation would do little more than replace old prejudices with new ones.

Roger Scruton speaking at the European College of Liberal Arts, now Bard College Berlin, in 2011 (Photo Credit: Irina Stelea).

Decades later, I still recall the sensation of hearing Scruton’s talk and the shockwaves it sent through the room. Everyone seemed to be sitting on edge, riveted by incomprehension. If the conference was a current that tended in one direction, Scruton swam against it, carried by the sheer force of his eloquent arguments delivered with a generous dose of dry wit.

Did he persuade? No, not even me, thrilled though I was to hear intellectual controversy enter the sleepy conference room, and amazed by his courage to face disapproval. Besides the many points I did not understand (my English was rudimentary back then), I could not grasp how a philosopher could seek to vindicate prejudice, whether in the age of Enlightenment or our own. And this left me with two thinkers—Scruton and Burke—to reckon with. Actually three, for Socrates soon came along to lend an interpretive lens.

After the conference, Professor Scruton and I stayed in touch in the only way practicable back then: by exchanging letters. Two years later, after receiving a stack of philosophy books that I was not in a position to read, I got an invitation to visit him in England while finishing my master’s thesis. Elated, if ill prepared for what to expect, I booked a ticket for a coach that took me across Europe to Calais, then on a ferry to Dover, and onwards to London. From London, Scruton and I continued by train to Kemble—a little town in Wiltshire, where a decrepit-looking car, stocked with books (some, to my surprise, in Arabic) waited to take us on the last stretch to Sunday Hill Farm.

Roger’s home was a stone-walled cottage surrounded by swaths of green. Three or four horses chewed quietly in an enclosure. Sheep like specks of light were scattered in the distance. Little in the picture suggested which century we were in. The cottage itself, though visibly old, was no less discrete. Offering all the modern comforts, its rooms were furnished with objects reclaimed from the ages, each playing its part in a harmonious whole. Here, I sensed, was an alternate universe where time had come to a pause, and past and present gathered to commune and peacefully cohabit. The largest space in the two-story structure was a dusky room with book-lined walls. One of these was all green with small identical-looking volumes that, years later, I would recognize as the Loeb Classical Library. Two pianos balanced the space and sealed its image as a temple of the muses.

As soon as we arrived things fell into a calm, work-focused routine—from the morning tea, to lunch, often prefaced by a horse-ride in the adjacent fields, through the solitary afternoons, to dinner-time when guests showed up and long conversations took place over choice wine and enchanted meals Roger himself cooked. It is at one of those dinners that I first met Sophie, Roger’s wife to be, and also Christina, a high-school student and the oldest daughter of a Rumanian immigrant family that Roger had practically adopted. Though long and hardworking, the days at Sunday Hill Farm did not feel that way. This was because every hour had its special purpose. Roger would take time off writing to attend to a small garden, feed the horses, bake bread, or work on whatever it was he was composing. And my presence seemed to fit seamlessly into this schedule.

A few days into my visit, Roger departed for London, leaving me alone on the farm. Having recently arrived in a country whose ways—driving on the wrong side of the road, for instance—appeared eminently strange to me, I was less than eager to be left on my own. Yet this proved an opportunity to explore the vicinity, venturing to nearby Malmesbury—a small, medieval town which (I would later discover) was the birthplace of Thomas Hobbes and a bloody playground of the wars of religion that had scarred its historic abbey.

Roaming the cottage in Roger’s absence, I was trying to peek into the mindset of this person who would invite a stranger from across the continent and give her trust and welcome. It is only then that I could take a closer look at the small study that hosted Roger’s writing desk and another piano with hand-written scores piled up on it—his first opera. The shelves in the study were occupied mostly with the books—quite a few of them!—Roger had authored on such disparate subjects as music, architecture, politics or modern philosophy. There were also a few novels. At that moment, I came to realize that I was in the presence of something extraordinary, a beautiful vista I had hitherto no experience of: a life dedicated to books and music.

Well, and horses too.

The Gadfly

In Plato’s Apology, Socrates calls himself a gadfly and describes his mission as bearing witness to uncomfortable truths. His community, the polis, he likens to a large horse, strong and well-bred, if a bit dull and sleepy, going mindlessly about its horsey business. To prick the city and his fellow citizens, shake them from their moral slumber, to summon their intellects and awaken their conscience—this, according to Plato’s Socrates, is philosophy’s calling. This calling, however, requires that its votary put himself on the line: not hide behind technical subjects or language only a few understand but enter the fray and speak about the great questions of human life in a manner that is clear and accessible (needless to add, prickly) to the community at large. It also requires the courage to face disagreement and, in Socrates’ case, even death.

Scruton’s life and death were overshadowed by controversies of one kind or another—from his work as the founding editor of the Salisbury Review that, dissenting from the mainstream at home, supported dissidents in Eastern Europe; through his spirited defense of fox-hunting; to the Brexit debates and his involvement in a Tory government commission, whose work he did not live to see in print.

Roger Scruton with Petr Uhl and Vaclav Havel on the occasion of Scruton’s being awarded the Czech Republic Medal of Merit, First Class in 1998.

In the decades that spanned our friendship, and across many embroilments, I came to understand Roger’s philosophical stance and rhetorical gestures as the work of a Socratic gadfly. Understanding, however, was not the same as accepting. And I often questioned the need for these embroilments, resenting them at times, because they seemed to muffle his message and weaken its intellectual and moral authority.

“Why alienate people?” I’d ask. “Why disturb cherished views and call forth public anger? Is this not the lesson Plato drew from Socrates’ death—that philosophy and politics do not truly mesh because the one longs for truth and the other needs lies, more or less noble? Truth, when graspable, is convoluted and complex. Reduced to a plain message, injected into the public space, it becomes lopsided and polemical, an ideology more than wisdom.”

Roger would acknowledge my passionate opinions with a gentle nod. A philosophical modernist, he had made Platonic philosophy, and Socrates as its presumed spokesman, a fertile ground for theoretical disagreement—a disagreement perhaps nowhere more visible than in his recurrent wrestling with the question of love. In practice, however, for Scruton as for Socrates, philosophy to be true to its mission demanded public engagement with all of its existential commitments and costs. The philosopher is not accidentally but essentially a gadfly; all the more so in a society that claims to be open and free. And this, as both understood, was a quest fraught with perilous paradoxes.

In Plato’s account, Socrates was sentenced to death by the people of Athens on a triple charge—of corrupting the youth, not believing in the gods of the city, and making the weaker argument the stronger. If the accusations of corruption and heresy seem clear, the last bit is puzzling. To make the weaker argument the stronger is usually interpreted as insincere sophistry: thanks to rhetorical skills and facility for crafting arguments, the sophist can make any claim prevail, no matter its inherent strength. Like a modern-day debater, he aims at victory not truth, and any argument that wins the jury’s favor has validity enough.

But there is another way to understand the indictment against Socrates that comes to light with the help of Aristotle’s ethics. For Aristotle, virtue is not the opposite to vice, but the mean between two vices. Courage, on that view, is not simply contrary to cowardice. Equally opposed to rashness and timidity, it is a kind of fine-tuning that balances the pull of two extremes. However, if virtue is a mean, it is rarely found in the middle, for each of us has particular tendencies that propel us in one direction more than the other. And so, if one person is prone to temerity while another to fear, in each case courage would look a bit different, and lie closer to one or the other pole.

If we assume that each society or historical moment has its own tendencies and ruling passions that make certain opinions more acceptable than others, to balance these, one would need to champion the weaker view—weaker not in the sense of inherently less valid, but in the sense of less popular. And this because truth, like virtue, is rarely in the extreme; and justice too would require that we weigh all sides of the argument. These sides, Burke famously argued, include not only the living but also the long dead and the yet-to-be-born. In this reading, wherever the culture is going, the philosopher’s mission is to pull the other way, and to side with propositions that, whether forgotten, or not fully realized, tend to be underestimated or ignored—and, in that sense, weaker.

“If I were born in an aristocratic century,” writes Tocqueville, “amid a nation in which the hereditary wealth of some and the irremediable poverty of others held souls as if benumbed in the contemplation of another world, I would want it to be possible for me to stimulate the sentiment of needs … and try to excite the human mind in the pursuit of well-being. Legislators of democracies have other concerns… It is necessary that all those who are interested in the future of democratic societies unite, and that all in concert make continual efforts to spread within these societies the taste for the infinite, the sentiment for the grand, and the love for non-material pleasures.”

To be a gadfly, then, would mean to raise troubling questions, and to point out aspects of social life and our humanity—the need for prejudice, for instance—that risk being overlooked or trampled on by the ideological élan for a particular opinion. It is to caution that not every change is for the better (consider climate); and what may seem like progress today—e.g., moving away from traditional forms of subjection—could yet prove to be an oppression much greater tomorrow (consider totalitarianism). It is to warn that in our hopeful enthusiasm for righting wrongs, by improving one thing we are likely to spoil another; and that, in the great complexity of human affairs, unless fully understood and carefully administered, the cure often proves worse than the disease.

Truth so discerned is bound to offend because it resists our preferences and collective instincts—precisely our prejudice. At the same time, this offense, if earnestly delivered and thoughtfully received, is what propels us toward thinking. It challenges us to consider aspects we may be prone to disregard, and to account for what and why we believe in. Only by listening to those who question our certitudes, Mill argued in On Liberty, can ideology be countered and dead dogma quickened into vital truth. So much so that if liberal society did not have an earnest opponent and conscientious dissenter—its own Socrates—it had better invent him.

Mounting a well-argued opposition to just about every progressive creed—multiculturalism, individualism, atheism, globalism—Scruton was no less a gadfly to the conservatives with whom he otherwise identified. His vision of conservatism, centered on conservation and green politics, was as much a rebuke to Thatcherism as to the Blairite consensus that replaced it. He did not shy away from instructing US Republicans on the good of government. And his vision of the university challenged the anti-establishment zeal of the established professoriat as well as the technocratic Cameron reforms that collapsed the ministry of Education under Business. Whatever his audience, Scruton sought to stir thinking, not applause.

And yet another paradox lurks here. If philosophy’s role is to serve as counterweight for political and intellectuals fads, is the philosopher then necessarily a contrarian – one, whose mission is to dispute whatever most people happen to agree on, so a creature of the crowd after all? A different way to pose the question: is the thinker’s role to play the sceptic and critique popular opinions; or should he also strive to put something fuller and more coherent in their place? If the former, he’d be forever a debunker, always against but never for anything (other than his own importance). And if the latter, is he not in danger, while contesting the dogmas of others, of becoming a dogmatist himself?

Well-aware of these tensions, Scruton deemed them unavoidable. While playfulness and irony, alongside other literary tropes, offered partial solutions, his main recourse was, once again, Socratic—to live his life as an example and seek to practice what he preached. This informed both his decision to leave academia and embrace country life, and the autobiographical turn his books took in the late 1990s. While his chief philosophical purpose was to recover what he called the soul of the world, Scruton recognized that this can only be done in living out his commitments and bearing personal witness to the propositions he put forward. It required that he become, in the original sense of the word, a martyr.

μᾰ́ρτῠς • (mártus) m or f (gen. μᾰ́ρτῠρος) — A.Gr. witness.

Going Home

Among the more puzzling of Plato’s works is a short dialogue called Crito. Set in the eve of Socrates’ execution, it opens as the eponymous Crito, an elderly gentleman of means, comes in the dark before dawn to visit Socrates in prison. He has made all the preparations: bribed the guard, gathered resources, and arranged for a boat to steal his unjustly convicted friend away from his doom.

The conversation that ensues is Socrates’ attempt to reason with his childhood buddy and persuade him (and possibly himself, as well) that submitting to the judgment of the Athenian people is the right course of action; and so that dying as a citizen is preferable to living as an exile. In the course of the conversation, Socrates impersonates the Laws of Athens to deliver arguments that sound patriotic to the point of chauvinism. Invoking his young sons, his plea on behalf of the Laws recalls his own decision, made in advanced age, to become husband and father.

The conversation that ensues is Socrates’ attempt to reason with his childhood friend and persuade him (and possibly himself, as well) that submitting to the judgment of the Athenian people is the right course of action; and so that dying as a citizen is preferable to living as an exile. In the course of the conversation, Socrates impersonates the Laws of Athens to deliver arguments that sound patriotic to the point of chauvinism. Invoking his young sons, his plea on behalf of the Laws recalls his own decision, made in advanced age, to become husband and father.

Sir Roger Scruton’s home in England.

Socrates’ declared allegiance to country and family stands in some tension with the project of philosophy, to which he pledged his life. No respecter of countries or borders, philosophy’s object is to interrogate all human laws and attachments—love itself—in light of a universal standard. Nor does Plato’s Socrates usually come across as a devoted father. More than his biological children, his conversational companions, indeed conversing itself, seem to be the focus of his affection. Is a philosophical life compatible with being a patriotic citizen or responsible paterfamilias, Crito prompts us to ask. How can one be committed to universal truth, or to probing every kind of social convention, and, at the same time, stay true to a particular community and faithfully observe its flawed laws, questionable practices, and harmful judgments, even unto death?

After his talk at that fateful 1993 conference, I came up to Prof. Scruton and we exchanged a few words. “I want you to meet a student of mine” he said and introduced me to Joanna, a Polish woman my age who grew up in the US, where her family was exiled in the aftermath of the 1981 military crackdown on the dissident Solidarity movement. One of Scruton’s best students at Boston University where he taught at the time, Joanna had come along to the conference as a first opportunity to revisit her country of origin. Though at this point she had spent more than half her life in America, the journey to Poland was a homecoming—a charged and meaningful moment that Scruton took as seriously as she did, and which first announced what would become a recurrent theme of our interactions.

Over the decades that followed, Roger did all he could to support my philosophical wanderings; from proofreading my first essays in English and writing letters of recommendation, to patiently enduring my own attempts at playing the gadfly, usually directed at him. Scattered across time and space, and whatever their occasion, our conversations would often end on the same note—the importance of home, and the duties of homecoming, a message that became all the more troubling as my English waxed and my native tongues waned. “You should go home,” he repeated whenever and wherever we met. “Remember to go home.” “What is home?” I’d reply, as it were, Socratically. “Is it a place or a principle, or a figure of speech? Why can’t the world be our home?”

Surely, for Scruton too this had been a question. And he was far from believing that one’s home is, in any simple sense, the place or circumstances of one’s birth. In his own wanderings, he had moved light years away from his lower middle-class origins and his father’s socialist convictions, as he later did from the urban pieties of the academic elite to which he belonged by learning and habits.

Roger deeply loved French culture, and was intellectually at home in Germany. He taught for years in the US where he considered emigrating at some point. He had a soft spot for the countries of Eastern Europe which haunted his novels, and whose decorated hero he had become; and he had a special bond to Lebanon where he first learned Arabic and witnessed civil war as a young man. Like his Englishness, Scruton’s endorsement of rural ways was qualified by profound erudition and cosmopolitan tastes. Nor could any party claim him—or wish to claim him—without reservation. If he had one strong identification, it was with being an outcast and heretic.

And yet, the first law of Scruton’s ethics was the imperative to settle down—espouse an ethos, assume one’s station, and honor one’s roots, despite the estrangement and ironic distance one might feel about the whole thing. Without settling-down, thus acknowledging that one’s view is necessarily a view “from somewhere,” one is a free-floating, ineffectual person and, in an intellectual sense, a dishonest man. At the same time, without the distance and estrangement that thinking stimulates, one’s home would not be a reasoned perspective or self-aware choice, but an unreflective product of accident and custom.

As for Plato’s Socrates, the philosophic quest as Scruton understood it, was not to deconstruct one’s love for family and country, but to give a full account of, and thereby deepen, that love. Indeed, the more difficult it is to define and maintain a notion of home in the modern world, the more important it becomes to insist upon it. This holding on—the capacity and courage to own up to one’s particular commitments, despite or perhaps because of all the reservations one can feel about them—is what truly distinguished the philosopher from the rootless sophist, whose only standing commitment is to unbounded love of power, however obtained.

In Scruton’s diagnosis, most originally delivered as an homage to French viniculture and philosophy, our age is drunk on universalisms demanding that the same principles, analogous practices and mass-produced tastes apply equally everywhere, with no regard to differences of place, history, social conditions, and even species. If universalistic creeds are like strong distillates that—stripped of specificity or local flavor, and detached from communal context—aim for immediate inebriation, Scruton’s proposed remedy was not abstinence or anti-intellectualism, but thoughtful connoisseurship of drinks and ideas.

Such a connoisseurship must begin with the recognition that, if the desire for universality is a heroic aspiration and philosophy’s very raison d’être, it is also a dangerous temptation. While this desire may expand our intellectual horizons, ennoble the arts, and elevate civic sentiments, it cannot be our home. For it demands that, in the name of disembodied abstractions, we abjure the attachment to particular persons or peoples, and repudiate everything we may consider our own—the ways and devotions that distinguish our form of life, and define who we are, individually and collectively.

The weaker argument Scruton made it his life-long mission to uphold was the importance of loving one’s home and protecting the environment, both natural and human, spiritual and physical that sustains it. He shared with many on the left a poignant sense of the destruction wrought by globalized capitalism. Yet he challenged the self-serving mantra of globalized elites that the only effective response is the ever-greater outsourcing of civic agency and decision-making to supranational structures unmoored from any organized community of citizens that can hold them to account.

More soberly, Scruton insisted on the need to revive allegiance to local traditions and to common practices, which alone lend meaning to high-sounding words and abstract ideals. Only by coming together and by drawing on shared modes of thinking and feeling can freedoms be substantiated, the environment protected, and effective solidarities fostered. This insistence went together with a vision of England as a community bound by law and sense of accountability—less a physical location than a spiritual landscape marked by distinctive virtues and sense of beauty. It is to the task of protecting this beauty that his last efforts were dedicated.

“We should recognize,” states the posthumously published report Scruton drafted for the government commission on Building Better, Building Beautiful, “that the pursuit of beauty is an attempt to work with our neighbours, not to impose our views on them. As Kant argued in his great Critique of Judgment, in the judgment of beauty we are ‘suitors for agreement,’ and even if that judgment begins in subjective sentiment, it leads of its own accord to the search for consensus.”

*

My last meeting with Scruton in October 2019 was a lesson in dying, the preparation for which, Plato’s Socrates claimed, was philosophy’s special task. Roger spoke about his mysterious illness and the pains that had become his constant companion—but much more about the gratitude he felt for his life and for those who helped shape it.

“It is clear” he mused serenely, as though considering some abstract matter “that things cannot go on forever. I have said all I had to say, wrote all the books I wanted to write. I’m ready, I suppose.” As if casually, he added: “But life is so sweet…”

He died at home.

Sir Roger Scruton’s home in Virginia, USA (Photo Credit: Christopher Kramer).

Ewa Atanassow is professor at Bard College Berlin. Her area of expertise is the history of social and political thought, especially Tocqueville, as well as questions of nationhood and democratic citizenship. She is the co-editor of Tocqueville and the Frontiers of Democracy, and Liberal Moments: Reading Liberal Texts; and the author of Liberal Dilemmas: Tocqueville on Sovereignty, Nationhood, and Globalization, forthcoming from Princeton University Press.


The featured image shows, “Portrait of Sir Roger Scruton,” by Vernice Satinata; painted in 2020.

An American Journal Of Days, Or The Conservative Washout

Introduction

With some temporal distance behind us, and much soul searching, let us examine the coup which deposed Donald John Trump in the winter of 2020-2021 and installed Kamala Devi Harris and her sidekick, Joseph Robinette Biden, as the highest Executive officers of these United States. Herein, we’ve a day’s work, for some things were born and many things died that sadsome season. Those three months saw the longtime fissures of the Trump Administration buckle and fail besides decades of contradictions festering within the conservative movement. Under the weight of a stiff and coordinated faction, but not an irresistible one, the unthinkable happened. This unthinkable thing is not that Donald Trump ceased being President. This unthinkable thing is that the long-benighted public sphere, incarnated in the State and asserted in arms in 1775, failed against a spectrum of confederated private interests. It will not rise again within our lives. The Enlightenment ended; Feudalism began anew.

In the months since America’s Swamp creatures inserted the Harris (sic) Administration into the White House, the MAGA spectrum has faded away. We who swore off FoxNews in December have quietly returned to our old habits. We who spit to hear the GOP mentioned in January, find ourselves enthralled in party politics once more. And the earnestness of resolutions, and our fecklessness, cuts both ways. We who saw how Mr. Trump twice insulted, and finally abandoned, his most loyal supporters, now thrill to see his latest interviews on OANN and NewsMax. The media, for their part proud as punch in their complicity in the Biden coup, since January, have published two major articles (Time,The Secret History” and New Yorker, “Forced To Choose“) broadcasting their role in Trump’s removal. And life goes on; but it does so like in a hangover, or a David Lynch movie.

Those of us who saw what happened still stagger at the enormity of what occurred. Trump’s going and Biden’s coming was more than one office holder switched out for another. What went down was more even than one party using dirty means to get into power. These things have always happened. From Caesar’s Rubicon through Dante’s exile, from Thermidor to the Night of the Long Knives, they will continue to happen in saecula saeculorum. What happened last year was not down and dirty politicking. It was an overthrow. It was nothing more, nothing less.

Yes, the 2020 election was a slow and rolling coup d’état. It was the very sort of thing which America’s archons have executed overseas dozens of times throughout the last half-century. As the dust settles, as the outrages of winter fade, as we slap Trump 2024 stickers on our cars. The world still whirls around, but the Biden Administration is in power and cheaters win.

Making things queerer still, it seems as if few Americans, even those who keep an eye on current events, are aware of the full scope of what happened. We know there was a coup. Nothing is true, if that is not true. After all, no man ever made can sit in a basement for nine months and become President. Political affiliations aside, everyone who followed events knows there was a steal. For all its awful enormity, however, we’ve only the vaguest idea of what happened. This essay is a sketch of that operation.

With the perspective of at least a few months breathing room, we can now lay out the main stepping stones of the Biden operation, sometimes right from the mouths of the spoilers themselves. This exploration honestly admits its ignorance. It is not comprehensive. No doubt later authors will uncover more points, connect more dots; I myself could have doubled this essay’s length for abundance of material. However, a comprehensive treatment of the 2020 Steal is not the end of this paper. It is merely a skeleton. Beyond that, this essay is a work of solidarity. It is an encouragement to my countrymen in the face of six months of media smirking and gaslighting that, yes, they did smell something fishy, and, yes, other people remember it.

When You Point One Finger, Three More Point Back

In the pages ahead I mean to address the specifics which deposed Trump. I will make a concise record, as best I can, of the mad and vicious crew that ultimately seized Federal power. I hope it will assist the general reader in sizing things up; and I especially hope it will give other authors an outline to build on. I also mean to expose and scorn and mock the chinless institutions whose estrogen levels all knew were high, but institutions we at least gave the benefit of the doubt to as being, however lame and incompetent, ever in good faith. The media, the Church, the schools, public academics, and what’s left of the reading public failed their obligations of being social guardians.

More than that lot, though, I mean to expose, however tacitly, what’s become of the broad conservative movement. By this I lasso everyone from Mitch McConnell and CIA-pin wearing Sean Hannity, to the washouts of the Alt Right and Moral Majority, to people like myself who flatter ourselves with different adjectives, thoughtfully chosen no doubt, but who are more or less conservative-adjacent, or woke, or patriot, or alternative. For the lot of us, foundations once destroyed, what can the just do? More than your DNC and your Silicone Valley and your CCP—we blew it. In the months since Harris’ installation, institutional conservatism is tripping over itself to catch up with the Overton Window. What is manifesting itself externally was a long time in coming. How did we not see this?

The Appeal

What built to a crescendo and flopped about and died on the Epiphany was a certain dream of America. I will revisit the specifics of the dearly departed at the end of this essay, but it had to do with hope. To use a word which has pleasantly become popularized this last half-decade, what died was a certain narrative of America. Allow me now a personal appraisal of Donald Trump, and what the Make America Great Again movement meant to me, and how it represented the last hurrah of that narrative. I should think I speak for something of his base.

Always was I a distant fan of Trump. Having moved beyond disgust with the political order to a belief that the government and its agents are in fact enemy occupiers, by 2016 I had ceased to participate in the elections of the color of law UNITED STATES entity. Thus I never rendered Trump any formal voting booth support. After the Bush years, after the continued Obama-era neo-conning of John McCain (of unhappy memory), after so many traffic stops and child removals and drug charges, a certain percentage of a certain sort of men swore off participation in that political system. I am one of them. After having apprehended the morass of the American order, all that is left us is withdrawal. So only from a distance did Trump catch my attention; but catch it he did.

What was invigorating about the man was his willingness to mock the culture of Washington, D.C., particularly its toady media. You see, vast swaths of America had been written out of political discourse. People of European extraction, so-called “white” people, particularly white men, were especially ignored over these last 50 years. Early in Trump’s campaign, in its initial flush of talent, it was commendable for tapping into communities who themselves had written off ever being taken seriously by “mainstream” society. Steve Bannon well deserves the moniker “wizkid,” groundlessly given a decade before to Karl Rove, for his observation that the many dozens of social eddies dismissed by the mainstream “cathedral” of power could be leveraged into a single coordinated opposition movement.

By “mainstream,” of course, I mean the few millions of men more or less concentrated around New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles who frame the mental realities of the remaining 300 millions of Americans, and many overseas souls besides. Those subgroups, which Bannon harnessed, had long despaired of being acknowledged by American culture as even existing, let alone of being taken seriously.

One example of this, well into his presidency, was Donald Trump’s January 2020 appearance at the March For Life. The March is America’s largest annual anti-abortion protest. An always-robust gathering, it had also always been chronically bypassed by the media. Even “allied” groups never took the March to its bosom. The anti-abortion movement has always been an interest of only marginal concern to GOP bigshots, including previous “pro-life” Republican Presidents, men who campaigned on the platform but who barely managed to pump out a pre-recorded clip each winter. But after decades of neglect, there Trump was in 2020.

For someone, such as I, there was a lameness in Trump’s policies. Too much of the Swamp was still around, too much grandstanding about the southern border, and much too much Zionism. More fundamentally, though, there was a democratic streak to Trump which could excuse a thousand faults. Truckers fed up with the red tape of business, wary of the rise of their automated competition, would call up national talk radio with their petitions and pleas. Old timers who still had the icon of old America in their heart would phone national stations to warn Trump or laud him. These were things I heard many times over his four years.

Trump was able to include all sorts. There were people who showed up in the Trump administration whom I had last heard of on niche Evangelical television channels and conservative radio stations, circa 2005. And didn’t my jaw hit the bar one fine afternoon to see Trump’s helicopter landing at the Daytona track! The point is this: One guffaws to think of Clinton or Bush or Obama hearing, let alone acting upon, radio missives from cross-country truckers, but it was never beyond the pale to imagine Donald Trump doing so.

The President liked his “Fox And Friends;” and his fake tan and weird hair were endearing oddities. But whatever was cheesy or lame or quirky about him or the groups he courted, Trump acknowledged the existence of millions of Americans the ruling class thought they had successfully dismissed from “real life” decades ago. Whatever muse tickled Jefferson and Jack and Lincoln and Kennedy, also sang songs of the old America around Trump. It sang democracy. Not NATO democracy, not George Soros democracy did it chant—but the down-home type, school-board democracy, townhall democracy, the Mr. Smith type of democracy. And for that, the cathedral hated him—and for this I loved him.

Air From The Balloon

Life is oft-times covalent. Trump’s empowering of the marginalized and of the working man was grand, but his skewering of the mainstream media was divine. You see, I did not have much to do with the groups he and Bannon courted. It’s been years since I’ve been a fetus, I’ve never been a long-haul trucker. And I don’t have much to say for NASCAR beyond gratitude for the beer and casseroles I’m bid enjoy in large amounts each February during Daytona’s opening day. But across all the groups confederated in the MAGA coalition, a distrust of the national media organs was the common denominator which united them.

It has been five years since Trump first used “fake news” in his Twitter feed (of happy memory). In one brash expression Trump stole from under the noses of his MSM opponents a weapon of theirs; he took and rightly applied what it would take them five years to recover—he took their perceived authority. Trump said aloud what millions had been whispering about for decades: The newsmen are liars. He went on to use the expression “fake news” thousands of times. Trump even created his own “Fake News Awards” in 2018. With the half-decade since its use, overuse, and weaponization, we forget how powerful calling the fake news, fake news first was. We forgot—but the media did not forget.

Background Of The Coup

Context is everything. To begin at the beginning, we must consider the attempt to steal the 2016 Election. Anecdotally, Rick Wiles of TruNews and Alex Jones of InfoWars independently asserted that they witnessed late-night voter spikes, very much of the sort seen in 2020. For whatever reason, these spikes were scotched and the counting returned to a regular tally leading to a Trump win in 2016.

Fast-forward four years. How did Donald Trump walk into 2020 nearly guaranteed a second term only to leave a year later under a barrage of contempt, impeached a second time, deplatformed, with even the hoariest of D.C. insiders hissing about the 25th Amendment being used against him? Americans went mad over that year, that’s why.

As we will see, the mainstream media (MSM) did much to unseat Trump; but the toll of the Coronavirus reaction did much as well. The population’s already shaky reasoning skills were atrophied after a socially distanced year of Netflix-watching and alcohol-drinking. A nation already on edge from a capitalism wherein men regularly live, not just from paycheck-to-paycheck, but from credit-card to credit-card, saw what little economic autonomy they had evaporate, and replaced by a greasy Federal dole. COVID heightened Americans’ placid and mindless tendencies a damn sight more than even us pessimists imagined.

The Crowned And Conquering Child

As regards the election, one of the more meanspirited plot-points happened in June 2020. The actual threat of Coronavirus having passed, Trump was eager to get back to normal. That June, his campaign organized a rally. Those extraordinary events had become quite routine during the Trump years. In one regard he never stopped campaigning because he never stopped the rallies. Perhaps some of Trump’s lackluster policy legacy has to do with his diverted attention. He ought to have stopped campaigning and paid attention to his daily administration duties. It was like he kept trying to play and replay 2016 over again. And while he was static, the Swamp was not.

In any case, after the spring’s Coronavirus panic, one sure sign of normalcy would be to hold another rally. In June one was scheduled in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a heartland city Melania had visited a year before. It was a flop. Superficially spurred on by K-pop fans on the social media site TikToc, teens snapped up all the rally RSVPs. I say superficially because of Mark Moore’s recent report that, “The Pentagon is running a 60,000-strong secret army made up of soldiers, civilians and contractors, who travel the world under false identities embedded in consultancies and name-brand companies— without the knowledge of the American people or most of Congress— according to a report” (New York Post, 5/18/21). I’m led to conclude that many members of this “secret army” haunt social media sites to steer social perception. Whether it was because of teens or the Deep State, Trump went to a sold-out rally and no one showed up. The MSM, for whom reporting had long collapsed into entertainment, sensed blood in the water and set to work mocking the mocked.

BLM et al.

Then there were the riots. Throughout the summer of 2020, there were fierce racial riots whose stakes ramped up as time wore along. It was not enough that these disturbances simmered for months on end. They escalated. Protesters held city centers out West; and new “defund the police” talking points were released by the mainstream press at opportune times. In fact, there was something altogether theatrical about the Black Lives Matter and Antifa protests. Those of us who remember the stage-managed school shootings of the Obama years got a whiff of the same as we watched municipalities drop-off pallets of bricks at choice urban locations.

You’ve Got Mail!

At the end of September, the Deep State flexed its muscle with 500 chinless Defense Department employees signing “An Open Letter To America.” Trump’s greatest offense against the Deep State was not giving the military a new war. It wasn’t enough that he kept the hireling forces of the United States involved in ways overt and covert in Afghanistan and Syria and Yemen and Libya – but by refusing to open fronts in Iran and elsewhere Trump crossed the devotees of Mars. In the lead up to the election, they flexed their muscle. The flattering impartiality which the military loves to remind Americans of was thrown out the window as the Deep State test-ran the coming winter’s narrative.

Once again on January 3rd, immediately before the Confirmation, Elizabeth Cheney, as wicked as her father and doubtless prompted by him, organized all the living Secretaries of Defense to write an op-ed against President Trump. “Joe Biden,” the Open Letter said of a man who had by then sat inert in his basement for seven months, and would do so for another two, “has the character, principles, wisdom, and leadership necessary to address a world on fire.” Stoned, Netflixed Americans bought it; their appetites whetted for more.

Of Laptops And Landmines

Lastly, there was the Hunter Biden cover-up. After the CIA turned Ukraine into an intelligence nest in 2014, in much the same way the states of the Arabian Gulf have been fronts for British intelligence since World War I, Joseph Biden made many connections in the Central European nation. Even in his dotage Biden made sure he was as removed from the financial schemes as possible. In April 2019 an intoxicated Hunter dropped off a laptop in Delaware State. Similar to his October 2018 incident, when a gun of his was found in a dumpster and the FBI attempted to obtain Hunter’s possibly incriminating paperwork, the press went to bat for him. But Hunter was the “bagman,” as Rudy Giuliani said. And this ought to have been investigated.

It was a wash. Most outlets ignored the story; some followed it for a while and let it slip away. Only the New York Post stuck with it. Of course, their doggedness meant nothing because the FBI didn’t investigate, and less law enforcement agencies stonewalled. In its own way, the “conservative” media showed its hand with the Biden story too. On an errand of faux investigative journalism, Tucker Carlson played footsie with the story, vowing to get to the bottom of things. For three weeks he ranted and raved about the story only to give up when his paymasters at Fox told him to stop. It was only at this point when Carlson informed Americans he and Hunter were good friends.

The media is not only propagandistic, it’s also sloppy. It forgets its own trade basics like avoiding conflicts of interest. As Carlson slunk away from the Hunter Biden story, he defended his cowardice by saying, “It was wrong to kick a man when he was down.” This was obfuscation. The laptop scandal was appropriate to pursue because Hunter Biden’s actions weren’t examples of personal flaws, they weren’t lurid sex stories best left in the National Enquirer. Based on the adjective-heavy, heavily veiled comments of Rudy Giuliani and John Paul MacIsaac (the Delaware computer shop owner who received Hunter’s laptop), the photos alleged to be on Biden’s computer largely involved child sexual abuse.

On the heels of Jeffery Epstein’s industrial compromise ring, on the heels of Miles Guo’s revelations of the color-coding of compromised politicians (with those sexually compromised being classed as “yellow”), and considering Joseph Biden’s repeated bragging of his relationships with CCP men like Xi Jinping, the Hunter Biden allegations were ripe for investigation. Since then, in a Stalinisticly-ironic, rub-it-in-your-face move by the cathedral, Hunter Biden, the beneficiary of several miraculous media cover-ups over the years, is now assisting in journalism classes at Tulane University.

The Foreground

The events recounted above comprise the main background of the Steal. Now we turn to the operation itself. Focused especially in the foreground of the 2020 Coup are three events and four. They stand out as especial tipping points in specific areas. They are: Trump’s January 21st, 2020 Davos speech regarding the international order; Mark Esper’s June 1st countermand of Trump’s troop deployment to Washington; and shortly afterwards, the third incident of note, this time in the spiritual realm, was Trump’s holding up of the Holy Bible in front of St. John’s Church. The moment he did that the die was cast against him.

Davos

In January of 2020 Donald Trump attended the meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Along with dozens of heads of state, NGO leaders, and capitalists, Trump conferenced on a diverse array of financial topics, and none too soon. The repos markets had been tottering since the fall. On January 21, Trump spoke to the assembled guests of the WEF. He railed about socialism, he extolled the virtues of American individualism, and he vowed to put nationalism first.

In a room filled with the likes of Klaus Schwab, people who were putting the finishing touches on their Great Reset theories, people who had on their hands a scheme of great potential in the still-distant-though-known Coronavirus, this was too much. For the remainder of his time there, Trump was literally shunned. In the social nooks which offset the main panels, in the kaffeeklatsches and social hours of Davos, Trump found himself standing alone. This event signifies the collapse of Trump legitimacy on the international stage.

Countermand

In June of 2020, came the next institutional shoe to drop. Washington, D.C. joined many American cities that spring in being the focus of racial protests. On the basis of extensive rioting, Donald Trump called in various units of the National Guard to restore order. That very day they were sent home in the midst of continued rioting. What happened? Trump was overwritten.

You see, only two men have the authority to order soldiers in or out of the District of Columbia, the President and the Secretary of Defense. The President made his will known by deploying troops. This leaves the Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper as the only one who could have contradicted the President. This event signifies the collapse of Trump’s authority over the military.

Apre Moi Le Deluge

The third incident was very much the first drop of a deluge to come: FoxNews’ John Roberts’ gaslighting of Kayleigh McEnany on October 1st. There were many tense, unedifying, and childish examples of conduct from both Trump and the press corp over their four years of interacting. With the riots falling back to a simmer, and with the Vote in just one month, on October 1st, McEnany was asked if Trump opposed racism. She responded in the negative, citing some words of his. In a sane world this ought to have been the end of the matter. Fox persisted, asking for more evidence. To this McEnany gave two or three examples. Fox kept asking and asking. Text does not do this queer interaction justice. You ought to watch it to understand how bizarre the exchange was.

More than anything else, the media was responsible for the Harris-Biden (sic) installation, and Fox’s fox Roberts test-ran their gaslighting weapon par excellence. This event signifies the media’s shifting from being hostile to being inimical towards Trump. What would unfold over the next three months would be payback for Trump’s four year of exposing their lies. And lest we forget, come the night of the Vote, it was Fox News which called the election for Biden.

The Rat

The above events are three Rubicon moments in Trump’s deposition, but there is a fourth. The final pylon to fail was Jared Kushner. In December, at the height of the Steal, Kushner who busy in the Middle East grandstanding for Zion with his Abraham Accords. There was no loyalty to the man, no devotion; Kushner ought never to have been allowed within a mile of the White House. Many of Trump’s worst hires and fires came on Kushner’s recommendation. This man was the finest example of the personnel failures which plagued the Trump Administration.

Because he was always in campaign mode, because was too busy skewering the MSM, Trump never had time, or interest, to choose solid men. Instead, he deferred to social climbers like his son-in-law. With rare exceptions such as Kayleigh McEnany, the people Trump had working for him were social climbers. They were either grandstanders in the moment, like Kushner or Pompeo, or they were trimming their sails for their post-Trump careers, like Mark Milley. In any case, Jared Kushner’s effeminate self-promotion, when his boss and father-in-law was in need of all hands-on deck, signifies the collapse of Trump’s inner circle.

The Steal

As to the DNC heist of November 2020 itself, that is a topic beyond the scope of this outline. Like the Fall of Troy, around which both The Iliad and The Odyssey revolve, but which is never directly described, I leave our late national blot silently brooding over every word of this essay, but never dissect it head on. For specifics on this matter, I direct your attention to Michael Lindell’s three features on this topic, Absolute Proof, Absolute Interference, and Scientific Proof. All are also available for free on his website.

And, as this essay goes to press, the ongoing audits in Arizona and Georgia give hope that the truth will out.

Pushback

With each electoral safety bulwark failing, as fall turned into winter, confidence in increasingly archaic schemes and legalities rose. The first hope to fail was in the realm of citizen protests and journalism. Getting the message out in the media, filing affidavits, and making the record were the orders of the day. There was plenty of work to do, as thousands of Americans came forward to document electoral errata. This course climaxed, sputtered, and failed on November 25.

On the day before Thanksgiving, a most poorly timed event, the Trump, team headed by Rudy Giuliani, gathered hundreds of men in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to testify to the many instances of voter fraud witnessed throughout the county. However, one month into The Steal, the MSM realized that if they could mock the charge of voter fraud in se, if they could preface what mentions they couldn’t ignore outright with “unfounded” or “not widespread,” or “lies,” there was nothing, absolutely nothing, which could stop their narrative from winning the day. An unlettered and deracinated American public could only sit and ingest what it was told.

More than anything else, Joseph Biden’s installation was the work of the media. There was a constellation of fellow-travelers and allies, but 2020 was predominantly a battle of perception; and that perception was ironclad by the press. It was the apotheosis of Edward Bernays’ work and Madison Avenue’s century of note-taking. Needless to say, despite hundreds of sworn testimonies, the Gettysburg event fizzled. Thousands of filings were thrown out of nationwide Bar Association courts in the following weeks.

The coup had works in the open, but it also did works in secret. On November 21, one of those quiet efforts leaked out. That day a story appeared in various sources about Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration. It told of how Trump finally released funds for the Biden Transition Team to use because she was being threatened to do so. She wrote to the Biden Team,

I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision. To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination. I did, however, receive threats online, by phone, and by mail directed at my safety, my family, my staff, and even my pets in an effort to coerce me into making this determination prematurely. Even in the face of thousands of threats, I always remained committed to upholding the law.

For the peace of a harried bureaucrat ,Trump gave permission to release money to the spoilers. Like at the dummy Tulsa rally that spring, the MSM spun an abuse for their ends. Trump was conceding the election, so the story went. Score one for gaslighting.

The next hope to fail was the Presidential Election on December 14. Before detailing the Election vis. Trump, I must pause and clarify the official process whereby a man enters the Federal Executive office in America. There are three events of increasing gravity which are prescribed for this. Funnily enough, as their importance grows, their public awareness diminishes. Most American believe things begin and end on one day in November. In fact there are three stages a man must successfully go through to be President. These are the Presidential Vote (November), the Presidential Election (December), and the Presidential Confirmation (January). Things are not made easy by the fact that people refer interchangeably to the Vote as the Election, by which they mean the early November event.

What follows is a generalization, which I detailed in my recent series on “We, The People.” Briefly, the Vote recommends to the state Electors whom they should select for that state’s slate of electors to choose. It must be absolutely understood that the Vote is simply a suggestion, it does not oblige the Electors’ decisions whatsoever. However, typically, they do follow these suggestions. After the Election, there follows the Confirmation. This January event is the final chance to troubleshoot any procedural objections. It was in the context of the Confirmation that the riot of January 6th happened.

The point is that the media’s gaslighting and the putzing about of the Trump team throughout November were annoying but they were not particularly alarming because we who were watching things assumed all would be righted in the Election. The Electors are the People in “We, the People;” they are the Patricians; they are the archons; they are the owners of the country. Whatever the weirdness or objectionability of their system, we who took the time to learn the system assumed they were the adults in the room. You can rig a voting machine, you can’t rig a Person. We assumed they were of tougher mettle than the party pukes who stalk around polling stations with sacks of money and brass knuckles. After all the Electors are effectively those with the greatest material share in the country; they are the biggest landholders and businessmen throughout the 50 states. Trump did many things poorly, but he did well for America’s moneymen. The assumption was they would back him. We assumed wrong.

You know, six months on, having thought about this some, I don’t think the Electors needed to be as threatened or bribed to vote for Biden as I once did. Like with so much else, we didn’t realize how far down the rot was. So the Election came and the Election went, and Biden was elected that December. Michigan’s Republican delegation made a stink, showing up at the State House and being locked out, and there was some talk down in Georgia of the same; but it came to nothing. When the media and the offices of state decide to stonewall there is nothing lawful men can do.

After such serious official collapses, the tone of Trump supporters changed. A lot gave up hope; but some of the well-read remembered that there was a third stage to the choice of an Executive, the Confirmation. If few Americans know the difference between the Vote and the Election, fewer still are aware of the Confirmation. This is Congress’s opportunity to review the preceding two stages, and to voice any concerns over any irregularities raised. It is around this least conventionally “political” of the three stages, this emergency valve, where attention turned as Christmas approached.

As the MSM couldn’t altogether ignore the discontent throughout the country, they were forced to acknowledge it. It was at this time, late December, that some voices arose on the national scene, who threw in their lot with the Trump defense. They were grandstanders in retrospect, trimmers some, useless men with big mouths others, but around the likes of Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Pence, hope began to grow that various emergency procedures might be implemented on January 6.

To Stir The Pot

Even if Trump showed more than a half-hearted desire to beat back the Steal, which he never did, there was no hope that the right would out, following the Election. We will return to the specific hopes and theories which Americans began placing in the sixth of January, the date of the Confirmation, in a little bit. I wish now to address the role of intelligence agencies in the coup. Americans, whose political system excels in overthrowing governments, who live in a decade of such overthrows, seem strangely ambivalent to the possibility of those self-same agencies doing as much in America.

What was the situation by late December? The Vote was stolen in plain sight. Neither the Electors nor the courts were interested in hearing out thousands of Americans who reported seeing funny business at that event. The media was in high psyops mode, and each day they dialed up their efforts. Trump’s defense was split and sloppy, and Trump himself was lukewarm when he wasn’t silent. As outraged Americans began planning their third and biggest rally, two things appeared on the scene. The first was talk of a civil war, the second was QAnon. Both were manifest works of the Deep State, and in both instances conservatives walked into a trap.

Ideas of civil strife gripping America were deliberately seeded during the opening months of 2020. The Atlantic gave over their entire December 2019 issue to the topic. Their “How To Stop A Civil War” publication was a textbook case of seeding a narrative. No one was talking of such before The Atlantic brought it up. One year, one overblown sickness, and one rent-a-mob summer later, and the talk was reintroduced.

The Protect Democracy Project ran workshops in June and October of 2020. In it, hundreds former and present bureaucrats from the Military Industrial Complex war-gamed the possibility of unrest accompanying the fall’s electoral process. These scenarios went under the heading of the Transition Integrity Project. The participants found there to be a high chance of civil unrest following the vote. If this sort of thing sounds familiar, if there’s something George Soros-esque about an outfit called “Protect Democracy,” the exercises it holds, and their pipeline to the press, it’s because it is run by Ian Bassin, a former member of the Obama White House and a man who pose-by-pose is a carbon copy of Barry Soetero. You see, Larry Sinclair’s boyfriend and his epigones never left D.C. From the moment Trump was elected, Obama and the Deep State and the Never Trumpers were at work for 2020. The point is, worked into the mix of COVID and electoral tension, the possibility of catastrophic violence was introduced. It is to the discredit of the late, great “alternative media” that they took the Protect Democracy bait. Nobody bothered to check to see who Protect Democracy was. It was a juicy story, so the alt press ran with it.

The next spoiler which came along was QAnon. The epitome of controlled opposition from the same sorts who built up ISIS, when the Q operation was through, Trump supporters seemed madder than an outhouse rat. As each hope failed, the Q people would double down—“trust the plan,” and schedule the next knock-out blow to the Deep State. For example, on the day of Harris’ inauguration, Q types were insisting the fencing around the Capitol was to keep the lawmakers in (because they were all surreptitiously under arrest); the military was going to arrest Biden and conduct a new election, and Trump would be back in office come mid-March. As of my May 2021 composition of this writing, in all seriousness I have been assured Donald Trump will be restored on August 15th. Hope springs eternal, or from Langley.

Fissures Forming

As these structural failings were happening, as the Vote’s steal went unchallenged throughout the states, as the MSM railroaded the perception that Biden’s win was unchallenged by all but madmen, as the Electors certified November’s crime, the response on the part of Donald Trump was jerky, erratic, and imprecise.

Firstly, it seems that a similar steal was affected in 2016. It is more speculative than 2020, but from what reports we have, the same kind of voter spikes happened, and they happened in the same states no less. In fact, the bizarre behavior of what’s called, rightly or wrongly, the “institutional left” during the four years of the Trump Administration only makes sense if they were expecting to have won only to have the prize snatched from under their noses at the last minute. What else explains their genuine hatred for a man who was pretty much a milquetoast, albeit loudmouth, conservative?

Background and questions aside, when Trump’s term finally organized a response, it was sloppy from the word go. At their first press conference within a week of the Vote, and a number of times in the following weeks, they were unwilling to provide any evidence of voter fraud. This incompetence is unbelievable, given that anyone could tune in half the radio shows in the county which were featuring men who saw paper shredding trucks at polling booths, vote minders boarding up windows, and clerks changing ballot rules at the last minute. The defense only went downhill from there. Soon Sydney Powell, and her meatier charges of overseas electoral tampering, was shown the door. And indeed, before all was said and done, Rudy Giuliani’s slowly dripping hair dye was the truest summary of Trump’s defense, and indeed of American conservatism.

Prester John

By late December, there began to be a discernible irrationality amongst Trump supporters. As the Book of Ecclesiastes says, oppression makes a wise man mad (7:7). As the ordinary channels of redress buckled under the bribes and bullies and caresses of the DNC and their confederates, those who saw what was happening began to place their hopes in increasingly far-flung hopes whereby the Trump Administration would come out on top.

This tendency is actually a regular feature through history. During the Crusades, as the situation of besieged Outremer darkened, the Christians of Europe began to place their hopes in “Prester John.” A confusion of Marco Polo’s far-flung observations and Eastern lacunae, John was supposed to be a mighty Ethiopian priest-king who was coming to the rescue of his Palestinian co-religionists at any moment. Alas, Fr. John never made the rounds. Close on the historical heels of fantasies about Trump’s survival were things like the 1890s Indians Ghost Dance and Hitler’s hopeless breakouts around Berlin during the Second World War. As in history, so with Trump’s supporters. The more the spoilers succeeded, the greater became the hopes of the MAGA train.

It is easy to mock this tendency. However, concerning the stolen election, recall that in the late fall of 2020, the alternatives to fantastical hopes were to resign oneself to (1) sitting by as a lawless clique seized power, and (2) observing that fellow Americans were either largely in agreement with such criminality (unlikely) or too apathetic to care (likely).

Questions

Whatever the case may be, if a 2016 steal was the case, as it appears to have been the case, why didn’t Trump’s men provide against it? Why did they not shore up the other routes beyond the Vote? Forget about the courts, the media, the Election, and the Confirmation, they did not even seem to do much to avoid in 2020 the kind of hanky-panky Vote fraud which happened in 2016.

Surely, they must have known the DNC et al. were going to deploy in 2020 fossers not only against the Vote, like they did with Hilary Clinton, but also against every subsequent route of redress? I have no answer to this question, beyond a speculation that Trump & Co. were depending on an incontrovertibly high popular vote to win the day, support so plain upon tables that any DNC sliminess in the courts, the Election, etc. would be risible.

There is another option I can’t pretend hasn’t crossed my mind. Worse by far than incompetence—that perhaps Trump threw the election. Perhaps it was all theater; perhaps the MAGA movement was itself controlled opposition all along. After all, what did the Trump train do for Red State America? He didn’t stop the Agenda. Everything he attempted to implement was rolled back within hours, within days of Harris’ (sic) installation, and the most ideologically solid conservatives, and few there be, are well on their way to being classified as terrorists by the Bar Association system. Was Trump a Pied Piper?

I hesitate to choose this explanation because while there was plenty of theater from both Trump and his adversaries, there were too many examples of disrespect and anger between them which jumped the script. Nancy Pelosi tearing up Trump’s speech during the State of the Union,=; Jim Acosta’s behavior in press conferences; the cruel mockery of Sarah Sanders’ appearance; and the lockstep coordination of Silicon Valley and America’s internal spy agencies following the January 6th riot were all events which exceeded, far exceeded, the type of Wrestlemania “antagonisms” which accent typical politics.

The third option is that Trump realized the enormity of what the DNC did, and he realized that neither the Republican Party nor the feckless men who worked in his Administration (his own hires, let it be said) were going to support him, and he lost heart by late November.

Of these three options, I believe Trump’s anemic response to the coup is explained to some degree by options one and three.

The messaging and execution of Trump’s legal defense was erratic and factional. It was a microcosm of the erratic staffing of his four years in office. Divisions formed early within Trump’s defense. When things coalesced by late December(!), Rudy Giuliani led the official team. The guts of their objection revolved around mail-in ballot fraud.

Sidney Powell had been cut loose by then. Soon to be joined by Lin Wood, this lesser group focused on the errata surrounding the voting machines, and the interference of American intelligence overseas in the Vote. It would not be until the eleventh hour of January 15, when Mike Lindell of My Pillow fame, clawed his way past grudging White House aides, when what was left of the Trump Administration backed objections to the graver findings from November (as compared to the child’s play about gerrymandering Guiliani was pursuing). Again we must ask why Donald Trump, who ran a nation with a long history of staging coups, did not anticipate such a thing happening to him?

Behind The Scenes

Then on December 18th, the previous four years of bad advice, distracted hiring, and self-serving hacks erupted in one disastrous meeting. For the remaining month of Trump’s presidency, there would effectively be no administration in any meaningful sense. That day there was a collision between the MAGA men, as we might call them, those who generally believed in Trump as a unifier of the conservative spectrum and who proximately acknowledged the Steal, and the trimmers, those who came from the Swamp, remained in the Swamp, and who will die in the Swamp. Additionally, that December day, there was a collision between the two wings of Trump’s election defense, as represented by Rudy Giuliani and Sydney Powell. Something of the chaos of that event leaked out. As reported by Business Insider:

You’re quitting! You’re a quitter! You’re not fighting!” [Michael] Flynn said of [Eric] Herschmann before turning to Trump and adding, “Sir, we need fighters.”
According to Axios, Herschmann responded, “Why the f— do you keep standing up and screaming at me?”
He added: “If you want to come over here, come over here. If not, sit your ass down.”

After the Allies opened their 1918 Hundred Days’ offensive, German general Erich Ludendorff reported to Kaiser Wilhelm that the war was unwinnable. He called it Germany’s “Black Day.” After the December 18th meeting, there was no hope of staunching the Steal. Everything after is postscript: The Confirmation, the riot, the reshuffling of the Defense and Homeland Security heads, the second impeachment, America.

As Things Stand

Donald Trump spent four years trying to recreate a set-piece reenactment of 2016, while his opponents spent their time perfecting their 2020 plan. The spoilers provided against every possible route of redress, while Trump was grandstanding and getting into Twitter fights. Trump was surrounded by the lowest, most useless sorts of men, all of them his own choices. The list of such men starts with Michael Pence.

By the time of the heated pre-Christmas meeting, Trump had brushed-off two massive rallies of his most devoted supporters, including many hundreds of men willing to testify to the crimes of November. Instead, Trump chose to spend his time campaigning for the likes of Kelly Loeffler, a woman who, 24 hours after Trump had his arm around her on a rally stage in Georgia, did not have the guts or gratitude to raise a stink about the offense done to him. His official defense team was limp-wristed and confused. In those three months, from the Vote to Harris’ White Entry, Donald Trump never knew where to exert his energy.

Where Things Stand

In the meta-look, one term or two, Donald Trump was a sandcastle at tide’s rise. And he was merely a sandcastle at one part of a very long beach, the political section, itself not even the most important part. In the vaunted “first hundred days” of the Harris Administration, we’ve seen enough to see where things are going. The wars are back on, the bailouts are back, the cultural manipulation moves apace. The Swamp stinks worse than it did before. The conservative movement as we knew it, something which orbited around the GOP and the Church and talk radio, is dead. It was betrayed by the aforementioned, and other false friends besides.

What remains of structural conservativism busies itself creating home pages on a hundred alt social media sites, pages soon to be deleted, and moving en masse to “Red States,” a clueless rehash of Libertarian fads from 20 years ago. Individuals of that persuasion content themselves with daily rosaries, social media reposts, and doubling down on the paranoia and anti-intellectualism which first threw them in the hole they’re in now. And so it goes. An Agenda which has marshalled ambivalence for its ends, and a resistance which doesn’t know its nose from its elbow.


John Coleman co-hosts Christian History & Ideas, and is the founder of Apocatastasis: An Institute for the Humanities, an alternative college and high school in New Milford, Connecticut. Apocatastasis is a school focused on studying the Western humanities in an integrated fashion, while at the same time adjusting to the changing educational field. Information about the college can be found at their website.


The featured image shows, Death and the Masks,” by James Ensor; painted in 1897.

Eldridge Cleaver: From Violent Anti-Americanism to Christian Conservativism

Eldridge Cleaver (1935-1998) is a name not well known to many Americans today, not even to today’s disaffected youth in our universities and the culture at large. This is a surprise, although there are also reasons for it, because Eldridge was, at various times, an admitted criminal and “insurrectionary” rapist (rape as a way of striking back at “white” society), a member of the Black Panther Party, a “Black Muslim,” and one of the leading socialist, communist and Marxist revolutionaries of his time.

His book, Soul on Ice became the Bible, so to speak, of the Black Power movement. It also led Cleaver to become, for a time, the favorite black radical of American intellectuals. Eldridge was obviously highly intelligent. He was, in fact, a truly remarkable man. He did, it is true, have his demons right up to the end; not surprising, given his brutal start in life. But his life, taken as a whole, is a testament to the ability of a person to learn from his experiences. Indeed, that is precisely why he is out of favor today, when conformity to the script is the most prized quality.

Eldridge Cleaver was born on August 31, 1935 in the tiny town of Wabbaseka, Arkansas. His father, Leroy Cleaver was a nightclub entertainer and a waiter, and his mother an elementary school teacher. His father was reported to be a violent man who beat his wife. Eldridge stated that he wanted to grow up to be tall and strong like his father, but “bigger and stronger,” so that he could “beat him to the ground the way he beat my mother.”

His father was offered a job in the dining car of a train that ran from Chicago to Los Angeles. During this time Eldridge’s family moved to Phoenix Arizona and later, in 1946, to the Watts area in Los Angeles. While a teenager Eldridge got into petty crime and was sent to reform school for stealing a bicycle and selling marijuana. In 1954 he was convicted for marijuana possession, which was a felony at the time, and incarcerated at the California State Prison at Soledad for 2 ½ years. It was at this time he began reading widely and earned his high school diploma.

Despite this promising turn around, a year after his release, he was arrested for rapes, convicted of assault with intent to murder and sent to San Quentin prison first, and later to Folsom for a term of 2 to 14 years. In these years, Cleaver voraciously read the works of Karl Marx, Thomas Paine, Voltaire, Vladimir Lenin and W.E.B. Du Bois. For the record, Du Bois (1868-1963) was an American sociologist, historian, author, editor and activist and probably the most important black activist in the United States during the first half of the 20th century. Cleaver also began to engage in serious self-reflection and criticism. In Soul on Ice, the product of these self-reflections, Cleaver describes himself at his most depraved:

“I became a rapist. To refine my technique and modus operandi, I started out by practicing on black girls in… the black ghetto where dark and vicious deeds appear not as aberrations or deviations from the norm, but as part of the sufficiency of the Evil of the day – and when I considered myself smooth enough, I crossed the tracks and sought out white prey. I did this consciously, deliberately, willfully, methodically — though looking back I see that I was in a frantic, wild and completely abandoned frame of mind.
Rape was an insurrectionary act. It delighted me that I was defying and trampling upon the white man’s law, upon his system of values, and that I was defiling his women — and this point, I believe, was the most satisfying to me… I felt I was getting revenge.

“There was little doubt… that if I had not been apprehended, I would have slit some white throats.

I took a long look at myself and, for the first time in my life, admitted that I was wrong, that I had gone astray – astray, not so much from the white man’s law as from being human, civilized — for I could not approve the act of rape… I lost my self-respect. My pride as a man dissolved and my whole fragile moral structure seemed to collapse, completely shattered.”

After his release from prison, seeking a more moral and disciplined life, Cleaver joined the Black Muslim movement and became friends with Malcolm X. But after the assassination of Malcolm X, he denounced the Muslim faith. He did, however, retain a determination to realize Malcolm X’s dream of African Unity.

In 1966 he began writing for the Ramparts magazine, a glossy expensively produced and illustrated magazine associated with the New Left, and met the leaders of the young Black Panther Party, including Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. Eldridge joined the Panthers believing that Newton would carry on Malcolm X’s dream of African Unity and became the party’s Minister of Information and leader of the “Free Huey” movement.

While a member of the Panthers, he called for an armed insurrection to overthrow the United States government and its replacement by a black socialist government.

On April 6th of 1968 Cleaver, with 14 other Black Panthers armed with M16 rifles and shotguns, was involved in a shootout with police, which the Panthers blamed on the police, and in which the seventeen-year-old Panther, Bobby Hutton was killed.

Cleaver was charged with attempted murder and ordered back to prison. However, a judge ordered him released from prison two months later, and Cleaver gave a series of lectures at the University of California at Berkeley. The Governor of California at the time, Ronald Reagan, attempted to prevent Cleaver from speaking at Berkeley. In addition to calling Reagan “Mickey Mouse,” Cleaver once challenged Reagan to a duel:

“I challenged Ronald Reagan to a duel and I reiterate that challenge tonight. . . . And I give him his choice of weapons. He can use a gun, a knife, a baseball bat or a marshmallow. And I’ll beat him to death with a marshmallow.”

In the Reason interview, Cleaver also admits to plotting to kill Reagan. Cleaver’s parole was revoked and he was ordered back to prison. But, on Nov. 24, 1968, three days before he was due to turn himself in to the authorities, Cleaver fled to Cuba. He then spent the next seven years travelling through various socialist and communist countries, including Algeria, North Korea, China, and the Soviet Union, before, finally, settling down for a period in France.

Although Cleaver was initially treated to a life of luxury in Cuba, relations with Castro soured and Cleaver left Cuba for Algeria. Elaine Klein got him an invitation to attend the Pan-African Cultural Festival, which temporarily rendered him safe from prosecution. His work in the Festival enabled him to meet revolutionaries from all over Africa to discuss the evils of white supremacy and colonialism.

Cleaver again called for violence against the United States and stated his mission to “position the Panthers within the revolutionary nationalist camp inside the United States, and as disciples of Fanon on the world stage”.

Fritz Omar Fanon (1925–1961), born on the island of Martinique under French colonial rule, is difficult to classify. Fanon had an eclectic range of influences, including French Marxist and “Existentialist” Jean-Paul Sartre and French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty. But it is fair to say that he combined Marxism, black existentialism and critical theory in his struggle against “Atlantic colonialism.”

During his travels through various socialist and communist countries, Cleaver even developed a curious alliance with the communist government in North Korea, and his Black Panther Party began publishing excerpts from its strange reclusive leader, Kim Il Sung.

Although Americans were forbidden to visit North Korea at the time, Cleaver and several other Panthers made two visits to the country in 1969-1970 to determine whether North Korea’s “juche model” could be adapted to the cause of black liberation in the United States.

Juche deserves a longer discussion but this is the basics: It was described as a program of national self-reliance, as a means of getting rid of Soviet domination of North Korea, which sounds positive enough, but it was actually used as a justification for the creation of the bizarre North Korean closed-door policy to the outside world and, internally, to justify getting rid of Kim Il Sung’s political rivals and achieve total dictatorial control of the country. After being taken on an official tour of North Korea, Cleaver expressed his admiration for North Korea’s “stable crime free society which provided guaranteed food, employment, and housing for all, and… had no economic or social inequalities.”

By 1975, however, after experiencing the joys of socialism and communism first hand in multiple countries around the world, as opposed to celebrating them in the comfy confines of a Berkeley sociology lecture, or while sitting cross-legged in a circle passing around the “peace pipe,” Cleaver had reversed his opinions.

In the interview with Reason magazine, he explained that in the United States he had sought to “fight against what I saw as the evils of our system.” But when he went “to a country like Cuba or Algeria or the Soviet Union and [saw] the nature of control that those state apparatuses had over the people – it was shocking to me. I didn’t want to believe it, because it meant that the politics that I was espousing was wrong.”

In that same interview, Cleaver also addresses Marx’s idea that after the glorious socialist revolution a “dictatorship of the proletariat” will be necessary for some temporary period until the state “withers away” and everyone achieves complete freedom. After his actual, real-world experience of these regimes, Cleaver begged to differ:

“The communists teach you that the dictatorship is a transient phase—that once capitalism is eliminated, then the state will wither away and you will have freedom. Well, when you look at those governments up close and see how they treat their own people, you can’t believe in that. You see that people are using that preachment of the withering away of the state as their excuse to justify their own dictatorial power.”

When asked in the Reason interview why so many American “intellectuals,” like Barbara Walters or George McGovern, visit these socialist and communist regimes and come away impressed, Cleaver stated that this was because they just “scurry” right though quickly, while getting the red-carpet treatment. That is, they are enormously gullible. By contrast, Cleaver said, “I lived in those kinds of places and I got to know people and made friends. I got to know the governments, the people in the military, people in the Communist Party or whatever they called it. That gives you a different perspective.” Indeed, this one-time communist told Reason magazine that he now thought stopping communism is “a noble cause.”

Since leftist accusations against the police are once again the most useful cause du jour to manipulate the public and get their way, it is significant that in the interview with Reason magazine, Cleaver also addressed the gunfight with the police in which Bobby Hutton was killed – but describes those events entirely differently than he had during his days as a Panther:

“We went after the cops that night, but when we got caught, we said they came after us. We always did that. When you talk about the legacy of the ’60’s that’s one legacy… [I]t helped to distort the image of the police, but I’ve come to the point where I realize that our police department is necessary.”

Whereas in his days as a Black Panther, Cleaver had accused the police for the gunfight that killed Bobby Hutton, he now admitted that it was his group that provoked the violence so that they could blame it on the police: “We always did that.”

This duplicitous strategy continues to the present day. “Protestors” still chant the “Hands up, don’t shoot!” slogan from the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri even though the Obama-Holder Justice Department, after a thorough investigation and testimony from six black witnesses, cleared the police Officer. Truth is not of major concern to leftists when dictatorial control of a whole country is the goal.

In the Reason interview Cleaver also returned to the night while living in France when he had his political and spiritual turnaround. He describes how, sitting with a gun in his hand, he was contemplating suicide, when he suddenly had a vision, in which his former Marxist heroes disappear in smoke and a blinding light led him to Christianity.

Disillusioned with the socialist and communist worlds, indeed, “shocked” by the way they treated their people, and homesick for the United States, Cleaver returned to America, even though a murder charge and a charge for skipping bail were still hanging over his head.

In 1977 he surrendered to the FBI under a deal in which the he pled guilty to the assault charge and was sentenced to 1,200 hours of community service in exchange for dropping the attempted murder charge. Facing a murder charge in the United States is, apparently, preferable, and not by a small margin, to being given the red-carpet treatment in the various socialist and communist paradises around the world.

In a 1998 article in the New York Times titled, “Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther Who Became a G.O.P. Conservative, Is Dead at 62,” John Kifner describes how Cleaver continued his evolution, after returning to the United States. Having witnessed the devastation wreaked by socialism and communism with his own eyes, he became an entrepreneur (apparently realizing that capitalism, far from being evil, gives individuals the freedom to turn an idea and some hard work into a good, even a great, way of life, creating jobs for others along the way), and marketed a new type of men’s trousers called the “Cleaver Sleeve” featuring a codpiece.

Cleaver became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) for a time, before becoming a Christian conservative, a member of the Republican Party and a supporter of Ronald Reagan, the man he had once plotted to kill. What a difference growing up makes! He even ran for public office as a Republican but lost. Cleaver had come full circle.

As a result of his real education living in socialist and communist countries, he went from being a Marxist revolutionary who called for the assassination of Ronald Reagan to being a Christian conservative Republican Reagan supporter.

At the time of his interview with Reason magazine, Cleaver lived in a modest apartment in Berkeley California where he was working on a book on the history of the 1960s. A large American flag, testimony to the fact that some people are actually willing to learn from their experience, flew from his front porch. With his prominently displayed large American flag, the former Marxist was clearly trying to send a message.

Cleaver’s turnabout was not, predictably, appreciated on the Left. The same New York Times article describes a case in the 1980s when Cleaver demanded that the Berkeley City Council begin its meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, a practice that they had once followed but had abandoned several years earlier. The Berkeley Mayor Gus Newport responded: “Shut up Eldridge. Shut up or we’ll have you removed!”

Cleaver might be forgiven if he thought he was back in one of his other former socialist or communist paradises. Further, at the time of the writing of this article, Wikipedia, which is sometimes, perhaps in a poor attempt at humour, described as an “encyclopedia,” has a reasonably sized article of about 630 words, not counting the footnotes, for Cleaver’s youthful angry anti-American book, Soul on Ice.

Since, however, Cleaver’s later book, Soul on Fire, which describes his conversion to being a Christian conservative, pro-American Republican is much more positive and hopeful, and most unforgivably, his conversion to support Ronald Reagan, it does not merit a Wikipedia article at all, not even a brief one, and is not even mentioned in the Wikipedia article about Soul on Ice.

Despite Cleaver’s remarkable evolution, it must be admitted that some of his demons remained with him in later life. In 1990 and 1994, he had police issues over the use of crack cocaine. But that is not why he is criticized and rejected by the Left where self-destructive drug use is just a part of life.

Cleaver’s mistake, for the Left, is that he had actually allowed himself to learn from his experiences over the years and see though his youthful leftist follies – for the ability to learn from experience is precisely what the Left cannot abide.

Richard McDonough is the author of two books, numerous articles, encyclopedia and dictionary entries, and book reviews. He has taught previously at Bates College, the National University of Singpaore, the University of Tulsa, the University Putra Malaysia, the Overseas Family College, the PSB Academy, the University of Maryland, the Arium Academy, and James Cook University. In addition to philosophy, he has taught psychology, physics, humanities and writing courses.

The featured image shows, “Unite,” a color screenprint, by Barbara Jones-Hogu, printed 1969.

Open Letter To Fellow Jews About The November Election: You Should Have Supported Donald Trump

How did Jews vote in the 2020 presidential election? It is still too early to determine this, fully accurately, but early evidence indicates that we supported Biden to the tune of about 72% and Trump the remaining 28%. To add insult to injury, of the 34 members of Congress who are Jewish, fully 32 of them are Democrats.

What more did poor Donald Trump have to do to earn an overwhelming majority of the Jewish vote? He moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, something promised on numerous occasions by his predecessors. Several members of his family converted to Judaism; did he break with them, sit shiva? Of course not. Compare his relationship with Bibi with that of Barack Obama; night and day: no comparison.

He pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal. An executive order of his targeted anti-Semitism – primarily in the form of Israel boycotts – on college campuses. At the annual White House Hanukkah Party, Trump ordered the US Department of Education to effectively interpret Judaism as a race or nationality in addition to a religion. As a result, those universities which fail to take steps to quell discrimination against Jewish students may have their funding cut off. He withdrew the United States from the United Nations Human Rights Council, which has unfairly been on the Israeli case for years, ignoring numerous serious human rights violations elsewhere.

In the summer of 2019, Trump even outdid Israel. That country was in the process of making an exception to their rule barring entry of all BDS supporters for Congressmen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. Trump intervened, and they were disinvited. What else did he do that Jews ought to appreciate?

  • He initiated the Trump Plan, Peace to Prosperity
  • He stopped financial support for the UNWRA
  • He supported Israel sovereignty over the Golan
  • He kicked the Palestinian Authority out of Washington and defunded them

Most recently, the only president we presently have waved his magic wand and helped make peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan. Normalized relationships are now being implemented. And, too, it looks as if this will be repeated with Oman and several others. Trump is a mensch. OK, OK, he doesn’t bake bagels or manufacture gefilte fish. C’mon, give this man a break!

How many more mitzvot does Trump need to perform in order to get Jews to appreciate him? In fact, it would be difficult to mention a more philo-Semitic president than the Donald. Has any other US president come within a million miles of these deeds, with the possible exception of Harry Truman who recognized Israel? To ask this is to answer it.

And, yet, according to that old aphorism, “Jews have the wealth of Presbyterians and vote like Puerto Ricans.” Most recently, more than six hundred Jewish groups went on record in support of Black Lives Matter, not the idea, which all men of good will can support, but the Marxist “peaceful” marchers.

What did things look like for the People of the Book on the other side of the aisle? Oy vey. Bernie (“Bibi is a racist”) Sanders did not win the Democratic nomination for president, but his negative viewpoints on Israel have left an indelible impression upon the foreign policy platform of that party. OK, you say, platform schplatsform; no one has to abide by it, no one ever does. But, still, it indicates where the hearts and minds of the Democrats are located. It is indicative of the types of advisors who will be surrounding the very possible President Biden, come 2021.

Then there is the high-flying very powerful “Squad” (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar). These young women are the leading indicators of the Democratic Party. Their views indicate where this organization is likely headed for the next few years.

Sayeth Omar: “Israel has hypnotized the world.” She called upon Allah to “awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” She supports BDS and has likened Israel to Nazi Germany. She has castigated Congressmen who support Israel, but not any other nation, “for allegiance to a foreign country.” And she maintains that favoring Israel is “all about the Benjamins” (gelt, for the unwary). She apologized for the latter, but not the former.

In the view of Tlaib: “We cannot be honest brokers for peace if we refuse to use the words ‘illegal occupation by Israel…’” Also: “I spoke today as the proud granddaughter of a strong, loving Palestinian woman in opposition to #HRes326. We must take bolder actions to ensure human rights are upheld in Israel and that Palestinians and Black Israelis are treated with the equality every human being deserves.” The clear fact is that Arabs in Israel are treated far better than in any other country in the Middle East, as indicated by “voting with the feet.” Arabs are not emigrating from Israel; they are trying to immigrate into that country.

Here is Pressley’s reaction to Bibi Netanyahu’s plan to annex Judea and Samaria: “Let me be clear, unilateral annexation is a threat to democracy and would create apartheid like conditions and entrench human rights violations against the Palestinian people…”

And AOC’s view of this matter? “Should the Israeli government continue down this path, we will work to ensure non-recognition of annexed territories as well as pursue legislation that conditions the $3.8 billion in U.S. military funding to Israel to ensure that U.S. taxpayers are not supporting annexation in any way.” In case some of you were busy davening, OK, Rip van Winkling it, these four congressmen are members of the Democratic Party’s “progressive” wing, and bitter enemies of President Trump. We’re going to vote for the Presidential candidate who supports them? Maazel Tov.

OK, we Yidden account for only some 2% of the electorate. Our vote, therefore, doesn’t count for too much, some might say. But we are more involved in politics than many, have larger megaphones than some, and are usually more than willing to put our money where our mouths are. We thus had a disproportionate effect on the 2020 election compared to our raw numbers. It is imperative, then, that we rethink our typical 90%-10% support of the Democratic Party. A shonda.

Every other demographic cohort casts ballots in the direction of their perceived interests. Why should we be any different? If we value a good U.S. relationship with the only civilized country in the Middle East, the only nation that treats gays, women and minorities decently, we should have rethought our knee-jerk aversion to Mr. Trump, and wish him another four years. We should have also gotten off our tuchases and worked for this eventuality.

I have no problem, none whatsoever, with the usual roughly 90-10 split in the Jewish vote between the two major parties. I just wish it were in the other direction. What are we, to bite the hand offered us in friendship over and over and over again? Meshugenahs? Moishe Pippicks? Schlemeeles? Schmendrecks? Schlemaazls? Luft-menschen? It was beshert that Trump be reelected. Don’t be a nudnick. Don’t be a putz. Yes, his schtick is a bit off-putting to some; but it shouldn’t be to most of us, who are also from the Big Apple. It goes with the territory.

I hate to be repetitive, but, oy vey.

On the other hand, thank God for Orthodox Jewry, may their numbers increase. At least those people have Yiddishe cups and more than just a bissle of ethics; maybe from the study of the Talmud? Most recently, Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky encouraged his haredi followers to vote for Donald Trump. Why? In one word: gratitude.

All this, of course, is now in the past. But there will be elections, again, in two, four, six years from now, God willing. It is time, it is past time, for us Jews to seriously question, and then reject our aversion to the Republican Party. Are they perfect? Fully aligned with the Talmud. Of course not. But, compared to the alternative, it is an easy call in their behalf.

Walter E. Block is Harold E. Wirth Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics, College of Business, Loyola University New Orleans, and senior fellow at the Mises Institute.

The image shows a socialist Yiddish poster from 1917, which reads, “Vote for the United Jewish Socialist Workers Party.” [Thanks to Rafi Farber for the translation].

A Post-Election Encomium For Trump

For many years, both political parties shared the same American Dream but differed on which policies best served that purpose. Since WWII, the Republican Party increasingly became the party of the self-absorbed successful (Country Club Republicans) basking in the glory of a global empire with an unlimited supply of underpaid illegal servants and workers. The only problem was that this empire, unlike previous ones that had collected tribute, now hemorrhaged treasure both literally and figuratively. At the same time, the Democratic Party increasingly became the party of ideological technocrats and a mindless grievance industry constantly multiplying victimized groups. Lost in all this were blue-collar citizens of all colors who found their American dreams turning into a nightmare. Enter Donald J. Trump.

President Trump can be best and easily understood as someone who retrieved a traditional conception of America. That conception embraced “the English language; Christianity; religious commitment; English concepts of the rule of law, the responsibility of rulers, and the rights of individuals; and dissenting Protestant values of individualism, the work ethic, and the belief that humans have the ability and the duty to try to create a heaven on earth, a ‘city on a hill’.” (Huntington, Who Are We?).

This is what “Make America Great Again” means. It is open to everyone regardless of race, national origin, etc. That is why one always sees signs at Trump rallies saying: “Blacks for Trump,” “Latinos for Trump,” “Women for Trump,” and so forth. It is the celebration of the underdog, a mobile and classless society, and the embodiment of the “Rocky” films. Immigration contributes to this message, but only works when the new citizens understand and embrace the culture to which they are moving, when they understand what makes the new community better than the dysfunctional one they worked so hard to leave.

The traditional conception of America is what makes it great; it’s not magic. A leader needs to provide a positive narrative. Trump’s 2016 narrative (“Make America Great Again”) and his 2020 narrative (“Keep America Great”) are not only positive but also inclusive and intended to bring people together. In severe contrast, “1619,” “Black Lives Matter,” and ‘identity politics’ are negative and divisive.

Many “Republican voters knew that our K-12 schools and immigration laws badly need reforming [especially inner city schools where reform is blocked by the Teachers’ Unions], and liked Trump’s plans for them. They wanted Trump to cut the administrative state and all its wasteful, job-destroying regulations as well as the crony capitalism that hampers small business. Most jobs and creativity emerge from small businesses – not the big corporations with lawyers and lobbyists who have enough money to sway regulations in their direction.

Mostly, they knew that we had become a class society where rich parents raised rich kids and poor parents raised poor kids, and that this was a betrayal of the American Dream, a betrayal of the traditional immigrant’s expectation that whoever you are and wherever you come from, your children will have it better than you did.

They knew that that promise had been broken, that Trump had pledged to fix it, and that is why they elected him president.” (F.H. Buckley). Traditional Republican leadership [Bush, Romney, Koch] had drifted to control by big international corporate Globalists who found it easy to disguise their greed and indifference behind a thin veil of libertarianism. Trump dismantled the New Class and “created a Republican Workers Party” by finding the sweet spot that was socially conservative and economically middle of the road.

Another element in this traditional conception of America is what I call autonomy (often mislabeled by interventionists as ‘isolationism’ or described by its advocates as ‘exceptionalism’). From the time of George Washington’s farewell address warning us about entangling alliances, many Americans saw America as a separate place to better instantiate Anglo-Protestant culture and uniquely positioned to pursue the American Dream.

In institutional terms, Americans embraced what I have elsewhere described as the “Lockean Narrative,” namely: The Technological Project (control of nature for human benefit), best carried out in a market economy, serviced by a limited government, kept under control by the rule of law, and sustained by an Anglo-Protestant culture of personal autonomy). That narrative and its institutions were progressively undermined by Woodrow Wilson’s promotion of U.S. involvement in the First World War [you remember ‘the war to end all wars’], FDR’s New Deal response to the Great Depression [which he managed to make even ‘greater’], the U.S.’s filling of the post- World War II power vacuum to counter the growth of the USSR, Johnson’s ‘Great Society’ [affirmative action, activist judges], the expansion of higher education [without the ‘higher’] which promoted the idea of an elite who somehow ‘knew’ better than the rest of us. T

he clearest expression of this elite was the rise of neo-conservatism [who ultimately paved the way for universities to fall into the hands of undereducated Frankfort Marxists]. Neo-con intellectuals presumed that the Lockean Narrative could be exported [U.N, World Bank] from the top down. This led to the creation of a military caste who never saw a foreign intervention they did not like and the extremely costly and ultimate failure of the Iraq War.

Trump saw a way to retrieve national autonomy. First, enforce immigration laws (“Build the Wall”) and close down failed programs and endless wars. Second, make America independent both militarily (no entangling alliances or substitute alliances on our terms) and economically (Fracking). Fracking had the added advantage of bringing the Middle East under control without the presence of U.S. troops, and indirectly let to his being nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize as Arabic nations finally recognized Israel’s right to exist. Trump’s solution meant that neither the National Review crowd nor Bill Kristol nor George Will were relevant to this revitalized movement that recognized and celebrated traditional American values.

What was Trump able to accomplish in his first term?

  1. Initiated an economic tsunami by lowering taxes leading to record levels in the stock market and positively impacting the retirements of millions of citizens.
  2. Lowered unemployment among the Black and Latino population more than any other president, and he did so without patronizing and condescending virtue signaling.
  3. First President to reverse successfully our relationship with China bringing businesses and manufacturing jobs back to the US.
  4. The defense of fossil fuels and the promotion of fracking made America economically, militarily, and diplomatically independent of the rest of the world – while lowering dangerous emissions to record levels without signing the ineffective and hypocritical Paris Accord.
  5. Rebuilt a military crippled by Obama.
  6. He is the first president not to engage the U.S. in a foreign war since Eisenhower.
  7. Forced NATO members to pay their dues. If the EU hand to defend itself it would require the dismantling of its bloated welfare states – advocates of the Europeanization of the U.S. are clueless about the extent to which this requires the US. to be the host for a parasitical Europe. Europeans are not our ‘friends’ but our allies and competitors. The present generation of Europeans have no living or meaningful memory of the Second World War, and the massive American military cemeteries there are as meaningful to them as the Battle of Waterloo or a crumbling Roman Arch – except that they are not as lucrative a tourist attraction.
  8. Neutralized the North Korean capacity to develop the nuclear capability of threatening Japan and the U.S. West Coast.
  9. Brokered Middle East Peace that some 71 years of political intervention and endless war had failed to produce.
  10. Appointed three ‘originalist’ Supreme Court Justices and 300 non-activist Federal Judges
  11. Fast-tracked the development of multiple COVID-19 vaccines and treatments in contrast to previous administrations which failed to develop vaccines for SARS, Bird Flu, Ebola, and a host of other diseases. COVID — a serious foreign invasion in many senses of the term — will only disappear in the presence of a viable vaccine. Operation ‘Warp Speed’ is intended to do that, and there is every reason to believe that a safe and effective vaccine will be generally available (except in New York) in the next few months.
    In times of crisis, a leader must be positive, exude confidence and inspire people to be optimistic – think Roosevelt’s fireside chats even as the great depression deepened. Trump has done his very best to fill that role. In time, people will come to admit his entrepreneurial genius that marshalled the pharmaceutical world to this achievement; it will be akin to the belated recognition of Reagan’s role in bringing down communism. What should not be overlooked is the need in the meantime to make courageous cost-benefit analyses of alternative temporary policies as in recognizing that lockdowns are ultimately counter-productive.
  12. MOST IMPORTANT of all, Trump exposed the depth and breadth of corruption in all the major institutions of American society, including the CIA, FBI, NSA, both major political parties, the media, higher education, big tech, etc., etc., etc.

Who could possibly argue with these achievements? First, all of the major institutions mentioned in (12) above, of course.

In addition to those major institutions who regard Trump as their enemy, he has earned the enmity of a host of others for his celebration of and support for traditional American values. They include:

  • All of the enemies of the traditional conception of America and the American dream: Marxists, socialists, identity politics advocates, doctrinaire libertarians -classical liberals – and modern liberals; and advocates of the therapeutic state.
  • (With the exception of the U.K. and the Eastern Europeans), all of the other member states of NATO, most especially German hegemons.
  • Globalists (the Davos crowd).
  • China. the Chinese are not grateful because they were admitted into the club. Rather, they mask their lust for domination under the guise of a “century of humiliation.”
  • George Soros.
  • Neo-cons.
  • Wall Street crony capitalists.
  • Mexico, Canada, and other parasitic states.
  • Radical Islamists.

The pseudo-intellectual snobs in our society despise Trump. He is a standing refutation of all that they believe. He does what they cannot do and achieves it in a manner incomprehensible to them.

A very serious set of problems arises when universities become regarded as commanding heights housing intellectual elites and experts on all subjects.

First, all other institutions (e.g. family, churches, etc.) are stripped of any authority because all professionals including researchers even in the hard sciences, doctors, lawyers, teachers at all levels, therapists, clergy and journalists are now credentialed exclusively by the university.

Second, accreditation is centrally controlled, and it is under government control (the Department of Education).

Third, as I have argued elsewhere, the university is itself the victim of a misguided and self-serving intellectual fashion. The success of modern physical science and technology suggested the notion to eighteenth-century French philosophes (confirming my suspicion that all bad ideas come from France) of there being both a social science and a social technology. Thus was born the idea of a social utopia, the abiding faith of libertarians, classical liberals, modern liberals, socialists and Marxists.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a social science that can explain, predict, and control the social world or overcome the human predicament. The Ivory Tower is now the Tower of Babel. Worse yet, you cannot claim expertise if academics disagree, hence the necessity for the imposition of censorship, uniformity, and the loss of academic freedom.

This practice of censorship extends to journalists (who seek to create or engineer a social consensus) and social media (who somehow know the secret definition of ‘hate speech’ and have never read J.S. Mill’s essay On Liberty and its discussion of why censorship is bad – Mill must be wrong because he is, after all, a dead white male).

The younger journalists have all the depth and breadth of understanding that comes with an undergraduate degree in communications. Social media people don’t even need a degree because they understand coding. The latter being superior in one respect believe they are superior in all respects.

Besides starting with a fallacious utopian mentality, the intellectual elite suffer from another misunderstanding. If there were a social science/technology then all discussion would begin with the ‘correct’ theory and then seek to impose it on practice. If the resulting practice is not a success (widespread social dysfunction) then instead of jettisoning the theory or even the idea of expertise, the ‘experts’ refine the theory or add an epicycle (like defending Ptolemaic astronomy instead of moving to Copernicus). An example is the invention of the ridiculous concept of “systemic racism.” The mindset at issue is the fallacious assumption that theory should precede practice. This mindset presumes that theoretical understanding can explain everything including practical understanding or the relation between practice and theory. On the contrary, practical knowledge cannot be encapsulated by theoretical knowledge.

It is not that whoever can does and whoever cannot teaches. It is rather that whoever embraces the aforementioned intellectual errors ought not to be teaching! Please note that in identifying these intellectual errors I am not claiming a greater or superior expertise. Most of the time I know my limits. I am merely pointing out the dangers inherent in many of my colleagues’ B.S. Worse yet is the presumption that only people who speak or write like academics and are adept at giving lectures are the really smart people. It’s not what you do or have done that’s important for them. Style obliterates substance (e.g., Obama).

Trump’s style of communication is authentic (hence the importance of calling out other people on occasion) and makes the average American feel included in the conversation. It may be fashionable to belittle Trump rallies, but those rallies are the clearest manifestation of a leader who connects with those whom he leads. Instead of a lecture designed for Sunday talk shows, Trump offers a sermon on American Greatness. He does so for those who seek to be part of a choir. It echoes what goes on in another moral community, namely houses of worship. No doubt, it offends the sensibility of those who aspire to be our social technologists. A successful sermon does not end with polite applause; it ends with “Amen!”

History will show that Trump’s most lasting contribution is remaining steadfast in the face of a treasonous coup by the leaders of the Democratic Party, a seditious inherited bureaucracy, an intelligence community that spies on its own citizens and tries to rig the outcome of elections, a sham impeachment, the most corrupt election (2020) in American history, a media that denies the distinction between fact and editorializing and believes that its job is to manufacture public opinion, an educational system that has abandoned the search for truth and excellence in favor of indoctrination, a military establishment that has succumbed to political correctness, a powerful business community that thinks its corporate social obligation is control of thinking, a Wall Street which does not know how to tell the difference between social democrats and democratic socialists, religious leaders who have chosen social work over serving God, a legal culture that cannot tell the difference between legislating and adjudicating, celebrities who think that excellence in one respect is excellence in everything.

In short, a totally politicized society whose depth and breadth of corruption is staggering. None of these issues will be fully resolved even when Trump finally steps down, hopefully after four more years!

Nicholas Capaldi, a Legendre-Soule Distinguished professor at Loyola University, New Orleans, USA, is the author of two books on David Hume, The Enlightenment Project in Analytic Conversation, biography of John Stuart Mill, Liberty and Equality in Political Economy: From Locke versus Rosseau to the Present, and, most recently, The Anglo-American Conception of the Rule of Law.

The image shows, “American Progress,” by John Gast, painted in 1872.

Crisis Of The Spanish Monarchy And The Need For A Republican Right

Twilight Of The Myth Of The Wonder King

In the history of ideas, a monarch, who rules a State, always appears as an analogy to God, who rules the world. During the Middle Ages and well into the Modern era, kings had, for large masses of the people, a supernatural, character, even physically. Part of the vital force of the monarchy was that the king could perform miracles and, above all, heal with the imposition of hands, as the great French historian Marc Bloch explained, with numerous examples, in his famous book, The Royal Touch. According to Bloch, the last attempt to make the monarchy practical and serious with such religious representations took place in 1825, when Charles X of France wanted to heal by laying on of hands, an attempt that was nothing more than a painful romantic imitation.

The myth of the thaumaturge king lacked tradition in Spain. However, one hundred and fifty years after its end in France, there were attempts in Spain to fabricate a kind of wonder-king, not, of course, on religious grounds, but on political grounds. And it was thus in Spain, in the twentieth century, that the last establishment, not restoration, of a monarchy in Western Europe took place.

In November 1975, by sovereign decision of Francisco Franco, the monarchy returned, in the person of Juan Carlos I de Borbón y Borbón. Regarding the figure of the previous Head of State, any historian would, in my opinion, have to follow the message of Karl Marx to the letter in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, the least Marxist of all his works, when he stated that it was necessary to analyze “the circumstances and conditions that allow a mediocre and grotesque character to play the role of hero.”

The elites of the regime, as well as the opposition, did not have excessive illusions about the monarchical sentiment of the Spanish. Only José María Pemán or Luis María Ansón – the inventor of “Juan III” – could believe, at that point, in something as esoteric as “the magic of royalty.” For the majority of the right, Franco’s will was enough. And in reality, no one was too shocked when Franco chose Juan Carlos as his successor and not his father Juan de Borbón y Battemberg.

Juan Carlos himself did not hesitate to accept that decision, betraying not only his father, but the laws of dynastic succession. The truth is that he had no other alternative either. Based on this experience, the media, and later some court historians, began to manufacture the figure of the thaumaturge king, a process not only risky, but very complicated given the characteristics of the person in question.

Physically, Juan Carlos was handsome enough, dashing, young, even with a good face. However, his character could not bear a close-up. He was shy; and as a speaker, a disaster – as eloquent as a no-trespassing sign. Nor did the man stand out for his intellectual or scientific curiosity, although, yes, he was very athletic. His great obsessions were, as we have had the opportunity to see, money and sex.

With such meager strands, the image of a hearty, regenerating, sincerely democratic monarch was going to be woven, although, incidentally, it was never heard-said that the institution of the monarchy or its magistracy be submitted to a referendum. He would be the healer of all our social and political ailments – he was to be the author of the new “Spanish miracle.” As the always timely and opportunistic José María de Areilza pointed out, the young king was going to be the “engine of change;” that is, the promoter of the transition to liberal democracy.

In essence, there was no other possibility. The process of change to liberal democracy has often been, and continues to be, mythologized, almost in providential terms. As a historian I am not a determinist, but I believe that, in certain cases, such as the one that concerns us, it is necessary to accept, as the always lucid Raymond Aron pointed out, the validity of a certain “probabilistic determinism,” since the freedom of human choice always works within certain environments or restrictions received from the past.

Like it or not, Spain’s destiny was liberal democracy; or, if you like, the party state. The economic development of the 1960s, the expansion of the middle classes and the qualified working classes, the political consequences of the Second Vatican Council, the context of a liberal and social-democratic Europe, the emergence of the Common Market, the diplomatic and military influence of the United States – everything headed in that direction.

Of course, change can be made better or worse, depending on the context; but the path was laid out, in its general lines, beforehand. Franco knew it, as he told US General Vernon Walters in a conversation. Therefore, Juan Carlos I was impelled, whatever his inner convictions, if he had any, to the acceptance of liberal democracy, for lack of alternatives.

Given the contexts to which we have referred, the strange thing would have been the survival of the political regime born of the Spanish Civil War. The historical frame of reference for the new political system was, without a doubt, the Canovasist Restoration of 1874, Soldier King and bipartisanship included. And not only did Manuel Fraga want to play the role of Cánovas – his goal was the progressive integration of the left and peripheral nationalists into the new political system. The exception was the Republican parties.

As in the case of the Restoration, the fundamental dogma was the monarchy, as a guarantee of social continuity. The behavior of the whole of the real left, PSOE and PCE, and that of the nationalists – except for the ETA terrorists – consisted in taking advantage of the opportunities of the new situation. In reality, they were all advantages, since they achieved legality and great promises of social influence and political power.

In this sense, the young monarch’s relations with the old communist leader Santiago Carrillo were especially unctuous, almost pornographic. Of course, one and the other were needed. The 1978 Constitution was the consecration of that pact. Significantly, no monarchical institution underwent a referendum – which, as Professor Dalmacio Negro Pavón has pointed out, did not resolve the monarchical question; it simply postponed it. And there are pasts that do not pass, as Ernst Nolte said.

The new party regime was configured, in daily political practice, as a poorly representative political system, a mere partitocracy – the so-called State of the autonomies was established, which, as some denounced and later it would be seen, was and is a clear instrument of Spanish denationalization and economic waste. The left monopolized the sphere of cultural creation; and a kind of uncritical and superficial Eurofundamentalism hegemonized the social imaginary of the Spanish.

However, the figure of the monarch did not acquire authentic stability until his performance, or supposed performance, in the sad events of February 1981. And it is that when these lines are written we still do not really know what was the true role of the monarch in the gestation and the subsequent failure of the coup attempts that occurred on 23-F. As Gonzalo Fernández de la Mora said, the truth would perhaps be known on the day of the trial. At the Final Judgment, it will be finally understood.

Unsurprisingly, the blame fell on the so-called “extreme right,” which did not learn anything. In any case, the monarch, in the interest of the political, economic and media classes, consolidated his image and his role in the new situation. He was the defender of democracy; or, as Herrero de Miñón said, the defender of the Constitution. The idea, by the way, was Carl Schmitt’s. As a soldier-king he had managed to control the Armed Forces.

Of course, it must also be said, in case there were any doubts, that what was consolidated then was the charisma of Juan Carlos I, not the monarchical institution. Since then, reference has always been made to “Juancarlismo,” not to the monarchism of the Spanish in general and the left in particular.

In reality, Juan Carlos himself knew that his permanence on the throne depended on the acquiescence of the left. If they, at a given moment, questioned his legitimacy, and from his perspective it was very easy for them to do so, he was lost. For this reason, he sympathized much more with the astute and folksy Felipe González than with the hirsute and unpleasant José María Aznar; or, with the sinuous and elusive Rodríguez Zapatero who was with the rough and slow Rajoy Brey.

To top it all, a sector of historiography did not hesitate to fall very low when it came to legitimizing its status. Such was the case, above all, of Javier Tusell Gómez, and more tangentially of the mediocre and opportunist Paul Preston. They both tried, and partly succeeded, in becoming court historians. Although, truth be told, more than historians, their image was more like that of Hola tabloid journlaists. Next to them, Jaime Peñafiel looked like Ranke. Both Tusell and the plump Britisher made an effort to show that, in reality, Juan Carlos was never heir to Franco, but to his father Juan de Borbón; and that the restoration – beware of the concept, nothing neutral – of the monarchy was done against the General Franco and following his own dynastic logic.

Nobody believed it, of course, but both pseudo-historians gained notoriety, influence, and money. The press and all the mass media were complicit, not only in the mythologizing of the character, but in the concealment of Juan Carlos’s stormy private life and, above all, of his businesses and his relationships with characters of dubious morality. Looking for an antithesis to such a character, we have the ascetic Baldwin of Belgium.

Despite his Catholic status, Juan Carlos never made the slightest gesture against abortion laws; and he did not hesitate to sign the Historical Memory Law, which actually delegitimized his historical rank and that of the institution he embodied. And it is that in essence it supposed a mythification of the Second Republic. Apparently, nobody found out about it.

On the other hand, his role as constitutional king has been completely inoperative. It has neither stopped local separatisms, nor mediated between the parties, nor has it been a guarantor of the division of powers. After the entry of Spain into NATO, the figure of the king-soldier has lost much of its functionality. As Juan Vázquez de Mella would have said, he was “el Augusto Cero” (“Augusto Zero”) or “el Rey-Poste” (“the Post-King”).

However, the monarch has been very effective when it comes to living the high life and increasing his personal fortune, as we learn from some media. Little by little, his figure has been destroyed. It had become a broken toy. The real taboo was gradually diluted. Juancarlismo stopped being operative. His perceptible physical decline, his continuous and ostentatious conjugal infidelities, his little transparent businesses, and his lack of interest in public affairs, contributed to making him a character in the Valleinclanesque Ruedo Ibérico [The Iberian Bullring, a series of novels wriiten by Ramón María del Valle-Inclán, in which distortion – esperento – is used. Trans.].

All of this culminated in the pathetic photo from Botswana. Juan Carlos had killed Dumbo; quite the symbol. His forced and necessary abdication was in character – a capricious, disloyal, impulsive, incompetent man when trying to control the economic corruption of his family; a frivolous man. His legacy is a hindrance to his current heir, Felipe VI, and for the dynasty itself. As Louis XV said, “After me, the flood.” We are in it.

What Spain did Juan Carlos I leave us? Perhaps the best thing would be to leave the answer to that question to a poet; and the exalted Luis Alberto de Cuenca said it best: Spain has become “a very sad place that has forbidden heroes, has allowed the roses of scandal to rot… a poor place that has lost its soul without gaining anything in return, a place without a future, a fistful of disunited and sterile land.”

Unlike his father, Felipe VI has nothing to offer to the left and the nationalists. Separatism no longer hides its unattractive face; it wants an independent Republic. And one part of the left, especially in the new generations, rejects the monarchy, whose meaning they do not understand and who prefer the Republic, which is not difficult to understand because, as we have already pointed out, the stability of the institution rested on the charisma of Juan Carlos I and in the myth of the Wonder King, which the King himself has been in charge of destroying. And charisma is not inherited. Nobody has taught young people what the monarchy consists of, its functionality or its advantages; perhaps because in the 21st century all this is already anachronistic. Instead, the benefits of the Second Republic have been sung to them.

We already know where the left will go. And the right? So far, they have supported the young monarch. However, it is not hidden from us that a sector of the right does not forgive Juan Carlos for his marriage with the left and his support for the state of autonomies. And Felipe VI has not had the opportunity to build his own charisma. And he probably never will.

Stance Of A Heterodox Conservative

In March 2014, I was invited to a lunch at La Gran Peña, in which, after the meal, the guest gave his opinion on a current issue, which was then discussed. The issue was whether Juan Carlos, after the Botswana crisis, should abdicate as a show of exemplariness. Among those attending the event were Leandro de Borbón, Fernando Suárez, General Armando Marchante, Ángel Maestro, Enrique de Aguinaga and some others that I do not remember.

In the background, a statue of Alfonso XIII. A monarchical, conservative and Francoist auditorium. Now, I not only defended the abdication of the monarch, but the need to raise debate on the viability of a presidential republic. They jumped on me. “Without the monarchy we will go to civil war,” Leandro de Borbón shouted. Others discussed my ideas vehemently. The most eloquent was Fernando Suárez, who defended Juan Carlos I and the monarchy. Most left without speaking to me.

A few months later the monarch abdicated. Yesterday we learned of his departure from Spain. Serious historical error. A convinced monarchist like Tom Burns Marañón predicts, in Expansión, the next advent of the Third Republic. All of this demonstrates the great fragility of the institution. In any case, it is more than evident that the right wing, for the most part, has a real fear of the Republic.

Lately it has been tried to manufacture a charisma for Felipe VI. His speech of October 3 could be, without a doubt, the foundation of that charisma, but it lacked real support and continuity over time. Soon they clipped his wings. And the speech was badly received by a sector of the left. The chubby Paul Preston, a lousy historian, but an influential actor paid for by Catalan separatism, claimed that it could have been written by Mariano Rajoy.

The subsequent speeches of Felipe VI have already been diffuse, accommodating, paternalistic, without precise content. The fact is that the institution lacks autonomy and cannot become a “party.” In his travels and appearances, he is seen isolated, without support.

The Pedro Sánchez government follows a path diametrically opposed to the content of the actual speech of October 3, 2017. The flight of his father does not favor Felipe in the medium term either. And we must not forget that their fate depends on the opinion of the left. A García Ferreras campaign in La Sexta could ruin the institution in weeks.

In February 2014, a manifesto of leftist intellectuals calling for the Third Republic was made public. Among the signatories were spoiled brats of the current regime, such as, José Caballero Bonald, José Luis Abellán, Ángel Viñas, Josep Fontana, Juan Genovés or Nicolás Sánchez Albornoz.

Is A Republican Right Possible?

Of course, I do not pretend that the whole of the right will convert to republicanism. It would be petulant on my part, since I have no influence in those sectors. I have always been a heterodox conservative. Another thing is that the political, social and mental tendencies of Spanish society go against the monarchy. We are a country of deep social and economic inequalities, but very egalitarian in mentality. “Nobody is more than nobody,” they say. Nobody has taught the youth to be monarchist, or, at least, to respect the institution. And the most rebellious express their dissent by waving a flag of the tacky Second Republic.

In this context, I believe that a sector of the right, necessarily a minority, should defend, in the face of the gale that is coming upon us, the alternative of a presidential republic, compared to the federal or plurinational republic of the left. A presidential model, in which the supreme magistracy of the State comes from the popular election. Its source of democratic legitimacy is relatively direct. For this reason, even if he is a candidate nominated by the parties, once a president comes to power, he is freed from party discipline and a certain independence can be expected from him. Furthermore, by having a full territorial base, it could annul local separatisms and maintain national unity.

This presidentialism can ensure the independence between the legislature and the executive; and, in addition, it has historically been shown capable of limiting the interference of both in the judiciary. It also eliminates government instability and weak coalition cabinets, sometimes subordinate to a tiny minority. In a presidential Republic, the Head of State can actually perform an arbitration function between the parties, and has the advantage that, at the end of his term, the arbitration returns to the electoral roll – what cannot happen with the monarchy.

The negative management of the republican Head of State does not generally affect the institution itself, since at the end of his mandate the same condition that united him to the Head of State also disappears. The same does not happen under the monarchical regime, where any disputed action, and not only public, of the King or his family negatively affects the institution.

Moderation is, in short, a way of committing oneself, albeit slightly, and that entails a wear-and-tear that, in general, constitutional monarchs tend to avoid. In this sense, the Spanish case is archetypal. The King does not rule. Your legal actions are not valid, if they are not endorsed by one of your ministers; and you are not even subject to liability.

Only the moderator function remains. But make no mistake: the Monarch neither intervenes nor moderates. When has a Monarch mediated a conflict between the three powers? He has never done it; he cannot do it; and the Monarch himself knows that he never will do it. This is the message that, in my opinion, should be transmitted to the most critical, active and right-wing sectors. As the great Charles de Gaulle said, a project that would open “the horizon of a great undertaking.” And I will not say more – otherwise they will incinerate me.

Pedro Carlos González Cuevas is a Spanish historian and professor at Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia. He is the author of several books, including, Historia del Pensamiento Político Español (Historical of Spanish Political Thought), La Razon Conservadora (Conservative Reason), and Stanley G. Payne. Perfiles de un hispanista (Stanley G. Payne: Profile of a Hispanicist).

The image shows a portrait of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, by Ricardo Sanz.

The Failure Of Conservatism

Michael Anton is the man who today best communicates the fractures among the Right. He identifies, and exemplifies, growing incompatibilities among conservatives, both on the issues of the day and in beliefs about desirable political structures. Anton first came to public notice under a pseudonym, Publius Decius Mus, writing in 2016 during the brief life of a pro-Trump blog, the Journal of American Greatness.

In September of that year, Anton published a famous essay, “The Flight 93 Election.” His first point was that, like the passengers of Flight 93, Americans opposed to the permanent boot-stamping dominance of the Left had an existential choice. They could, as it were, charge the cockpit by taking a chance on Trump. Or they could passively accept Hillary, and face certain political death. His second point was that their behavior when faced with this choice showed that the conservative movement, as it exists now, was wholly worthless. These claims were, no surprise, controversial.

Within a few weeks Anton revealed his identity; after the election he worked for several months in the Trump White House, in the national security apparatus, until the swamp creatures managed to come to dominate the West Wing and the populism of Trump’s early months evaporated. So he departed for Hillsdale College in Michigan, and, for now, the life of a public intellectual. I hope he doesn’t spend the rest of his days in that role; he would probably agree that we have enough public intellectuals and not enough doers. My guess is that soon enough, in the unsettled times ahead, he will find a new role.

This 2018 pamphlet reprints the original “Flight 93” essay, a follow-up “Restatement” also published prior to the election, and a new essay, “Pre-Statement on Flight 93.” This last tells us what, exactly, it is that Anton wants our politics to be, to meet the criticism that he had earlier offered only a negative vision. In all these essays, Anton’s basic point is the same one as I am always hammering—we are in a new thing in American history, an existential struggle between the forces of Right and Left, respectively good and evil, and there can be only one. The Left has always known this and acted accordingly, with malice aforethought; the Right, or part of the Right, is coming to realize it. Between the modern Left and the principles of virtue there is no middle ground; there is no compromise; there is no universe in which the principles of the Left can continue to be allowed a seat at the public table. They must be defeated, and suppressed, root and branch. We must awake, and those Lotos-Eaters putatively on the Right who refuse to rouse from slumber must be thrown overboard. So says Anton, in essence, and I could not agree more.

Anton begins with a “Note,” a recap of the reception of his original essay. This primarily means its reception on the Right; the Left didn’t pay much attention then, deafened by their collective baying for Hillary’s imminent ascension, and has not paid much attention since, either, which is probably a mistake. Within the Right, because the sclerotic organized Right of think tanks and little-read journals was Anton’s main target, the backlash against Anton was fierce, though it was all of the pearl-clutching variety, free as a bird from all logic or reasoning.

Those same segments soon enough coalesced into the noisome #NeverTrumpers, rats following their diminutive, tubby Pied Piper, Bill Kristol, who has unfortunately not led them into the mountain to disappear forever. Here, and in the “Pre-Statement,” Anton in his usual pithy style refutes what few coherent objections to his claims have been made. I will note those later, but Anton is willing to admit one, and only one, failure in his earlier essays—that in his original essay, he was insufficiently generous to and appreciative of Donald Trump.

In his “Note,” Anton also explains his choice of pseudonym at more length, a name borne by two Roman men, father and son, who each sacrificed himself on the field of battle. He cites interpretations by both Leo Strauss and Harvey Mansfield to rebut his critics, using close readings of my favorite Machiavelli text, Discourses on Livy. Anton’s basic point is that Machiavelli “says that a republic may be led back to its beginnings ‘either through the virtue of a man or through the virtue of an order’ and goes on to say that ‘such orders have need of being brought to life by the virtue of a citizen who rushes spiritedly to execute them against the power of those who transgress them.’ In other words, orders and men are both necessary and neither is superior to the other; virtuous men are necessary to execute good orders.”

Anton here leaves some ambiguity as to his own goals. He says that “In 2016, I judged the modes and orders of my time—and especially of conservatism—to be exhausted and imprisoned within an inflexible institutional and intellectual authority. I believed that its conclusions on the most pressing matters were false and pernicious and that its orthodoxy therefore required smashing.” Despite Machiavelli’s warning that “nothing is more difficult to handle, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage, than to put oneself at the head of introducing new orders,” Anton chose to do so. But to what end? He refers to being led back to beginnings, but he also speaks of new orders. Which is it? That is one of the things I will examine here, after first evaluating the three essays.

In the original Flight 93 essay, Anton notes that all American conservatives agree that things are very bad in America, have been for some time, and are getting worse. If conservatives truly believe the critical importance to society of all the problems we face, from family breakdown to out-of-control government to an inability to win wars, they must conclude “we are headed off a cliff.” But—they don’t really believe it, as Anton illustrates with an article from the Weekly Standard (ironically, in retrospect, given that journal’s fate), recommending for all problems the usual tired litany of conservative solutions, such as decentralization, federalism, and civil renewal. “Which is to say, conservatism’s typical combination of the useless and inapt with the utopian and unrealizable. . . . ‘Civic renewal’ would do a lot of course, but that’s like saying health will save a cancer patient. A step has been skipped in there somewhere. How are we going to achieve ‘civic renewal’? Wishing for a tautology to enact itself is not a strategy.”

This is the gravamen of Anton’s complaint—conservatives keep offering the same solutions that have solved nothing, to solve problems that only get worse, as their power gets less and the Left grows ever more dominant. You can’t believe that things are awful and getting worse, but also that they can continue on their current path indefinitely; it is a contradiction. And that’s what today’s conservatives, that is, those in the public eye, believe. (In fact, since Anton wrote, “leading” conservatives such as Jonah Goldberg have come right out and admitted that they are happy to lose and for the Left to win completely, just a little slower, please).

Even those few conservative solutions that have been tried have failed or been quickly erased by the Left. “The whole enterprise of Conservatism, Inc., reeks of failure. Its sole and ongoing success is its own self-preservation.” Such claims have made Anton a prime target of the happy losers whom he attacks, ranging from Goldberg (who specifically targeted Anton in his terrible 2017 book, Suicide of the West) to Michael Gerson. For reasons I will discuss below, Anton’s only organized allies appear to be the Claremont Institute, and perhaps The American Conservative magazine—both powers on the Right, to be sure, but isolated from the invitations to cocktail parties and pats on the head from the cultural elite of the Left that are so important to Goldberg, Gerson, and the other similar indistinguishable nonentities who cluster together.

So what passes for today’s American conservatism is of little or no value. I can get behind that. That doesn’t mean all alternatives are virtuous, or desirable. Anton makes a point I am often found making, that Trump’s mere existence is a sign of the times, not of good times, but as of an angel breaking a numbered seal. “Only in a corrupt republic, in corrupt times, could a Trump rise. It is therefore puzzling that those most horrified by Trump are the least willing to consider the possibility that the republic is dying.” Sure, if you’re part of the professional-managerial elite, the past two decades have been pretty good to you.

For everybody else, and for the fabric of society, the opposite is true, and if you can’t see it, you’re too embedded in the ruling class, or too dependent on their tolerance and largesse for your daily bread. Others have expanded on this point, from Tucker Carlson to Richard Reeves to Kurt Schlichter, though few have made the focus of their ire the conservatives who are supposed to care about such things.

The non-Trump Republican presidential candidates, had any of them won, wouldn’t have done anything to stop or turn back the tide of the Left, since “their ‘opposition’ is in all cases ineffectual and often indistinguishable from support.” But a Hillary win would be a fatal disaster for America, cementing its destruction. It “will be pedal-to-the-metal on the entire progressive-Left agenda, plus items few of us have yet imagined in our darkest moments. Nor is even that the worst. It will be coupled by a level of vindictive persecution against resistance and dissent hitherto seen in the supposedly liberal West only in the most ‘advanced’ Scandinavian countries and the most leftist corners of Germany and England.

We see this already in the censorship practiced by the Davoisie’s social media enablers; in the shameless propaganda tidal wave of the mainstream media; and in the personal destruction campaigns—operated through the former and aided by the latter—of the social justice warriors. We see it in Obama’s flagrant use of the IRS to torment political opponents, the gaslighting denial by the media, and the collective shrug by everyone else.”

That all this would have come true is proven by the Left’s behavior since the election. They do what they would have done under Hillary, but lacking the power of the executive branch, the damage they can do is somewhat limited. On the other hand, their rage at losing to Trump has fueled the fire. Not having executive power, for now, doesn’t stop, among other evils, endless violence against any public display of support for Trump; aggressive campaigns on the state level to legalize infanticide and push the latest in sexual fluidity as the moral equivalent of abolitionism; mass censorship of conservatives on all social media platforms; and the personal destruction of anyone within their reach, or within the reach of their allies in all large corporations, the media, or the universities. And, most of all, we see it in their two years of whipping up hate in the media and using bogus “investigations” to cripple Trump and persecute anyone associated with him.

Swinging around again to his punching bag, the weak betas of Conservatism, Inc., Anton notes that they certainly aren’t going to lead resistance to the horrors of a Hillary administration. Even if they wanted to, they couldn’t, since all opinion-making is controlled by the Left. But they don’t want to; they “self-handicap and self-censor to an absurd degree. Our ‘leaders’ and ‘dissenters’ bend over backward to play by the self-sabotaging rules the Left sets for them.” (I have complained before, for example, of the conservative lust for pre-emptive apologies, a perfect example of what Anton complains of).

What we need instead is a leader who will fight, who will punch back. He will stop importing millions of Third World migrants, who erode our economy’s strength and vote in lockstep for the Left. He will adopt trade and antiglobalization policies that benefit all Americans. “Who cares if productivity numbers tick down, or if our already somnambulant GDP sinks a bit further into its pillow. Nearly all the gains of the last twenty years have accrued to the junta anyway.”

What we can’t have is Hillary. Conservatism, Inc., is “objectively pro-Hillary.” Anton concludes that if we do get Hillary, in the longer term, “the possibilities will seem to be: Caesarism, secession/crack-up, collapse, or managerial Davoisie as far as the eye can see . . . which, since nothing lasts forever, at some point will give way to one of the other three. Oh, and I suppose, for those who like to pour a tall one and dream big, a second American Revolution that restores constitutionalism, limited government, and a 28 percent top marginal rate.” We will return to these options, and whether any are desirable, below.

Anton’s initial piece got just about the warmth of reception one would expect. Actually, it got no reception at all, until Rush Limbaugh read the entire thing on his radio program. (That conservatives dominate talk radio is intolerable to the Left, and censoring it a prime goal of theirs. The ability of new thoughts like Anton’s to gain traction through that medium is why, even though talk radio can never set what the news is or what polite public opinion is allowed to be.) But then a wave of hatred and bile from those conservatives attacked (that is, nearly all of them) crashed into Anton, along with some tut-tutting from a few conservatives who saw that their rage was merely proving Anton’s point. Anton responded a few days later with “Restatement on Flight 93.”

Here he briefly addressed the most cogent attacks on him. Using the passengers of Flight 93 as a metaphor was simply standard drawing of inspiration from heroes. It wasn’t “disgusting.” “It’s quite obvious that’s what really is disgusting to these objectors is Trump.” Trump isn’t too immoderate to be President; he may be a “buffoon,” but “one must wonder how buffoonish the alleged buffoon really is when he is right on the most important issues while so many others who are esteemed wise are wrong.”

Trump is not too radical; in fact, on the surface he’s more progressive than other recent Republican presidential candidates. He’s actually quite moderate in his policies of “secure borders, economic nationalism, and America-first foreign policy.” The problem is that he is a threat to what is now called the Deep State, as outlined by John Marini: he might win, and he threatens “the current governing arrangement of the United Sates, [which] is rule by a transnational managerial class in conjunction with the administrative state.” Trump is not “authoritarian,” which is a meaningless term as used here (and as I have shown at length by analyzing post-election writings, merely means in practice “erosion of the power of the Left”). Trump does not want to “trash the Constitution,” which anyway is laughable, given that the Left’s entire, open and acknowledged, program of the past hundred years is to trash the Constitution.

No, reiterates Anton, he was right the first time. Conservatism is a miserable failure. Doom is at the door, and if you choose to let it in, your fate will be upon your own head.

We all know what happened next. Trump won. The Left lost its mind, and unleashed fresh helpings of savage hatred upon the land. (I did not predict this; I predicted a new era of optimism and limited comity. More fool me.) They marshaled all their resources, from that disgusting hate group the SPLC to Rod Rosenstein to Facebook to the FBI to Jonah Goldberg, in order to stop Donald Trump from fulfilling any of his promises. And we are still living through these days of rage, which are, probably, merely the foothills of our own coming hot civil war.

Anton, however, appears to have been stung by the claim that he only offered a negative vision, although on its face that claim is untrue. He therefore wrote a new piece, “Pre-Statement on Flight 93.” Anton seems grudging about writing it; noting that since the Left’s project is destruction, of all opposition and of all non-Left “people, institutions, mores and traditions,” “It’s a bit rich to be accused by nihilists of lacking a positive vision.” This piece is, I think, the least successful. It’s not that it’s bad; it’s excellent. The problem is that while it rejects what Conservatism, Inc. has to offer, it repeats an equally unrealistic prescription, namely a turn back to the Constitutional and political framework of 1787 and 1865.

A combination of political philosophy, political argument, and history, in the Pre-Statement Anton cites Aristotle for the basic claim that all human activity aims at some good. Beyond food, shelter, and security, “mere life,” the good life is happiness or felicity, which is achieved by developing our capabilities to reach the telos of man, “the completion or perfection of those traits which are uniquely characteristic of man.” “Radical individualism and private hedonism,” the goals of (though Anton does not say so) the Enlightenment, undermine human flourishing.

This much has been known, in the West at least, since the Greeks, but the American Founders brought political order in the service of these goals to near perfection (which was perfected by the post-Civil War amendments). Federalism, limited government, and representative republicanism created the best system ever. But it is not one that can be exported to all peoples in all times, nor can it work if there is inadequate “commonality in customs, habits, and opinions.” As everyone with any sense knows, diversity is the opposite of our strength.

This near-perfect system has been attacked repeatedly since 1787, Anton tells us. First, by the followers of John Calhoun, unsuccessfully. Second, by the early-twentieth-century Progressives, successfully and causing great damage. And third, fatally, by the acolytes of John Rawls, purveyors of so-called social justice and of forced equality, and the New Left, advocates of the tearing down of America, group rights, and oppression theory. All these attacks are incoherent and destructive, but they have collectively succeeded in destroying the Founders’ vision, and erecting in its place a system that maintains many of its outward forms but within is crawling with decay and worms.

As the Left’s power grows ever greater, they must either “compound the lies, or suppress and punish dissent.” They choose both, following the dictates of Herbert Marcuse and his heinous “repressive tolerance.” We need to “return to life and the conditions of life: the rule of law, responsible freedom, confidence in our civilization, patriotism, and concern for the common good instead of only the particular good of groups claiming oppression or disadvantage.”

I agree with nearly all of this as an analytical matter. As a prescriptive matter, though, it is sorely lacking, other than that Trump is somewhat better than Hillary in these regards. If I have a core political organizing principle, it is that you cannot go back; the way is shut. Truly insightful modern conservatives realize this and make it the starting point of their thought. But Anton seems to shrink from this conclusion, unwilling to realize, or recognize, that the vision of the Founders is dead. There is no path to return to it, and if we did, the massive changes in the world and in America would make their system a failure if re-implemented today. It was good, in a unique time and place, for a small and homogeneous country built on a politics of virtue.

The modern world is so very, very different from that; what the modern world needs is indeed a return to the principles of Aristotle, but not just those relating to the purposes of man, rather also those of varieties of political structure other than democracy, which Aristotle, and everyone else who matters, has always recognized as the worst form of government, for proof of which today we need only look around.

Anton is, therefore, a reactionary. I divide reactionaries into various camps, but the two relevant ones here are Straussians, followers of the German philosopher Leo Strauss, and what I call Augustans. Straussians, although they have various internal divisions, believe that the desired end of political history arrived already—and was left behind. Therefore, today’s Cthulhu State, a multi-tentacled horror of unlimited and unaccountable power, exemplified by the monstrous administrative state that finds no warrant in the Constitution, should be destroyed and the Republic restored by the simple expedient of turning back the political clock.

Augustans, on the other hand, focus on power and its uses. A more common term for this is Caesarism, but that is a misnomer, since Caesar merely toppled a tottering system. It was Augustus who created a new one, in which the forms of republican government remained, and even some of its application, but the real power shifted, toward a mixed government with heavy monarchical and aristocratic elements. Rollback is not the goal; the goal is seizing the levers of power as they exist now, and overthrowing the great as the opportunity presents itself, creating a new thing entirely. Thus, the focus is power guided by virtue, but always power.

In his original Flight 93 essay, Anton came across as Augustan. But he blurred this with his Pre-Statement, which is Straussian. Straussianism, while internally coherent, offers nothing, because there is no path to reach its goals. It is Reaction in the sense of turning the clock back, when what is called for is Reaction in the sense of building a new thing guided by the wisdom of the past. Anton is extremely intelligent, and I suspect he is deliberately hiding the ball. I think what he really wants to call for is either of two of his three stated alternatives to Trump winning: Caesarism (that is, an Augustan state), or secession/crack up.

This conclusion is strengthened by the sarcasm with which Anton refers in his original essay to “a second American Revolution that restores constitutionalism, limited government, and a 28 percent top marginal rate.” Other than tax rate, that’s basically the Straussian solution, and he laughs at it. And since Anton says managerial Davoisieism will end up in Caesarism too, that suggests that the only two options left are the ones he wants to pick from. Trump, though, is not a good Caesar; he is a holding pattern, a finger in the dike while other pieces are being moved on the board. We are just waiting for the Man of Destiny, to be named later.

I don’t know Anton, but my bet is that he realizes that he can’t marginalize himself further by calling for the formal destruction of the Republic, even if it has already been destroyed in practice. He has to make a living, of course, and I don’t think he’s rich (despite Jonah Goldberg’s sneering, yet bizarre, efforts to slur him as rich). But he clouds the air by failing to make a choice. I see why he can’t, and instead tries to have it both ways. Me, I don’t have to make a living as a public intellectual, and “marginal” grossly overstates my relevance, so I’ll happily get behind an Augustan state, or the crack-up of the United States, or both. We’re going to get there anyway, after all – the only questions are how fast, with how much unpleasantness, and whether the destination will be the Pax Romana or something less pleasant. I’m all in for a Pax Romana updated by Christianity, the other innumerable blessings of the West, and modern science. Whether we’ll get it, I don’t know.

Charles is a business owner and operator, in manufacturing, and a recovering big firm M&A lawyer. He runs the blog, The Worthy House.

The image shows, Solitary Figure in a Theater, by Edward Hopper, ca, 1092-1904.