December 30, 2010
As a trained intellectual historian who has dealt with ideological movements here and in Europe, I”ve grown tired of agitprop sold to us as something more serious. I”d have no objection if the FOX series showed those who now have power turning their onetime opponents into non-persons. As late as the 1990s the present neocon custodians of the media-approved right were still battling for power with paleoconservatives. These pesky opponents have now been airbrushed away in the same manner that Stalin removed from official Soviet histories those Old Bolsheviks he had purged in the 1930s.
As my book Conservatism in America repeats like a broken record, there is nothing our current conservative movement resembles more than the Communist Party. This is true in two critical respects. One is the completeness with which those in charge reconstruct the past to fit current political needs. Second is the rank and file’s willingness to believe what they”re told about reality, particularly about their own movement. Self-described conservatives who are now glued to FOX have no other view of political reality except for what they”re being told and plainly want to hear. While the elites mix in urban circles with relatively educated, world-traveled friends, those in the hinterlands have an exceedingly limited frame of reference. What they ascribe to “liberals” is even truer in their own case: They usually confine their reading and contacts to whatever confirms what they already think and want to believe.
Lest true believers in American conservatism miss any aspect of the movement that eluded them until now, FOX is filling in the gaps. As they tell it, the movement developed like a lyric poem. Everything it now teaches, it taught either explicitly or implicitly before. The founders would be delighted with how things have gone, and if there are more contributions made to certain designated foundations, there will be greater successes to come. Although conservatives in the past were insufficiently sensitive toward minorities and women, we are now atoning for that by reaching out.
Anyone for more packaged white bread? It’s all now available on DVD.