July 11, 2007
It is not generally my practice to answer bloggers responding to my commentaries. I”ve also had the strong sense that some of the respondents to Paul Weyrich’s attack on the Fairness Doctrine were doing so well that my own efforts might appear superfluous. But since my older son has now taken the side of my neighbor and friend Wes McDonald, against me, by insisting that “the FD would hurt rightists of all stripes,” I”ve decided to reenter the fray. Pace my son Joseph, I don”t think that any likely application of the FD would hurt the real Right. If memory serves, the last two times I was mentioned in National Review was first, when I was listed by David Frum as a member of the “unpatriotic Right” and then more recently, when the same author classified me, by indirection, with Holocaust-deniers or at least with those who frequent the company of such people. I”ve no idea what if any impact the present debate about the FD will have on the Old Right. But to maintain that its application would hurt us is hard to believe. Can we fall from being pariahs or Holocaust-deniers to an even lower status?
Although I”m arguing for not getting involved on the neoconservative side, unlike some of my critics, I am in fact more sympathetic to the regular Left than to the neocons. I am employed at a college at which I enjoy the patronage of a generally leftist administration, after having been denied a graduate professorship at a large university because of massive neoconservative lobbying against me. And despite his unkind words about Russell Kirk, and my critical response lately posted on this site, the regular left-liberal Alan Wolfe has treated my work with more attention and greater respect than has anyone in the neocon camp. Personally I can stand the regular Left better than the fake Right, which has done me considerable damage. I am therefore puzzled by the question that continues to be posed to me whether I am really equating the “moderate Right” with the Hillary Clinton or Obama Left. No I am not making this equation. I despise the first far more than the second but believe that we should stay neutral if the two Lefts start belting each other. Indeed we should rejoice at their spats, although I can”t believe that these fights would be as nasty as what would be directed against our side, if we showed any chance of breaking into the publicized political conversation. I”m also not sure that having a few more left-liberals on FOX would affect its programming significantly. The Murdoch channel already features lots of leftist commentators. It’s our people who are generally left out in the cold.
It is also unclear how a call to include more conservative voices will necessarily involve, as one of my critics suggests, opening the doors to 15 or 20 discrete political Rights. We now have, on the one side, neocon- and Republican controlled opposition to the liberal Left and on the other, those whom the approved opposition has successfully kept out of the conversation that is heard at the national level. Straussians, neocons, and the other groups who may be treated theoretically as separate schools of thought are in fact cooperating to keep us isolated; and despite the possibility of locating a multiplicity of sectarian differences on the right, broadly understood, there are for our purposes only two relevant groups, the pseudo-Right establishment and our side. And it would be no exaggeration to observe that what separates Hannity and Colmes, who represent FOX NEWS’s range of allowable positions, is far less significant than the distance between the putatively conservative Hannity and the Old Right.
I also have deep reservations about Wes McDonald’s comparison of access to broadcasting with market competition in commerce. Presumably buying up airtime for our views is like opening up a new cheese shop in the strip mall. Those on our side who are griping about the lack of investment capital are supposedly bad businessmen, in comparison to those commercial geniuses Bill Kristol, Rich Lowry, Jonah Goldberg and David Frum. But the problem with this comparison is that we are comparing apples and oranges. Neocon views, which are conventional Cold War liberal ones with a large Zionist and Wilsonian component, resonate well with multinational executives, the defense industries, Republican placeholders and the increasingly de-Christianized Evangelicals. Neocons do not unsettle the liberal media, in the same way as the Old Right, which neither wants to make war to spread democracy, nor cheers on the advances of anti-discrimination enforcers in public administration.
To say that our opinions do not get widely heard is of course not the same thing as observing that certain economic investments do not seem profitable. Not funding a paleo broadcasting network is seen on the basis of this questionable analogy as being somehow similar to a decision not to pay for another cheese shop in a mall that already has one. Justice Byron White was correct, however, that real broadcasting opportunities involve a “scarce resource,” and it is a resource that Rupert Murdoch and his left-liberal counterparts are denying specifically to our side. This is a serious problem in what pretends to be a popular government, and as my friend Boyd Cathy observes, the vanishing of newspapers presenting a wide range of views and the curse of our two national gargantuan parties threaten the existence of any trace of serious self-government. It is vital to the practice of self-government that the present establishment monopoly of influential broadcasting be ended, and this would be a necessary reform over and above our own exclusion from this monopoly. Until we can find a sugar daddy to open a cheese shop for us, I suppose we”ll have to continue to fire back with Winchester rifles, when the neocons take out their atomic weapons, e.g., when they tell us in the national press that Scooter Libby is a right wing poster boy instead of someone who was the unsavory Marc Rich’s unsavory mouthpiece or when, as Justin Raimondo has explained on this website, the neocon head honchos are using Ryan Sager to smear Ron Paul as a “racist” and anti-Semite” in the New York Sun.
Although I am not sure that the FD will work toward this end, and indeed I have grave doubts that it will, I am appalled by those paleos who have rallied to the side of our neocon enemies. In my book I attribute this to the rank-and-file mentality of movement conservatives, who can never think outside the box created by FOX, National Review, and Weekly Standard“and that interminable chatterbox Rush Limbaugh. Such people remind me of the heretical Marxists in the Frankfurt School, who no matter how often they were punched around by the Stalinists, could never break from their Soviet loyalties. At this point our job is to get into the game”and therefore we should stop worrying about the possible hit that one of our enemies might inflict on the other. If only their animosities ran deeper—and were less of a show being put on by talking heads who share the same perks and write for many of the same publications! What is troubling here is not that some respondents have balked at my talking point but that they are siding with those who despise them and will continue to treat them as outcasts. If I were a Gramscian, I would ascribe this to the operation of cultural hegemony. The servile class apes its masters, instead of trying to overthrow them.