April 28, 2009

Profanity In The Defense Of Liberty Is No Vice!

While the widespread use of profanity may not be the best tactic the emerging Alternative Right has in its arsenal, strict adherence to the phony pieties of the dead end “conservative movement” are not going to get us anywhere. It is for that reason that I found myself cringing a bit when I read Grant Havers criticisms of some of the colorful language that has appeared on this site in recent weeks. In particular, this paragraph jumped out at me as something worthy of a brief response:

“How quaint in retrospect seem the early days of National Review, when that always well-mannered James Burnham strove to professionalize the magazine by eliminating “undergraduate touches, expressions like grrrr, and other slapstick.” (I quote from Jeffrey Hart’s The Making of the Conservative Mind: National Review And Its Times.) Apparently, Burnham did not have to worry about the employment of language which was best confined to the denizens of Skid Row in the 1950s. Can the Alternative Right today at least try to emulate the glory days of National Review, when professionalism in journalism was the norm?”

Though I find Mr. Burnham’s theory about the managerial state interesting, and readily admit that in a previous life National Review published many essays of worth, it strikes me that holding up an establishment venue like NR as a template of sorts, is precisely what the Alternative Right must avoid doing.

For many of the younger whippersnappers, the notion that Buckley and friends ever represented anything other than the permissible fringes of acceptable American liberalism, is laughable. That this may not be entirely true is largely irrelevant. The fact is, that on the issues most important to the Right-leaning youth of today, NR was either on the other side of the battle lines (Empire, Civil Liberties), indifferent (The Fed) or wishy-washy to the extreme (immigration). Bill Kauffman’s oft-repeated point about National Review’s total disinterest in the creation of the Interstate Highway System may seem absurd to those folks who cheered hard for Ronnie in 1980, but it seems all too logical to the generation of radical anti-statists that have taken the helm of what Paul Gottfried has suggested is a “post-paleo” movement.

Perhaps more to the point, the McGovern/Carter revisionism that is becoming increasingly common in some alt-right circles has less to do with resurrected the reputations of those maligned figures than it does with tearing down the false idols that “movement” ideologues have trumpeted for years. The graven image of Reagan having some tactical worth in certain setting does not change the fact that his cult-like status among many self-identified righties, largely serves to obscure traditional conservatism.

They may not realize it, but the Ron Paul Revolutionaries are ultimately more Kirkian than the establishmentarian figures of the “safe” right that occasionally use his name to bolster their bona fides as they bust up his Republic. Of course none of this means that casually dropping f-bombs or scattering our polemics with scatological humor is always wise. But playing by rules that don’t work, in order to live up to a standard that was never high in the first place – is a recipe for failure. Instead the Alternative Right ought to be setting its own standards, without allowing it’s radicalism to become another church or vehicle for the mindless identity politics that have plagued both ends of the political spectrum for the last thirty years.

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