Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My Upcoming Decision

I wanted to highlight an extended comment made recently by commenter Art Deco.

The American Conservative and the dispositions and remarks of its editor, Daniel McCarthy, are the purest source of all that renders the 'alt-right' project problematic. The ongoing conceit is that they represent something true and authentic and sublime in contrast to the vulgarities of 'movement conservatives'. Really? 

There's nothing that's published in Chronicles by anyone not named Fleming, Rockwell, or Francis that might not find a home in some other publication. (As for the stuff published by these men, do you really want recycled copy from the Radovan Karadzic press agency or the White Citizens' Council?). The v Mises Institute is a collecting pool for purveyors of fringe (read crank) social theory and research ("Austrian" economics and neo-confederate historiography). The Rockford Institute is a remnant, just a corporate shell for Chronicles, the "National Humanities Institute" has two salaried employees (Claes Ryn and one other) and issues an absolutely soporific annual. The Unz Review is issued by amateurs whose big idea is that social research is reducible to psychology and anthropology which is reducible in turn to biology and that Science demonstrates this but ideologically driven social researches are dedicated to Not Noticing things. They collect as their acolytes a mess of disagreeable people who are obsessed with blacks and Jews and despise both. (Who also seem to enjoy Steve Sailer's gig as volunteer press secretary for Vladimir Putin and his minions). Their idea of a popular movement is Ron Paul - a conceited goof who trades in historical fabulism (and goldbuggery).

And Daniel McCarthy is a fine example of a type that Samuel Francis and Stephen Tonsor took to task, the 'career conservative'. Except, in his case, he presides over a publication that's always been a cesspool of idiosyncracies: Philip Giraldi's hatred of Jews, Andrew Bacevich's resentments of his former employer and military officers more accomplished than he (Petraeus in particular), Steve Sailer's obsession with a tests-and-measurements psychology that he never studied in an academic setting, Conor Friedersdorf's Miss Manners campaign, and Scott McConnell's sundry aper├žus (and contempt for Jews). The whole thing was a train wreck from the get go, and yet they persist in this illusion that they are the 'legitimate' heirs to Robert Taft (who manifested a dispensation in the Republican Party that was non-existent from 1959 to 1990 and has only Russell Kirk as a thin filament of genealogy between then and now).


Then Mr. Deco ends with "rant off". Which caught me by surprise. I think that it's probably a feature of someone who is conservative but not an alt-conservative that they are sensitive to ranting. Antithetically, many alt-con pundits don't realize they are ranting as a normal course of their alt-con punditry. That can be problematic for your argument and your readership numbers. I mused long ago that Dan Larison was king of the exclamation point, and although he has settled down over the years, he still blurts multiple invectives (insane, deranged, ridiculous, absurd, etc.) whenever dealing with mainstream conservatives in his writing when they espouse the slightest hints of hawkishness. And, of course, the Ted Cruz kerfuffle is a great recent example of an alt-con hive-mind rant.

I rather thought the characterizations in his comment were commonsensical and to the point. They were meant to be summaries, obviously. Ron Paul is a historical fabulist; the lily needs no more paint. The von Mises institute is fringy and cranky, and related to that, the word "Austrian" belongs in scare-quotes when modifying economics. Steve Sailer is so obsessed with, well, what he is obsessed with that they should change the saying to "one-note Stevie". (No doubt he would then immediately respond with a long article about why George Shearing wasn't as famous as this blind guy since he had a higher IQ.)

I like summaries when they save me time. I've got a lot of stuff to get done. They might also save me money. Explanation: I was toying with the idea of subscribing to Chronicles Magazine which, as far as I can tell, is much more sensible than TAC and is $45 for a year, 75% of TAC's subscription price. This idea came to me while talking to one of the editors at the Chesterton event I went to last Sunday. He is a pretty good friend of a pretty good friend, and I've appreciated his blog posts in the past.

So maybe Mr. Deco can further weigh in on the proposed decision. It seems that he respects the publication more than TAC from the comments in his "rant". Someone recently reminded me that Aristotle said "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." So although I'm more of a Weekly Standard type of conservative, I think it might be good to imbibe some sensible material from other perspectives. Thomas Meehan is welcome to weigh in also, or any of the regular commenters.

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