NeoCons - Or Vichy Cons?
August 06, 2003, 05:00 AM
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John Zmirak writes: This talk was given in Washington, D.C. on July 9 to an America's Future Foundation symposium on "What the Heck is Neoconservatism?" My fellow-participants were The American Conservative editor Scott McConnell; American Enterprise Associate Editor Eli Lehrer;  Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review. The event drew almost 100 mostly young conservatives, evenly divided between men and women, full of enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity. Most of them seemed quite unacquainted with arguments for immigration control or other populist/traditionalist perspectives—but excited to learn about them.

Scott McConnell's talk contrasted the quite reasonable principles laid out by Irving Kristol, in his essays defining neoconservatism, with the utopian imperialism displayed by his heirs. Eli Lehrer defined "paleoconservatism" as the "blood and soil" school of the American right, which he declared "intellectually interesting but totally irrelevant" to the public debate. "Reading the work of paleocons is like reading Cicero," he said.

Ramesh Ponnuruemulated David Frum's well-known jeremiad "Unpatriotic Conservatives," making his speech a compilation of every ill-tempered mention of race he could find in the archives of Chronicles magazine and The American Conservative. He focused particularly on articles that mentioned him personally—ending with the declaration: "We reject the idea that conservatism should form a kind of identity politics for white people."

I replied by citing Steve Sailer's analyses in VDARE.COM showing that the GOP's  "Southern Strategy" was an implicit version of precisely that—identity politics for white people. This strategy made the Republicans a majority party once again. But the neocons' spurning of immigration reform, affirmative action and the social issues now threatens to undermine that achievement.

On reflection, I think what makes Ponnuru's assertion interesting is the double standard it betrays. Neoconservatives take for granted that every other ethnic group in the world—especially American minorities—develop "identity politics." From the Congressional Black Caucus to the Israeli Likud Party, neocons accept as normal group-based politics based on a sense of ethnic kinship. The only groups to whom they'd deny this form of micro-patriotism are the (vanishing) majority groups in Europe and America—as if white people should somehow be "above" that sort of thing.

This curious form of masochistic racial elitism deserves further examination in another article.

[Previously by John Zmirak: The Brogue Wears Off: Why The Catholic Church Is Addicted To Immigration]

Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like to begin by asking you to synchronize your watches: It's Midnight in America.

Like most of you, I'm sure, I was shocked by last month's anti-constitutional decisions by the Supreme Court. But I was equally appalled by something I'd read the week before—a column by media-savvy neocon Jonah Goldberg, in the June 20 Washington Times. Anticipating the Supreme Court, Goldberg declared that on "the gay issue" the conservative position had been trounced, thanks to the proliferation of loveable gay characters on TV. Goodbye, he said, to conservative public morality, and our legal efforts to distinguish same-sex couplings from the sacrament of marriage. The best we can do is to surrender unconditionally and hope for magnanimous treatment by the victors.

In other words, and I use my words advisedly—to Collaborate. You know, like in France.

It's nothing new. In 1940, thousands of French conservatives chose to work with their occupiers. Some tried sincerely to promote conservative goals, and preserve French interests, such as the Empire in Algeria.

Neocons also care about preserving our colonies in the Middle East. I fear that America's involvement in the Arab/Israeli quagmire is quite parallel to the doomed attempt of the French Right to hold onto that settler colony. I hope I'm wrong—because the end of the state of Israel would be a humanitarian tragedy—just like the end of most Western colonial regimes, from Kenya to South Africa to Zimbabwe.

As you probably know, the Vichy regime achieved none of its positive goals, and ended in disgrace. It did prove pretty good at one task: repressing the authentic French Resistance, whom they labeled "unpatriotic conservatives." In the end, Marshal Petain even signed a death warrant for Charles de Gaulle.

Likewise, neoconservatives have proved far more effective at purging the American Right than at promoting any real conservative values. I would argue that since the end of the Cold War, neocons have accomplished almost nothing, except to liquidate key conservative principles, and marginalize valuable conservative thinkers, in return for a crack at administering Leftist policies a little more efficiently.

For surrendering on the legal status of marriage, the basic unit of society, Mr. Goldberg was not fired from National Review—as previous editors have been for their right-wing opinions. Mr. Goldberg has not been forced to start from scratch, running a special interest website, or publishing his own little newsletter, like paleocons purged from the "movement," when they opposed immigration too forcefully, or criticized the policies of Likud—many of which I personally support—or wrapped themselves in the Confederate flag.

I guess gay marriage is not beyond the pale. It seems that National Review now stands athwart the march of history calling out "Halt, halt! Wait for me…"

Why does National Review's star pundit make room for gay marriage? Because, as he admits, the other side has won - and we don't want to look like losers.

Here is the very heart of neoconservatism, which I've decided to rename "Vichy conservatism." The Vichy-cons' world view, apart from sheer jingoism, amounts to a statist, egalitarian reading of the Declaration of Independence. It's a Leftist creed, designed to accommodate the victory of the Left in America's courts and the culture wars.

All this takes place under the benign eye of a beloved elder statesman, the hero of the last war, William F. Buckley—our very own Marshal Petain. In his beloved, nimble publishing rival, William Kristol, the American Vichy has found its own Pierre Laval. Their governing principle, as Max Boot once put it, is to become the kind of "conservative whom liberals will feel comfortable inviting to cocktail parties." To which I would add, "at the German Embassy."

Oh come, on, you might say. Things aren't that bad. At least Gore isn't president. Wouldn't that be worse?

To which I ask—how exactly would things be any different?

As it stands, the definition of marriage, the meaning of citizenship, the civil rights of the majority population of the country—and the sanctity of life of helpless unborn children—all these have been wrenched away from the voters. America's governing elites increasingly rule the American people as if they were an occupying army, dictating its ideology and imposing its raw power on a defeated, prostrate nation.

Vichy-cons, and the movement which they've captured, exist mainly to manage and channel voters' initial outrage, while negotiating an unconditional surrender. Their greatest fear is falling out of step with "respectable" opinion, of being relegated to the "fever swamps" where the cocktails do not flow.

A Supreme Court composed mainly of Republican appointees has just ruled that European-Americans may be treated as second-class citizens indefinitely. This, in pursuit of a nebulously defined public good nick-named "diversity." Even this Republican administration's brief affirmed the value of "diversity" and did not attack the principle of anti-white discrimination. So we know what to expect from future Bush appointees to the Court—more Kennedys, more O'Connors, more Souters.

The Bush administration neglects our borders and refuses to re-examine the irrational basis for most legal immigration—so-called "family reunification." (This policy, by the way, was invented by Teddy Kennedy.) And it plans more amnesties, rewarding illegal aliens for breaking the law, and inviting in their distant relatives.

Given current immigration figures, after 2050 European Americans will be just another minority in a country with no majority.

Now, as a Catholic, I have no use for racist ideologies; there's nothing intrinsically superior about white people that grants them the right to remain a majority in America. But surely conservatives ought to worry about what will happen when we create a nation that has no majority.

Multicultural states show an uncanny tendency to collapse, as groups that refuse to intermarry instead fight each other for power. Perhaps I'm biased because my family comes from the former Yugoslavia (Croatia, actually). Before they shatter, these multicultural states tend to bloat into bureaucratic tyrannies, as they try to "manage diversity," lashing together what will not cohere.

That is why real libertarians, such as Lew Rockwell oppose mass immigration. Big business lobbyists such as The Wall Street Journal favor it—in part because they want to import cheap labor, and in part because they prefer docile immigrants to restive, socially-pathologized American blacks.

Put three martinis in a Vichy-con and he'll start telling you how much more "cooperative" Mexicans and Koreans are than African-Americans. Never mind that we owe anything to our black fellow citizens, whose ancestors slaved for this country, and who disproportionately enlist and fight our wars today.

In closing, I'll pose this question: Do we have a Charles De Gaulle? Is there anyone trying to rally the scattered forces of genuine conservatism, to refuse collaboration, and rouse a genuine Resistance? To fight the Leftist elites who are taking from us the most basic attributes of sovereignty, who have defined the unborn as meaningless tissue, marriage as the equivalent of an S&M slave contract, and the First Amendment as the legal guarantor of pornography? (But not of free political speech—thanks to Senator McCain's "campaign finance reform.")

Any names come to mind?

There is such a movement, and it has a leader. In 1992, he gave one of the great speeches in American political history at the Republican National Convention; at the next convention, I was privileged to serve as his alternate delegate; and today I am proud to write for Mr. Buchanan's lonely, underfunded magazine, The American Conservative.

And since there is such a man leading such a movement—which some call "paleoconservatism"—I'd like to revise my estimate of the time of day in America.

In fact, I'd like to suggest that it's high noon.

John Zmirak [email him] lives in Astoria. He is the author of

Wilhelm Röpke: Swiss Localist, Global Economist.