Answering Heilbrunn’s Question

Jacob Heilbrunn asked, "Who would have thought that, at the peak of the conservative movement's political success, its founding fathers would recoil from the Frankenstein's monster they created and end up as troubled heretics?" Lew Rockwell ventures an answer:

Who would have thought? Anyone who follows these birds on a regular basis. They land on the telephone wires of power whenever the opportunity presents itself, and then they fly away when they fear an electric shock is coming. American conservatives can always be counted on to denounce a lame-duck president of their own party who is sinking in the polls. They worked hard to make Bush president, refrained from criticizing his egregious policies for years, focused all their ire on a mythically powerful left, and now that things aren't working out so well, they bail out.

The conservatives denounce their presidents for the same reason that the left denounces Stalin: they want to evade responsibility for the results of the policies imposed by monsters that they themselves created. When the left does this, we know not to take it too seriously. If you give the state the right to expropriate all private property, you can't be too surprised when dictators take over.

Similarly, when the whole of your intellectual enterprise has been wrapped up in celebrating the nation-state and its wars, condemning civil liberties, casting aspersions on religious liberty, and heralding the jail and the electric chair as the answer to all of society’s problems, you can't complain when your policies produce tin-pot despotic imperialists like Bush.


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