I think Paul Gottfried is altogether too optimistic when he says that the neocons won’t control the Right forever in his post-paleo piece up at Taki’s Magazine. I’m not one to discount “changing historical conditions,” but I wouldn’t count on any changes in the cards in the near future to rid us of the neos. They’re nothing if not adaptable, after all. Gottfried is also more exuberant about “younger (thirty-something) writers and political activists” being “a counterforce to neoconservative dominance” than I think is warranted. I see some hope for the future in the younger generation — I have a piece in the April 21 TAC talking about that — and I certainly see cause for hope in the Ron Paul movement. But all of that has to be weighed against what I said in this post. I’m not sure that a small cadre of journalists, bloggers, and political activists is much of a hook to hang a movement upon. But I don’t know who all Gottfried might have in mind when he writes of “younger (thirty-something) writers and political activists.” Maybe I’m overlooking someone in my own, more pessimistic analysis.


5 thoughts on “Post-Paleo

  1. scriblerus April 9, 2008 / 12:53 am

    I don’t think you’re overlooking too much. The neoconservatives aren’t really going anywhere. Of course, they’ve messed things up in Iraq, but their institutional backing is basically rock-solid, even with Olin folding a couple years back. The network of journalistic and think-tank outlets that they have constructed over the last 30-40 years guarantees that they and their sympathizers will always have outlets for their work and sources of funding. If McCain loses, they will migrate back to AEI, Heritage and other such places, continue pumping out their books and articles, and not miss a beat. I was chatting with a friend from Heritage the other day and I think they are actually expanding. If they have funding to expand after 8 years of Bush misgovernance, then I don’t think the neoconservatives will fold any time soon.

    Obviously, one thing that might seriously undermine the neoconservatives is if the political audience (in Washington) and the popular audience for their work dried up, but that simply isn’t going to happen soon. Discontent with the war might have weakened, but people aren’t simply ignoring them yet.

    Perhaps, paleocons will start their own network and institutional base, but it’s never seemed like they have the donors to do that. Maybe, the donors to Ron Paul’s campaign can start channeling their money in that direction, but that certainly won’t be automatic. Even then, though, I’m not sure if institutionalization in DC is totally desirable, since I suspect that is where a lot of the conservative movement’s problems in general stem from.

  2. Dylan Waco April 9, 2008 / 6:48 am

    I tend to think things are swinging our way, because the intangibles are with us.

    The most excited group of conservative and libertarian activist are young people who are generally idealists. Virtually none of them have neo-conservative views.

    The far left is becoming more populist and receptive to decentralist arguments as evidenced by the Vermont Seccesionist Movement, the popularity of Counterpunch, and the emerging left wing trend of distrusting government as much as business.

    The Fair Tax, which I am not a particularly big fan of, has produced a true and widespread oppositonal movement to the Federal Income Tax. If the Fair Tax guys take the next step and turn away from revenue neutral schemes, while advocating serious reductions in spending (as Bob Barr supposedly will do) they may prove to be an extremely fertile ground for paleo or post-paleo ideas. After all the supply-side revolution for all of its faults gave us Paul Craig Roberts and Jude Wanniski.

    It used to be that talk radio was the nexus for conservative ideas, energy and news. The internet is changing this and quickly. The paleo and libertarian sites generally have very good readership and regularly beat out the establishment journals.

    It looks to me like the base for individualist, anti-state ideas is growing and rather quickly at that. I think there is something to Gottfried’s argument about the current movement being focused around “Old Right” principles and not seeing themselves as outgrowths of the “movement conservatism”. I will not attack those who saw the light via the pages of National Review or through Eagle Forum pamplets, but any attempt to get back to the “Old Right” has my unqualified endorsement. I’ll take Garet Garret and co. over Paul Weyrich and co. everyday of the week and twice on Sundays.

  3. Michael April 11, 2008 / 8:50 pm


    I had the pleasure of meeting – and sitting with at the banquet dinner -at the John Randolph Club meeting this past year. Being 24, and having grown up in the ideas of conservatism, the notion that Dr. Gottfried postulates (the death of paleoconservatism) is a positive thing.

    Wishing is the wrong thing to do, but his good friend the late Dr. Sam Francis, was working on a book at the time of his death that would have been THE book on where to go with conservatism.

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