Sunday, July 24, 2011

Conservatives across the Atlantic

During my European trip I passed through Heathrow airport twice. At one of the departure gates there was rack of free magazines, and the only one from the United States was The American Spectator, a venerable conservative rag of intellectual pretensions, featuring articles by editor R. Emmett Tryrrell, Jr., Ron Chernow, and Grover Norquist, among many othrs. Tyrrell proclaimed "Liberalism's Death Croak," George Gilder explained that Israeli settlments were the best thing that had ever happened to the Palestinian economy, and Joseph Shattan gave a glowing review to a book of essays by Irving Kristol, founder of neoconservatism. But the articles that really caught my eye were about Europe: a "Letter from Paris" by Joseph Harriss, and "The Rebirth of Nations" by Roger Scruton. As regular readers know, I generally reject comparisons between Fascists and American conservatives because I believe their goals are so different. This one, however, hit me in the face. Harriss' article, "The Power of Le Pen", was a paean of praise for the French National Front. Scruton went further, lauding all the neo-Fascist European parties trying to ride into power on a wave of nationalism and anti-Muslim incitement.

The focus of the article was the new leader of the National Front, Marie LePen, whom Harriss had to admit was pro-choice and twice divorced, but whom he nonetheless hopefully predicted might actually finish second in the first round of the forthcoming presidential election and first in the second round. Scruton begins with a warm paragraph about the Finnish True Finn party and proceeds to praise nationalist movements in the Netherlands, Flemisth Belgium, and Italy. (He was however careful not to praise Hungary's rightwingers, who have actually taken over the government and who are overtly anti-semitic.)

The reason for these rather troubling positions became apparent within the articles: these parties, first, are obsessed with the Islamic danger in Europe, but more importantly, they generally oppose the European Union, which has become a secular socialist bugaboo for the American right. One might have though, of course, that the twentieth century examples of Italian and German exceptionalism might have made Americans shy away from the idea of American exceptionalism, but the reverse, of course, is true. The European Union represents the most complete triumph of Enlightenment ideals in the world today, including the ideal of the perfectability of society with the help of a strong government, and thus to American conservatives it must be a bad thing. Today's American conservatives also seem to be well aware that the leaders of the European right, like Nicolas Sarkoczy, David Cameron, and Angela Merkel, are all considerably to the left of Nelson Rockefeller in their policies, and thus, if they want to find European allies, they must look further right.

The Anmerican Spectator was of course only one data point, but it was clear that rejection of the European union and praise for European nationalist movements are now part of its line. How widespread these views are among rightwing publications I do not know, but I found them very disturbing.

I have been most gratified to note that this blog now has a very noticeable readership in France--266 hits in the last week or so, for instance--and I would be very curious to hear comments from any French readers.

Meanwhile, see another post from yesterday, below.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Kaiser:

the leader's of the France's National Front's name is
MARINE Le Pen. Not Marie Le Pen.

It would serve you well if you could, in the age of
the internet and Google, at least check the very
rudimentary facts, before you publish them!

You can learn more about Marine Le Pen by reading
the following article.

galacticsurfer said...

Sad day in Norway. It takes a generation with sentiments similar to Lost generation to commit such atrocities in the name of the common good. Hitler and Mussolini did the same. Breivik is pro-Israel but antimuslim. It appears there is a split between neo-nais and neo fascists. One hates Jews and the others "just" hates muslims. This is supposedly a modern adaptation. In Hitler'S time I suppose Jews and gypsies were the only "foreigners" in Europe in larger numbers. Now there are alll sorts of foreigners but Asians, Jews, Christian Africans perhaps are accepted by such Chrisitan fundies like Breivik but Islam and left wing politics is seen as a bugabbo to "destroy the white race and a God fearing Europe" or some such nonsense. God help us when we get copy cats. This is Norway'S Timothy McVeigh and 9/11. $ million people lose 100. USA is almost 80 times bigger so comparativley would have lost 8000 people on 9/11. What sort of racist undercurrent will come to the fore if the economy crashes further and longer?

steveftw said...

Dave, between your work here and the general sense of the world shown on the turnings forum, it's time - past time - for the Greys to step up and assist in birthing what is coming.

There is plenty of energy to shape change in the younger generations. I'm saddened that the energy is focused to destruction instead of revitalization.

Are you aware of a significant "3rd way" movement that represents the vast middle between the brownshirts (my opinion) and their Leaders (Cantor/Bachman) and the left?

There is so much frustration; I feel it daily. There's got to be a way to capture this energy in a constructive manner.

Gerald Meaders said...


Many thanks for this post.

Of course, no reflective person, least of all perhaps, yourself, would be all that surprised by growing conservatisms in Europe, not just here.

They too have been buffeted,

less so in some ways, more so in others,

by many of the same globalist economic and political forces,

forces which mainly we unleashed,

forces fomenting both nationalistic and civilizational rivalries, long subtly gathering strength, and recently violently confronting the US and the West.

Rich or poor, conservative, free market capitalists; and middle class, or below or above, liberal democratic universalists,

all good, well intentioned Americans, of course,

needed to be much more careful politically about what they wished for;

but, alas, too late for such warnings now, I fear.

'Tax and spend' is great, until you are in a truly global economy that will suck those initiatives mostly elsewhere in the twinkling of an eye.

All the best,