Monday Miscellany, 11/27/23

Monday Miscellany, 11/27/23 November 27, 2023

Conservatives who repudiate the Founders; pro-lifers using leftist tactics; and Argentina and Netherlands vote anti-establishment.

Conservatives Who Repudiate the Founders

The online magazine Compact has some interesting articles, but it has become the home for Integralists, the New Right, and other “post-liberals” (that is, those who reject liberal democracy, the system of government built around personal liberty and individual rights).

Is liberal democracy just a creation of the Enlightenment that should be rejected in favor of a more authoritarian system of government?  If so, that would also mean rejecting the American Constitution and our whole history of self-government.  Not many post-liberals, many of whom are avowed “nationalists,” would go that far, or at least say that in  that in so many words.  But now Compact has published an article that explicitly come to that conclusion.

It’s by the “nationalist” Michael Lind and is entitled Forget the Founding Fathers.  He begins:

What would the Founding Fathers think of today’s America? How would they advise us to address the great domestic and foreign challenges of our time? Would they be proud of contemporary Americans for preserving their handiwork, or would they despair at what has become of the United States in the 21st century?

The answer to all of these questions is the same: Who cares? Seriously. Who cares what James Madison would have thought about internet regulation? Who cares what Thomas Jefferson might have said about the war in Ukraine?

He points out that other English-speaking democracies don’t venerate their founders.  “A British prime minister who declared that 21st-century Britain must turn for guidance to Robert Walpole or Pitt the Younger would be considered daft.” Maybe, given the state of the British parliament, they should!  But certainly other nations, from Rome to Bolivia, have venerated their founders.

Lind traces the “cult of the founders” to the 20th century need to offer a non-racial understanding of American identity for the civil rights revolution and to offer a counter-ideology to Communism during the Cold War. But aren’t those excellent reasons, still applicable today?

“To be ‘American’ was now equated with having a deep personal belief in the ideals of the founding.” But Lind criticizes that notion, since someone in another country can believe in those ideals without being a U.S. citizen and a U.S. citizen who does not believe in those ideals is not stripped of citizenship.  But immigrants must take a test to show their knowledge of those ideals and swear an oath to uphold them before being granted citizenship.  Isn’t this ideological agreement vastly superior to defining “being an American” as a matter of race or ethnicity?

The Left is attacking the Founders because many of them owned slaves and so did not live up to their professed ideals.  Now some on the Right are attacking them because of their ideals.

Pro-Lifers Using Leftist Tactics

A group called the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising is using tactics associated with leftist protesters to get across their pro-life message. So complains the Daily Beast in an article entitled ‘Progressive’ Anti-Abortion Group Plays Dirty to Get Ahead.

The activists spray provocative graffiti (“Be gay: Ban Abortion”; “Abortion Is Murder”), live-stream confrontations with the other side (including pro-abortion demonstrators), and co-opt the left’s language and arguments (abortion as “genocide”; championing “oppressed” babies against their “oppressors”).  The article quotes a member of the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising who says that they want to make people “uncomfortable.”

To be pro-life today really is to be radical, revolutionary, and counter-cultural.  Far more than today’s bourgeois progressives who inveigh against “privilege” while insisting upon the privilege of a woman to abort her own child, and who analyze the evils of “power relationships” with no concern for the powerless of the child in the womb.

It isn’t just that these pro-lifers are sounding like leftists.  They are making pro-abortionists sound right wing.

Argentina and Netherlands Vote Anti-Establishment

ARGENTINA SHOCKS WORLD!  So proclaimed the Drudge Report in announcing the election of Javier Milei to the presidency of Argentina.  Two days later, Drudge reported another “shock”: Dutch Far-Right Leader Wilders Scores Shock Election Victory…, referring to the success of Geert Wilders and his party in a parliamentary election in the Netherlands, which is likely to result in Wilders becoming prime-minister.

All of this shock and alarm in the coverage of these elections came from the allegation that these candidates are “hard-right” and “Trump-like.”

But Javier Milei is a libertarian.  He describes himself as an “anarcho-capitalist.”  That is, he is fiercely devoted to the free market.  Unlike Donald Trump and his “New Right”  supporters.  He wants to combat Argentina’s 140% inflation by cutting government spending and by restoring the value of the nation’s currency by basing it on the far more stable U.S. dollar.

Yes, Milei opposes Argentina’s establishment, with its Peronist corporate socialism that has made such a mess of the Argentinian economy, which is why voters elected him in a landslide.  He is anti-establishment in other ways, which Argentinians also apparently find endearing.  He has also called Pope Francis (who is from Argentina) a “communist.”  And though he is a libertarian, he is also eloquently pro-life.

As for Geert Wilders, he is, indeed, opposed to the flood of Middle Eastern immigrants that have been pouring into the Netherlands and the rest of Europe, bringing with them a level of crime that Europeans are not used to.  He would like for his country to pull out of the European Union, which has encouraged this mass immigration.  And Wilders has made a name for himself–to the point of  requiring a constant armed guard–by opposing radical Islam.

All of that is enough to categorize him as being “hard right” in European terms.  But Wilders is also openly gay.  That’s likely reason enough for him to fear Muslim immigration and the changes that could mean for the tolerant secularism of Dutch society.  He is also an agnostic.  So he is not “conservative” in a moral or religious sense.

The main thing Milei and Wilders have in common with Trump is that they all have somewhat unusual hair.

Javier Milei by Vox España, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Geert Wilders by Rijksoverheid/Phil Nijhuis, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

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