There is a significant overlap between people who are neo-Confederates and those who consider themselves libertarians. Indeed, the relationship is such that some ‘libertarian’ think tanks, such as the Ludwig von Mises Institute and Lew Rockwell‘s have become neo-Confederate bastions. The basic argument of proponents of this viewpoint is that the current government is too intrusive. That’s typically libertarian. But, the next step pushes the envelope. Not only is the government too intrusive, according to neo-Confederate libertarians, it needs to be overthrown. Alternatively, some states, usually described as being in the Southern United States, should secede. After the secession, they should create a society similar to that of the pre-Civil War South, which was an ideal republic, they say. Among the persons who hold those beliefs dear is neo-Confederate/libertarian spokesman Clyde Wilson. He has decided he can no longer abide the compromise many American reactionaries make – supporting the Republican Party. According to Wilson, the Bush administration is no better than a Democratic one would have been. Though some on the Right blame neo-conservatives for what they see as a decline in Right Wing purity, he believes the alleged rot goes deeper than that.
Could it be that the neocons are not the problem, but merely a symptom of the problem? Would they even exist in their present form if they had not seen the chance presented by the vast gaping vacuum of ideas and principles that is the Republican Party, and particularly its current leader?
Think back to 2000, when “conservative” spokesmen, some of whom were honest people who should have known better, exhorted us that we must vote for Bush, even if we had to hold our nose. The alternative was unthinkable! The Democrats might get in! Then we would have abortion, gay rights, affirmative action, judicial tyranny, socialized medicine, needless foreign war, massive spending, deficits, and debt! Save what is left of America! Vote Republican! Yeah, right.
I often raised objections in conversation to this exhortation. What reason did we have to think that George W. Bush would avert all those disasters? Exactly none. The evidence was all the other way, massively and conclusively. The best response I ever got from the reluctant Bush warriors (which I still hear all the time) was “at least Bush is a good Christian man” who would cleanse the White House of the sewage left behind by the long incumbency of Clinton. As if Bush were running against Clinton rather than Gore. This about a man who professed a shallow, carnival” tent version of Christianity. A Christian who has subsequently altered the American creed of “Protestant, Catholic, and Jew” to “Protestant, Catholic, Jew, and Muslim.” And given his stand on immigration, we will soon have Santeria and Hinduism added.
Wilson also takes issue with the most sacred of cows among many conservatives – the Reagan revolution. He says the revolution never occurred, that it was stillborn because of the meddling of Establishment (read Northern) Republicans, who are also sometimes neo-conservatives.
Nostalgists still hearken back to the Reagan Revolution, which never took place except in imagination. The Reagan Revolution was over before the nomination was formalized, when the bankers forced him to accept a “mainstream” Republican on the ticket. The crusade to restrain the federal government, to correct the fraud, incompetence, insolence, and extravagance of its departments, never even got out of port, much less sailed for the Holy Land. And whatever moral capital was left was picked up by the Establishment Republicans once more. Clearly Bush the Previous had no affinity for the social conservatives he had to pretend to care for. Like his son, his instincts on the social questions were pure northeastern Liberal Republican. Previous Bush’s Liberal Republican appointee to head the National Endowment of the Artssubsidized Mapplethorpe and the other abominations. Out in the provinces there were many very talented, under-recognized artists who might have been encouraged, some of whom had even voted Republican, but of course they were not Establishment.
Not surprising, though I had no idea Wilson is interested in art other than renditions of Confederate flags.
His solution to the problem of the major parties not being reactionary enough is the same as Strom Thurmond‘s and George Wallace‘s during their heydays – a far Right third party.
The only hope for conservatism, that is, for preservation of some semblance of civilized order and liberty, is a populist party along the lines of the real Reagan coalition of 1980 – economic freedom and social conservatism. And the first essential objective of such a party must be to destroy and replace the Republican Party. All else is sound and fury.
I can already hear the Bush re-election bandwagon in the distance. “Get on Board! Vote Bush and Save America from Hillary Clinton!” Will the millions of our fellow citizens yet again clamber aboard and hosanna their way down the road to perdition? If so, I fear it will prove that we suffer not from bad leadership but from a fatal defect of national character.
I believe most of us who believe in progressive politics spend much of our time criticizing mainstream conservatives. But, from time to time, it behooves us to remember there is worse than the GOP.
Clyde Wilson is a history professor in South Carolina who has been a major proponent of maintaining a ‘traditional’ view of the history of the South. His opinions can be read regularly at LewRockwell.Com.Powered by Sidelines