I look forward to soon reading Prof. George Hawley’s new book, Right Wing Critics of Conservatism, the thesis of which is crucial today. From the book’s description on Amazon:
The American conservative movement as we know it faces an existential crisis as the nation’s demographics shift away from its core constituents—older white middle-class Christians. It is the American conservatism that we don’t know that concerns George Hawley in this book. During its ascendancy, leaders within the conservative establishment have energetically policed the movement’s boundaries, effectively keeping alternative versions of conservatism out of view. Returning those neglected voices to the story, Right-Wing Critics of American Conservatism offers a more complete, complex, and nuanced account of the American right in all its dissonance in history and in our day.
The right-wing intellectual movements considered here differ both from mainstream conservatism and from each other when it comes to fundamental premises, such as the value of equality, the proper role of the state, the importance of free markets, the place of religion in politics, and attitudes toward race. In clear and dispassionate terms, Hawley examines localists who exhibit equal skepticism toward big business and big government, paleoconservatives who look to the distant past for guidance and wish to turn back the clock, radical libertarians who are not content to be junior partners in the conservative movement, and various strains of white supremacy and the radical right in America.
In the Internet age, where access is no longer determined by the select few, the independent right has far greater opportunities to make its many voices heard. This timely work puts those voices into context and historical perspective, clarifying our understanding of the American right—past, present, and future.
In Counter-Currents, Greg Hood has an excellent review of Hawley’s new book:
Western Civilization, the #TruConservatives tell us, consists of nothing more than classical liberalism. And American conservatism, insofar as we are offered a definition, is a vague belief in “limited government” and “the Constitution.” These are combined with “Judeo-Christian values,” said to be eternal but actually evolving at a stately pace a few years behind the leftist avant-garde. Knowledge is dangerous for any respectable conservative because if you explore the history of one of your heroes before 1965, you’ll find views on race and identity as bad as anything within that gross Alternative Right.
(Hood’s link in the above paragraph takes one to Ellison Lodge’s excellent, must-read piece in Radix Journal entitled “Dark Enlightenment”.)
Of the civil war taking place within Conservatism today, Hood writes:
This is critical for the modern American Right because it implies a new crisis and could create a new realignment. It has now been almost two decades since the hammer and sickle fell and insofar as there is any wishful thinking about a global revolution led by Russia it’s one coming from the Right. Though there’s been a half-hearted attempt to substitute “Islamofascism” as a way to get the old band back together, we face utterly new challenges based on identity, not ideology. The brutal demographic realities behind the migration crisis could prove to be the key catalyst for a new movement.
Of the book’s overall arc:
Hawley profiles a number of castaways from different schools of thought, including localists, mainstream and radical libertarians, atheists, and paleoconservatives. Identitarians and white nationalists are also analyzed, though Hawley does feel the need to virtue signal against us, presumably to avoid suffering the fate of his subjects. Overall though, Hawley is fair and informative and his book serves as an excellent introduction to the various subcultures which have ultimately created what we call the Alt Right.
He also slips through some questions which suggest he’s at least confronting the arguments rather than just pathologizing them like some shitlib at The Daily Beast. “Why, for example, is Zionism generally considered an acceptable political position, but an individual who wanted to create a republic restricted to white Christians would be barred from mainstream debates?” he asks. Why indeed.
Hood has this great distillation of the poverty of libertarianism as a viable option in the wider world, i.e., one un-curtailed by ethnic homogeneity:
For many on the Alt Right, libertarianism is a kind of gateway drug, a safe way of attacking egalitarianism, the establishment conservative movement, and “the System” more broadly. Most are gradually redpilled. Eventually, you move on, unless you can find a way to be paid for being part of the “liberty movement.”…
Hawley quotes SFL’s cofounder Alexander McCobin as saying: “We know what’s up for debate, and so we also know what’s not. The justifications for and limits on intellectual property? Up for debate. Racism? Not up for debate.” But as Richard Spencer argued, libertarianism itself was a kind of mask on white identity for some time. That is being abandoned as we get closer to the real thing. Those libertarians who put egalitarianism first, like Cathy Reisenwitz, eventually just become SJW’s. The majority move in our direction.
Of today’s surging Alt-Right:
This is a reality the conservative movement cannot assimilate. It is an existential threat. The GOP can’t appeal to minorities without entirely abandoning conservative policies. And it can’t appeal to whites as whites without abandoning its universalist pretensions and infantile sloganeering. Though Hawley doesn’t say it, this fact alone is why the American Right’s future lies in Identity. All other alternatives have been exhausted except slow death. And make no mistake – running out the clock while squeezing out a few more shekels is what passes for a strategy within Conservatism Inc.
Meanwhile, the other Greg (Counter-Currents’ founder Greg Johnson) concurs in his thorough review of the book:
Political scientist George Hawley’s new book Right-Wing Critics of American Conservatism is another important contribution to this literature, devoting a chapter to the European New Right and another chapter to White Nationalism. I’m something of an expert in these fields, and in my judgment, Hawley’s research is deft, thorough, and accurate. His writing is admirably clear, and his analysis is quite penetrating.