A Pat On The Head For Jonah!

April 21, 2003

Jonah Goldberg has

complained
(March 17) that if he had an Irish name
(perhaps like his

mother`s
maiden name?), malicious paleos would not
be throwing it around. As someone who coined the term

“Goldbergism”
to describe current Beltway
conservatism, and who has renamed National Review
the “Goldberg
Review
,” I thought I might try to explain – and to
offer him one pat on the head, since he seems to be so
easily hurt.

I for one don`t care what Jonah
calls himself. There are two reasons I identify
neoconservative ideology and NR with this
bumptious youngster. Neither has to do with
anti-Semitism. Please note: unlike Jonah, I had two
Jewish parents. My father barely escaped the Nazis by
getting out of Central Europe in the 1930s.

Firstly, I am paying Jonah a high
honor. Unlike Cal Thomas, John Podhoretz, Mona Charen,
Michael Novak,

Rich Lowry
, and Sean Hannity, Jonah regularly
engages in a process that definitely resembles thinking
aloud. And, occasionally, he has interesting, or at
least revealing, things to say.

Secondly, I do not want to
misrepresent NR, as does its

promotional literature
, as "William F. Buckley
Jr.`s premier journal of conservative political
opinion."
Buckley is about as much of a presence by
now at NR as the cleaning lady who tidies
up the magazine`s headquarters. Years ago, this idol of
my adolescence handed his movement and

magazine
over to others – as Taki recently learned
to his regret when his longtime skiing pal did not
protect him against David Frum`s attempt to

anathematize
him recently in

NR
. Buckley is not in the

forefront
of anything anymore – as his

columns
, which read like neocon blotting paper,
might strongly suggest.

By “Goldbergism,” what I have in
mind is the relatively coherent rationale for a leftist
revolutionary movement.

For that is what neoconservatism
is. The reason the self-defined Trotskyist editors at
Le Monde
published on April 16 a lavishly laudatory

feature article
[Le stratège et le philosophe,
April 16, 2003 Le Monde] on the Straussians and
neocons – something they would never dream of doing for
a real American or European conservative – is that they
recognize the family resemblance. Unlike Buchanan or the
Flemish separatists, whom Le Monde and the French
neocon daily Le Figaro attack as
xenophobes, Le Monde`s

self-described former Trotskyist
chief,

Edouard Plenel
, knows global revolutionaries when he
sees them. Thus Le Monde asserts that the
Religious Right “skirts anti-Semitism,” but it presents
the neoconservatives as “brilliant” and fundamentally
opposed to “fascism” (a Trotskyist-neocon code word for
the Right).

Similarly, the anti-Communist
Jewish liberal Sam Tanenhaus

focused his attention
(April 16, Slate) on
the Trotskyist theme of “permanent revolution” that he
and others have found to be at the heart of neocon
policies and rhetoric. (Tanenhaus, following the sacred
principle that paleoconservatives should never be
credited with anything, attributed this insight to
derivative liberal interpreters.)

And the New York Times
religion editor Ian Buruma has just devoted a long
column in the


London Times
(April 19, If we ruled the
world: a tale of two revolutions
) to making the same
argument.

Thus my term “Goldbergism”
designates a particular

leftist sectarian tradition
, like “Lovestoneites,” “Trotskyists,”
or “Bernsteinians.” That all these leftist sects were
descended from Jewish founders redounds to our ethnic
credit. One would not expect Bill Bennett, Michael
Novak, or Cal Thomas to found anything of note. Indeed,
neocon goyim seem to be picked for their
invincible stupidity—or for never straying from a
prescribed neocon position.

Now allow me to call admiring
attention to a few near-thoughts in Jonah`s April 18,
2003

syndicated column
. [“Conservatives want
change–when it`s necessary”
]

In it, Jonah complains that he is
baffled by “the inconsistency of the anti-war
liberals.”
He`s right. If such liberals were
consistent about their leftism, as he says, they would
want to “fix
the problems of other countries”

universally – which is the neocon project. Jonah
wants to spend our savings “tearing down the crack
houses of the world,”
e.g. Iraq.

In all of this, the neocons have
shown themselves to be consistent leftists. Without
frontally challenging the left at home – and indeed
while celebrating a radicalized American government and
society – neocons work to spread our form of “democratic
modernization” throughout the world. Michael Ledeen, who
is a fave at NR, tacitly pays homage to Trotsky`s
concept of permanent world revolution when he praises
America`s alleged universal commitment to creative
destruction
.”

What prevents the non-neocon
multicultural left from behaving with the same cultural
confidence is that they are reluctant to go after Third
World, non-Christian thugs. The multicultural left
applies a double standard, as Goldberg correctly
observes, when judging non-Western tyrants.

Goldberg also correctly

observes
that


“anti-war conservatives have consistent and defensible
priorities. They don`t want to muck about with too much
stuff abroad because they`re afraid we`ll track the mess
back into our own homes.”

This is true, although it does need
elaboration. Paleoconservatives believe that the
Euro-American managerial state is incompatible with
national identities, or with traditional constitutional
limits on administrative power. They are also deadly
serious about the wish that Jonah expresses only
ritualistically (“I`d like to shrink the size of the
federal government by, I dunno, half? Two-thirds?”)
,
in the way that Mario Cuomo nominally deplored abortion
while actually supporting feminist demands. And paleos
are firmly against the alliance between interventionist
administration and globalism, whether externally in the
form of wars to spread “democracy” or internally in the
form of the dissolution of historic nations through
non-traditional immigration.

The paleocons would like nothing
better than to defund the governmental export of
“creative destruction.” They are therefore willing to
ignore foreign “crack houses” – providing that we make
no effort to import them.

I am glad to see Jonah concede the
legitimacy of the paleo position. But has he checked
with David Frum recently?

Assuming that Jonah actually
realizes what he has said, I would like to offer him
some advice, as a paleoconservative who had no moral
objection to the attack on Iraq.

Generally, the paleoconservatives
were indeed reluctant to go to war against Iraq. I
believe that, by presenting the war as an ideological
crusade, NROnline kept turning off paleos who might have
been persuaded by rational, geopolitical arguments. For
example, the Old Right is full of white Southerners who
take pride in their Confederate forebears. Thus they
must have been shocked to learn from NRO`s Victor David
Hanson that General Sherman`s March to the Sea was a

moral precursor
of the American liberation of Nazi
Germany and Iraq. And a majority of paleos do not take
retroactive pleasure in U.S. participation in the First
World War. Unlike the neocons, they do not believe that
the First World War pitted good against evil or that it
was a

“crusade for democracy.”
My own family fought on
the losing side in that struggle – as did Leo Strauss.

By linking the war against Iraq to
certain neocon fixations, Goldberg`s buddies made their
mission to the

Old Right
that much harder.

They compound this when they

smear
their rightwing critics as “anti-Semites.”

Paleos who were susceptible to
intimidation have already gone over. The rest are beyond
being browbeaten–and they have long memories.



Paul Gottfried
is Professor of Humanities at
Elizabethtown College, PA. He is the author of


After Liberalism
,

Carl Schmitt: Politics and Theory
, and
Multiculturalism And The Politics of Guilt: Toward A Secular Theocracy.