Sam Francis: Cassandra Of The Conservative Movement

Recently by Tom Piatak:

Diversity Is Strength! It`s Also…War Against Christmas


will be speaking at a March 20 conference in
Washington D.C. to mark the publication of 

Shots Fired: Sam Francis on America`s Culture War
a collection of the writings of our 
much-missed columnist.

Shots Fired: Sam Francis on America`s Culture War
the new collection of columns and essays by
Sam Francis
, reminds us how much we

miss Sam Francis
, his masterful prose and matchless

One of the essays, Sam`s tribute to University of Dallas

Mel Bradford,
is equally applicable to Sam. Sam
noted that Bradford did not fit into Washington, a city
“where appearance prevails over substance, where
success often depends on forgetting as soon as possible

people and values
that got you here in the first
Sam described Bradford`s love of the past,
and noted that “without consciousness of the past,
without remembering
who we are
, we virtually
cease to be human
. Finally, Sam praised
Bradford as “a highly serious man who


seriousness of the scholar
and thinker with the

good humor
of one who recognizes and comes to be
comfortable with his own mortality

All of these qualities—a preference for substance over
style, loyalty to his people and their values, a

reverence for the Western tradition
, and seriousness
leavened with humor—are on display in the essays
collected here.

Of course, Sam`s sense of humor was not always genial.
This collection contains many examples of his dry, even
acerbic wit. Sam seemed to have

particular fun
in an essay first published in The
American Conservative
, which mocked the pretensions

Norman Podhoretz
and the “gemlike sycophancy”
Podhoretz had garnered from the likes of Paul Johnson
and William F. Buckley, Jr.—who

that “Never (that I know) has a single
lifetime borne such literary and philosophical fruit.”

As Sam noted, Buckley`s burbling “places Podhoretz
somewhat higher than such dimmer bulbs as


, and Goethe”
. After wading through yet
more hosannas to Podhoretz, Sam observed, “By this
time the reader is fully expecting to find illustrations
of Norman Podhoretz

swimming the Yangtze River”.

[Idol With Clay Feet,

June 7, 2004

The Maoist reference—redolent of personality cults,
fantastical ideology, and “re-education” for
those who persist in believing as they always have—is
apt. The late, great American

“Conservative Movement”
had no keener observer
during his life than Sam Francis. He noted carefully the
damage done to conservatism by the epicene Buckley—his
endless quest to make conservatism acceptable to
liberals, and his “gemlike sycophancy” toward
Podhoretz and the leftists who gathered around him. As

Sam wrote
, the result of Buckley`s efforts “was a
movement all right—of

, enlivened by the occasional con artist
and outright crook”
, with [t]he high
heroism of the

, the

, the

, the

pioneers of the American Frontier
devolved into
sending more money to

Jonas Savimbi
Ariel Sharon

As for Podhoretz and his followers, Sam saw that the
effect of

is “the preservation and
continuing hegemony of the

liberal regime
and its ideology”
. Its “whole
function has been to undermine and cripple any healthy
conservative tendency to challenge the dominance of the
left and the truly rotten culture it dictates”
. The
neocons have consistently been more

bitter in their attacks on those on their right
those on the left, since the latter are seen as wayward
cousins while the former are viewed as dangerous fascists,
a leftist cussword the

tellingly employ with great regularity.

Sam`s critique of the American Conservative Movement was
not limited to the fact that its leaders were often
feckless or venal, and allowed their movement to be
transformed by the neoconservatives. Even when the
Movement still stood for some things worth conserving,
it misread the nature of American society. Edmund Burke
is an

important and inspirational
figure, but his ideas
have limited applicability in contemporary America.
“The basic flaw of the Burkean model is that we no
longer live in the 18th Century, when a relatively
conservative aristocracy prevailed.”
Instead, in

our day
, “the people and forces now in power in
this country—in

, the

, and

Big Business
—are the enemies of the real America and
the real civilization of the West”

Deference to elites in our age can only lead to a
continued leftward drift in politics and culture.

For a time, Sam hoped that he had found the force to
challenge these elites—in what he called the

“Middle American Radicals”
who represented
“both the central base of the American Right as well as
the core or nucleus of American culture and the American
. Unfortunately, this force proved all too
susceptible to the danger posed by a “counterfeit
intent on “co-opting the authentic
populism of the Right that today is the only remaining
oppositional force in American politics”.
Class Americans who are seeing “their

material wealth
, their

, their nation, their people, and their

vanishing before their eyes”
indeed have cause to be angry. But much of that anger is
focused on phony controversies promoted by what can now
be called the neoconservative wing of the Mainstream
Media, such as Fox News.

The first of these phony controversies were the scandals
that swirled around Bill Clinton. Sam was no apologist

whom he described as “one of the most
repulsive men in American political history, mottled
with the gangrene of corruption and

sexual license
and emitting a

stench of tyranny”.

But he recognized, as virtually no one else on the right
did, that an obsession with Clinton would not help
advance serious conservatism, no matter how beneficial
it might prove to Beltway hacks who penned one lurid
exposé of Clinton after another. (Indeed, such tomes
were still being produced long after Clinton had left
the White House).

As Sam wrote at the end of Clinton`s presidency:

“The conservatism invoked by

Barry Goldwater,

Ronald Reagan

Jesse Helms
, and

Pat Buchanan
has largely vanished. Budget-bickering,
obsession with Bill Clinton and his scandals, and
various conspiracy theories about them replaced serious
conservative politics.”

A prime problem with the obsession with Clinton is that
it led directly to George W. Bush. Bush generated
enormous support in 2000 from Middle American Radicals
and movement conservatives alike, simply because many
believed that he could defeat Clintonism (in the person
of Al Gore) and no one believed that he would solicit
sex from interns in the Oval Office. Bush`s mandate thus
had nothing to do with advancing conservatism—something
that had never before interested him—but in avoiding the
sort of disgraceful behavior that had characterized
Clinton`s tenure in the White House. In this, Bush has

In almost every other way that a serious conservative
would assess Bush, however, he has failed. As Sam

of an article lauding Bush`s “conservative”
accomplishments, “the impact of Mr. Bush on American
conservatism has been a disaster. It has been a disaster
because every `contribution` the authors
Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge
] cite is . . .
an abandonment of what traditional conservatism means
and has meant. It is, in short, neo-conservatism.”

Bush`s embrace of neoconservatism is evident, of course,
in the centerpiece of his administration, the Iraq War.
This war was justified by


arguments, leading Bush to advocate
fighting “tyranny” and spreading democracy
throughout the entire world.

Bush`s endorsement of such messianic nonsense cannot be
called conservative. It marks a radical departure from
the actual views of the Founders who

doubted that most peoples “were capable of stable and
free republican government”
of the type
envisioned in the Constitution.

The results in Iraq so far do little to suggest that Sam
was wrong either in his opposition to the war or in his
warnings over the years about the dangers posed by

The same sort of leftist arguments are used to justify
many of the Bush Administration`s policies, including

globalist program of free trade
, its vast expansion
of the size and scope of the federal government, and its

unwavering support
for a guest-worker/amnesty bill
that would radically transform America by bringing 60
million new immigrants to the United States over the
next decade. Sam quipped in 1991 that [t]he

doctrine of equality
is unimportant because no one,
save perhaps

Pol Pot

Ben Wattenberg,
really believes in it.”
published in Equality as a Political Weapon, Essays
in Political Economy 10 (July 1991): 2
Unfortunately, we now appear to have as President one of
the true believers, with all sorts of

budding new egalitarians on the right,
thanks to the
dolorous combination of neoconservatism and hero-worship
of Bush that has increasingly characterized
Establishment conservatism since 2000.

Nor does the future appear noticeably brighter, despite
recent, opportunistic disavowals of Bush by both
neoconservatives and others in the conservative
Establishment. (See

Cakewalk Crowd Abandons Bush
by Pat Buchanan,

Buckley: Bush Not A True Conservative
, CBS News,
July 22, 2006).

At the moment, the leading contenders for the GOP
Presidential nomination appear to be John


Rudy Giuliani,

Mitt Romney,
none of whom is a conservative and each
of whom has voiced support for the sort of
nation-busting guest worker/amnesty bill that McCain
co-sponsored in the Senate. Yet they may well, if
nominated, garner the support of most Americans on the
right, especially if a member of the

hated Clinton clan
is the Democratic nominee.

This does not bode well for genuine conservatism. As Sam
wrote: “The argument that we

just have to support the lesser of two evils to

avoid destruction is merely a formula by which evil is
perpetuated and men and measures that are not evil and
driven into perpetual exile.”

But even if it does not appear at the moment that the
Middle American Radicals are about to charge over the
hill to the rescue, like the 7th cavalry,
there is no reason to give up the fight. The issues Sam
identified as important—opposing the dispossession of
the middle class and “dismantling the warfare-welfare
state, controlling immigration, reversing the erosion of
national sovereignty, withdrawing from the pursuit of a

foreign policy, and restoring

cultural order
“— are real and
important. Because of their importance, these issues
will endure.

And one day, if we are lucky, attract a political
champion on a par with their intellectual champion, Sam

Tom Piatak

him) writes from Cleveland, Ohio.