Sunday, April 10, 2005

Kirk v. Kirk

Almost every issue of The American Conservative catalogs the decline of the Right. The April 25 issues has two articles back to back which nicely illustrate the descent from Russell Kirk to Captain Kirk. The first is by William Lind of the Free Congress Foundation. Lind contrasts the older patriotism with the nationalism now gripping the Right:
From Burke to Kirk, this has been the essence of conservative patriotism, or as it used to be called, a love of our country: specific attachment to our own places . . . The local is real, and the first conservative principle is the Reality Principle. To a conservative patriot Wal-Mart is a far greater threat than some tin-pot dictator in a Third World country. . . Nationalism, in contrast looks outward, identifying not with anything tangible but with the abstract that is the state.

Marcus Epstein, in contrast, went to the recent Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, described by Marshall Wittman as a "Star Trek convention for conservatives." Epstein, an apparent masochist, has attended three of these gatherings. He relates that, while manning the "conservatives for peace" table, the "most common response from attendees was to call the people manning the table leftists, unpatriotic, or communists." He then commits the dual sins of knowing a bit of history and defending the French:

Another [t-shirt] had a Frenchman waving a white flag and the words, "We Salute You." When the vendor asked me if I would like to buy the shirt, I told him that I didn't think the French were cowardly. He snapped back that they quickly negotiated peace in World War II and would not let us use their airfields during our latest war. I expained to him that 1.3 million French died in World War I, more than all American war deaths in history . . .

The infantilization of the American Right is disturbing -- there exists no significant force in American politics standing against what the late Sam Francis described as "Anarcho-Tyranny" at home and abroad -- but it is also entertaining.


Chris Roach said...

I once defended France myself. The notion of the US as a disembodied ideology and Europe as the enemy is ridiculous.

There's a good book out now on Nationalism entitled "America Right or Wrong" which I mean to get soon.

Here's my limited defense of France.

Tex MacRae said...


Is Epstein's article online?


Anonymous said...

Hello Tex,

We'll be putting Marcus's article on-line when the American Conservative website is updated today or tomorrow.

-- Dan at TAC