Peter Bradley, American Renaissance, December 3, 2019
James Kirkpatrick, Conservatism Inc.: The Battle for the American Right, Arktos, 2019, 233 pp., $19.95.
I started reading Conservatism Inc. in the midst of the “Groyper Wars,” in which young men on the Dissident Right publicly confronted conservative figures such as Charlie Kirk, Ben Shapiro, Matt Walsh, and Dan Crenshaw — Conservative Inc. to a man — during their college speaking tours. Questions about race, immigration, and demographic change left these men sputtering about “racism” and “white nationalism,” and sounding just like the leftists they are supposedly fighting.
Author James Kirkpatrick picked the right time to release this book, which is a collection of essays previously published over the last few years. Conservative Inc. chronicles the battles over conservatism from the pre-Trump era up to today. It shows how the conservative establishment was dethroned, thanks in part to the Donald Trump candidacy of 2015 – 2016 and related Dissident Right activism. Mr. Kirkpatrick also explains why this establishment was defeated. It failed to act in the interests of its base and was even hostile to its overwhelmingly white working- and middle-class supporters.
What is Conservatism Inc.? It is the establishment of the conservative movement that includes everything from National Review to the Heritage Foundation to almost all Republican leaders, pundits and journalists — up until President Trump. They are the main competition of the Dissident Right in the battle to lead conservatism.
Things Fall Apart
Conservatism Inc. is divided into three parts. The first is called “Things Fall Apart” and considers the many ways in which the West is declining and how conservatism either fails to prevent this or actually makes things worse. Mr. Kirkpatrick covers subjects such as his own time as a young activist in mainstream conservative groups, why Mitt Romney lost a winnable election against Barack Obama in 2012, the transition of the Democrats into an openly anti-white party, and Muslim attacks on whites in Europe.
An essay called “White Anti-Racists Attacked by Minorities” shows that not even “white allies” are safe in what is becoming one-sided racial warfare throughout much of the West. Mr. Kirkpatrick takes up the case of “Julius G,” a 29-year-old German progressive who wanted Germany to take in more Muslim refugees. He was waiting for friends in a “progressive” part of Dresden when he was stabbed twice in the back by a group six-to-eight “North African men.” They did not rob him, so the motive appeared to be racial. The victim would say only that “it makes me very sad that I was attacked precisely by this group.” The attack came on the heels of a refugee gang-rape of a leftist woman.
Of course, crimes against “white allies” happen in the US as well. The author notes that lefty columnist Matt Yglesias was robbed and beaten by blacks in Washington D.C., but not severely injured. Another D.C. leftist was not so lucky.
Kevin Sutherland was a young progressive activist whose Twitter account was the usual cornucopia of gay marriage, criticism of the police, and retweets of Ta-Nehisi Coates articles. In July 2015, he was stabbed “30-to-40 times” in an unprovoked attack on the D.C. metro by a black man named Jasper Spires. Mr. Kirkpatrick writes:
As it was just another “random” black-on-white murder, even the death of a politically connected left-wing activist barely registered as a blip on the D.C. scene. The only time it was mentioned was when his former boss, Democrat Jim Himes [a Congressman from Connecticut], attacked Governor Chris Christie for the “vile” act of using “Kevin’s death to score political points.”
As usual in black-on-white murders, there was no larger lesson:
Sutherland’s death was seen as an act of merely private significance for his friends and family, without any further consequence. To derive a larger meaning would lead to uncomfortable conclusions about the racial realities of crime, and we simply can’t have that. Similarly, to promote the attacks of Muslims even on those European traitors who are assisting their invasion might lead some people to question the wisdom of admitting millions of these people into Germany and other nations.
Needless to say, conservative leaders are silent about attacks like these and say that only “racists” see them as reasons to stop immigration or deal honestly with race.
Signs of Life
The second part of Conservatism Inc., “Signs of Life,” is about the growing resistance to Western decline. Essays highlight the rise of men such as Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, and Viktor Orbán. They are standing up to what the author sees as the West’s “Jacobin Moment,” in which the Left is using its power to enforce all sorts of unpopular policies on issues such as open immigration, crime and gay marriage — with establishment conservatives barely offering any resistance.
An important essay is “The Night Trump Won,” which will be read by future generations as showing the unexpected hope and joy in a Dissident Right movement often fraught with pessimism. Mr. Kirkpatrick — like many — was not optimistic on election night, but still hoped for a Trump victory. Mr. Trump was the only nominee in our lifetime who came even close to our policy preferences on immigration, foreign policy, and cultural issues. Pat Buchanan had run a similar campaign in the 1990s but was never able to win the Republican nomination. Finally, we had a nominee who spoke for us!
As he headed to Trump Hotel in Washington D.C. to watch election returns with fellow supporters, Mr. Kirkpatrick felt excited:
Every single thing that needed to happen had happened. Every break, no matter how unlikely, had gone Trump’s way. Kek was with us, and it really felt like we had tapped into some divine force that blew apart all obstacles in the path of the chosen one. It felt like the world was being resacralized, that our thoughts could change reality, that an entire movement was rising out of nothing.
As it became clearer that Trump was going to be the next president, the author had even higher hopes:
The resistance from within the conservative movement had been so fierce, and the hysteria from the leftists so unlimited, that it was likewise easy to imagine that “we” had just taken power. . . . Maybe I’d be running an office in the Department of Homeland Security under Kris Kobach. Maybe he’d shut down the antifa networks nationwide. Maybe Peter Brimelow would give the keynote address at CPAC next year!
Of course, the jubilation did not last long, as the Trump Administration filled up with Never Trumpers and did nothing to stop the doxings, Antifa attacks, and tech censorship. On the positive side, the GOP is now essentially a Trump party. The conservative establishment that hated Trump now has to at least to pretend to go along with things such as immigration enforcement and standing up to globalism and political correctness.
The Current Year(s)
The final section of Conservative Inc. considers the start of the Trump era. Essays deal with issues such as continuing violence from antifa, the media’s increasing hostility to Trump, and the firing of Dissident Right supporters for telling the truth about race. Mr. Kirkpatrick is obviously distressed that the election of President Trump did not seem to change US culture at all.
The essay that truly stands out in this section is called, “The Moral of New Orleans: Why Americans Can’t Live with These People.” It is about the city of New Orleans taking down four Confederate statues (another trend that grew stronger in the Trump era). The leader of the “Take ‘Em Down” group was a black professor named Malcolm Suber, who describes himself as “an avowed Marxist-Leninist.”
While leftist politicians, academics, and journalists can openly pursue their policy goals no matter how extreme, conservatives in the Trump administration such as Jeff Sessions, Steve Bannon, and Julia Hahn were attacked as “racists.” As I write this, they are attacking Trump adviser Stephen Miller for daring to read interesting articles on VDARE and American Renaissance:
Obviously, the fact that the Left never has to disavow its own radicals is a major tactical advantage. And while conservatives love to complain about the double standard, they have yet to internalize a far darker truth: Journalists know exactly what Antifa and other anti-white and left-extremists believe. But they agree with them and are using their journalism (which is a tactic, not a profession) to further these ends.
Mr. Kirkpatrick concludes that there is no reforming this anti-white activism from the Left: “And in the face of the endless hate emanating from these people and their servants in the streets and in the press rooms, actual Americans may have to recognize that, if we want to survive, we can no longer live together with them, or allow them to have authority over us in any way.”
Mr. Kirkpatrick ends Conservative Inc. on a positive note. In a postscript he writes of how the conservative establishment has consistently been defeated by grassroots movements that have little money and little media support. George W. Bush, John McCain, Marco Rubio and nearly every conservative think tank and pundit supported amnesty for illegals, but it was defeated every time it came up. The author praises Pat Buchanan and Phyllis Schlafly for fighting lonely battles against the conservative establishment for years. Now, new leaders such as Jeff Sessions, Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller have arisen to fight Conservative Inc.
Mr. Kirkpatrick notes that President Trump has both over-promised and under-delivered. Still, he notes Mr. Trump has had some successes in halting refugees and repealing some of the more egregious Obama era regulations. More importantly, anti-immigration candidates such as Corey Stewart, Lou Barletta, and Kris Kobach now routinely win GOP primaries over establishment conservatives. The author concludes:
The 2016 primaries proved Conservatism Inc. doesn’t have much of a constituency outside of the Beltway, and it is unlikely to gain strength in the future, regardless of what President Trump does or doesn’t do. The winning nationalist coalition is still there, waiting for a politician ambitious enough to claim it.
The essays in Conservatism Inc. remind me of Sam Francis’ old newspaper columns and articles for Chronicles magazine. Thirty years ago, Sam was writing about how the GOP and conservatism had very little appeal for what should have been its core constituency: white middle- and working-class voters. He urged a movement to rally around the concerns of Middle Americans Radicals (MARS) on issues such as immigration, demographic replacement, affirmative action, trade, crime, globalism, the Second Amendment, and defense of cultural symbols such as the Confederate flag.
Conservative Inc. didn’t just ignore this advice; it got Sam fired from the Washington Times for telling hard truths. Now the GOP is on the brink of extinction due to demography, and conservatives are physically attacked and prevented from speaking and organizing on campus.
If there is one minor criticism of Conservatism Inc., it is that the book is not limited to a review of the battles between the Dissident Right and the conservative establishment. It sometimes bounces between American and European developments when a tighter focus on the US might have been more appropriate. Of course, it can be argued that the issues the book discusses all fall within the larger battle between a Dissident Right and a conservative establishment that is trying to prevent the development of a true right-wing.
This is the battle that will determine whether America and the West survive or simply turn into another failed Third World landmass of Third World people. Writers such as James Kirkpatrick are helping to ensure this does not happen. The sooner the Dissident Right can take leadership of the conservative movement, the sooner we can start the real work of conservation.