A Bush "post-mortem" – Part Three
By Mark Wegierski
It has to be said that there was an air of pronounced unreality about the triumphalism of some conservatives during the Bush years. While the Republicans controlled the Presidency from 2001 to 2008, and Congress from 1994 to 2006, conservatives today have comparatively little influence in the legal professions, the government bureaucracies, the public education system, the academy, the news-media, the entertainment media, the publishing industry, the psychological professions, and many, many other such critical sectors. It could be argued that the weakness of conservatism in America today is exacerbated by neoconservative control of most of the available funding for intellectual and public-policy endeavor on the "broader Right." The fact is that paleoconservatism, with its keen appreciation for geopolitical realities, its finely honed sense of political understanding, and its acute defense of 'the truly social' could be a real "force-multiplier" for the "broader Right." However, it is now usually "not wanted on the voyage."
American conservatives will also be hoping for some assistance from -- but unfortunately are unlikely to get -- some kind of media phenomenon like George Lucas' Star Wars in the late-1970s and the 1980s, that would contribute to major shifts in popular attitudes, but in a rather subtle, discreet, and not particularly overt way. Perhaps Peter Jackson's magnificent rendering in film of J.R.R. Tolkien's monumental The Lord of the Rings will re-awaken some positive feelings and spirit in America. At the same time, however, it should be remembered that some people are so thoroughly conditioned by current-day society that they would tend to imaginatively identify Sauron, the Dark Lord, with the forces of "dark reaction" – i.e., with a figure like Jerry Falwell, or some conservative Catholic archbishop.
During the 1990s, it was speculated to some extent that playing around with "conspiracy theories" on the Internet and in television shows such as The X-Files was conducive to a "rightwing mindset." However, it could be argued that the huge societal presence of such phenomena in fact probably makes things more difficult for the struggle of the serious Right, who only become subject to ever-quicker pejoritizing as "conspiracy-nuts." Ironically, the ever-increasing profile of conspiracy-ideas in North American culture and society, may actually serve to further entrench the present-day regime. Insofar as such ideas grow ever-wilder, e.g., including UFOs, aliens, etc., they effectively "depoliticize" ever-larger numbers of people, cutting them off from socially- and politically-meaningful endeavors and relations.
While being opposed to the idea of an American Empire, and to the notions of a "perpetual war" to bring so-called "American ideas" to the planet, paleoconservative criticism of Bush does not consider him to be "a new Hitler." Paleoconservatism is also critical of left-wing rhetoric which derides the military and the honorable efforts of American soldiers in the difficult circumstances they have been thrust by the political leadership. Paleoconservatism would also endeavor to bring grave public attention to what it sees as the huge decadence, nihilism, and antinomianism in America today – which can make life hellish in America regardless of the outcome of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. To slightly paraphrase the Canadian traditionalist philosopher George Parkin Grant – should America wage total war to impose the lifestyle of Hollywood upon the planet?
Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher.