Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Another Weekend Lost to the CRB . . .

Mark Steyn is quoted in the new issue of the Claremont Review of Books as saying: "The Claremont Review of Books is an indispensable publication . . . If like me you start reading late in the evening, you may lose sleep but you’ll gain an awful lot." I guess I read a lot slower than Mr. Steyn because I spent most the weekend with the CRB (between familial obligations, of course) and I’m still finding more time to lose and much more to gain! Charles Kesler has two excellent must read essays in this issue--but, of course, they haven’t posted them yet. This is going to sound odd . . . but I’m recommending reading this fine piece by Cheryl Miller on Edith Wharton first. Then read the Kesler essays when your hard copy arrives and see if there isn’t a common thread there. There is also a good review by Michael Barone of Bill Bennett’s two volume history of the United States. Of course, you can’t miss Steve Hayward’s fine essay on recent Reagan books. If you don’t subscribe already, you really are missing out. I can think of a thousand things I would deny myself before I denied myself the pleasure of reading the CRB.

Discussions - 20 Comments

Why would I want to spend my weekend reading a bunch of neocons (leftwingers in disguise arguing for propositionalism and other forms of nonsense), when I could be reading Aeschylus, Pindar, Vergil, Shakespeare, TS Eliot or Jean Raspail?

I don't know Bede . . . you seem to spend an awful lot of time reading me.

I think he laaaks yew, purty lady.

I followed the link under Bede's name. Interesting stuff. The headline that carried me to the "George Phillies for President" site was amusing.

Who? :-)

I don't know "Bede" personally. Based on his comments, he reminds me of the street corner evangelist -- face red, eyes wide, veins popping, all the while spewing every manner of vile at passers by. The evangelist thinks he's advancing "The Cause," but in truth he sets it back in the eyes of 999 out of 1000 lost souls who pass by.

The fiery "conservative" types that Bede seems to be are all, no doubt, very sincere. And all blissfully unaware of how much their antics drive more and more of the voting public away in fright or disgust.

There is such a thing as the proper "face" to put on a movement or set of ideas. Reagan knew this, and achieved success because of it. Most strident conservatives seem to have no sense of this at all.

But no matter ... I'm all over this George Phillies for President thing.

Since I blog at the same website that Bede does, I would like to point out that we have no control over the banner adds. We are generally not libertarians, and most of us are supporting Ron Paul. A couple are supporting Tancredo.

I think the banner ads are keyed to certain words. In the case of Phillies, I think his add is keyed to the name of Ron Paul, because I have seen his add other places.

1: Bede, the writers for CRB are not fairly or accurately characterized as "a bunch of neocons." Nor are neocons rightly described as "leftwingers in disguise." Neocons are neither left-wing nor disguised. And a wide variety of conservatives and moderates write for CRB. Attack their positions all you want. But don't engage in cheap, inaccurate labeling.

Well put, David. Bede, you might try giving an issue a once-over sometime, you may be surprised. One of my favorite sections is at the beginning of the CRB when people respond to the reviews and essays from the previous issue and are addressed in turn by those who wrote the review/essay.

Red Phillips wrote: "Since I blog at the same website that Bede does, I would like to point out that we have no control over the banner adds. We are generally not libertarians, and most of us are supporting Ron Paul. A couple are supporting Tancredo."

You're right ... now when I go back to that site there's a different banner ad. What I now realize -- but did not at the time -- was that the George Phillies ad was designed to appear like any other headline on that website: the same font, the same type size, etc. That's why my eye didn't catch at first that it was a banner ad. I truly did think it was a headline that was part of that website.

But my point is still valid: a good idea presented poorly is not well received. Bad ideas wrapped in a tempting sugary coating are gobbled up by a good many voters. On another comment thread Bede wrote: "Bobby 'Last Chance Armada' Jindal supports the third-world invasion of the U.S., and thus is guilty of treason." That's the kind of fiery rhetoric that may appeal to the choir, but the curious and not yet convinced generally turn away.

Presentation, gentleman. It's all about presentation.

Presentation, gentleman. It's all about presentation.

I agree with Don. Somebody needs to buy Bede and Co a copy of "How To Win Friends And Influence People". Even when their message is reasonable, and it is in some cases, they have a knack for saying even good things in such a way as to make them seem repellent.

"Nor are neocons rightly described as "leftwingers in disguise." Neocons are neither left-wing nor disguised."

Not so fast David. That is the essence of the eternal neocon vs. paleocon debate that takes place here and many other places. Neocons are, in fact, by historical standards a type of liberal. The propositionalism that Bede mentions is pure unadulterated liberalism.

The piece on Edith Wharton is excellent...some of my favorite reading is this sort of stuff...I am not sure what moral you might wish to derive from this laticework, but I can see threads in every direction begging for a pattern.

What the hell is propositionalism? Do you guys just make up words when you want to try to make an intelligent-sounding argument? Are you refering to the "proposition" that all men are created equal? I don't understand you guys.

And I checked your website out. I love the post "Ron Paul Wins Post Debate Poll". Hahahahaha . . . You kids and your crazy games.

Anywho, I'm finishing my VDH book then reading an article or two from my crisp new CRB. [sniffs CRB] Ah, it smells like liberty.

Andrew, Ron Paul DID WIN the FOX News post debate poll, much to the chagrin of Hannity. What the heck was crazy about that?

Propositionalism is referring to the belief that America is a "Proposition Nation," a clearly leftist idea.

Of course Ron Paul won the fox news post debate poll! But I am confused, as always by Red and seems to me that Ron Paul is perhaps the only propositionalist candidate.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

The function of government is thus relegated to securing rights...this is the minimalist government that Ron Paul favors...

Ron Paul asks: Is this piece of spending necessary to secure Rights? If it isn't then he says so much the worse for it...

Ron Paul is the only trully propositionalist candidate. Agree? Disagree? explain?


Propositionalism is referring to America being a Proposition Nation. Now, of course, one of the propositions we are supposedly dedicated to is the one in the Declaration but they aren't entirely analogous ideas.

I don't think any of the candidates publicly reject propositionalism, not even Tancredo, although he probably comes the closest since he has spoken out against legal immigration as well.

I readily admit that Ron Paul is at base a libertarian which is a form of classical liberalism. But his rigorous Constitutionalism is in practice conservative. He is by no means a left libertarian, meaning that he is opposed to all power and order. (Not just state but Church, family, convention, etc.)

I wish he was a classical conservative, but as far as I know no one who is running is. But my disagreement would be with Paul's libertarian philosophical underpinnings. On policy, there are very few things I disagree with him about.

Ron Paul wins every online and call-in poll because his supporters spam the polls with votes. I have seen the documented proof of this on multiple websites - littlegreenfootballs and Hugh Hewitt are two of them (which Bede will soon expose as bastions of neoconservativism, no doubt). Do you really think 34% of the FOX audience believe Ron Paul won the debate? Really? Then please explain why his support is such a tiny blip on the map when scientific polls are conducted among registered voters.

Red, you still haven't answered the question. I ask: what is propositionalism? You answer: "Propositionalism is referring to America being a Proposition Nation." OK, what is a Proposition Nation? Like I said, it seems like you guys just make up words to label things you don't like, then attack the labels. "Propositionalism", "neoconservatism", etc., etc.; all the while you never explain exactly what you are talking about. John Lewis points out a very problematic inconsistency: you like Ron Paul, who wants to protect our Natural Rights as outlined in the Declaration and protected in the Constitution, but under different circumstances you call the proponents of Natural Rights "neoconservatives" who, by nature of advancing the cause of Natural Rights, are leftists because "natural rights" are a leftist invention. Very confusing.

You do admit that Ron Paul is not your ideal candidate (not a "classical conservative", whatever that is), but you don't label him a neoconservative for supporting Natural Rights as you do many on this website. Why is that? Perhaps American conservatives are trying to conserve the same thing (the American Founding), they just differ on how best to do it.

Does Ron Paul support the idea of natural law? Does he support Declarationism?

Andrew, there is a generally accepted definition of the word spam. It would be spam to use an automatic voting program. It would be spam if one person subverted the poll safeguards and voted multiple times. If multiple enthusiastic supporters of a candidate all vote appropriately, THAT IS NOT SPAM. It is evidence of Paul's very enthusiastic and deep support. You can't vote more than once in the FOX poll. It will not let you. There was a youtube video of the "sorry you have already voted" reply after the last FOX debate. How is a lot of supporters voting once Spam?

Also, words mean something. We do not call Paul a neocon because he is not one. He is a paleolibertarian.

Proposition Nation is not a made up word, although paleos may denounce it more than neos actually articulate it.

Neos believe America is a proposition nation. Also called an idea nation or a creedal nation. Meaning that we are a universal nation founded on an idea, proposition or creed. Paleos reject this as the blatant liberalism that it is. We believe that America is a particular nation, founded by a particular people at a particular time in a particular place. Sort of like all the other nations in the world.

Here is Sam Francis critiquing Irving Kristol.

But most of all, they (neocons) believe "national interest" is more than geography. It's also ideology, because "large nations, whose identity is ideological, like the Soviet Union of yesteryear and the United States of today, inevitably have ideological interests in addition to more material concerns."

It's fascinating Mr. Kristol thinks the USSR and the United States are the same kinds of nations—"proposition countries" or "creedal nations." They aren't, because that's not what the United States is, as every real conservative knows. The Soviet Union was, which is why it was a tyranny.

And here is Peter Brimelow on the subject.

It’s a cliché of contemporary debate that America is a unique “Proposition Nation,” not one of those nasty ethnically-specific nation-states in Europe. Anyone can become an American by subscribing to a set of abstract principles, etc. etc. Quack quack.

In Alien Nation, I pointed out that this would have been news to the Founders, and indeed to pretty well all Americans before World War II. They were highly conscious of America’s specific ethnic and cultural heritage, i.e. national identity. And they thought it was very important – the reason, Jay said in The Federalist Papers, why the experiment of federal government could be made to work at all.

Thank you, Red, that was very helpful. I, however, disagree. If we weren't a nation of ideas we wouldn't have been able to assimilate so many different immigrants over the years.

As to the FOX poll, you very well may be right, but I stand by my statement that Ron Paul supporters have become infamous among the moderate conservative blogging community for willingness to stack polls. Here's an explanation of how Ron Paul supporters spam internet polls. Here's one with links to a facebook website where you can see a discussion between Ron Paul supporters talking about voting multiple times on the littlegreenfootballs' internet poll - which is why the site administrator no longer includes Ron Paul on his polls. I encourage you to check it out.

Red I agree with a lot of what you say, but I have no problem with viewing the United States as a creedal nation. I also would never say that viewing the United States as a creedal nation means that this is all the United States is. In other words I will go one step further and say that Concepts never completly reduce or capture the object. It is necessarily true that: "America is a particular nation, founded by a particular people at a particular time in a particular place." America is also a "proposition nation". No contradiction is possible since all nations must be founded by particular people at a particular time and in a particular place...unless you will go on to say that this fact necessarily means that one cannot go beyound rudementary empiricism to form concepts. It seems you are heading towards positivism. But if no form of "propositionalism" is possible then you are really up a shitcreek with no paddle. America's specific ethic and cultural national identity is empirically in a constant state of flux. To be American would simply be a snap shot in time...akin to a collection of Mississippi River water is still the Mississippi but it is never the same water molecules.

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