Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Why I am (Probably) a Paleoconservative
RichardPoe.com ^ | August 3, 2002 | Richard Poe

Posted on 08/03/2002 10:10:09 AM PDT by Richard Poe

NO SOONER had I arrived home from my five-week sojourn in Greece this Thursday, than I learned that some people had been talking about me. In an article called "The Virtue of Xenophobia," posted on TheTexasMercury.com, Jimmy Cantrell suggests, that, far from being a neoconservative – as my detractors often call me – I am actually closer to being a paleoconservative.

"A paleo-what?" some readers may respond.

Yes, I know. All those "neos" and "paleos" used to confuse me too. But I am finally beginning to understand what they mean. And I think Cantrell is right.

Many issues divide neocons from paleocons, but race seems to be the crucial one. Neocons believe that America will always be America, with or without white people. Some neocons even preach that the sooner American whites intermarry with non-whites to produce a new race of amorphous cosmopolites with café-au-lait complexions, the better off everyone will be.

Not so, say the paleocons. Anglo-Saxon civility will not survive the disappearance of Anglo-Saxon people. If white folks lose their demographic and political dominance here, America will likely degenerate into a hellhole of Zimbabwe-style violence, they warn.

I have long been mistaken for a neocon, partly because I wrote Black Spark, White Fire, a book which suggests that the blending of many races and cultures in the ancient Mediterranean helped stimulate high civilizations in Egypt, Greece and the Levant.

Some perceived my book as a promotion of the neocons’ café-au-lait utopia, since it celebrated a time when swarthy Mediterraneans built mighty kingdoms, while purebred Aryans languished in savagery.

Even worse (in the eyes of some critics), Black Spark seemed to emanate from ethnic self-interest. Being half Russian-Jewish and half Mexican by descent, I melt easily into Mediterranean crowds – as I was recently reminded in Greece, where waiters, cabdrivers and store clerks invariably addressed me in the Hellenic tongue. One could argue that Black Spark was merely a chauvinistic celebration of my own kind, a song of praise for Mediterranean "diversity" over Aryan "purity," somewhat in the spirit of Giuseppe Sergi’s 1901 treatise, The Mediterranean Race.

All of that is possible, at least on some half-conscious level. But Black Spark made a larger point.

Contrary to popular belief, my book was no exercise in dead-white-male-bashing. In praising the Egyptian and Phoenician seafarers who "discovered" Europe (and who possibly gave the continent its name), I defended exploration as a noble enterprise – no small heresy in an age when schoolchildren are taught to despise Columbus as a slaver, mass murderer and infectious disease vector.

The honest reader, moved by my book to applaud Egyptian and Phoenician explorers, could hardly condemn later adventurers for similar feats in the New World.

Some conservatives got the point. Steve Sailer – whose Human Biodiversity Institute outrages liberals with its Darwinian analysis of racial differences – gave unexpected praise to Black Spark in a recent UPI article, calling it a "sophisticated Afrocentric book" by "a white conservative political pundit."

Sailer quoted me on the subject of whether or not the Carthaginian general Hannibal looked more like Denzel Washington or Vin Diesel. It was great fun. But whatever color Hannibal may have been, I don’t think I would have wanted to live in his Carthage. They used to sacrifice babies there, for one thing.

I approach the question of race much as I approach ecology. We don’t really know whether clear-cutting every major forest on the planet will fatally deplete the earth’s oxygen supply. Maybe it won’t. But why run such a dangerous experiment?

Likewise, it is possible that the neocons are right. Maybe America will survive the extinction of its Anglo-Saxon creators. But who, in his right mind, wants to put this theory to the test?

When I was editor of FrontPageMagazine.com, I ignited a minor scandal in November 2000 by publishing "The End of Paleoconservatism" by James Lubinskas. He predicted that paleoconservatism would fade as a movement, but that its ideas would spread.

And they are spreading. In the unimpeachably neocon NationalReviewOnline.com, columnist John Derbyshire recently opined that, "Only Anglo- Saxon countries can do democracy… Other cultures can fake it for a few decades, as France, Germany, and Japan are currently doing, but their hearts aren't really in it and they will swoon gratefully into the arms of a fascist dictator when one comes along."

Perhaps Derbyshire is exaggerating for comic effect. Even so, his point cannot be refuted from history. Only a fool would ignore Derbyshire’s warning. Only a scoundrel would try to silence him by screaming "racist."

_________________________________
Richard Poe is a New York Times bestselling author and cyberjournalist. His latest book is The Seven Myths of Gun Control.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: jimmycantrell; neoconservative; paleoconservative; race; stevesailer

1 posted on 08/03/2002 10:10:09 AM PDT by Richard Poe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Richard Poe
Richard--

I heartily disagree with your position that paleoconservatism is defined by "race."

To me, it is defined more by religion, or at least by a submission to the Great Western Tradition of political freedom emanating from a natural order ordained by God.

2 posted on 08/03/2002 10:19:43 AM PDT by cicero's_son
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Richard Poe
Many issues divide neocons from paleocons, but race seems to be the crucial one.

As a hard-core Buchananite, I vehemently dispute this statement
and condemn it as propaganda designed to smear paleocons as racists.
There are many hot-button issues that distinguish paleocons from neocons. Support for the "right-to-life" being one of them.
Furthermore, paleoncons have a stronger "America First" perspective on a variety of issues, including trade and immigration. The paleocon view addresses not only the economic implications, but also the social implications of these issues. But in adressing the social implications, it is in terms of American society vs. foreign, or economic stratification within American society. It is NOT based on racial divisions as many seek to assert.

3 posted on 08/03/2002 10:27:06 AM PDT by Willie Green
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Richard Poe
Thought provoking. From a Dutch immigrant.
4 posted on 08/03/2002 10:30:02 AM PDT by moneyrunner
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Richard Poe
Me Me Me Me. Me! Me! Me!

When the world wants news about Richard Poe, it will definitely beat a path to your website. Otherwise there doesn't seem to be much point.

In any case, judging by other paleo-conservative authors, you're not a true paleo-con until you advocate splitting up the United States into smaller units. When you figure that out, doubtless you'll write a "Why I Am Not a Paleoconservative" or a "Why I Really, Really Am a Paleoconservative" article. Let us know so we can all make a point of not reading it.

5 posted on 08/03/2002 10:45:24 AM PDT by x
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Richard Poe
I've always appreciated your prose, Mr. Poe. I was very happy to have seen FrontPageMag.com link your work after your departure.

I'm what would pass as a "neocon." But this label really doesn't do me justice (although as a neocon, I would be in great company). That's why I refer to myself as a post-conservative.

"Paleo" doesn't do it for me because they refuse to understand where our culture is today (no matter who is at fault for bringing it here) and accept it in order to establish a coherent philosophy on reversing the slide towards Leftism. I also find it woefully inept at politics.

"Neo" is better from a political perspective, but its compromising can be too grating for my taste. But I will credit the neo perspective for having actually moved and expanded the conservative spectrum.

6 posted on 08/03/2002 11:08:01 AM PDT by rdb3
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: x
<< Me Me Me Me. Me! Me! Me! >>

Dear x:

As you have correctly discerned, I am rather new at this paleoconservative business.

Perhaps you could explain something to me. Why do so many people display so much abrasiveness and ill temper on threads relating to Paleoconservatism?

This seems to be something of a pattern.

7 posted on 08/03/2002 11:08:16 AM PDT by Richard Poe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Richard Poe
E.g. #5. I rest my case.
8 posted on 08/03/2002 11:11:58 AM PDT by rdb3
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Richard Poe
1) Your emphasis on race makes you look like a liberal troll or provocateur to many old Buchananite paleo-cons. Immigration is clearly a concern, but the battleground between neo-cons and many of those who had defined themselves as paleo-cons is on the question of what is American culture. Those who want to put things on a more biological basis are viewed as disruptive by the rank and file. There is common cause on many issues, but such thinkers are seen more as a minus than a plus.

2) Years of lewrockwell.com and Chronicles Magazine and other paleoconservative or paleolibertarian publications unfurling the old Confederate banner have worn many people's patience to a frazzle. One either accepts that sort of thing and wants more or rejects it and loses interest or rejects it and turns violently against that vein of rebel nostalgia.

There's a contradiction between wanting to get back to the "Old Republic" and wanting to carve up the country. It can be reconciled by people in their own minds, but the contradiction is never wholly resolved.

3) It's similar with talk of the American empire in paleoconservative media. One can be very much against unthinking interventionism and attempts to reconstruct the world, but things look differently after 9/11. We've found out that we are much more a part of modern America than we might have thought a decade ago, and Gore Vidal doesn't look like any sort of a model.

Paleoconservatism looked new and interesting a decade ago. I can't imagine it has much appeal now.

9 posted on 08/03/2002 11:31:01 AM PDT by x
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: cicero's_son
"...I heartily disagree with your position that paleoconservatism is defined by "race"...... To me, it is defined more by religion, or at least by a submission to the Great Western Tradition of political freedom emanating from a natural order ordained by God...."

I have--since turning into an extreme reactionary--always thought that this is what I thought; that I am a cultural supremicist. I wonder how long I will hang on to that increasingly tattered notion? Is the slide from cuturalism into racism inevitable as, one by one, all the beautiful icons are smashed in the interest of a bigger box of crayolas for the Ruling Elite to play with? Will I be able to continue to convince myself that it's all just a coincidence that so many of the things I love were, originally, the handiwork of white men? Can I continue to tell myself that the disaster brought about by the (mostly) white men in the Catholic Church has nothing whatsoever to do with the catastrophic collapse in the confidence and vigor of white men in the wake of a century of mass murder and government policy?

Of course these men teach me that racism is a sin.(But so is buttering up altar boys, I think.) And my reason still flees from racial ideology. But for how long, I wonder? And is culturalism the notorious "near occassion of sin" we are warned about?

Or is it merely human?

Maybe being human is the essence of the near occasion of sin.

10 posted on 08/03/2002 11:40:10 AM PDT by LaBelleDameSansMerci
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: x
Those are some interesting concepts, x.
11 posted on 08/03/2002 11:49:30 AM PDT by rdb3
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Richard Poe
Why do so many people display so much abrasiveness and ill temper on threads relating to Paleoconservatism?

PULEEZE. Name one reason why a single human being on this planet other than your wife or mother should give a rat's behind WHAT you are, much less what you (probably) are. Self-referencing headlined declarations of one's ideology matter only when one matters. Other than to said wife and mother, you do not.

12 posted on 08/03/2002 12:32:32 PM PDT by M. Thatcher
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Richard Poe
When did John Derbyshire get defined as a neocon?
On what grounds?
13 posted on 08/03/2002 12:53:08 PM PDT by rmlew
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Willie Green
"Many issues divide neocons from paleocons, but race seems to be the crucial one."
As a hard-core Buchananite, I vehemently dispute this statement and condemn it as propaganda designed to smear paleocons as racists.

Rerea the whola article. Poe is not calling Paleos a bunch of racists. On the other hand, race is not the dividing line.

There are many hot-button issues that distinguish paleocons from neocons. Support for the "right-to-life" being one of them.
Go pick up some copies of The Weekly Standard. Neocons are prolife.

Furthermore, paleoncons have a stronger "America First" perspective on a variety of issues, including trade and immigration. The paleocon view addresses not only the economic implications, but also the social implications of these issues. But in adressing the social implications, it is in terms of American society vs. foreign, or economic stratification within American society. It is NOT based on racial divisions as many seek to assert.
I agree here. However, you forgot to mention foreign policy.

14 posted on 08/03/2002 1:01:08 PM PDT by rmlew
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: rmlew
<< When did John Derbyshire get defined as a neocon? >>

I didn't say that Derbyshire was a neocon. I said that National Review Online (NRO) is neocon.

The point is, NRO published Derbyshire's piece -- suggesting that the neocons who (allegedly) run NRO do not consider his sentiments sufficiently radioactive to merit censorship.

15 posted on 08/03/2002 1:18:16 PM PDT by Richard Poe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: M. Thatcher
< Self-referencing headlined declarations of one's ideology matter only when one matters. >

Dear Mrs. Thatcher:

If you didn't like my headline, why did you click it?

And if what I wrote is of no importance to you, why did you react so ferociously to it?

16 posted on 08/03/2002 1:31:57 PM PDT by Richard Poe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Richard Poe
Some neocons even preach that the sooner American whites intermarry with non-whites to produce a new race of amorphous cosmopolites with café-au-lait complexions, the better off everyone will be. Not so, say the paleocons. Anglo-Saxon civility will not survive the disappearance of Anglo-Saxon people.

Whites intermarrying won't kill off traditional American culture. But being swamped with third world immigrants who don't share our culture will. It would even if they were white (the Germans did a good job of killing off Roman culture).

17 posted on 08/03/2002 1:38:07 PM PDT by A.J.Armitage
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Richard Poe
When did NR become a Neocon magazine. It was founded by Buckley, 20 years before there were neocons.
18 posted on 08/03/2002 3:30:36 PM PDT by rmlew
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: LaBelleDameSansMerci
Danger! Danger! Danger! My Psychological Homeland Defense System has been warning me not to respond to madame's post for almost 24 hours now. I've been trying to find a Secure Location, to no avail...

Do you believe in Luck? I think I do, or at least in a form of Grace that is indistinguishable from Luck. We white people were lucky in this way, belledame: Out of the Gothic holocaust wrought by Alaric and facilitated by the dilapidated pagan elite, there emerged an old, white(ish) man named Augustine of Hippo. Amid the smouldering ruins of the entire world, he and others like him rebuilt the City, this time of sturdier stuff than travertine and mortar.

The Word went north out of Canaan. I don't know why. Was Europe at the time somehow deserving of it? Were the soft, Mediterranean olive people entitled to such a Grace? How about the Germans in the woods, with their faces painted in human blood, slouching toward Ragnarok? How can one not believe in Grace as Luck looking back on these people who became Europe (Great Europe!) only after they were transformed by the Word?

And how can one not feel pity and rage now that, after 2000 years, they stuff logs into their ears to stop out the sound of the Word that made them great?

No doubt we are all going to suffer as the new Goths besiege the City of God (you know, the one that is in our hearts); will it help us to remind ourselves of Christ's suffering? What kind of suffering will it be? Confusion, paranoia, despair---the suffering of the beseiged, I think. The near occasion of sin...the near occasion of sin...the near occasion of Alaric...

19 posted on 08/04/2002 9:43:23 AM PDT by cicero's_son
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: rmlew
<< When did NR become a Neocon magazine? >>

Here's Peter Brimelow's take on that subject:

"Peter Brimelow (“a once-respected conservative voice”) on Goldberg of National Review (a once-conservative, now respected, magazine)," Vdare.com, March 1, 2002

While reading Brimelow's piece, don't forget to check out the links to the Steve Sailer and Paul Gottfried articles as well.

20 posted on 08/04/2002 2:03:50 PM PDT by Richard Poe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: cicero's_son
there emerged an old, white(ish) man named Augustine of Hippo.

St. Augustine was from Northern Africa, what is now Libya. Although not Arabic--like the peoples there now, 4th Century Libyans were likely a mixture of Cartheginian and Roman... i.e. your swarthy meditarianian type. One can't really call him white, or black for that matter.

The earliest images of Augustine, as more or less reliable as they are (none date from his lifetime) back of my contention the St. was an olive skinned meditarianian.

I find the peleocon contention that skin color makes culture rather offensive. I think all kinds of people can learn--once steeped in Western culture--the basics of democratic thought, and their backgrounds can add, not subtract to our culture. There will always be various skin colors--and we should lighten up about it all!

21 posted on 08/04/2002 3:38:37 PM PDT by AnalogReigns
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: AnalogReigns
I find the peleocon contention that skin color makes culture rather offensive.

So far, the only 'cons I've heard make this contention are neocons. I have yet to hear a self-described paleocon contend that "skin color makes culture" though I admit that I don't follow every volley the intramural conservative conflict.

Me? I think I'd pass on both of the age-defined conservative labels (paleo- and neo-) and, like LaBelleDameSansMerci, just call myself an Extreme Reactionary. (at least until someone comes up with a term that combines a Habsburg Catholic sensibility with a Puritan theological bent).

St. Augustine was...your swarthy meditarianian type. One can't really call him white, or black for that matter.

Indisputably true. How about "white(ish)?" (not that it maters)

22 posted on 08/04/2002 4:27:40 PM PDT by cicero's_son
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Richard Poe
Mr. Poe,
National Review has published articles on how Hispanics are hurting conservatives. They also ran anti-immigration pieces in 2 of their last 4 issues.
Clearly there are neo-cons on the Staff, but they do not control the magazine. (The online site is another matter.)

I also think that VDare did the movement a disservice with the ad hominem attacks on Jonah Goldberg. I had lunch with him after the YAF conference last summer. He actually agreed that the importation of large number of people from foreign cultures and polities undermined our common culture and was driving the American polity to the left.
Then Paul Gottfried (a nice enough person with which to correspond by e-mail) started a series hitting Jonah on immigration. This had the effect of angering Jonah and making sure that he would not change positions.

23 posted on 08/05/2002 2:00:53 PM PDT by rmlew
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: rmlew
<< Clearly there are neo-cons on the Staff [of National Review] but they do not control the magazine. (The online site is another matter.) >>

Dear rmlew:

Actually, I was referring to the online version. The exact phrase in my article that aroused this unexpected controversy was, "In the unimpeachably neocon NationalReviewOnline.com..."

Also, please note that I did not mean this as a put-down of NRO. While I am attempting, in this column, to identify some of the ways in which I may disagree with neocons, I do not look upon them as the enemy, and I do not use the word "neocon" as a pejorative.

I offered the above links to Vdare.com not to take sides in their feud with NRO, but simply to illustrate that when I characterized NRO as "neocon," I was doing so accurately. Frankly, I was a bit surprised that I even had to defend such an unremarkable assertion.

And, by the way, I wasn't kidding, in my article, when I said, "...it is possible that the neocons are right." My mind is not closed to any of their arguments. I am raising questions here, not pronouncing dogma.

24 posted on 08/06/2002 2:17:01 AM PDT by Richard Poe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: AnalogReigns
I think all kinds of people can learn--once steeped in Western culture--the basics of democratic thought

At one time, that was considered a liberal, even Marxist, position, because of its focus on environmental conditions. That position implies a certain malleability in human nature.

Even better question: who originally steeped Westerners in Western culture?

25 posted on 08/06/2002 10:24:15 AM PDT by Hoppean
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson