A Brief Point On Conservative Intellectualism.

Steven Hayward wrote a widely remarked upon op-ed last week on the decline of conservative intellectualism:

Conspicuously missing, however, are the intellectual works. The bestseller list used to be crowded with the likes of Friedman's "Free to Choose," George Gilder's "Wealth and Poverty," Paul Johnson's "Modern Times," Allan Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind," Charles Murray's "Losing Ground" and "The Bell Curve," and Francis Fukuyama's "The End of History and the Last Man."

Aside from the fact that he lists Jonah Goldberg as one of the flames that still lights the wilderness, any political movement that places The Bell Curve among its most important intellectual accomplishments can expect to have very few people of color in it.

A relative said to me recently, "Racism is always looking to make itself respectable," which, I think, is a concise analysis of The Bell Curve. Both parties have been a home for such attempts at different points in American history, and one of the more frustrating things about the GOP is that in the aftermath of 2008's defeat they don't seem to be any more inclined to evict these kinds of people from the party. In fact, there's been kind of an enabling effect -- if liberals can be accused of seeing racial animus in all criticisms of the president, on the right, there's been a tendency to dismiss such animus even when it's plainly there. After all, they put Michael Steele at the head of RNC, which absolves individual Republicans of any past or future sins -- even as they tell the man to keep his mouth shut. Keep in mind that it's Republicans who were accusing Democrats of voting for Obama out of "white guilt."

It seems to me that any resurgent conservative movement will, in the long term, have to grapple honestly with that legacy, rather than embracing it as part of a glorious past.

UPDATE: I gotta just highlight this from the above piece:

And at one point, Steele, a Washington native, said that his upbringing in the “streets” made him a fighter and that he was determined to continue fighting and aggressively defending the party, according to two people familiar with the account.

I mean, when Politico is calling you out for being a studio gangster...

-- A. Serwer

You may also like

Advertisement