Columnist Sam Francis has recently lashed out at William F. Buckley Jr. in a futile attempt to save “paleo-conservatism” from achieving the reputation it deserves. Upset that the Old Right is increasingly lumped in with the New Left and the Islamist movement, Francis claimed that no responsible conservative could make that connection. He could not be more wrong.
Samuel Francis made his strike in a July 5th article for VDARE.com, putatively about William F. Buckley Jr.‘s relinquishing ownership of National Review. In his smear of the father of modern conservatism – entitled “William F. Buckley: ‘Unpatriotic Conservative’?” – Francis devoted a great deal of his time discussing an article written last year by National Review’s David Frum. Frum’s “Unpatriotic Conservatives” questioned the worldview of Pat Buchanan, Bob Novak, Francis and other “veteran conservative writers” who opposed Operation Iraqi Freedom. Francis seized on Buckley’s retirement as an opportunity to rehabilitate his image and paleo-conservatism in general. Francis blamed Buckley for turning National Review over to “lightweight kiddy-cons” and allowing “neoconservatives” to take over the conservative movement.
Inevitably, Francis revealed his true ire: Frum’s article. “Nowhere in ‘Unpatriotic Conservatives’ did Mr. Frum come even close to proving his claim that the anti-war right has ‘made common cause with the left-wing and Islamist antiwar movements in this country and in Europe,’” Francis thundered.
This is old territory for Francis, who savaged Frum last March. In that piece, he referred to Frum as a “Likudnik,” called Frum a shill for Ariel Sharon and one sentence later stated that the Jewish Frum should “decide which country is his own.”
But David Frum got it right: Sam Francis and his paleo-con colleagues such as Lew Rockwell and Pat Buchanan regularly recycle the anti-American rhetoric of the Euro-Left, International ANSWER, the Lyndon LaRouche movement, Michael Moore, and The Nation’s editorial board. What’s more, these “unpatriotic conservatives” aren‘t particularly conservative – in a post 9/11 sense – at all. If Sam Francis needs proof, I’m glad to supply it.
Or rather, the Old Right itself is. Take libertarian Lew Rockwell, for example. The rhetoric Rockwell and leftist Michael Moore is strikingly similar. Rockwell has showered praise upon Michael Moore. Lew lauded Fahrenheit 9/11 as a “must-see,” an “exciting, searing movie” entirely consistent with libertarianism. Moore’s website compared Iraqi insurgents to the “Minutemen” and other freedom fighters; Rockwell blogged that Independence Day was a celebration of the “overthrow” of an unjust government, implying that the regime in Washington merited similar drastic measures. Both Rockwell and Moore fiercely oppose nearly every action taken by President Bush. Lew and his friends on the Old Right exalt Moore, because the Fabricator from Flint provides an indispensable service for the paleocons, providing them with “mainstream” cover.
Lew Rockwell admitted, in tones strikingly reminiscent of the contemporary Left, “I have this in common with NPR, Michael Moore, [and] the Black Caucus: a burning desire to see George Bush's fingers pried loose from the levers of power.” LewRockwell.com – which, inexplicably, draws huge ratings – hasn’t exactly brimmed with CBC-friendly material over the years. Rockwell’s site and the related Mises Review (both projects of the Ludwig Von Mises Institute of Auburn, Alabama) have written articles addressing concerns ranging from neo-Confederatism to berating “King“ Lincoln. Criticism of Lincoln is a staple of Francis’ rhetoric, as well.
Moore is not the only left-winger to receive a push from Rockwell. LewRockwell.com and The American Conservative regularly published articles by LaRouchie asset Karen Kwiatkowski, before pitching her work to the folks at Salon.Com and MoveOn.Org.
[LaRouche operatives reportedly contacted certain of this writer’s sources after my piece on Karen Kwiatkowski ran on FrontPage Magazine, interrogating them as to my motives for writing about connections between the LaRouche machine and the antiwar Right. Attached to the email was a piece by Marcus Epstein, a LewRockwell.com columnist, that attacked me for pointing out Lt. Colonel Kwiatkowski’s dealings with the LaRouche publication Executive Intelligence Review. This piece, interestingly, ran on the Antiwar.com blog. Is it just a coincidence that LaRouche’s lackeys are sending out pre-publication drafts of work from nominally mainstream writers?]
Clearly, Rockwell sees 2004 as an opportunity to settle scores and to build new coalitions. He has even counseled John Kerry to consider “triangulation” between the Democratic platform and Rockwell’s brand of libertarianism. Because of the moderating influence of the two-party system, extremists of both the Left and Right often find that they have much in common. So it is that Alexander Cockburn, of CounterPunch, and Antiwar.Com’s Justin Raimondo coexist with easy conviviality at antiwar events and link to one other’s work.
Perhaps one has embodied the overlap of Old Right and far-Left as much as Pat Buchanan. Like the Left, Buchanan opposed both Iraqi wars, NAFTA, GATT, WTO, and anything shy of a pro-Arab foreign policy. During the primaries, Scott McConnell led The American Conservative’s somewhat implausible support for Howard Dean. He noted that one the New Hampshire organizers for Pat Buchanan in 1996 liked Dean in 2004. Said the crossover voter, “He reminds me of Pat.”
But the candidate who reminds voters most of Pat is Ralph Nader. Since Nader and Buchanan joined forces to oppose NAFTA ten years ago, many of their supporters hungered for a “third way” synthesizing a common “grassroots” platform. Buchanan has helped preserve these ties by interviewing Nader in the pages of The American Conservative. Buchanan deemed Nader to be that “rarest of birds, a conviction politician” – pitching a softball interview that allowed Nader to make his play for the “disenfranchised Right.” After Dean’s demise, The American Conservative stopped just short of endorsing independent Ralph Nader, stating voters of “conviction” should consider the leftist’s third presidential bid.
The Buchanan/Nader dialogue could’ve been scripted by Michael Ruppert or Amy Goodman. Consider these gems: “Our corporate pornography and anything-goes values are profoundly offensive to Iraqis”; “Until ’91, any dictator who was anti-Communist was our ally”; “They’re almost all puppets. There are two sets: Congressional puppets and White House puppets. When the chief puppeteer comes to Washington, the puppets prance.”
All of these, for the record, were uttered by Ralph Nader but sound just like Buchanan. Buchanan finds no reason to challenge Nader on any substantive issue: immigration, capitalism-as-exploitation, and all the other core issues familiar to Nader fans have been neatly expropriated by Buchanan. Indeed, Nixon’s former Right-hand man tried to steal Nader’s thunder during the interview. For example, “I find it amazing that Congress sits there and they get an order from the WTO, and they capitulate. What happened to bristling conservative defiance, ‘don’t tread on me’ patriotism?” Never mind the absurdity of asking Ralph Nader what happened to “bristling conservative defiance.” The real question here is a simple one: is there any substantive difference between the political positions of Nader [who is running for President with Marxist Peter Camejo] and Pat Buchanan (whose last running-mate, Ezola Foster, was a member of the John Birch Society)?
South Carolina textile magnate Roger Milliken thinks, whatever the differences may be, they are unimportant. Writing in the January 2000 issue of New Republic, Ryan Lizza observed that Buchanan and Nader were both receiving attention from Milliken as exponents for his brand of protectionism. Milliken has funneled substantial money into the coffers of both Nader and Buchanan. Though neither man will ever win an election, apparently Milliken understood that both men spoke his language – and that their differences and quirks, in the final analysis, were negligible.
The paleo-cons and the far-Left share the same heroes and villains – so-called “radical Zionists” like Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman. Michael Moore and Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com consider the soft-spoken Connecticut Senator a “Bushie pretending to be a Democrat” and a “Loserman” playing Stepin Fetchit for the neocons. And of course, this is another view they share with Lyndon LaRouche.
Writing in the June 25 Executive Intelligence Review, a LaRouche house organ, “Michele Steinberg” reheases charges familiar to fans of Raimondo, Michael Moore, and so many others, that Lieberman is part of “Cheney’s protection racket” by strenuously opposing Islamic terrorism. Like Noam Chomsky, LaRouche is big in Turkey, Indonesia, and other hotbeds of Islamicist political organization. Something tells me that’s not coincidence.
Alliances between Lew Rockwell and Michael Moore, Karen Kwiatkowski and the LaRouchies, and Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader state the obvious. The isolationist Right, the Nader/Moore Left, the LaRouche cult and the Islamofascists share an agenda. In their common denunciation of “American hegemony,” all these parties seek to weaken Washington’s position in the world, to shred the capacity of American business to operate in the global marketplace, and to deny Americans the benefits we have historically enjoyed in large part because of the exporting of democracy and American values. Who benefits? America’s enemies and ill-wishers. That makes this unlikely Right-Left coalition their last, best hope.