Jun 14, 2019, 04:57AM

More on David French, Sohrab Ahmari, and the Path of History

Paleocon Diary (#176)

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I wrote last week about the David French-Sohrab Ahmari debate, and why it doesn’t interest me. But there’s another reason I care so little about internecine right-wing doctrinal spats: I have a fatalism about history that you might call quasi-Marxist.

Or maybe it would be better to call it Tolstoyan. Readers of War and Peace will remember the theory of history that it dramatizes through the character of old General Kutuzov, who exasperates his fellow Russian officers by his passivity in the face of Napoleon’s invasion of Holy Russia.

But of course, in doing nothing to stop the French, and allowing Napoleon to seize Moscow, Kutuzov is demonstrating not passivity, but wisdom, and a confidence in the slow, but fine, grindings of time’s clock. The old general knows that the Russian winter will destroy the Western invaders. Time is on his side. All he needs to do is wait.

I feel the same about the liberalism that so exercises both the Ahmaris and Frenches of the world. “What is to be done?” they keen, then squabble about their different strategies. But I have my own answer to the question of what is to be done: nothing. Things are finally going my way. Why not let them work themselves through to their conclusion?

All the elements of the big picture conspire to indicate that the age of liberalism is ending, and that I’ll die in a world far more congenial to my reactionary temperament than was the world I was born into, these 60-odd years ago. So the sturm und drang of the Internet, the tweeted debates about tactics, the theater of what passes in this Twitter age for “intellectual life,” even the “intellectual life” of those in my ideological camp, are all vanity and wasted time.

When I do find myself caught up in the yammerings of online political debate—to the detriment of my regime of prayer and sacramental observance—I can snap myself out of it by surveying the battlefield. For the first six decades of my life, the view of this battlefield was depressing. My side was losing.

But the disposition of forces has changed. Here are some of the phenomena, unimaginable as recently as five years ago, that give me hope.

The end of the media as we know it: Certain elite media institutions, like The Washington Post and The New York Times, will outlive our moment. No matter. That’s the rare blemish on what’s otherwise a picture as lovely as anything the divine Claude Lorain ever committed to canvas. Print journalists are losing their jobs in droves as their industry craters. No need here to repeat the startling, and familiar, numbers.

Meanwhile, as journalism completes its transition into a digital engine, driven by digital imperatives, it loses more of its credibility with each daily neo-liberal lie, hoax, transparent propaganda offensive, and so on. The media as we reactionaries have long understood and despised it is ceasing to be a threat.

The decadence of elite discourse: Some of us paleoconservatives see especially the younger members of our educated elite as a waxing ideological force to be reckoned with—a sort of Red Guard that’s about to sweep through our institutions, enforcing Stalinist ideological discipline. I don’t buy it. More likely we’re seeing the end of something, not the beginning: the rageful lashing out of a nearly 50-year-old ideological cult as, rigid, rotten, and mannered, it nears its extinction.

Evangelical Protestantism and the Catholic Church are in decline: Evangelical Protestantism, that emblematic thought system of the American Empire for the last couple of decades—a silly business of suburban mega-churches and Prosperity Gospels—is declining. Good riddance.

Catholicism is taking a beating, too, weathering an endless series of perversion scandals and endlessly betrayed by its liberal hierarchy. The churches are emptying. Well, praise the Lord, as our Evangelical friends might bellow. Those Catholics are welcome to join the Russian Orthodox Church, as I, a disillusioned Catholic myself, did.

(I suppose it’s strange for a reactionary like me to celebrate the decline of Catholicism, but really I’m celebrating the decline only of a corrupt, worldly, and sexually perverse Western, or more accurately northern, Catholicism. The Church is much healthier—both doctrinally and in terms of its demographics—in the southern hemisphere, where lies its future, if it’s to have a future.)

The death of the American Empire: There may be a lot of ruin in a country, but surely we’re getting to the end of ours. The last 20 years have seen our masters commit the United States to an exercise in self-immolation that has had few parallels in history.

I can think of downsides to the destruction of the American imperial system: the rise of a nasty China, for instance. But I do like such effects as the weakening of NATO, the rise of anti-liberal states in east-central Europe, and the resultant increased room for maneuvering afforded Holy Mother Russia as she seeks to reconstitute her God-ordained empire. Neo-con and neo-liberal warmongers whine that, with the American retreat from the world stage, we could see such events as the Russian invasion of the Baltics. How zealously some of us pray that these warmongers are correct!

Yes, my right-wing friends, we are winning. Good cheer is in order, and a prayer of thanksgiving: O Lord God, almighty Father, we praise Thee, give thanks unto Thee and glorify Thee, and offer unto Thee our worship, for Thou art He that hath bestowed upon us the knowledge of Thy truth.

And who can speak of Thy acts, make all Thy praises heard, or tell of all Thy wonders?

Receive our thanksgiving for all that Thou hast provided for us, for blessed art Thou, O Holy Father, together with Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ to Whom, with Thee and the Holy Spirit, be all glory and worship, now and unto eternity.



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