The Vanishing Tradition: Perspectives On American Conservativism–Edited by Paul Gottfried, Reviewed

The Vanishing Tradition: Perspectives On American Conservativism–Edited by Paul Gottfried, Reviewed

This is a good book to get into the hands of normie conservatives. Small-c classical so-called conservatives. I mean those who think they are true men of the Right but who aren’t because of some gap in their knowledge. Sincere men who listen to Sean Hannity and aren’t quite sure why he’s always raving about Israel, bombing remote countries, and capital gains tax cuts, but who think these must be genuine conservative topics since The Big Con and Neo-Conmen are always on about them.

The Big Con was coined by Jack Kerwick, one of the younger scholars Paul Gottfried gathered to show that there is nothing conservative in professional conservativism. A.K.A. Conservative, Inc., cruise-ship or think-tank conservativism, or the Republicans.

Neocon, the term, has been with us a while, and it does a job conveying the swindle of neoconservativism. But Neo-Conmen, my preferred term, does it better, as it removes any hint there is any Right in the movement. All of us should adopt these new terms and spellings. After all, the neo-conmen were able to infiltrate the Right so successfully in part because their sheep’s clothing term included “conservative”.

Gottfried is the man to write about these topics as he is a scholar (I almost said the forbidden “expert”) on the infiltration of left and the subsequent purges of the Right from conservativism, having suffered one himself. Cancel culture has long been a thing on the Right.

The story of the purges is not well known to the average normie conservative, whose exposure to watered-down Right ideas is usually limited to talk radio, Fox News, and, at one time anyway, neo-conmen and Big Con magazines like NRO and The American Conservative (motto: Where feelings matter more than facts).

National Review, the creation of Bill Buckley, who was once perhaps sensible before going mad, has been thoroughly Dranoed. There’s nothing left but a steady stream of “The Conservative Case For” articles. Think about that title schema: it necessarily signals surrender. This is all the Big Con and neo-Conmen are good for. Surrendering gracefully.

The question is why Big Conmen and neo-Conmen are take-it-slow progressives and not Right men. The answer is easy. Thanks to the purges and leftist entryism, few hear from the true Right. Purging works. Yet those purges would not have happened had the Right stayed strong. Truly, the Right has been fading for a long time. It was weak men who, for instance, when they did not have to a century ago gave women the vote. They already believed Equality then, but of course they believed that, and many other wrong ideas, a great deal earlier than that.

Repairing the damage is not what this book is about. It’s a modern history of the disgraces of those who falsely called themselves conservatives. The backstabbing, turn-coating, and deliberate ruinations of the greedy bloodthirsty cowards (there is no contradiction) who vanquished the remnants of the Right from polite society makes for a good story, and will help those with natural Right tendencies to see who their enemies are.

Here are one or two of many incidents.

One of the first tricks neo-Conmen pulled was to convince conservatives that American was exceptional because it was a “creedal nation”, that we were not like other nations a people and thus beholden to our own traditions, the distilled wisdom of the ages. Instead we’re Americans because we believe a set of propositions. This is now a staple of the Big Con, but it is as progressive a notion as you can find, because the set of propositions is never fixed, but fluid. What we were all supposed to believe even last year has been supplanted by a whole new set of proper thoughts. And will change again maybe even days from now. If we still hold with the old ideas, the tacit argument is that we’re no longer good Americans, but outsiders in our own land.

Besides, everybody knows it’s only one set of folks who are told they are not a people, while all other peoples are celebrated, and some are even worshiped. For that reason, and for raw greed (more helots, cheaper wages), the Big Con and neo-Conmen are happy to allow unlimited immigration, and to screech “racism!” at critics. For it is the forbidden people that must assimilate themselves to the creeds of the new arrivals, and not the other way around.

Keith Preston: “The neoconservatives”, who were all former open leftists, “were staunch Zionists and regarded American power as a critical protector of Israel.” Any criticism of that fine country was met with direct and vicious attack. “[T]he neoconservatives have persistently raised cries of racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia when attacking their opponents on the right.” They always punch Right.

Boyd Cathey recalls Russell Kirk, who in 1988 said, “Not seldom has it seemed as if some eminent Neoconservatives mistook Tel Aviv for the capital of the United States.” Incidentally, Kirk’s most famous book, The Conservative Mind, had the original, and far superior, title The Conservatives’ Rout.

The most infamous example was smearing Pat Buchanan when he ran for president. The neo-Conmen went after Buchanan for “homophobia” when, as Gottfried reminds us, Buchanan called out “San Francisco values.” But this “was not the real cause for the animus against Buchanan. He is a harsh critic of the Zionist lobby and is perceived as an isolationist.” Buchanan’s mistake was to voice his criticisms during the primary. Marjorie Jeffery and other authors show how the neo-Conmen abandoned all pretense of conservativism and attacked in full force from the left.

As they have been successfully doing then and since. Cathey: “[W]e have such neoconservative notables such as Ben Shapiro, Jonah Goldberg, George Will, Guy Benson, and others essentially endorsing same-sex marriage and wishing to accommodate transgenderism but also insisting that they are moderate ‘conservatives’ who are recognized by reasonable liberals as such.”

Neo-Conmen forays are not always negative. No, sir. The neo-Conmen convinced the Big Con that ever more spending on the military and needless wars were “conservative” positions, which required forgetting the Founding Fathers warned repeatedly and forcefully against foreign entanglements. The wars were needless, that is, from an American perspective. Maybe not so needless for others.

Then there’s the idea that democracy should be forced by the point of a gun on the peoples of the world. Pure progressivism. A religious enforcement of the creedal notion, a godless jihad, if you like.

Support for the military industry complex was a boon for think tanks, which were and are still flush with the green. “Needless to say,” says Joseph Cotto, “Heritage and AEI were far more willing to jettison opposition to gay marriage than support for increased military spending and the policy of ‘standing up’ to the supposed thug in the Kremlin.”

There is a rich chapter by Jesse Russell on the infiltration by neo-Conmen of Catholicism. All the usual suspects: George Weigel, Robert George, Michael Novak (until he saw the light), First Things (same thing), and so on.

Then came Monsieur Le Trompe. “A populist!” neo-Conmen and Big Cons shouted. And are still shouting, their voices finding new strength because of coronadoom and the riots. A risible charge in a democracy with the direct election of a president. It hasn’t helped Trump that he embraced many neo-Conman ideas. With these guys, as with all progressives, it’s all or nothing.

Nicholas Drummond on the great god Diversity:

Uncomfortable as it may be for scholars to admit, the Founders established a republic that assumed racial and cultural homogeneity, and they attempted to preserve this homogeneity with government control of naturalization….John Jay…”A people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs…”

All gone. The enemy knows the strategy of divide and conquer, and uses it well.

As we all know, there are no more than a handful of Republicans who are conservatives. They won’t be coming back to that party, either. You know the names of the neo-Conmen who support progressive Republicans: Breibart, Kevin D Williamson, Jonah Goldberg, Michael Reagan (son of Ronny), Dinesh D’Souza, George Will, Kurt Schlichter, Glenn Beck, William Kristol, John Podhoretz, David French, Sohrab Ahmari, Adrian Vermeule, Steven Calabresi (Federalist Society) everybody at NRO, almost all of talk radio, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal. On and on.

It’s not that these men have no Right ideas, it’s that they are progressives at heart and will always be swayed in that direction when under sustained fire. They want to stay in the system more than they want to remain Right. The Big Con, says Gottfried, “seeks to be ‘inclusive,’ but not by embracing those on its Right.” Real conservatives have no political home; they are disorganized and spread thin.

True men of the Right, like Gottfried and these scholars, are now classed as “alt right”, a term the media loves because they can paint it as violent, or paleo-conservatives, or dissidents, or whatever. In truth, the Right, being consigned to the wilderness, has no unification.

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  1. Joy

    At some point the US will need a proper discussion about the heart of the matter.
    The justification for the FAR right and its origin.
    That’s when the bombs will start to fall.
    Civil war for the country that does not want to know or learn history other than that which its rabble rousers insists is the truth.

    The right is changing all the time, has been throughout history.
    It seems the left does change, but just reinvents new vehicles for the old ideas which failed last time.

  2. Excellent, Dr Briggs. Thanks for a clear distillation of Gottfried’s message.

    It’s all sitting out in plain sight, clear for those who care to see, and those who dare to see it.

    Neo-conmen! A perfect description.


  3. I certainly have had differences with The American Conservative, but lumping them with the Jacobins and Trotskyites of the Neoconmen is a bit much, especially since Paul Gottfried and Pat Buchanan both write for them (among many fine others). Yes, they write things that have me grind my teeth (Rod Dreher seems to be floating in his own pool at times, though also has good things to say), but they have taken a principled stands against our adventurism abroad (Daniel Larison in particular). So yes, it was an inane tweet. Certainly the police can be reformed (demilitarized, turned back into “peace officers”) without smarmy fobs to radical propaganda.

  4. Michael Dowd

    Excellent wake-up call Briggs. Unfortunately, when woken, the nightmare turns out to be real, irrepressible and terminal. It was a nice country for awhile. Next month I will be 86 so my perspective is more oriented towards Eternal Life. One thing we can all do when throwing up our hands is pray.

  5. Mike H

    Dispassionate analysis makes a strong case that “the enemy” is the cultural-Marxist American confessional state that rode on the tails of the Enlightenment principles upon which this nation was established. Able conservatives quibble about the latter, but cannot eliminate the fact that the values of Scottish Freemasonry were those of the Founders and remain warp and woof of what is left of civic life in America (and elsewhere in the West). Those same values pervade the Vatican 2 Church upon which billions are expected to lean for moral leadership. All of which suggests that the present disorders are but a harbinger of global catastrophe.

  6. Jerry

    This explains a lot of my reactions to my “conservative” heroes in the press. Those moments when you sit back and think “wha….? That makes no sense.”

    I have to admit I feel more like Michael Dowd, even at near 64. It seems all we can do is pray.

  7. Once you realize that the Jews are the Marxists and the Marxists are the Jews, everything else falls into place.
    There are no such things as “Judeo-Christian values.” There are Christian values, and there are Jewish values, and these two value sets are not just different from but opposed to each other.

    Question everything the government schools taught you. Doubt everything you see or hear on the news.

    An attack upon my culture is an attack upon my people. This is war. I mean for my people to not merely survive, but win. We must reconquer the continent, driving all our enemies into the sea. Or Mexico, I guess, but I’m not normally that cruel.

  8. Carlos Julio Casanova Guerra

    Well, for me, the original sin is to paint the problem as one of conservatism (vs. progressivism). The tag, in itself, can be made to carry anything. And it’s very dependent on the ways in which the terms of the debate are set. It would be very clear if you called yourselves as patriots-natural law (as defined by Saint Thomas) defenders. No one could have equivocations about it. Conservative: Mises and JP-II, and Ayn Rand (so, Nietzsche) and Kristoll (so, Trotsky) and Shapiro-Kirk (so, the trans story hour)… That use of calling conservative, right wing and all those types of tags the defense of goodness come from a revolution, from the french revolution, so they make no sense and are part of the enemy’s dialect. It’ pretty transparent in syntagmas like “traditional marriage”: I don’t see a compelling reason to put my life on the line for that, NATURAL MARRIAGE, there you have something to die for. But, in another front, the historical problems are in two levels: 1) the proximate, the one you touch; 2) the further apart, you have the Western civilization rejecting its roots and foundations, first, with luterus and, then, moslre radically, with the so called enlightenment. Christopher Dawson says that, since then, the identity of thissociety is revolution; because at first they were very close to the thing rejected, the religion of revolution, at the beginning, was Christianity secularised. Time went by and it was radicalised by some jews (marx and freud, mainly) and it went further apart, more and more… So, to defeat this ordeal, you have to embrace all the philosophy, history and theology involved. Not an easy task… Go beyond the tags

  9. Dean Ericson

    We were all taken in by the Con-men. It takes some time and application of thought to see the deception, and who, apart from Thomas Aquinas, has time for applied thought these days? But once you see the fraud… oh my! We wuz fooled, tricked, and bamboozled by humbugs, nitwits, and hoodwinkers. Silly people. It’s a worthy project to catalog and expose the deception, so thanks to Mr. Gottfried for writing the book, and to our host for bringing it to our attention. “Cuckservative: How “Conservatives” Betrayed America”, is a book covering the same topic, by John Red Eagle and Vox Day, and recommended.

    Mike H:

    “…the Enlightenment principles upon which this nation was established.”

    There is a case to be made that Christendom’s crisis declines from Benightenment principles. There is a case to be made that Judaizing heretics up-mucked it all. And a case to be made that ol’ Serpent Head is at the black bottom of this mess. But the only sure thing is that it’s not my fault. And not Briggs… well, except for his typos.

  10. Dennis

    “As we all know, there are no more than a handful of Republicans who are conservatives. They won’t be coming back to that party, either. You know the names of the neo-Conmen who support progressive Republicans: Breibart, Kevin D Williamson, Jonah Goldberg, Michael Reagan (son of Ronny), Dinesh D’Souza, George Will, Kurt Schlichter, Glenn Beck, William Kristol, John Podhoretz, David French, Sohrab Ahmari, Adrian Vermeule, Steven Calabresi (Federalist Society) everybody at NRO, almost all of talk radio, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal. On and on. ”

    I don’t think Ahmari or Vermeule, probably the foremost intellectual proponent if Integralism, should be lumped together with those others (funny that in your list Ahmari comes right after the awful David French, since Ahmari caused a very public row a year or so ago after he denounced “Frenchism.” Lumping the two of them together as if they were birds of a feather just won’t do). And as bad as that one tweet was, neither should The American Conservative generally be put in the same class as NRO, Fox News, etc.

  11. Mike H

    I don’t think Ahmari or Vermeule, probably the foremost intellectual proponent of Integralism, should be lumped together with those others . . .

    Vermeule, and to a lesser extent Ahmari, exhibit a belligerent hyper-Bergoglianism that severely damages the intellectual underpinnings of their arguments. To their credit, they almost certainly would not want to be lumped either with the other names on the list or (at least on Vermeule’s part) with movement conservatism.

  12. Sander van der Wal

    Conservatism is not a political ideology. There is no foundation, like in Marxism, or the European Christian Democrats, who are, or sometimes were, explicitly Christian. Without a foundation you get blown around.

    Not that the European style political parties are all founded ideologically, but for them it is easier to stay truer to their foundations. It does help that they have lots of competition, which doesn’t make it easy to occupy adjacent ideologies.

    Stop calling yourself conservative, and start calling yourself something with a foundation. Christian Republicans, or whatever

  13. Dean Ericson

    “start calling yourself something with a foundation”,

  14. Dean Ericson


  15. Dean Ericson

    Edit Featurist

  16. Fredo

    Gottfried was a student of Herbert Marcuse and has been characterized as a right wing
    proponent of the Frankfort school. The main thing is to occupy the heights across the
    political spectrum, a dualistic laser pointer distracting the cats.

  17. MikeJ

    I gave up on “Conservative Inc.” back in 2008. Specifically when Rush Limbaugh, the self appointed “guru” of conservatism, endorsed McCain over Paul.

    Limbaugh had panned McCain for years, making parodies of him for his many betrayals of his own party, yet when a true conservative candidate named Ron Paul ran for POTUS, and who espoused virtually everything Limbaugh stated as important, ran against the establishment anointed McCain in the Republican Primaries, Limbaugh cast aside his supposed dislike for McCain, and proceeded to denigrate Paul. I wrote in Ron Paul in both the 2008 and the 2012 elections, as I couldn’t stomach the lesser of two weevils promoted by the “R” establishment, McCain and Romney.

    Since that time I have stopped listening to talk radio, as it is a total fraud, especially that apostate Hannity. Ditto Faux News and all other MSM outlets. Don’t even watch TV anymore except streamed old movies. Same for the so called “Conservative” news websites and magazines. Most of my news and opinion reading is done on alternate sites like the Unz Review, Zero Hedge, and non “Trad Inc.” Catholic websites such as Canon 212.

    Anything put out by so called “mainstream” sources is suspect and not to be believed. That so many believe the booshwa put out by these sources is a testament to the dimming of the intellect due to sin, and the diabolical disorientation that follows.

  18. Fredo,

    Yes, I had a faint memory of Gottfried being linked to the neo-conmen, but couldn’t place it.

    There is really no such thing as an American “Conservative” establishment any more–at least in academia, the media, the commentariat, the chattering classes, politicians.

    And the more you look, the more you realize that those who’ve been making the clubhouse rules for the last 50 years (William Buckley, and the neo-conmen who followed) were all neo-conmen globalists masquerading as Conservative.

    My late friend, Stan Evans, wrote the Sharon Statement–a concise enumeration of what Conservative meant:

    He laid out 5 principles, with a beginning acknowledging God-given free will:

    “… foremost among the transcendent values is the individual’s use of his God-given free will.”

    1. Individual freedom and the right of governing originate with God.
    2. Political freedom is impossible without economic freedom.
    3. Limited government and strict interpretation of the Constitution.
    4. The free market system is preferable over all others.
    5. Communism must be defeated, not contained.

    Before Stan died, as we wallowed in the PC-Progressive Obama years, with neo-conmen co-opting the Tea Party and other Normal American movements, I urged Stan to re-create that statement. We need a fundamental statement of what it means to be a “Conservative.” Or probably another label, with a creed.

    We still need that.

  19. Fredo

    Mike all I watch now are funny baby videos on u-tube, they’re a
    real pick me up and explain the human condition as nothing else will.

  20. Fredo

    Nothing to disagree with there, what I find amazing is the felicity with which they
    flip the switch and move the needle to full blown riots. The branding of conservatives
    as Nazis effectively disarms any opposition and demonstrates an unprecedented cognitive
    reach into the national psyche. I never thought I’d live to see this day and only hope
    that Trump can pull us out of the tailspin we’re in.

  21. MikeJ


    They have been planning this for a long while, that is why they can escalate at the drop of a hat. They are well financed by the globalist oligarchs, and have support from many, both inside this country; read Democrat Party, and outside; read Chicoms and Mexican cartels. When Trump was elected it threw a very large roadblock into their plans. He for sure ain’t perfect, but he is at least for America. Look for a Tet style offensive starting around mid October to throw the country into chaos. Plan accordingly. The choice is fight, or die.

  22. Uncle Mike

    Thank you for the link to the Richard Greenhorn essay on Vermeulae. Greenhorn is a fine thinker and writer. The American Sun is a great resource.

  23. SOL

    The thing about Ahmari is that he embraces civic nationalism and will condemn anything that supports some sort of Anglo-American (i.e. historical white) identity.

  24. Sylvain Allard


    You are very dishonest.

    You should revisit your older post.

    On the cdc graph from June 30th post.

    The graph shows weekly death count of barely 200.

    The new graph you have posted shows over 5000 deaths per week in June.

    Death are now over 1300/day or almost 10000 per weeks.

    Yet you choose to misinform your reader by not acknowledging that the data is complete but can have few weeks latency.

    At its highest point death per week were around 15000. After they got down to 2-3000/week. By the end of June and they are now up to 10000 and rising.

  25. It’s disheartening to see the degree to which young conservatives (what few there are) idolize the National Review types, specifically Buckley. The effete, “intellectual” conservative, a progressive at heart like you said wanting to gladhand with upper-crust New York liberals, is the dream for these people. Little do they know what havoc that man wreaked, and how he almost-singlehandedly dismantled the genuine intellectual institutions of the Right. And now the John Birch Society, purged of its talent and intellect, is still around hawking its wares, an impotent shadow of its former self.

  26. In case you haven’t seen or heard, there is a growing movement that is challenging the young neo-conmen, establishment fake “conservatives” who put the interests of their hostile foreign sponsor ahead of American interests.

    Of course, these “young conservatives”–Charlie Kirk, Ben Shapiro, and others are just the warmed over next generation versions of the “old conservatives” (both just neo-conmen pretending to be “conservative”)–Mark Levin, Michael Savage, Michael Medved, Dennis Prager, Marco Rubio, Niki Haley, etc, etc, etc.

    One of the darlings of the neo-conmen is the Texas Congressman, Dan Crenshaw. He is being challenged in public forums for his fealty to a foreign power.

    Here’s an excellent public exchange with Crenshaw on that issue:

  27. DEEBEE

    Silly Vain again, huh Sylvain?

  28. Reuben G.

    Can you blame Ahmari for being a civic nationalist? If indeed he is. Wouldn’t strict adherence to ethnic nationalism cause him to “self-deport”? I like Ahmari being here, writing what he does and raising a Catholic family. Guess what, at your judgment, God is not going to ask how loyal of an ethnic nationalist you were. Also, anyone backing ethnic nationalism lives in a LARP fantasyland because most of you people are wops and micks and all kinds of other non-English, non-Dutch trash. I am a true Anglo by blood, but I also hate fantasy political theories that just result in demoralized wankers sitting at home staring at a screen imagining a world that was lost over a hundred years ago. Not ONE keyboard commando who bashes civic nationalism will do a single thing in the real world about it. I mean, you wouldn’t even be mildly rude to a person whose kind you would like to see deported. So how do you expect all these super genius ethnonationalist online warriors to rise up from their basements and start pushing colored people onto ships? The exception is the losers who go out and shoot people, and every person who does that only makes ethnic nationalists look even worse.

    Chronicles magazine bashed creationists and I never bought it again. I get enough of that from the world around me, don’t need to pay to be mocked. Maybe Marcuse did have an influence.

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