The Strange Death of Conservatism

by | Jul 22, 2019


You can tell that the establishment is getting nervous when in just the last month we see a grand effort to “re-invent” conservatism launched by the same kinds of ideologues who destroyed conservatism, and we see a new venture promising to promote a new foreign policy that turns away from “endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace” that just happens to be co-funded by an individual among those most responsible for pushing endless war and color revolutions overseas.

First, the much ballyhooed conference on “National Conservatism” this week brings to mind Pat Buchanan’s seminal 1992 Republican convention speech when he spoke of radical Democrats pretending to be centrists as one of the greatest examples of cross-dressing in history. In this case, we have many of the old re-treads from the failed Republican administrations of the past (especially Dub-yuh’s) telling us in ideological drag that they have an amazing new product to sell us called “we must fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here” and “what would we do without our greatest Middle East allies Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Turkey?”

Gosh, we haven’t heard that before! Where’s my checkbook?

Of course actual national conservative Pat Buchanan would have been given a police escort out of the building had he dared show his face at this conference on “national conservatism.” No, the event was put on by the hilariously mis-named “Edmund Burke Foundation” led by ex-executive director of Christians United for Israel, David Brog, whose concept of nationalism, as an American, seems pretty…confused.

Likewise, the breathless announcement of a new foreign policy think tank lavishly funded by what we are told are weltanschauung’s Felix and Oscar, George Soros and Charles Koch, promises to pour us old wine in beautiful new bottles. The “Quincy Institute” – named after our wise sixth president who left us with the pearl that we should not go abroad seeking monsters to destroy – has given even many libertarians the fevers. Money does that.

But hey – no sour grapes from us! The non-interventionist water is fine and we would love to see the Quincies all jump in! In fact many are our friends and collaborators.

But when a major donor to one of the most interventionist think tanks, the Atlantic Council, tells us he is going to also finance non-interventionism at the same time, we really can’t help but smell a little Lenin in the air…

We are not dismayed by these efforts, even as they attract so much attention in the mainstream media (“Zowie!! Far Right Koch joining with far Left Soros – what strange bedfellows!”) and so much money among the moneyed. They are not competition. We promote non-interventionism, not sometimes-interventionism.

Yes of course there is the danger that an inauthentic version of our philosophy is given credence by the chattering class as a way of limiting the acceptable space for debate. If these re-tread ventures are accepted as the pure representation of a Hegelian reaction to hyper-interventionism then our actual opposition to the current driving philosophy of US foreign policy finds itself in danger of temporarily having slightly less traction.

But as Ron Paul always says, not even armies can stop an idea whose time has come. And the time has not come for “intervention lite” or for the absurd view that America should be a global sheriff not a global cop (what does that even mean?). By the way, that latter admonition comes from “National Conservatism” conference speaker Clifford May, whose “Foundation for the Defense of Democracies” is among those organizations most responsible for destroying conservatism in the first place.

(BTW – Don’t miss Paul Gottfried’s excellent “Hazony Baloney” on the conference)

What killed conservatism? The fact that it became a craven ploy to fleece the “rubes” in fly-over country instead of a movement to make the case for limited government and a pro-America (i.e. non-interventionist) foreign policy. In other words, the original conservatism of, among others, Sen. Robert Taft. But every new stirring, every creative idea was pounced upon by the direct-mailers as a way to become stinking rich by doing nothing. Ron Paul’s beautiful Tea Party became Dick Armey’s eight million dollar severance package from the organization that hijacked the movement and turned it fully neocon. It’s robbery and it’s indecent – and the muggers are still out there waiting for their next mark. So if they have to paste some new lipstick on this pig of their making, they are more than happy to do so.

Do you want something actually different? Join us in Washington next month for the Ron Paul Institute’s annual conference! We will be “breaking Washington’s Addiction to war” instead of just offering it a needle exchange program.

Why make all that effort to join together next month? How about this: Among our amazing line-up of speakers will be one of the most important voices of antiwar conservatism, former US Representative John Duncan Jr.!!! That’s right! A great opportunity to hear real, authentic conservatism from one of its most important proponents of our time! No sloppy seconds!

This article originally appeared in the Ron Paul Institute Subscriber Newsletter. Subscribe for free here.


  • Daniel McAdams

    Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and co-Producer/co-Host, Ron Paul Liberty Report. Daniel served as the foreign affairs, civil liberties, and defense/intel policy advisor to U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, MD (R-Texas) from 2001 until Dr. Paul’s retirement at the end of 2012. From 1993-1999 he worked as a journalist based in Budapest, Hungary, and traveled through the former communist bloc as a human rights monitor and election observer.

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