May 19, 2015

15 Kinds of American Conservatives: A helpful primer for Canadians

David M. SwindleRebel Blogger

I resigned as associate editor of PJ Media last month after almost 4 years, preceded by 2 years at FrontPage Magazine. That’s 6 years stewing in the hot belly of the American Ideological Beast, immersed in Right/Left political/cultural combat almost non-stop.

But I needed a change.

My developing plan this year as I shift to less politics/news and more culture/family/Bible instead: A) finish my nonfiction book with my younger brother Jeremy’s help, B) return to fiction writing/editing with my Dad’s help, C) launch my own new media publishing companies with my wife’s help, and D) do whatever I can to assist my friends and family with their developing ventures. (Need any advice on your projects? Get in touch!)

I’ve given myself until mid-June before finalizing decisions, but from the start I knew there were three definites in this D) category who I felt strongly about supporting:

First, I’ll work with New York City-based Adam Bellow and David Bernstein, the founders of  Liberty Island, as their West Coast editor developing fiction and culture projects. Second, my generation’s most gifted and trustworthy activist is Ben Shapiro, based here in LA. He and his creative partner Jeremy Boreing recently left Truth Revolt and I’d encourage everyone to support them as they develop their next projects.

And in Canada I am inspired by the courageous Ezra Levant and his Rebels who I regard as fighting The Big War in its northern theatre - a much more treacherous legal climate.

Getting to know Canadian writers has given me more appreciation and curiosity for your country and now I want to learn more. (Your fault, Five Feet!) How about I share what I know about the challenges in American political cultures and you all help me better understand your battles?

I hope to assist The Rebel in many ways, but for now I’m starting by offering my perspective and answering questions about American “Conservatism” at The Megaphone.

The big picture point to begin: within the American “Right” there are actually dozens of competing ideological factions that both vary in modus operandi and disagree on foundational values. Here are 15 of the most significant in the order they arose, and I’ll plan to provide at least one post each to define them more deeply:

My biases:

@ = 6 “tribes” where I’m “at” and will defend with bare-knuckled rhetoric when necessary.

# = 6 I’m in only a third or halfway, embracing some factions while beating the crap out of others.

X = 3 enemy ideologies I’ve been known to fling twitter jabs and blog uppercuts at in an often over-the-top and unapologetic manner...


1. The Old Right: Traditionalist Paleo-Conservatives - #

The oddball coalition that emerged to oppose FDR’s New Deal was half-right: the unconstitutional expansion of the federal government has proven destructive. But foreign policy is more important than domestic policy and the Old Right’s Isolationism was synonymous with naivette. Truth: both World War II and the Cold War were avoidable and happened because of the Democratic Party’s decades of systemic failures due to their anti-American ideology, unchecked by a Republican Party similarly confused about how to respond to imperial slave states pursuing global domination.


2. The Establishment Right: Corporatist Cold Warrior Conservatives - X

3. The New Right: Anti-Communist Crusader Conservatives - @

The same divide we today between “Establishment Moderates” and “Hard Right Tea Partiers” existed more than 60 years ago, both in how to respond to the existence of FDR’s un-American federal welfare state bureaucracy, and the threat of a hostile Soviet Union seeking to spread Marxist power. In the 1950s it was between “Cold Warriors” like real politik advocate Henry Kissinger who thought nuclear weapons meant a permanent stalemate between two world powers, versus Anti-Communist advocate William F. Buckley Jr. and the publication he founded, National Review, which sought VICTORY over the Communist empire. Understand: the “New Right” Conservative Movement was really just the political wing of the Anti-Communist Movement, that sought to create a political coalition that could elect a President to defeat the Soviet Union.


4. The Ridiculous Right: Crazy Crackpot Conspiracist Conservatives - X

5. The Godless Right: Anti-Communist Libertarian Conservatives - #

As the New Right evolved, two Old Right tendencies needed to be confronted: conspiracism and personality cults. William F. Buckley dramatized this in his novel Getting It Right, a love story between a young man working for the John Birch Society and a woman who falls in with Ayn Rand’s Objectivists.


6. The "Mugged By Reality" Right: New York Neo-Conservatives - #

7. The Religious Right: Christian Culture War Conservatives - #

Two very different groups discovered the temptation of political power in the 1970s and together they would reshape the Right: Ex-Marxist, Ex-Liberal, and Ex-Democrats brought a new hawkish commitment to defeating Communism (while alas, too much tolerance for allowing the expanding of FDR-style socialism at home.) Meanwhile, Christian preachers and media personalities began mobilizing their followers in response to “culture war” issues like abortion, feminism, pornography, and gay rights.


8. Rush's Right: Talk Radio Anti-Communist Crusader Conservatives - @

There’s this lie circulating amongst “polite society” that supposedly the Right went wrong with the rise of talk radio and voices “less sophisticated” than Buckley like Rush Limbaugh. Total Hogwash.

Simply: Rush was his generation’s WFB, just taking the same fight to a new medium and in his own style. They may move different on the board but ideologically I’m hard-pressed to pinpoint any meaningful differences. Buckley = Bishop, Rush = Rook.   

9. President Reagan's New Right Triumphant: Fusionist Conservatives Crush the USSR - @


Post-Reagan, under the bad policies and failed leadership of George H.W. Bush the coalition of the previous ideologies fragmented, allowing Bill Clinton to become President. Now without Anti-Communism as the defining glue, the movement is adrift at sea, each faction competing, both prophets and charlatans hocking their wares alongside each other.

10. Rupert's Right: Fox News Corporatist Neo-conservatives - X

I’ll explain soon enough why I hold the contrarian opinion of regarding Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes as largely to blame for Obama, McCain, and Romney. (And why all conservatives should give up watching Fox News, a trashy, tabloid network more concerned with making big money by appealing to boomer stereotypes than actually doing good in the world...)

11. The Drudge Report Right: New Media Capitalist Conservatives - #

What Matt Drudge did to Bill Clinton and his mysterious website’s role in today’s political media are big subjects I’ll try and unpack in the coming weeks...

12. Queen Ann's Right: Cable News Counterculture Comedian Conservatives - @

Shocking, I know: Ann Coulter is her generation’s most significant polemicist, media activist, and political philosopher. She is the WFB/Thomas Sowell of the X-er Boomer Blends. This sounds like total madness to people who only know Coulter from her cable news theatre performances. Those who have read her books and taken her seriously have a very different understanding which I’ll try and explain more soon.  


13. The Post-9/11 Right: Counter-Jihad Crusader Neo-Neo-Conservatives - @

The shock of America being assaulted by Jihadists provoked some (but not many) leftists, “liberals,” and Democrats to begin confused shifts right-ward, making their focus Islam and the Muslims suffering under Shariah, much as a previous generation of neoconservatives focused on the people oppressed under Communism.

14. Andrew's Right: New Media Counterculture Crusader Conservatives - @

In founding and leading Breitbart.Com, the late, Great Andrew Breitbart built on the New Media work that Drudge started, and now that he’s gone it’s people like Adam and David, Ben and Jeremy, and Ezra and his Rebels carrying on his tradition of fighting the media by BECOMING the media.


15. The Pageview Right: Clickbait Conservatives Conquer - #

Newsflash: “Blogging” is now almost 20 years old! It’s “Old Media” at this point and virtually all of the tricks for growing a readership and attracting attention to an important message have now just been turned into a way to profit selling product to the “conservative audience.” Almost 30 years after Reagan and how can we tell who really believes in making the world better versus who just wants to manipulate your emotions to take your time and money?

Next: a map to the blogosphere identifying the most popular conservative websites in each tribe…


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commented 2015-06-29 17:49:25 -0400
Gregory Mac and Dirt McGirt: You are both very welcome! And yes, my intent with linking that particular Buckley book in the Conspiracist Conservative section was to indicate that it’s a great introduction (perhaps the best) for coming to understand the difference between New Right conservatism as Buckley developed it and the paleo-right conspiracist conservatism of the John Birch Society. If you need any more book suggestions then I’m happy to provide them. I’m trying to assemble the ultimate counterculture crusader book list…
commented 2015-05-31 19:39:35 -0400
Gregory Mac: in #4, the Buckley link is to a book he wrote about the John Birch Society. Which, at least in David’s opinion, fits the crazy bill.

Also, thank you David for a remarkable set of links. My Amazon wish-list has been recharged.
commented 2015-05-31 17:20:41 -0400
Btw this is absolutely fantastic, I think we agree on everything politically, and I am going to have to read more of the books you’ve linked to. This page is going to be my homepage now.
commented 2015-05-31 17:04:45 -0400
Why is Buckley in 3 and 4?
commented 2015-05-21 18:35:00 -0400
JAMIE: “Nope, didn’t miss that at all, David. Hence, my first comment.”
Yeah. You wanted to know why 15 instead of 2. I think I’ve answered that question now, haven’t I? A map of 15 different political ideologies that are competing for a political party is more useful than a map of just 2 giant ideologies supposedly fighting for a political party.

How about this to make my point more clear: which kind of painting is likely to be a more accurate representation of the world, one painted with only 2 colors or one with 15?
commented 2015-05-21 16:18:04 -0400
DAVID: “You’re missing my bigger point: “the two-part breakdown” you make in your head is entirely IMAGINARY. Just as the 15 groups that I’m describing above are “imaginary”.”
Nope, didn’t miss that at all, David. Hence, my first comment.
commented 2015-05-21 16:00:39 -0400
JAMIE: “If you truly do have that many different kinds of Conservatives to deal with, and a two-part breakdown no longer works for you, then you do indeed have my sympathy; as would anybody.”

You’re missing my bigger point: “the two-part breakdown” you make in your head is entirely IMAGINARY. Just as the 15 groups that I’m describing above are “imaginary”. If I wanted to say that we only have 5 groups or if I wanted to break it into 50 then I could do that. Mapping out ideologies on a political map relative to one another is much the same thing as mapping out places on a physical map. Depending on the map’s purpose, and the time and place it’s describing the lines will be drawn differently. Any of these maps are going to be abstractions and oversimplifications of a much broader, more complex territory.
commented 2015-05-21 15:07:23 -0400
I’m not looking down on anybody. And I’m puzzled why you would take my comment that way.
If you truly do have that many different kinds of Conservatives to deal with, and a two-part breakdown no longer works for you, then you do indeed have my sympathy; as would anybody.
commented 2015-05-21 14:28:32 -0400
Jamie: “Then, Sir – you have my pity….”
Do you just pity (and look down on) everyone who disagrees with you about political ideology? Or do you ever take the time to try and understand why they might disagree with you?
commented 2015-05-21 12:56:20 -0400
“It once did for me too. "
Then, Sir – you have my pity….
commented 2015-05-21 12:00:12 -0400
Jamie: “It does for me, DAVID…on this side of the border.”
It once did for me too.
commented 2015-05-21 11:42:53 -0400
“But the 2-part breakdown absolutely doesn’t work. "

It does for me, DAVID…on this side of the border.
commented 2015-05-20 11:14:43 -0400
The asymmetry between creation and destruction manifests here in such factions weakening opposition to the socialist plagues, just as the disparate voting bloc (factions) of the left increase its mob rule clout. That and the irreversibility of devolution, in the meanwhile, sort of explain why there’s millennia separating each pinnacle civilization. It’s so fucking sad. And as insulting as it is, the radical passivity of the Cons rightfully breeds contempt.
commented 2015-05-20 11:09:03 -0400
Jamie: “Why not eighteen, or, could we not condense it into 12….or maybe 2: true conservatives, and Conservatives?”

Oh we could expand it to 25 or 50 if we really wanted to (I might eventually)… It’s much the same kind of thing as Christianity or Judaism — as many denominations and churches as one could want to identify one can find.

But the 2-part breakdown absolutely doesn’t work. In America it has to be a multiple coalition of many ideas squabbling. That’s what we’re built on and what defines our identity. We were built on 13 colonies coming together, and our founding fathers all have big, big disagreements about serious ideas. The 6-dozen or so primary Founding Fathers in America each have to be taken in — it’s not like there are just 1 or 2 or even 3 or 4 most important founders.
commented 2015-05-20 09:56:48 -0400
“…versus who just wants to manipulate your emotions to take your time and money?”
Makes me think of the Ghost of Christmas Past:
“But most of all, beware this boy…” :-)
commented 2015-05-20 08:57:08 -0400
Makes me laugh. 15 kinds? Really?
Why not eighteen, or, could we not condense it into 12….or maybe 2: true conservatives, and Conservatives?
commented 2015-05-19 18:41:26 -0400
interesting breakdown
commented 2015-05-19 16:25:40 -0400
OMG! Explains why the US is sometmes referred to as the “Excited States”.