The Corner

Foer & Nock

(Scroll down for the discussion from yesterday) From a friend:

Ugh! The Foer piece is totally goofy. He says Nock shaped the spirit of today’s conservatism — and then says Nock wouldn’t recognize conservatism today. Despite the incoherence of that argument, Frank’s employing as much rhetorical gymnastics as he can to make an exceedingly tired liberal argument born of liberal conceit and blinders: Nock (you could substitute a bunch of “weird uncles” here, by the way, Nock was hardly alone) provided intellectual cover for conservative hatred/bigotry, and while Nock’s intellectual influence has melted away, the hatred and bigotry remain. Clever.

Frank needs to look at progressive intellectual history. Turn of the century progressives, mostly affiliated with Ivy League schools and Bloomsbury circles were racist and elitist, arrogant to boot. The difference between those progressives and conservatives like Nock is that Nock distrusted the state to remedy the problem of so many subhumans jostling about, making life so unpleasant for guilt-addled elites. The progressives thought the state could engineer all those subhumans they loathed in a manner more to their liking – or at least make things less untidy. If it’s a choice between conservative haters and liberal/progressive haters, I’ll take the ones mistrustful of the state any day.

The whole point – or a whole point, there are many — of Buckley’s influence is that it stripped the Nockian influence, such as it was, away – root and branch (Hayek and the neocons had similar effect). The same cannot be said for the legacy of Ivy League progressives and the left – the root remains firmly entrenched in liberal political soil today.


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