Friday, June 19, 2009

Paul Gottfried, The Faileocons

In this contest of the generations, I stand entirely on the side of those with a future. My generation of rightists has wasted its chance for success. We can only point to humiliations, continued marginalization, and internecine strife as our war record. Nor have we provided much assistance to each other, unlike our enemies, who like the ancient Spartans as described by Xenophon, “suffer and rejoice together.” Most of my generation of paleos has done little to establish a sense of community. The more fortunate ones have husbanded their resources while doing next to nothing for their allies.

That the young are still groping for a way out of the wilderness is to their credit. It is also the privilege of youth to be looking for new paths, and especially given the failures of their quarrelsome elders. Charles has noticed the obvious here, that the “new paleos” have little to feel happy about as they view their country and most of the Western world in the grasp of cultural gravediggers and a reckless political class. Does he dispute the justification for this pessimism or the justification for the young paleos’ unwillingness to pretend that the solution for Obama is electing more GOP politicians? As for his censures about their sexual morals, which Charles may fear do not quite meet the standard of Trappist monks, I don’t see the licentiousness here that he does. None of the young paleos, to my knowledge, is leading a life of wine and roses. For one thing, they don’t have the disposable income for fun and games that their neoconservative enemies are being showered with. Moreover, compared to the philandering Catholic monarchist Charles Maurras, who spent most of his adult life tumbling from one mistress to the next, the “new paleos” seem to be models of Puritan sobriety.

Let me stir the pot further by drawing another distinction, between those who want to be political activists and those who do not. Many of the paleos I’ve listened to show an otherworldly side, when they’re not bashing each other in geriatric rage. They glorify Catholic monastic ideals or invoke the memories of Christian crusades. They complain ceaselessly about modern life and insist that we return to scholastic precepts and medieval models of social organization. But such advice cannot possibly resonate in the current climate of debate, and it is foolish to castigate those young people who wish to have impact on the present age for not following someone else’s nostalgic reveries.

About whom is he talking here?


Anonymous said...

71 Comment by Sean Scallon on 26 June 2009:
“One worn-out graybeard anti-Christian professor, catering, as so many embittered losers do, to the next generation, has been pontificating about so-called paleoconservative Christians who want to enforce the morality of a Trappist monastery. Would that this professor (and his young admirers) would adopt one Trappist rule, at least: the rule of silence. Having nothing to say, let them say nothing.”

To quote a famous phrase… “Professor Gottfried I presume?”


How behind the times I am! I thought Fleming and Gottfried were friends, and longtime collaborators. I guess I haven't seen Gottfried in CHRONICLES for a while. Still, I was wondering to whom TJF was referring in that comment. I must say, that's an awful lot of bile to be throwing the way of a distinguished and long-standing contributor to your own magazine! "Anti-Christian"? that epithet has never occurred to me in reading Gottfried's work. "nothing to say"? I think Prof. Gottfried has an enormous amount to say, and will continue to be a source of enlightenment for many of us until his death - which I hope is many years away.

Leon Haller

papabear said...

I don't know what has happened. It seems that it is a sad thing, a division between the two having occurred somehow. But I also read that there was a split between Drs. Gottfried and Ryn...