Can National Conservatism Threaten the Regime?
Last week the Edmund Burke Foundation played host to the third annual National Conservative Conference in Miami, Florida, bringing together several of the preeminent political and intellectual leaders in the contemporary Right. Organized by Yoram Hazony, this year’s natcon brought together diverse segments of a conservative movement that has been transformed globally by a modern age of populist politics and the external threats posed by covid tyranny, the Great Reset, and the rising tide of militant cultural leftism.
Among the presenters at this year’s event were scholars associated with the Mises Institute, including associated scholars Jason Jewell and Paul Gottfried, and our friend Daniel McCarthy, vice president of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, who was the keynote speaker at the Mises Institute’s recent Libertarian Scholars Conference. The three joined Eugene Meyer for a panel on the failures of 1960s fusionism, with Gottfried noting some of Murray Rothbard’s criticisms that the National Review’s intellectual project, which sacrificed domestic concerns in favor of aggressive anticommunism abroad, was a betrayal of the American Right.
While this was the only panel to explicitly reference Austrian scholarship, a Rothbardian-like reckoning of the failures of the modern conservative movement hung over much of the event. Michael Anton of the Claremont Institute offered an “apology” to libertarians for not taking past concerns about the Patriot Act seriously and called for tearing down the modern American security state—including “breaking up the CIA,” “dissolving or reigning in the FBI,” and eliminating FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) courts, which have served as rubber stamps for a regime whose focus has increasingly turned away from the Middle East and toward Middle America.
Anton’s mea culpa to “libertarians” was one of the rare occasions where the L word wasn’t used as a slur at the event.
[Also Read: To Stop the Left, America Needs a Rothbardian Right]
While Edmund Burke’s name was featured on the backdrop of natcon stages, it is the work of James Burnham that perhaps has most inspired the ideas on display. In particular, his books The Machiavellians and The Managerial Revolution are near-essential reading for keeping up with postevent discussions with attendees.
Grounded in Burnham’s appreciation for power-elite analysis is a recognition that politics in action simply doesn’t resemble the liberal concept of democratic theory. American institutions are not governed by democracy but instead by the ideology of a professional political class that is willing to ignore, neuter, and, if necessary, prosecute an elected president serious about disrupting their grand designs. This includes American corporate power that rather than being checked by the “democracy of the market,” has itself been captured by the managerial class, putting its ideological pursuits over profit.
As such, national conservatism does not simply scoff at libertarian notions of a hands-off approach to corporate power but criticizes the classical liberal notions of politically “neutral” institutions. The final speaker, evangelical theologian Albert Mohler, ended the event with a powerful attack on the very concept of secularism.
A consistent message of natcon was that a government not grounded explicitly in Christian values will devolve into a government expressing far more sinister beliefs, explaining how America now has a presidential administration that actively demands the celebration of child mutilation and sterilization.
These aspects of the
Article from Mises Wire