by PAUL COLLITS – IT IS axiomatic in political and ideological warfare that when they all are coming after you with spittle-flecked invective, it means they fear you.
It means you have something to offer which they do not want others to catch on to. The latest public figure to attract the ire of this motley crew is JD Vance.
JD Vance transitioned last year from best-selling author of Hillbilly Elegy (2016) to junior Senator for Ohio. He has recently given a speech at the NatCon (National Conservative) conference in the UK.
Hillbilly Elegy’s sub-title is A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. The book was made into a film directed by Ron Howard.
It is a heartfelt, at times gut-wrenching, personal memoir and social commentary, set largely in rural Ohio.
It lays out the opioid crisis and the broader problem of drug addiction, as well as the strife associated with single parent families and with entrenched, inter-generational poverty, and the backstories that led to these debilitating problems in the forgotten communities of “flyover country”.
It resembles the Fishtown of Charles Murray’s Coming Apart (2012). It could be just about any country town in Australia.
Vance’s book reveals a crisis among the community that is now considered beyond the pale and which garners zero interest from the insider class as a victim group – the white working class. But the book is also about the American dream – that was.
Then we move to political theory.
A matter of weeks ago Vance gave a speech at the Catholic University in Washington DC. There he said: “There is no meaningful distinction between the public and the private sector in the United States of America.”
Here is a fuller quotation: “One of the really bad hangovers from that uni-Party that Patrick [Deneen, referred to below] talked about is this idea that there is this extremely strong division between the public sector and the private sector. You know, the public sector is the necessary evil of government.
“We want to limit it as much as possible, because to the extent that we don’t limit it, it’s going to do a lot of terrible things. And then you have the private sector, that which comes from spontaneous order. It’s organic. It’s very Burkean.
“And we want to let people do as much free exchange within that realm as possible. And the reality of politics as I’ve seen it practiced, the way that lobbyists interact with bureaucrats interact with corporations, there is no meaningful distinction between the public and the private sector in the American regime.
“It is all fused together, it is all melded together, and it is all, in my view, very much aligned against the people who I represent in the State of Ohio.
“I will give you a couple of examples here. One, when I talk to sort of more traditionalist economic conservatives, what Patrick would call economic liberals, when I talk to these guys about, for example, why has corporate America gone so woke, I see in their eyes this desperate desire to think that it’s all just coming from the [Securities and Exchange Commission].
“That there are a couple of bad regulations at the SEC, and that in fact [BlackRock CEO] Larry Fink would love to not be a super woke driver of American enterprise, and that Budweiser has no desire to put out a series of advertisements that alienate half their customer base.
“They’re just being forced to do it by evil bureaucrats. And there is an element of truth to that. The element of truth is that the regime is the public and private sector.
“It’s the corporate CEOs, it’s the HR professionals at Budweiser, and they are working together, not against one another, in a way that destroys the American common good. That is the fact that we are dealing with.”
And have they come after him since! For daring to question the sacred “public/private partnership”, AKA Globo-cap, Mr Global, globalism, new world order, crony capitalism, or corporatist fascism. And various other “sins”.
The Leftist Guardian wields the baseball bat, casting Vance as a far “right-winger” (of course).
JD Vance, accused of pushing white-supremacist “replacement” theory, to appear alongside senior Tories at NatCon.
Replacement theory is something I have been writing on, without ever having heard it called this.
As per The Guardian: “Vance’s full-throated defence of Trump after the jury’s verdict provoked ire among the former president’s many critics.
“So ahead of Trump’s appearance on CNN, we get to watch JD Vance – a man who has pushed conspiracy theories and the white supremacist ‘Great Replacement’ – come on live and do a friendly, pre-game chat,” MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan said on Twitter.
“The normalization of extremism and conspiracism continues.”
During the 2022 mid-term election, Vance was indeed denounced for accusing Democrats of attempting to “transform the electorate” and warning of an immigrant “invasion”.
“You’re talking about a shift in the democratic makeup of this country that would mean we never win, meaning Republicans would never win a national election in this country ever again,” Vance told voters last April.
Vance’s comments were interpreted by self-proclaimed “experts” as a clear endorsement of the racist “replacement” conspiracy theory.
To me, it is simply a plausible hypothesis, backed up by some persuasive evidence, that the ideological purpose of supporting mass immigration is to change the country, to make whiteness a minority cohort, and to harvest migrant votes. Peter Hitchens outed the Blairites for this very act in his 2022 Scruton lecture. [see video below]
This is pol sci 101, not conspiracism.
Then we come to David French, the establishment Republican from central casting, who opined in the New York Times: “This is how the Right lays the predicate for even more comprehensive State control of the private sector, including plowing through constitutional limitations on State authority.”
French is an old National Review journalist, who became briefly famous when tapped to run against Trump in 2016.
He was a leader of the Right-of-centre “Never Trumpers”, a very sad group of insiders who mistook the establishment for conservatism.
Especially sad in view of the fact that NR was founded in the 1950s by the legendary WF Buckley Jr, a man who knew what conservatism was, and why we have it.
Then we come to the libertarians, who loathe Vance more than most do. The reasons why libertarians take up arms against Vance can readily be seen in his 2019 NatCon speech.
In sum: “What I’m going after is the view that so long as public outcomes and social goods are produced by free individual choices, we shouldn’t be too concerned about what those goods ultimately produce.
“For example, in Silicon Valley, it is common for neuroscientists to make much more at technology companies like Apple and Facebook – where they quite literally are making money addicting our children to devices and applications that warp their brains – than neuroscientists who are trying to cure Alzheimer’s.
“I know a lot of libertarians will say, ‘that is the consequence of free choices’, or ‘that is the consequence of people buying and selling labor on an open market and so long as there isn’t any government coercion in that relationship, we shouldn’t be so concerned about it’.
“But what I’m arguing is that conservatives should be concerned about it. We should be concerned that our economy is geared more toward developing applications than curing terrible diseases. We should care about a whole host of public goods, and should actually be willing to use politics and political power to accomplish some of those public goods.”
Reason magazine is the bible of American libertarianism, of the purest of the pure minimal statists for which any form of government intervention is a step too far.
The author referred to Vance and colleagues as “post-liberal authoritarians”.
This is a bit rich coming from the heart of the US libertarian movement, which has been so prominent among the totalitarian COVID class these past years.
No ludicrous public health intervention or crushing of liberty was too much for many of them. Their meagre support for the need to counter Vance is as follows: “The Post-Liberal Authoritarians Want You To Forget That Private Companies Have Rights.”
Really? This is the straw man fallacy, expressed in an asinine, undergraduate manner. No one I know denies that private companies have rights.
What deplorables question is the claimed right of corporations – we love small businesses, the true exemplars of market forces – to run our lives and to run the world, all the while doing massive harm and infringing our freedom.
Appropriating the (policy-making) job of elected governments, while themselves being utterly unaccountable to anyone, it seems, other than similarly unelected, woke trollers on social media.
They certainly aren’t accountable to their customers or their shareholders. If corporations stayed in their lane, maybe those like Vance would be more sympathetic to their “rights”.
The Reason author (Stephanie Slade) simply doesn’t get the fact that corporates can be threats to individual freedom. Especially now. This is the libertarian fallacy.
Next, the National Catholic Reporter, or the National Fishwrap, as the estimable Fr Z calls it.
Vance’s crime for them is that he is the wrong sort of Catholic. He supports something they call “Christian nationalism”. Gives Catholicism a bad name!
The National Catholic Reporter writes: “Vance’s fraudulence is discerned in the fact that while he celebrates Catholicism as a vehicle for his sociocultural vision, he departs from the teaching of the Church on a host of issues, from immigration to labor rights to climate change.”
Far right? Of course! May as well invoke the little Austrian dictator. If the semi-literate author of this twaddle thinks that his own lunatic visions of (say) mass immigration and climate hysteria are “teachings of the Church”, well, he had better go back to Aquinas and Augustine, and steer well clear of the theologically bereft current occupant of the papacy.
The Church has no “teachings” on these matters. They are merely the ideologically driven musings of Vatican bureaucrats and megaphone wielding, heterodox prelates.
The irony is that Vance is no Right winger on economics (as Reason never fails to point out) and would have much sympathy for Catholic social teaching.
In 2021, The Atlantic (the rag that wants us simply to “forgive” the COVID class for screwing us for three years) headlined an article as follows: “Instead of a truth-teller in his own community, Vance as a candidate has become a contemptible and cringe-inducing clown.”
Talk about a pile-on. Vance’s sin isn’t hard to find. He has been “endorsed by Trump”. And his Right-of-centre populism causes massive alarm. Two unforgivable sins for all of his various critics.
For his friends, Vance’s greatest virtue is that he annoys the right people. Big time. And who doesn’t want to annoy the hell out of Atlantic-Guardian-progressives, “go start your own Google” libertarians, establishment Republicans and Leftie, Vatican II Catholics?
It so happens that Vance’s fresh brand of what might best be termed “mainstreet conservatism” has some intellectual heft on side.
Not only has his team founded the excellent Compact magazine, but there are two new books on the way, Patrick Deneen’s Regime Change: Towards a Post-Liberal Future (July) and Sohrab Ahmari’s Tyranny Inc: How Private Power Crushed American Liberty, and What to Do About It (August).
On the Deneen book, Amazon summarises: “Classical liberalism promised to overthrow the old aristocracy, creating an order in which individuals could create their own identities and futures. To some extent it did – but it has also demolished the traditions and institutions that nourished ordinary people and created a new and exploitative ruling class. This class’s economic libertarianism, progressive values, and technocratic commitments have led them to rule for the benefit of the “few” at the expense of the “many,” precipitating our current political crises.”
The publisher’s notes on the Ahmari book sum up the argument: “Over the past two generations, US leaders deregulated big business on the faith that it would yield a better economy and a freer society. But the opposite happened. Americans lost stable, well-paying jobs, Wall Street dominated industry to the detriment of the middle class and local communities, and corporations began to subject us to total surveillance, even dictating what we are, and aren’t, allowed to think. The corporate titans and mega-donors who aligned themselves with this vision knew exactly what they were getting: perfect conditions for what Sohrab Ahmari calls ‘private tyranny’.”
No wonder the libertarians hate all this. The Left’s antagonism to someone shining a light on the downsides of corporate power is a little harder to fathom, but the progressives are no longer real (old style) Leftists.
Then we have Compact’s Matthew Schmitz: “Most fundamentally, the outcry showed how reluctant many remain to acknowledge the reality of our politics. Ideological combatants on both sides speak as if we face a great choice between socialism on the one hand and classical liberalism on the other. The reality is less dramatic. Whether a Republican or Democrat wins in 2024, the candidate will preside over a State that in important ways melds public and private power. Such an order is neither liberal nor socialist, but corporatist.”
Too many insiders who benefit from corporatist governance cannot stand to see powerful and articulate politicians and others saying loudly and compellingly that the regime from which they benefit is an emperor without moral clothes.
Vance also has serious alt-media firepower back-up in the form of one Tucker Carlson, freshly let loose from his corporate media shackles and from the Murdochs.
Many (though not all) of those who speak at the aforementioned NatCon conferences also have Vance’s back.
This cohort of truth-tellers-to-power are batting for the new outsiders in an age where no one else is. The unrepresented. Dare I say it, the voiceless.
This was always the Trump class, until he sold them out to the Fauci class in 2020 (perhaps despite his better instincts).
Tucker Carlson said (in his book, The Ship of Fools) that when the establishment sufficiently pisses off the outsider class, well, you get Trump.
Then the establishment turns on you, afresh. And it turns on your new champions, too.PC