From the National Conservatism Conference 11/12

Peter Thiel on what ails us; and I still prefer Paul Ryan to the NatCons

You can watch Peter Thiel here. Recommended. One takeaway is that we need to steer between excessive dogmatism and excessive skepticism. Think of the former as an information space that is too intolerant of alternative points of view. Think of the latter as an information space that is chaotic, with crazy ideas and misinformation rampant. He argues that much of the talk these days is about misinformation, but in fact we are suffering from excess dogmatism. He says that the Ministry of Truth is today the biggest problem. He gives several examples, including the public health leaders.

Feel free to search YouTube for “National Conservatism Conference 2021” for other speakers.

Critical Race Theory is the bogeyman at the conference, and you can wonder why it belongs in the center of political debate, as opposed to a separate culture war. But Christopher Rufo argues that it is the Federal government that injected CRT into the national bloodstream in the first place. He points to government support for CRT trainers, activist organizations, and academics. And consider how often organizations hire DEI consultants and administrators as a way to ward off or innoculate themselves against a Civil Rights investigation.

Christopher DeMuth says that a NatCon is a conservative who has been mugged by reality. That justifies the way he and the rest of the movement have jettisoned some traditional conservative positions.

Actually, the best articulation of National Conservatism that you can find is not at the conference, but instead in a guest post on the Bari Weiss substack, by Peter Savodnik. I recommend his entire essay, but I will note this sound bite he gives from Arizona Republican Blake Masters.

“I think the America First (Trump 2016 agenda) camp is ascendant, and trying to return to Paul Ryanism is a dead end. But it’s going to be a fight.”

I passed on going to the conference. I wrote in Paul Ryan’s name when I voted for President in 2016, and I have no regrets.

The conference shows that NatCon is struggling to define itself. Will the common hatred of CRT fuse a movement the way that anti-Communism fused conservatism 60 years ago?

My impression is that NatCon equals 20th century conservatism minus fiscal responsibility plus class warfare rhetoric. This approach is politically advantageous in the short run. But I think it amounts to countering a dangerous and misleading political left with a dangerous and misleading political right. Whatever short-run advantage it might give conservatism, beyond that the outlook is not good.