This one has little connection to the previous two editions and wanders around rather aimlessly. It thus follows the long and ignoble tradition of declining sequel quality.

SP: I just read the first chapter of Liberty or Equality, and one thing that struck out to me was the visions people saw of Russian tyranny long before there was any revolution. One of the major points of the book was to discuss how democracy leads to tyranny, and there is an argument for that in the transition from the National Assembly Burke decried to the Jacobin Reign of Terror and Bonapartism he predicted as well as Weimar to Nazi Germany, but Russia seems the opposite. de Tocqueville contrasted America and Russia as the two major powers of the future based on opposite principles, with America the very image of Jacksonian democracy without any aristocracy in its history and overwhelming power of the public, and Russia the remaining outpost of absolute monarchy. Leddihn cites the godfathers of communism as hailing democratization and modernization as the stage before communism, but orthodox Marxism was disproven by history as only the most backward nations embraced communism and the most industrialized and democratic persisted in capitalism. Many paleos are of Catholic (or sometimes Orthodox) leaning and point out the religious and cultural decay of modernism as presaging despotism, but it is the (often undemocratic) Catholic and Orthodox nations that seem most prone to dictatorship (compare especially the colonies of Protestant vs Catholic nations, even within Canada). England is the wellspring of Protestantism in an anti-Catholic or Puritan form, as well as of Darwinism, materialism, utilitarianism and agnosticism. It is also the land of Bagehot’s Parliamentary supremacism. It never had an absolute monarch in the French model, with mere affection for Catholicism being sufficient to get the Parliament men riled with notions of oppression (you note the same paranoia in the Founding Fathers). England avoided the revolutions that afflicted Europe, with the closest exception being Cromwell, and while its retained monarch may be powerless, that is more than can be said for most European countries. Switzerland may have even greater claim to stability, as it has been a democracy (or a confederation of unusually direct democracies) for centuries. America is of course the offspring of the English and dominated by the Puritan and Quaker factions. In your discussion of anti-Americanism you note that Europe is “more American” than America, or more universalist. Your explanation is that it was conquered by America in WW2. There are of course some European countries that escaped any involvement in the war. Aside from the extinct authoritarian regimes of Spain and Portugal there are also Switzerland and Sweden. Sweden is to democratic leftists what Hong Kong or Singapore are to free-marketeers. Sweden is absolutely full of left wing (especially the kind of feminism ridiculed by Ilkka Kokkarinen) nonsense, so beloved by the citizens that it puts Canadian pride in their healthcare system and French pride in laicism to shame, yet Steve Sailer and Tyler Cowen both agree that is among the most functional states in the world. To me something seems seriously right about the anti-democratic/paleo narrative and at the same time seriously wrong. I will add the same for libertarianism, citing Clark and Nye.

MM:It was not just the war. Whiggery creeps in via many routes. In Sweden, especially, the connection between Protestantism and social democracy is very strong. Roland Huntford’s _The New Totalitarians_, from 1974, if you can get your hands on a copy, is a wonderful exploration of the Swedish model by a British reporter. Huntford describes many phenomena which in 1974 were limited to Sweden, and are now everywhere.

“To me something seems seriously right about the anti-democratic/paleo narrative and at the same time seriously wrong. I will add the same for libertarianism, citing Clark and Nye.”

I think your intuition on this is very sound. The temptation to conclude that *at least one* of these narratives must just be right is overwhelming. But it is an artifact of your democratic education.

But be careful with words like “absolute” and “dictator” – they often do not mean what you think they mean. As K-L points out, neither Louis XIV nor Salazar was a Stalin, or even a Hitler. (Even Hitler’s peacetime tyranny was quite tranquil, at least compared to Stalin’s.)

SP: Sweden seems to me so heavily Protestant and without the Episcopalian/Dissenter division that I think it would be hard to find the connection.

If the temptation to believe at least one is correct is an artifact of democratic education, are you suggesting that both are wrong? It would be odd if democratic education was causing people to believe an anti-democratic narrative.

Louis XIV was not a Stalin (he didn’t have the technology to be), nor was he King John of England. As for Hitler, from what I’ve read he thought that the turmoil going on in the Soviet Union had greatly weakened it and so his plan for reshaping Germany was to take place after he had been victorious at war. We might want to distinguish between rulers capable of remaking society and those that desire to. Mussolini aspired to totalitarianism but couldn’t really carry out his designs until the Salo Republic. In Bruce Bueno de Mesquita’s terms this would be the difference between the size of a leader’s surplus and how they choose to spend it.

I don’t usually think much of his commentary, but Michael “Buggy Professor” Gordon has in an MR comment more systematically examined the issue I was getting at:

MM: As Huntford points out – not quite in these terms – the Lutheran establishment in Sweden was in many ways a forerunner of our good old Cathedral. No quasi-Catholic high Churchmen there. And note that the Nobel Peace Prize is not a product of England or America, at least not directly. Obviously there is a lot of general 19th-century Protestant Anglophilia going on there, but there are indigenous factors that created a severe vulnerability to the bug. Possibly even the grim Swedish temperament.

It’s funny how easily demotists swallow the belief that one of their parties is basically right and the other is basically wrong, with its implication that mass delusion is alive and well and roaming the earth, but fail to consider the obvious explanation that they’re looking at a competing coinfection.

SP: I disagree that demotists generally agree one party is basically right and the other wrong. The arch-demotists are always going on about about moderates, centrism, bipartisanship and so on. Call it Broderism. The radicals at the fringes, who of course have much lower status, hates Broderists and hates them hard. This is somewhat similar to their universalist religious leanings, which claim that all religions claim part of the truth. Most of them don’t have a very high opinion of noisy atheists like Dawkins and Harris, who are apt to say that Third World countries are full of backward peoples following false religions. I am reminded of the earlier “anti-idiotarians” who wanted to denounce both the Falwells and the Sharptons. Just milquetoast moderate Kumbaya types for them!

MM: I disagree that the radicals at the fringes have much lower status. I live in one of the most fashionable parts of one of the most fashionable cities in the world. It strikes me that the radicals at the fringes have, if anything, higher status. Broderism is important, of course, but its penetration is very narrow. It is a Beltway phenomenon.

Nor is this a new phenomenon. I don’t know why my grandparents, Yiddish-origin Jews from the garment district, joined the CPUSA. But I do know that it gave them a circle of friends who were way, way, way out of their social league. In wealth, cultivation, habits, and basically every kind of status.

SP: Do you really think Counterpunch is more important than the NYT? That Kevin Carson has higher status than Thomas Friedman? I’d say he’s lower than Daniel Larison. When I’ve come across reviews at or I think to myself “These losers will never be anywhere near Roger Ebert or even those dipshits at the Escapist”. You talked about how Tom Hayden is an “elder statesmen”. He’s tried to win election at the federal level, but only served as a State Senator. Above the masses, sure, but the real elites don’t care about local politics.

MM: You’re thinking about the wrong kinds of people. Look at the Ayers circle in Chicago, for example. Or google “Frederick Vanderbilt Field.” Status? Thomas Friedman was certainly never married to Jane Fonda.

SP: Lots of bigwigs pay huge amounts of money just to be in the same room as Tom Friedman. So Hayden married Jane Fonda when she was a wacko, he’s still no Ted Turner. Ayers has been getting attention recently because of Obama, not the other way around. In what sense could Ayers be higher status than Obama?

MM: Social status. You do know who Ayers’ father is, right? These old networks of the ultra-rich still exist. And if you are laboring under the impression that “high society” is in any way, shape or form Republican, well…

SP: Billy Carter was related to a President, but he was still a loser. We’ve got actual data on political ideology and party affiliation by income. You can even look at the pictures:
I had been using the New York Times, Tom Friedman and Ted Turner as contrasts to support my point. None would accurately be described as “Republican”. They are establishment liberals. My point is that elites are more likely to be establishment liberals, and radicals are more likely to be frustrated losers of the type Keith Preston used to live with:

MM: Radicals are more likely to be losers. But winners are more likely to be radicals. And the latter is what matters.

SP: Do you mean to say that more than half of winners are radicals? That doesn’t seem to make any sense, as the Gelman graphs I just referenced showed Bush’s vote approaching 60% at the highest income levels. Because I’ve just cited evidence there you can know what I’m referring to and claim that it is either inaccurate or irrelevant. When you discuss radical winners your argument rests on assertions and anecdotes (which my reference of Preston would also fall under), I have only a hazy idea of what you’re getting at. Do you mean that losers are less likely than winners to be radicals? I suppose that might be true insofar as there are huge masses of losers and the masses do not have any coherent ideology (according to Converse).

MM: Income != status. Hint: if you are a celebrity, what kinds of events does your publicist want you to be seen at? Fundraisers for the beleaguered Afrikaners? Dinners honoring the US Special Forces? Operation Rescue sit-ins? I think not.

SP: If income is not status, what is? What is a better measurement? Also, none of your examples of non-fundraisers are establishment liberal (as opposed to radical) ones. It should be noted that many celebrities have participated in benefits “for the troops” and have gone over to Iraq for U.S.O type stuff. The most common fund raisers are for various diseases and, when they occur, natural disasters.

MM: Status is easy. Who wants to be whom. Who looks up to whom. Who looks down on whom.

Of course this can never be quantified. Lamppost fallacy – “condition of England.” You wonder why I think “social science” can jam itself up its own asshole and never be missed.

My grandfather could have made all the millions in the world in the garment industry (he didn’t), and my grandmother still would never have been on the Great Neck library committee. The friends they met through the Party were not just wealthier than them. They were classier. I inherited none of this status, obviously, but I did go to Brown. My roommate for a couple of months was Bill Getty. I live in zip code 94114. And I know whereof I freakin’ speak.

SP: Does Tom Friedman want to be Kevin Carson? Does Sulzberger want to be Cockburn? Does Roger Ebert want to be one of those Maoist or Trotskyist doofuses I linked to? Did you notice how as Obama rose in status he had to throw Reverend Wright under the bus?

MM: You’re thinking of intellectuals and politicians, respectively. I’m talking about social circles.

Another way to say it: did Obama throw the Woods Fund under the bus? How about Annenberg?

SP: Never heard of any of those before (which if we’re using celebrity as an indicator doesn’t say much for their status). Are they establishment liberal? If so, there’d be little reason to throw them under the bus.

MM: Google will definitely assist you in this quest.

Trust me, man, I know these people in my blood. Let’s take another example: Sundance. You’ve heard of Sundance, right? How many Republicans do you think are at Sundance? Or any film festival? Peoples’ level of “social consciousness” varies, but in any of these places, it is never, ever a sin to be too progressive. The converse is not the case.

Your sample set of leftists is extremely skewed because of your penchant for mavericks. Don’t think Kevin Carson. Think Utne Reader. Your intestines may be too delicate to allow you to make it through an issue of the Utne Reader – mine certainly are. But you should at least know of it.

SP: It’s been my experience that people explicitly asking for trust are the last ones it should be given to.

I think Clint Eastwood is still a respected person at Sundance, and he’s apparently a right-winger (though sometimes described as libertarian, he’ll happily say that Dirty Harry espoused an authoritarianism in response to the excesses of Warren Court sixties). He worked with Tim Robbins and Sean Penn on Mystic River, and by all accounts they didn’t mind being directed by someone whose politics were far to the right of theirs.

You call Kevin Carson a maverick. I call him a radical. That’s what he is. So are the folks at Stop Me Before I Vote Again. The reason they go off into unfashionable territory is precisely because they are radical. As the authors of “The Rebel Sell” noted of one professor, of course he was unfashionable, he’s a communist!

I’d like to pre-empt Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic in case you bring it up. I recall at the end of it they get mocked by establishment liberals, become embarrassed and start issuing denials.

MM: Don’t trust me, then. Trust the Utne Reader. Or Mother Jones. Go to a bookstore and have a look at them. If nothing else from the advertisements, you will see who they are aimed at.

[At this point boredom ensues and another conversational thread begins]

SP: Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn says that in America the parties and populace share enough of a common point of view that they appear to Europeans to be merely different wings of one party. With the exception of Switzerland, he compares the constitutions of European states to armistices. He says this in the present-tense and years after the second world war. You claim that politics is actually more uniform in Europe because it was conquered in WW2. From what I’ve heard of Europeans, they do tend to view our two parties as basically the same but occupying different wings. I don’t know much about common assumptions, but I’d say the absence of significant third parties (even in the UK the Lib Dems hold a number of seats and the BNP winning seats is a real possibility) makes a big difference.

MM: K-L was thinking of a very different Europe, when politics mattered. Even into the ’60s there were substantial populations of unreconstructed prewar voters. This is no longer the case, and European politics is almost entirely disconnected from government. For example, most European law is created in Brussels, and there is no
meaningful politics in Brussels.

SP: Earlier you said that the New Deal ended the awful politics (associated with patronage and machines) of the Constitutional and Unionist regimes. If all those developments preceded the creation of the EU shouldn’t we expect the U.S to be further along in depolitization? Or, how have Europeans been so able to depoliticize politics?

MM: Simple: the powers that be have never been powerful enough to give the US the full treatment they’ve given Europe. Note that there’s nothing like talk radio, for example, in Europe. There is a reason for this.

SP: That just begs the question why. If anything Europe has a larger population and so would require more power. You consider immigration and multiculturalism to be important tools of Universalists, and the U.S seems to have had more of both and for a longer time. Europe also had a strong Catholic church and many monarchies and aristocracies, which still have some faint presence today, but the U.S was without both since its founding.

MM: Um, Europe was invaded? 1945 and all that…

SP: But as we’ve already established, European politics was more fractious than American years after the war’s end and Universalism progressed especially far in Sweden, which never took part in the war. Even with England, “invaded” does not seem an appropriate term, the happy isle’s government has been protected by the channel since the Glorious Revolution. Finally, who is doing the invading? The United States, which is less Universalist than Europe today. Surely the U.S government exercises greater power and influence over itself than Europe. Additionally, there is a portion of the United States that was invaded and occupied by the United States. I speak of course of the southern confederate states, which are still its most reactionary region.

MM: Look at the leading indicator: media and universities. Where are the European right-wing media and universities? Oh, that’s right, there aren’t any. Except for the tabloids in the UK, thoroughly downmarket. The last remnants of the respectable, imperialist British right died at Suez in ’56. No points for figuring out who the killer was.

It took time for people to be reprogrammed, that’s all. What you’re not seeing is the enormous flood of peer pressure that resulted from the American ascendancy of 1945. Everyone wants to ride the winning horse. And the winner was clear well before ’45 – the Axis is best seen as a last-ditch rebellion against liberal Anglo-American ascendancy.

The hardest nut for Universalism to crack is America’s own homegrown high-school football megachurch reactionary tradition, which like most reactionary things is completely disorganized and of obscure origin. The rest of the world has already fallen. It’s just like the fact that the weirdest dialects of English are spoken in England itself – counterintuitive only if you don’t understand it.

But the nut is being crushed. It’s just a matter of time. The South is nowhere near as reactionary as it was a generation ago. No George Wallace, let alone a Vardaman, Bilbo or Long.

SP: I know England has several right-wing papers.The Daily Mail and Telegraph are both known as right-wing, Murdoch’s tabloids like the Sun are comparatively less political and I believe supported Tony Blair. What are the right-wing papers in the U.S? The O.C register and I suppose the editorial page of the WSJ, which is somewhere near the Economist. In the U.S, even in the south, universities are left-wing. I should also note that invariably when I read global warming skepticism from a paper, it’s from across the pond. They even produced the Great Global Warming Swindle, which I don’t think has aired over here.

“No points for figuring out who the killer was”
Enoch Powell? :)

I don’t think dialects are a good analogy. It just so happens that Razib has been discussing the repression of a belief system at his own blog:
The takeaway is that Protestantism retained more of its strength in regions that were late in falling under the control of the Hapsburgs. Austria and Italy, the twin sources of the Counter Reformation, are of course more Catholic than Transylvania.

If the “Long” you are referring to is Huey, note that he is considered by many to be to the left of FDR.

MM: Read about Suez. It’s important.

Of course there are reactionary pockets in Britain. The Daily Mail is a tabloid. The Telegraph is moderate-conservative, a la David Cameron. Like the Economist. The Monday Club was the last of it:

Huey Long was a leftist in the same way Hitler was a leftist. Socialist policies, sure. Socialist connections, no.

SP: Upon reflection, I can remember one right-wing American newspaper: The New York Post. I read the Daily Mail far more frequently despite it being from another country, and find it in every way more “respectable”. So the U.S does have an analogue to the Sun, but not the Mail or Telegraph. The U.S did bring to the world Fox News, but it’s also aired in the U.K as the sister station to Sky News (I don’t know what their political leanings are).

My knowledge of other countries is sketchier, but I know the French paper Le Figaro is right-wing and that the biggest media mogul in Italy was the right-wing prime minister.

I’d also be interested in your view of the non-European Anglosphere countries: Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Republic of Ireland. I know many participated in World War 2, but there is even less case for considering them invaded by America than for the U.K. Finland is also an interesting case in that it fought on the other side but was spared Allied occupation.

Huey Long was a New Deal Democrat but more radical (he is in part responsible for pushing the New Deal to the left). He denied being a socialist (unlike Hitler) and debated the leader of the Socialist Party to contrast their programs. His framing of his program did sound a lot like the “20th Century Americanism” gloss the communists liked to put on at the time though. You could argue that as a southerner he was part of a good-old-boys network of racists, but it was his opponents who compared themselves to the White League when they tried to remove him by force of arms. So explain to me in what way Huey Long was right-wing?

MM: Huey Long was right-wing in the same way that Hitler was right-wing: he was not part of the club.

You’re making the typical American mistake of thinking that “right” and “left” in terms of policies. Of course you can define the words any way you like, but this ends you up with historical nonsense, like deciding that Hitler was a leftist. No one, ever, in Hitler’s time, thought of him as a leftist. Moreover, if you define “right” and “left” as policies, you have to shift your center over time. Epicycles upon epicycles.

Leftism is a movement. Ie, a multigenerational social network of intellectuals. From Voltaire to Tom Hayden. If you are connected to this network, you are a leftist. If you are not, you are a rightist. Leftists have a special hate for movements which pretend to be leftist but really are not. They call them “fascist.” Huey Long was a
fascist. Basically, being a fascist or pseudo-socialist is like claiming to have gone to Harvard when you actually went to DeVry.

The social-network definition of “right” and “left” is much simpler and could probably actually be quantified or visualized, if one cared. Obviously I don’t.

The Daily Mail is an improvement on the Sun. It’s still a tabloid. Berlusconi’s stuff is, similarly, incredibly downmarket. Go to Italy sometime and watch a Berlusconi station. It makes Fox look sophisticated and intellectual. It’s for raving morons. There are certainly genuine right-wing intellectuals in Europe today, but every single one of them is sui generis. There is no movement – no rotating chains of parrots, as with the neocons in the US. That’s the

Do you read Powerline? The neocon organ quintessential. It doesn’t get better than Powerline. These guys are sharp. But they are part of an organization. They maintain message discipline. They are playaz. There is no European equivalent. Movement conservatism does not exist in Europe.

SP: I actually argued against “left” and “right” being meaningful earlier, but I think in the context of New Deal America there is general agreement that some people were on the right and some on the left, and Huey was left of FDR. It was his contemporaries that accused him of being a socialist while he presented himself as more moderate, but still on the left. Hitler was battling socialist parties in the streets while Long was debating the finer details of social reorganization with them. He explicitly criticized Hitler’s anti-semitism (even though he died years before he was designated our mortal enemy) and any mixing of religion with politics and despite being a southern politician did not demagogue the race issue, saying his plan was for all Americans regardless of race. He was actually relatively popular among blacks, which is why Huey Newton of the Black Panthers was named after him. Within the Democratic Party (where he didn’t stay a local hick in the sticks but was on the national stage in the Senate preparing to run for President) he supported FDR for nomination against his fellow southern Democrat Joseph Robinson. He also helped get the first woman elected to the Senate. He was not a militarist or known for a “law and order” appeal. There is just no sense in which he was a right-winger, which is why he was not considered to be one, but a left-wing Democrat. It is of course true that he was not an intellectual (though he wrote two books), but that standard would exclude most politicians including FDR. It’s also true that he was a southerner (though without the racial baggage or an association with the still prominent KKK), but so were LBJ, Carter and Clinton.

I’ve never been to Italy, but wouldn’t any station be a Berlusconi station? From what I heard he had a monopoly.

No, I’ve never been a reader of Powerline. I only read when others link to them and what I saw was uniformly idiotic, which is one reason I lost some respect for you when you said you used to be a reader. I’ve come to conclude that neo-conservatism spent itself in previous generations. I used to think that with more urbanites, secular folks and notoriously Jews the reason they came to dominate the right was because they were smarter, but any trace of that idea was completely shattered when I first saw Eli Lake on bloggingheads. I was positively embarassed to be sitting through it. I’m not sure if he completely qualifies as a neocon, but Jamie Kirchick is pretty damn close and I was disgusted watching him. They make Shikha Dalmia (who just managed to make herself look like the bad guy to a sympathetic audience arguing immigration with Mark Krikorian) look like Barack Obama. Like J-Pod, it would seem unfathomable for such people to have careers as intellectuals without somebody up high pulling the strings for them.

I’m not all that familiar with political scene in Europe, but I know they do have right-wing think tanks. The Adam Smith institute is European (though oddly a big bete noire of Kevin Carson), and even Sweden has several expositors of free-markets. Since I generally read libertarian sites those are the ones I’m more familiar with, especially as the only American social conservative I know with any interest in European politics is Ross Douthat.

Europe has better than the equivalent of Powerline. I’ve read some of Paul Belien at the Brussels Journal, and it’s FAR superior to Auster. For the equivalent of Powerline, there’s Samizdata, but of course I don’t read them much.

MM: All of this is true. But the one thing Long didn’t have was friends at Harvard. That’s why he’s so often described as a fascist:

Long used the same techniques of massive vote-buying as FDR, but the power went to him and his cronies, not university intellectuals. Big difference.

Italian TV is either the government (RAI) or Berlusconi. Not much of a choice. But not a monopoly, exactly. And no, just because Berlusconi is PM doesn’t mean he can tell RAI what to show.

There are a couple of little think tanks in Europe. Nothing like a movement. Belien is his own man.

You can claim that because of WW2 a lot of FDR results are about that, but at the same time Huey Long’s famous quote about how fascism would come to America gets a lot of results. The Trotskyists of the Fourth International blame Long’s reputation on one of the “I’ll Take My Stand” Southern Agrarians.

Long also had Harvard friends, but I have to question your holding him up as an exemplary southern reactionary on the basis of having friends at Harvard. Does a modern day politician like Trent Lott have so many more that he pales in comparison to Long? And by this standard shouldn’t Abe Lincoln and Jimmy Carter be reactionaries and George W. Bush a progressive?

Regarding power, didn’t FDR seize a lot of power for himself, like Huey Long? And what did he do to empower Harvard?

What is it that constitutes a movement if think tanks and media organs do not suffice? Also, Belien is a member of the Hudson Institute and is married to a member of the Belgian parliament. That seems more connected than someone like Auster, who claims the only party platform he has endorsed is that of the BNP. And speaking of the BNP, it seems to me that “fascist” parties like it, Le Pen’s National Front, Alessandra Mussolini’s various parties and Jorg Haider’s Austrian Freedom Party have had a lot more success than any equivalent in America. At the same time it is true that Europe has prominent socialist parties well before America invaded, but America has always been free of them.

Ed Glaeser suggests in Why Doesn’t the U.S. Have a European-Style Welfare State? that differences in racial homogeneity are responsible (along with a large number of other factors, oddly enough including Protestantism). Earlier in The Los Angeles Riot and the Economics of Urban Unrest Glaeser argued that urban density (which is higher in Europe than America) facilitates riots and rebellions by the poor. Acemoglu has a similar idea in A Basic Theory of Democracy and Dictatorship. In Myths and Realities of American Political Geography Glaeser argued that in the U.S having different groups live together at high density urban areas led to social liberalism, which might apply less to Europe due to homogeneity but I still think is a plausible factor. There are lots of other papers you can find at Glaeser’s page, but those were the ones I found most relevant. Finally, the U.S has never had an established church, and as Daniel Chen argues in the Political Economy of beliefs, that led the religious to become fiscal conservatives.

MM:*didn’t* have. For the opposite, Google “brain trust.”

As for Europe, it’s a matter of scale. The scale in the US is largely created by (a) right-wing foundations, (b) a right-wing middle class with some intellectual pretensions, and (c) some level of political legitimacy which is permitted to non-liberal politics. Another good example: the Federalist Society.

How many Paul Beliens are there in the world? One. One is not a movement.

SP: Oh, Lordy, a Senator from Louisiana without a “brain trust”, such a reactionary occurrence is unimaginable today! What sort of troglodytes did he plan on having in his cabinet if he reached the White House? FDR was to be secretary of the navy. Secretary of War would be Smedley Butler, a member of the same “communist front” your grandfather gave his speech in and hero among the left to this day for saving us from the fascist coup against FDR in the “business plot”. Secretary of State would be William E Borah, so notoriously pro-Soviet (he pushed for recognition of their regime when the government was still hoping the White Army would win) that anyone could freely travel through the U.S.S.R if they merely possesed a letter from him. His attorney general was the same guy FDR appointed to the position four years after Long died and eventually to the Supreme Court.

You’ve recommended the show “Yes, Minister”, and one of the episodes is entitled “The Great Middle Class Ripoff”. There the middle-class is identified with the opera-watching rich who quash the Labor Minister’s attempt to hand out goodies to the poor.

I don’t really know if there is an analogue to the Federalist Society in any European countries, but I do know the courts are less important there than here, which would make it a lot less necessary to have one in the first place.

When I looked at the front page of Brussels Journal, none of the posts were from Paul Belien. I counted about nine authors. It’s not just some dude like Auster (I think there are other guys like Kalb that started VFR, but they aren’t there anymore). They aren’t even all from the same country, which I think makes it more impressive. There isn’t much intermingling between the right in America and Canada, and they share the same language and a huge border.

MM: A political machine isn’t measured in the number of unpaid bloggers Paul Belien can get to post on his aggregator. It’s measured in jobs, publications, etc. By this level, the ratio of the size of the European right to the size of the American right is comparable to the ratio of the American right to the American left. Ie: negligible.

Again: what matters is the social networks. Until you can see power in social-network terms, you are looking at illusions. In Burnham’s terms – see the fragment of _The Machiavellians_ that I posted – you are looking at the formal meaning, rather than the actual meaning. When you look at the formal meaning, your perception of the patterns
is completely inaccurate. This is why there is a formal meaning. It’s camouflage.

The real battle in American politics in the first half of the 20th century was between the corrupt ward-heelers, bosses and plutocrats, and the Progressives. Ie, between practical politics and religious politics. FDR’s victory represents the alliance of the ward-heelers and the Brahmins, tossing aside the plutocrats – eg, Liberty League.

The ward-heelers were tricked, they quickly discovered, because in the New Deal Washington made the decisions as to where the money hoses were pointed. Long was a ward-heeler who refused to play along with this game. He built his own competing machine, using the techniques of FDR. He was assassinated. Coincidence? Possibly. But certainly thinking of the ’30s in Sopranos terms draws by far the most convincing picture for me. 1930s politics was not a philosophical conversation.

SP: Does Auster get paid to post at his blog (I actually have no idea what he does for a living)? Do the Powerline guys? As I mentioned, Europe does have right-wing mainstream publications. America has the NY Post and NY Sun (I guess I’d forgotten it despite mentioning two of its writers because of how insignificant it is), but the conservative movement could do without them. If Berlusconi has a monopoly, however low-brow that sounds like plenty of jobs (and under demotism isn’t appealing to the lowest-common denominator the source of power?). I think when it comes to explicitly political (generally money-losing) magazines and organizations the American right outflanks the left. You’ll of course respond that the universities and mainstream media (Fox excepted) are left, which I won’t dispute. However, you also said that the agricultural sector, oil/energy and defense are similarly right-wing, and I think those make for more jobs.

That chapter from Burnham was pretty lame, as many of the comments at your post complain. It leaves no basis to actually say anything. I’m comfortable with some variants of Straussianism that claim meanings were obscured, but I don’t trust any interpretations the Straussians have dished out and find them to be among the most untrustworthy folks around.

How different were Long and FDR? Both were lawyers, although FDR was a corporate one whereas Long went to trial and was called by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court one of the best legal minds he encountered. FDR was in the New York Senate and then became governor of the state. Long was a governor and then U.S Senator. He was actually opposed in Louisiana by the old bosses and machines. In what sense did he refuse to play along with the New Deal game or compete with it? And if the local rabble-rousers ceased mattering, what’s the deal with Saul Alinsky, one of whose acolytes is about to ascend to the White House? Why is there so much pork and why did so much of the New Deal consist of Long-esque local/regional public works projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority?

[another thread opens up which is carried on simultaneously but here will be presented as if it was combined with the other one]

I was struck by something as I read the next chapter of Liberty or Equality. The stuff about patriarchy and feminity was another thing, but you’ve declined to discuss that. Erik states that in the monarchical or aristocratic era intellectuals (such as Voltaire, the Tom Hayden of the ancien regime) were far more influential than in modern democracies or republics. He also tries to argue in favor of monarchy by pointing to all the intellectuals who were royalists compared to the paltry few democratists. Under your theory of course modern democracies are dominated by Brahmin intellectuals, and it is they who pushed for democracy in the first place. So what’s the deal? Is it good individually for intellectuals to bring about democracy but bad for them as a class? Or is Erik merely speaking of prominent intellectuals while our managerialist system is dominated by nameless drones without intellectual influence but not delegated authority?

MM: Alinsky has nothing at all to do with the old boss system. Google “Richard Croker” for an example. And there’s always Boss Tweed. Long was not the old machine, he made his own machine. But he was not part of the Progressive program. That’s what counts.

The agricultural sector, etc, do not employ many propagandizing intellectuals.

Have you ever heard of the Heritage Foundation? Or the Manhattan Institute? Or even Cato? Where are their European equivalents? Auster is a lone wacko. The Powerline guys are part of a movement. Yes, the neocons exist.

The Berlusconis of the world have votes and nothing else. Basically, proles on whom the indoctrination hasn’t taken. That aspect of the European right is almost completely nonintellectual. Nor can it gain real power, even if it wins elections. Berlusconi’s crap is all cosmetic. He is no Mussolini.

Simple. There were far fewer intellectuals, so each one was far more influential.

Moreover, they were far more independent. The freethinkers of the 18th century, and most of the 19th, were essentially free from all institutional ties.

SP: Alinsky wasn’t part of some nineteenth-century Tammany Hall, but he followed the same pattern of gathering local support and riling it up, starting with the CIO in Back of the Yards Chicago in the 30s. Not only didn’t he look to the DC spigot for answers, he thought it was actually impossible to accomplish anything inside the system. He also said “Asking a sociologist to solve a problem is like prescribing an enema for diarrhea” and when organizing a slum against the University of Chicago “All the university needed to do to knock me out of action effectively was to issue a statement welcoming me to the neighborhood and hailing me as an illustrious alumnus. Instead, their spokesmen blasted hell out of me as a dangerous and irresponsible outside agitator, and all the Chicago papers picked up the cue and denounced me as a kind of latter-day Attila the Hun”.

If the New Deal/Progressives are distinguished by attacking the old machine/boss system and that’s what Long did, how was he not part of the Progressive program? Look at the cabinet appointments he said he’d make as President, it’s chock full of undisputed Progressives.

You’re right that the ag-sector doesn’t have many propagandists, it hardly needs them. But you said unpaid bloggers don’t count and jobs do.

Europe has the Adam Smith Institute, Liberte cherie, Hayek Institute and others. I’m not sure which country Bureaucrash is from, but they’re definitely continental Europeans. Those are all libertarian type organizations, which I’m more likely to read about. An Austrian conservative here seems to be saying that there is also traditional de Maistre type conservatism in Europe and that the conservative movement there is much like that of America:

Are the Powerline guys unpaid bloggers or are they not? According to Wikipedia they’re lawyers. Paul Belien apparently makes a living as a political intellectual.

If having uneducated proles support in a democracy isn’t power, what is? What did Mussolini have that Berlusconi doesn’t? I’m not accusing him of being Mussolini, but when you say “he’s no Mussolini” I’d like to know what’s the big difference.

When I read people like Swift or Burke, they definitely seem to view “freethinkers” and “freethought” not as a bunch of independent folks but a well-defined doctrine that harbored nothing but ill.

MM: Alinsky was part of the progressive movement, Long wasn’t. It’s as simple as that. I strongly recommend William Allen White’s personal history of the transition from Gilded Age to Progressive Era, _Masks in a Pageant_ (also recommended by David Mamet). I think Flynn’s _Roosevelt Myth_ has a good bit on the FDR-Long relationship. What politicians say is of no importance at all.

When an Alinsky criticizes the “establishment,” he is criticizing older and more conservative parts of that same movement. Maoists of the ’60s adopted the same language. In many cases, they were attacking the same people that George Wallace was. But from the other direction. It does not change the fact that both old-line liberals and Maoist hippies were part of the progressive tradition. The thing is constantly eating itself.

By jobs I meant “paid intellectuals.” There are roughly six paid conservatives in continental Europe. Perhaps as many as fourteen in the UK. These numbers are approximate.

The old European right is dead. Read Rene Remond’s history of the French right – absolutely classic. Barely a trace of it exists today. Or try Ernst von Salomon’s memoir. Now there’s a European rightist. Or just google: Falange, Action Francaise, Stahlhelm…

Mussolini had pretty much unchallenged control of the Italian state. Berlusconi is more or less an American style figurehead. Mussolini would have laughed at his cosmetic troop deployments and fingerprinting campaigns.

The Powerliners are not paid to blog. They’re lawyers. But they are part of a (neo-) conservative Washington establishment. It is not large, but it exists.

By “independent,” all I mean is that the Enlightenment was not an institutional movement. Ie, these people were not professors. It was still a movement.

You have your early Burke and your late Burke. Don’t forget, he was a Whig who defected. Josiah Tucker (Dean Tucker), who was never a Whig, is a useful corrective:

SP: Alinsky and Long were fairly similar in the 30s. Both were building support out of the white working-class (in a specific neighborhood for Alinsky, statewide and building toward nationally for Long) by getting them pissed at the rich and the establishment of machine bosses. The difference is that Long actually held office and thought it was necessary to go further than most other liberals, whereas Alinsky never joined any organization (even the ones he created!) and didn’t think it was impossible to accomplish anything from inside the government. Long was older and got shot whereas Alinsky lived long enough to tell the New Left they were forgetting the lessons of the 30s.

When Long was criticizing the “establishment” wasn’t he also criticizing the older and more conservative parts of the movement? And his criticism was from the left. I’m not the one who edited his Wikipedia entry to say that. His criticism of the New Deal was that it didn’t go far enough and often represented a sop to big business diguised as relief for the poor in order to distract them from demanding real reform. Sounds like Alinsky to me, except for the envisioning of real reform in the form of Share Our Wealth. Can you show me where Long took any of the reactionary stands that Wallace did? You said that the South today does not have any reactionary comparable to Long, but they’re still uttering clear heresies from the Universalist creed, and I don’t know where Long ever did that. Show me a comparison of Long and Trent Lott where Long was to the right.

A lot of the rightist groups you name sound like paramilitaries. What’s the U.S equivalent, the KKK? A group of losers who after they lost a war proceeded to form such a screwed up group it dissolved itself repeatedly and exists only in fragments now, with most dues-paying members working for the Feds or media?

I thought Mussolini didn’t really have complete authority until the Salo Republic, where he was backed by the German military rather than an Italian political coalition that required not pissing important people off. It was because he pissed people off that he was overthrown and had to be reinstated by the Germans (though he wound up overthrown for good and strung up later).

So the Powerline guys don’t get paid to blog but to do lawyerly stuff, while Belien does seem to earn a living as a political intellectual. But the Powerline guys are connected to some people in the capital city, whereas Belien is married to a sitting member of Parliament. So where in the comparison is it Belien that comes off looking like some individual in his pajamas?

Adam Smith and Berkeley were professors. Descartes was one at least for some time. Hume tried to become one several times, but was only accepted as a librarian. Liebniz was offered such a position but declined, as did Spinoza. Many of them had royal patrons, and that’s hardly independent. However, all that sounds like what you’d call “formal meaning”, which we’re supposed to ignore. Isn’t the connection from Voltaire to Hayden the “real meaning”?

Speaking of the old Whigs, an argument about their role as court or country party has reignited at The Art of the Possible:
I haven’t actually read the Daniel Larison bit that one of the commenters suggests, though I had planned on doing so back before his blog got absorbed by AmConMag.

MM: Again, all the methods you’re using can be used to compare Long and Hitler as well as Long and Alinsky. If you have a model that tells you that Hitler was a leftist, or that Hitler was on the same side as Alinsky, your model is wrong. It’s like if you’re doing a physics problem, you cancel your variables out, and you get the answer 0 = 1. You don’t really conclude that 0 = 1. You conclude that you’ve done something wrong.

The reason it is difficult to analyze these historical cases is that all three of the above – Alinsky, Hitler and Long – were professional liars. They made a career out of projecting reality distortion fields. You – and Jonah Goldberg – are being caught in these ghost fields from the past. Hitler’s party was called the NSDAP because it was tactically effective to present it as a workers’ movement. It *was* a workers’ movement. The white working-class was its backbone. But it was not part of the Left – that is, the international socialist movement – and it never claimed to be.

It’s just a matter of reality that there is a right-wing establishment in Washington. And that there is none in Belgium. For example, being a right-wing (or left-wing) MP in any European parliament means absolutely jack – it is not comparable to Congress, with its committee system, in which any seniority at all entitles you to earmarks etc.
MPs have no power and do nothing. Besides maintaining the illusion of democracy, of course.

So, for example, the Powerliners don’t have government jobs. But because there is a Republican establishment, it needs lawyers. Who do they hire? Democrats?

Oh, sure, there was all kinds of patronage. But these guys got to where they were because they wrote well and people wanted to read them. Not because they were awarded institutional credentials and passed muster with a faculty committee. To the extent that there was a party line, it was mostly on religious issues. That’s what I mean
by “independent.”

Carson’s radical American revolution, like Rothbard’s, is sanitized beyond recognition. Many of the American Jacobin mobs were just as crazy as their French counterparts, and a serious menace. Try Beveridge’s biography of Marshall –


or Bailyn’s _Ideology of the American Revolution_. Sure, these people were radical. They were also unscrupulous, insane, ignorant, larcenous, moronic, and sometimes all five.

His identification of Bolingbroke and the Levellers is also crazed. As the commentators point out. British factional politics of the 18th century were extremely turbulent and devious and I am hardly an expert in them, but this is libertarian presentism over the top.

Also, all this talk about the “slaveocracy” is laughable. If the Slave Power really had dominated the Union, tax revenue would have flowed from North to South rather than the other way around. Money doesn’t lie. The alliance between Northern and Southern Democrats managed to install some presidents and justices, and keep the South
mostly safe from Northern predation for a temporary period of time.

See David Brion Davis’ _Slave Power Conspiracy_ – a respectable modern work. See also this, the best discussion I’ve seen of the 1860-61 crisis (it’s a PhD thesis from Columbia in the 1920s):

and this, which I think I’ve sent you before:

Note that the latter was published in Boston in 1866. Yikes. I definitely would not have wanted to be Mr. Lunt for a few months there.

What you’re seeing at Carson’s site is just more leftists trying to wriggle around the uncomfortable fact that right is right and left is wrong.

SP: I don’t care much about whether Hitler was “left” or “right”. I don’t think the terms are all that meaningful when applied across countries and time periods. I don’t take it as an axiom that Hitler was not left, as you seem to do with your 0 = 1 thing. To me much of that is the legacy of progressive and communist historical distortion where they seek to put themselves in opposition to Hitler, who is supposed to be the ultimate bad. Things like progressive infatuation with eugenics (or the ties between abolitionism, female suffrage and prohibition) along with the Hitler-Stalin pact (during which Stalinists went after Alinsky with posters saying “This is the face of a warmonger”) or the periods when Mussolini or Chiang were considered reds in good standing (or when Joseph McCarthy sought communist support against Bob LaFollete) go down the memory hole.

We do know that Hitler was very opposed to the Bolsheviks. Although they couldn’t get their act together to unite against him, both the Communists and Social Democrats (or “Social Fascists” to the communists) were opposed to him. What were his sins? Like Mussolini before him, he rejected internationalism for nationalism. Rather than class struggle they wanted to unite the classes through their national bond. Nazi propaganda explicitly stated that “workers” were not proletarians or farmers, but merely those who were not “parasites”. His problem with capitalism was its internationalist and Jewish character. There was a left-wing of the party that wanted the more radical reforms we expect from communists, but they were put down as Hitler didn’t want to weaken his country like Russia had (to a lesser degree than was his belief). He also received support from the right, which thought he would be easily manipulable and was their only bulwark against the communists. Mussolini similarly rose to power by turning on his old syndicalist friends and crushing the worker occupations of factories. They are credited with bringing about full employment, but the primary way in which they did that was holding down wages. Their backbone was not the working class, which generally went left (their whiteness is irrelevant, since that describes the entire electorate) but the petit bourgeouis. Both Mussolini and Hitler were militarists who thought that in war a country was at its most dynamic. Additionally they thought it was right for their countries to have the spoils of war and expansion that they had missed out on in the colonial era. Now where in there do you see similarities with Huey Long? He was not part of some seperate party claiming to be socialist, he was on the left wing of the basically social-democratic party in America fending off accusations of socialism. In a state where the Ku Klux Klan was a major force he declined to use race rather than class as a divide and possibly lost his first election for that reason. He didn’t put down workers causing disunity but threatened the government with what they would do if their demands (i.e his program) weren’t met. He was not any sort of nationalist, militarist, expansionist or anti-semite. He rejected the corporatism of the National Recovery Administration (partially inspired by Mussolini) as a sop to big business and promoted drastic redistribution instead. So tell me WHERE Long went so reactionary that modern Southern politicians pale in comparison!

I will concede your point about Congress having less party unity and more power for politicians representing local or special interests.

Do you actually know about the Powerline guys being hired by Washington?

Yeah, those turtles on top of the fence-posts are just really good climbers. The status of people I prefer is legitimate, that of those I dislike is ill-gotten. Noam Chomsky is a very respected linguist, but that has just about nothing to do with his political activities. Also, isn’t it rather hard to seperate the religious and the political? You yourself have put a lot of effort into documenting that Universalism is a religious movement descended from the Puritans/Unitarians/Quakers. And as K-L quotes Proudhon, it’s surprising how often we find theology at the bottom of political disputes.

MM: “Left” and “right” are extremely meaningful when applied across countries and time periods – because people have been using the same terms, in the same way, for the last 200 years. Calling Hitler “left” is wrong because people in Hitler’s era used the same word “left” that we do, in the same way, and they all understood him as a figure of the extreme right. If you’d showed them, say, Jonah Goldberg’s book, they would have been simply confused.

It’s when you use this tool incorrectly – using “left” and “right” to refer to government policies, in the modern American style – that it breaks, and becomes confusing. For the sides of the permanent civil war that is the democratic era, it is absolutely clear.

Mussolini and Chiang were not ambiguously defined. They switched sides. Mussolini broke with the Socialists, Chiang with the Comintern. Very different. I don’t know the event you’re referring to with McCarthy, but I imagine it falls in the same category.

Again: what Long and Hitler had in common is that they both appropriated socialist tropes and used them to compete with the socialist movement. Driving the latter into an absolute tizzy. Since “right” means “not left,” you can’t expect to find commonalities between rightists. Describing an animal as a “non-zebra” does not tell you anything about its anatomy. If there is a great civil war between zebras and all other animals, however, the description may still be useful.

Basically, the people behind FDR’s movement managed to unite boss machine politics with Progressive intellectuals. These forces were considered the great opponents in American politics. Long flapped his mouth in a very similar way and borrowed many socialist tropes, but he was just a boss. He may have wanted the progressive connections, he
probably did, but he didn’t have them. One of FDR’s huge advantages was that he was a socialite – in fact, this was pretty much his only advantage – and socialites and socialists have always gone together.

I think you need to read more primary sources. I’ll bet your college library can find a copy of Ernst von Salomon’s _Fragebogen_, for example. Then you’ll understand Hitler.

SP: I can grant that Hitler was considered to be on the right-side of the German political spectrum at that time. I won’t grant that Huey Long was considered to be on the right side of the American political spectrum. Wikipedia refers to his criticism of the New Deal as being “from the left”, which makes more sense than calling it from the right as Long supported Roosevelt’s nomination and candidacy before taking office (did Hitler do that for any Social Democrats?) under the belief that he was willing to go further than others. I don’t think it’s accurate to say he was “competing with the socialist movement”. It’s true he debated the leader of the Socialist Party, but they had peaked under Eugene Debs and were not a potent political force. He wasn’t debating Norman Thomas in order to compete with him, but distinguish his platform from socialism, which it had been accused of being. The Nazis actually called their party “socialist” while railing against other socialist parties. Long denied being a socialist and remained on an officially non-socialist center-left party, albeit on its left wing.

You say that Long was out because he was a boss. At the same time you say the New Deal was a combination of bosses and Progressives. The 30s are a long way before the 60s, so at that point in time being a boss should be evidence IN FAVOR of placing him on the left! It would just be silly to accuse a 40s Stalinist of being on the right due to Maoists splitting with them and taking the left position decades later, but that’s something like what you’re doing here. And I’m not even going to grant that Long was not a progressive. His old enemies in Louisiana were the same as those of the progressives, he enacted prison reforms that progressives would be apt to favor and the Silent Majority to oppose, and created an adult literacy program that largely served blacks (and keep in mind this is Louisiana in the 30s). In the Senate he often allied with the old Progressive Republicans.

It is policies that I and many others consider important, so to me you are saying they aren’t very meaningful. When Razib dismisses the doctrinal elements of religion or theology he is behaving similarly. At the same time you think there are very important Universalist ideals which you term “Rawlsianism, pacifism, fraternism and communalism”. Modern light-weight Southern GOP politicians violate some of these, although perhaps not to the extent that you’d like. At the same time you say they’re nothing compared to Long and Wallace. Wallace I can get due to his opposition to civil rights and threats about what he’d due to hippies that laid under his car or the Vietnamese when he was in charge of bombing. But I don’t see where Long violates any of those totems.

Roosevelt was considered a class traitor by other “socialites”. Who knows what they considered Huey Long! Socialists in fact tend to get the most support from the poor. It’s a pretty much monotonic relationship between wealth and support for the right-wing. It may not be as strong today in America as people like to argue, but the relationship is still positive. Major complicating factors are race, religion, social conservatism and foreign policy, but Long wasn’t right-wing for any of those reasons. His attitude toward race was rather progressive for his time and place, he didn’t think religion should be mixed with politics and nobody seems to care enough about his social or foreign policy views to say anything about them. And that’s viewing things from a modern lens where class warfare has greatly declined in importance, back then it was the defining issue. Even now when the Dems have increased their support among the well-educated and lost some among the less educated, they still don’t have a base among “socialites”:

MM: My reasoning on Long is as follows: (a) he was not aligned with the liberal/radical/progressive movement, (b) non-alignment with this movement is the most consistent historical definition of “right,” so (c) Long is best classified as a rightist.

You really need to read some Progressive Era primary sources to understand the mindset. Try Herbert Croly’s _Promise of American Life_. But that William Allen White may well be the best you can do. Co-opting the Democratic urban and Southern rural machines to help elect Progressives – first accomplished by Wilson, then by FDR – was
simply a mammoth coup. An equivalent today would be if Obama could somehow capture the votes of born-again Christians. The end result was that Catholics and rednecks ended up voting for people who hated their guts and wanted to destroy them, which in due course happened.

Democratic politics is a contest for power. Lenin’s question “who, whom” (ie, who rules whom) may not be the only question, but surely it is the first one. When you think of it as a contest of ideas rather than of power groups, you are taking the blue pill. You are especially taking the blue pill when you try to think of Huey Long as some kind of a philosopher, like Jefferson or something. (Actually, even Jefferson was far more of a politician than most imagine.) The words that come out of a politician’s mouth are actions. They are best explained in terms of his interests and strategies, not his “opinions.” A Machiavellian analysis is required to make any sense of Lincoln – let alone Huey Long.

The idea that FDR somehow betrayed his class is pure New Deal cant. FDR’s opinions and associations were perfectly typical of his background. Communism in America was always a socialite movement.

SP: I’m not willing to accept (a). I find references to Long as a “radical progressive”, and those aren’t from rightists trying to pin him on the left. Leftists can accept him as one of them, even if they don’t take pride in the association (likewise with communism). There were still some of the old Progressive Republicans from the north in Congress (who were generally favorable towards the New Deal), and Huey frequently aligned with them. He didn’t just quack like a duck, he acted like a duck and with other ducks, he was thought of then and now as a duck, and I’m saying he looks a hell of a lot like a duck to me.

I remember when you were going on about pro-nomianism versus anti-nomianism. Pro-nomianism is rather well-defined and simple. Convergence on truth as a Schelling point and all that. Anti-nomianism (which you identify with the left) is simply not pro-nomianism. That’s why there are so many varieties of leftism. Now you say that only the left is well defined (though only in terms of people) and the right is simply those who are not left. A while back you said Goldberg and K-L went wrong in their analysis of fascism because they thought “right is right and left is wrong”. Now you say the people at The Art of the Possible go wrong in their historical analysis because they don’t accept that fact! This is getting into Humpty Dumpty territory, where left and right mean what you want them to mean and any categorization is completely unfalsifiable.

Saying “Long is best classified as a rightist”, while still dead wrong in my opinion, amounts to quite a bit less than what you first said. It could describe someone who’s a little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n roll but if you have to pick one or the other… But this started when you said the modern South was completely deprived of reactionaries of Long’s caliber. The south has plenty of politicians who will crow about what conservatives they are and how silly the left is, they’re still willing to commit Universalist heresy. Long, back in the 30s, didn’t do any of that. If you want to say “Nothing Long or any politician actually did can ever matter when it comes to classifying them” then you have to explain to me what it is about Long that makes him more reactionary than today’s southern politicians. Is Trent Lott part of the left or the progressive movement to an extent greater than Huey Long? You made it sound as if even George Wallace was less reactionary! If there’s anyone who stands out as a watered down version of Huey Long in recent years it’s John Edwards, who was called the most left-wing major candidate in the Democratic primary.

What does it mean to say that Catholics and rednecks were “destroyed”? That blacks were given the right to vote? Looks like another reason to count Long as a progressive:
I don’t remember FDR doing anything to destroy Catholics or rednecks, but I could be wrong.

I don’t think of Long as a philosopher. I think of him as a politician, just as I would FDR or Hitler. I can see a good number of reasons to say that Hitler was on the right rather than the left in Germany, and I explained many of them. In the context of the United States in the 30s I see FDR and Long as two left-wing politicians, but with Long further to the left. He wasn’t so far that he didn’t support FDR, because that’s just what he did in ’32, but once in office he thought FDR needed to go even farther. If you want to keep Nazis in the analogy, Long is to FDR what the Strassers were to Hitler.

FDR was not a communist, but since both of us agree that the New Deal and communism belong on the left we can overlook that. There is data out there on votes by class, so would you say that we’d find more support for FDR among the rich than the poor? Is that the case for any major socialist/communist party in Europe? And do you think it odd that communism only came to power in semi-feudal countries like Russia and China? It must have been because of the abundance of socialites and lack of peasants!

MM: I’m afraid the treatment of Long that I was thinking of was not in Flynn, but in Finis Farr’s FDR. Hard to find, but very worth reading. The discussion is several pages, but here is the highlight (p. 255):

“Enlisting the aid of a Fundamentalist preacher, the Reverend Gerald L.K. Smith, Senator Long began to work out a plan to spread the nation’s riches. Everyone would have an income of at least $2,500 a year, and no one would be allowed more than a million. There would be old-age pensions, free college education for all who wanted it, and every family was to enjoy the products of American industry, the electrical appliances, radios and automobiles that filled the
advertising pages of the _Saturday Evening Post_. The government was to make all this possible by manipulating its taxing power and keeping surplus farm products off the markets. A Populist parody of the New Deal, Huey Long’s program earned him sarcastic criticism from intellectuals and the political enmity of Franklin Roosevelt.”

Farr was actually alive during the era and in general, his commentary is on the money. The last sentence – which concurs with my perception of the period – is the key. If you want to convince me that Long (or Gerald L.K. Smith, or Father Coughlin) should be considered a progressive rather than a populist, show me that “sarcastic criticism” was not his only relationship with the American Establishment. Show me Long’s equivalent of the Brains Trust, for example. If you have trouble with this, perhaps it’s because no such thing existed.

The Europeans today have the best understanding of the fact that populism – defined as an authentic appeal to the desires and prejudices of the masses, rather than an attempt to rope them into backing some elite faction or other – is best seen as right-wing. See this page:

Again, it is “right” because it is not “left.” It is competing with the Movement. That isn’t to say it is good. Not everything that is not progressive is good. The Nazis were not good. Left is evil, right means you need to inquire more closely into the matter.

You keep thinking of power in these silly democratic terms of number of votes, political policies, etc, etc. This is not the perspective for the skeptical. It is for the punters. Power is about one thing: influence over government decisions. The votes of “the rich” do not matter. There are not enough of them. The relationship of high society to the government matters tremendously, always has, and always will.

Does the word “Rockefeller” mean anything to you? What about “Carnegie”? Even – despite the individual – “Ford”? How do you think the great oligarchical fortunes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries wound up bankrolling progressives for the next century? What is the ratio of left-wing foundation capital to conservative foundation capital? I’m confident that it’s at least 10 to 1. It could be 20, or even 30.

This locution is not much used in this country, but FDR’s regime is best defined as a Popular Front government. Lookit up.

SP: I have no inclination to show anything about the ideologies of Smith or Coughlin, they were apparently non-politician oddballs who do not have a definite place on the political spectrum. Nor do I want to show that Huey Long was not a populist, he most definitely was. He was BOTH a populist AND a progressive. That’s why he’s referred to as a “radical progressive”. Within the Senate he complained about how progressives like him had brought FDR to office but he was acting like a moderate or conservative. Congress did have “conservative Democrats”, often from the South, at the time but Long was never considered one of them. He was part of the progressive left wing. You can look at books that would be predisposed to paint him as an awful reactionary like Chip Berlet’s “Right Wing Populism in America” or Conrad Black’s “Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom”, and they do not merely decline to refer to him as a right-winger or conservative but identify him as a left-winger and a progressive. You are the only person I have come across that has put Long on the right. In this situation YOU are in the Goldberg/Kuehnelt-Leddihn position, except it’s an even smaller minority position.

I’ve never heard of Finis Farr before and I don’t have a big stash of old-timey newspapers at hand like Nicholson Baker, but I’ll grant your claim that he was a subject of mockery rather than respect among the establishment/media. What does this show? By that standard Mike Gravel & Dennis Kucinich are on the right while John McCain is on the left. It is in large part BECAUSE of how far left those two are that they aren’t taken seriously. Becoming a rival to Roosevelt doesn’t make him on the right either, because by that logic Trotsky must have been a righty relative to Stalin. Or in American politics you would have to say Eugene Debs was a reactionary because Woodrow Wilson locked him up and Harding let him out.

To my knowledge, FDR did not have a Brain Trust as governor. Long was never President, so it’s rather silly to compare them in such a way. In a counterfactual in which he did become President, would he have had something like it? My guess is yes, but we can’t really say.

“an authentic appeal to the desires and prejudices of the masses, rather than an attempt to rope them into backing some elite faction or other”
That’s the exact sort of horse-shit progressives dish out to explain why right-wing populists are phony. FDR appealed to the authentic desires of the masses to have goodies handed out and their prejudices about fat cats being responsible for their ills. Long did the same thing (which is why he supported FDR in ’32). And all politicians are elites, with every political party in democratic politics being an elite faction. That includes Hitler (in the back of my mind I suspect that you’ve just regurgitated the standard progressive/communist line on him). But I guess since we know Hitler spread dishonest propaganda he must be on the left!

Your Wikipedia article was one of those glaring examples of the shortcomings of Wikipedia. Neither quantity, nor quality or even any references to Long. I checked out the much longer article on populism there. It includes FDR, Alinsky, the Progressive Party, Obama and an assortment of communists in addition to Long. In the article you link to they specify what makes those populist movements right-wing: ethno-nationalism. Long was not an ethno-nationalist. They point out the appeal of the Nazis to the middle class, and outside the South Long’s appeal was concentrated at the bottom. Another qualifier they give is immigration policy, and I’ve never heard of that being an issue of dispute between Long and FDR.

I don’t have any theory on the goodness or badness of right and left. But you completely contradicted yourself when using the same exact phrase “right is right and left is wrong” as both true and false. If it’s false, then elaborate on why Carson & Johnson are wrong about the founding period. If it’s true do the same for K-L on 1930s fascism.

You also seem blatantly inconsistent in dismissing government policies and then defining power as influence on government decisions. Those decisions are what is called policies. So which is it? And since Long is commonly credited with shifting the New Deal to the left, doesn’t that mean he had influence on government decisions?

I suppose I should have been explicit in saying that votes to me indicate which candidate people prefer and support. If the rich tend to vote right, then they’ll also tend to support the right. None of that means there aren’t rich people on the left, there are just more on the right.

I’ve heard a lot of invective thrown at the Rockefellers by right-wingers, but it wasn’t for being leftists. It’s for being elite globalists. David Rockefeller, for instance, is a lifelong Republican. He consulted with Kissinger on what to do about Salvador Allende and helped get the Shah of Iran into the U.S for cancer treatment. None of that would put endear him to the radical left (nowadays most commonly associated with the “anti-globalist movement”).

Let’s focus a bit more on your “despite the individual”. Henry Ford is hated by the left for being an anti-semite. Carnegie is hated for the Homestead strike, and Rockefeller is the original monopolist (in their minds at least). None of these individuals were considered leftists in their time, although I’ve heard arguments from left-libertarians that Herbert Spencer should be considered as such and Carnegie was a fan. I think Becker & Posner explain things a bit:
The rich who create the foundations are often conservative businessmen (not that there aren’t liberal businessmen, they’re just less common). It is the less rich managerialists who make their careers in the non-profit world that tend to be more left-wing.

I wouldn’t think it implausible that in terms of foundation funds the left has more than the right (for reasons discussed above), but I think Scaife, Koch and the gang deserve more credit than to ascribe them a 20 to 1 disadvantage.