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A misfit in the neocon Oz

By Sean ParrI wanted to be wrong,
but everyone is humming a song
that I don’t understand.
Michael Stipe
In the last ten years, I transformed from a line-toting Republican to the purest and most extreme of libertarians. I still fancy myself a social or cultural conservative of the rock-ribbed variety – opposed to both the murder of very young persons and unrestricted, “free” immigration (not to mention the laughably incoherent notion of same-sex marriage), and so it took some reflection to understand why I look now upon the great majority of today’s “conservatives” as political strangers, or even enemies.

Peculiarly, it was Rush Limbaugh who sparked my decade long evolution from GOP-er to freedom-lover. He recommended on his radio program a book by Thomas Sowell called Basic Economics. Each chapter in that book opened with and was elucidated by a quote from some egghead (a different quote from a different egghead for every chapter). I was taken by a quippy quote, whose particulars now escape me, from an egghead named Frédéric Bastiat.

I Googled him. I read him.

Reading Bastiat led me to read the works of other history class-neglected eggheads such as Mises, Rothbard, Hoppe, Block, and on and on. Soon I was saturated by the ideas of eggheads; ones that marched lockstep with Lord Acton‘s observation that liberty tops the hierarchy of political ends.

It was this self-education that drove me to recognize an uncomfortable reality: modern conservatism has morphed into something in which I can have no place. It is a home to collectivist taxers, spenders, and money-printers feigning fiscal responsibility; to slave masters, of a sort, masquerading as abolitionists.

But things were not always thus.

There was a time when conservatives (those of the so-called Old Right) railed against not simply the statism and central planning of the New Deal, but also the foreign adventurism that both generated the entrance of the U.S. into world war and presaged the foibles of the Cold War-era. Following World War II, these individualists were, by the imperialists of the New Right, all but drummed out of the polite company of the conservative publications for which they formerly produced articles that were both free market and non-interventionist. This madness slithered onward to the point where, currently (and despite history), one cannot conceive of a conservative who observes instances of disgusting governmental waste and overreach and does not ignore, forgive, or even laud them simply because they have been dressed in the fabrics of militarism.

We are, for a certainty, not in Kansas anymore.

And yet here I stand; conservative as all get out, but nonetheless leery of encroachments on liberty from all directions – Left and Right. And this undiscriminating vigilance caused me, for a time, to feel outcast among my own people. That is, of course, until I recognized that modern conservatives, having eschewed their own proud lineage, are not my people.

It is they, not I, who have lost the faith.

In any event, since learning of the betrayal of the American Right I have come to feel at…

 if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.


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