Mandeville, LA - Exclusive Transcript - Claes Ryn is a professor of history at Catholic University in D.C. He’s been on the show before. He is well versed in American history, brilliant man when it comes to the intellectual basis of what we call conservatism, and there is an intellectual basis for it, although these days it’s difficult to find, but it is out there. At one point in time, it was this intelligence and this intellectual discourse that provided the backstop and the brake to progressivism, which you call today liberalism. Today, in its current incarnation, it amounts to a bunch of fake patriotic jingoism. Jingoism just means somebody says, “Yeah, we ought to do that. Groupthink is great.” Groupthink is never good. It is never good to surrender individual critical thinking to the group. You must always think critically and intellectually. Those that didn’t think intellectually back two centuries ago were the French and in their little revolutions. How’d that work out for them? France is still a basket case of economic misery and political socialism, still, even after we supposedly liberated it from Hitler and from the Nazis. What the hell happened?
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Claes Ryn is a professor of history at Catholic University in D.C. He’s been on the show before. He is well versed in American history, brilliant man when it comes to the intellectual basis of what we call conservatism, and there is an intellectual basis for it, although these days it’s difficult to find, but it is out there. At one point in time, it was this intelligence and this intellectual discourse that provided the backstop and the brake to progressivism, which you call today liberalism. Today, in its current incarnation, it amounts to a bunch of fake patriotic jingoism. Jingoism just means somebody says, “Yeah, we ought to do that. Groupthink is great.” Groupthink is never good. It is never good to surrender individual critical thinking to the group. You must always think critically and intellectually. Those that didn’t think intellectually back two centuries ago were the French and in their little revolutions. How’d that work out for them? France is still a basket case of economic misery and political socialism, still, even after we supposedly liberated it from Hitler and from the Nazis. What the hell happened?
Well, it is because the obedience to the unenforceable was not observed and no prior tradition, institution or custom was off the table. They were all questioned. They were all interrogated. Many of them were told to pack their stuff up. Some of them were just outright killed. If you were clinging to some of the old traditions and the old way, you were just told to beat it. If you wouldn’t beat it -- hell, there was an entire town in France around the time of the revolution -- there’s a movie made about this. The people basically said to the French revolutionistas, [mocking] “Look, dude, we’re just a bunch of devout Catholics. We don’t want anything to do with -- we’re not going to bother you. You won’t even know we’re here. See we have a little town here? We raise our sheep and our goats and our cows and our own fruits and vegetables. We won’t even leave the town. You’ll never know we’re here.” For a while that worked, but I can’t recall the exact circumstance, but the French revolutionaries found out about them and went in and pretty much massacred everyone in the town.
The French bailed on their traditions, they bailed on their customs, they bailed on any of the Christian framework that had made the Francs the great people they were once upon a time. Ryn writes about this and he says the same thing is happening in the United States. We are not immune to this stuff. I’d like to share just a piece of this. We’ve had this discussion here, people yelling, screaming, hollering at me, calling me all sorts of names because I’m holding my hand up and saying stop the war talk with the Iranians. Keep negotiating. Keep diplomacy open. Let’s try to extricate ourselves from that hornet’s nest over there, shall we? But no, there’s only one option left according to Bill O’Reilly and many on that particular network, and that’s to go to war. Another one? Really? Seriously?
Here’s what Ryn writes in part in the afterword. The book was published in 1998. He went back a couple years ago and wrote an afterword to it. This was really, really inspirational when I read it and I think it’ll inspire you, too. He’s talking about the new American movement, which is nationalism, patriotism, militarism, jingoism and collectivism. They’re all just symptoms of idolatry of the state, that’s what they are. It’s kind of funny that some people out there rail against statists when they in fact are statists. I don’t say that in an accusatory tone. I say that in a tone to plead for some remonstrance here and some humble reflection on these things.
Having studied the development of the movement in a philosophical and historical perspective, I could not avoid the conclusion that it was quite different from the vague journalistic reputation of several of its individual representatives. Emerging in historical circumstances in which America’s traditional culture and political institutions seemed in danger, the movement was, in superficial appearance, a patriotic, conservative response to the crisis of American society. In substance it was difficult to reconcile with the traditional American constitutional order, with its preference for limited, dispersed, and decentralized power.
Mike: You’ll note that in the warfare state, the decepticons, the fake conservatives, have been consolidating power in the center in Washington, D.C. You see this manifested at the airports; it’s called the TSA. You hear about it in bills called the Patriot Act. You hear about it in bills called the NDAA. You hear about it with the dispatchment of drones over the amber waves of fuel from the central authority. You see it in Arizona as the people of Arizona are told to beat it. They’re told they’re not allowed to make their own rules, not allowed to determine who they live with, not allowed to determine what aliens they will admit into their midst, and they are not allowed to determine whether or not the people of Arizona can be taxed materially and have their property taken from them to support said aliens. This all comes and springs from the same well, ladies and gentlemen, as some examples. Now back to Ryn.
The movement advocated a highly dubious ideological universalism that clashed with old American beliefs and institutions, deeply rooted in classical, Christian and British civilization. It was an ideologically charged and anti-traditional and imperialistic force. Consciously or unconsciously, it fostered or assisted the emergence of a centralized national security superstate, with vast international military and other ambitions. People known as neoconservatives played a major role in advancing this cause. The ease with which they were able to persuade Cold War liberals and purported conservatives to follow their lead was worrisome. It mean that those groups were somehow predisposed to moving in that direction. [Mike: That’s the direction of statism, by the by.] What was happening was also frustrating. Did these groups not understand what ideological and other motives were propelling the neocons? Did they not notice the challenge to more traditional views or did they not much care about it? The lack of opposition was all the more disconcerting in that the movement of which the neoconservatives were prominent representatives seemed to have the potential for acquiring even greater power and for inflicting serious damage on the United States and the world. Such opposition as was noticeable was sporadic and for the most intellectually weak. It was as if the movement formed part of the American zeitgeist and could hide within it from close scrutiny. One might have expected, especially strong criticism to be forthcoming, from so-called intellectual conservatives. Should they not have detected and reacted against the neoconservatives’ ahistorical, ideological universalism or, at minimum, against their undermining the idea of limited constitutional government? Establishment conservatism appeared intellectually and politically disoriented and ham-fisted. In the Republican Party especially, neoconservative foreign policy hawkishness could blend with and reinforce an already existing propensity developed during the Cold War. Many putative conservatives appeared to be looking for a new outlet for their hawkishness, and the neoconservative calls for new, ambitious ways of wielding American might in the world provided one. Yes, many Republicans said, without necessarily following neoconservative direction, American values are surely special and should be brought to the rest of the world for the world’s own good. Had not Ronald Reagan their great hero championed such a missionary strategy, the American constitutional tradition, by contrast, assumes a more modest role for government and for America and the world. Given our flawed human nature and the complexities of human existence, government and politics must be resigned to trying to achieve limited purposes. The constitutional tradition rests on a fairly dark view of human nature and warns against concentration of power.
Mike: Yes, my friends, that means in the military, too. Remember, Washington surrendered his commission and his sword. Our tradition is civilian control over the military. It is not civilians participating in nonstop, never-ending, saber rattling on behalf of the military. We’ve got it backwards. I don’t mean any offense to those that are in the military, because for sure, they are some of the most consistent and traditional among us. They actually take vows and they mean them. So please don’t misunderstand.
It advocates checks and balances as a way of restraining the chronic human desire to dominate others. The new ideological and political movement propagated very different views. It wanted America to take the lead in making a better world. American power need not be feared. It was inherently moral and unselfish. [Mike: In other words, it’s great to export Honey Boo Boo. Maybe that’s how we defeat the Chinese, AG, we export Honey Boo Boo. If the Chinese ever start making Honey Boo Boos, we may actually win this thing. Think of it that way.] It was devoted to spreading universal principles armed American hegemony would be beneficial to all.
End Mike Church Show Transcript