Broad swaths of conservative opinion today would have it that the enemy of the right is some variant of Marxism. But this does not accurately describe people like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, or CNN’s Jeff Zucker. All the tech and media executives who are censoring and deplatforming voices on the right can hardly be described as ideological Marxists or Maoists.
No, our real enemy today is what I like to call “rainbow capitalism,” which is corporate, quasi-monopoly capitalism closely tied to the central state and its agencies of surveillance and control, and increasingly wedded to the cultural and political goals of the left. This conjunction of what we used to call “big business” and progressive politics has happened in large part because men like Bezos and Zuckerberg and a host of others recognize that their long-term interests are best served by the complete deracination and demoralization of the American people.
But it would be a mistake to imagine that such goals are pursued exclusively by the Democratic Party (today dominated by its left-wing factions). Powerful elements within the Republican Party are at least sympathetic with those goals—especially with the aims of unrestricted immigration and globalization. As the party of resistance the authentic, populist right must redouble its efforts to establish complete independence from the corporate media and the elite donor classes, regardless of their party affiliations. Moreover, the right must recognize that, for the foreseeable future, history favors the leftward movement of the culture. It must concede these limitations and work where it can to create and sustain pockets of opposition.
above: Kellogg’s “Together With Pride” cereal, created in partnership with GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), in celebration of June Pride Month. Kellogg’s will donate $3 to GLAAD for every box purchased. (Kellogg’s Company)
That the most influential and powerful individuals in both parties are tools of the corporate donor class is clearly illustrated by Michael Lind’s exploration of “The Zip Codes That Rule America” in the December 2020 edition of Tablet. According to Lind, drawing on public political donation information from The Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org website, the political donors with the deepest pockets reside in a handful of elite zip codes. Funding for Democrats in 2020, not counting dark money or funds for liberal groups, came primarily from four New York City zip codes and from Chevy Chase, a suburb of Washington, D.C., followed closely by several zip codes in Silicon Valley and Cambridge, Mass.
Elite Republican political donors are geographically more diverse, but they, too, are overrepresented by donations from New York City zip codes, though many reside in Dallas, Atlanta, Las Vegas, or Palm Beach.
Currently, our ruling elite, regardless of affiliation, is the party of Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and D.C. lobbyists and bureaucrats who reside in the wealthy suburbs outside the capital. However, the Republican donor class continues to reflect in part the Sunbelt industries that have provided funding for the GOP since the advent of modern “movement conservatism” in the 1950s. Lind’s observation identifies what may be the right’s greatest ideological weakness at present.
Since the postwar era, the right in the United States has been guided by a supposed commitment to fusionism, which is a synthesis of military hawkishness, free market economics, and cultural traditionalism. It was this outlook that informed the Goldwater-Reagan paradigm that became ascendant in the 1960s and 1970s, and which has been the essence of mainstream conservatism ever since, even if the commitment to cultural tradition has often been superficial.
However, Trumpism represented a powerful challenge to this paradigm. During his 2016 campaign, Trump implicitly followed the electoral strategy suggested some years earlier by Steve Sailer, who recommended that conservatives assume an oppositional stance to the “invade the world, invite the world” policy framework favored by the establishment. It proved to be a winning strategy.
Indeed, it could be argued that Trump’s loss in 2020 was rooted in part in his failure to fully articulate and more aggressively pursue a policy agenda consistent with the Sailer strategy. Following the November election, the leftist writer Britni de la Cretaz observed, in the online journal Refinery29, that Trump “received the highest share of non-white votes won by a Republican candidate in 60 years.” Meanwhile, Jacob Jarvis of Newsweek noted that exit polls indicated that “Trump upped his vote share across demographics in 2020, except…with white men.” A stronger effort by Trump during his term to actually enact his 2016 policy stances and to defend them during his reelection effort might well have enhanced his performance among white men and won him a second term.
Much of the Trump voter base is at odds with the GOP establishment. The American right has traditionally been allied with the ostensibly “conservative” business class, an alliance which has obviously been rooted in a shared opposition to socialism, both domestically and abroad. Yet, as Sam Francis began pointing out 25 years ago, the business class has frequently been, at best, a fair-weather friend to conservatives. The behavior of Republican leadership has validated Francis’ original thesis. The consistent orientation of each of these forces has been to prioritize the objectives of the corporate class even when these objectives conflicted with the values of the wider conservative movement.
What are the issues and objectives that are prioritized by the Republican donor class? The goal is obviously to ensure that corporate profits remain high and to reduce taxes for those at the top of the socioeconomic pyramid. One way to secure this objective is to flood the country with cheap, compliant labor. The corporate class has consistently been united in its support for de facto open borders, contradicting the wishes of most rank and file Republican voters and most Americans generally.
Similarly, it is not uncommon to witness the media mouthpieces of the GOP (whether Fox News or the small army of talk radio jocks) railing against “socialism” while remaining tepid or indifferent in their defense of, for example, traditional marriage or the heritage of Southern whites. Paul Gottfried has recently pointed in these pages to the instance of “Fox News celebrities who are proudly gay and make no bones about it.” Meanwhile, even Fox News star Tucker Carlson recently qualified his defense of Confederate monuments with a denunciation of the Confederacy. Carlson stated during the midst of the 2020 riots:
We are not defending the Southern Confederacy. We abhor it. Few Americans would defend the Southern Confederacy and again, we certainly wouldn’t. The Confederacy declared war on the United States. We’re grateful they lost and that their cause was discredited forever by losing. And it was discredited, but that’s the whole point, the Civil War was the turning point in American history. It shaped who we are now.
Perhaps the usually fearless Tucker can be forgiven for taking precautions lest a howling mob turn up on his doorstep, but his fact checkers would have been wise to dig a little deeper before endorsing the claim that the “Confederacy declared war on the United States.”
One could easily compile a lengthy list of issues where the interests of conservatives and the corporate class conflict. Trade is another obvious example. Fox has little choice but to tolerate Carlson’s occasional tears about the decimation that globalization has inflicted on communities in flyover country; after all, his program routinely pulls the largest audience share in cable news. But few, if any, of Trump’s actions have generated more hostility from the corporate class than his modest efforts to address the worst excesses of trade policies related to globalization.
While the GOP prioritizes tax cuts and deregulation, the intellectual mandarins of “movement conservatism”—the neoconservatives and their allies—obviously prioritize an aggressively interventionist foreign policy. If those neoconservatives have grudgingly offered a modicum of praise for Trump, they have done so largely because of his fealty to the Israeli agenda, evidenced by his administration’s brokering of an alliance between Israel and the Sunni states of the Persian Gulf and North Africa, and his comparative hawkishness toward Iran.
Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, among other states in the region, function as guaranteed export markets for American defense contractors and armaments manufacturers that are underwritten by the public sector. The U.S. petroleum industry, with its vast holdings in the Middle East and Central Asia, is another major Republican constituency with influential donor-class representatives, such as the Koch family.
My key point is that a continued alliance with the ostensibly “conservative” wing of the corporate class is antithetical to the interests of the populist right, whose adherents typically favor a non-interventionist foreign policy, restrictions on immigration, and a more protectionist trade policy. The core of an insurgent right in the United States would necessarily be what Francis characterized as the “post-bourgeois proletariat,” consisting predominantly of working and middle-class whites that have experienced an assault on their standard of living at the hands of the corporate elite, just as they have experienced a parallel assault on their cultural interests and moral convictions at the hands of the cultural left.
But if the “conservative wing” of the corporate class has been a fair-weather friend to the authentic right, the rising class of Wall Street financiers and tech-oligarchs are openly declared enemies. The relationship between the cultural far-left and tech elites often runs deep. For example, in the midst of last summer’s unrest Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey donated $10 million to the Center on Antiracism Research, a Boston University–based think tank headed by Ibram X. Kendi. And who is Kendi? He is an “antiracism” activist who, during his days as a college student, held to the theory that white people are actually extraterrestrials.
While he has since repudiated this view, Kendi continues to hold to what is a much more insidious idea, the view that the highest body of government should be a constitutionally empowered “Department of Anti-racism.” Here is how Kendi describes his proposal:
It would establish and permanently fund the Department of Anti-racism (DOA) comprised of formally trained experts on racism and no political appointees. The DOA would be responsible for preclearing all local, state and federal public policies to ensure they won’t yield racial inequity, monitor those policies, investigate private racist policies when racial inequity surfaces, and monitor public officials for expressions of racist ideas. The DOA would be empowered with disciplinary tools to wield over and against policymakers and public officials who do not voluntarily change their racist policy and ideas.
The Department of Anti-racism would apparently have absolute power to overrule any other branch, agency, or official of government at any level if a particular policy were found to be “racist.” For instance, Kendi once suggested that capital gains tax cuts represented a racist policy because whites were more likely to be beneficiaries of such policies than blacks. The “Department of Anti-racism” favored by Kendi conjures images of the Ayatollah Khomeini’s Council of the Guardians or the late neo-Nazi leader William Pierce’s idea that the highest body of government should be an “Aryan” religious order. What does it mean that the CEO of one of the most influential social media companies in the world is making an eight-digit donation to such a lunatic?
Virtually all cultural, demographic, generational, economic, political, and technological trends currently favor the left. Opinion polls, to the degree that these can be believed, indicate that public opinion is moving leftward on virtually every contentious social issue, particularly among young people. The ongoing demographic transformation of the United States clearly favors the left as well. Growing economic disparities likewise favor the calls for wealth redistribution that emanate from sectors of the left. The traditional media, cable networks, and social media combine to provide the cultural left with a propaganda apparatus that is nearly all-encompassing, and strengthened by the left’s domination of virtually all “ideas” industries and professions, from education to advertising to law to human resources.
The primary challenge for those attempting to establish a genuine media presence for the independent right involves the need to avoid becoming beholden to donor interests that will have the effect of compromising any such project.
An independent conservative media would necessarily be reliant on small donors, individual subscribers, and small advertisers. It would have to scrupulously avoid dependency on corporate donors seeking to bend such a project toward their own ends or infiltration by ideologues with juxtaposed objectives. Institutional mechanisms would have to be established for the purpose of preventing such co-optations. At the same time, any independent conservative media would need to match the standards of technical competence and professionalism demonstrated by the mainstream media by employing skilled professionals as managers, technicians, and journalists.
Moreover, the maintenance of high standards of professional ethics, personal competence, and reputability (challenges that destroyed the once-promising “alternative right”) would be an additional necessity. The ideal structural model for a media outlet supporting the independent right may well be that of a nonprofit educational organization rather than a for-profit commercial enterprise. Either way, such an effort will certainly be a daunting task.
But a wider task for the right will be to recognize its own limitations and act accordingly. Given the prevailing trends discussed above, it is unlikely that the right will be able to form a national majority coalition anytime in the foreseeable future. The Republicans have won the popular vote in a presidential election only once in the past third of a century. Even the Republican leadership appears to be implicitly aware of this and largely seeks to serve as an obstructionist force by gaining favorable appointees to the Supreme Court and blocking Democratic legislation in the Senate.
Even so, it is clear that conservative leaders have pursued this strategy primarily for the purpose of countering threats to the interests of the Republican donor class—threats such as wealth taxes or minimum wage increases—while collaborating with the Democrats on areas of policy agreement like an interventionist foreign policy and “free trade.” In the March issue of Chronicles Gottfried succinctly described what may be the last best hope for the right:
In the longer run, a new conservatism must be fashioned that is built on the working class and small business and which is unswervingly populist in its appeal. Although this movement may attract some minority support, its base will be necessarily white and Christian, and it will be viable mostly outside of large cities. It would be best for this movement to emphasize regional autonomy, since it is highly unlikely that it will gain a sizeable electoral foothold in metropolitan areas. The important thing here is that conservative strongholds be allowed to survive and thrive outside the centralized leftist administrative state.
The most viable option for the right would likely be to create an alternative infrastructure based in regions and localities where the right still holds dominance, with an emphasis on building conservative enclaves while keeping the centralized state at bay. Examples of such efforts already exist. For example, the “Second Amendment sanctuaries” that gun rights supporters have established in many localities demonstrate how appeals to local authorities can be used to thwart the efforts of authoritarian central governments.
Additionally, the Mormon or Amish subcultures, Rod Dreher’s “Benedict option” concept of Christian intentional communities, or South Africa’s Orania Afrikaner community provide a few of many examples of how a conservative counterculture can be established even within a context of leftist or oligarchic hegemony and wider social deterioration. Meanwhile, the fractious nature of the left will likely prevent a permanently cohesive leftist ruling coalition from forming. This will allow breathing room for the populist right.
graphic: A partial list of some of the largest corporations that have donated to Black Lives Matter, compiled from public data by Chronicles staff.