Conservatism and Conor-ism

Conor Friedersdorf, after bragging about his “Ideas” blog at The Atlantic Monthly, decides I need more lecturing about True Conservatism:

Efforts to ground a conversation about a political philosophy by referencing philosophers is mocked… and then other philosophers are invoked as better litmus tests. Worldly, nonreligious conservo-libertarians like me are told that we only think religious, Benedict-option-loving folks like Rod Dreher are conservatives because we define the movement according to the strands we like personally. Huh?
This is the kind of incoherence that results when your impetus for branding someone a heretic is that they criticized Mark Levin, or that they think the GOP’s current electoral strategy is incoherent, or that they wrote an item at The Huffington Post, or because they raise chickens in their backyard and assert that maybe there’s something troubling about corporate farms pumping antibiotics into featherless foul stuffed into tiny cages.

OK, let’s start with the chickens. Guess what’s in my backyard, Conor? A chicken coop, belonging to my 16-year-old son, James. Why is James raising chickens? The same reason he breeds pythons: For money. Oh, and guess what I ate for supper last night? A soy burger (Morningstar Farm Zesty Tomato Basil) on whole wheat bread. It was delicious.

If you don’t want to order Chicken McNuggets for lunch, that’s fine with me. But don’t confuse your critique of factory farming with a political philosophy, and don’t tell me that contempt for commerce is “conservative.”

Just before I saw Conor’s blog post this morning, I had a long phone conversation with Dan Riehl, another guy who has better things to do with his life than to climb into an ivory tower and sneer at the lowbrow plebians toiling down there in the grimy streets.

Dan sees this elitism as the essence of Conorism. I would assert that it is also the essence of Dreherism and Brooksianism and all these other boutique “conservatisms” that have cropped up like ideological weeds in recent years.

The ambitious conservative intellectual’s quest for status among those whom he regards as his peers requires that he distinguish himself from (a) mere partisan operatives, whose objective is to elect Republicans; (b) mere journalists, who observe and report; and above all (c) the stupid voters out in the sticks who make up the rank-and-file grassroots of the conservative movement.

It is ambition, not ideology or ability, that distinguishes the elitists from the rest of us. The elitists crave above all else to be acknowledged as worthy of inclusion in the ranks of society’s Platonic archons, to be influential, to be introduced at seminars with a listing of all the prestigious publications they’ve written for, et cetera. “The Distinguished Senior Fellow at . . .”

It’s a scam, a racket, a hustle. And the dirty little secret of this particular game of three-card monte is the pretense that it is actually about ideas, as if his complex abstractions and elaborate verbal constructs — “Worldly, nonreligious conservo-libertarians” — were meaningful things worth fighting over. (Note how Conor modestly appropriates “worldly” to describe himself. Yeah, it’s all that secular street cred, like he’s rollin’ with the Rothbardian Crips.)

To hustle the suckers with his intellectual scam, Conor Friedersdorf must maintain the illusion that he is a distinterested philosopher in pursuit of Truth with a capital T, as opposed to some grubby prole who writes for money.

“Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.”

UPDATE: At the Hot Air Green Room:

By making “conservative” arguments for liberal policies, these treacherous elitists convey the message that conservatives are not really committed to opposing liberalism. So Democrats can ram through their agenda, and then the “conservative” intellectuals will join the Consensus Chorus telling us that this is a necessary “reform” which would be political suicide to attempt to repeal.

Read the rest.

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