When the Right Needs to Move Left

Saturday, November 29, 2008
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The latest issue of The American Conservative includes an excellent, short piece by Dylan Hales: Left Turn Ahead: William Appleman Williams and Gabriel Kolko impart vital lessons for the Right. He says of Williams:

He also advocated a return to the US Articles of Confederation. Not only did he see the U.S. under the Articles as a relatively anti-imperial era, he also believed that the strong localism made possible under the Articles was the only form of governance suitable to real Americans living real lives. Williams’s belief that the Articles were “grounded in the idea and ideal of self-determined communities” is perfectly consistent both with the anti-imperial philosophy of the New Left and the Old Right’s traditional conservatism of hearth and home.

On Kolko:

Kolko’s indictment of what he calls “conservatism” is not aimed at the Southern Agrarianism of Richard Weaver or the Old Right individualism of Albert Jay Nock. In fact, Kolko’s thesis-that big government and big business consistently colluded to regulate small American artisans and farmers out of existence-has much in common with libertarian and traditionalist critiques of the corporatist state. The “national progressivism” that Kolko attacks was, in his own words, “the defense of business against the democratic ferment that was nascent in the states.” Coming of age in the ’50s and ’60s, Kolko saw firsthand the destruction of the “permanent things” as the result of the merging of Washington, D.C. and Wall Street. A sense of place and rootedness lingers just beneath the surface of his work.

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