Reading through a book like The Republic has given me perspective.  There are no unchanging political beliefs.  I think each one of us goes through a development, as age, experience and wisdom take hold.  Here is an overview of my own development:

  • Raised in a moderately evangelical Presbyterian household, my family held mostly what could be called GOP-favoring beliefs.  They were (and still are) largely Reaganites.  During my teen years, I started attending a much more evangelical church where most of the believers were first-generation or recent converts.  Even in high school, as I became more familiar with official church doctrine, I could see that there was a disparity between the official political structure and the beliefs held by the majority of the congregation.  In my high-school’s debating squad, I was a party-line right-winger.
  • Around 17, this all began to change.  It was during that year that a major shake-up struck my church, with the founding pastor being found in adultery.  Within the year, a new pastor (with a gambling addiction) would enter and leave.  The board also removed the youth pastor for supposed financial indiscretions and several unconfirmed reports from an “anonymous” youth.  The youth pastor was truly a man of God, but a bit immature, to be perfectly honest.  TPing is a crime, donchaknow?  After this shake up, a truly idiotic woman with no formal pastoral experience was appointed to lead the youth group.  Her level of idiocy?  The image of the fat hausfrau bible-thumper shown by the media is too kind.  Even at 17, I knew I was smarter than her, had more knowledge of the inner workings of Presbyterian polity/doctrine/etc.  But she liked games!  Needless to say, I left formal religion in disgust, though the event was the mere first blow of a gradual withering.
  • By the end of the year, 9/11 had happened, and I became fully a neo-con.  This period would last through around 2006.  What else can be said?  I cheered on the invasion of Iraq, I watched closely as each new leg of the global war was broadcast on Fox News.  But something bothered me.  You see, the reason I mentioned my religious upbringing, is because due to that experience, I had been conditioned to distrust authority.
  • In the midst of my neo-con days, I read the works of Ayn Rand.  For many, this is a life-changing event.  For me, it was as if a set of shackles were slowly loosened.  No, I didn’t become an objectivist.  But, I did become someone for whom the statement, “Who is John Galt?” and the idea of stopping the motor of the world had great appeal.  It continues to do so.
  • By 2006, I saw that the GOP was largely made up of quislings.  While they were trying (so it seemed) to honestly fight wars overseas and ensure domestic tranquility at home, I had misgivings about the fact that in 6 years of near-total control (the most that the GOP has had in a half century, at least), they instead moved the progressive agenda forward.  By 2008, I was nearly a Paulista, but I was also starting to see that the electoral process was incredibly damaged.  Before the ’08 election, I remember listening to various talk-radio commentators.  One used the terms “RuPaul” and “McClane” often about those GOP candidates he didn’t like.  And yet, after Huckabee handed the election into McCain’s camp, his tone changed.  It was at this point that I can remember telling a co-worker who was strongly in favor of the GOP, “It won’t matter: socialism slow, or socialism fast; pick your poison”
  • On November 4th, the shouts of “Obaaaama, Obaaaama” from neighbors confirmed my distaste.  At this point, all hope of electoral change, collapsed.  Since then, I’ve been wandering in the desert, trying to find a political compass.

So, where does this leave me?  Well, there are only a few main branches of political thought open to me (in which I piss everybody off):

  1. The Mainstream Left.  This probably deserves a post of its own.  But, my distaste with the left is their overall ideology of embracing weakness over strength, while practicing ‘speaking power to truth’.  Their equalitarianism IS Nietzsche’s slave-morality.  In operation, they behave as pragmatists, while constantly (if in punctuated equilibrium, when opposition briefly blunts the ratchet) moving their ideology forward.
  2. The Mainstream Right.   They’re leaderless.  Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin… polemicists.  This is not a bad thing.  Every party needs vocal talking-heads who say what needs to be said.  But, a political party also needs organization men who speak as well.  And though several Senators and Congressmen fill this role, there is no Executive who fills this role.  The last to do so was George W., both as Governor and President.  Furthermore, the Party of No has acted like the party of “no means yes; yes means anal”.  This itself, demands a blog post.  But, I think most righties understand this drift.
  3. Libertarians, Paulistas, Tea Partiers, etc.  This is what has become of the populist right.  One attraction that the mainstream right had versus this group is that the neo-conservatives, (whether one agrees with their agenda or not), have had a sense of national greatness and national purpose.  From the 1980s through the GWoT, the neo-cons built America up as a “global force for good.”  The “hippies of the right”, to borrow a phrase from Ayn Rand, seem to have no such sense.  Instead they see an American government which has overstepped its bounds, which instead of being the force that defeated communism, is instead a blowback machine.  I don’t completely disagree with them.  However, my main point of contention with them is this: they are solely focused on politics as economics, and man as an economic being.  Nationalism or common identity, as a political force, seems to be lost with this group.  In fact, I fear that they are just as beholden to egalitarian ideology as those they oppose.
  4. Radicals:
  • Marxist, Socialist, Leftist.  There are surprisingly few Maoist or Leninist radicals out there.  Though there are a few notable intellectuals, (Zizek for one), the party strength of this group is mostly diverted into the Social Democratic parties of the West.  And while I don’t agree with their goals, nor do I find their past methods to be particularly worthy of praise (read Zizek’s In Defense of Lost Causes), I can find a certain respect for them.  These are not the banal bureaucrats of even Stalinist terror, much less the lazy incompetence of Brezhnev; no, the “revolutionary” impulse clarifies ideological struggles.  When Robespierre was terrorizing Paris, there were no conservatives or liberals… merely monarchists and Jacobins.
  • The Alt-Right.  For an American, this is where the detritus of other political beliefs fall.  I would say that this is where I fall.  Basically, if you’ve been kicked out of The National Review, you’re probably writing for TakiMag.  If you’ve left the left, you’re there too.  Jim Goad and Pat Buchanan in one place.  It’s the island of misfit toys.  But what makes the Alt-Right so exciting, is that one can “get in on the ground floor” of a new Enlightenment, so to speak.  I’ve gravitated towards them, since falling away from mainstream conservatism.  Yet, who knows where my ideological seeking will lead me?

*Now, some may argue that I did not include fascists as a separate category above, but I think that by-and-large, the impulse of populist fascism has been subsumed into one of the other major groups.  20th Century fascism was a unique response to a very different set of conditions.  Where fascism gained traction, there was by-and-large, a recent historical shift away from the Ancien Regime, a period of communist threat, followed by a tinpot populist or worse.