The Outsiders

Despite the fact that I'm apparently an establishment flunky who's "ready for embalming" (the times change, but the paleocons are just as good at winning friends and influencing people as ever), I quite agree with Daniel McCarthy that George Packer's "Death of Conservatism" essay would have profited from some engagement with the dissident factions on the Right, include Ron Paul supporters, Crunchy Cons and others. In Packer's defense, though, his essay was focused more on the intersection of conservative ideas and the modern Republican majority than on conservative ideas per se - which is one reason, for instance, that it made sense for the piece to begin with Nixon and Buchanan rather than with WFB and National Review, which is where essays that survey the modern Right usually start. There's a lot of interesting intellectual action among the dissident conservatives, but if there's a big gap between the ideas being peddled by the reformist conservatives nearly-embalmed establishment hacks quoted in the Packer piece and the world of actual-existing Republican politics, then the gap between the Paulite paleos or the "Wendell Berry-Michael Pollan Right" and the American political scene is roughly the size of the Grand Canyon. Bridging this gap (in the absence of a Peak-Oil-related national trauma, that is) has always been the challenge for the traditionalist right; as someone who follows the intellectual debate among dissident conservatives with interest and sympathy, I would only suggest that pissing on anyone to the left of Pat Buchanan might not be the best way to go about it.