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Why So Many on the Right and the Left Can’t Figure Out How To Deal with Glenn Beck

September 26, 2009


Today one of our commenters, Ben, posted a link to Media Bistro on David Horowitz’s post about the newest installment in the debate with David Frum.

Ben did so to demonstrate an interesting point: Glenn Beck did fairly well in a recent public opinion poll. Only 19% of Americans have a negative view of him. Compare that to the 50% who have a negative view of Rush Limbaugh. When it comes to Beck most people are either neutral or ignorant of him.

The source of Media Bistro’s information was a blog by Nate Silver, the influential polling analyst behind FiveThirtyEight.Com. And it was there that I discovered an idea far more interesting than Beck’s low negative numbers. Silver identified Beck in a fashion I’d never considered before, but now cannot help but enthusiastically embrace:

Beck is a PoMoCon — a post-modern conservative. And his philosophy is not all that difficult to articulate.

I’ve previously identified David Horowitz as a post-modern conservative. It’s a label that I identify myself with as well. (Note: I refuse to use PoMoCon. It just sounds dumb. Sorry.)

Silver describes the conservative components of this emerging political philosophy:

It borrows a couple of things from traditional American conservatism:

— It shares an extreme distrust for government, particularly the Federal Government.
— It shares the notion that American society is in some sort of state of existential decline.

There are a few other key elements as well that link postmodern conservatism to traditional conservatism which Silver leaves out (or perhaps was not aware of.) First and foremost is an overwhelming enthusiasm for the principles of the founding and the Founding Fathers themselves. Second is a revulsion at the the decidedly non-postmodern nature of the True Believer Left. So much of Beck’s approach — as well as the emphasis of Horowitz, many at the Freedom Center, and myself — is an analysis and a relentless critique of the Left. This sort of conservatism — one that develops in reaction to the Left — is unfortunately alien to many conservatives today. Because they do not understand the Left they cannot effectively fight it.

Silver goes on to elucidate where postmodern conservatism parts ways with traditional (Limbaugh and Mark Levin) conservatism:

On the other hand, it also features some important differences:

— It is much more distrustful of non-governmental institutions, such as labor unions, corporations, political parties, community groups, the media, and scientific institutions.
— It is largely indifferent toward ‘social issues’.
— It is much less explicitly aligned with the Republican Party.
— It has much less use for elites, which it also distrusts.

These four aspects of postmodern conservatism allow the ideology to expand to reach out to the apolitical, the moderate, and the open-minded elements of the Left. It allows for the defense of America and the spirit of the Founders to penetrate beyond the confines of the Conservative Movement.

Silver also describes a very important stylistic and temperamental difference:

The PoMoCons are not so much less self-consistent as they are less concerned with consistency, as compared with traditional conservatives. Theirs is a bric-a-brac, skeptical (sometimes to the point of paranoid), play-it-by-ear, relatively spontaneous reaction to the here-and-now — not something cooked up by a K Street thinktank. There is no future, no past — there is only today. And today is a pretty good day to be Glenn Beck.

In other words: Beck and other post-modern conservatives are OPEN-MINDED. They have a functioning core of patriotism and freedom-oriented libertarianism but they are willing to take in new ideas and adapt to the circumstances of a changing world.

One of the key side effects of this is something I observed when watching Beck the other day. I realized my enthusiasm for what Beck was saying throughout his show would fluctuate wildly. I would be with him one moment, in complete agreement, and then all of a sudden he might present an idea or say something in an over-the-top fashion and I’d strongly disagree. I probably found myself supporting maybe 70-80% of what he had to say with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Other times I’d want to reach through the screen to yank him back before he stumbled off an ideological cliff. Such is the nature of a figure like Beck whose mind frees itself to explore the world of ideas with less rigidity than a traditionalist.

My friends, this is the next evolution in Conservatism. This is what will transmit the defense of the American Idea to the next generation and the politically disenchanted masses. And Beck is its representative in the mass culture of cable news and talk radio. Therefore it is all the more vital to make sure Beck does not stumble down Wile E. Coyote-style as he chases the Road Runner of the Left.

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  1. Joe Camel permalink
    September 26, 2009 5:59 pm

    Just bought Glen’s new book “Arguing With Idiots” today. Like most, I don’t buy into everything, but, being a strong conservative myself with a twist of Libertarian, well, we have much of the same thoughts.

  2. Ryan Abbey permalink
    September 26, 2009 6:02 pm

    Isn’t the road runner relationship the opposite way? The left has rarely had to answer for their intellectual dishonesty; so maybe the recent past relationship has been the left acting as the road runner.
    However with Beck, it seems like he will run around the left in circles exposing all their antics without being caught. Being targeted may pose no problem for Beck, and may bring a bigger audience to laugh at the old and sorry BIG failures in the left’s “utopian” schemes.

  3. Paul Cooper permalink
    September 26, 2009 6:30 pm

    Great and interesting read. Of course, Glenn Beck does care a great deal about the socially conservative issues, so he wouldn’t fit the definition perfectly. He, like me, believes that pro-life issues are huge and too important for compromise.

    • September 26, 2009 6:47 pm

      Thanks Paul. The great thing about postmodern conservatism is that no one fits the definition perfectly!

      I think the point being made is that Beck doesn’t emphasize pro-life and other social issues a whole lot. It’s not one of his main issues.

      So it’s not that a postmodern conservative is necessarily socially liberal so much as the social issues are not the emphasis.

      • Jonathan permalink
        September 27, 2009 11:08 am

        Actually David, as a post modern conservative myself, I think it is accurate to say that Beck is focused on exposing the subversives all conservatives should be alarmed by, and rescuing the Constitution. He is making a strategic decision to unify rather than divide the support with religion. I think Beck balances his faith with his mass appeal to an effective degree. I think his plate is full in four hours a day with just corruption, and he’s doing about as well as one could expect. He doesn’t want to compete with the theistic broadcasts, and I can respect him for that.

      • Jonathan permalink
        September 27, 2009 11:11 am

        P.S. I don’t think POMOCONs are “largely” unconcerned with social issues. We’re not moderates. It’s just seems that way perhaps because of what the media coverage indicates. But believe me, it isn’t the case that social issues are dead.

        • September 27, 2009 11:19 am

          Sounds good.

  4. jbtrevor permalink
    September 26, 2009 6:36 pm

    I have a similar reaction when watching Beck. I tend to agree with most of what he says and sometimes I want to slap him…but usually “post slap temptation” I tend to look at things differently i.e. what was it that cause me to react that way (content/style/skin crawl, etc)

  5. Don McKinnon permalink
    September 26, 2009 6:38 pm

    As a Canadian, I realize how much Canada as a small country is dependent on the whims of the U.S.A. (What happens there, happens here.) A good reason to follow current events. I rarely fail to watch the Glenn Beck Show and feel that American citizens are indeed fortunate to have him explain the devious plans of the far left movement. I suspect that without Beck explaining what is happening in America, Obama would have had a far easier time of pulling the wool over the eyes of the average citizen.
    Beck researches everything well and reports the truth without bias.

  6. Tom Trevor permalink
    September 26, 2009 7:37 pm

    I have not watched or listened to Beck enough to really have an opinion on him. However, I listen to Rush a lot and I have to disagree that he is that different from how you describe a PoMoCon. With the exception of corporations he certainly is “distrustful of non-governmental institutions, such as labor unions, corporations, political parties, community groups, the media, and scientific institutions”. I agree that he is more concerned about social issues than some conservatives, but he certainly has a good deal of disdain for the elites. As someone who agrees with Rush about 98% of the time I think I have a fair idea of how he thinks.

    • Evergreen78 permalink
      September 27, 2009 12:57 am

      Even though I think Rush would consider me a RINO (which really hurts my feelings), I listen to him every day & LOVE his website. Perhaps it’s an “experience” or “generational” thing, the difference between Rush and Beck. Rush has been at this long enough that he can predict in advance what the Left will do, & then they DO it. I’ve seen it over & over. And yes, he frequently mentions the “blue-blood, Rockefeller type, elite” faction of the Republican party in a not-too-favorable way. Beck is figuring things out as he goes along, or even in hindsight, which is kinda’ where I’m at. If you give me a questionnaire asking me what I think about several different issues, I usually come out “Liberal” – not even “Libertarian,” but “Liberal.” Yet, I have never voted for a Democrat for President, ever, not one time.

      Maybe “PoMoCon” is just a goofy enough amalgam of letters to describe a person such as myself. It doesn’t seem quite as pejorative as RINO, anyway.

  7. Cas Balicki permalink
    September 26, 2009 9:16 pm

    Political parties and labels such as conservative and liberal are a taxonomy that allows relative strangers to associate in a more or less trusting environment. This trusting environment is most commonly presented to the public on the floor at some party convention whose goal is, of course, unity. Underlying the importance of seeming trivialities such as 98% agreement on the issues are the party vehicles to accommodate the last two percent, that is to say its treatment of disagreement. Accommodate disagreement to easily and your tent is too broad. Stand firm on principle and your tent is too narrow. Not to put too fine a point on this needle, but there are many one issue voters in the world, some might even refer to them as fanatics. As an aside, the real world consequence of this who’s-in, who’s-out debate is being played out on this very web site between Messrs. Frum and Horowitz, so it cannot be said that taxonomy is without consequence.

    The broad sweep of the conservative political landscape, which in past was broken down between paleo- and neo-con, now must accommodate PoMoCon, which if David Frum has his way will not happen in his lifetime. So what is to be done? My suggestion is nothing, as in nothing should be done. Political parties have a nasty habit of squaring themselves away by purging those not of their kind. They know or eventually have proven to them who their real friends are. That David Frum may not like Glen Beck or that David Horowitz has the opposite view is, in my view, of vanishingly little consequence on a political map the size of the US. The reality is that members of any political party agree only on a few broad issues, reducing the size of government or fiscal prudence are but two such issues. That we may use different taxonomical descriptions when discussing party members is only of importance where party loyalty may be involved. Yet, given the foregoing, if we can question another’s party loyalty based on some esoteric description, then the party has cast so broad a tent as to preordain its own collapse.

  8. September 27, 2009 5:13 am

    I despise the idea of these labels. Must we? What do you call a civil rights working, vietnam protest organizing, FORMERLY very active in the NH dem party, incredibly anti jihadi, long time converser with Arabs, rigid constitutionalist, who doesn’t believe isolation can ever be achieved, McCain working in Maine, independent who think Beck has done great service with the facts, but is wary of some of his conclusions, and likes Levin’s ideas?

    • September 27, 2009 6:23 am

      If you want to call yourself a patriotic independent then that seems fine. 😉

      • Sam Argull permalink
        September 27, 2009 4:38 pm

        Or just a Patriot.

  9. Prudent Man, CFA permalink
    September 27, 2009 7:21 am

    The enemy of my enemy is always my friend regardless of his or her imperfections.

  10. J Williams permalink
    September 27, 2009 9:25 am

    Others may put me into a box or label me but I chose to be independent – Not in title or part – Independent in spirit and thought. I let observation, experience, fact and truth guide my decisions and then measure the consequence as to whether to continue along a path. I am open minded regarding the nature of man and his continued struggle with depravity which tends to degrade and corrupt everything he touches unless this nature is given over to the will of God.

  11. Michael van der Galien permalink
    September 27, 2009 1:13 pm

    David: what I like about our generation conservatives – which, interestingly enough is what Horowitz seems to be to a degree as well – is that we simply make up our own minds. We have certain values – conservatives values – upon which our worldview is based, but we don’t let anyone or anything (ideology for instance) tell us what to think about specific subjects.

    • September 27, 2009 1:20 pm


    • Samuel permalink
      September 27, 2009 7:10 pm

      I would hope that conservative values are based on principles that are universal from the Founders through the Y generation and on.

      No question some have lost their way, in all generations, drawn off by, money, votes, ego or religious fervor. Glenn Beck speaks to all generations because the timelessness of those principles, which is a large part of his popularity.


      • September 28, 2009 6:48 am

        “I would hope that conservative values are based on principles that are universal from the Founders through the Y generation and on.”

        You hope correct.

  12. B Byrum permalink
    September 27, 2009 1:14 pm

    Glenn Beck scares the left because he gets the mass moviated like no one else before.
    Look at his 9/12 project as example. Things like this scares the left. Glenn tells people to do research and to question things, the left doesn’t like that. He has brought forwarded topics of Corruption of ACORN and SEIU, their former head here in LA is going to jail for 40 years for embesselment. He exposes the CZARS and how radical that they are. Comrade Obama doesn’t like that. The left doesn’t know how to deal with him and people like these two young filmmakers on taking down ACORN. It is usually their people doing it to the right not to the left. Now it is being down to them and they are like the deer in the head lights.

    • Delores permalink
      September 27, 2009 6:54 pm

      B Byrum, you’re RIGHT ON! The liberal socialist, anti-America, anti-God left “doesn’t like Glenn Beck”, because he’s using videos that show people who, IN THEIR OWN WORDS, are exposing THEMSELVES to America! Glenn is simply presenting FACTUAL INFORMATION that the “transparent” administration & the lamestream media have been covering up. After presenting a lot of FACTS, Glenn is allowing us American citizens to draw our own conclusions. The “lefty libs” don’t like that. So what? We don’t like a lot of THEIR actions, either, especially their legislation in Congress and those 47 czars. Glenn is also using great illustrations to expose some other corrupt people who are “networking” among several anti-America organizations (such as APOLLO, TIDES, SEIU, and ACORN, to name a few) and their connections, past and present, to this administration. And he’s naming names of individuals in those organizations, and asking questions about them. He wants answers, and we American citizens want answers. So far, the administration isn’t coming forth with any. Wonder why? Others whom the left doesn’t like are Glenn’s listeners, viewers, and followers who are listening, learning, and AGREEING with him! Glenn’s ratings are skyrocketing; and the ratings of the “government” are plummeting at a fast rate, now that more and more Americans have seen the “change” for what it REALLY IS, and want no more of it. All of the above are some of the reasons the “lefty libs” and their gullible followers are calling us conservative American patriots names, such as “terrorists”, “mobsters”, “birthers”, and, of all things, “racists”, all of which are totally unfounded. Why are they
      calling us names? Because that’s the only defense they have; and when we explain FACTS to them, they just shout filthy language at us, and angrily stalk off. That speaks volumes about their character, intellect, allegiance to our country, etc. – or the lack thereof – and exposes their propaganda. For more factual information re: views on government issues & policies, as well as some very good advice, check out Dr. James David Manning, at his very interesting website,

  13. Terry Byrd permalink
    September 27, 2009 1:45 pm

    You are exactly right that Beck has the message that will carry over to the conservative future. He has become a conservative icon and should be protected.

  14. Macoozie permalink
    September 27, 2009 2:38 pm

    Post-modern, rot!

    Federal government should follow the constitution, the rest is left to the states and to the people. The 10th amendment is very imporatant here. Federal over-stepping is the font of many curent problems. If you want something, convince your friends and neighbors to vote that way. If your state becomes too instrusive for you to handle and you can’t convince your fellow citizens, Move!

    Please leave out the analysis regarding a suspected lack of interest in social issues. Beck is a firm believer in Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

    Your selection of what are social issues, even the language of your selection gives you away. Abortion or protecting the right to choose, Gay “Marriage” or marriage for gays and lesbians, School Choice or Universal Education, Taxes or Investing in the Future, Stimulus or Porkulus, Health Care Reform or Government takeover of 15% of the US economy . . .

    Conservatism is and always will be the same thing. Don’t attempt to water down a philosophy that has guided generations just to assuage your feelings of guilt.

    I love Beck and The Great One, but Rush is always right.

    • September 28, 2009 6:51 am

      No one’s watering down the philosophy. And you can still keep your variant of conservatism.

  15. Elaine permalink
    September 27, 2009 3:20 pm

    Have you heard about the protests the lefties have staged when the mayor of Beck’s hometown, Mt. Vernon, WA., wanted to honor him as he came to speak in Seattle?

    The end result was the city council voted to rescind the honor.

    The lefties won again.

    • Delores permalink
      September 27, 2009 7:07 pm

      To Elaine…and they (the “left-wing extremists”) call us conservative American patriots “mobsters” when we have peaceful “tea parties”, attend townhall meetings, and ask questions. That was a stupid move on the part of the city council. What hypocrisy and DOUBLE STANDARDS! I certainly hope Mt.Vernon goes ahead with honoring Glenn in any way THEY choose. Those “lefties” didn’t actually “win”. They just exhibited their total ignorance and anti-America attitudes, which is what they do best! Thank God, the number of American citizens who WERE “swooning” at feet of the “ONE” is dwindling fast, as more and more Americans are “waking up”; and departing from the “Kool-Aid cult”.

  16. Chuckie2U permalink
    September 27, 2009 4:40 pm

    I am not a true believer in Beck since I don’t follow him but if he can expose the Liberals for what they really are then more power to him. In my college studies of Comrade Marx the most liberating statement I read was,paraphrased,” Those who do not work do not eat!”
    So within the burning desire of the DEMOCRATS to create a caste system of idiots so dependent on the government they won’t work if given a job, why have they missed this foundation of MARXISM?
    Somewhere in all the TAKE away programs from the middle class to give to the welfare class the major mark has been missed. If the GOVERNMENT wants to raise the WELFARE CASTE to the middle class, why not have a stimulus program that forces them to work , pay taxes and support themselves. If one pigeon holes issues I would be a raving MARXIST on that one point.

  17. September 27, 2009 7:04 pm

    What Beck is doing works-just as I have more in common with Sarah Palin-so I have many things in common with Beck- yes he sometimes goes over the top-who cares, you have to be in a crowd of 9-12ers to feel the energy and know that your not the only one feeling betrayed ,and you have hope not dispair-that others want to do whats expected-so stop trying to over analize him-most of what he writes-says and believes in, is the same as I do.

  18. September 28, 2009 8:38 am

    On the cultural issues, if Life is foremost, I think you will find Beck just doesn’t put himself in the category of moral arbiter. The guy is a muckraker as a vocation. As a Mormon convert his actual positions are pretty easy to define, it just isn’t on his particular media radar screen. But unless you are to the Left of Walter Mondale, you have to love this guy. If it weren’t for Beck/Biguv, where would ACORN be right now? Rathke would be in his vault straining Kuggerands through his claws and, you know, probably he still is, but he senses a disturbance in the Force. He knows… HE KNOWS! that the one who will pull him from his spider hole is already out there and strong the Force with this one is.

  19. Fritz Becker permalink
    October 1, 2009 6:59 pm

    There is one thing that Mr. Horrowitz, Rush, Levin, and Beck have in common, that is a fundamental disagreement, or disdain, with the likes of David Frum. David Frum doesn’t fit into any category of Conservative because he isn’t a Conservative, not even a neo conservative. His idea of how to achieve electoral success for the Republican party is to eject the social conservatives, the libertarians, and the constitutional originalists, and adopt the world view of the statists.
    Note how many hit pieces he’s written about Conservatives, first Rush, the Tea Party activists, then Beck, he will go after the others in time, he has to stay in the beltway cocktail circles after all. The man is a foil, a panderer (to any audience), and a carpetbagger, not a Conservative. The only differences he has with the statist Democrats are on issues of administrative tinkering, his view of the role of government does not differ a great deal, he’s not a neo con he’s a neo statist.

  20. October 24, 2009 2:15 pm

    Wrong conclusion based on a misunderstanding what constitutes a Postmodernist. Beck is the very opposite. Pomos are: anti reason, anti capitalism, anti technology, anti individualism, anti democracy, anti middle class and at core anti modern. The quintessential pomo is Barack Obama and many, many others in his team. Try again.

    • October 24, 2009 2:35 pm

      “Postmodernism” has many meanings, including the one you use, including the one I use.

      Most ideological terms have many, many definitions. “Conservative,” “Libertarian,” “Liberal,” “Leftist” — these terms all have many, often conflicting definitions too.

      Language is an imprecise oversimplification of everything. It’s just a map and should not be mistaken for the territory. But if I want to call myself a postmodern conservative and then define what that means then I can.

  21. October 26, 2009 3:50 am

    “Language is an imprecise oversimplification of everything. It’s just a map and should not be mistaken for the territory. But if I want to call myself a postmodern conservative and then define what that means then I can.”

    Okay, you fit the bill to a t. Just trying to figure out what the emergence of pomocons has for the movement as a whole. The amount of destruction the above causes is beyond description.

    • October 26, 2009 6:59 am

      When you’re judging postmodern conservatism just remember that David Horowitz is one of this emerging movement’s key thinkers.

  22. October 26, 2009 8:37 am

    Yes, I’m still reeling with shock. I intend to ask him why he joined the forces of darkness and what mental contortions he needs to make to answer the definition. Words are failing me to describe my disgust and disappointment. Don’t worry, I’ll get to the bottom of this.

    • October 26, 2009 9:05 am

      I think the difference between you and me is that I’ve read all of Horowitz’s books. (And I’m working on a book explaining them.) Which of his books have you read?

      He hasn’t “joined forces” with darkness. He’s been articulating postmodern conservatism since “The Politics of Bad Faith.” You’re condemning something that you don’t understand. You just don’t like the word “postmodern” because it’s associated with leftist nihilists.

      Maybe this essay I wrote will help you understand:

      Though I’m not hopeful that you’ll get it. If you’re a hardcore Objectivist and choose to live in an oversimplified black and white world then you’re not going to understand.

  23. October 28, 2009 7:20 am

    Dear David, apparently you are too steeped in postmodernism to understand that I don’t ‘like’ the ‘word’ postmodern, I don’t agree with the entire premise of contradictory thought (remember, I am not a postmodernist and to me words are tools to express a concept, not ends in themselves).
    I really would apppreciate if you gave me some credit that at least I take the trouble of understanding a subject before I heartily condemn it.
    We are all quite aware of Leftist nihilism, but postmodernism also pertains to the Rightist wing of that school, otherwise known as Fascism. All strands have a common root in Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, and the rest! Unfortunately, it’s based on fallacy.
    Since in postmodernism truth is entirely pliable, an honest debate is out of the question. The result is ever ad hominems and shouting matches over taste. If there is a better definition of a waste of time, I’d like to know what it is. However, I have looked further into the phenomenon of pomocon (or Spinoza’s 3rd wave, if I understand correctly). I will also take the trouble of reading your essay.
    Thanks for sparring on this difficult subject.

    • October 28, 2009 7:40 am

      “I really would apppreciate if you gave me some credit that at least I take the trouble of understanding a subject before I heartily condemn it.”

      OK, my apologies. You just seemed to be leaping at my use of “postmodern” and condemning “postmodern conservatism” before you understood what it was I was articulating.

      I’m still curious, though, which books by David Horowitz you have read. Because if you disagree with my definition of what “postmodern conservatism” is or you don’t think he fits into this developing ideological disposition, then that’s something I’d want to discuss. (Because part of the whole postmodern conservatism thing is being very open to finding new ideas from others.)

      I’m always eager to discuss his work with others to gain new insights for my book.

  24. October 28, 2009 7:54 am

    David, I just read your post and actually I’m getting a little bit angry. You’re wasting my time. You are also projecting your own relativism on David Horowitz, who rejects the term pomocon, and rightly so. You are in a debate over labels (“words”, nominalism) without going into the concept behind the word. Postmodernism actually has a definition: at core it is the denial of truth, or per Kant, asserting man’s incapability to understand truth or even obtain knowledge. This is why it leads to nihilism. Of Libertarians can hardly be said they don’t believe in anything, which is why it is ludicrous to connect them with postmodernism. Something similar has been done to Christians and that chutzpah, the Emerging Church! Postmodernism at heart destroys everything, because it denies truth, knowledge and values.

    • November 1, 2009 1:58 pm

      David Horowitz supports being considered one of the leading figures of postmodern conservatism as I define it.

      Horowitz rejects the term as it’s defined by Kevin Mattson. According to Mattson a postmodern conservative is one who lies to pursue his policy objectives. Horowitz does not reject the term as I defined it in that essay. And the fact that he’s hired me to work full time editing two of his publications leads me to believe he thinks I understand his work and support his ideas.

      I’ll ask you again since you dodged the question the first time: how many of Horowitz’s books have you read? Which ones have you read? Because I think I know his work (and him personally) a hell of a lot better than you do.

  25. jaredstein permalink
    October 29, 2009 9:42 am

    You’re right. I think the distinction between the “true believer” conservative (who inherited his/her beliefs, and rarely needs to question them unless they are conspicuously and personally confounded by reality) and the “postmodern” conservative is apt. For my own part, I found I arrived at ideas of [and ways of thinking about] conservatism of my own accord, through honest critical thinking, reading, and persistent efforts to be open-minded. I say this proudly, for in order to do so I had to work through corporate advertisers, media conglomerates, government mouthpieces, and educational institutions that have generally proclaimed the opposite to me since the age of four.

  26. J. C. Anderson permalink
    November 1, 2009 1:18 pm

    This is an excellent article. Beck-style conservatism does indeed have a lot in common with postmodern philosophy; both share a contempt for science and reason; both reject well-considered and supported arguments in favor of hyperbole and personality (or as Judge Posner put it, reject “intellect” in favor of “will”); and both glorify the “crank” while mocking “so-called experts”.

    Postmodern philosophy was born on the Left, where it seemed to have died; but its spirit has found new life on the Right.

    • November 1, 2009 2:02 pm

      both share a contempt for science and reason; both reject well-considered and supported arguments in favor of hyperbole and personality and both glorify the “crank” while mocking “so-called experts”

      None of these are traits of postmodern conservatism as I’ve defined it in my article. They’re just slurs concocted by you.

  27. November 1, 2009 2:25 pm

    David, you are an idiot. You can’t just make up your own definitions as you go along. A=A. But what do you know, you’re a postmodern. It’s a psychosis that affects anybody’s capacity to think non-contradictory. And I’m not going to answer your question because it’s irrelevant to the case.

    • November 1, 2009 2:34 pm

      Ayn Rand made up Objectivism. And aren’t you glad that she did? If she hadn’t then you wouldn’t have some secular religion to embrace so dogmatically which would make you feel so superior to everyone else.

      Irving Kristol made up neo-conservatism. People define schools of thought as they develop. Deal with it. There’s nothing controversial about this.

      I can begin the discussion to define what postmodern conservatism is. Furthermore, as I’ve demonstrated “postmodern” has many definitions. Just pick up a dictionary and see. And one of the definitions is the way that I’m using it here.

      I think the reason you’re so pissed off that you start insulting me is that you have no idea how to deal with what I’ve presented to you. As an Objectivist True Believer you see everything in black and white. I’ve presented you with something gray with one term that is black to you (postmodern) and another that is white (conservative.) And you don’t know how to take it. You’re trying to weigh to see if there is more white or more black in it. Judging by how you’re lashing out at me you seem to be choosing the latter path. Oh well. Not much I can do.

      And no, the question is not irrelevant. You’re attacking me for allegedly not understanding David Horowitz’s ideas. I take that as a big insult. You refuse to answer it because if you did then it would reveal that I’m probably better qualified to judge what he thinks than you are.

      • J. C. Anderson permalink
        November 1, 2009 4:25 pm


        I’m aware of your definition of “postmodern conservatism”. I’m merely saying that the similarities between leftist postmodernism and your postmodern conservatism (assuming Beck truly is a representative of this movement) run deeper than you realize.

        Leftist postmodernism failed because of its wild irrationality. Beck is just taking conservatism down that same path with his inane and incoherent conspiracy theories. When belief in those conspiracy theories becomes a “litmus test” for conservatism, that’s a problem. Yet this seems to be the way things are going.

        Conservative judge Richard Posner talks about “the intellectual decline of conservatism” exemplified by this “new conservatism” powered mainly by “emotion and religion”. The ideas coming from this “new conservatism” have “for the most part weak intellectual groundings.” Unlike past conservative leaders, the new faces of conservatism are “strident and populist”, and “substitute will for intelligence” to the point where “anti-intellectualism is embraced and extolled” by the Right. The result is a party led by “mean-spirited, out-of-touch, know-nothing deniers of science (e.g., evolution, climate change).”

        Beck, who believes the founding fathers were prophets of an all-powerful being, is one example of this trend. It’s a real shame.

        • November 1, 2009 4:45 pm

          I don’t think you have a very accurate picture of Beck. Thus you do not have an accurate understanding of postmodern conservatism.

          You accuse him of being a religious fanatic and a crackpot conspiracist. He’s neither.

          It seems you’ve perhaps been influenced by the Salon article attacking the 5000 Year Leap. It seems you’ve adopted the leftist smear of Beck as a conspiracist. (There was an article in The New Republic recently promulgating this smear.)

          I’ve blogged against both of these perceptions.

          First in my Crackpot Chronicles series:

          And second in my Leaping Back to the Founding Series which is ongoing:

          There are plenty of things to get on Beck about. He does make mistakes, he does go too far sometimes, and often his rhetoric is over the top. But your attacks against him and postmodern conservatism are not valid.

        • Samuel permalink
          November 1, 2009 7:01 pm

          J.C. wrote: “Beck is just taking conservatism down that same path with his inane and incoherent conspiracy theories.”

          Exactly how many “inane and incoherent conspiracy theories” that you think Beck has that you can disprove?

          Oh how the progressives would love us to sit on the sidelines and let them dismantle capitalism because we don’t want to be labeled a conspiracy nut.

          J.C. wrote: “Beck, who believes the founding fathers were prophets of an all-powerful being, is one example of this trend. It’s a real shame.”

          J. C., I’ve never heard Beck say this…is this your conspiracy theory? If he does believe that, what is the worse that could result in that ideology?

          I have heard plenty of progressives try to marginalize the Founders in an effort to discount the value of the Constitution. If you’re a conservative you should be very careful about lying in the grass with the progressives.



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