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James J. Sack on Right-Wing Hatred of Dissenters in the 18th century

The European Right in the Era of Republicanism

The attitudes and thinking-patterns of intellectuals on the political Right in the eighteenth and nineteenth-century remain as they are in today’s American Right.

From Jacobite to Conservative: Reaction and Orthodoxy in Britain

In James J. Sack’s From Jacobite to Conservative, speaking of the “ubiquitous right-wing hatred of Dissenters” he explains:

“It has often been recognized that the British Right in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as exemplified by Burke and his disciples, though not only by them, mightily distrusted the attempted application of abstract principles and greatly favored the notion of the utility of prescriptive rights. What is perhaps less emphasized in modern discussions of the meaning of early modern conservatism is the role which unalloyed hatred played in defining ideology: hatred for certain forms of dissent, for domestic and foreign radical movements, for Voltaire and the philosophes, for atheists and infidels, for Jews, and above all, for the ancient enemy, Whiggery. (…) Those on the Right also hated, of course, the main intellectual analysis of the philosophes, most pronouncedly when it verged on Deism. Praise of both Voltaire and Rousseau, for example, was fairly common in the Tory press of the 1750s and 1760s, but after the outbreak of the French Revolution, one can find little save the most vicious attacks upon either individual in “Church and King” circles.” (James J. Sack, From Jacobite to Conservative: Reaction and Orthodoxy in Britain c. 1760-1832, pp. 38-39)

James J. Sack confirms Gordon S. Wood’s research on the early relationship between liberals, republicanism, the upper-class and the monarchy until the French Revolution commenced.

It is the same attitudes as our modern “Conservatives.”

Sack continues on more critically about the European Right:

“The Right hated Jacobinism and other foreign-sounding European radical movements. It particularly despised female radicals, domestic and foreign (…) All such received from the Right in general a sustained and unbending critique bordering on hysteria. The short-lived Tory Sunday newspaper, The Brunswick or True Blue was typical in its assessment, in 1821, when it lumped together the Jacobins of France, the Radicals of England, the Carbonari of Italy, and the Illuminati of Germany as “one and the same kidney” and “bound in common bond of hatred against order, religion, and the best interests of mankind.” (Sack, 39-40)


James J. Sack goes on in his book to funnily quote Edmund Burke’s blood-curdling explosion in a letter (Anti-Jacobin, April 9, 1978, pp. 119-21) about the rise of European feminism after 1789, imploring to his friend, Mrs. Crewe to make the names of those feminists “odious to your Children.” Sack explains, the conservatives were so reactionary, the issue was not about agricultural interest, or opposition to land taxation, but were reactions, and rising perfervid emotions toward any suggestion of sexual or religious deviance.

Despite major political shifts in our country’s history of the political parties and citizen rights, Conservatives reject that “The Switch” happened. Yet, take this thinking of the Southerners in James McPherson’s This Mighty Scourge, showing the lack of differentiation of those Southerners from modern Conservatives fear of a “hispanization of america” by its pundits and in their publications.

“The conflict between slavery and non-slavery is a conflict for life and death,” a South Carolina commissioner told Virginians in February 1861. “The South cannot exist without African slavery.” Mississippi’s commissioner to Maryland insisted that “slavery was ordained by God and sanctioned by humanity.” If slave states remained in a Union ruled by Lincoln and his party, “the safety of the rights of the South will be entirely gone.”

“If these warnings were not sufficient to frighten hesitating Southerners into secession, commissioners played the race card. A Mississippi commissioner told Georgians that Republicans intended not only to abolish slavery but also to “substitute in its stead their new theory of the universal equality of the black and white races.” Georgia’s commissioner to Virginia dutifully assured his listeners that if Southern states stayed in the Union, “we will have black governors, black legislatures, black juries, black everything.”

a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order

There is an irony to the Republican Party’s anti-liberal zealotry.

Sam Tanenhaus, an editor of The New York Times Book Review, speaking with Isaac Chotiner of The New Republic in a 2007 article Conservatism v. Republicanism explained William F. Buckley.

“…Buckley has written that if the Republicans want to be a governing party they need to adjust, that it can’t just be an ideological movement, that Republicanism and conservatism need to fuse in some sense.”

What William F. Buckley suggests is not possible, because at this point in time, there’s a compatibility issue, regarding the voting and thinking patterns of “Republican voters,” or “Conservatives.” Noam Chomsky on Populism explained, that the Republican Party has derailed off the political spectrum. Despite the age of the article, Conservatism vs Republicanism from The New Republic puts the history into perspective. The conservative movement and emergent Southern evangelicals that would become the Religious Right early on did not even like the Republican Party, yet both managed to take it over.

“It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right,” evangelist Billy Graham told Parade magazine in February 1981.

The magazine that Billy Graham founded had called for Trump’s removal from office, keeping in line with this attitude. So, the conservative movement entered the Republican Party by means of an alliance between Southern Evangelicals and the adored Californian Conservative, Ronald Reagan.

Mike Pence, after accepting the Republican vice presidential nomination in 2016, captured the thinking of the contemporary Republican voter when he said, “I’m a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.”

But what is in a word

Everything. . .especially when you’re misusing and representing a word however you want to.

“Kirk himself was unequivocally traditionalist (…) it is surprising that young libertarians claim a thinker who declared, “Conservatism is not simply a defense of ‘capitalism.’” (…) The essential traditionalist, Kirk declared that “we need to guide ourselves by the moral traditions…bequeathed to us by our ancestors.” Such a statement is hardly in line with contemporary libertarian libertinism on issues like narcotics and homosexuality. A devout Catholic, Kirk held that divinely ordained natural laws transcend all human affairs. Moreover, he rejected the liberal Enlightenment ideas of human perfectibility and utopian individualism. Following a great tradition of conservatives, Kirk believed that liberty requires order, a reversal of the characteristic libertarian view.” (A Young Appreciation of the Old Right)

Everything Kirk states is no different from the republican and liberal tradition, except for one thing.

Conservatism is not simply a defense of capitalism, because it is an intellectual tradition, a heritage itself. The American Right has steadily assimilated anti-liberal, anti-Enlightenment ideas as a similar or rather continued reaction to societal changes that the Old Order feared, yet our nation is a product of these ideas. Our country’s Conservatives hinge the basis of their arguments on the belief they represent the original intent of the founders, and the real USA.

In truth, Liberal and Conservative politics today is overly simplistic, moving us in one extreme to the other — the former representing democratic progress (supposedly) and the other, conserving traditional values. Republicanism is a philosophy, that does not have this limitation, and belongs to neither exclusively. Such confusion has contributed to ideological subversion and stagnation. The American Right claims the American tradition by embracing the Old Right.

Young Conservatives are asking, what is “real Conservatism.” This demonstrates confusion, and a lack of crucial historical perspective. Discovering more about the origins of Republicanism shows how much an obstruction and drag our party animosities have become, and the distractions from the popularization of fringe political ideology on the Right in the past decade.

The “Old Right” and Conservatives did not found this country, but were the enemies of the republican movements. Also listen to Alan Watts on American Spiritual Settler Movements, the government they founded, and why the Religious Right doesn’t fit in American politics.

“Similarly, others on the left argue that requiring politics to be based on reason tilts the playing field in favor of the elite. This is historically true as well, and politics based on money does the same thing. But that is reality. The fact, again, is that democracy needs the citizenry to be educated, and the skills of reason are the foundation of democratic education. Democracy cannot be established in any other way. Aristocratic rule is not reinforced by the use of reason. The situation is quite the reverse: in order to fight off democratic values, conservatism must simulate reason, and pretend that conservative deception is itself reason when it is not. Many conservative pundits, George Will and Thomas Sowell for example, make their living saying illogical things in a reasonable tone of voice. Democracy will be impossible until the great majority of citizens can identify in reasonable detail just how this trick works.” (Philip E. Agre, What is Conservatism and What is Wrong With It)

I recommend reading this series from Hoover Institution’s Peter Berkowitz, Anti-Liberal Zealotry.

  1. Anti-Liberal Zealotry Part I: Our Immoderation
  2. Anti-Liberal Zealotry Part II: The Crux of Deneen’s Critique of Liberalism
  3. Anti-Liberal Zealotry Part III: Locke and the Liberal Tradition
  4. Anti-Liberal Zealotry Part IV: Classical and Modern Lessons of Moderation
  5. Anti-Liberal Zealotry Part V: Rediscovering Liberalism

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