By George, I think he’s got it.
Ideological movements enter into decline at the same point they turn inward and focus on a narrowing set of doctrines that define the cause. That’s the point they lose faith in the future, their future. They turn their tools to the task of maintaining the status quo, often at the expense of the movement and the benefit of the leaders. Today, Buckley Conservatism is mostly a Reagan Mystery Cult with a gift shop for their books, magazines and television programs.
There is some continuation here with the tradition of Buckley, as far as the war on the people to their Right. That has always been an essential element of Buckley Conservatism. Like Progressives, they hate the people to their Right and curry favor with those on their Left. By casting the people on their Right as unacceptable, so the theory goes, they position themselves as the sensible alternative to the Far Right and the Far Left. Buckley cut his teeth purging Burchers and Randians.
The whole point of Buckley Conservatism was to fight the Soviets so this strategy of self-legitimization made some sense. The Left was hoping to emulate the Bolsheviks, not counter them. In order to prevent that from happening, the Right had to be a legitimate counter argument. So, Bill Buckley was willing to throw anyone over the rail if it made him and his cause look good. A lot of people went over the rail as a result.
The problem for Buckley Conservatives is they have nothing to offer. People see 25 years of failure and naturally begin to look elsewhere for answers. The alt-right has loads of problems and parts of it are a bit like heroin, offering momentary relief at the expense of long term happiness. To the person suffering in the present, however, the momentary high from joining a white identity group, for example, feels like salvation.
The alt-right, in all of its manifestations, is not growing in number and confidence because they made a pact with the devil. There is nothing supernatural at work here. It’s not a coherent intellectual movement, but simply a refuge from the endless assault on ordinary people, who see their traditions, their customs, their ancestors and their progeny being ground up in the meat grinder of technocratic managerialism. The alt-right is not offering anything but shelter from the storm – for now.
When people who have been loyal to conservative causes and conservative politicians their whole life find themselves being called racists and bigots by those people they supported, they start to feel like they have been conned. When ruling class organs publicly argue that vast parts of the culture must be destroyed, that traditional America must be wiped out, people hear a declaration of war. The response is not going to be “yes sir, may I have another.” The response, to quote the late Andrew Breitbart, is going to be “Fuck you. War!”
Hey, I’m okay with that. It was always going to end up like this once enough of us realized that, as with Islam, the people using the rhetoric of war against the Left had no intention of actually fighting them. Their definition of victory has apparently always been “more Republican snouts in the trough” rather than “stopping the Left’s destruction of America That Was, and reversing it.” It’s a recipe for ultimate defeat just as surely as their “bring democracy and freedom to people who are violently and unalterably opposed to both” was.