Conservative, Inc. has lost again. Thank God. This time around the defeat has come from the right—the European right. Shudder the thought, my Starbucks-drinking conservative consumers in faux blue collars! America’s chattering RHINOs were up in arms all this week over the fact that Marion Marechal-Le Pen got an invite to CPAC. In case you are new to American acronyms, CPAC stands for “Conservative Political Action Conference.” It is the annual event where “movement conservatives” latch on to popular bandwagons like Trumpism and populism (or, years ago, neoconservative) in order to show off their conservative bonafides.
CPAC has never meant much, and these days it means even less. However, CPAC’s perennial attendees and officials made a big stink because of Le Pen. Why? Well, she’s a collectivist who has said some nasty things about what Gavin McInnes once called the "blessed" free market. Jay Nordlinger of the National Review (remember them?) penned a small op-ed decrying the fact that “the gulf between American conservatism and the European Right” has closed. Nordlinger then bewailed that Iowa Republican Steve King, who has a wonderful habit of saying what a large swath of Middle America really thinks about “diversity”, has found “shared values” with the Le Pen, and, by extension, Vladimir Putin. For Nordlinger, “American conservatism” is synonymous with “liberal-democratic conservatism” and the genius brains of Bill Buckley and Ronnie Reagan.
Over at Weekly Standard, writers spoke in a podcast about how Le Pen is not a classical liberal. Shocker. The once illustrious American Conservative took to the role of school marm to denounce CPAC for inviting a the granddaughter of an “anti-Semite” and someone who has taken a hardline against the sacred cow of free trade. This is an odd complaint coming from the old mouthpiece of Pat Buchanan, one of the most clear-eyed critics of America’s insane worship of unregulated free trade.
So, given all of this storm and thunder, what did Le Pen actually say at CPAC? Well, the beautiful blond barely spoke for ten minutes. In her speech, Le Pen lionized America’s ancient relationship with France, America, Britain, and France’s struggle against globalism, and the need for young conservatives to mobilize against the liberal consensus in North America and Europe. Where Le Pen may have gotten controversial was near the end of her speech, when she brought up how atomization, anti-family policies, and mass immigration have hollowed out the nation-state model. Even more daring (at least by CPAC standards) was Le Pen’s suggestion that nations have a right to preserve their traditions and their bloodlines.
The fact that American conservatives could object to this because of “muh free markets” and "muh exceptionalism" is characteristic of why American conservatism needs to die. Look, even the most ardent subscriber to the National Review is right to harp about the dangers of socialism. Socialism, whether nationalist or not, ultimately saps the vitality of the nation and leads to the type of bureaucratic immobility that creates the mechanism in which degeneracy flourishes.
But the free market does that as well, thus making the case that free-market capitalism is just as dangerous to the body politick as socialism. Indeed, free-market capitalism may be worse because economic vitality often masks the rotten core of any society. While reading the most recent copy of the Economist at a Swiss airport, I could not help but notice that the left-capitalist rag only cares about efficiency and bottom lines. Ostensibly left-socialist tissue paper like Mother Jones and The Nation only care about “justice,” the people, and how the state can protect their feelings. These ideologies do not compete with each other; a market-focused policy is atomized enough to concede space to SJW behavior, while SJWs are themselves the product of an abundant, safe, and highly individualized society. One washes the other, you see.
While the Le Pen family may not be great reactionary heroes, and even though mother Marine is a big fan of critiquing Islam because of its threat to Western feminism, at least the National Front recognizes that free markets in the 21st century are ultimately destructive to national identity and the family unit. For CPAC losers worried that Le Pen-ism threatens classical liberalism, it might be in your best interest to examine what preserving older liberalism really leads to. Does standing athwart history and yelling “Stop!” accomplish anything? Has your stated hatred of “the state” really stopped progressive policies from infecting every aspect of American life? All you have to do is re-watch some of this year’s Super Bowl commercials to realize that those companies that benefit the most from the market economy are often the companies most in love with tradition-killing ideologies.
The furor over Marion Marechal-Le Pen’s appearance at CPAC is emblematic of what is wrong with American “conservatism.” As Nordlinger noted without irony, American conservatism is not “The Right.” It may pretend to belong to the right-end of the spectrum, but CPAC conservatism, at its heart is center-left. Thanks to the internet and rakish publications like this one, more Americans are learning about this incongruity. That is an excellent thing. While some standard GOP talking points are worth keeping (gun rights, anti-communism, etc.), the overriding apparatus of American conservatism should be torn apart and replaced by something uniquely old and new.
Le Pen embodies the desire of so many to revoke the classic liberal trap that keeps too many North American and European governments in stasis. Her invitation to CPAC was probably nothing more than a chance to tag on to a rising star, but, if we think positively, Le Pen’s brief speech could introduce more normal people to those types of right-wing ideas that GOPers consider “dangerous.” Don’t fear being Right, young Americans. America is older than the Constitution, and we can rewrite hundreds of years of liberal mistakes by looking beyond “conservative” shibboleths.