Moonbat in flight
Explore the political spectrum ...
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Left Thought
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Conservative Media
Conservative Thought
Conservative Action
The Right
Rightwing Media
Rightwing Thought
Rightwing Action


Conservatives believe that people are irrational and selfish, and need a stable authoritative system that induces or compels people to act in the public interest. Conservatives are prone to overlook the historical record of these responsible authorities acting just as irrationally and selfishly as the populace that these authorities are supposed to regulate.

Conservatives are skeptical of social, cultural, and governmental innovations; the big division is between those willing to accept evolutionary change, and those generally opposed to innovations.

Modern conservatism goes back to the reaction against the violence of revolutions and revolutionaries, especially Oliver Cromwell and Napoleon Bonaparte). Conservative intellectuals like Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, and Edmund Burke were also skeptical of the new fashion of rationality (and they were not consoled by Immanuel Kant's answer to Hume). Major conservative politicians tend to be of the evolutionary change variety, e.g., the Duke of Wellington, Benjamin Disraeli, Otto von Bismarck, Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower and Robert Taft.

Before the Twentieth Century, few prominent Americans called themselves "conservative" (as Daniel Webster did); however, intellectual conservativism was popularized by William Buckley, and is now very influential. During the Gilded Age, authority in America became based on wealth, and conservatives are now often allied with the very rich, as they had been allied with the landed aristocracy when Edmund Burke was in Parliament. The basic tension of conservatism is that the leaders are often no better than the led.


Here it is, in all its glory, The Establishment. The alliance of stodgy pontification and entrenched authority. The aristocracy is in power, and that's the way it should be and should remain.

Befriending and befriended by the aristocracy -- including the current aristocracy of great wealth -- conservatives have never lacked media forums. But like the aristocrats they served, conservatives insist on quality, so the genuinely conservative media tend to be the best in the world. It is a sign of the times that the rise of the Right has been marked by a decline in the old house organs of conservatism.

A number of news outlets are conservative-to-center. For example:
  • The two conservative-to-center metropolitan newspapers I am most familiar with are the San Francisco Chronicle, serving northern California, and the Tampa Tribune, serving west central Florida.
Conservatism is not boring -- at least not as boring as the center -- but it is prone to stodginess. Fortunately, some intellectual journals find themselves classified as "conservative" as a result of averaging. Ultimately, conservative media serves the power that is, which by definition includes media like:


Conservative thought is in pretty sad shape these days. Conservatives used to dismiss or suppress right wing radicals, but those were the days that there were first class conservative thinkers. Nowadays, most of the energy right of center is in the distinctly non-conservative (and often anti-conservative) Right, and the relatively limp conservatives have more or less caved.

Conservative thought is often supported by the Powers That Be, who often want something (affection, maybe) in return; the result is a tension in conservative thought between conservatism and lapdogism. Witness the tendency of conservatives like Aristotle (a successful lackey of kings) and Confucius (a less successful one) to rationalize the unconservative behavior of their patrons. Nowadays, the Powers That Be indulge in fantasies about how cowboy-esque they are, which leads to the founding and funding of distinctly unconservative Right wing think tanks like those listed at right. But there are institutes that are able to encourage a genuinely conservative course.

Religion is a pillar of the established order that conservatives regard with great suspicion. Established churches tend to come to understandings with the Establishment, and to gain a stake in the established order. In addition, personal and social virtues advocated by conservatives, like sobriety, integrity, charity, humility and responsibility, appeal to Romantic Right sympathies among the laity. Still, one of the great controversies among the religious is the relationship between Christ and Caesar (Mark 12:17), for if politics is the mean of saving souls, it carries perhaps the greatest temptation of them all, the desire for power. Organizations like that National Association of Evangelicals is more conservative than Right.


Conservative action is intended to defend or revive traditional institutions, from social to communitarian to governmental to national. This has a tendency of slipping into a defense of the current power structure.

Practically by definition, The Establishment is the bastion of conservatism, since The Establishment likes its position in the scheme of things. So we must start with the Powers That Be, namely:

These should not be confused with economic libertarians -- economic libertarianism entails what Joseph Schumpeter called creative destruction, which always poses as much of a threat to an established aristocracy as it does to anybody else. (Right wing groups dedicated to economic libertarianism can be very roughly divided into those who don't understand creative destruction, those who don't believe in it, and those who think that they can surf it. True conservatives know better.)

Conservatives would not seem to need pressure groups, but still they have them.

The Right

Like the Left, the Right is more of a community of fellow travellers than a group. Unlike the Left, which includes many people who cheerfully claim not to be "liberal" (although almost all leftists claim to be "progressive"), the Right consists almost entirely of conservatives who are not particularly conservative. In fact, some of them are quite radical, a point that used to pain genuine conservatives (who are often derided as "limousine liberals" by the Right).

Every society has visceral and often populist reactionary traditionalists, with minstrels like Søren Kierkegaard and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and celebrities like Charles Coughlin and Joseph McCarthy. The Romantic Right of Richard Wagner and Walt Disney could be included in this group.

Tribalism, formalized by G. F. Hegel and (unwittingly) popularized by Napoleon Bonaparte, appears in patriotism, nationalism, and exceptionalism. Reactionaries and tribalists provided rationales to bonapartists like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

The Religious Right argues that society or the state should advance or require a public religion; such a nation is a theocracy. Important theocracies include the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the (Protestant) Swiss Confederacy, and now the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The individualist libertarians trace their ancestry through Friedrich Hayek, Ayn Rand and Friedrich Nietzsche to liberals like David Ricardo and Herbert Spencer.

In the USA, this community was united by steady groundwork, alliances with conservatives, and sequence of leaders from Barry Goldwater to Ronald Reagan; one of its successes was to make the word "liberal" an epithet.


Unlike the Left, whose media tends to always be marginal (except during revolutionary situations), the Right wing media blends into the mainstream media, at least that part of it in service to the political and economic elites. But the Right can be problematic, especially in respectable tea shops ...

Right wing politics -- served a la carte or in stews -- has always been popular in America, and the Reagan era saw the rise of great wurlitzers serve up popular fare.

Influence within the Right is the province of smaller operations. And there are other forums:
  • Advertizing itself as "America's Leading Source of Books, Periodicals, and Websites with a Conservative, Free-Enterprise Focus," Eagle Publishing maintains the right wing super-blog RedState.
  • Wikipedia is resented, and inspired the right wing facsimile Conservapedia.


As in the Left, there is no Right wing thought, but rather many right wing thoughts. Curiously, many right wing thoughts are quite similar to many left wing thoughts -- for example, except for their obsession with property rights, libertarian individualists have many similarities with anarchists (including, of course, fringe groups with a weakness for pipe bombs). Perhaps the one thing that they have in common is that they are about as conservative as their counterparts on the Left.

The Right always has money, and as Gary Trudeau once remarked, academics like to be bribed. The result is a number of Right wing academic institutes, largely rationalizers for great wealth.

  • Stanford University's Hoover Institution was originally conservative -- it is named after one of America's leading advocates of economic individualism -- but it has drifted Rightward since. It publishes the academic journal Policy Review.
  • The University of Chicago's Department of Economics is showing its age, and is even hiring outside of the Right in a poignant campaign for respectability.
The problem with academics is that they don't stay bought, they are prone to abandon the program for the sake of the scene, and they lack respect for their betters. So their betters create ersatz academic institions, complete with "scholars" and endowments, to more faithfully tow the line. Some of these are more specialized.
  • Sometime after Eisenhower's departure, some of the Right became entranced by the military, and organizations reflecting that entrancement include the Center for Security Policy.
And then there is the culture war, which did not start with the 1960s - there were similar fulminations during the 1920s, from the Scopes Trial to the original Birth Control Movement - but the 1960s was the latest of many cycles, and memories are short (and historical education even shorter). As in previous cycles, the Right is very suspicious of Academia, and and that has inspired reactionary organs like Front Page Magazine.


As in other areas, Right wing organizations can't be readily pigeon-holed, as one can see by considering the history of that quintessentially American organization, the xenophobic and pro-union Native American Party (a.k.a., the Know Nothing Party, so-called because members invariably knew nothing about it).

While America has always had prominent Right wing organizations, the current efflorescence is certainly due to the steady and hard work of Right wing organizers at all levels. And while the Right organized, the Left whined and spun conspiracy fantasies -- er, theories.

The American Right is the primary source of domestic terrorism, although it may be more accurate to say that the majority of American terrorists claim allegiance to various Right wing causes, usually tribalist. It is likely that tribalism simply is a psychological haven for people suffering certain social deficiencies; Hitler wrote that an ordinary person might see himself but a worm, but in an organization imagine himself a piece of a dragon. While tribalist terrorists have caused major problems in the past -- and worldwide are wreaking havoc -- they are largely marginalized in America now. Most of the usual examples are simply hate groups, if not mere mutual admiration societies:
  • The whole idea of an American Nazi Party is somewhat weird -- a patriotic embrace of the ideals of America's most terrible opponent -- and the decrepit state of the movement can be seen in its fragmentation. Currently, there are two largest parties, the American Nazi Party and the National Socialist Movement.
  • The Ku Klux Klan, or more accurately the remnants of the New New New Ku Klux Klan, include such fragments as the Knights Party USA, the New Saxon social network, and the Imperial Klans of America. Bring your faux Druid priest robes (that's what those sheets and hats are) to the white peoples' potluck picnic & cross lighting -- and yes, you can find fond memories posted on You-tube.
  • And the Church of Jesus Christ Christian Aryan Nations doesn't seem to have recovered from its encounter with that self-appointed nemesis of Right wing violence, the Southern Poverty Law Center.