According to David Rieff, FPR occupies an honorable space on the right side of the American commentariat spectrum, in that many of our writers (1) are willing to admit the reality of American decline, and (2) do not reflexively blame this decline on anti-American liberal elites. Rieff calls us “agrarian pessimists,” and I for one accept the commendation, although I am not pessimistic about agrarianism. Rieff also groups us with those “serious Christian conservatives” Larison, Dreher, and Deneen (which is to praise FPR twice, I guess).
Rieff’s piece is worth reading. There really is a magical-thinking quality to the product of conservative “intellectuals”: “America can never decline! And if it does, it’s their fault! Those other people!” really isn’t convincing analysis; indeed it is very juvenile. But it whips up half the masses rather easily — and therefore it can be a wonderful tactic for furthering one’s career and filling one’s pocketbook. My only difference with Rieff might be that I’m not sure most of the conservatives he mentions really believe what they say: they may not really be “modern idolators of force, exceptionalism, and the will.” But they are at least willing to spur such idolatry among their followers for personal gain. Which is even more despicable, actually.
Also by the way, here is my old American Conservative piece on David Rieff’s father Philip. I am sure he would have similar contempt for contemporary conservative pundits, although that contempt would extend to virtually all members of the commentary class, I’d wager.