What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.

About

What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

Taking Another Bite At The Alt-Right

I’ve avoided saying much about neo-reactionaries or the alt-right since I wrote a long piece about both last year, but with the election of Donald Trump being credited by some as a triumph of the alt-right I thought I would use a very thoughtful piece by a chastened liberal to revisit some alt-right ideas and see whether or not they merit new consideration.

Professor Daniel Gordon teaches at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and while I haven’t studied his academic work, judging from this essay I’m going to analyze below and his current position in heart of liberal academia, I get the sense that he comes from an older tradition of more humane scholarship – he’s the kind of liberal who actually wants to understand his conservative opponents and/or doesn’t like the radical (and often ignorant) Left that has taken over campus activism and in many cases, academic scholarship.

Gordon begins his essay in an online journal called “The Critique” by trying to define exactly what he means by the alt-right:

The term “alt-right” appears to have been coined by the white nationalist Richard Spencer. However, the term has expanded to include a wider range of thinking that is conservative without being racist. I should emphasize that the ideas that I focus on in this essay are ideas that I consider to be separate from Spencer’s brand of extremism. During the presidential race, Steve Bannon, the CEO of the Trump campaign, described Breitbart News as a platform for the alt-right. At that moment, Hilary Clinton accused Trump and Bannon of being racists.[iv] However, I believe it is more sensible to say that the term “alt-right” underwent an inflection when Bannon appropriated it. Having studied speeches by Bannon, having read Breitbart extensively, having studied the Tea Party which Bannon avidly supports, having read the history books that Bannon endorses and the films he has produced with Citizens United, I do not discern the hate-filled ideology associated with Spencer. I discern a cluster of conservative principles that need to be understood if we wish to comprehend the terms of political debate that are going to endure in America for many years to come.

O.K., so right away, he sees an important distinction that I did not make back in 2016 in my piece when I argued that the

alt-right is a different creature – newer on the scene and really growing in popularity in conjunction with Trump’s candidacy, the alt-right is made up of writers as well as hundreds of Twitter users, commenters on blogs, people who make You-Tube videos, etc. who are alienated from today’s conservative movement and are looking for a radical alternative – what shape that alternative ultimately takes is less clear. They are generally open to using the electoral system (which is why they are interested in Trump’s candidacy as well as right-wing movements in Europe) and they like to take action against their progressive (or insufficiently conservative) foes...Many, if not most, of the alt-right is nasty – they are anti-Semitic, they are hostile to Christianity, and relish vulgar combat with the left or anyone who they consider their enemy.

Furthermore, focusing on just the election of Trump, Gordon makes the following interesting points:

As a Jew, I am well aware that anti-semites exist in our nation, and that some of them voted for Trump. But surely some anti-semites, such as those among the black community, voted for Clinton. I discern no anti-semitism in Trump himself, and I am not willing to consider him anti-semitic simply because some anti-semites voted for him. Anti-semitism is not limited to those who vote for Republicans. The critical question is this: Is it proper for one to reduce a candidate and his or her platform to the lowest denominator to be found among his or her supporters? Finally, a major methodological issue that often escapes attention pertains to the fact that some blacks (8% overall, 13% of black men) voted for a candidate reputed to be racist, that many Jews (25%) voted for someone portrayed as anti-semitic, and that a majority of white women (53%, and 45% of all women with college degrees) voted for an alleged misogynist.[vii] Of course, one could choose to extend the logic of unmasking by arguing that the white women who voted for Trump are “white nationalists” who are ignorant of the gender dynamics in the Trump camp. By the same logic, black men who voted for Trump are presumably misogynistic and blind to how the alt-right seeks to victimize them.

But a better argument is that how people envision politics, and how they choose to vote, does not map onto the grid of social interests and biases articulated by leftist academics and journalists. Critics of the alt-right often seem to presuppose that people must vote based on their real social identities. Our interests are based on who we are. And who are we? We are white or black, rich or poor, male or female, Christian or Jewish. In short, privileged or unprivileged. Everyone who is rational and humane ought to vote for the party that espouses more equality and less privilege, in order to create the greatest happiness of the greatest number.

But this conceptualization falsely polarizes all identities into the category of the dominating and the dominated. Even more, it ignores the fundamental nature of politics. Politics is not merely the sphere in which pre-existing social interests and hierarchies register their existence. Politics is the arena in which new questions are raised, new words introduced, new issues constituted, new passions generated, new identities and movements forged.[viii]

I think this does a nice job of summarizing some of the problems with the way liberals often criticize conservative ideas. So let’s stick with Professor Gordon for now, ignore the anti-Semites and anti-Christian bloggers, and instead focus on these “new questions” and what Gordon calls the “cluster of conservative principles” that he wants his readers to understand and he thinks the alt-right have coalesced around. To begin, Gordon says that

…the alt-right draws intellectual vigor from its emphasis on the need for limits and borders. Given the commitment on the part of some Leftist intellectuals and politicians to a borderless world–not only in matters of immigration and trade but in matters of sexuality and morality—the alt-right’s concern about the consequences of a borderless society registers a real need to have a national debate about how far we can go: how far can we push the frontiers of transgressive thinking and action without destroying our own freedom? With its emphasis on borders, the alt-right has managed to articulate some of the most important philosophical issues of our time. [Emphasis mine.]

Here I admit to a sense of deva vu – is this really “alt” in any sense from the traditional conservative movement? Sure, Republicans have been much more open to unlimited immigration and/or various elements of say the sexual revolution, but conservatives – and especially Christian conservatives with a healthy sense of man’s fallen nature – have always led the charge for limits on our actions and on preserving our culture and traditions against Islam first and foremost but against other forms of immigration due to concerns of assimilation. I guess the alt-right has given the issue of immigration (and tangentially related to open borders is the question of free trade) higher visibility, but don’t tell me that there weren’t conservatives sounding the alarm about immigration before the alt-right.

Professor Gordon moves on to focus on another “conservative principle” of the alt-right:

The alt-right rejects unregulated capitalism as its bedfellow. In previous elections, Republican candidates offered a heterogeneous mixture of libertarian and conservative ideas. The predominant element in Republican rhetoric was not conservatism but the commitment to the free market. In domestic matters, the central dichotomy was the productive market versus the wasteful welfare state, or in Cold War terms, the openness of the market versus the closed system of communism. The market, of course, is not a framework for preserving traditions; it is a force for disruption and change, benignly described as “progress.” The language of the Republicans owed more to Milton Friedman than to Edmund Burke. Economic conceptions like “supply side” and “trickle down” overshadowed references to civic virtue and generational continuity. Admittedly, on certain domestic issues, such as abortion, religious conservatism was in play. Yet, on the whole, Republican thought was capitalist at the core and conservative around the edges. It was the party of business owners and critics of the state, not the party of workers and saints. That has changed.

Here I think the good professor is on to something – we just disagree about whether or not it makes sense to describe capitalism as “conservative” or not. In one sense, of course, Gordon is right (and we’ve had these debates here at W4 many times) that capitalism does promote change and disruption; the question becomes whether or not this change should be described as happening for the common good or in more traditional conservative language. For example, I can easily think of capitalism as promoting civic virtue – hard work, saving for the future, providing goods and services people need (rather than what some bureaucrat dictates), etc. I don’t want to rehash the entire two cheers/three cheers for capitalism debate here, suffice it to say, that if the alt-right is suspicious of the market and wants to move us to a more centrally planned economy than I can certainly see why they would be described as clashing with traditional conservative thought on the matter – I just don’t think it is right to downplay all the social and religious conservatives who would vigorously defend the capitalist system.

Gordon then highlights what I think is an important flaw in what he attributes as Steve Bannon’s thinking about these matters:

Anyone listening to Bannon’s speeches[xi] or watching films like Generation Zero will quickly realize that the pursuit of profit unbound from national welfare is what the alt-right stands against. Bannon invokes with reverence Burke’s compact between the living, the dead, and those yet to be born. Our duty, he says, is not primarily to enrich ourselves; it is to bequeath something to the next generation. With an astronomical debt and trade deficit, we risk being the first generation that bequeaths nothing to the future. Thus Bannon castigates “crony capitalism” and promotes the ethic of social responsibility over unrestrained egotism.

Assuming that Gordon has fairly summarized Bannon’s ideas here, notice the problem with Bannon's thinking: he moves from a critique of capitalism and the market economy (i.e. “the pursuit of profit unbound from national welfare”) to a completely different and, I would argue, unrelated idea worrying about our “astronomical debt and trade deficit.” Excuse me for jumping in here with a bit of logic, but a robust, lightly regulated market economy has nothing to do with “astronomical debt” – debt is a function of spending beyond your means, whether it is the government that is doing it (which has been the case for years and years since probably the Great Society) or individual households (in which case they are just not managing their money wisely – a problem of too little thrift.) Neither situation indicts capitalism or has really anything to do with “crony capitalism” which Bannon mentions later – this is all an argument against the welfare state and/or out of control spending – again, arguments that traditional conservatives have been making for years and if anything Trump and the alt-right don’t seem all that interested in such government spending restraint. To be sure, Trump has initially proposed some great ideas to reduce the size and scope of the federal bureaucracy, but he has also defended Social Security which is one of the main drivers of the out of control federal budget and he is talking about massive federal spending on infrastructure projects which could wind up costing as much as all of the savings he gains from his other reforms.

Gordon ends up finishing his piece with a focus on the Left – arguing that in part the alt-right is a reaction to the craziness of a Left that refuses to accept any limits:

Denying the benefits of borders is part of the Gramscian long march of radical ideas into the institutions that frame public policy. (I will illustrate below with case study from the Department of Education.) The existentialist affirmation of the nothingness underlying all commitments, of the arbitrariness of all choices, including even those that are guided by our previous choices, is now part of our political culture. This is not the skepticism of Montaigne, Hume, and Burke, which lends itself to disciplined and gradual modes of extending our outer and inward conversations through, for example, the intensive study of Great Books and the prolonged exploration of foreign languages and cultures. It is a childish wish to defer all binding self-definitions and to experience liberation from constraint at every moment of one’s existence. It is a rejection of pronouns and of every social grammar. The Brexit vote in turn rejected this nihilism. It affirmed the conservative principle that there is nothing wrong with being attached to something in particular. Likewise, the alt-right is a victorious reaction against what is too often – and mistakenly – called the “identity politics” of the Left. For what is in question today is just the opposite: the explosion on the Left of anti-identity politics.

I would suggest reading the rest of the piece for the details of the craziness at the Department of Education and their infamous “Dear Colleague” letters that Catherine Lhamon of the Department of Civil Rights was known for (i.e. transgender bathrooms seemed to be their major concern.)

Overall, for someone who probably considers himself a liberal, it is a well-written article and Gordon comes across as sympathetic to the conservative themes he discusses (especially his extended discussion of immigration.) But unless the reader is already familiar with conservative ideas and thought, he could be lured into thinking that Gordon has indeed uncovered something new and original to say about the alt-right – instead I fear that in the end there is not much “alt” about the entire piece. There are a couple of mentions of Trump’s attack on free trade (which I agree is a new and different direction for conservative orthodoxy) but no real effort to explain this position or tie it to the broader alt-right movement. We are left with the idea that the alt-right stands for “limits and borders” but these seem to me to be perennial Christian conservative themes tackled by thinkers in America for the past 50+ years. Gordon's problem is that while he engages in honest reflection in ideas of the moment, he has no historical knowledge (it seems) of the broader conservative movement and therefore fails to see all the parallels between the alt-right ideas he highlights and the older, richer body of conservative thought that has come before. “That which has been is that which will be / And that which has been done is that which will be done./ So there is nothing new under the sun.”

Comments (50)

Gordon absolutely is wrong to try to rehabilitate the term "alt-right" and give it a spin so that it merely represents, e.g., a more trad-con version of conservatism. This, of course, is why many paleocons have glommed onto the current alt-right and made excuses for it--because they hate those they regard as "neocons" more than they want to disassociate from the badness they are making common cause with. But as you say, anti-free-trade and immigration hawkishness antedate anything that one might call the alt-right.

Let me add, however, that I have uncovered (and I'm not the first, I just did some research) a disturbing further historical set of facts: The phrase "alternative right" was actually coined by the Grand Old Man of paleoconservatism, Paul Gottfried, who *explicitly* passed the torch to VDare. Gottfried was also pretty explicitly worried that the paleoconservative movement would lose its "race realism," which he regarded as important and seems (by use of the phrase "human biodiversity") to connect with evolutionary theory. So to the extent that one is not pleased about having all of "that" associated with conservatism, the transition there to the current alt-right is actually an historical line that passes quite clearly through Gottfried.

http://lydiaswebpage.blogspot.com/2016/11/bannon-etc.html

Interesting; he did, however, later make clear in an article that the "Alternative Right" he sees right now is not exactly what he was thinking of. He was quite modest in his characterization of himself; I myself remember Spencer's use of the term for his now defunct magazine much more clearly myself, as it was discussed pretty heavily (and condemned) in forums such as View from the Right.
http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/263988/some-observations-man-who-created-alt-right-paul-gottfried

Lydia,

Of course I agree with you -- I thought Gordon's piece was interesting for other reasons even if he was ultimately wrong about the use of the term.

When I was writing this post I had forgotten about your excellent piece about Bannon and the alt-right. I would encourage our readers to go back and check it out -- your research and thoughts about the 'denialism' (if I can use that somewhat loaded term) in some quarters on the right was spot on.

Gee, what a rousing denunciation:

And (no I won’t hide this) I am ideologically closer to Altright commentators than I am to the Never-Trumpers or to the contributors to most establishment Republican websites. Jared Taylor, Peter Brimelow, Steve Sailer and John Derbyshire are all brilliant thinkers and writers, and I wouldn’t deny that I’ve benefited from their luminous insight.

He tut-tuts a little at Richard Spencer (!) for "indiscretions." I suppose the persecution of David French and Erick Erickson (the latter he expressly denounces) was also an "indiscretion." Good grief.

From my reading of alt-right thinkers, the alt-right is the defense of Western Civilization, which is understood to be the European people and Christianity. In other words it's the complete rejection of the Propositional Nation. The fundamental understanding of the alt-right is that politics is downhill from culture, which is downhill from identity. Whenever there are large ethnic and religious groups with competing identities a country is doomed to fail, thus it is important to keep America European and Christian. The United States is not a blank slate for every religious belief and every racial identity.

I would say that he is even attempting to condemn the Alt Right; more that he is stating he does not know what the hell these people who are fans of bad late night Japanese cartoons are doing in his movement. (I have used Twitter too much, went to 4-chan and futaba channel a few times, it is a mistake).

I think there is a a very strong argument to be made that the Alt Right is missing a genuine embrace of the Western tradition for their focus on biology and ethnicity. Or rather, that their modern and modernist assumptions force them to focus only on rearranging the deck chairs of race and biology, rather than embracing more daring political and economic approaches like monarchism, restricted and elite conceptions of the franchise, agrarianism, distributism, and last but not least traditional religions like Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman (and Eastern Rite) Catholicism.

Urban II,

If you indeed think the alt-right is simply defending "Western Civilization, which is understood to be the European people and Christianity" then how is it any different (as I argue in my original post) than older social and religious traditional conservative thought? More importantly, how to explain all of the craziness you find (i.e. antisemitism, racism, flirtation with violence, silly memes, etc.) among that crowd? Your defense falls flat.

missing a genuine embrace of the Western tradition for their focus on biology and ethnicity.

Well, but that focus was a biggie for Gottfried as well. He made that clear in his older material. He just was genteel about it in his manner and presumably didn't want death threats against anybody.

Jeffrey S

The particular understanding of the alt-right I explained is only a subset of the alt-right. Someone like Richard Spencer talks about European identity, but I've never heard him talk about Christianity. Then there are other areas of the alt-right that are crazy, as you point out, but if you want to truly understand the alt-right, it's best to read the most prominent and intelligent thinkers.

With all that being said, I am not, nor have ever been part of the alt-right. I have my own traditional Catholic conservative beliefs. Within the alt-right, I find a subset that takes traditional Christianity seriously and another side that is overwhelmingly tribal and pagan.

I'm happy to say that it is not only possible but actual and desirable for a person of non-European descent to take on the relevant aspects of so-called "European identity" such as respect for rule of law, neutral procedural justice (as opposed to tribal justice), respect for contracts and property, and so forth. The racial obsessions of some who consider themselves to be on the right (whatever label they wish to accept for themselves) are unhealthy, and I have no truck with such obsessions. And, yeah, they are obsessions. And I really couldn't care less what labels *those* opinions garner *me* with the race-obsessed.

P.S. These sentiments are (surprise surprise) compatible with immigration hawkishness and even "discriminatory" immigration policies on the grounds of the need for careful vetting and gradual assimilation and the difficulty of assimilating large numbers of foreign immigrants, especially those whose religious commitments are deeply at odds with the aforesaid "European" values.

I'm happy to say that it is not only possible but actual and desirable for a person of non-European descent to take on the relevant aspects of so-called "European identity" such as respect for rule of law, neutral procedural justice (as opposed to tribal justice), respect for contracts and property, and so forth.

I don't think anyone has denied that non-Europeans can follow laws and respect contracts. What is being said is that racial identity is a fundamental aspect of human identity and when you have large groups with competing identities, the traditional identity of the country will lose. For example, Japanese culture is best defended by the Japanese people. Massive French immigration wouldn't make them Japanese, but French living in Japan, with their own unique identity, culture and traditions.

What is being said is that racial identity is a fundamental aspect of human identity and when you have large groups with competing identities, the traditional identity of the country will lose.

Nah, I don't buy that either ("fundamental aspect of human identity"). It's a wild overstatement (at best). Not that I'm terribly interested in a combox debate about it. But to be frank, as a contributor, I want to explicitly dissent from such comments on the blog.

Urban II,

I happen to be fascinated with the exact ideas you seem to be interested in and I even think you are right (to some extent) that our racial identity is a fundamental aspect of our human identity -- part of what makes us unique, just as our biological sex makes us unique in certain aspects. Of course, it is only a part and as Christians it will always be in tension with our ultimate identity in Christ (Galatians 3:28.)

In addition, as part of the great English diaspora, countries like America, Canada and Australia highlight some additional tensions in that our founding ideals are often thought compatible with a welcoming attitude towards immigrants from various continental European countries as well as non-European countries as long as the immigrants were willing to work hard and assimilate American values (as many previous waves of Chinese, Cubans, and Czechs seem to have done in the past.)

Furthermore, as Lydia hints, many in the alt-right could care less about our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world and indeed have never heard of the Great Commission. So yes, you are right to stand with traditional conservatives in worrying about the rights of every country to protect their traditional culture via immigration controls -- but this is an old position for many of us on the right and someone like Mark Krikorian doesn't need to take advice from anti-Christian racists tweeting nonsense on an alt-right twitter account.

I would like to comment on the "traditional religion" or "traditional Christianity" being raised by the commenters Anonymouse and Urban II. I've been reading the writers of a paleo or traditional conservative persuasion for about 10 years. I've watched over the last year or two as *some* of the paleo movement has morphed into the Alt Right.

One of the conceits of the paleos as well as the Christian Alt Righters is that real, substantial, traditional conservatism is to be found in High Church traditions. Just about every Christian paleo is Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox or Anglo Catholic. The implication of this conceit, this High Church leaning of the paleos, is that the essence of a traditional America is in these "traditional" Christian churches.

As a Calvinist and a Presbyterian, though, I've found this conceit a bit amusing and ironic. It seems clear to me, and anybody else who looks at the history, that if America has any traditional religious sense at all, it is thoroughly Protestant. Not just Protestant, but Calvinistic and Puritanical (I'm using that word in a good sense). Not just Calvinistic, but evangelical.

Roman Catholicism has always been a minority in America. It's become a much larger minority over the decades thanks to immigration. As a minority, Catholicism in America has adapted to the Protestant majority culture. Catholicism in America is much different, more Protestant, than, say, Catholicism in Central and South America.

This comment is far afield from the OP, and moderators can delete if they please, but there is something that would do my Presbyterian heart good. It would be for an Alt Righter or paleo or trad-con to admit that when they speak of "traditional religion" as part of their program, that they admit that the "tradition" they speak of is foreign to what America is and has always been. What they want is not tradition, but radical change--for if America ceases to be Protestant, America becomes a very different country.

Jeffrey S,

I agree with pretty much everything you said. What I think is the major problem for a large subset of the alt-right, is not the importance of ethnic and racial identity, but the fact that race is of supreme importance. The over importance of what is essentially good leads to a form of pagan and tribal identity that is at odds with the sum total of Western Civilization.

Ben,

It would indeed divert us from the purposes of this OP, but your comment highlights some of the differences between the neo-reactionaries and the alt-right.

The neo-reactionaries fall into the groups you describe -- down with Americanism:

http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13teste.htm

I happen to be fascinated with the exact ideas you seem to be interested in and I even think you are right (to some extent) that our racial identity is a fundamental aspect of our human identity -- part of what makes us unique, just as our biological sex makes us unique in certain aspects.

In about 500 or 1000 years, when we have some actual development of the science of "character" instead of the mumbo-jumbo of behavioral "sciences" we have now, and when we have successfully resolved the "genes" part of our physical inheritance from any other part of our physical inheritance, we might actually be able to begin to distinguish which parts of the quintessential British grocer, or American cowboy, is due to nature, and which is due to nurture. Until then, I will remain highly cautious about any explanations of how Americans come to differ from Frenchmen - not because I dispute that the differences are there, nor do I dispute that they arise from knowable causes, I just will take any claims of having "solved the riddle" with large grains of salt.

That being said, I have no problem with the notion of keeping France for the French and America for the Americans. I do have a lot of trouble thinking of the alt-right as having an obsession with the "civilized" part of Western Civilization or with Christianity as such. I think they are ready to cooperate Christianity as long as it sits quietly as the religion of the dominant group and is left at that. I doubt they would have tolerated Christianity during the 200's.

Ben, I am pretty sure that there isn't anything right about America that would be harmed by the addition of the right amount (and sort) of additional Catholicism. :-) After all, the English culture that preceded the Protestant invasion of (northern) America was entirely Catholic, too. Pax.

Indeed, so were the early days of Maryland before Cromwell.

"if the alt-right is suspicious of the market and wants to move us to a more centrally planned economy than I can certainly see why they would be described as clashing with traditional conservative thought on the matter"

The alt-right's suspicion of capitalism, at least that part which has come to it through paleocon thought, has its roots in the early 20th century American conservatism of the New Humanists and the Southern Agrarians, as well as the slightly later influence of the English Distributists. These threads were carried into postwar conservative thought by Weaver, Kirk, and some of the other conservatives associated with them. Thus, to say that suspicion of markets necessarily clashes with traditional conservative thought is incorrect. It only appears that way because that particular stream of conservative thought has over the past 35 years or so been marginalized by the dominance of the broader conservative movement by the neo-conservatives.

Tony,

Excellent points regarding the mysteries of genes and character. I'm perhaps more sanguine than you about what science can say today regarding these questions, but there is no question that many broad claims are made on the flimsiest of evidence (Lydia and I have examined some of the studies/analysis in question and they are lacking to say the least.)

Nice Marmot,

Fair points about the history of "suspicion of markets" -- you have often come to these comboxes to defend those older points of view and your contributions are welcome. I would push back against your characterization of the modern embrace of capitalism and markets as a phenomenon of the "neo-cons" -- such an embrace had much more to do with the battle of ideas against communism and quite frankly, the success of economists like Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell (who cannot be described as neo-cons) in winning hearts and minds as they advanced better arguments against the left and against those older paleocons (at least I would make that case -- I know you would disagree!)

~~I would push back against your characterization of the modern embrace of capitalism and markets as a phenomenon of the "neo-cons"~~

I was thinking not so much of the "embrace" as a neo-con phenomenon, but rather the marginalization of the alternate view. As you imply, the economic libertarianism of such writers as Friedman and Sowell figures into that embrace as well.

But I'd argue that the views of the libertarians were accepted rather uncritically by the 80's neo-conservatives, and as a result the "paleo" concerns were simply folded into those of the Left and dismissed. That this dismissal is wrongheaded can be demonstrated by a reading of, say, Weaver's chapter on private property in Ideas Have Consequences or more recently, George Nash's largely positive review of Dreher's Crunchy Cons in the WSJ. Even more recently, see last month's WSJ review of Patrick Deneen's Conserving America?

The conservative movement following Reagan simply lost the idea of political nature of man and thus were unable to see the reality of nations.
In other words, following the economic libertarianism of Friedman and others, they left off being conservatives and became indistinguishable from libertarians philosophy-wise.
Thus, the prophecy of Kirk that the chirping sectaries would never amount to much was disproved.

"In other words, following the economic libertarianism of Friedman and others, they left off being conservatives and became indistinguishable from libertarians philosophy-wise."

Nash referred to that in his Crunchy Cons review when he wrote of the "enduring tension on the right between those for whom the highest social good is freedom—the emancipation of the self from statist restraint and oppressive custom—and those for whom the highest social good is virtue: the formation of character, the cultivation of the soul.”

If I understand him correctly, Ben Carmack believes the Alt-Right, taken as a whole, does not want tradition: but desires a radical religious transformation in America. He sees the Alt-Right and Paleo-Conservatism in general as a radical departure from America's historic evangelical Calvinistic Puritan roots.

Many of the Christians; that I know in the Alt-Right are as Ben Carmack notes: Roman Catholic, some of whom are to a greater or lesser degree committed to sedevacantism. Other Christians in the Alt-Right are Eastern Orthodox, and Anglicans. Not all Christians in the Alt-Right are high Churchmen. I also know some that are Lutheran and Reformed. In my conversations with men on the Alt-Right; I have heard many of them quote Rousas Rushdoony, and Hendrik G. Stoker in conversations related to science and truth, the relationship of the state to freedom, and the relationship between trade, labour, and wages.

One could, I suppose, argue that the Van Til, Rushdoony, Stoker, Dooyeweerd tradition is also a departure from the historic evangelical Calvinistic Puritan roots of America. One could argue that presuppositionalism is a radical departure from the older evangelical Calvinism of Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Reid, Charles Hodge, and Benjamin Breckenridge Warfield.

Prior to the election run-up I had considered "alt-Right" to be primarily an umbrella term for various conservatives who chose to distance themselves from both neo-conservatism and mainstream Limbaugh/Hannity/Fox type conservatism. It seems that only with the ascendancy of Trump in the GOP did "alt-Right" appear to take on (or be saddled with) some of the negative connotations the term now carries.

This is not to say that those negative factions weren't there all along. They were, but one learns to play Spot the Looney fairly quickly. Now it seems, however, that some of the looneys have come to the fore, and thus the entire "movement" is viewed in their light.

To Ben Carmack et al.: It's probably a mistake to think that the high-church tradition as it now exists has been entirely uninfluenced by low-church political culture. Talk of "subsidiarity" is very much a Roman Catholic thing, but it bears a striking resemblance to the actual practice of Presbyterians, and to the practice of the American colonial governments that were themselves deeply influenced by Presbyterianism.

Anybody who's the least little bit interested in the alt-right/neo-reaction/etc. is totally wasting every second, every minute, every hour that he spends here.

WWW is now, more or less, Lydia McGrew's personal blog - and she understands the alt-right about as well as she understands Daniel Larison or Jeff Martin.

Giving Steve's comment all the attention it deserves,

Ben Carmack says:

It seems clear to me, and anybody else who looks at the history, that if America has any traditional religious sense at all, it is thoroughly Protestant. Not just Protestant, but Calvinistic and Puritanical (I'm using that word in a good sense). Not just Calvinistic, but evangelical.

Ben, in order to pose this you have to ignore the large diversity that attended the settlement of large numbers of other Christians than the Puritans and their very close cousins. The Quakers were not puritan. The Anglican Church was the established church in Virginia from its earliest days. There were a lot of Anglicans in the Carolinas early on. There were, at various times, toleration of Puritans in colonies south of New England, and persecution, depending on vicissitudes of fortune and governor. Catholics had an early start in Maryland until they had a reversal of fortune, but neither their numbers nor their influence was completely missing in the revolutionary period. It is revisionist to suggest that the record is universally clear that the "American religious tradition" is Calvinistic Puritanism.

One of the conceits of the paleos as well as the Christian Alt Righters was that real, substantial, traditional conservatism is to be found in High Church traditions. Just about every Christian paleo is Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox or Anglo Catholic.

It seems likely that many of these paleos (less so the alt-righters) are referring to tradition that is "real, substantial, and traditional" that precedes Protestantism and Calvinism altogether: the Christianity that was the mark of Christendom as it existed in Christian Europe for 700 years before Salem or Jamestown. The Christian traditions from Charlemagne to the Doges of Venice to King St. Louis IX to the Medicis to Henry V of England to Don Juan at Lepanto. SOME of which traditions even found threads in Protestantism, and in America.

btw - does anybody know if Jeff Martin (once known here as Maximos) still posts his thoughts on the passing scene, somewhere or other?

I hardly ever agreed with him about anything, but he sure was interesting.

As, indeed, was Daniel Larison, whose latest thoughts on foreign policy ["those lovely Arabs - those horrid Jews"] are served up several times a day over at the (strangely named) American Conservative...

Jeff showed up a couple times on Dreher's blog, but it was extremely minimal. I've had the occasional email conversation with him and I think he has largely given up blogging; I'm not aware that he's writing for anyone at all right now.

Related to Jeff's frustration with both the left's and the right's unwillingness to self-critique in any substantive manner, anyone who has any concerns about the state of things after the last election, whether you were/are a Trump backer or not, should read Lasch's The Revolt of the Elites. Lots of excellent insight there.

Thanks, Nice Marmot.

So "both the left's and the right's unwillingness to self-critique in any substantive manner" eventually got to him - yeah, that's where I could totally agree with him - though, no doubt, we'd differ on the details.

~~~So "both the left's and the right's unwillingness to self-critique in any substantive manner" eventually got to him~~~

Yes, I'd say that's probably true. It's pretty much where I'm at as well -- quite the uphill battle.

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." - Leo Tolstoy

"If I want to change the world, it's got to start with me." - Bouncing Souls

"I can't change the world, but I can change the world in me." -- U2

On left and right self-critique I've got this quote from Maximos:

"The left desires social liberation along with economic solidarity but the former subverts the latter. The right desires economic liberty along with traditional morality but the former subverts the latter. Period. The end."

Of course I have my doubts that the left will ever cast a critical eye on the Sexual Revolution, but at least a few conservatives are starting to get the message that Big Business is not only not our friend, but that that enmity is not just occasional, but baked in. It's good to see some on the right begin to question, substantively, the corporate lickspittles at AEI, Acton, etc.

Three cheers for the Acton Institute and AEI!

It's good to see some on the right begin to question, substantively, the corporate lickspittles at AEI, Acton, etc.

It is my perception that there have constantly been conservatives who critiqued the idea of Big Business and unrestrained markets, though their voices sometimes get drowned out by other conservatives, and by "conservatives" who are just right-leaning liberals.

But I don't take Tony by that comment to be endorsing the nasty (and unwarranted) condemnation of the American Enterprise Institute and the Acton Institute as "corporate lickspittles." Give me a break. Nor is any characterization of AEI and Acton as in favor of some sort of pure libertarianism accurate, either. Indeed, both have had much to say about Catholic social teaching and its intersection with the market.

Nice,

I enjoy having you around as a commenter, but please, you try my patience when you do the following:

1) use my post to discuss subjects basically off topic from the OP;

2) use ad hominem to describe the writers at two institutions that publish a range of interesting scholars and views about the market and capitalism -- indeed, when it comes to Acton in particular as Lydia already pointed out, they are at pains to think seriously how Catholic social thought and markets can work together for the common good (you might not like their answers, but that is a different question than whether or not they are serious thinkers);

Cut it out or you will be banned, plain and simple.

Note that I did not say that everyone at AEI and Acton was a corporate lickspittle. Scruton, for instance, was/is at AEI and he's certainly not one.

"use my post to discuss subjects basically off topic from the OP"

Not sure how the rise of the alt-right and the self-critique of the mainstream right, or lack thereof, can be called unrelated to each other.

"It is my perception that there have constantly been conservatives who critiqued the idea of Big Business and unrestrained markets, though their voices sometimes get drowned out by other conservatives, and by 'conservatives' who are just right-leaning liberals."

No doubt. But after the 2008 crash, and then the last few years of corporate America generally falling in with and pushing the agenda of the Sexual Revolution and the related identity politics, even some pro-corporate types are beginning to sit up a bit and take notice.

Nice,

When in a hole, the first rule is stop digging.

"Note that I did not say that everyone at AEI and Acton was a corporate lickspittle."

Right, you originally said, "It's good to see some on the right begin to question, substantively, the corporate lickspittles at AEI, Acton, etc." The sentence is a model of restraint and nuance.

Regardless if you singled out one or ten writers, the fact remains that the comment is still ad hominem and devoid of substance. Again, it is fine that you disagree with the views of pro-market folks at those institutions -- but to insinuate that they hold those views simply because they are paid off or from other insincere motives is nasty and unwarranted.

There are plenty of principled reasons to support capitalism and robust free markets -- we aren't going to have this debate here -- but don't pretend that there isn't an honest clash of ideas involved.

"There are plenty of principled reasons to support capitalism and robust free markets -- we aren't going to have this debate here -- but don't pretend that there isn't an honest clash of ideas involved."

I'm not. I'm questioning why there remains a largely uncritical commitment to corporate capitalism by conservatives when so much of what the corporations actually do flies in the face of what those same conservatives otherwise believe.

Doesn't it ever cross your mind that maybe, just maybe, this indicates a problem with the system itself and not just the individual corporations involved?



No doubt. But after the 2008 crash, and then the last few years of corporate America generally falling in with and pushing the agenda of the Sexual Revolution and the related identity politics, even some pro-corporate types are beginning to sit up a bit and take notice.

NM, there are probably venues in which the bulk of the right-leaning individuals are so pro-corporate and so pro-Big Business that they may be justly identified with those perspectives. Some of them are even considered by some "conservative", such as venues given over to neoconservatism. Some of them take stances in favor of business that actively eschew questions of human good, considering that the principles for what is "good" in business means what will increase profits and nothing else. Perhaps such persons can be labeled "corporate lickspittles" without injustice.

But neither AEI nor Acton are such. Nor, especially, is this site, which you should know after all our articles on the modern usury crisis.

I'm questioning why there remains a largely uncritical commitment to corporate capitalism by conservatives when so much of what the corporations actually do flies in the face of what those same conservatives otherwise believe.

Doesn't it ever cross your mind that maybe, just maybe, this indicates a problem with the system itself and not just the individual corporations involved?

Probably at least half of the so-called "uncritical commitment to corporate capitalism by conservatives" is really by neoconservatives, who aren't properly conservatives, but liberals. Of the actually conservative people, many DO critique commitment to the current state of corporate welfarism and other ills of big business.

The problem with declaring your concern being with "the system" is that it is undefined. Do you mean, the system in which businesses set their own objectives? The system in which businesses can hire or fire people without getting approval from the government? The system in which people can offer newly invented goods or services and let market forces influence pricing? The system in which people decide for themselves what jobs to apply for, to train for, to drop when they want to? The system in which human beings exercise free will? Sure, I have thought of the problem with THAT system. Let's genetically modify humans so they no longer have free will. (Except for my own kids, of course. Somebody has to steer the ship.)

There are hardly ANY conservatives who come by the name honestly who don't think that business and markets need SOME externally determined limits. (Mostly, people who don't believe in such limits are not conservatives, they are libertarians, most of whom are liberals of a pro-free-market stripe.) So, largely, your beef with most conservatives is they would set the limits at a different place than you would. But there is a legitimate difference of perspective on HOW various limits would improve or damage the overall welfare of the people affected, since the capacity to identify results and consequences has not been reduced to a science (in spite of economists trying to pretend that economics is a science). Calling people who would put the limits at a different place than you "lickspittles" because you disagree with their estimation of the consequences is pretty darn harsh.

~~Probably at least half of the so-called "uncritical commitment to corporate capitalism by conservatives" is really by neoconservatives, who aren't properly conservatives, but liberals.~~

True, but neoconservatism and libertarianism have both had a very profound influence within mainstream American conservatism (what Jeff Martin used to call AEC -- 'actually existing conservatism') such that a great majority of those who call themselves conservatives are actually right-liberals to a greater or lesser degree.

You also must not forget what Clinton Rossiter stated in Conservatism in America, that American conservatism has, for better or worse, been tied up with corporate interests since the rise of the GOP. A pro-corporate mentality is in the American right's DNA, and those conservatives who have seen problems with that have been in the minority all along.

"So, largely, your beef with most conservatives is they would set the limits at a different place than you would."

Actually, no -- I think that at issue is the reason for the need for limits. Most capitalists who believe in limits do so on the basis of pragmatism -- industrial/corporate/late capitalism is fundamentally a good system that just needs ongoing tweaking, as the vicissitudes of the market affect various aspects of the economy.

My belief is that the system itself is fundamentally flawed, and that limits are needed because of the tendency of those inherent flaws to undermine the system's positive aspects.

Now this doesn't mean that anyone who is A) philosophically and/or ideologically committed to capitalism is necessarily B) an inordinate defender of Big Business. But all of set B is part of set A, and I have no doubt that there are set B people at both AEI and Acton, unless those organizations have changed mightily over the past few years since I stopped paying attention to them. Fox, Limbaugh, Hannity and the rest of AEC do not come up with this stuff on their own.


and I have no doubt that there are set B people at both AEI and Acton, unless those organizations have changed mightily over the past few years since I stopped paying attention to them. Fox, Limbaugh, Hannity and the rest of AEC do not come up with this stuff on their own.

Perhaps you are right about AEI, Nice, but as for Acton, I don't see it. To refresh my memory, I went over there, and I had a lot of trouble coming up with even one example. Much more typical was this:

Environmental protests that spring up around development projects on tribal lands point to an underlying systematic injustice. Native Americans often lack property rights to their traditional lands and waters. The protests now going on over the Dakota Access Pipeline are in part symptomatic of this gap.
Of course, some forms of economic inequality are unjust. One contemporary example is crony capitalism. In these economic arrangements, collusion between businesses, politicians and regulators replaces free competition under the rule of law. If there’s a major culprit (“the money”) for unjust forms of economic inequality today, it’s crony capitalists and their political and bureaucratic enablers.

Crony capitalism should be — but isn’t — the target of Christian critique. Catholic social teaching says exactly nothing about the subject.

This anniversary is the occasion for the publication of these two works in a new volume, Makers of Modern Christian Social Thought: Leo XIII and Abraham Kuyper on the Social Question. In the introduction to that volume, I focus on describing some of the major themes that arise out of these remarkable texts, including the ideas of subsidiarity, sphere sovereignty, solidarity, and sphere universality. Perhaps the most significant motivating factor for both Leo and Kuyper in producing these statements, however, was their shared concern for the poor.

In these two works we find, in fact, something approximating a predecessor to what would later be called the “preferential option for the poor.” This idea would later be defined as a “special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity.” Both Kuyper and Leo articulate the need for a special concern for the poor in the development of Christian social thought, even as they likewise emphasize the need for formal equality and justice before the law.

Rio’s poor, like the poor throughout the developing world, lack a much more important ticket. They lack a ticket into the game of wealth creation and enterprise.

That game has not been, and should not be, just for the rich. The market economy is a creative engine that has enabled hundreds of millions of people around the world to lift themselves out of poverty. But to play the game you need property rights, and for all too many around the world, property rights are much harder to get than a ticket to the Olympics.

Why is this a big deal? Here are four reasons why property rights matter — and they are not just economical.

Property Rights Enable Economic Development

In many developing countries, 50 to 60 percent of the land has no clear title. If you don’t know who owns the land, then you have no incentive to improve and develop it, and it can be easily taken away from you — especially if you are a widow or an orphan. Without a clear title, you also can’t use the land as collateral to get a loan for, say, a tractor or to start a small business.

As Peruvian economist Hernando De Soto points out, the existing assets in the developing world are much greater than all the foreign aid over the few last decades. The problem is that the poor cannot access much of the value of their land without a clear title. What results is lots of potentially productive land that remains unproductive.

Acton's a bit different from AEI in that it attempts to work Catholic social teaching into its considerations. That's definitely to the good. It still accepts modern capitalism itself uncritically though, and therefore views such things as crony capitalism and lack of property rights as bugs rather than features. They're still serving the corporations if they don't entertain any potential criticism of corporatism itself. So while "lickspittles" may have been too strong an epithet, they're definitely doing some water-carrying.

I'm ascribing no malice here, by the way. But I do think that in many regards they're trying to eat their cake and have it too.

But it is not necessary to be a "defender of Big Business" to be a defender of the corporation as a concept.

If you mean by "corporatism" something more than a defender of the corporation as a concept, something more like the view "incorporation is per se good regardless of circumstances", or "there cannot be any social defect in having a corporation format", or even proposing instead "corporations can be good but in the present environment they are turning largely degenerate" then you would have little objection from me (and others here), because WE have objected to such attitudes as the first 2 and have said things like the latter.

As usual, NM, you seem to have some root complaint with the way things are right now, that you keep expressing as a complaint against something or other that is connected up with business being Big and Corporate and Capital, but the actual, formal complaint, as to just exactly and specifically what you see as fundamentally wrong, eludes me. When I have brought it up before, you have not objected to the MERE CONCEPT of "incorporation", say, 10 guys getting together formally to pool resources that will work better together than separately. When I distinguish between the formal principle of "capitalism" pure and simple from the half-breed variations (not "finance capitalism" or "modern capitalism" etc), as in JPII's careful designation of capitalism, implying that the person supplying the capital is due a portion of the profits but NOT implying that profits are the only measure of good in an endeavor - THAT principle you don't seem to object to.

I personally think that big business, qua big, tends to drown out the values inherent in the local and expressed in subsidiarity. Given the definitive fact of scale efficiencies and the implicit potential for profitableness attached thereto, though, the way I see it the tension between "big" and "local" must necessarily remain as sphere of working out prudentially a compromise of where to give up the benefits of big, and where to give up the benefits of local, a sphere that almost by definition does not lend itself to a "standard" kind of answer or even to saying as a standard who or where the determinations are made: personal? family? business? city? federal?

It's not that I think the actual compromises have all been good - of course not - it's that most of the time people who complain about the state of such compromises being too far in favor of Big have no viable substitute for who shall get to make the choices and how they are to be made. As crony capitalism shows, putting the government in charge of deciding where is not a sure solution. Taking away the principle of capital - that the person who supplies the resources gets a share of the profits - is certainly a worse solution than what we have. Take away "corporation" as such? Taking away "corporation" as a legal business format ensures that the little guy who has only a small bit to invest will NEVER get to be an investor except in his own private operation - which is impossible if he works for a wage rather than for his own business. And it would still remain: who, and on what moral basis, gets to decide "we shall not permit corporations as a legal structure" ?

I love the Chesterton / Belloc picture of the little landowner, who owns 3 acres and gardens the entire plot, and sells tomatoes to his neighbors while he buys cucumbers from them. I think there is a great benefit to owning your own property. But the fact of the matter is that under the best of conditions, only a small portion of Americans today could succeed doing so, and virtually all of them could succeed only if they also had a day job, something other than raising tomatoes.

~~~When I distinguish between the formal principle of "capitalism" pure and simple from the half-breed variations (not "finance capitalism" or "modern capitalism" etc), as in JPII's careful designation of capitalism, implying that the person supplying the capital is due a portion of the profits but NOT implying that profits are the only measure of good in an endeavor - THAT principle you don't seem to object to.~~~

I don't reject markets. My belief is that in capitalism, even as JPII designates it, there is a worm at the core, in that the system is rooted in an error. That error is the belief that avarice can be recast as "enlightened self-interest" without consequence. Now if the manifestations of that error can be kept small, and contained by counter-efforts, than a sort of "small market" capitalism is feasible. But as businesses and markets grow, these negative characteristics expand right along with them, especially if the businesses jettison ideas of corporate responsibility as they grow. Hence, "bigness" is itself a problem, no less so of business than it is of government.

To put this another way, once a corporation reaches a certain size "crony capitalism," or some variant, is all but inevitable. To portray it as simply "bad" cronyism attaching itself parasitically to "good" capitalism will not solve the problem. There is no such thing as good greed, and corporations should not get a pass simply because they're not real "persons."

In short, capitalism as such has some inherent problems, and "bigness" tends to exacerbate them.

At this point defenders of capitalism will ascribe these inherent problems to fallen human nature, not to the system. As humans we will always be tempted by greed, they say. While this is true, the answer to greed is to call it what it is and resist it, not to rename it "self-interest" and brush it aside.

My belief is that in capitalism, even as JPII designates it, there is a worm at the core, in that the system is rooted in an error. That error is the belief that avarice can be recast as "enlightened self-interest" without consequence.

Ok, I guess I don't see why you insist on casting this up as an error of "capitalism" rather than an error of "capitalism deformed by wrong ideas". The root principle of capitalism is that the provider of capital is due a portion of the profits. This root concept does not require that enlightened self-interest concept as an addendum. It can be modeled without such an addendum. And, in fact, this is exactly what JPII was trying to do: specify a capitalism that is not infected with fundamental errors.

In this sense, it is right to speak of a struggle against an economic system, if the latter is understood as a method of upholding the absolute predominance of capital, the possession of the means of production and of the land, in contrast to the free and personal nature of human work.
The answer is obviously complex. If by "capitalism" is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a "business economy", "market economy" or simply "free economy". But if by "capitalism" is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.

I submit that if you demand that "capitalism" means the deformed sort of capitalism that definitively is infected with the immoral notion that avarice can be turned into a social good, then there is no remaining word available for the principle that "the person who supplies the capital is due a portion of the profits". It is this that leads me to insist as often as necessary that the word "capitalism" CAN INDEED be properly used to refer to that foundational concept on its own, without any unnecessary concatenations to kludge up the concept. It is a simple concept, and deserves its own name, and the best such name is taken from the word "capital".

Not to say that the concept doesn't harbor some prior commitments - which are just the ones JPII lays out: the original and natural validity private property, the laudable creative energy of the businessman, the protection of laws of contracts, the positive role of business, the right to market your products, services, or labor. These are all parts of any concept of capitalism, because they are necessary preliminaries to any normative arrangement of a capitalist putting his capital in the hands of laborers and selling the result it for a profit to be shared out. But none of these require the addendum of avarice transmogrified into a social 'virtue'.

Now if the manifestations of that error can be kept small, and contained by counter-efforts, than a sort of "small market" capitalism is feasible. But as businesses and markets grow, these negative characteristics expand right along with them, especially if the businesses jettison ideas of corporate responsibility as they grow. Hence, "bigness" is itself a problem, no less so of business than it is of government.

I would prefer that the avarice be countered at the first point of entry, right at the level of principle: a capitalist's (or consumer's for that matter) very notion of what he is about is wrong if he assumes as a necessary feature thereof that all men should be moderately avaricious in seeking their own welfare in opposition to that of others. Perhaps, if each player in the market were to have their thinking and underlying belief-structure purged of the assumptions of that kind of self-interest, the problems would be avoided all the more effectively than merely putting a ball-and-chain on the avarice to slow it down.

Hence, "bigness" is itself a problem, no less so of business than it is of government.

It is my opinion that as people became more able to move about the world quickly, and more able to communicate over long distances quickly, the big problems that big governments deal with are absolutely unavoidable: you cannot prevent needs from arising that need the attention of a high-level government from arising, you can either meet that need with a high-level government, or fail to. The only solution that is possible for THAT kind of need, which still recognizes the need of individuals and small entities, then, is subsidiarity, and some form of federalism rightly applied: an interweaving of governmental authorities at multiple layers for needs that belong to diverse layers. Those notions of subsidiarity and federalism are, par excellence, the unique conceptual gift of America to the growing world, however poorly she has managed to fulfill the concept since the Civil War.

I also believe that a similar approach must be applied to the business world, in order for there to be any chance at a peaceful orderliness between the natural growth of businesses with great new ideas and the limitation of them within humane bounds. Some version of subsidiarity explicitly incorporated and federalism (or, at least, shared decision-making powers [and profits] between layers) in the structures of business relationships, will be the true hope of retaining the virtues of localism while not unnecessarily stifling the creativity of businessmen. Which implies, of course, some necessary constraints on creativity to observe the due limits of human nature and of the actual community in which we live.

Post a comment


Bold Italic Underline Quote

Note: In order to limit duplicate comments, please submit a comment only once. A comment may take a few minutes to appear beneath the article.

Although this site does not actively hold comments for moderation, some comments are automatically held by the blog system. For best results, limit the number of links (including links in your signature line to your own website) to under 3 per comment as all comments with a large number of links will be automatically held. If your comment is held for any reason, please be patient and an author or administrator will approve it. Do not resubmit the same comment as subsequent submissions of the same comment will be held as well.