More strange bedfellows

Pat Buchanan joins Bryan Fischer (and Rush Limbaugh, among others) in praising Putin’s gay-baiting.

There’s always been a strong authoritarian element on the American Right. Some conservatives hated Communism for its tyranny, but there were others who hated only the planned economy: after all, they were fine with Chiang Kai-shek and Pinochet and Galtieri and d’Aubuisson and Savimbi and the Greek colonels and the Shah, and of course with racial tyranny in South Africa and Rhodesia.

So now that Putin is running a tyranny with billionaires instead of a tyranny with apparatchiki, he’s apparently eligible for right-wing admiration.

Footnote Politics has always made strange bedfellows, but this particular bed is starting to get a little crowded, with Putin and Limbaugh and Fischer and Buchanan. I wonder who … never mind!

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

12 thoughts on “More strange bedfellows”

  1. People can and should be judged by their means regardless of the virtue of the ends they claim.

  2. I don’t think that many anti-Communists hated the planned economy. Enough right-wing tyrannies were tolerably dirigiste, and (as Mark pointed out) were still good with the anti-Communist gang. And wartime economies are invariably planned ones, and the anti-Communists looked forward to their holy wars.

    CharlesWT, in making a different point, hinted at the answer. The right hated the ends of communism: liberty, equality, fraternity. That Communism’s means were tyrannical was merely a convenience in expressing this hatred. The source of hatred was in the ends, not the tyrannical means. The right also hated (and still hates!) social democracy. It even hates the extremely dilute modern form of social democracy that supports regulated capitalism as the means to a Rawlsian maximum of liberty, equality, fraternity. The means are acceptable, but the ends remain repugnant.

    1. Er…surely you mean that liberty was among the *professed* aims of communism, rather than its actual end?

    2. A tiny quibble: Liberty, equality, fraternity aren’t necessarily goals of Communism since, arguably, Communism can have no goals because it is simply the utopian ending point for history which is the inevitable result of the dialectical process. Presumably, both the process are the utopian result are predestined so that human goals are immaterial, just as change by human agency short of global thermonuclear destruction that extinguishes all life on earth are presumably impossible (The dialectical process with its “end of history” is one of the many reasons why Communism has frequently been criticized as a sort of mystic mess).

  3. Your linked piece at Media Matters doesn’t mention one of the more incredible passages in Buchanan’s column:

    if we seek to build a Good Society by traditional Catholic and Christian standards, why should not homosexual propaganda be treated the same as racist or anti-Semitic propaganda?

    Bizarrely, Buchanan pretends that to build the devoutly Christian society of his dreams we must promote anti-gay propaganda while repressing anti-semitic and racist propaganda; but anyone who’s watched Buchanan over the years and knows the history of the movement he represents knows he is in fact an enthusiastic anti-Semite and racist.

  4. Next thing is attacks on China for trying to cut carbon emissions, encourage renewable energy and reduce pollution.

  5. I think Ebenezer’s right, and I’d also add explicit rejection of religion. As the Buchanan quote points to. How often haven’t we heard about “godless” communism, socialism, social democracy, etc, through the Cold War and into the 21st century. Sometimes you have to wonder which is the real priority– not even the Catholic Church in the most stratified countries was allowed to get activist about redistribution for long (remember Liberation Theology?)– but the God of the Bible is often enough identified as the god of inequality, and slaveholders were able to find all the support they needed in holy writ.

  6. The right’s attitude towards communism is found in Jeane Kirkpatrick’s “Dictatorships and Double Standards.”

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