Monday, 9 October 2017

Revew: Ex-Neocon by Scott McConnell

MyHyde, Going Postal

Scott McConnell is an heir to the Avon fortune and stepson to Sterling Hayden, one of the few actors who could play an amoral sociopath whilst remaining a heartbreaking hero. More importantly, McConnell is one of the finest conservative voices in American contemporary politics. Railing against globalism, “free trade”, immigration, and the establishment in equal measure.


McConnell was not always like this. His background is the establishment, belonging himself to the Neo-Conservatives that have plagued Washington for over 30 years. He was editor of the Murdoch owned the New York Post and was a writer for well-established publications such as Commentary and National Review. If you wanted a stereotype of a neo-con, he was your man. Bashing Gore Vidal for his opposition of Israel, arguing for the American exceptionalist goal to be patterned onto rest of the world. His career seemed solidified with those War Hawks.

Things started to change in 90s. The Cold War ended with the USSR & communism in defeat. The need for a strong US military presence in every country of the world seemed a lot weaker than it once did. This made many neo-cons, who had by this point domination over a good chunk of media, a lot more dogmatic then they once had been. Absolutism was becoming rife in the movement.

This is not exactly what led to McConnell’s exit. What killed it was his growing opposition and critical outlook to mass immigration. A brave step to take when he was a witness to what happened to Peter Brimelow, one of the most prominent voices in immigration reform, who got banished to the wilderness for his rather sensible views by Neo-Cons who found his views abhorrent and “anti-American”.

McConnell lost his job at the Post for his position on the issue, a similar story to many other journalists and politicians of his time. He was left without an intellectual home. Made to suffer for his crime. Of course, I don’t believe he minded, his realistic outlook had made him move from ideology, he was much too bright for it.

In 2002 he helped found, alongside Pat Buchanan and the Spectator’s Taki, the American Conservative. Made in opposition of oncoming Iraq War. One of finest magazines in modern memory, A strong voice against those who call for endless war and currently a part of the fight in the culture wars.

His book, Ex-Neocon, details this journey. Discussing his relationship with his former colleagues, certain personal events, the build up to the Iraq War, its aftermath, and American politics up until Trump. These aren’t reflections, these are essays from the time. Took from magazines and websites with the outcomes of great events not yet known, or even imagined. They add a sense of urgent declaration that you can never get from a modern history book. You need to feel what was felt at the time, to understand all the better. Many of these events are easily recalled for some, but it is nice to be reminded why so many fought these ideological wars.

He does lack the hyperbolic rhetoric to make him as entertaining as other writers of his field, Justin Raimondo or the aforementioned Pat Buchanan, but that just makes his viewpoints more willing to reason. The clear head usually does best in a debate, not to his opponent, but to his audience. This is most evident when discussing the Israel/Palestine issue (it takes up a good bulk of the book). A debate prone to insults from both sides. McConnell stands head and shoulders among his peers with a clear head on the matter. Genuine interest and care for both sides, but not driven solely by emotional knee jerk reactions.

Not that to neuter the other sections of the book. McConnell is a fine student of modern history and his commentary on the Great Replacement, him being one of the few American writers who understands the intricacies of the immigration catastrophe of Europe compared to America, or his polemics on Obama make for an insightful read.

Make no mistake, this book is not a great treatise on politics, it does not intend to be, nor does it need to be. McConnell is giving us a collection of essays from the frontlines. His opinions are stark and frank, and his writing clear and crisp. It is one of those books that you can pick up, read a few essays every few months and not feel at all lost. A fine trait for a book on the subject of politics. Buy it here.


© MyHyde 2017


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