Decline of the ISI

I haven’t mentioned this to the blogging world, but I returned to CPAC this year.  Last year, I made national news when I asked a few sacrilegious questions during a breakout session on race and the Republican party.  Every left-wing blogger, it seemed, was throwing my name around; even Chris “the tingler” Matthews called me a “dumb redneck” among other snide remarks…(I’ll see him in Hell).  The Republicans (including Glenn Beck) were quick to distance themselves from me, and I was thrown under every bus on the highway.

So you all can imagine how I felt as I strolled up into the conference center this year.  Head high, and making eye contact with everyone I passed, I eagerly hoped one of the throngs of pretentious brown nosers would see me, remember, and recoil with horror.

My fame, though, didn’t seem to have lasted, and, not getting any horrified looks, I decided to walk through the display area.  Every conservative organization in the country had a booth set up, so it seemed.

I saw the ISI booth and thought “…at last!  An organization that gets it!”  I made my way to them and browsed their book display.  It wasn’t long before one of their representatives came hovering over to harass me.  I told him how excited I was about ISI’s material; most of my favorite non-fiction books have been published by ISI.

The “Intercollegiate Studies Institute” publishes works by the great Richard Weaver, by conservative legend Russel Kirk, Robert Nisbet, Niel Postman, and not to mention, Alan Carlson (a modern “agrarian” whose work I’ve enjoyed).  And if you go on their website, ISI has hundreds of lectures from conservatives.  You’ll find lectures on everything from Austrian economics to literary criticism and the 12 Southerners.

When I began talking about “agrarianism” the intern (who was struggling desperately to get my mailing address), didn’t seem to know what I was talking about.  “Ok,” I thought, “…maybe he hasn’t read as many ISI publications as I have?”  I left the conference disillusioned with organized “conservatism”.

Despite my regard for ISI’s material, I knew they’ve been in a downward spiral for quite some time.  Possibly one of the best things they’ve ever published (in my opinion), is their book “Critics of the Enlightenment”, which declares, in stark terms, that the French Revolution was the end of the old European, Christian world order.  The book features a series of anti-Enlightenment French writers who resisted the Revolutionary spirit in their country.  Because the Revolution was on their doorsteps they were far more radical in their rejection of it than even Edmund Burke.

But ISI decided this might be too strong of a position, so in the forward they had Philipe Beneton add a few quick words about how wonderful the new Enlightenment liberalism really is.

“The founding fathers of liberalism promised civil peace, liberty, and comfort for all.  In the main, these promises have been kept.  Political and social reason is not as powerless as the counter-revolutionaries claimed.  It has, for instance, produced these fruits.  Political power has been domesticated.  In the West, politics continues to divide men but their disputes are kept peaceful and no one risks his life or his liberty should he displease the reigning power.  Conventions that artificially separate men have been destroyed or attenuated: the aristocratic conventions of the Ancien Regime, prejudices founded upon race, nationality, religion.  Man’s recognition of his common humanity has progressed.”

Yeah…rotten fruit.

When an ISI publication gets too close to the truth, they throw in a disclaimer like the one above.  “We realize liberalism overthrew the old medieval world order, but we love it anyway!”

A few days ago, I read an article on VDARE by Paul Gottfried (one of the decent jews).  He’s been a historian associated with ISI for years, but was recently given the boot for daring to be a racial realist.  I met Gottfried and his wife at last year’s H.L. Mencken Club conference.  A great couple; unfortunately I haven’t had time to delve into his material.

That the man was given the boot from ISI simply proves there are no mainstream “conservative” institutions left in America.

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One Response to Decline of the ISI

  1. David Flory says:

    You have quite a bit of very rewarding reading ahead. Paul Gottfried is the best modern political historian I’ve encountered. He’s very deeply learned in a way that few, if any, intellectuals educated after 1960 are.

    Ironically, his own history of modern multicultural leftism and mainstream conservatism shows how the decline of the ISI was predictable. Mainstream conservatism in late 20th century America was an artificial hodgepodge mostly fabricated by thinktanks and the media (esp. The National Review). It had no organic base in American society, and no attachment to either the land or the people. It’s no surprise that the younger ISI members are just rootless libertarians, who would find Southern Agrarianism unintelligible, or at least fascist, sexist, and racist.


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