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Conservative History: Still Crap


The thing is, this actually sounds like an improvement in the genre:

[Daniel] Flynn generally views the history of the left through the crude lens of a propagandist: he considers the Unabomber a member of the environmental movement, claims Lee Harvey Oswald was a “communist assassin” and insists that federal largesse makes Medicare recipients “a burden to everyone.” And Flynn so loathes the sexual libertinism of the Beats that he resorts to physiognomy, of all things, to explain the most flamboyant among them: “If ever a face projected the seediness and perversions of the brain behind it, Allen Ginsberg’s did.”

Well… I dunno….

I digress.

Flynn’s more favorable reviewers in creditless places indicate that he’s especially preoccupied with “antebellum communists,” including the followers of the proto-socialist Robert Owen or various communitarians devoted to free love and vegetables (not necessarily in combination).

Setting aside the fact that Flynn seems upset about such fascist innovations as offal ordure-free beef, the apparently lengthy treatment of antebellum reformers is bizarre, since every historian I can think of would place these groups — for all their unusual notions and utterly harmless optimism — squarely within a democratizing tradition that would also have included the protestant revivalism of the second (or third, depending upon how you count them) Great Awakening. Moreover, the momentum for post-civil war liberalism and progressivism derived almost completely from anxieties provoked by corporate capitalism, and the leading voices in these movements took their cues from German and American social science rather than from the failed communes of the 1830s. But Flynn, out-pantloading even the Pantload, apparently finds a straight line from graham crackers to gulags. Wonders never cease.

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