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Briefly noted...

Lawrence Auster has posted a characteristically cruel, but, in this case, I think, reasonably fair critique of Angelo Codevilla's truly strange "Pro-Mexico" article at The American Spectator.

Well worth a glance.

Comments (13)


You have a stronger stomach than mine...I just can't read past Larry's hyperbole and nasty personal attacks. It is obvious that he has smart arguments to make (the Codevilla article seems like it is really bad), but when I read that Codevilla is a "demented traitor" and that his article is one of the "most evil, hateful articles" Larry has ever read, I just can't take him seriously. "Characteristically cruel" doesn't do Larry's venom justice.

To me, "cruel" and "reaonable" do not go hand in hand. If Auster's argument is reasonable, which I believe it is, then it cannot be "cruel." Perhaps "righteous indignation" would be a better way to describe Mr. Auster's treatment of Codevilla, whose surrender to Mexicanization, I believe truly would usher in an era of unparalleled cruelty.

Lawrence has a mental problem sort of like Tourette's syndrome: he seems incapable of calibrating what is the appropriate level of language to use in any given context. All criticisms of him and of his positions become "attacks". And that's just where he begins. When the criticism continues, and even if it continues on a mature level, the "attacks" escalate and soon enough Auster is calling out all the big guns against an enemy besieging his compound. And as we see with his Codevilla remarks, this irrational spasm of his needn't be in response to direct criticism, but simply to the spectacle of his bête noire, the "false conservative".

This disorder must be given a name: Auster's syndrome.

I'm not terribly interested in engaging in speculation concerning the nature of Auster's mental states, not least because the instinct for purification, for the casting out of faux, imperfect, out-of-sync with the grand cause of the hour, or inconvenient conservatives has been integral to the post-WWII conservative movement from its inception. Casting out the traitors, distinguishing the in-group from the out-group(s) is just one of the things that conservatives do. Beyond that, however, there are certain propositions or policies which, once articulated, fail even the most rudimentary tests of conservatism, and, as such, merit precisely the sort of harsh, almost vituperative criticism that Auster heaps up against Codevilla.

I find it more than a little strange that the author of so generally sensible a book as The Character of Nations could author such a preposterous essay, one premised on a rather equivocal sense of the term 'neighbour' at that; so strange is this, to my mind, that I cannot but think that the explanation lies in something, or some things, that Codevilla has left unsaid. However, what Codevilla has done is express an utter indifference, not merely to the immiscible differences of the two nations and their cultures, but to the preservation of America as America, inasmuch as what he proposes would alter America irrevocably, and beyond recognition - far more so than any economic policy an Obama administration could hope to implement. If an indifference, even hostility, to the preservation of historic nations and identities is conservative, what need have we of leftism? To make matters worse, Codevilla's characteristic explanations for this advocacy are largely economistic, referencing the needs of the economy for unskilled labour of the sort that Americans ostensibly will not do (for the wages they would command when forced to compete with immigrants). As in the case of identity, there is nothing conservative about the subordination of substantive goods to utilitarian ones, and even less than nothing conservative about attempts to fob off such operations as acts of neighbourliness.

Codevilla's performance in the essay is so thoroughly opposite that of the aforementioned book that, as I have indicated, the explanation must be sought in something he has left unsaid, or something that must be teased out of the interstices of the essay. If the characters of nations matter; if, that is, the cultural determines the political, then there is no conceivable set of circumstances in which what Codevilla demands can be accomplished without abolishing, not merely some things that may be wrong in America, but much that is good, and distinctively so, about America.

I agree with Joe Catechissimo.
Mr. Auster makes a convincing argument that the continuous, uncontrolled flooding of the USA by millions of Mexicans is not an immigration, but invasion that is bound to efface USA’s western identity, discard its history and rob it of its destiny. The new mexicanized “USA” will be a monument to the Mexican victory over USA in the second Mexican War.
Unless Mr. Codevilla has lost his mind urging his countrymen to welcome the invader and accept the defeat is an act of purest treason. He is either madman or a traitor. If the former then Mr. Auster is guilty of not trying to assess the mental state of Codevilla prior to accusing him of treason. If the latter then he is perfectly right calling traitor a traitor and there is nothing cruel about it.

Maximos - Beautiful. Perfect.

"If an indifference, even hostility, to the preservation of historic nations and identities is conservative, what need have we of leftism?"


...the explanation must be sought in something he has left unsaid, or something that must be teased out of the interstices of the essay.

Perhaps Codevilla's Hispanophilia can be teased out of the "villa" in his name...?

Er, no. What I had in mind as a possible explanation, assuming that we're ruling out dementia and intellectual malpractice, is that, as a member of the board of the Army War College and a presumed Strategic Thinker, he is concerned that an America which is either bordered by an anarchic narco-state, or averse to the integration that will create a larger politico-economic colossus, will be inadequate to the task of a)confronting America's Enemies, or some such other ambiguous imperial rot, b)unable to balance a rising European Union, c)unable to balance a rising Chinese hegemon in Asia, or d)fill in the blank with whatever fantasy threat is indulged by advocates of the imperium.

Or, he might just believe, after the stupid fashion of our laws, according to which private collectivisms called "corporations" are really individuals, that nations are also individuals, and that Mexico is like the man beaten by robbers and left in the ditch, and we are the Good Samaritan. But that would be so silly that I cannot really wrap my mind around it.

The problem with Auster is that when I read introductory editorial remarks by him such as --

"Fredric Dicker of the New York Post is not an opinion writer. He’s not someone who comments on the large trends of society, but a solid, well-respected reporter who has been covering the New York State government in Albany for the last 30 years. Keep that in mind when reading his despairing column in today’s Post about the descent of the State Senate into an African-like condition"

-- I can no longer trust his capability to accurately adjudge Fredric Dicker being a "solid, well-respected reporter" such that Dicker's observations about the State Senate then become credibly damning. Auster is like a compass or barometer that has been found to be wildly off-base at random times in the past. Such a compass or barometer becomes virtually worthless, even if it might possess dead-on accuracy sometimes. At best, Auster has become a repository for interesting articles whose descriptions by him may or may not be true, but which the reader has to replicate all the laborious leg-work to verify. One expects from a trusted analyst a little more reliability than that.


For crying out loud, give it a rest already. Every time Lawrence Auster's name is mentioned on this blog you're right there to start psycho-analyzing him to death for posts on end. We get it: you don't like Larry Auster. Now shut up.

Your obsession with Auster is embarrassing.

Hot air is no replacement for an actual counter-argument.

Or, he might just believe,… that Mexico is like the man beaten by robbers and left in the ditch, and we are the Good Samaritan. But that would be so silly that I cannot really wrap my mind around it.

Nothing is too silly for tinkers with history and designers of future.
Our own European Codevillas tell us that Islam is like the man beaten by robbers, and it was us who were the robbers. Picking up the man from the ditch doesn’t make us Good Samaritan. It is an act of expiation.

Codevilla begins his essay on so discordant and appalling a note -- conscripting the language of Christian matrimony into service browbeating the reader on the inevitability of a final union between America and Mexico -- that it is doubtful that any rhetorical or forensic skill afterward could rescue it.

The essay is not without its insights, but the constant hectoring tone on this point of inevitability vitiates most of it. Let it be noted that is conceit -- historical inevitability -- is an almost invariable feature of open borders polemics. It is not enough, apparently, to argue that liberalized immigration laws are the best policy available to us; it must be that no other choice really exists. Exasperating.

Also, Auster is right, I think, to detect an underlying edge of anti-Americanism in the Codevilla piece. The reader is forced to wonder whether he feels that there is any part of this shotgun marriage that America is not at fault for spoiling.

Finally, I echo Steve's praise for Maximos' lapidary phrases. Brilliant.

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