Book Reviews

The New Right Papers
By Robert W. Whitaker,
Saint Martins Press, 1982
Editorial Reviews
Review by William  A.  Spriggs,  Oct 4th,  2001

As I continue to search for material focusing on the "conservative male mind," or, what I believe I will now call, "the primal male aggressive mind," the tragic events surrounding September 11, 2001 in New York City seemed suddenly to carry more importance. As of the date of this writing, the Taliban religious movement of Afghanistan is currently being considered the prime political culprit as it harbors a man called Osama bin Laden as its chief voice. And, as my early studies seem to indicate, these religious Islamic fundamentalists seem to share some universals with the fundamental political conservative male minds found in this country, (the USA). In some ways this is frightening; but on the other hand, it is excellent news because it shows considerable promise of finding and isolating the universals of their behavior. From this perspective then, we have a much better platform to argue for the cause of, and possible solutions to, humankind's (and in particular, the male of our species), ruthless ability to do unspeakable acts of barbarisms to our fellow humans.

A political "left" leaning friend of mine gave me this book and said that I would be astonished by what I found. She told me that much of the political goals set forth in this book by the American "right" conservative movement are actually taking place in our time (2001). (I have political "left" in quote marks to describe my friend because it reflects my own personal behavioral theories that "conservative," primal male aggressive minds, reflect a innate belief system that is "nature" in original -- closer to the beast in demeanor and manner one might say -- and thus found on my left, [as to indicate the starting point in reading from left to right]. My friend, who would be a "liberal" in the terms of 2001 political lexicons, would be on the "right" of my personal political behavioral theories, and falls into the "nurture" column because she transcends beyond the animal beastly origins and into the higher consciousness of the mind. I know that it may be a bit confusing, but click and study my biological/political chart, see the comparisons listed in the two columns and it will make enormous sense as seen from an evolutionary perspective).

As a species, exploring how our political and social worlds have evolved from a evolutionary perspective are just in their beginning stages, and to me, represents one of the most fascinating opportunities awaiting evolutionary psychologists; think of it -- finding the biological innate causes of war and conflict, and finding solutions -- all within our reach! -- possibly, in our lifetimes! Advances in neurophysicological studies and evolutionary theories have now placed us at the front door of how political policy decisions, morals, and ethics are made and implemented by the human brain. All that is needed is the courage to open the door, examine the truth before us and report it. It will not be an easy journey as there will be great resistance to change, but it is one that all of us who study evolutionary psychology must make in order to achieve the truth; and the truth ultimately prevails.

The New Right Papers is a very simple book that is divided into two main parts: what is wrong with America -- The Political Context (in the opinion of the authors in 1982), and what to do about it -- The Right Alternatives. Both sections have several guest essayists whom vent their particular political spiel, spin, and venom. If we examine the book closely, and then view the book from the distance perspective of the past twenty years that has transpired, one can easily see the overall tone of the book that they are attempting to establish: That America is in deep crisis because of the liberal culture that evolved from the permissive 1960s, and that Americans, at their core, are very upset by this "liberalism"; are really "conservative" in their nature; and want to change the system. The editor and essayists strongly believe that (in 1982) that American society was not really liberal, (despite years of voting democratic at the polls in large numbers for Kennedy and Johnson), and that the American political scene was about to undergo a transformation back to fundamental beliefs of conservatism. The only thing missing, in their opinion, was that they needed to forge a coalition of diverse, yet highly motivated conservative groups in order to succeed and:

However, a key element in the success of the New Right will be its ability to focus on how the establishment uses its apparatus of power in the media, corporations, schools, etc., for political domination and exploitation. Samuel T. Francis, "Message from Mars." p. 76

Their main gripes? That the "government," tampers with their individual rights by attempting to accomplish "social engineering"; the "liberal press" that agrees with such programs and uses its influence to 'dupe' Americans; the use of the court system to overturn laws once established by the representatives of the voting public; and the liberal public education system that has kicked (their) God and (their) Bible out of it school system; reduction of parents' rights; attacks on the private school system; lack of energy self-sufficiency (interesting point here as Ronald Reagan opened the floodgates for importation of oil); and the final drumbeat?: a consistent refrain that the "military is weak." And the real motivation behind it all? That the "liberal" government "steals" their hard-earned money through excessive taxes to perform these deeds with a bungling and inefficient bureaucracy. (In this book, social engineering means forced busing of minority students to mostly middle-class white neighborhoods, affirmative action job quotas, welfare programs, and head-start programs. p.ix).

Let me further set the tone of this book through a quote from Clyde N. Wilson's essay, Citizens or Subjects?:

The fact is that the balance of power has shifted against the people and in favor of the court; that government policy, both domestic and foreign, has for some time now been directed more and more by the interests and opinions of the class that dominates the centers of power, (no argument from me on that point in 2001 concerning the Supreme Court's decision on the 2000 election), official and unofficial, and its clients, and less and less by the well-being or beliefs of the people.

Most of the ills facing American society today can be viewed simply as the varied manifestations of the growth of what I have called imperialism. It is the onset of imperialism that accounts for the widespread sense of powerlessness and decline felt by Americans today, a malaise far deeper than experienced in major crises of the past like the Civil War or the Great Depression. The trends of recent decades, unchecked and unreversed, foretell the transformation or republicanism into something else -- the familiar, ancient forms of servitude, the end of liberty and dignity, except for the imperialist class -- those lucky, ruthless, or cunning enough to belong to the court rather than the country. (now, you have to understand that this man is talking about liberals as being the imperialist elite in 1980. This is important if you are attempting to identify human universal behaviors).

That the form of republicanism remains intact, apparently, is of little significance. It is the substance which ought to be our concern. That members of the imperialist class, floating on a sea of luxury and irresponsibility such as was never known before in the world, do not see the degeneracy (he is talking of sexual permissiveness here -- before Brittany Spears and porn on the internet) of the times, does not matter. The average American, rooted in the reality of work, responsibility, and survival, knows that he is not as well off, not as secure, not as proud or as easy as he once was. (hmmm...have you noticed that in the 20 years since this book was written there are now more wealthy people than ever? and that the working class still seems to be working their butts off and seem to be standing still and are earning the equivalent of a salary suitable for the 1970s?)

It was the boast of the Founding Fathers and subsequent generations that America was the best country in the world for the common man -- that was one of the meanings of republicanism. It may still be true, but how much longer? With the value of labor eaten away by inflation, neighborhoods threatened, education deteriorating, the minimal conditions of civility disappearing, the American, except for favored members of favored minorities, see his hope slipping away. Dimly, he apprehends a sinking from citizenship into peasantry, that he has become a subject rather than a citizen. His unease arises not only from a sense of deterioration but from the instinct that his rightful inheritance, as an American, is to be a proud and self-governing being. p.113 & 114. (I want you to remember this last phrase regarding a proud self-governing being as very important, and I will explain why at the conclusion).

But, just who is this down-trodden citizen that the authors of The New Right Papers think is a frustrated American "peasant?" According to the essayists of this book they are labeled MARs -- Middle American Radicals --"In the mid 1970s, MARs had a family income of $3,000 - $13,000 ($15,000 - $62,000 in 2001 income). There was a strong presence among them of northern European ethics...MARs were nearly twice as common in the South as in the north-central states. They tended to have completed high school but not to have attended college... They tended to be in their thirties or in their sixties and were 'significantly less likely to be professional or managerial workers' than to be 'skilled and semi-skilled blue-collar workers.'" p. 66 & 67.

More clues as to whom this disgruntled "radical" political animal that is so important in this "New Right" revival can be found in several other locations in the book. Notably: "More broadly, of course, it is also true that the principal relevant dividing-line in the society must continue to be the one that separates producers from non-producers." p. 22. (Now I want you to frame this statement referencing "producers" and "non-producers" alongside the words "welfare queens" and "black bucks" as overheard once when Ronald Reagan thought his microphone was turned off, and the phrase "last hired and first to be laid off" to sum up the fate of minorities in manufacturing jobs in America during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s). Further evidence as to who this "MARs" individual is can be found: "First and foremost, due attention must be given to the issues that brought the social conservatives into the coalition and under the Republican tent in the first place. These are, or course, the so-called 'social issues' -- the entire spectrum of 'pro-family' issues (right-to-life, opposition to the constant expansion of 'gay rights,' and general support for the institution of marriage, pornography, gun-control, street crime, busing, drug abuse, capital punishment, etc." p. 23. Lastly, this passage to sum up our search for whom this MARs individual might be: "At bottom, however, I suspect that the most important contribution of the New Right to the cause of conservatism is neither theoretical nor technical, but emotional. There is something in the sheer passion of the members of the New Right that is impossible to weigh, but which unquestionably has an impact on events. It is related to the adjective most often applied to them as a group --'feisty' -- and undoubtedly has its negative as well as its positive aspects. They can be quarrelsome, censorious, uncompromising, extreme, overly assertive, pugnacious, and (sometimes) just plain wrong." p. 23 & 24. I think that I can supply a more scientific identity then "feisty": how about: mostly males testing "high" in the normal range of their Testosterone levels; combative and argumentative, bordering on nonsocial behavior; belonging to the culture that identifies itself as the dominate culture (white males of northern, western, and middle European descent in 2001 in America); by their socioeconomic position in the social hierarchy, and hence, lack of clout, these males (and the women who support them) have little expectations in influencing political polices that effect them -- hence they are most likely Beta males and followers; and more likely to invest time, money and effort into political candidates that give them what they want. At their core, I believe them to be primal male aggressives who are basically good in their intentions; hard workers, loyal to their friends and family, but consumed by activities in their local environments and easily led and inflamed led by dominate males in their culture because of a lack of opportunities presented to them to teach them alternative behaviors.

Taking their cue from the1968 elections and the results achieved by candidate George Wallace, who ran independently of the Democratic party, (because no one in the Democratic party wanted to be associated with him) and who ran on a decidedly anti-liberal, racist ticket and who captured 19 percent of the total electorate, the architects of the "new right" strongly felt that Republicans could recapture the White House, the Congress, and the national moral fabric by taking under their wing these "social conservatives" who voted for George Wallace and combine them with fiscal conservatives of the Republican party. Once proud Democrats, whose allegiance was set in stone because of the depression, these Southern white males, abhorred by the events of the civil rights movements of the 1960s upending "their way of life" and seeing "the North" as imposing its political will on them were already in a defiant mood. But the most important change that set the stone rolling down the hill politically was taking place economically: the vast sector of manufacturing jobs that were union strongholds in the South (and hence, democratically influenced), were being decimated in the 1960s and 1970s by foreign products of higher quality at cheaper prices that were flooding the markets. Losing their union "protection," these blue-collar workers had to turn somewhere for protecting their "way of life." If not the unions, then the only path were the politicians. Ultimately, its about the resources, people.

Ok, so the New Right captures these middle American 'radicals' and gains control of both house of Congress and the White House -- then what? Well, if we study the details of this book we discover that the objective (or what the authors of the book call "New Right Alternatives") is to destroy the infrastructure that attempted to create the compassionate society put in place by the Democrats and install conservative institutions in their place. In other words, replace exactly those institutions and values that worked so well for the Democrats with people and institutions who will achieve conservative goals instead. How about installing something called "compassionate conservatism?" Below are listed a few of the major objections and goals of The New Right.

JUDICIAL SUPREMACY: The most prevalent thread throughout the book is the hatred of the "liberal" judiciary. Their argument is that liberal judges appointed by liberal presidents since the 1930s have overridden the will of the majority of the voters and have passed judgments that have impact their lives in negative ways. What our conservative friends are wailing about primarily are the civil rights judgments that were passed in an attempt to "equalize" past injustices which, since the founding of this great country, they seem to have a blind eye towards. During the entire time that Republicans held control of the Senate they have steadfastly refused to approve the appointments of any of President Bill Clinton's nominations for appellate court appointments. In the three months since G.W. Bush was in the White House, and the Republicans controlled the Senate before Vermont Senator Jeffords  defected, the Republicans flooded the system with "appropriate judicial candidates." (Which, by the way, were all recommended by a new conservative financed organization call The Federalist Society). The goal here is simple: if you can't place your judges in the appropriate position, then block your opponents.

THE OTHER SECTOR: This section of the book deals with how our society deals with those who are less fortunate. Here our conservative friends argue against the overly compassionate society that over-taxes the "producers" and gives to the "non-producers" and feels that government should have a reduced role in handing their "hard-earned" money in this direction. Compassionate souls will argue that how we, as a society, treat those who are less fortunate is the window to the soul of a nation's character and that government, representing the whole of the national unity, should be in the forefront in providing assistance. Conservatives, while giving the nod that "something should be done" for those who are less fortunate, seem to indicate that they don't want to get their hands dirty and want to let the house staff give charity through the kitchen back door of their luxurious mansions to those who come begging for a hand out. In the lexicon of 2001, The New Right Papers is talking about "faith-based" organizations, and once again, the argument goes, that "local" organizations would be better able to cope and understand the needs of the local citizens. But, I see a small problem with this: who approves the not-for-profit organizations at each of the state levels that would distribute federal funds? The answer: state controlled agencies who are run by appointees of the controlling state government. Thus, the political party that controls the local state governmental offices gets to "control" the "flow" of federal funds -- where -- to whom -- how much. And you argue that local politics would not interfere in such ethical decisions? Boy, are you na´ve.

SOCIETAL PROPERTY RIGHTS: This is a fairly simplest goal here: The conservative argument that all that has been accumulated by the "industrious" to gather capital or work skills and expand that capital or work skills into profit or gain for their exclusive enjoyment is the principle reason that western civilization has allowed us to reach such magnificent achievements in business, science, academics, and arts; the argument continues that the 'industrious' should not be forced (they mean to be taxed unfairly) to give up any of those resources by a government that doles out "their" money to the "lazy non-producers." I have little argument with the issue as presented. I like the things that give my family a sense of comfort and enjoyment. I understand that if I wanted to work even harder, I could have even more of 'things' that many Americans take for granted. I also understand the world view that in America we have so many things that the majority of the world does not. After the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center, stories and photographic images from Afghanistan have shown us pictures of our "enemies'" homeland where there is nothing-- nothing but desolation and poverty as the daily vista that greets every person as they awaken every morning.

But in our modern era, life is a bit more complicated then that. Many evolutionary psychologists firmly believe that our brains are mostly suited for the hunter-gatherer societies that we evolved from and that the distribution of resources should be based on those environments to achieve a fair and equitable society that is void of violence. But isn't pure greed the best survival technique and that the primal aggressive male mind is just functioning at its best when acts out these ideas of keeping "societal property rights" amongst themselves? Yes, for the primal brain. But, even in the primal environment there was a catch. We did not have jobs that paid us for the unique skills that we have now and we could place those salaries and resources that we accumulated in a safe place like the bank. We lived in an environment where our skills were limited to bringing home the catch of the day. And guess what? We could not put that slab of meat in the bank for a rainy day. We had to consume that precious commodity before it wasted away through natural processes. Could we consume all of the meat? Not likely. What we most likely did was share with those that were not as fortunate as we were that day with the hopes that if the tables were reversed and we found ourselves without any food for the day, perhaps our friends were be nice enough to share their wealth with us. Another possibility was that our lucky entrepreneur with the meat resource understood that if he did not share with his unlucky neighbors that they would steal the resources for their own survival. Hence, our lucky friend, became a reluctant benefactor through the behavioral mechanism called "tolerated theft." But, our modern day whole, conservatives feel that they have created enough barriers between himself and those who are unfortunate and has become embolden to "request" that even more be kept for himself so that he can advanced in the social hierarchy of his exclusive world. It is greed at its most primal.

THE MEDIA: Although not listed as a primary objective in the creation of a perfect conservative America, the role of the media in establishing a 'perverse' society was mentioned several times in The New Right Papers. It is their strong belief that the major reason that America has sunk to the depraved levels it finds itself ( in 1982), is the result of the "liberal media." Many of those who study the culture have commented on the influence of the media on our national fiber; hence, one comes away from reading this conservative book with the belief that if they take control away from the "liberal media" and replaced it with their own "conservative media" they could have a major influence on future elections and set the "moral tone" for the nation. One must stop and realize that perhaps they are on track with this objective in 2001 with the creation of the FOX network news which does not hide its conservative beliefs. Also, the recent negotiations between Rush Limbaugh and CNN network -- The very network that the conservative Mr. Limbaugh called the "Clinton News Network" is another clear sign that something beyond our control seems to be stirring. And, one more indication: it seems that the conservative Paula Zann who worked for the conservative FOX network is also in the early stages of being hired by CNN. Perhaps the plan is half way there? Could the verbal attack on Hollywood similar to the "black list era" of 1950s be not far in our future?

THE MILITARY: Conservatives constantly complain against the liberal's natural tendency to throw money at "social engineering" programs, but get almost achieve orgasmic giddiness when the subject of military preparedness comes up. There is an entire chapter in this book titled: SOVIET-AMERICAN RELATIONS IN THE 1980s. I did not even read one line because I know what it says: That the Soviet's are the evil empire and America needs to spend more money to defeat this political philosophy. The special relationship of the military and the conservative political frame of mind are on equal footing because, I believe, the core masculine philosophy of maintaining dominance and control runs through both the military and conservative male veins. Do not misinterpret my words. I am a strong advocate of a strong American military presence; freedom is not free, and this is the best country on the planet, and I am willing to do my part to see that America's influence spreads to every corner of the planet. What I am attempting to establish here are the universal of primal aggressive male behavior found in all males that forces us to maintain these overpowering military forces. Pushing poor countries around that do not like us, establishing puppet governments with males who have gone soft and fat by being the lap dog of America's elite will only foster deep, burning resource differentials (see my essay on Capitalism and Communism) in people who have no control over their lives. The very same deep, burning sense of betrayal that our conservative authors write about in this book about the American Blue-collar worker of the 1980s. Some day soon, (in evolutionary time) we will beat our swords into plowshares and get on with the business of enjoying our lives; but we have to face some truths that are being ignored. But in the meantime, but must remain militarily strong and vigilant and remember that the ultimate goal of a warrior is peace.

CONCLUSION: My studies seem to indicate that when conservative arguments regarding religion, private schools, property rights, welfare reform, the liberal media, family values, and the judicial system as objections are all scrapped away, what you have left is a basic masculine belief system. Remember that I asked you to recall the phrase "proud self-governing being" above? Well this is what it boils down to: male domination and control; male as judge and jury.

"It is the family to which we owe our life, our nurture, our education (the part of it that matters most) into the secrets of society. Participation in the family is the source of all our civil rights and liberties -- not in theory, in fact. Before anything like the state had been created, the family was and after the family, the clan and all the brotherhoods of community life -- guilds and unions, churches and colleges." Thomas Fleming, Old Rights and The New Right. p.191.

But it is in the next paragraph were Mr. Fleming bares his true soul and waxes eloquently is where we must pay particular attention for it really touches on the entire presumption of the primal aggressive male mind: patria postestas -- the "father's authority" In ancient Roman law, the Roman Senate was unable to condemn wives and children of husbands and fathers who had been convicted of taking part in forbidden religious ceremonies. It had to turn them over to the male head of the family who had the responsibility to condemn them to death. (Mr. Fleming cites Sir Henry Sumner Maine, in his book Ancient Law). Thus, we arrive at the crutch of the conservative/primal aggressive male mind: that the family is the core, and that the belief that the male is not only the head of that family, but also the final say as to who lives or dies within that family; the ultimate judge and jury; the ultimate dominator and controller. The refusal to believe that he is part of a greater society beyond his family circle seems to be part of the philosophy, but the more important aspect is the final authority, presumably, given to men by men, through law or custom that appeals to males of all cultures. Where did this belief system come from? As evolutionary psychologists, we can only speculate; was it because of the heightened security of forever being vigilant and protecting the blood line in our early social formations of civilizations? Was it for winning competitive battles that have survived the evolutionary struggle in our brief non-primate humanoid existence out of the deep history, and with those victories, came the spoils? It is in this core belief of masculine domination, control, vigilance, and conflict that I see the similarity in the fundamentalist Islamic Talabin philosophy and the conservative mind of America's "far-right" (close to 'nature.') religious fundamentals that I mentioned in my opening paragraph.

As "liberals" who have "bleeding hearts" we must forever remind our primal male friends that their behaviors were once basically noble and good and that they most likely played an enormous contribution that helped our early civilizations survive. But that is the key: They are OLD ideas for the times that have past and these aggressive and selfish behaviors were suited for THEN. We no longer are small isolated groups of hunter gatherers rallying around brave male warriors who lead us out of the dark wilderness. It is time for NEW ideas that reflect that we are all part of this planet. But, all take note: these beliefs are tied to the resources that are available within local environments. The more severe the conditions, the closer to 'nature' are the beliefs; the less severe the conditions, the human spirit rises up and shows itself closer to the compassionate God it wishes to emulate. Ultimately, its the resources and how they are distributed within the local environment.

The bible instructs us that in the beginning was the WORD. In the middle was the MESSAGE. The question that we have to ask in 2001, are we listening to the message that evolutionary psychology teaches and presents before us?

As with the last book, this book is not recommended for general evolutionary study but for those who seek to understand the primal aggressive male mind and the beliefs that stir their souls to good or evil.

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