Curriculum Vermeulae: The Work and Works of Adrian Vermeule

I don’t know if Cornelius Adrian Comstock Vermeule is a fed. But in an act of fraternal regard, I have to say: Adrian, if you aren’t getting paid by the federal government, you should be. Think about what a valuable asset you would be! You have proven yourself a blind lapdog for the Bush administration’s murderous and illegal wars. Your brand of “antiliberalism” has convinced a cadre of morons that FDR-style liberalism is not really liberalism, and therefore not really worth much effort in studying or opposing. You have thrown around quotes by Cardinal Newman and St. Augustine so adeptly that you have become one of the faces of intellectual Catholicism, all while showing a tremendous lack of charity and rigor, and while endeavoring to smash the careers of Catholic thinkers stronger than yourself. You have achieved this all while asserting that the government has a right to infiltrate “extremist groups,” proving that if you are not yet a fed, you would have no qualms becoming one. Not only that—you’ve already proven you can actually alienate and disrupt the movements you claim to support. Think how much more damage you could do if you really set your mind to it!

No, I don’t know if Adrian Vermeule is a fed. I’ve never met the man, and I know nothing about him but for his professional work. But I also don’t know if Adrian Vermeule is Catholic. Vermeule says he is Catholic, yet he also says he supports the “cognitive infiltration” of extremist groups for the health of the liberal regime. Therefore, prudentes sicut serpentes, there’s really no reason to trust his words.

If we judge Vermeule by his fruits, we are left with a contradictory portrait. I’ve looked at much of Vermeule’s work, not only his pseudo-Catholic “integralist” polemics, but also at his academic papers, and I find a corpus which is tremendously confused. Whether Vermeule is the author of the victim of this confusion, I don’t know. Vermeule has built himself such an intellectual cache that would-be (or should-be) opponents lend him more credence than his work deserves on its merits.

Through the span of his intellectual life, the only consistency I find in his work is his statism. The “antiliberalism” he touts himself for is nothing but FDR-type corporatism, i.e. that political tilt that has been synonymous with “liberalism” for a majority of Americans for almost a century. All the while, he plays himself up as a kind of Know-Nothing vision of what a Catholic is, complete with perfect servility to the Pope and deprecations of the Protestant sects. Yet he seriously avers almost nothing that would place him outside the citadel of liberal opinion, and just as often takes positions that allow routes connecting the cities Mammon and Sodom with the City of God.

For these reasons, it is worthwhile to look at this man’s work and try to make some assessment of where his sympathies and motivations lie. I haven’t ventured to look much further beyond his Harvard CV page and Twitter profile, but these leave plenty to consider.

VERMEULE THE SCHOLAR

Spend any time in right-wing or Catholic-adjacent media and you have likely heard of Adrian Vermeule. Vermeule has become the popular face of “right-wing antiliberalism” owing to his attacks on the American system and his stated desire to subject secular government to the dictates of the Vatican. This rise is rather sudden: Vermeule converted only a few short years ago.

Looking at Vermeule’s resume, one quickly realizes his ascendance to right-wing critic of the American empire is… not quite natural. Vermeule now prides himself on being an acolyte of reactionaries like Schmitt and De Maistre; of ceding the language of politic nicety to the actual operation of power, of utilitarian concerns to the spiritual. Yet his early work reads like the product of an author the modern Cardinal Vermeule would deride. Up until sometime around the time of his conversion, Vermeule had been a well-credentialed yet humdrum academic with no more moral or spiritual awareness than William Kristol.

The Vermeule of this era is particularly and distinctly a creature of the Bush administration, a full-throated proponent of the War on Terror and a deep-throated whore for our murderous criminal government. Take, for example, his New York Times editorial “How War Can Bring Peace.” I don’t really care to describe it. The title says it all.

I am stridently told by his defenders that Vermuele recants of his past warmongering. But the full breadth of his hackery is not so easily explained away. Take just two of his collaborations with some of the most pathetic hacks in academia, Cass Sunstein and Eric Posner. Sunstein may well be on the Supreme Court now if not for his effeminate screeching on social media, and Eric Posner is the unworthy heir of Richard Posner, a man himself on the extremely short list of Most Overrated Intellectuals of the Past 50 Years.

The collaborations are simply amazing for anyone who might think Vermeule’s “antiliberalism” represents anything radical, or a departure from the liberal technostate we labor under. The paper titled “Conspiracy Theories,” co-authored with Sunstein in 2008, is, in plain terms, very much against such theories, and is all-in for the state using its powers, both openly and surreptitiously, to quash those theories. After all: “Those who subscribe to conspiracy theories may create serious risks, including risks of violence, and the existence of such theories raises significant challenges for policy and law.”

Anyone who feels this kind of blanket dismissal raises the specter of tyrannical state oppression can be assured by the authors: “Our focus throughout is on false conspiracy theories, not true ones.” How the authors propose to separate the true from the false without some kind of organized scrutiny which “conspiracy theorists” provide, is a question the authors cannot answer. The authors also graciously limit themselves to suppressing “harmful” conspiracy theories, though being creatures of privilege, never ask that all-important question—harmful to whom?

What do the authors propose for combating these false, harmful theories? Naturally, the government should engage in “cognitive infiltration of the groups that produce conspiracy theories.” This method of cognitive infiltration of extremist groups can proceed both overtly and covertly—government agents entering meeting halls, chat rooms, and other meeting places of “extremists” and diverting their course of inquiry. Sometimes this will be done openly: A government agent will simply sneak in and reason with the poor deluded conspiracy theorists about the errors of their ways. But in another variant, “government officials would participate anonymously or even with false identities.”

In other words, Verm and Sunstein propose that those citizens claiming the government lies and deceives its citizens…should be lied to and deceived by the government. I don’t know how this can play to anyone who is not a total idiot. With the Jeffery Epstein “suicide,” it is clear not only that the powers that be are lying to us, but that they no longer care if we know they are lying. The truth is now completely obsolescent. Maybe Vermeule can be lauded for his part in this degradation.

If you yourself are worried about a government-led crackdown on the free speech and thought of its citizens, Verm and Posner fils have news for you: You are a tyrannophobe. From the pair’s 2009 paper:

“Tyrannophobia—the fear of dictatorship—is a dominant theme in American political discourse. Yet dictatorship has never existed in the United States or even been likely. The hypothesis that tyrannophobia itself has prevented dictatorship from occurring is implausible; better evidence exists for alternative hypotheses. We conclude that tyrannophobia is an irrational political attitude that has interfered with, and continues to interfere with, needed institutional reform.”

The paper must embarrass anyone with even a passing acquaintance with US history or government. Certainly our deadliest war, conducted and sanctified upon the genius of one man, raised the specter of tyranny? Certainly our least dangerous branch of government, whose edicts have nevertheless destroyed every major US city and killed millions of the unborn, could be called tyrannical? But the authors’ perspective is Whiggish and facile. “Comparisons between Weimar Germany and the United States of the Bush administration were worse than irresponsible; they were ignorant.” The authors continue—“The modern economy, whose complexity creates the demand for administrative governance, also creates wealth, leisure, education and broad political information, all of which strengthen democracy and make a collapse into authoritarian rule nearly impossible.” It is interesting that the authors see tyranny arising only through collapse, not through development.

They conclude: “The modern entrepreneurs of tyrannophobia—from George Orwell to George Lucas—ought not to be lionized as defenders of the liberal state, but instead shunned, as purveyors of political misinformation.” Note the defense of the “liberal state,” and note the astounding servility to power we again see from Vermeule. These papers are so ham-fisted, so pathetic and embarrassing, that in intellectual charity we can only hope he was getting paid off to write them.

Verm’s other less-sexy and more academic pieces from the time are just as confounding, when measured against the modern identity he has created for himself. In all these early pieces Vermeule comes off as an incestuous child of conventional wisdom, an economizer, an admirer of the Scottish Enlightenment—in other words, a liberal.

Take, for example, 2003’s “Hume’s Second-Best Constitutionalism.” It is shocking that such a proud papist could ever have expressed so much admiration for one of the most radical free-thinkers of the Enlightenment era. It would be hard to find a thinker more contrary to the Catholic worldview than Hume—even the perverts of 20th Century tended to loop back around towards a black-mirror Catholic POV. But to Bush-era Vermeule, Hume’s discoveries were the sort that scholars would “never exhaust.”

The materialism does not end here. Vermeule’s academic papers are loaded with the language of neoclassical economics and rationalistic methodology. We never read anything inspiring about the law, rights, or justice in his work. On the contrary, in Wildean terms we find that Professor Verm is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Law is not a manifestation of truth so much as a instrumentality geared towards helping individuals arrive at efficient outcomes which best accommodate personal preferences; justice another word for stable equilibria.

It is no stretch to say economics, the queen of the social sciences, is classical liberalism in its most distilled form. This makes it all the more surprising to see how laden Verm’s papers are with Benthamism, and how univocal Verm’s methodology really is. This extends beyond most “rationalistic” dollars-and-cents stuff we might expect to see from a judicial conservative. His language when discussing statutory interpretation is econ-speak. When interpreting statutes, we should not be overly consumed with finding the word’s meaning; rather we should engage in “satisficing”—utilitarian babble which means we should not have to acknowledge the objective meaning of words when we do not want to.

Maybe I read too much into this. Perhaps Vermeule’s economics talk is a product of having spent years at the University of Chicago, where no intellectual root can grow without Benthamite dung. In the publish-or-perish environment, legal academics especially are in dire need of a paradigm which allows them to pump out impressive-sounding papers not so esoteric as to scare off tenure panels, yet obscure enough to put the plebs to sleep and confirm one is a “serious thinker.” The language or economics accomplishes this. What is interesting about Verm’s work is how little the language has changed throughout the years. His recent papers are just as instrumentalist as the old ones.

Verm’s best and most thorough legal academic work concerns maybe the most boring and heartless topic in the world: administrative law. Like all men of sound mind, I find administrative law oppressively tedious, but de gustibus non disputandum.

Vermeule’s most provocative thesis is stated in his recent book Law’s Abnegation, in which he contends that the “long arc of the law has bent steadily towards deference” of administrative agencies and their decisions. In layman’s terms, this means that the breadth of the administrative state has gobbled up constitutional and other legal constraints meant to be placed on the bureaucrats and administrative judges, who are more than likely technical experts in the field meant to be regulated anyway. This comes at the expense of common law judges, who tend to be generalists guided by broad notions of justice and right, and who cannot be expected to understand the complexities of any given field they are confronted with. Their common law counterparts made obsolete by the superior reasoning of the administrative experts, the “long arc” of judicial and legislative deference constitutes a de facto coup by technocrats.

Though his thesis is appropriately educated and complex, the result is no surprise to anyone confronted by the IRS and DMV, which have turned so much of our lives into Kafkaesque hell. Yet strangely, Verm is exultant, giddy, in the usurpation of the technocrats. The “generalists” and common law judges are, in his mind, the representative of Rawls’s notion of “Law’s Empire,” and thus, by showing that such notions must genuflect to technical expertise, Professor Verm has shown that Rawlsian liberty is nothing but hash.

This conclusion is probably correct. What is strange is how apathetic Vermeule is to the “classical” system he sends to the grave. Against the “abnegation” thesis are scholars like Phillip Hamburger, who provocatively asserts that the administrative state is unconstitutional. (Verm’s response to the question “Is administrative law unconstitutional” was a pithy “No.”) One need not be convinced by Hamburger to sympathize with his thesis. We live enslaved by bureaucrats and administrators—anyone who hasn’t thought of nuking the Driver’s Bureau from orbit certainly doesn’t appreciate Anglo-American. But to Verm, such affection is a kind of “high school civic” nostalgia that is rightly laughed out of the public sphere.

Perhaps the advance of the administrative state is inevitable; perhaps it is even desirable. But the notion that specialists should have say over generalists, that technical experts should have say over the people who bear the weight of technical advance, is nothing but liberalism incarnate. Man’s fate is not merely one of convenience (which is all the liberal cares about) but the spiritual relationship man has to the state, to society, and to his fellow man. Within a liberal, bureaucratic system, his soul does not actually have reason to exist. A tyrant must at least go through the effort of crushing him, but the bureaucracy presumes men are statistics and, as McLuhan said, man is never able to quite regain his humanity after this.

Vermeule thinks he is attacking liberalism by throwing in against the “generalist” and in favor of expert decision-making. But this gets wrong the entire thrust of liberal transformation. The perverse technocrat was always the greatest booster of liberalism: Bacon, Locke, Voltaire, Bentham, Mill, Spencer, all disgust us in their attempts to reduce human experience to a series of events best guided by the specialist. The division of labor that destroyed the trades has also worked to compartmentalize man’s knowledge and eventually his everyday experience.  This has served to alienate man from his understanding of where he fits in the world, to divide his material and spiritual being from his political life and led ineluctably to our present crisis.

Vermeule cannot see this, because Vermeule is a liberal—a liberal of the FDR/LBJ school, but a liberal nonetheless. Though he once wrote for the National Review (before the NR had the audacity to publish a bad review of Law’s Abnegation, that is) there is nothing “conservative” about Vermeule, even in a milquetoast David French sense of the word. Vermeule has always been a statist, i.e. an FDR-style liberal. We see the one-time clerk to Justice Scalia deprecate originalism and the plain meaning of words. We find in him no judicial philosophy besides perhaps “administrative might makes right.” More fundamentally, the “high school civics” mentality which Vermeule deprecates in Hamburger is something Vermeule cannot understand—he does not see the value but merely the form of ideas like truth and justice, and his entire corpus suffers as a result.

Vermeule’s complete lack of reverence for the law clearly places him apart from most Catholic and conservative thinkers who revere the law almost for its own sake. One never gets that the law is to him what it was to St. Thomas Aquinas: The imperfect reflection of the Natural Law, which in turn is the reification of the Eternal Law. The great distinction between Verm’s legal work and philosophy is so far from Catholic understanding that it is hard to see how the twain might ever meet. This sticks out particularly to me, because my own road back to the faith involved so much contemplation on the nature of truth in words, in legal texts and elsewhere. The search for plain truth in words led me to Him, who is both Truth and the Word.

It is clearly Vermeule did not take the same route.

VERMEULE THE CATHOLIC

We see that by the second Obama administration, Vermeule’s work is that of a well-credentialed neocon, a rather trite bootlicker positioning himself for a job in either Republican or Democratic regime. And yet Verm abandoned this simple role for another—that of a very, very public Catholic “integralist.”

What exactly happened in the second Obama administration to make him want to convert? Was it a Road to Damascus moment?—a realization that the murders he promoted, the deceptions he lauded, and the utilitarian thinking which drove him were all paving for him a road to Gehenna?

No. Vermeule’s transformation was apparently subtle. His model for conversion (and his model in most things Catholic) is John Henry Cardinal Newman, the great 19th Century Anglican convert who charted his own subtle and often obscure conversion across thousands of letters. Verm’s own movement from neocon bootlicker to Papa-Franciscan, we might presume, was a “development of doctrine” rather than a clean break with the past. Yet if we are attentive to Verm’s current “Catholic” work, we again see the characteristics of his pre-conversion secular work: Blind acquiescence to government (this time the Vatican), accompanied by hatred and contempt for American liberties and acquiescence to our ruling superstructure. In fact, where he was before content to invade and destroy foreign sovereigns, Verm’s voyage to Rome has given him the zeal to suggest that the “Empire of Guadalupe” should swallow up the country whole, and both the American nation and people should not exist at all.

I have no desire to write about theology here, but some discussion is necessary to understand Verm’s views. Adrian’s Catholicism is characterized by extreme deference to the pope, called sometimes “ultramonatism.” We need not weigh in on the soundness of this doctrine here. Still, the way Verm chooses to engage in his papolatry is peculiar, to say the least.

As I said, Blessed Cardinal Newman has an outsized effect on Vermeule on both Verm’s papism and his politics. Yet this is despite the fact that Newman is a poor representative of the particular beliefs Vermeule claims to espouse. Most crucially, Cardinal Newman was uncomfortable about the dogmatic conclusions of the First Vatican Council defining the terms of papal infallibility. Newman’s writings of the time suggest that while he provided a complex assent to papal infallibility as a Catholic, his simple assent was somewhat lacking—in other words, his heart was just not in it. To take Cardinal Newman as a paragon of obedience is one thing; to take him as an enthusiastic defender of papal inerrancy is quite another.

Let’s take Cardinal Newman’s letter to the Duke of Norfolk. The good cardinal denies the notion that following the pope constitutes the “supreme direction” of Catholic duty, and declares that if he must “I shall drink—to the Pope, if you please—still, to conscience first, and the Pope afterwards.” Not only this: Newman approvingly quotes St. Robert Bellarmine: “In order to resist and defend oneself no authority is required… Therefore, as it is lawful to resist the Pope, if he assaulted a man’s person, so it is lawful to resist him, if he assaulted souls, or troubled the state, and much more if he strove to destroy the Church.” So much for Newman’s papolatry.

Verm’s papolatry has placed him at odds with many faithful Catholics who have good reason to worry about the decisions of our Jesuit pope. Whether he appreciates it or not, Vermeule’s view places the pope in no different a position than a petty tyrant who must be defended by his sycophantic court—certainly this is not a credit to the papacy that Vermeule thinks it is. When the pope speaks truly, it is because he is referring to the truth. The truth is above, not below, any man, and no one, not even the Vicar of Christ on earth, has any ability to create truth out of his own will. The office of the papacy is made great through this humility. When the pope usurps powers he does not have, his very aggrandizement degrades him, moving from his rightful place as servant to one of prideful dictator. Verm’s blind papolatry is him again being tripped up by his own instrumentalism, his inability to see beyond the letter and into the spirit of the law—the logos from the Logos, if you will.

Stranger is Verm’s reliance on Cardinal Newman as a paragon of antiliberalism. He often cites Cardinal Newman’s “false liberty of thought,” regardless of the fact that Newman’s reference was towards theological liberalism, primarily in the Anglican church. For a man who wrote about almost everything, Cardinal Newman spoke relatively little about political liberalism (Russell Kirk noted the difficulty of finding a representative “political” tract from Newman for his Portable Conservative). Moreover, the definition he provided is so vague as to be largely useless. We saw above that disagreeing with the papacy did not apparently constitute “false liberty.” Considering how little weight he put on the “false liberty” paradigm, we can only speculate how the witty and brilliant cardinal would take Verm’s attempts to construct his entire religious/political philosophy upon it.

Construct aside, we see that Verm’s actual practice of Catholicism would be recognized as full of false liberty by Newman, and almost every good Catholic who has ever lived. Verm is quick to defend Pope Francis, no matter what calumny or heresy being promoted. He is equally quick to accuse others of false faith as he is quick to defend a monster like Cardinal Blaise Cupich in Chicago simply because they are in favor, and favored by, the pope.

His personal faults also become clear. Vermeule disassociated himself from the fledgling US edition of the Catholic Herald over the editors’ supposed dismissiveness of Pope Francis. That Vermeule was surprised by this is impossible. The editors of the Herald were known quantities, and their skepticism of Pope Francis was not obscure. There is nothing wrong with Vermeule having a different outlook on the current papacy—a Catholic periodical probably should have both sides—but there is something wrong when a Catholic intellectual cannot understand why another Catholic’s conscience may lead him to different decisions. The pettiness, dishonesty, and obviously self-aggrandizing nature of Verm’s departure seemed calculated to do the magazine harm at the crucial moment—a trip-up right out of the gate. Was this merely Vermeule’s good faith mistake, or was it something more pernicious?

His other behavior, burning bridges with past associations, suggests the latter. Vermeule refers to First Things, which published some of his more probing critiques of liberalism, as an unreliable backstabber of its authors. The National Review, is now a pathetic “neocon” rag. Verm makes a point to accuse Matthew Schmitz of white supremacy for his fellow-convert’s defense of the American nation and character, and Schmitz’s awareness of growing anti-white bigotry. This is the kind of slander and calumny Verm has adopted as his MO.

It actually takes some intellectual and moral courage to publish an article calling out hatred for whites. I know of nothing on Cardinal Vermeule’s part that is comparable. Where are the marches against abortion on Harvard Square? Where are the boycotts over the affirmative action policies for homosexuals and other sexual perverts? In fact, the only “Catholic” policies Vermeule promotes are those already accepted whole-hog by the liberal superstructure—mass immigration, persecution of “white supremacists,” and income redistribution. The vague, utopian, and largely incoherent vision of his “integralism” is a crutch and cover to the fact that he and his kind do nothing to aid in any concrete moral recrudescence in the present day, and which alone could allow the Church to have a positive impact on the state. The morals of fairyland are more important than those of Cambridge.

Anyone acquainted with his pre-Catholic work immediately sees that the thrust of his Catholic work is exactly the same as before: Submission to central authority—this time the Vatican—along with acquiescence to experts—this time a priestly caste who will guide us in spiritual and temporal matters. If this sounds oppressive to non-Catholics, it can only sound ludicrous to faithful Catholics who know that modern bishops cannot enforce the laws of the Church let alone the laws of the state, who know that modern priests cannot stand up to Susan from the Parish Council, let alone the actual enemies of civil society.

VERMULE THE CHARACTER

Other oddities stick out. He is supremely uncharitable to liberal thinkers and institutions—quick to hurl accusations of the “Americanist” heresy and other insults—despite the fact that he has written thousands upon thousands of words lauding the same. His ham-fisted condemnations of the “liturgy of liberalism” does not jive with a man once immersed in Hume, the Federalist Papers, and the Constitution as a whole. Liberalism is primarily a Christian heresy, and like all heresies, it does harm because it is based in malproportioned truths, not because it is based on falsehoods. His modern incarnation is ludicrous, so cartoonishly unsubtle, that some explanation is called for. Perhaps it is the endorphin rush he gets from sucking up to his Twitter followers. Perhaps the performance is geared towards someone else.

Elsewhere, Verm is his own god. In matters political, propaganda can be employed to benefit the state; in matters ecclesial, vile heresy can be condoned so long as it is given a wink and a node by the pope. This goes to a deeper defect in Vermeule’s thinking. To Vermeule, the only question between liberal and antiliberal is one of administration—one almost daresay of efficiency. The freemasons and Protestants who rule this nation (he never mentions Jews, of course) must be replaced by Catholics; their foolish freemasonic Constitution must be replaced by Pope Francis’s Catechism of the Month, and whatever else Harvard Law can scrounge together for the next seminar on the integralist state.

This again speaks to a man who understands the letter but nothing of the spirit of the laws. The logic of Anglo-American justice, just as the logic of liberalism, just as the logic of the papacy, are all lost to him beneath a slavish attention to form. The hierarchical form of the Church and the complexities of the catechism are more important than basis moral notions—maybe “bear no false witness” strikes him as a “high school civics” kind of Christianity. But without basic morality, neither Church nor state can have any validity. Yet Verm seems not to understand this. The defects in his scholarship, philosophy, and morality all follow as a matter of course.

We see this most critically with reference to his “anti-liberal” and “post-liberal” work. Vermeule often makes insightful criticisms about the present regime. But none of these criticisms of liberalism is all that different from what we’d expect from adherents of liberalism, which has always been self-critical. Indeed, some of the great critics of liberalism of the past century—think John Kenneth Galbraith and David Riesman—fit firmly within the liberal tradition. So it is with Vermeule. Too many of his sycophants and critics seem not to realize that Verm is merely a mid-century liberal. His project, both political and religious, is largely trying to have another Vatican-II-infused shot at the Great Society. Maybe this is a good thing. But it certainly is not anti- or post-liberal in the sense that Americans have meant it since the Progressive Era. In his battle against Paper Liberalism, he is engaged in a kind of academic kabuki theater, arguing about terms and designations obsolete for half a century.

Maybe all the faults in his scholarship could be forgotten if not for his personal defects—his personal pettiness, his vindictiveness, his readiness to calumniate anyone who questions his wacky theology and duplicitous politics. His past work makes him out to be a moral monster and a scumbag. Does he repudiate all of it? He still works with the shrill and effeminate Cass Sunstein. His economism has never really abated from his serious academic work. What does Verm think of truth for its own sake? Does he still believe that the government should use deception against “extremist groups” if it serves the interests of the government? He says he now opposes the modern regime’s program of perpetual war for perpetual peace. Would he still defend such wars if some Hapsburg were to sign off on them? Cardinal Newman’s great Apologia begins and ends with a rather equivocal discussion of the morality of lying. Has Vermeule run with this equivocation straight towards Rome? These are all questions I would want to know before I attached my political and spiritual wagon to his star.

That, and most obviously: Is he a Fed? I’ve been told that his glow-in-the-dark moments are part of his pre-conversion self. Well, in a past life of my own I spent plenty of time with serious leftists, all of whom were very suspicious of federal interference for precisely the kind of things Vermeule has explicitly advocated. I have seen nothing of this apt suspicion among “integralist” or “post-liberal” Catholics. For all their claims to radical thinking, their indifference seems to acknowledge that they are fundamentally less radical than church-basement ladies organizing a protest outside Planned Parenthood. In other words, they are, just like Vermeule, creatures of the establishment, who pose no threat to the liberal superstructure, and never will. Whether they have deluded themselves to this fact, or they simply wish to delude others, is the question.

I have to return to my initial complaint: If you’re going to be absolutely obeisant to the murderous government, if you’re going to snipe at would-be allies over petty vanities, if through all this you’re going out of your way to poison the institutions that might actually stand to oppose the liberal superstructure—Adrian, why not get a little federal dough for it? I can’t in any way endorse any man selling his soul. But I am enough of a utilitarian to know that if you’re going to sell your soul, you should at least get a good price for it.

13 Comments Add yours

  1. Alfonz Cavalier says:

    Richard, you make some very interesting points, and certainly raise some pertinent questions.

    I don’t know enough about Vermeule or his academic output to comment on the truth of your suggestions. However, I’ll say that a more charitable reading of his political writing is that he’s operating outside the Anglo-American ‘big government’ paradigm. In continental Europe, the dichotomy has never been between advocates of personal freedom and advocates of state power, perhaps because in smaller nations with a stronger historical and (until recently) ethno-cultural grounding, the state is seen as the incarnation of the pre-existing nation, not as a distant and corrupt imposition upon it. Were he here, Vermeule would probably defend his advocacy of ‘big government’ policies and automatic deference to Francis on these grounds.

    You can make a similar, charitable reading of his ‘Empire of Guadelupe’ stuff on the grounds that it’s imagining a new American empire that is completely post-liberal, and finally breaks the Masonic-Puritan hegemony. That said, Vermeuele is naive (consciously or otherwise) if he imagines that America can be remade as a European style nation, precisely because of the issues of race and culture which, you rightly observe, he ducks out of addressing.

    The dissident right is correct to try to move beyond the classic, normie-con ‘don’t tread on me’ anti-state attitude, and that might be what Vermeule is trying to do as well. That said, if he’s just using a vague posture of romantic anti-liberalism/ integralism/ ironic support for a Hapsburg restoration to justify the establishment’s agenda, then we do have problems.

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    1. Alpinid Lurker says:

      The problem with this interpretation is that it holds up only if one considers Vermeule ideas in the vaguest ot terms and with no connection to historical circumstances .

      As far as immigration is concerned: when, in american history, have (catholic and non-catholic) immigrants not been used according the usual high-low against the middle dynamics as an instrument of the bramhins? One needs not blame catholicism quae catholicism for this (cue that T777 quote “They have some idea that Bostonians like T. Kennedy threw their lot in with Jews, communists, and other hostiles because the Pope sent him a memo.”) but I see no historical precedent to the notion that huddled south-american masses will not simply fall in line and behave like the italians and the irish did. And of course Christianity is all but collapsed in southern Europe and not particularly healthy in South-America either (but on this latter point I’d defer to those more knowledgeable than me), so the idea of the integralist state sounds entirely implausible to me.

      As far as the estension of federal and state power go, the obvious point is that such an extension would be wielded by the same liberal élites that have brought America to the current year. On this I sometimes get the feeling that online Catholics lack a modicum of charity for the constituencies of Red America. Sure, as a European I find them culturally different, and they believe in a foundational myth that is intrinsically liberal, but the idea that the people that for the past century have prevented the US becoming Canada or the UK (whilst cradle catholics in Europe dutifully voted for abortion) are somehow the engineers and not the unknowing cannon fodder of the Great Satan is just bizarre. Giving more power to those who hate them won’t help.

      Accepting the goal of the global favela provided the inhabitants are catholics is not a form of dissidence and denotes an unserious (or deceiving) understading of Christianity (“Let them conquer Vienna as long as they don’t call us racist” as Richard discussed in his article on Christianity and BAP), not to mention fully delusional as to the resilience of mass organized religion to technocapitalism.

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      1. Alfonz Cavalier says:

        I’m sympathetic to a lot of what you’re saying, but it does presuppose that the claim that Vermeule is some kind of agent, pretending to be a traditional Catholic to disrupt that part of the dissident right, is true. I’m not necessarily convinced that it is, or that any sort of deep state/ central authority would bother with such action. As other rightists have pointed out, claiming to be a ‘distributist’, ‘monarchist’ or ‘integralist’ is often a way to duck out of more stigmatised labels for true right views, or escape the anger and despair that can go with the red pill by clutching a comfort blanket of irrelevant, romantic nostalgia. I’m a traditionalist Catholic myself, but I don’t think we pose any sort of systematic threat to the established order – not at the moment anyway.

        You’re right that ‘Catholic’ immigration from Ireland, southern Europe, and latterly Latin America has had little to do with Catholicism itself and more to do with high-low vs middle power dynamics. However, that doesn’t mean that an entirely different sort of American state would have the same dynamics. My own feeling is that the right needs to be more imaginative about demography and power dynamics, rather than adopting a victim mentality per ‘great replacement’ narratives etc.

        As for Catholicism in southern Europe, you’ll still find plenty of it in Italy, Spain, Croatia and even France. Granted, a lot of it is exterior ‘cultural Catholicism’ and a lot of Catholics get their morals primarily from the secular state, but there’s still a culture of popular religiosity to work with in the Mediterranean countries.

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  2. Strac5 says:

    He looks and behaves like a Jew. The disruptive behavior, the gravitation toward radical political views, and the desire for cultism and despotism are genetic. The hatred for Anglo Protestants and hysterical paranoia about white supremacy follow from the self-awareness of being non-white. The centuries-long after-effects of forced conversion policies, and what to do about it, is a topic demanding attention.

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    1. Alfonz Cavalier says:

      I mean, he’s blonde, from Connecticut, and his name is Cornelius Adrian Comstock Vermeule. The Eternal Anglo is probably nearer the mark here.

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      1. Strac5 says:

        Non-white says what?

        Whites don’t have landing strips for foreheads. Behavior and phenotypic traits don’t lie. Vermeule has Med genes. Period. And it has gotten the better of him.

        Like

  3. Malik says:

    He looks and behaves…like an Anglo! The interruptive behavior, the usurpation of radical political views, and the need for oligarchy and dissimulation are genetical. The hatred for indigenous, generalist governance and hysterical obeisance towards trendy pseudo-religiosity follow from the lack of self-awareness of being a neo-puritan…and after all, the centuries long after-effects of racial-supremacist forced labour policies (and what to do about it!) remain a topic of truly *demanding* attention…

    Like

    1. Strac5 says:

      Your stereotypes about Anglos don’t even make sense. Literally the opposite of classic descriptions of Germanic peoples. Hurt your feelings badly, didn’t I?

      Like

  4. Fred says:

    >You have proven yourself a blind lapdog for the Bush administration’s murderous and illegal wars.

    The idea that a war can be legal or illegal is a very liberal view. I’m pretty sure no-one had such a stupid notion before the 20th century. (Not to be confused with the laws of war, which are about the conduct of war itself, and not about its “legality”, which is a thoroughly liberal idea.)

    Like

    1. Mike says:

      Once again, the Post-WW2 Order is the culprit, although there was an attempt at making war “illegal” as early as 1928 with the Kellogg-Briand Pact:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_of_conquest

      As you note correctly, the Hague Conventions were not about the legality of war, merely what is and is not allowed during it. However, guys I certainly would not consider liberal (such as Thomas Aquinas) did say that some wars can be immoral, although perhaps not illegal.

      Like

  5. cynog lossus says:

    I love the fact that the phraseology of the late great Terry Davis is now ubiquitously engrained within the diction of the alt-osphere.

    Like

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