Review of “Shots Fired” by Sam Francis

This book is a collection of his columns. For perspective, the columns generally seem to run from the late ’80s to the middle of the ’00s.

Some of them are a bit dated, but there’s always lessons in reviewing the thoughts of conservatives from any earlier time. This is especially true for reactionaries. After all, we reactionaries are hardly anything more than conservatives who don’t throw previous generations of conservatives under the bus of ever-evolving progressive standards.

The general theme that comes out of this collection of essays is Francis’ reaction to the rise of the neoconservatives. During this period, the Right of someone like Robert Taft was replaced by the Right of the neoconservatives. The triumph of the neoconservatives:

For the Buchananite Right, the Christian Right, the Old Right, the Hard Right, the paleo-conservatives, and the paleo-libertarians, [] will mean political oblivion, the final disappearance of any serious hope of influencing American politics in a direction away from the gargantuan state and the state’s alliance with both overclass and underclass against the middle, or in a direction toward dismantling the warfare- welfare state, controlling immigration, reversing the erosion of national sovereignty, withdrawing from the pursuit of a globalist-imperialist foreign policy, and restoring a Eurocentric cultural order.

That prediction seems to have held up rather well!

What’s worth pausing to reflect on is the process by which the conservatism of the immediate post-WWII years was co-opted into the harmless, uninteresting, apologetic and cowardly force it is today.

Here’s Francis on that topic:

The undermining of the populist Right by the establishment Right is enormously facilitated by the very framework of conservative thought, which, since its formulation in National Review and by writers and associated with the magazine in the 1950s, has taken as its model the Burkean conservatism of 18th century Britain. In this model, it is the incumbent elites (aristocracies) that are the good guys and the masses, in the form of the mob or the lower classes mobilized in populism, that are the bad guys; and the goal of conservatism is to defend the established system of political and cultural dominance that current elites enjoy.

What the serious Right in the United States needs to do, then, is work toward its own liberation—from the Republicans indeed, but also and more importantly from the ideological paradigms that have dominated the conservative mind since the 1950s, and to formulate a new paradigm that can more correctly identify who is a real enemy and who is a real friend of the core of the American nation and the civilization of European Man that our nation represents.

I couldn’t agree more that the serious Right needs to work towards its own liberation from watered-down progressivism. Francis believes the solution is a populist Right. He notes several areas in which conservatism was actually successful during this period and notes that they were all areas in which mainstream conservatives were initially hostile to the views of the broad conservative populace:

On the issues of immigration, gun control, trade, and Big Government, mainstream conservatives and Republicans simply were on the wrong side of the emergent populism of the Right.

He also thinks that in attempting to make itself acceptable to the progressive elites, mainstream conservatism lost all its interesting thoughts. In regards to the purge of “Birchers, racist, anarchists and assorted monarchists and kooks” from the ranks of “conservatives”:

Well, many of them needed to be turned away, but in the process, the “movement” spit out just about anyone who was interesting, different, or creative [who can argue that the list of people booted from National Review isn’t wildly more interesting than those now writing for the magazine?]. The result was a movement all right—of apparatchiks, enlivened by the occasional con artist and outright crook.

It also purged anyone who wasn’t acceptable to the standards of liberalism—that seems to be the common denominator of the types [that were] “turned away.” If there was anything the “conservative movement” dreaded more than “kooks,” it was being attacked by the liberals they claimed to oppose.

Although a defender of Christianity (e.g., “Christianity remains the public religion of the nation—whether one believes in it or likes it or not.”), Francis doesn’t believe the Religious Right is the answer:

Prior to World War II, hardly any major figure on the American Right was significantly religious at all, and some were more or less outspoken enemies of religion in general and Christianity in particular. . . . What follows from this line of analysis of the religious Right as it exists today is that what ultimately drives its adherents is not religion in the ordinary sense. What drives them is the perception—accurate in my view—that the culture their religion reflects and defends is withering and that that withering portends a disaster for themselves, their class, their country, and their civilization. Religion happens to be a convenient vehicle for their otherwise unarticulated and perfectly well-founded fears. But while it is a convenient vehicle and a more effective one than those that carried the Right in earlier days, it is not the most effective vehicle the Right could have. . . . The real problem with the religious Right is that, in the long run, its religious vehicle won’t carry it home. If they ever ended abortion, restored school prayer, outlawed sodomy, and banned pornography, I suspect, most of its followers would simply declare victory and retire. But having accomplished all of that, the Christian Right would have done absolutely nothing to strip the federal government of the power it has seized throughout this century, restore a proper understanding and enforcement of the Constitution and of republican government, prevent the inundation of the country by anti-Western immigrants, stop the cultural and racial dispossession of the historic American people, or resist the absorption of the American nation into a multicultural and multiracial globalist regime. Indeed, the Christian Right, for the most part doesn’t care about these issues, and in so far as it does, it not infrequently lines up on the wrong side of them.

Francis’ critiques stop there. In sum, Francis seems to believe the masses would rise up and restore the old order if properly led within the general confines of the American political framework. I’m unsure on two accounts.

Like other Buchananites, he seems to happily work within the standard American framework. For example, he believes that the vast majority of stuff the government does is unconstitutional. I agree – but it’s a trivial issue. If the government has been functioning a certain way for 100 years and you don’t like it, you’re no longer defending much – you’re seeking wholesale changes. I also remain rather skeptical of deliverance from the masses. This prospect, while perhaps a realistic possibility several decades ago, gets less and less likely every year as the upper class incorporates nearly all the intellectual leaders and the underclass expands thanks to the ever-expanding welfare state and the constant glorification of underclass behaviors.

The coherent review of the book ends there, but for those that are interested, what follows are some rather disorganized excerpts that will provide some insight into Francis’ views on various topics.

On Joseph McCarthy:

To say now that McCarthy was more right than wrong about them is to say that the liberals who defended them as innocent victims of his smears could not distinguish between themselves and communists—or worse, that they were outright lying and covering up treason. What McCarthy showed—and he showed it to a mass audience—was that the line between communism and liberalism was so thin that often you couldn’t tell the difference.

Here’s Francis on gay marriage: “Persons of the same sex can no more marry each other than dogs and cats can become congressmen.”

Here’s Francis on the fall of the Soviets: “The Soviets collapsed mainly because of the dismal failure of their own economy and political system, not because of our virtue and valor, and Marxism still flourishes in American universities.”

On multiculturalism:

If it’s real multiculturalism you want, give us Arab slave drivers from the Sudan who castrate 12-year-old boys kidnapped to be sold as catamites; give us Ubangi concubines with lip plates like Thanksgiving dinner platters; give us Eskimos who throw their parents out of the igloo when there’s not enough walrus meat left to chew; give us Hindu holy men whose bodily deformities are kissed and fondled by their worshippers; give us Amazonian Indians who mutilate their women and Mexican drug pushers who murder traitors by pushing baseball bats up their rectums or Sikh tribesmen who spend their days sniffing the desert for underground roots to eat. That is what different cultures really are, and that is what a real multiculturalism would really be.

On the war on drugs: “In reality, there is no foe in the war against drugs that could not be well met by a county sheriff armed with a wad of Red Man, a couple of .12-gauges, a local posse, and a few yards of strong rope.”

On American public schools: “This tells you more than you want to know about education in America today: You can’t mention God even to 18-year-old adults but you can explore the intricacies of sodomy with the Mickey Mouse Clubbers.”

On FDR: “the truth is that the damage Roosevelt inflicted on this country and the world still cannot be calculated.”

Agrees with Charles Francis Adams on the Civil War (especially Virginia’s place) and believes Lincoln to be responsible for so many deaths in the Civil War. He saw Lincoln as out of his depth and through his lack of understanding/ability, leading to the outbreak of war:

The result of his blunder was the self-inflicted genocide of the Civil War and, so far from accomplishing his stated goal, the preservation of the Union, caused its mortal wounding. What kind of union is it when half of it is forced back into it at the cost of military devastation and conquest, and much of the remainder has to be held under martial law and the suspension of civil liberties? Lincoln “saved the Union” in the same way that Adolf Hitler “saved Germany.”

On the elites: “All societies have elites . . . pure democracies or pure classless societies are unknown to human history and human nature and are probably impossible. Somebody always rules and makes decisions, and that somebody is always a minority of the population.”

Finally, he draws much from James Burnham’s Managerial Revolution.


21 Responses to Review of “Shots Fired” by Sam Francis

  1. josh says:

    Sam Francis converted to Catholicism on his death bed.

  2. Watch this Larry McDonald (Birch society member) interview with Buchanan. Don’t Buchanan’s questions make you cringe? He’s indistinguishable from a concern-trolling lefty journalist today in that interview.
    Oh, you guys have cooties. Old Right is dead y’all. New Right is in! Moral Majority! Look how people don’t freak out about the new right.

  3. VXXC says:

    If the Standard American Framework – which I guess means now – doesn’t suit you, broaden the framework to say 1601 to now, especially 1730 – 1830. Awakening to the Great Nation we threw away for checks.

    The New Deal must be thrown down along with all it’s works.

  4. cassander says:

    I’d argue that, with the brief exception of the Federalists, the american right has always been essentially burkean, which might be why it always loses. Standing athwart history and shouting stop does tend to get one run over, after all.

  5. IA says:

    Interesting post, Foseti. I haven’t read him and appreciate your summary.

    I would just add that there was no christian right before the 60s because it wasn’t necessary. The idea of a non-christian west or USA would have been inconcievable. The issues of mass immigration and so forth were well under control until the 60s, when modernism went mass transit.

    Modernism is anti-western (i.e., anti-christian, anti-greek). It is not cultural marxism by the way since communists rejected modernism as decadent.

    Francis, as usual to those uninitiated ones, does not understand modernism.

    • SOBL1 says:

      I agree on the Christian right idea. Same for family values. No one needed to push family values because prior to social dysfunction spiral after the ’60s most people held similar beliefs and behaved in similar ways. Saddest thing was Buchanan’s ‘culture wars’ speech flipped the switch on the left vs. right framing and allowed the media to portray the right as the aggressor and the left as the victim (matters in our victim culture) despite the left being the force continually upsetting the apple cart.

  6. Tarl says:

    Prior to World War II, hardly any major figure on the American Right was significantly religious at all, and some were more or less outspoken enemies of religion in general and Christianity in particular. . . .

    Does he give a specific example of such a person? The only pre-WW2 outspoken enemies of religion I can think of were on the Left.

    • fnn says:

      Mencken wasn’t a leftist.

    • Foseti says:

      He gives a bunch of examples. Mencken, Nock, Robert Welch and a few more that escape me now.

      • Tarl says:

        Huh. I am not very familiar with the works of Nock. I did read Welch’s The Politician, which wasn’t obviously anti-Christian. Was the JBS anti-Christian?

        Another question is whether Nock and Mencken are really “right wing” — they were libertarians to the point of being anarchists and in Mencken’s case, a nihilist. I personally do not regard libertarians as right-wing. In the 1920s, I think Nock and Mencken were regarded as being on the left, inasmuch as they attacked “big business” and the “big government” of Coolidge and Hoover (and no, I am not even kidding).

      • josh says:

        I wouldn’t call Nock right-wing. He was a Georgist at the time when that was the avant guard of the movement and as far as I can tell, did not cease being a Georgist. George ran on the United Labor Party ticket for NYC mayor in 1886. He was apparently selected by Daniel DeLeon, a Bellamyite and the future founder of the socialist labor party aka the wobblies. DeLeon also had a major influence on the Bolsheviks with DeLeon’s protore Boris Reinstein becoming personal sec. to Lenin then Trotsky (he first arrived back in his native Russia as a member of the Root commission which you probably no about).

        I know history trends leftwards but a Georgist is a rightist just because his memoir is whistful?

        I like Nock, btw.

      • Foseti says:

        I think his autobiography is one of the best Rightist books I’ve read. “Our Enemy, the State” is clearly libertarian, but there’s no mistaking his Right-ness in his memoirs. Strongly recommended

      • josh says:

        I read Memoirs of a Superfluous Man years ago. I remember liking it, but not much else.

  7. VXXC says:

    When Ends don’t justify the Means, you’re on the Losing End.

    Not Guilty. No Riots, no Power.

    I think we may count a certain sub-demographic as a spent force.

    I may be wrong by morning. It is Saturday night. Brilliant timing I must say…

  8. Kgaard says:

    I recently read Paul Gottfried’s new autobiography, “Encounters” and it’s very good. He has long discussions in there about Sam Francis and Pat Buchanan. I’m surprised Gottfried survived his whole career in academia with a paid teaching job!

  9. Thanks for your fine review – it covers a lot of salient points. One small observation. You start with “This book is a collection of his columns. For perspective, the columns generally seem to run from the late ’80s to the middle of the ’00s.” Actually fully half of the book are unpublished pieces, speeches never before in print, and long out of print articles. Up to the 00s may better be worded as “up until he passed away – in 2005.” Mid 00s was as far as I could go.
    ~Peter Gemma
    Editor, “Shots Fired”

  10. […] bonus bonus: Review of “Shots Fired” by Sam Francis – from […]

  11. […] and that those periods have also been periods of increased progressivity. In addition, in another review, I noted Sam Francis’s skepticism about the real conservative-ness of the Religious […]

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