Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Was the "Journal of American Greatness" an "Inside Joke"?

As I noted in my previous post, the "Journal of American Greatness" was started in February as a website where Straussians connected with the West-Coast Straussianism of Claremont McKenna College and Hillsdale College could defend "Trumpism."  But as of today, the entire website has been erased.  If you go to the website now, this is the only post:
Notice to Our Readers

The Journal of American Greatness began some months ago, to a large extent anyway, as an inside joke. At a certain point its audience expanded beyond any of our expectations. It also ceased to be a joke. Thus it no longer makes sense to continue it in its current form. No journal is meant to last forever, and this one won’t try to. We’ve decided to call it a day.

The inspiration for this journal was a profound discomfort with the mode of thought that has come to dominate political discourse—an ideological mode that makes nonsense of the reality of American life. The unanticipated recognition that we have received, however, also makes clear that many others similarly felt the desirability of breaking out of conservatism’s self-imposed intellectual stagnation. Should any such market for our ideas exist in the future, we may participate in it. But we will do so in a different way.

In closing, we simply want to thank our readers—we never expected so many of you—who made this extraordinary adventure possible over the last four months.
An "inside joke"?  What does this mean?  That they never intended their Straussian defense of Trumpism to be taken seriously?  Well, if so, then they surely fooled me and lots of other people who didn't get the joke.

The second paragraph contradicts the "inside joke" claim, because it speaks of the purpose of the journal as expressing "the desirability of breaking out of conservatism's self-imposed intellectual stagnation," which certainly sounds like a very serious idea rather than a joke.

If this were nothing but an elaborate joke, it would be hard to explain why they have decided to erase all of their posts, which suggests that they are embarrassed by what they have written.

So what's going on here?  Did the writers for JAG change their mind and decide that Donald Trump is nothing more than a vulgar demagogue with fascist tendencies who does not deserve to be taken seriously as someone representing important political ideas, and that Straussians in particular should recognize Trump's morally despicable vulgarity?  If so, then I am pleased that they finally came to see the truth about Trump and the need to protect the intellectual legacy of Strauss from any association with someone like Trump.

The next step is to endorse Gary Johnson's libertarian candidacy. 

1 comment:

EA said...

I was shocked to see that JAG had been taken down. It's impossible that the articles published there were "a joke." They had been written with intellectual power and insight. Instead, it feels to me like the publisher was threatened. I remember reading that the writers chose to remain anonymous because their jobs might be threatened otherwise. Some of them were in academia, a place not known for tolerance of Trump or conservatism these days.

I only wish I had copied some of those essays. If you see him, tell Cato the Elder he'll be missed.