Unz Update

Dr. Gregory Cochran Says It Must Be Said:

Ron Unz has supported The American Conservative, and as a result, had some columns published in that magazine. … Recently he submitted a piece on high crime rates among American blacks … the article was unquestionably correct in its major conclusion.  Blacks in the US have very high crime rates, and there is a very high correlation between the local crime rate and the local black percentage.  That’s the way it is.

And that article is what got Ron kicked off TAC’s board. No good deed goes unpunished.

Someone I know at TAC opined that everyone knows this stuff, and talking about it is just mean.

I’ve got to say that if some benefactor had given me $600,000 over the past few years, I’d probably sing the virtues of my patron with a bit more honey than Cochran is able to muster.

At any rate, Cochran’s quote offers another piece of corroboration to my theory that Unz is out.  He published his “Race and Crime in America” on his own blog on 20-July-2013, only 10 days before that National Review ‘purge’ article appeared detailing that infamous email of several days prior.  That’s a stretch, but not impossibly early to get ‘former publisher’ into his IQ2 biography.  Still, if he was suddenly putsched back then, why no official announcement even now?  American Right Publishing is weird.

It’s not unreasonable to adopt a hybrid explanation of what occurred combining the following elements:

1. Unz’s foundation, the treasury of which he used to help fund TAC, went broke about 18 months ago, and further personal contributions were not predictably forthcoming.

2. Unz was trying everyone’s patience with all his overlong Race-Crime-IQ articles dropped on his editor at the last minute, and he finally ‘crossed the line’ when he ventured into ‘mean’ territory (Deep within foul Mordor, located next to the undead evil bogs of ‘unfairness’).

3. In addition to content, Unz is an eccentric who is just hard to work with / for, and the other folks at TAC finally had enough of his shit.

4. And finally, as in a old, bad marriage, there has been drift and TAC and Unz have grown apart.  This is a subject I didn’t touch upon in the last article but which I’ve been thinking about.  Unz himself complained that Rod Dreher gets over 50% of TAC’s web traffic.  Is that true?  Let’s take at the ‘most commented’ graphic:

TAC is now the Dreher show

And, I assure you, for months prior to all this recent Syria talk, Dreher usually dominated the “Most Read” version as well with his other religiously-themed posts.

I’ve already mentioned that TAC was founded as a paleoconservative, anti-military-interventionist publication to protest the alleged neoconservative manipulation of President George W. Bush into prosecuting an unnecessary war with Iraq.  And the magazine retains its strong anti-war bonafides as is apparent from their recent Syria coverage.

But what is TAC for the other 99% of the time?  The audience has mainly decided that it should be The Dreher Show.  And Dreher’s not really very Unz-like.   As Foseti says, Dreher occasionally is able to talk about matters of race, gender, crime, and family in a way that is traditional, popular, and not completely retarded – which is a rare accomplishment for a non-excommunicated writer in this day and age.

But lately, and now most of the time, Dreher is writing about the last phase of the war, really now an all-out assault, of the progressives-dominated culture and state power against the last remnants of traditional Christianity.  Dreher has remarked favorably upon the idea of embracing a ‘besieged minority’ mentality akin to early Christians in the Roman Empire, as opposed to the tendency of some Christians to take the increasingly false myth of American remaining a (traditionally, revelationist) Christian country’ for granted.

They should instead think of themselves like Jews in old Eastern Europe; never really secure; always maintaining only a precarious hold on normalcy, always vulnerable to the next pogrom.  Perhaps the Cherokee facing the Manifest Destiny of the great westward expansion provide another useful analogy to the mindset.

The point is – Dreher’s message and audience are very different from the old, core TAC authorship and readership.  Probably closer to Limbaugh than Unz.  The magazine’s board needs to decide whether TAC stands for The American Christian or not, because if they do nothing, the audience will decide for them in the affirmative.

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11 Responses to Unz Update

  1. Pingback: Randoms | Foseti

  2. Pingback: Is The American Conservative Going Out of Business? | Occam's Razor

  3. I’ll second your perceptions of TAC. Apart from being reliably anti-interventionist on foreign policy, TAC is all over the place. I’ve read a few blog posts there with retarded heckling of Republicans as ‘laissez-faire’ (laf) and about finding merit in recent gigantic legislative initiatives. There is nothing conservative about this.

  4. VXXC says:

    Their comments are the haunt of liberal Trolls. It’s not Christian to be unkiind to them, so the nice white ladies don’t respond.

    Meanwhile courtesy of Theden I must inform you it’s not time to surrender yet.


  5. Mike in Boston says:

    I appreciate your insight into the slow motion train wreck that is TAC, but I’m surprised by your assessment that Dreher’s popularity represents any sort of a shift in the TAC readership. I’ve been a subscriber from Issue One, and as far as I’m concerned Dreher is the only one of the new crop of writers who can be considered a conservative in the old TAC mode. Just as Bill Kauffman, a TAC stalwart from the beginning, has always de-emphasized the national mass culture in favor his local community’s living relationships, similarly Dreher’s latest tack explores how each person can actually frame his life in relationship to the nanny state and the culture it’s trying to impose. This is a profoundly practical, and hence interesting, subject, for any besieged minority. And yes, anyone who isn’t keen on their kid’s being pushed to join the school “Gay Straight Alliance” is a besieged minority in this country now. Dreher is about the only guy who addresses that fact head on– as good and valuable as Chronicles is, even Tom Fleming sometimes can’t resist the temptation to waste column inches on policy ideas that will never be implemented as long as the Cathedral clings to power. The Cathedral ain’t going quietly, and if history is any guide the oppression will only be ratcheted up as the economy continues to crumble, so I would rather read Dreher’s stuff on the “Benedict Option” than yet another good, sensible program for political change that won’t get a single vote in any legislative body on the American continent assembled before the next violent revolution.

    I have not written to cancel my TAC subscription only because, as you will have noticed by now, I have a hard time keeping things pithy and so haven’t been happy with any of my written attempts to give McCarthy a suitable piece of my mind. But I should get on the ball: the latest renewal solicitation came surprisingly soon after the last one, and with a ludicrous price tag. I suspect the end will not be long in coming.

    • Handle says:

      That’s a good point Mike. I certainly haven’t followed TAC from the start, and it’s not like I’d know the identities and preferences of most of the readership since that time even if I had.

      But even if I assume that Dreher’s work represents the traditional core of TAC’s output and the long-running preferences of the subscribers (certainly it’s the current preference), I think it’s an easy case that he represents a kind of outlier among the rest of the cast currently working at the magazine. I have followed Larison and Millman and Unz and Buchanan for a while and their work is all cut from a different cloth. They occasionally express sympathy for people who have views like Dreher’s, but don’t express those views themselves (whether they have them or not).

      Back in the day, I used to read about the attitude of the editors of conventional local newspapers – that they used the Sports Page (what most of their readership really cared about) to smuggle in the editorials. Perhaps Dreher is the spoon full of sugar to help make the Non-interventionist Foreign Policy go down.

      • teageegeepea says:

        Larison and Dreher are both Orthodox Christians. Dreher was known as a “crunchy con” religious conservative back when he was Catholic (although I believe he was raised Baptist), but he left Rome due to the abuse scandals.

  6. Interesting take on the TAC metamorphosis. My take on it is that members of the board have decided that pseudo-religious humbug is TAC’s wave of the future. I Know, that’s delusional but that’s what I hear from insiders.

    • Handle says:

      I don’t think it’s fair to call it delusional. By my estimate, TAC is running nearly 80% on contributions (almost at the level of regular paid-advertisement) and only has between 2,000 and 2,500 subscribers (and who knows how many are just libraries) which is nothing. What revenue, page views, and subscribers they retain, they probably owe to Dreher because he’s the most popular writer by far.

      I’ll write a short post about this later – but like I said – TAC has to decide what it’s supposed to be about, and what role it is supposed to fill, or whether it’s fulfilled as much as it can achieve of its mission and it’s time to wind down operations. They could try to become “Dreher & Co.”, but then they’re competing with the more red-blooded Christian publications.

      The basic idea is that TAC is supposed to give us what people on the American Educated Right want and need, but which National Review won’t give us anymore after the so-called Series of Neoconservative Purges … or something. A voice of dissent from the old Respectable Right (Paleos) against the new Respectable Right. Part of the whole Dreher problem is that I can easily see him very much at home at NR.

      The problem is with the ‘Respectable’. That’s now impossible. My position is very simple. There’s plenty of right v. NR space around and it’s much broader than the old paleo-neo dispute. The role of satisfying the demand for it all is currently being met by the excommunicated or pseudonymous hobbyist blogosphere. Paleo positions find a lot of sympathy there – but they can’t be the start and finish of the position of dissent.

      But more fundamentally – the set of positions on the right that one is allowed to express and be thought of as both intelligent and respectable (and stay employable), that is not already covered by NR, has definitively shrunk down below sustainability. That’s sad, but true. So you have to make a choice to live on the run as an infamous outlaw (Sailer, Derbyshire, etc.) or surrender and submit to the needs of the cocktail-party / IQ2 circuit.

  7. Matt says:

    A significant portion of Dreher’s readership are lefties who want something to get het up about. Inevitably, anything about gay marriage garners 80+ comments, many of them hostile. Sometimes I think Dreher has more leftism in his comment box than Daily KOS or somesuch.

    That’s the real failing of TAC…they have little appeal among conservatives, and seem intent on insulting them wherever possible. As a result, TAC is the place lefties go to confirm their biases.

    • Handle says:

      Political Publishing is an information operation, employment of capabilities to, “… influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp the decision-making …” of your target audience.

      The two essential questions: Who is the target audience, and What ideas are you trying to influence and change?

      Preaching to the choir is only good for earning a little extra subscription money, which is pretty negligible. Trolling to provoke lefties in order to get page-views could actually work as a business strategy, who knows, but then you’re out of the influencing business. You have to carve out a special niche in the overall market to survive as an opinion-maker, and that’s TAC’s problem.

      The name of the game is new recruits to your way of thinking. There are always young people just taking notice of politics, but The Cathedral gets its hands on them much earlier than you can. The holy grail is flipping capable adversaries. I’ll write more about that later.

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