Scott McKay, a columnist here at The American Spectator, recently released The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win the Next American Era. After receiving the manuscript, I reached out to Scott with some questions about the book, whither conservatives, and his differences in approach to right-wingers of the past.
Daniel Flynn: In a couple of sentences, can you tell us what your revivalist’s manifesto looks like?
Scott McKay: Revivalism, which is really more or less another name for MAGA or America First conservatism, is about the center-right going on offense. There’s a huge opportunity to build a new political consensus in the country on the failures of the modern status quo for a conservative movement bold, principled, and articulate enough to be worthy of it.
DF: Albert Jay Nock, a figure you mention in the book, famously wrote of “the remnant.” You speak of “revivalism.” Does revivalism find inspiration in the remnant? I sense from reading your book that you base your idea in optimism in contrast to Nock’s understandable pessimism during the New Deal. How do the terms differ?
SM: I’d answer it this way: Nock was around at a time when liberalism had not yet spent itself as a political force. By now it has given way to outright Marxism, cultural and otherwise, and all of the institutions it once dominated are corrupt and dysfunctional. That’s both a bleak picture and a hopeful one; we’re going into a period of crisis in which creative destruction is inevitable and a realignment is coming. In Nock’s time, the conservatives were the pessimists, having lost their era of dominance. Look at how unhinged the Left is now. That doesn’t come from a place of confidence.
DF: Neal Freeman recently took issue with your characterization of Bill Buckley. Your chapter on Buckley seems admiring, but you perceive some limitations. What do we owe Buckley? How should we differ from his approach?
SM: Well, Freeman is an old National Review guy, so he’s obviously going to evangelize Buckley. I don’t take issue with that, but I also would insist on an understanding that the conservative movement he created wasn’t built — I’m not even sure he intended that it would be built — as a populist and broad-based movement. In Buckley’s time, the New Deal Democrats might have monopolized that space; that’s over. I imagine a young Buckley today might look a lot like a Charlie Kirk or Ben Shapiro.
DF: You write: “No more standing athwart history, yelling ‘Stop.’ It’s time to grab history by the throat, put a gun to its head, and calmly and politely direct it where we’d like it to go. Doing that takes a whole lot more than just winning an election or two.” Do you see the Dobbs decision as a move in this direction? Beyond the courts, where must conservatives go on the offense?
SM: Dobbs, certainly, but the whole suite of decisions released late in the term constitute an earthquake that shakes the foundation of the modern left’s public-policy structure to its core. I see a collapse of all of their structures coming, and, what’s more, so do they. The real question is how fast the Right will adopt a Ron DeSantis style as its standard and finish that collapse — on its way to remaking the country for the fourth era of our history.
Notice to Readers: The American Spectator and Spectator World are marks used by independent publishing companies that are not affiliated in any way. If you are looking for The Spectator World please click on the following link: https://spectatorworld.com/.