The American Conservative Goes Full Pol Pot

Declan Leary, who recently delivered himself of the deeply evil “It was all worth it” bulletin in defense of kidnapping Native kids and letting them die by the bushel in Canadian residential schools now offers another deeply evil bulletin calling for kids to be denied an education and child labor law to be repealed. It is a vision that would delight monsters like Pol Pot.

Here is Leary:

“What I propose instead is that, rather than subjecting them to a 12-year torrent of mostly useless information that will leave their heads as soon as they leave school, parents should be allowed to raise their children as the vast majority of children were raised for the vast majority of human history. The reigning system is designed to integrate upward, but a humane deschooling would foster downward integration: reintegration from an early age into the life of the family and the tangible community.”

It is characteristic of the People of the Lie that American MAGA Catholicism has become that the whole monstrous lie is present in the language of liberation: “let” the children work. A cruel liberal regime is forcing education on children when what the little tykes really need is the grueling discipline of hard work. Once again, I am reminded of a Khmer Rouge spokesman who proudly boasted that in the past the children had played and laughed, but now they worked all the time! A glorious accomplishment of the regime.

Notably, his vision of an ignorant working class “tilling the land” is one he posits only for boys. Apparently, women don’t count at all in the discussion. His views on their duties to men unsurprisingly boil down to their duty to be “improbably attractive” wives to average-looking men.

So who is Declan Leary anyway?:

“Declan Leary is associate editor of The American Conservative, where he began in the summer of 2020 as an ISI Collegiate Network Fellow after receiving his bachelor’s degree in Classics from John Carroll University. While an undergraduate, he was an editorial intern at National Review for the summer of 2019, and a frequent contributor to such publications as National Review Online and Crisis Magazine.”

He is, in short, a privileged, wet-behind-the-ears 23 year old kid whose mummy and daddy put him through school and who has never done a day’s worth of hard physical work in his life, ready to sentence untermenschen to hard labor for life and deny them an education because, well, they just aren’t the right breed, if you catch my meaning, if you get my drift. Some people are just natural ditch-diggers. Don’t worry though. After a day of back-breaking labor, the lower orders can always find time to read in the evening.

Not Declan, of course. He is fit to be Associate Editor of The American Conservative and sing the praises of cultural genocide, denial of education to the lower orders, and hard labor for the children of others.

Leary, who tries to write off the reforms that give universal education and child labor laws as some sort of Protestant evil, is characteristically ignorant (as Traddery so often is) of the teaching of Pope Leo XIII, the inventor of the Church’s body of social teaching, whose Rerum Novarum was a massive boost to the labor movement and who likewise pushed for child labor laws by writing things like:

“And, in regard to children, great care should be taken not to place them in workshops and factories until their bodies and minds are sufficiently developed. For, just as very rough weather destroys the buds of spring, so does too early an experience of life’s hard toil blight the young promise of a child’s faculties, and render any true education impossible.”

Pius XI would later comment on such reforms:

“A new branch of law, wholly unknown to the earlier time, has arisen from this continuous and unwearied labor to protect vigorously the sacred rights of the workers that flow from their dignity as men and as Christians. These laws undertake the protection of life, health, strength, family, homes, workshops, wages and labor hazards, in fine, everything which pertains to the condition of wage workers, with special concern for women and children. Even though these laws do not conform exactly everywhere and in all respects to Leo’s recommendations, still it is undeniable that much in them savors of the Encyclical, On the Condition of Workers, to which great credit must be given for whatever improvement has been achieved in the workers’ condition.”

That this massively ignorant, privileged, and brutal punk has, at his tender age and without any apparent understanding of the pain he seeks to inflict on the world, been elevated to such a position by the American Conservative only makes clear yet again both the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of American Conservatism, but also the devastating failure of American Conservative Catholic catechesis. His aesthetic is Catholic. But his religion is MAGA: cruel, reckless, ignorant of the Tradition, and narcissistic to the core.

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22 Responses

  1. Father of five here, oldest is in high school. A common refrain I hear from other parents about college is: “Not everybody needs to go to college. The trades are a great option.” This is true. When followed up with the question: “Are your kids going to pursue the trades?” The response is always akin to, “No, we’re looking at X college” or “touring colleges in the northeast on fall break.”

    Leary just took that to a logical libertarian conclusion: You are more useful to capital if you don’t burden us with self-actualization through education. Just dig that ditch and leave the rest to us.

    The logical end to libertarianism is slavery. The more I think about it the more I believe libertarianism is one of those ideologies that never goes away and resurfaces under new names every so often. Like totalitarianism, fascism, etc.

    1. Exactly. Libertarianism is not about individual freedom. It is about gaming the power of the state to protect the rich and powerful from the legitimate claims of justice by the poor and weak.

  2. @ pocket

    We are watching a show right now on Amazon called Bosch. The current season features a group of “sovereign citizens“ who saus a particular law that says they don’t have to obey the law. The irony is incredible. What the group seems to want is freedom from all laws, but you know what they are looking for is that others will have the freedom to follow their orders.

  3. I’ve sort of speculated for a while that what the high-end capitalists really want, is a return to serfdom; updated for our times. So: some uneducated but hardworking folks on the bottom layers with very limited mobility options. Some middle-level people for whose work education is necessary; they get an education in exchange for lifetime indenture, again with very limited mobility options. And all the real lolly going to the top, with very few obligations.
    Libertarian Heaven!

  4. @ lise

    Funny, but it sounds like Russian communist heaven to me. Or maybe it was Chinese communist heaven. In fact, it really sounds pretty much like the heaven of any authoritarian ideology. Now that I think about it, it actually sounds more like colonialism. On the other hand, it fits the mold for a good portion of the ancient world, unless it’s an accurate description of feudal Europe.

    Wait half a double mo. Now I have it. The freedom to do what I want is for me. The freedom to do what I want you to is for you.

  5. @Ben

    One can justly excuse feudal Europe to the extent that the notion of individual rights was comparatively new and developing. That’s exactly what makes the new “heaven” so appalling. The notion that “They” will actually be happier that way never loses its charm for those who stand to collect on it.

    1. @ lise

      If it were possible to give you Up votes in this format, believe me I would. “They will actually be happier that way never loses its charm for those who stand to collect on it.“ Is about as accurate as you could be.

  6. Leary is a parrot. His complaints about sitcom husbands is right out of the Persecuted White Man Playbook. It’s like #9 on the list of grievances.

    –So is the “some people wouldn’t benefit from college” trope –as if plumbers and electricians wouldn’t benefit from being culturally enriched.

    Most of the white guys in my extended family wouldn’t make it for half a day as a plumber. None of them are dumb. No, not all. They are brilliant in navigating how not to work. They can’t even cook for themselves, so we get Grubhub deliveries to the compound from McDonalds at all hours of the night while they game on multiple cutting edge big screens. Their roof leaks, so every winter they go buy a new roll of plastic to solve the problem, and then complain to their libertarian grandma who coddles them, crying that they don’t have the money to fix it. My brother-in-law always has a new story to explain away his days on the couch and his new Harley Davidson. I think unemployment just dried up, so it will be interesting to see for how long they can live on their savings. MAGA indeed.

    It would all be excellent fodder for a sitcom about entitled white privilege, right down to the fact that they think immigrants are ruining the country AND they know my brown, immigrant husband will eventually fix their roof, because their house belongs to us and our children too. It might be too far gone already, not to mention the health problems that come with the mold they won’t even bother to scrub off. And now they are looking at the beautiful work my husband put into our little home on the property (it is a jewel) thinking life in unfair and we have done them wrong somehow.

    1. @Taco,

      You make me think of my late Mother, who taught the middle grades in Catholic schools for 20+ years.

      She was teaching composition and one of her young men told her that he didn’t need to learn composition, he was going to go into his father’s business, be a Master Plumber, and make $48/hr. (This would have been ~1975ish). She told the kid that if his dad would write a note to that effect, the boy could be excused.

      Papa the Plumber hit the ceiling, and explained to his son about proposals and contracts and the need for a plumber to be able to clearly say what he meant, in writing. The son learned a couple of lessons from that incident.

      1. @Lise,
        My father’s parents told him he would be a dentist back in the early fifties after they had just spent a mind boggling sum of money to have his teeth straightened. He wanted to be an archeologist, but obeyed his parents as kids of that generation did. One of his buddies from Catholic High became a plumber. He retired long before my father, after building a successful plumbing empire in Santa Barbara.

        We lived on the fairway of an exclusive country club, and they would wave to each other from time to time. There was always a touch of jealousy and chagrin in my father’s voice when he would tell the story about being hauled into the principal’s office for playing a prank with a few of his buddies. That very fierce Jesuit (who once slapped my father in the face for saying something snarky) offered them an ultimatum: Apologize or be expelled.–All of them readily apologized –except for the future plumbing king. I went to Catholic school with his kids.

  7. Oh, I forgot to add one more detail to my very real story about white,Catholic, privilege:

    Back when America was great under great white saviors like Ronnie Reagan, nice Catholic girls would never get a divorce –even if they were hitched to a con who suffers from arrested development. ( Mama’s boy). The white guys would sit around the table grousing about Pope JP doling out annulments like candy, when EVERYONE knows that MARRIAGE IS FOR LIFE even if the guy (or gal) is a lout and an abuser.

    Then Pope Francis came along and said, “excuse me, that (sh*t show) doesn’t constitute a marriage.” A million pairs of conservative white eyeballs rolled in outrage, while they sat at the head of the table waiting for their glass of wine (mug of beer) to be topped off. The beehive hummed madly with proper catholic indignance.

    My sister used to be outraged about divorce too, just like our parents. Now she gets a faraway look in her eyes and muses that she should have “left him when he slapped me, and took my wallet away, saying the money belonged to him because he was the one bringing it home…” She went on to have four more kids after that, because she was, after all, a nice Catholic girl.

  8. p.p.s (This is for Ben) They would also sit around feeling devastated that gay people could now get a little piece of paper from the state which ensured that they had financial rights in their domestic partnership. Hell in a handbasket.

    1. Ben, I know you don’t believe in a final judgement, but there’s this part of me that can’t wait to see the look on their smug Qatholic faces

      –which never fails to put a shiver down my own spine, and inspires me to pray, “Domine ut videam”–loosely translated to, “Lord give me good goggles in the (sh*t show) storm, so I don’t have to be too embarrassed when everything that is hidden comes to light.”

  9. @taco

    A few years ago I had a conversation with a very virulently anti-gay fundamentalist. This one would probably shock even Anita Bryant. Though she never said as much, I was pretty sure that her Virulence came from her daughter coming out and telling her to stick her head where the sun don’t shine.

    One very good example of her virulence. She was pontificating on and on about the regnerus “study” used in the proposition eight Battle to “prove” that gay people made terrible parents. I pointed out that Regnerus stated at least twice in a public forum that he never studied gay parents, but said that gay people made terrible parents based upon broken heterosexual marriages. While not contesting that he said it, she nevertheless insisted that his study proves what she wanted it to.

    I replied, “you are slandering and re-viling gay people, and you were doing it knowingly. I would love to be a fly on the wall and see your face when god tells you that slandering and reviling has earned you a place in hell.” The reactions of her talibornagain friends to my saying that simply proved to them what a horrible, awful person I am, and that they would never say anything so horrible, followed up with that I was going to burn in hell for my 2 corinthians sin.”

    You just can’t win!

  10. Because hell is only for the yucky sins of other people. They however can murder and pillage like a Dick Cheney Bush family alliance and their sins are covered by a blood of Christ soaked American flag.

    What was it that Luther said about fornication? They can’t lose! All of their frat-boy bases are covered with a free “get out of jail” card.

  11. Mark, you haven’t read Declan’s latest tome 2/3 days ago – he basically says people become teachers because they’re ignorant and aren’t fit for anything else. And no teacher is worth anything, should all be fired, unions should be banned, etc., etc., etc. He knows nothing about anything important, yet gets to spout his childish garbage to others. He also knows nothing about farming, as I commented on his article. Farmers today need to know quite a bit about agriculture, soil, animal husbandry, business, etc., to compete with corporate agriculture, and a good number of them have those “useless” college degrees such as business, etc. Send a kid out to till the soil instead of go to school? He clearly doesn’t know that most state colleges were founded to educate FARMERS. Nobody tills the soil anymore, unless they’re driving one of those big machines that do it. Any bets on how long he’d last on a farm if someone threw him inside one? BTW, he thinks Trump is someone to emulate and worship.

    1. I still say the real problem isn’t Decaln Leary, but the editors at TAC.
      Declan has the excuse that he’s a callow selfish youth. What excuse do the senior editors have?

  12. None. Why on earth they appointed someone with his lack of experience as an editor boggles the mind. And he’s not the only one. They are starting a new series on TAC: “I’m proud to introduce “Taking the Mask Off,” a new series from The American Conservative. We will call out the hypocrisy of our public health regime. We will highlight the toll lockdown measures and mask mandates have taken on our families and communities. We will urge Americans not to accept a “new normal”.” The writer of this has written for Crisis and First Things – which used to be reasonable publications – another 20-something that TAC thinks is smart. Bill Buckley is turning in his grave.

    1. I used to subscribe to First Things. I let my sub run out in 2004 or so, when it became clear that the US was torturing people in Iraq, and First Things had nary a peep to say about it. Apparently they’ve gone steadily downhill ever since. Which is sad.
      – joel

  13. I have decided that Declan Leary is actually a bad writer. He could have argued that we need positive male role models, which we do. But instead, he had to go on this screed about feminists and liberals and who knows what.

    His hatred is blinding him.

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