George Will and the Failure of WASP Conservatism

Much is being made of the fact that George Will recently announced that he has left the Republican Party because of the nomination of Donald Trump. My initial reaction, and the reaction of many others judging by the responses I have seen, is "Good riddance." I have made my feeling about Mr. Will known in the past.

That said, I think it is important to clear up a common misperception. I have seen a lot of people describe Will as a neocon. He is not. The late conservative columnist Sam Francis pegged Will in a 1986 Modern Age article that he wrote in response to Will’s much discussed at the time book, Statecraft as Soulcraft. The article was previously only available as a PDF of the original Modern Age article and was difficult to read. Radix Journal has recently made it available in article form. It is well worth a read. The concluding paragraph sums up Francis’s case well.


“Although Will is sometimes called a “neo-conservative,” he is not one. Neoconservatives typically derive more or less conservative policy positions from essentially liberal premises. Will in fact does the opposite: he derives from more or less unexceptionable premises of classical conservatism policy positions that are often congruent with the current liberal agenda. It is because he accepts, and wants to be accepted by, the “achievements” of modem liberalism that he ignores or sneers at the serious conservative thinkers and leaders of our time who have sought to break liberal idols and that he voices no criticism of the powers that support liberalism. It is therefore not surprising that his commentary is welcomed in and rewarded by liberal power centers. They have little to fear from him and his ideas and much to gain if his version of “conservatism” should gain currency. He enjoys every prospect of a bright future in their company.”


Will is best viewed as a voice of the old Eastern WASP Establishment. (When I use WASP here I don’t mean the all-purpose slur aimed at all non-Catholic whites. I mean the literal old New England WASP Establishment.) He is conservative in the technical sense of being largely for the status quo and against major disruption. Theoretically, if all were running smoothly, this would be a good thing. The problem is that under the reign of this sort of alleged stand patism, the Eastern WASP Establishment, who used to run the show, basically gave the country away. Individual WASPs may be doing OK under the new globalist paradigm, but collectively the old WASP influence has declined precipitously.

Evidence of this decline is all around. WASPy thirds (like James Baker III) and three names (like John Foster Dulles) used to dominate Presidential administrations. Now, not so much. It was much commented on at the time that Justice John Paul Stevens was the last WASP on the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court now boasts no Protestants. WASPs no longer dominate the rolls of Harvard, Yale and Princeton as they once did.

In reality, George Will style stand patism has effectively, at best, only mitigated the decline. Why the WASPs decided it would be a good idea to usher in their own irrelevance is a fascinating subject that deserves discussion.

Inherent in the genteel manners that purportedly characterized old WASP society was the concept of noblesse oblige, the idea that with station and wealth comes an obligation to the less fortunate. This was not necessarily an expression of support for generous welfare programs, although it was sometimes crudely expressed as such. It was more an expression of respect and a recognition that an orderly and well-functioning society requires all stations, and that people should be valued for who they are and what they do if they comport themselves in an honorable way.

Noblesse oblige would seemingly suggest that the WASP elites should care about the fortunes of their fellow countrymen in Flyover Country and pursue policies that would benefit their country and their fellow countrymen as a whole, not just their fellow elites. Somewhere this went awry. What remains of today’s WASP elite are an integral part of the globalist cabal that has destroyed our nation’s economy with policies that benefit the donor class at the expense of the working man. They are also just as much a part of the condescension chorus that looks down their noses at us yahoos in Flyover Country as any other. The kind of contempt and snark that drips from George Will’s anti-Trump columns would have gotten a proper WASP slapped by his mother a generation ago. WASPs today are a decreasing component of the globalist cosmopolitan elite that look out for each other while expressing contempt for the non-elite masses, or at least the white element of the masses. The elite reaction to the Brexit vote demonstrates this perfectly.

If Flyover Country Regular Joes are somehow able to take this country back on the wave of the Trump revolution, hopefully we won’t be damn fool enough to just give it away again like Will style WASP “conservatives” have. If there is any justice in this world, George Will will be serving hors d'oeuvres in the Trump White House, not writing snarky and condescending columns for the Washington Post.  

This article was simultaneously published at Intellectual Conservative



"Inherent in the genteel

"Inherent in the genteel manners that purportedly characterized old WASP society was the concept of noblesse oblige, the idea that with station and wealth comes an obligation to the less fortunate."

I think that's a bit much to say.

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the ruling class

A billionaire and here come the Clintons.

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