To qualify for Omniorthogonal's prestigious wingnut of the week award (which needs a better name, since I hardly do this weekly), the recipient has to exhibit above average intelligence, erudition, or imagination, as well as being a right-wing maniac. We're not talking ordinary mouth-breathers here, or the likes of Jonah Goldberg. I'm not looking simply for dumb people to mock; those are too common and too boring and plenty of other places take care of them. I'm looking for people who think differently from me and do so in a way that's strong and strange enough that I might actually learn something or be convinced to change my opinions. Then I mock them.
Spengler is the pseudonym of David P. Goldman, who used to write at Asia Times and now is an associate editor and blogger at the reactionary religious First Things, and before that had an apparently interesting and varied career in finance and philosophy. I'm not sure this guy deserves the wingnut label; his writing seems orders of magnitude more organized than most. He seems to represent the best sort of conservative thought: acerbic, learned, and rigorous. He's also knowledgeable about classical music, and I have to admit to being intimidated by people who can claim that, since it's one of my larger blind spots.
So why would he even qualify as for my prestigious award, seeing as he has the wing but not the nut? Well...in a lengthy confession of his political history, he admits to having been a dedicated follower of Lyndon Larouche for ten years! This mystifies me, because I distinctly remember figuring out for myself that the Larouchies were creepy crackpots when I was about 17 years old. If my unformed youthful self could figure it out, how could someone of such manifest intelligence waste ten years of their life chasing these ideas? Oh well, people are different and what is obvious to one person is not necessarily so to another. Anyway, Spengler gradually figured out that he was beholden to a "gnostic cult" and extricated himself.
If that wasn't enough to interest me, it turns out that before he hooked up with Larouche, Spengler was affiliated with Hashomer Hatzair, a Socialist-Zionist youth movement that I myself belonged to for a few years (also around age 17). How one transitions from that to the vaguely anti-semitic Larouche cult is another mystery. Goldman has a complicated relationship to his Jewishness and his present conservatism seems to be an effort to recapture something that he missed in his red-diaper-baby childhood.
I sometimes wonder why I never had this kind of rebellion. My parents were conventional liberals, I was somewhat radical in my youth and am now more or less a conventional liberal myself. My brother, on the other hand, became a raving right-wing nut, and many other people from left-wing backgrounds have become rightist ideologues. I think the people this happens to are those who take their political beliefs too seriously, who want to use a political ideology as a personal identity and a root philosophy. As a math and computer geek I looked elsewhere for that stuff, and so I never expected politics to conform to a neat conceptual system, so never felt the need to shift from one extreme to another.