Friday, November 08, 2013

The Failure of Conservatism.

An objective analysis of socio-political history would have to conclude that, in the battle between conservatism and liberalism, liberalism has been the winner. Even today's modern "conservatism" is not the conservatism of 1900. It, too, has been heavily influenced by liberal thought. The dividing line between the two ideologies seems more economic rather than social and on socially corrosive issues like divorce, promiscuity, multiculturalism and moral relativism  there appears to little in practice to separate the two mainstream political actors. From this vantage point in time one has to conclude that Conservatism in the 20th Century has failed. In fact, on every issue that Conservatism has taken a position liberalism has trumped it. Some might disagree and argue that conservatives won on economic issues, to which I reply, "Gold standard, anyone?"

The problem with Conservatism is that it has swallowed much of the liberal Kool-Aid and whilst there may be particular factions which espouse a particular truth quite forcefully, for nearly every faction that espouses one conservative truth it does it with an admixture of other liberal errors.  Modern American and British Conservatism seem to bee prime examples of this admixture. In fact, it's my opinion that American conservatism could quite easily slide into some form of South American (Not German) Fascism if it is not too careful, so bad is the mixture.

If God were not on our side then I would consider Conservatism a hopeless cause. Surveying the field I see liberalism triumphant in every corner, the persecution of Christians, it's final development, is begining and hard times are about to be on us. Still, God has matched us with this hour and, presumably, thought us up to task. Therefore, our duty is to get our arse into gear and start rebuilding the temple. The question is, where to begin?

I suppose the first task is to work out where we went wrong, where the movement failed, if for no other reason to stop making the same mistakes. An audit of Conservatism is in order.

It's my view that the Conservative movement has made several fundamental errors which are contributing to its destruction. Some of which are due to historical circumstances and some of which are due to poor thinking on core ideology, particularly, with regard to human nature. If I were to issue a Syllabus of modern Conservative Errors I suppose I would want to include the following in the list.

1) The embrace of universal democracy. i.e. One man, one vote. In principle, this is a noble ideal but in practice is toxic to good governance. The average man is a moron, albeit a good natured one who simply lacks the cognitive expertise (or inclination) to contribute meaningfully to good management of society. He is also the soft underbelly of society, whom the Cathedral relies on to implement it social policies.  The whole aim of Cathedral ops is to condition not convince Joe Average into acting in accordance with their wishes. Since the stupid and gullible outnumber the wise and prudent it's a no-brainer to see who will win this contest in a universal democracy.  When you make the world safe for universal democracy you're making the world safe for liberalism.

Note, this isn't an argument for or against monarchy or oligarchy. Political power should be invested into those who have skin in the game and into those who have the capacity to exercise it wisely.  The idea that every man is wise and prudent is a falsehood. T

2) Moral relativism. What this does is making Conservatism  a "value lite" form of political governance. The values being filled in by liberalism. Divorce, for instance, is not just a religious question but one with societal and therefore political consequences. A Conservatism which fails to make some value judgements is conservatism that cannot govern properly. It also opens the door to all sorts of other evils. How do you stop multiculturalism when emasculate yourself by refusing to assert the superiority of your own culture?

3) High Anglicanism. Modern conservatism is strongly influenced by English thought and habit. Front loaded into this cultural heritage is the concept of "niceness" or agreeableness. As people like Malcolm Muggeridge have noted, the High English custom is to prefer good mannered evil to coarse mannered good. Anglo-Conservatives tend to be extraordinarily nice people. The problem is that a man needs to be good before he is nice.  Sometimes you just have to offend.

4) Tradition. Tradition, in my mind has been both the blessing and bane of Conservatism. The mindless worshiping of it has stymied Conservatism's ability to deal with new realities and allowed the Left to outflank it when it comes to "solving" novel problems. The industrialisation of the West, which bought about brand new social realities,  blindsided the Conservative movement and enabled the liberal establishment to become established. Agrarianism, which seems to find a home in conservatism, is one such school of thought which seem to prefer that industrialism went away. The problem is, so do the  material conditions of modern life.  You need an industrial society to produce MRI machines.

Now tradition is good, insofar as it gives us an accurate understanding of reality. Where tradition is evil is where it proposes something that is contrary to reality.  The problem with traditionalists is that they can't make that distinction and this is a real problem, especially given the history of the conservative movement, where the traditionalists have been the ones who have done most of the heavy lifting.

It's got to be admitted that the traditionalists were the only ones keeping the "light on" during the very dark days of the conservative movement in the later half of the 20th Century. This has given them a certain amount of moral authority but the fact remains that the movement slid during their watch. Men like Kirk, Oakshott, Babbit and Buckly did the yeoman work of the time and need to be acknowledged but, ultimately, their strategy failed. The problem with ensconcing these individuals to quasi mythical status is that their take on conservatism becomes the offical line. When some new upstart with ideas proposes something contrary to their vision, their immediately labelled unconservative by being untraditional and categorically trown into the liberal camp. Cue Roissy.

But there does seem to be some flickering of life at least in that old bastion of reactionary conservatism, Catholicism. In a speech heavily critiqued by Anarchopapist, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez stated:
The Second Vatican Council was the main event in the Church in the 20th Century. In principle, it meant an end to the hostilities between the Church and modernism, which was condemned in the First Vatican Council. On the contrary: neither the world is the realm of evil and sin –these are conclusions clearly achieved in Vatican II—nor is the Church the sole refuge of good and virtue. Modernism was, most of the time, a reaction against injustices and abuses that disparaged the dignity and the rights of the person.
This is exactly the same line of thought as taken by the giant of American Conservatism in the 20th Century, Whittaker Chambers. He seemed to be the only one doing the deep thinking. The old world had serious problems, which were amped by industrialisation and which the conservative institutions of society were not able to provide any solutions to. The vacuum was filled by modernism which provided even worse solutions. This theme, of rigid old and stupid new, was picked up by another guy who gets a lot of heat from the Traditionalist Right, Pope Francis. (I wonder if he reads this blog)

In this meditation by Pope Francis, which did not get much press in the mainstream media he says;
There are two temptations to face at this moment in the Church’s history: drawing back[Ed:Traditionalism], because we are afraid of the freedom that comes from the law “enacted in the Holy Spirit”; and giving in to an “adolescent progressivism”, namely, the inclination to follow the most captivating values presented by prevailing culture.
That's Whittaker Chambers talking.

We have been so fixated by the overt assault by liberal modernism that we've not noticed the covert enemy within.