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The Conservative Movement: Collapse And Revelation

02 June 2016 @ 14:03

Over at Protein Wisdom, commentator Naftali remarked:

The collapse of the conservative right is a major event. It wasn’t even so much of a collapse as it was a revelation. I think it was just unanticipated how small the conservative constituency really was.

This was my response…

What we’re seeing, I think, is both collapse and revelation.

Since the rise of Ronald Reagan, Richard Viguerie’s [direct] mail campaigns, and the journey of the Evangelicals to the GOP, there has been an undercurrent of Ideology partially powering the Conservative Movement.

This New Right, as it used to be called, saw the Movement and believed it was just another System Of Ideas, a hierarchy of beliefs that could be understood if one just followed the chain of Logic.

The non-Ideological, true conservatives embraced these ‘converts’ because they thought that either (1) they could control the Ideologues and the damage they would inevitably do or (2) they did not understand the danger letting them in would put the Conservative Movement in — I was one of the latter for a long time.

To avoid tl;dr here, let me just state this: anyone who embraces Ideology as a way of dealing with the World will, in the end, lose their Soul, because the System Of Ideas embraced has to become god-like, all-encompassing, in order to survive.

Conservatism is a Way Of Life, ‘it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order’ [Russell Kirk], not some Scientism dreamed-up in the sterile laboratories of the mind, far away from Reality — not some Ideology.

Given that Ideology and conservatism are forever in total conflict with each other, it was only a matter of time, therefore, before the faux edifice collapsed and it was revealed that the number of actual conservatives was — and has been for a least a century — small.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. 02 June 2016 @ 20:45 20:45

    But I saw this back when I returned to the US after being in a 3rd world country for almost 5 years. I came back just in time for Bill Clinton’s election. I listened to his first SOTU speech and breathed out under my breath, “They’ll elect him again. He’ll be re-elected.” I knew because I could see and feel the shift of our culture more keenly than those swimming in it. I came back to a country that was done with law, culture, and absolutes. I’ve not been surprised by anything that’s happened since then. I buried the Conservative movement in 2008. I mourned it then as a closing door that indifference and indulgence had nailed shut. I can only influence, persuade, and… frankly… fight the real enemy: the Media.

    • 05 June 2016 @ 20:36 20:36

      The top enemy these days, I think, is Leftism, of which the Media are just one army group.

  2. 03 June 2016 @ 13:30 13:30

    Everything trends leftward. Even so-called conservative organizations. They all drift to the left.

    • 05 June 2016 @ 20:12 20:12

      That does seem to be a standard trend.

      I wonder if anyone has ever studied the matter.

  3. 03 June 2016 @ 13:39 13:39

    It won’t be sufficient, I reckon, to recall that ideology was born (Stillborn? Ha! Yes, more like, very much more like) — coined — in the brain of a classical liberal in order to put that sad term to rest. On the other hand, if we were to begin with an appreciation of the enterprise on which Tracy was embarked, or thought himself to be embarked, I’d bet dollars to doughnuts we’d make a decent headway in that direction. More, we may end up looking back to Tracy’s predecessor and fellow countryman, Rene Descartes, and Descartes’ reckoning of his own enterprise for an answer to the questions about Tracy, as well questions about Tracy’s fellow Europeans inclined with him toward John Locke: namely, something akin to undertaking the most extreme skepticism possible in order to put an end to all skepticism. Now there‘s a puzzle for the West, and one from which she still seeks to recover her lost footing. It’s an ungainly business though — as well as an exceedingly sterile one in most instances.

  4. 05 June 2016 @ 09:35 09:35

    Conservatism became too muddled. Fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, this conservative, that conservative. Republicans who were anything but conservatives claiming they were conservatives. They use the term in their ads, but, never define it. And, I think, so many who claim to be one do not really know what one is. And, when a populist like Trump appears, they seemingly abandon most of what they say the believe in to follow trump.

    Look at Sean Hannity. He says he’s a Reagan Conservative, yet, boom, now a Trump supporter. He says he’s just supporting the GOP candidate. Would he, and others, feel the same if that candidate was Lindsay Graham, Mitch McConnell, or Jeb Bush? All of whom have better Conservative cred than Trump. Or, how about if it was Mike Bloomberg? He’s a Republican. Would they follow that gun grabbing, climate change believing, nanny state fool? Sure, economically, Bloomberg is great. Same on law and order. But the others?

    It might be time to take back the term “liberalism”, which stands for the notion that the government that governs least governs best. That there should be as little government interference in the Moral, Political, and Economic cores of the Democracy Model as possible.

    Perhaps we could call ourselves Constitutionalists, noting that the Constitution is essentially a Classical Liberalism document, which provides built in limits on government, especially the federal government.

    • 05 June 2016 @ 20:26 20:26

      -I have no problem at all with the term ‘Constitutionalist’ because it encompasses, I think both conservatives and Classical Liberals. And I believe those two groups should and must join if we are to have any hope Restoring our Rights as Americans.

      -An eternal problem conservatives will always have is the fact that they are not Ideologues — they do not have a rigid set of ideas to follow. As Russell Kirk said:

      …conservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order.

      Therefore, there are always going to be various shades of conservatism because we don’t adhere to some System Of Ideas. Mr Kirk again:

      The attitude we call conservatism is sustained by a body of sentiments, rather than by a system of ideological dogmata. It is almost true that a conservative may be defined as a person who thinks himself such. The conservative movement or body of opinion can accommodate a considerable diversity of views on a good many subjects, there being no Test Act or Thirty-Nine Articles of the conservative creed.

      However, there are core principles that guide all conservatives. I think Mr. Kirk’s list of ten is pretty spot on: http://www.kirkcenter.org/index.php/detail/ten-conservative-principles/

      So, we conservatives have to always be stressing these principles and not allowing our opponents to get away with defining us.

      • Adobe_Walls permalink
        28 June 2016 @ 18:47 18:47

        It’s difficult to be conservative in a society in which there is very little left to conserve.

  5. 05 June 2016 @ 18:42 18:42

    James Ceaser chews up many current Progressive absurdities (in conversation with Bill Kristol) and ends up addressing some of conservatism’s own dilemmas along the way as well.

    On a related note, at least insofar as the religious aspect of our politics also makes a appearance in another conversation (and especially as regards the veiled prejudicial aspect of our leftist ordered secular political thinking goes), I commend Michael Doran’s discussion with Walter Russell Mead about the origins of American support for the state of Israel.

    Both conversations are chock-full of worthwhile things to think about as it seems to me.

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