Ross Elder wrote something interest on his Facebook the other day when people were as usual talking politics. To paraphrase his statement: we all know that government doesn’t work, but the people who seem to complain loudest about it are not involved with it.
There’s truth to his words if we take them at a higher level, which is to say that people who complain loudest about society tend to do the least about it. There’s a culture of shifting blame, and retreating into our own little worlds. When I was a kid, the standard line from adult males was that they were doing the right thing: going to their jobs, leading moral lives, and not doing any of the deviant things others do, and that doing that was enough. “I’m not the problem,” they’d say, defensively. “I’m doing the right thing. I’m living a good life.”
I remember thinking, “Yes, but…” because while that approach leads to flag-waving freedom and liberty and all that good stuff, it ignores the basic problem:
The bad is still going on out there.
As time has passed, I’ve come to see all the arguments about institutions, freedoms, etc. as a way of dodging this essential fact. Society is inherently collective. There is no escaping “collectivism”; it’s always going to be here (although it does not need to be socialistic, as liberals want it to be). You cannot outrun a term just because liberals have made a mess of it. You have to inherit that term and re-capture it from the re-definers, moving its definition back to what’s sane. When we realize that society is collective, we realize that it’s not enough to just try to run our own lives in a moral way. We have to kick out the bad wherever we find it and replace it with the good.
In other words, it’s not enough to complain. But even more, it’s not enough to get involved with a political party. We all need to get involved with society not just on one battlefield, but on all of them. That means both interacting with people locally, joining your local “conservative” party and steering it back toward conservatism, helping out at church and other local institutions and on top of all that, leading a moral and successful life and letting others know why.
That’s a tall order and it seems like too much. But most of these activities you already do, just not in a form that can be successful toward changing the world. There’s another caveat, too, which is that it’s essential to know what you want, which is why on Amerika.org we write so much about conservatism and its roots in realism, meaning not just the practice but the theory and its connections to philosophy, religion, self-discipline and commonsense interaction with the environment. It’s important to know what you want before you start acting toward it, or you’ll likely get subverted by something along the way that sounds good but is deceptive.
The bigger point is that we treat politics as something removed from everyday life when we talk about it as is normally done. In fact, politics is just a way of thinking about how we organize people and resources, and to what goals we do so (which is where it overlaps with philosophy). Even more, fighting civilization collapse is not any different from any other task, whether fixing up a failing company, restoring an old car, planting a garden or renovating a house. You pick up the pieces, throw out that which is broken, and rebuild what you need that got destroyed, and then set about doing all the detail work to make the picture complete.
Since weekends are lag time as far as the internet goes, I’d like to open up the conversation to our participants for some lazy weekend conjecture. The questions that interest me — you will have more of your own — are: what is an effective way to get involved? What are non-political ways to have political influence? And how do you fit this into your busy lives?