The Origins of Cuckservatism: The Slow Retreat, The Benedict Option and “Exit”


What went wrong with conservatism? It has opposed the Left for centuries and yet been defeated to the point where, before the rise of Donald Trump at least, all visible conservative politicians endorsed Leftist ideas and all the “extremists” wanted Left-hybrids of a more totalitarian sort.

The term “cuckservative” irked the political establishment because it revealed how conservatives have compromised the ability to be anything but captive opposition doomed by changing demographic trends. With soft genocide, or demographic replacement, the option for anything but flavors of populist Leftist leaves the building.

As Occam’s Razor would point out, the most direct explanation is that conservatism shares an origin with liberalism. I identify this problem as individualism, or thinking in terms of the individual only and not as part of a larger organic structure. Conservative individualism consists of the idea that the individual doing right (and “working hard”) somehow makes society work out okay.

From this notion comes the conservative concept of retreat. That is, society itself is a dead loss because — as we all know, if we search our intuition — groups of humans turn toward delusion. For that reason, conservatives retreat and keep doing what they see as right, but in so doing they do two crucial things that are highly destructive:

  1. Concede. That which is not challenged because the standard, not just physically but culturally. This is how Leftism has steadily infiltrated every area of society and become seen as the de facto “moral right” approach.
  2. Subsidize. Conservatives retreat to their farms, businesses and jobs but keep pumping money into the liberal state, usually while throwing vegetables at their television screens before stomping off to bed with a glass of warm milk.

The conservative retreat takes many forms. The three divided extremes which no one can seem to unify on the right are:

  1. Religion. Conservatives retreat to a religion-oriented view that seems to desire a theocracy. This misses the need for religion and reality to be synchronized, or religion becomes ideology and pragmatism becomes immoral.
  2. Economics. The libertarian movement is a conservative retreat into a hybrid of Leftism. The idea that if everyone just does what is profitable, a good result will be achieved, is another restatement of the democratic principle because much as individuals do the voting, they do the buying.
  3. Demographics. Some conservatives notice demographic replacement and class warfare and resist those. They have trouble connecting this to other areas of politics however.

I propose a simpler model which is the organic theory of civilization: our goal is to have a civilization and to make it thrive. This requires treating it as an organic whole, or a living body with parts of many different functions that must work together unequally. It also requires that the three planks above work together instead of becoming, like Leftist ideology, causes in themselves toward which we are means to an end.

Conservative retreat — and cuckservatism — begins with the idea that we cannot fix civilization and must rationalize the decline, or “lie back and think of England” as it happens, as the saying goes. Instead of fixing the problem, conservatives propose we compensate by defending our individual right to stay outside of the decline.

Unfortunately, this approach totally fails for several reasons. One, stated above, is that Leftism then replaces culture and turns everyone into a zombie. The second is simple economics: Leftist societies impoverish themselves while simultaneously forming mobs based on the idea of their own entitlement. If there is a wealthier community or wealthier individuals nearby, those will be raided and assimilated so that the Leftist mob can keep itself from starving.

Conservatives have never really grasped the fact that in Leftism, competence and success are the enemy. Those who succeed are presupposed to be morally bad, which means that those who are naturally competent — and thus prone to succeed — are bad news. The Leftist denial of race, genetics, IQ, and HBD through the “blank slate” phenomenon finds its roots in this psychology.

Let us look at the conservative disease in its most admirable form: the Benedict Option.

What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time however the barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament. We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another—doubtless very different—St Benedict.

The “Benedict Option” refers to Christians in the contemporary West who cease to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of American empire, and who therefore are keen to construct local forms of community as loci of Christian resistance against what the empire represents. Put less grandly, the Benedict Option — or “Ben Op” — is an umbrella term for Christians who accept MacIntyre’s critique of modernity, and who also recognize that forming Christians who live out Christianity according to Great Tradition requires embedding within communities and institutions dedicated to that formation.

One might view this as a hybrid between monasticism and bourgeois hopes that working hard, getting good grades and a good salary, and then going to church and raising moral children “is enough.” Like that option, it fails because it refuses to tackle the actual problem, which is civilization in decline and the tendency of its leaders and popular opinion to enforce that decline on all dissenters and non-conformists.

The important part there is that both dissenters and non-conformists are targeted. A dissenter is one who disagrees, but a non-conformist is one who merely fails to agree enough to get with the plan. The conservative view is both dissent and non-conformity, but there is no lesser punishment for the latter.

The gay cake dilemma illustrates the methods that are used to subvert conservative communities. If you set up your nice conservative community, a couple of gay people who want attention will drive a few hundred miles to go to your community to demand their gay wedding cake or some other offensive idea (a pederasty children’s party, a sodomy-themed church, etc). If not gays, it will be ethnic outliers or angry blue-haired feminists.

What that does is create a pretext. Society at large intrudes on the non-conformists and, because it demands the unreasonable which it insists is reasonable, provokes a reaction, which then makes society at large see itself as a victim. At that point, retaliation is warranted, and it will come through seizure of the bakery, church and eventually local government. Then the Leftists will “re-educate” everyone starting with the young and assimilate that community.

Conservatives love the idea of dropping out into alternative societies however because it is easier than taking on the task of civilization decline, which is the elephant in the room in the West and the issue that no one wants to tackle. Here’s another fond view:

But we must not think that the state is the only institution, or even the most important institution, that shapes culture and impacts our lives. There are other divinely appointed institutions with their own scopes of authority. The family, churches, private associations, and local government structures also have “legitimate roles to play in a justly ordered society.”

Chuck Colson championed the importance of these other institutions, which Edmund Burke referred to as “little platoons.”…And so, one of the best things Christians can do in this election cycle is to spend ample energy on rebuilding those “little platoons” that are upstream from politics and that strengthen civil society. After all, the best way to have a healthy state is to have a healthy culture. And the church and family are best suited for that.

The problem with strengthening civil society is that it stabilizes the dying patient so that the dying process can continue in a prolonged and more miserable form.

In addition, this approach creates targets. Those churches, private associations, local governments and even the family become identifiable outliers, and the Leftists will systematically exterminate them.

It is not surprising that conservatives have utterly failed to resist Leftism. Their methods are paradoxical to the core.

Unfortunately, these methods are also popular, and as history shows us, what is popular always wins — until the result collapses and everyone blames something else. Viewing history as a geographic process is a type of fatalism because, without intervention of sane leaders, everything always fails. To be “on the right side of history” is to support decay.

Reversing decay is easy: stop doing the stupid and illogical stuff we have been doing. That starts with every well-meaning, bourgeois/prole endorsed institution and program based in the idea that equality is the source of moral good. Instead, we should see equality as what it is: entropy.

There are even more interesting and cryptic statements of the retreat notion:

The basic idea of Patchwork is that, as the crappy governments we inherited from history are smashed, they should be replaced by a global spiderweb of tens, even hundreds, of thousands of sovereign and independent mini-countries, each governed by its own joint-stock corporation without regard to the residents’ opinions. If residents don’t like their government, they can and should move. The design is all “exit,” no “voice.”

…The essential inspiration for Patchwork is the observation that the periods in which human civilization has flowered are the periods in which it has been most politically divided. Ancient Greece, medieval Italy, Europe until 1914, China in the Spring and Autumn Period, and so on. Burckhardt once observed that Europe was safe so long as she was not unified, and now that she is we can see exactly what he meant.

We should call this “the Amish model,” and point out that the reason the Amish and Mennonites are tolerated is that they come across as total lunatic religious fanatics and so few people want anything to do with them. But when a group goes outside the Amish model and becomes prosperous, the nearby parasite community will assimilate it, probably by sending in a gay black orphan to get a patently offensive cake made, then invading in the name of equal rights.

Moldbug also misses the crucial ingredient in the success of these divided groups: those that lasted for any length of time were unified by culture and race, and often if not religion itself, a perception of common values with the dominant religion. Those that seemed to thrive, and then collapsed, missed this vital factor.

This shows us that the three conservative platforms of retreat — religion, race and capitalism — cannot be considered alone but are each important. In other words, we cannot deconstruct the process of civilization into a singular method that, in emulation of the Leftist ideological model, orients everything else around it.

Until now. In my forthcoming book, I propose a new idea, parallelism, which includes the notion that civilizations are organic wholes and therefore, must find a way to synchronize different platforms like religion, race, culture, capitalism and leadership around a central set of values. This originates in culture, but must have some aspect of the transcendental to it, or it equates the symbolic with the literal in the way of Leftism and signaling replaces understanding.

We live in exciting times. Liberalism/Leftism — they are degrees of the same thing — has won because “the right side of history” is always with inertia, which among human beings is the illusion of equality. However, because it has succeeded, it now has no victimhood strategy except of course wiping out non-conformists. But without a big enough scapegoat, it cannot explain its failures.

And so as the West settles into a disaster created by democracy and consumerism and other forms of egalitarian mob rule, Leftist ends its arc yet again. (Like all evil, or illusions, it is reborn anew every time someone needs a scapegoat to blame for their own failure).

With Leftism ending its arc, we have both a need and an opportunity to re-create our civilization in a way that does not fail. I suggest conservatism as principle, which is distinct from conservatism as an organize group (Republicans) or individualistic notion (Libertarianism). This idea instead suggests treating society as an organic whole and fixing it instead of retreating from the disaster and hoping enough of us survive to say “I told you so” among the smoking ruins.

With this, our civilization quest comes full circle: we are facing the same task we did before civilization was created, which is to come up with a way to live together. Egalitarianism does not work, and retreating from egalitarianism to let it destroy society also does not work. The four ideas suggested in parallel — nationalism, aristocracy, capitalism and transcendental goals — do, and if we refuse them, we are choosing retreat and doom.

This blog would be a lot more popular if it offered up easy non-solutions which consist of clever ways of rationalizing decline and thus avoiding the elephant in the room. Most who offer these are well-intentioned, meaning that they are hoping against hope that the task is not what it seems. But it is, and we either rise to the challenge or fade away into the dustbin of history.

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