I didn’t start out wanting to be a conservative. In fact, quite the opposite — out of a desire to be nice to everyone, avoid war and have a respectful society, I drank the darn Kool-Aid. I was in favor of all things that good college-educated, scientifically-informed, and thoroughly modern people support.
And in retrospect, it was great. It kicked open doors. We were like an insider’s club, where if you said the right passwords, you got to the front of the line. Sometimes it was socialized medicine, usually legal marijuana, but often a host of other issues, starting with race. Yes, starting with race. Much of our liberal dialogue was about race, because our liberal backstory was that we were the Revolution and we were eliminating all threats to perfect equality. Fairness for everyone! And anything else we can give them.
We were not dishonest. It is a mistake to assume all liberals are dishonest. What underlies all liberalism is a form of dishonesty, but it’s not limited to liberalism. Instead of being dishonest, we were merely thinking backward. We saw an ideal situation, and decided we could make that a goal, forgetting that in order to make something happen, you need to think of the step before it and the consequences of it. We didn’t know that. We only knew what sounded good to us, our peers, and our post-1968 professors.
Over time, we became dishonest, and this is where I set down the cup and walked away. You can only chant for legal pot so many times before noticing that 99% of the potheads you know are slovenly and dysfunctional, and that their personalities are slowly being eaten away by the drug. You can only demand racial equality for so long, until the obvious assimilation agenda and incompatible evolutionary curves bug you out. You can talk about class war until you get laid every night of the week (girls — and if you fall for this palaver, you’re not a woman yet — love class war because it’s both beta male resentment of the more powerful, and still a masculine, warlike attitude) but pretty soon even you notice that the trailer parks and ghettoes are full of people whose problems got them there. Backward liberal thinking says they have these problems because they are there; credible investigation shows that they started drinking and then ended up there, or grew up there and had prospects to leave, before they started drinking/drugging/rutting uncontrollably/beating their families/thievin’. I set down the cup and walked away because I noticed a convergence of three tendencies:
- Backward thinking. We assumed equality, and then were shocked to find things didn’t work out that way, so we invented backstories about oppression and injustice. The painful truth that became obvious is that most people are barely competent to hold a job and pay rent on time, and that they are prone to selfish and oblivious behaviors, like littering and putting themselves into debt buying SUVs.
- Unworkable solutions. Our mantra was that education and democracy would make everyone equal and put them all into wealthy first-world lifestyles. But who mows the lawns in that scenario? And do we in turn obliterate our competitiveness by promoting people who are incompetent? We can push anyone through a college degree. But it did not solve the problem.
- False solutions. Even worse, our non-working ideas became the only politically acceptable (a positive term for politically correct) solutions, so we looked no further. Violence, crime, rape, sodomy, drunkenness and incest in the ghettoes? Education! Democracy! No one thought about the more interesting solutions.
So at some point, I had to put down the cup. Our plans did not work. In retrospect, I realized that if the solutions were as simple as we thought they were, problems would have been solved ago. No human agency is so competent that it can covertly control the world for long, so if we think the Freemasons, ZOG, 9/11 Truthers, Obama Birthers and Reptilians are fairy tales, we need to apply the same to the myth that white male oppressors have taken over the world and are hellbent on enslaving every last person of color, or at least forcing them to wash dishes for minimum wage. It’s all horse puckey, every last word of it, and like other backward thinking, it’s not a description of cause to effect logic. Rather, it’s us seizing on what we want to believe is true, and inventing an elaborate lie to make it sound good. Liberalism is paranoia at this level: there must be victims, so there must be an evil controlling force, whether corporations, the white race, the government, organized religion or asphalt. We need there to be an evil entitled oppressor even when the truth is much simpler. Who knew Kool-Aid had such a mentally debilitating aftertaste?
Furthermore, I hadn’t noticed much progress on my pet issue, which was ending the ongoing human destruction of our environment. It wasn’t just that every surface on earth got slowly covered in litter, or that we expanded housing developments in all directions, or that our SUVs and factories polluted the air. No: it was the breakup of natural lands, the slow introduction of thousands of chemicals in unnatural concentrations, the depletion of forests and shattering of ecosystems. After some time, it became clear to me that a twofold solution was needed: (a) stop our population and economies from growing so recklessly, drunk and fat on petrochemical energy; (b) stop our reckless consumerist society of consumption, where any idiot with a desire can rack up credit card debt buying plastic junk, and when they’re done with it, can just pitch it into a trash can. This mass desire drove the worst of our abuses, and our growth encouraged more and more, all at the same time (I noticed) our culture was producing less of any relevance except technology. This desire-driven society is really good with some stuff, but where’s the cure for cancer? The zero point energy? The vat-grown meat, the air scrubbers, all the good stuff? Well, no one is developing that stuff; there’s no incentive as long as we can continue the plunder. When I brought this up to my liberal cohorts, they started talking about democracy and education and birth control, assuming that voluntary incentives would end the problem. I’d ask them to look out the window. Our whole society was voluntary, and people were volunteering to breed like mad, buy plastic and spew toxins all over the environment.
I ended up thinking that if we as a society were serious about the environmental issue, we needed to do something entirely different. We needed a society that could say no. No, you can’t have that SUV; no, you can’t have 11 children; no, you’re a criminal and a pedophile and we don’t want you here, where we have to expend resources to take care of you. Not all that is human is good. My thinking tended toward the kind of statement you find here:
We believe that current problems are largely rooted in the following circumstances:
- The loss of traditional knowledge, values, and ethics of behavior that celebrate the intrinsic value and sacredness of the natural world and that give the preservation of Nature prime importance. Correspondingly, the assumption of human superiority to other life forms, as if we were granted royalty status over Nature; the idea that Nature is mainly here to serve human will and purpose.
- The prevailing economic and development paradigms of the modern world, which place primary importance on the values of the market, not on Nature. The conversion of nature to commodity form, the emphasis upon economic growth as a panacea, the industrialization of all activity, from forestry to farming to fishing, even to education and culture; the drive to economic globalization, cultural homogenization, commodity accumulation, urbanization, and human alienation. All of these are fundamentally incompatible with ecological or biological sustainability on a finite Earth.
- Technology worship and an unlimited faith in the virtues of science; the modern paradigm that technological development is inevitable, invariably good, and to be equated with progress and human destiny. From this, we are left dangerously uncritical, blind to profound problems that technology and science have wrought, and in a state of passivity that confounds democracy.
- Overpopulation, in both the overdeveloped and the underdeveloped worlds, placing unsustainable burdens upon biodiversity and the human condition.
We believe that values other than market values must be recognized and given importance, and that Nature provides the ultimate measure by which to judge human endeavors. – Deep Ecology Mission Statement
This is why conservatism is important: we are not going to fix our problems with “issues” or “laws.” We cannot fight all the heads of the Hydra; we have to go for the neck. The neck is that our modern life has detached itself from reality and become a popularity contest. Of course we can’t stop ourselves from wrecking nearly everything we touch! We’re drunk with power, gorging on greed, and all we know is what we desire and how others think that we’re “equal” and therefore we have a right to it, consequences be damned. This is what conservatism stands against, this society of faux individualists who think that indulging desire is what individualists do. It’s not. Individualists go off and do it their own way, and do great things. We know those things are great because they make something better. They’re not desires, they’re tasks. Challenges. Risks. Goals. Our society lacks any kind of goal, so we’ve become fat men on the couch who can’t stop eating junk food and changing the channel on TV. We’re disconnected from reality. The only force that can possibly oppose this is the one that pays attention to consequences.
Conservatism conserves things, starting with knowledge of what works and what does not. It is not like liberalism fascinated with anthrocentric means of judging the world, like morality and emotion. It is concerned with function. It compiles the knowledge of human history into a single form that selects for what provides certain universal goods: stable societies, continued human evolution, moral awareness of others and a way of finding contentment in life that is not predicated on some “moral” re-shaping of reality that is under its skin simply human projection. If you want the anti-neurosis, you have to escape backward thinking. Only conservatism with its means-to-ends logic does this.
When I was a liberal, we talked a lot about emotions, new ideas and “progress.” What we did not talk about was whether or not this stuff worked and what effect it would have on the social order. A dozen years later, it was clear to me that none of it worked because none of it was designed to work, and its effect on the social order was to destroy it. Liberalism is not a reform of life, but a power grab and a desire to smash those who are by nature happy, strong, intelligent and good. Why else would it endorse forced equality, a way of making us equal and faceless drones, in a cultureless void? Liberalism is sabotage of the social order so that the unhappy individuals can feel a sense of purpose and moral outrage.
Like all powerful things, civilization’s greatest strength is also its greatness weakness. It makes life easier and provides for us, through economies of scale and specialization of labor, as well as a system of laws and uniform trade, a better life — but one that also cuts us off from reality. Like a lawnmower, it can run away from us if we don’t maintain control of it. Liberalism is that loss of control. We need conservatism because without a functional social order, we are encouraged to become greedy and destructive beings, and then we hate ourselves for our callowness.