Every time the Right gets close to a real gain — restoring the traditional civilization that works, instead of the conjectural Utopian plan of modernity — the usual middle class rationalization hamster emerges to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
In the middle class view, which rests on assuming that the rest of the world lives in middle class suburbs and behaves simply like American middle class people with a tan, we do not need to recover control of our society from a crazed Left.
Instead, we must simply beat back the worst of the Muslim terrorists, AOC-style socialists, and Antifa slayers of trashcans because everyone is, inside, Just Like Us. “Educate” them with the Constitution, Karl Marx, and Adam Smith, and they become normal people.
These people tend to emphasize a libertarian philosophy which amounts to anarchy regulated by markets. The theory goes that if we set up a well-performing market, good behavior will be rewarded and bad punished, and so society will just set itself up from the ground up.
This appeals to the middle class mind. In their view, the task in life is clear: get a good career. They assume that everyone is drawn in this direction, will respond rationally to it, and so society will just fall in line around the idea of earning money.
However, most people do not have middle class expectations. They want a paycheck, sure, but have no intentions of changing their behavior (much) to improve upon that situation. For them, jobs are like school, a place to attend because it is what one does.
We can thus see the origin of Libertarian thinking. Despite all of their claims to the contrary, libertarians are egalitarians, or those who believe that all people are basically equal. They assume that we all want the same thing and behave roughly the same.
This places them on the Leftist side of the equation, which emphasizes the individual. The “collective” which Libertarians bemoan rises from the need to support individuals as a group, like a union, instead of setting up a system that rewards the good and punishes the bad.
Individualists want equality because they want to be rewarded whether good or bad. They come to this from different perspectives: some simply distrust authority, having had bad experiences like child abuse. Others fear their own mediocrity.
Others simply realize that pacifism and related ideas like equality are big sellers, and so they can get rich and powerful for preaching individualism. In fact, every con artist preacher and politician offers a variety of individualism.
Ideology channels individualism by saying that you can do whatever you want, except in this one area, where you must support others so that they support you doing whatever you want also.
The quest for conservative libertarianism has been with us for some time. The original public conservatives, classical liberals, were looking for a way that they could carry on the traditions of the past in an egalitarian time, so made a fusion of Right and Left.
Classical liberalism arose from the individualistic philosophy underpinning lower class revolts throughout the middle ages, and was adopted because of the chaos caused by the revolution in liberalism:
Liberalism is the culmination of developments in Western society that produced a sense of the importance of human individuality, a liberation of the individual from complete subservience to the group, and a relaxation of the tight hold of custom, law, and authority. In this respect, liberalism stands for the emancipation of the individual. See also individualism.
Under the impact of the slow commercialization and urbanization of Europe in the later Middle Ages, the intellectual ferment of the Renaissance, and the spread of Protestantism in the 16th century, the old feudal stratification of society gradually began to dissolve, leading to a fear of instability…Where no creed succeeded in wholly extirpating its enemies, toleration was gradually accepted as the lesser of two evils; in some countries where one creed triumphed, it was accepted that too minute a concern with citizens’ beliefs was inimical to prosperity and good order.
When Leftism — individualism translated into egalitarianism — took over Europe through the French Revolution and ensuing Napoleonic Wars, which spread the “good news” to other European nations with the intent of overthrowing their aristocratic leadership, those who wanted to conserve the best of the past (later called “conservatives”) adopted a posture of defending the individual right to participate in an egalitarian system without being forced to join the group which was interested in enforcing equality. They came up with the idea of independence, or that the individual could exist without kings or caste systems, as merely a financial actor dedicated to his own pursuits, and this became classical liberalism:
“Classical liberalism” is the term used to designate the ideology advocating private property, an unhampered market economy, the rule of law, constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and of the press, and international peace based on free trade. Up until around 1900, this ideology was generally known simply as liberalism. The qualifying “classical” is now usually necessary, in English-speaking countries at least (but not, for instance, in France), because liberalism has come to be associated with wide-ranging interferences with private property and the market on behalf of egalitarian goals.
In other words, now that social order had been abolished, humans would self-organize on the basis of mutuality based in autonomy. Where the Left wanted mutuality based in subsidies, or a “collective,” the Right wanted something more like natural selection and the law of nature, where people could have property, speak freely, and make choices about how to spend their time.
Conservatives broke free from classical liberals and became identified as conservatives because they rejected individualism, preferring to maintain social order through the classic conservative formulation of realistic thinking with a transcendental orientation.
Most people have no idea what “transcendental” means, but it refers to a habit of accepting reality as it is and finding an understanding of its means. Instead of looking at the darkness in life as bad, we see it as part of what is necessary to provide life; we recognize, for example, that while nature is bloody and unequal, this allows for the production through natural selection of more competent life. A transcendental thinker looks at the order of nature and finds the beauty in it, then applies that learning to his own life, both as method and goal.
In an organized society, this fits with the goals denoted by Plato (from the Encyclopedia Britannica definition above):
Adversarial systems have always been precarious, however, and it took a long time for the belief in adversariality to emerge from the more traditional view, traceable at least to Plato, that the state should be an organic structure, like a beehive, in which the different social classes cooperate by performing distinct yet complementary roles.
In other words, conservatives tend toward biological structures where different elements act in complementary roles; Leftists like human social structures where similar elements act in similar roles, and are regulated by some central authority.
Libertarians, by their embrace of the self-organizing human society of equals, fall into the Leftist camp. The same drama that caused the breakaway of conservatives from classical liberals is now playing out in world politics.
Modern conservatives, who we might term “neoconservatives” because of their Leftist re-interpretation of conservatism, try to play themselves off as Libertarians with some conservative “concerns” in the area of social issues.
This situation came about the through the the compromise engineered by William F. Buckley to make conservatives less offensive to Leftist political culture:
Before Bill Buckley came along, American conservatism was composed of “a congeries of ill assorted half-enemies,” in the words of long-time National Review publisher Bill Rusher. Buckley purged the conservative movement of its extremist elements and united the rest by persuading traditionalists, libertarians, and anti-Communists to focus on a common enemy: liberalism.
Buckley’s vision of ordered liberty shaped and guided modern conservatism from its infancy in the 1950s to its present-day maturity as a political force that has transformed American politics. As George Will has written, “Before there was Ronald Reagan, there was Barry Goldwater, and before there was Barry Goldwater, there was National Review, and before there was National Review, there was Bill Buckley with a spark in his mind, and the spark in 1980 became a conflagration.”
Buckley submitted that Yale had abandoned Christianity, free enterprise, and what he called “individualism.” (He described himself in these early days as an “individualist” rather than as a conservative.) He said that the faculty members who favored atheism and socialism ought to be fired because the primary goal of education is to familiarize students with an existing body of truth, of which Christianity and free enterprise are the foundation. “Individualism is dying at Yale,” he declared, “and without a fight.”
Buckley clearly had certain goals in mind for his magazine: Keep the Republican Party, the primary political vehicle of conservatives, tilted to the right; eliminate any and all extremists from the conservative movement; flay and fleece the liberals at every opportunity; and push hard for a policy of victory over Communism in the Cold War.
Under the guise of “eliminating extremists,” he drove out traditional conservatives and replaced them with a Libertarian version which ignored issues like demographics, caste, chastity, the family, and culture in terms of government; in other words, his organization took the stance that these were personal matters, effectively allowing government to normalize and enforce their opposites.
While some good came of Buckley, mostly through his staunch opposition to Communism, he also made a bargain with the devil that imported Leftism into conservatism. This would ultimately backfire and lead to the Leftist takeover of nearly all social institutions.
When Rightists criticize mainstream conservatism, they most abhor the Buckley compromise, which avoided issues which conflicted with the Civil Rights agenda of the Leftist empire and allowed it to steamroller its way into all areas of modern life.
During the Cold War, this seemed important in that it allowed conservatism to win the Cold War, but it turned out that we won it for our brand of Leftism instead of the Soviet brand, and since all Leftism has the same root — individualism/egalitarianism — we quickly found ourselves going down the same road that the Soviets took.
People fear the conflict of going up against the Left directly, but at some point we must make a choice: a Rightist system based on an order bigger than the individual (nature, divine, transcendental) or a Leftist system based entirely on the individual.
We cannot have both. A Leftist society looks quite different from a Rightist one, and neither group wants to live in the society that the other would create. Refusing to make a choice, or adopting pluralism or “agree to disagree” again, ensures stagnation and nothing more.
Until the rise of Brexit, populism, and Donald Trump, Rightists were convinced that their course ahead lay in being more Libertarian. The populists adopted the Libertarian ideal, but argued for markets that served culture instead of culture serving markets.
Even more, populists are willing to tackle civil rights and point out that government dedicated to guaranteeing equality in public affairs is an ideological regime on par with that of the Soviets. Everywhere this experiment is tried, it seems to end the same way.
As this sinks in, the usual suspects are coming out of the closet to neuter conservatism and take it back to its 1960s version in the style of Buckley. They argue that conservatives should go back to an inoffensive Libertarian version:
In one of the more recent entries in this debate, Ross Douthat has considered the future of traditional fusionism on the Right. Roughly speaking, this is the name given to the alliance of social conservatives, economic libertarians, and national security hawks that emerged during the Cold War and existed in some form, with its own set of tensions, until Trump came along. Throwing out some ideas about what a post-Trump version of this may look like, Douthat writes, “the basic concept of a right rooted more in cultural conservatism and economic populism than in libertarianism and individualism isn’t fanciful; it describes the emergent right-of-center ideological formations all across the Western world.”
Though Trump has captured the Republican Party, it isn’t clear that Trumpism will survive in any coherent form once he exits the stage, because so much of it is tied up in his unique personality. There are plenty of Republicans who may not agree with him on every issue, but like his pugilistic style and the zeal with which he punches back at their common enemies. It’s possible that some aspects of his eclectic ideology will succeed him (more skepticism of free trade, more hawkishness on immigration, and less appetite for foreign interventions). But a lot will depend on how successful he is for the remainder of his presidency. Republican candidates haven’t exactly tried to follow in the footsteps of either of the Bushes, but for decades, they tried to claim to be in the mold of Ronald Reagan. The shape of the Republican Party will be determined in large part by whether Trump is defeated in 2020/has a disastrous second term or if he gets reelected and somehow miraculously emerges as a popular outgoing president.
This ignores what made populism rise, which was the failure of Leftist policies in both the US and Europe, which caused a rise in a political viewpoint which consists of:
The point here is that the goal of populists is civilization, not further accommodations and benefits to the individual. They are not individualists; they are civilizationists.
In the classic tradition of conservatives, they aim neither for “tragedy of the commons” anarchy as Leftists and Libertarians argue for, nor for the total State as fascists and Communists do, but for the idea of civilization itself.
This follows the transcendental pattern of looking at human history, seeing that civilization exists as an essential part of human life, discovering the wisdom within this approach, and then applying it gradually.
Populists raised the ante on the Right. It can no longer go back into non-confrontational mode with its mixture of Libertarianism and social conservative murmurings. It must go further to the Right.
People who make their money by selling things to others, including most columnists, follow a “conventional wisdom” that says you imitate what your competition is doing. They want us to become more Leftist, which means Libertarianism.
However, voters do not respond the way conservatives think they do. If conservatives become more Leftist, voters shrug and just go full Leftist because that is easier and has more free stuff.
All of the blather about “compromise,” “bipartisanship,” and “centrism” simply means “become more Leftist” and it is a strategy advanced for the Right by Leftists so that the Right defeats itself because its middle-class leaders are afraid to buck a trend.
Some are pointing out that since postwar Leftism has failed, this is the right time for the Right to restore its original principles and escape individualism entirely, thus effectively ending the modern era:
Though culturally conservative, French is a political liberal, which means that individual autonomy is his lodestar: He sees “protecting individual liberty” as the main, if not sole, purpose of government. Here is the problem: The movement we are up against prizes autonomy above all, too; indeed, its ultimate aim is to secure for the individual will the widest possible berth to define what is true and good and beautiful, against the authority of tradition.
Only, the libertines take the logic of maximal autonomy—the one French shares—to its logical terminus. They say, in effect: For us to feel fully autonomous, you must positively affirm our sexual choices, our transgression, our power to disfigure our natural bodies and redefine what it means to be human, lest your disapprobation make us feel less than fully autonomous.
The more that conservative liberals like French insist on autonomy, the more they strengthen the bullies’ position. This far with autonomy, they insist, but no farther. But why should the other side stop? Why shouldn’t this new, aggressive vision of maximal autonomy not overtake the old?
His point is a good one: for the same reason that Left-leaning conservatives find that voters simply go full Leftist, people who preach partial anarchy find that voters simply turn to full anarchy.
People always maximize power, and whatever is the broader ideas subsumes its variants. If you preach something that is partially Leftist, like Libertarianism, you will find that over time you end up at Leftism.
The only solution is to go an entirely different direction. You can base your beliefs around the individual, the group, the government, or something entirely different, namely the transcendental ideal of the beautiful life.
Since this is transcendental, it is not Utopian, or a plan to eliminate all strife, misery, death, and loss. Rather, the transcendental embraces tragedy, suffering, and destruction as part of the process of life. Destruction brings creation and vice-versa.
Transcendentalists naturally oppose Utopians, who they see as projecting human intentions and fears upon nature, which has a higher and smarter order than that of humanity. We should recognize that Leftists are inherently Utopian which makes them prone to unrealistic and anti-transcendental acts:
The enemies of President Trump and his immigration, trade, and economic policies are numerous and vocal. But whether they come from San Francisco or Wall Street, whether they call themselves progressives or libertarians or just plain old Democrats, peel off the label and you’ll see what they really are: Utopians.
Ironically, Libertarians despite not being Utopian accept the basic premise of the Utopians, which is that allowing anarchy will make a functional social order. True, they want it controlled by markets, which enforce some natural selection, but not enough.
When only wealth matters, you select for shopkeepers and merchants, not geniuses, and you end up with a society as plebeian as it is crass. If you want to be ruled by consumerism, choose Libertarianism, and shortly afterwards you will have full-blown Leftism.
If anything, we learn this from America, which was a conservative-leaning classical liberal society with limits imposed on government. Over time, this produced the same thing that kills every society: a large population of well-fed labor who then agitated for Leftist things.
America was a noble attempt to constrain democracy with rules. As it turns out, rules can be interpreted flexibly, and as part of that, will be interpreted in ways that make the audience feel happy.
Government, like many other things, is a market. When it offers ideas that people like to hear, they vote for those. Since most people lack the biological ability to understand the consequences of leadership decisions beyond the next pay period, groups make bad choices.
Even worse, intelligent people tend to be hyper-sensitive to what the group wants. As a result, with a few exceptions, even the intelligent tend to converge on a groupthink mentality that results in the type of Utopian individualistic thinking that produces Leftism.
Conservatism has demonstrated an inability to restrain this process because conservatism has focused too much on its own individualism, namely that idea that protecting the rights and freedoms of the good will keep the bad at bay.
In reality, the question is not of who is good or bad so much as competence. Groups are incompetent at making policy decisions. Even in a Libertarian paradise, the herd will quickly gain power and take over, reducing everything to the lowest common denominator.
Populism pushes back against this idea with the notion of strong standards specific to a population, and the anti-democratic notion that only some leaders understand this, so we need strong leaders who are more shaman than delegate to understand the will of the people.
In this view, “the people” means the spirit of a people, which holds together culture, heritage, customs, identity, beliefs, and behaviors. This primal nationalism unites the rest of populism into a coherent view.
Conservatism will only survive by taking up the mantle of populism and then taking it further. The Left destroys civilizations; quasi-Leftists like Libertarians, classical conservatives, and weak conservatives do the same.
We have fallen far during the past two centuries of barely interrupted Leftist advance through our governments, culture, institutions, and philosophies. During the Obama-Merkel years, we saw the full consequences of Leftism, which is demographic replacement and erasure.
Conservatives will never attract the Leftist audience by being more like Leftists. We win by being an option. Where the Left standards for individualism, or near-anarchy, we stand for social order and the biological and genetic components underlying it.
This offers a way out of a doomed system named modernity — comprised of utilitarianism, democracy, consumerism, diversity, and equality — which will if not stopped, reversed, and replaced destroy all that we hold dear.