Why the conservatives’ unseriousness on race preferences?
The establishment conservatives’
stunningly unserious response to the disaster of Grutter v. Bollinger
has been continued in a symposium in the latest issue of Commentary
, a neoconservative journal where one would once have expected a much more vigorous opposition to racial preferences. While I hope to say more about that symposium later, here I just want to point out one aspect of the conservatives’ overall collapse on racial issues.
For years neo- and mainstream conservatives kept appealing to America’s “race-blind” ideal, all the while refusing to see the painfully obvious fact that the liberals had given up that race-blind ideal decades ago in the name of racial equality of results. As the conservatives imagined it, the liberals had merely adopted the mistaken means of race preferences to achieve the good end of racial comity, and therefore the liberals could be won back to the right path by persuasion and the invocation of common ideals. This is the reason why conservatives would so often preface their criticism of liberals with the caveat that the liberals “meant well.” In reality, of course, the liberals were pursuing a goal of engineered group equality that was radically incompatible with the conservatives’ individualist vision of America.
Why this conservative obtuseness about liberal objectives?
Conservatives believe in ideological patriotism, a social harmony based on shared allegiance to certain principles. If they acknowledged that the left half of the country does not share those principles, that it wants America to adopt a system of racial socialism, it would mean that America is not united but divided. The conservatives would be forced to give up their pleasant belief in America’s basic goodness and harmony and in the “wisdom of the majority of the American people.” They would need to recognize that if the conservative ideal of America is to be America’s ideal as well, it can only happen by conservatives’ winning back an America that has been lost. But since, as small “c” conservatives, their primary need is to feel in harmony with the prevailing values of their society and to be comfortable in their own lives, they are wholly unequipped for such a struggle. Therefore, notwithstanding all their endless complaints about the dominant liberalism over the decades, they have consistently refused to identify its true, radical nature, because if they had identified it as such (while remaining true to their own principles), they would have had to oppose it. And that would have meant being dissenters rather than conservatives. It would have meant being at war instead of at peace.
So now that liberalism has succeeded in placing the principle of racial socialism in the U.S. Constitution, and the nature of the liberal agenda can no longer be denied, there is nothing left for the conservatives to do but accept the new racial order. Rather than give up their belief in American harmony, not to mention their mainstream careers and personal comfort, they give up their conservative principles instead.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 26, 2003 03:39 PM | Send
The Establishment Conservatives declared “Victory” several years ago. They claimed that “The Reagan Revolution” had defeated Liberalism. There was a shelf of books and endless op-eds proclaiming their triumph. They are not now going to admit that theirs was a hollow victory at best. Then, too, as Paul Gottfried and others have noted, many who are billed as “Conservatives” within the Beltway and at the Wall Street Journal came out of a left-liberal-Trotskyite-New Deal-New Frontier-Great Society milieu. They share little or nothing with traditional American, let alone European, rightists.
To accept that liberals “meant well” is to be taken in, as perhaps they themselves are, by the ostentatious but superficial benevolence of their claimed goals. It would be like saying that Marx meant well, when anyone who knew of his personal life would conclude he was one of the worst misanthropes who ever lived. How can anyone “mean well” who is prepared to engage in brutal coercion of his fellow man in the pursuit of unrealizable utopian objectives? I believe that much of the difference between liberals (in the modern sense of moderate leftists) and radical leftists is that the latter are simply more realistic about what it will take to try to change human nature to attain their ends. Mr. Auster’s remarks bring to mind a similar phenomenon regarding the question of whether those on the left are loyal. One naturally hesitates to say the one’s fellow citizens are not loyal, but isn’t the leftist creed fundamentally hostile to the principles of the American founding? Haven’t liberals regarded the original Constitution as an impediment to their goals, as indeed it was? Haven’t they tried to impose interpretations and changes on it, through the judiciary or otherwise, that distort its fundamental ideals? Why then is there such hesitation to say they are not loyal, in effect, to these ideals? For the same reasons that Mr. Auster gives above - it would be radical and uncomfortable to deal with this truth.
“…they give up their conservative principles instead.” And so conservatives must give up on them. Did most of the group Mr. Auster alludes to really have conservative principles to begin with? HRS
They appeared to have the right-liberal (conventionally called conservative) principles of equality of individuals before the law, rejecting group equality of results, and so on. So, yes, they seemed to have real principles. And now many of them are openly giving up on those principles.
“For years neo- and mainstream conservatives kept appealing to America’s “race-blind” ideal, all the while refusing to see the painfully obvious fact that the liberals had given up that race-blind ideal decades ago in the name of racial equality of results…. “
All conservatives really should read Marcuse, Fromm and the other Frankfurt school members. Too many conservatives fail to understand that modern left is post-Marxist. It has added race to class.
“Why this conservative obtuseness about liberal objectives? Conservatives believe in ideological patriotism, a social harmony based on shared allegiance to certain principles. If they acknowledged that the left half of the country does not share those principles, that it wants America to adopt a system of racial socialism, it would mean that America is not united but divided.”
The vast majority of Americans oppose explicit racial prefferences. Heck, given the proper wording a majority of beneficiaries oppose it.
It is only be obfuscating that the left has any traction.
Of course as racial minorities become more radicalized and their proportion relative to the general population increases more Americans will support racial prefferences.
The other problem is white guilt and fear of being caused racist.
Antonia Gramsci and Fritz Fanon are smiling from the grave.
Ron criticizes my phrase starting “If they acknowledged that the left half of the country does not share those principles …”
Arguable point. It might have been better to say “the dominant liberal culture does not share those principles…”
The Commentary symposium has just become available on the Internet.
Perhaps a side issue, but ten years ago, would Commentary have invited Sanford Levinson, Cass Sunstein, and anyone like Lithwick (from Slate) to participate in the symposium? My guess would be “no”. It’s as if the editors were soliciting a collectively moderate, centrist reaction from the outset. Or, to put it another way, they wanted some overtly liberal statements about the cases.
The presence of so many liberals in a Commentary symposium is unheard of, and is a further signal of the neoconservatives’ surrender on what had been their defining principle in domestic politics: race blindness. A couple of the more conservative participants make strong statements, but the overall drift of the symposium—which is dictated by the choice of participants—is that the Grutter and Lawrence decisions don’t matter all that much. Even the title of the symposium indicates how far Commentary has fallen: “Has the Supreme Court gone too far?” As if that were still a question rather than a horrible certainty.
The neocons now stand for nothing but the assertion of U.S. power abroad. As far as domestic racial, cultural, and moral issues are concerned, they’ve pretty much committed intellectual hara-kiri.
I wrote: “The neocons now stand for nothing but the assertion of U.S. power abroad. As far as domestic racial, cultural, and moral issues are concerned, they’ve pretty much committed intellectual hara-kiri.”
To which a well-known conservative writer replied:
“Thanks for this. I read the Commentary symposium a few days ago with great puzzlement. What you suggest hadn’t occurred to me: that Commentary really is throwing in the towel on this central issue of national identity and the rule of law. But now that I read your statement, I hear the ring of truth—or the death rattle of a once valiant ally.
“Asserting U.S. power abroad is a pretty empty exercise if the U.S. ends up standing for the principle that civil rights should be allocated by ethnic and identity group.”