Immigration has pushed America leftward, Kristol now admits
could beat President Bush, says William Kristol
in the Washington Post
. One of the reasons: “[D]emographic trends (particularly the growth in Hispanic voters) tend to favor the Democrats going into 2004.” Hey, Bill, what happened to all those “conservative” Hispanic immigrants that you and your fellow Republican strategic geniuses have been drooling over for the last ten years while you pushed for open borders, even as you contemptuously dismissed and marginalized the people who were making the very warnings about immigration that you now, the damage being done
, off-handedly admit to be true?
If there is any justice in this world, some day the irresponsible, destructive, and perfidious role played by Republicans, establishment conservatives, and neoconservatives in the U.S. immigration debate will be known to history—with names named, and with quotations quoted.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 09, 2003 03:56 PM | Send
What about their irresponsible, destructive, and perfidious role in American foreign policy? :)
Neocons were hardly alone. On the right there were libertarians too. The left supports immigration for ideological and tactical reasons.
Big Business supports immigration, because it provides a subsidized workforce.
I’m not speaking about the left here. The left’s aims are openly anti-American. As for the libertarians, they are also so opposed to the necessities of any stable social order that one doesn’t expect anything rational or useful from them. No, I’m speaking about Republicans and the center-right, who professed to care about preserving the unity of our culture yet pushed unassimilable immigrants on us; who professed to care about keeping American politics “conservative” yet pushed populations into this country that will make American politics vastly more big-state and left-wing than they otherwise would have been. Conservatives are more guilty than the left, because they professed to know better and should have known better, and because they were the natural intellectual and political leaders that could have turned the immigration issue around but instead did their utmost to make that impossible. From the endless stream of “I love immigration” articles in mainstream conservative publiations to the Republicans’ shafting of immigration reform in 1996 to Bush’s love affair with radical Moslem groups, it has been the right more than the left who has enabled the immigration disaster.
Note that I changed the last sentence of the original blog entry to read “Republicans, conservatives, and neoconservatives” instead of just “neoconservatives.” However, I do believe that the neoconservatives are more guilty than other conservatives, because they were the most articulate and active critics of multiculturalism and group rights, and were supposedly concerned about the disintegration of American culture by the diversity ideology, and yet they refused to make the connection between the diversity ideology and diverse immigration; on the contrary, with their race-blind universalist ideology they made it impossible to oppose the immigration that was the chief driving force behind the multiculturalism that they opposed.
I guarantee you that the same offhand admission that Kristol now makes about the effect of Hispanics in moving the country leftward, he or other neocons will make some day (again, completely casually, with no hint of a mea culpa) about the effect of immigration on our culture. They’ll come out and say, “Well, it’s true that mass third-world immigration has destroyed our common culture, but there’s nothing we can do about it now, and besides, to oppose a radical change in society once it has been broadly accepted is not conservative but radical. Indeed, it means being as bad as the radicals themselves. So let’s just move on to the next issue.”
Isn’t that what they did in their defense of individual rights against affirmative action? After crusading against group rights for 25 years as a threat to the essence of America, they just gave the issue up after Grutter, as though it didn’t matter after all.
And look at my recent article about Mark Steyn. He openly says that the presence of Moslems among us is going to bring us down, and says there’s nothing to do about it but laugh. Well, where was Steyn five or ten or fifteen years ago, when an articulate mainstream conservative writer criticizing immigration could have made a difference? He was nowhere. He never wrote about the subject. He’s only writing about it now, AFTER it has reached a point where, according to him, it’s too late to do anything about it.
And that’s the general neoconservative pattern. They set the tone of so much conservative debate, but, time after time, it turns out that they are not serious people. They take positions that suit themselves and their careers.
What Steyn said follows a familiar pattern. Certain people, often playing a leading role in political discourse, ignore or dismiss a problem for years, and in some cases they actively stop other people from trying to do something about it. Then, at a certain point, when the problem has gotten really bad, they finally admit that it exists, but instead of saying, “I was wrong, I’m sorry for being so blind, this really is a problem, we’ve got to take action,” they say, “There’s nothing we can do about it, it’s too late.”
To summarize, in the first stage, they deny that the problem exists and refuse to lift a finger about it. In the second stage, they admit that the problem exists but they say that it’s too late to do anything about it, indeed they insist there’s no point in even talking about it. Either they deny the threat, or they surrender to the threat.
At no point in this process do they ever confront the threat and allow a debate to occur.
This again points up the need for a traditionalist media industry (television, film, newspapers, etc.), which would totally blacklist the culprits except the ones that repent and join the battle. With a pure traditionalist industry, Kristol and his ilk would have no audience as the token “conservative” on liberal TV shows or as a guest on more “conservative” networks such as Fox. People would flock to a traditionalist industry, as they began flocking to Rush Limbaugh in the 1980’s. If you want to hear about what liberals value, switch the channel to Peter Jennings.
Imagine the devastation wrought by provocative, intellectual Ivy League graduates regularly encouraging parents to avoid sending their traditionalist children to liberal Ivy League colleges for high-value educations they can get at our many excellent public colleges—a beautiful way of turning the system on its head. I learned it is not the college name but the student—STUDYING, honors programs, extra credit, networking, research assistance—that is most responsible for what the student gets out of college. The parents could use the small fortunes saved by contributing some of it to traditionalist colleges and media.
Rush Limbaugh was a big step forward with his moderate conservatism, but he is just the tip of the iceberg that liberals are facing if only we can get a truly traditionalist media industry going. People want and need to be led; it is part of our human nature that we cannot will out of existence as the liberals would like to believe. People cannot do it alone.
Bill Kristol and admitting (indirectly) he was wrong about immigration? We’ll see. Fundamentally, immigration is about race and national origin. Kristol and his ilk (the Bill Bennetts and Jack Kemps) would rather die in a sea of Aztecs than admit that truth. Frankly, so would many who contribute to this site. The American system that flourished and grew to dominate the world was white, European, and (to the dismay of most on this site) not only Protestant but openly anti-Catholic. The universalist creed that first poisoned the culture in this country was a papal one, not a socialist one. And don’t doubt for a second that the urge to overwhelm the US with Third Worlders from the south is so embraced by the Roman Catholic Church because those Third Worlders are its base of power, today.
Mr. Auster elucidates the neoconservative pattern very nicely. Their perfidy is exposed again.
Paulccc cannot deny that Christianity is a universal creed. Would be ask us to choose between God and Country?
Mr. Cella, the Roman church does not equal Christianity. As for God and country, the papal creed has just about made sure that subsequent generations will enjoy neither.
ParlCC, all of Western Christianity, including Protestantism, emphasizes the universal over the particular - both of which are present in Chriistian doctrine (Light and Salt). Billy Graham now advocates racial internarriage is the best way to solve the issues involving blacks in the US. This imbalance has grown exponentially over the past 100 years in both Protestantism and Catholicism.
The Eastern churches seem to have done a better job of maintaining the balance between these two somewhat contradictory ideas. One of the missions of the Greek Orthodox church, for example, is to act as a preservative for the Greek nation, language and culture. I don’t know of any Protestant church that seeks the preservation of such things. Like their Catholic brethren, most would appear to either advocate their outright destruction or deny their existence - which brings about the same end result. The leftist elements within the Western churches seek to elevate other cultures - including paganism - while working for the destruction of our own which is simply a reflection of their true religion of Nihilism.
It is true that there was a real mistrust of Catholicsim among the nation’s founders. I think this was due in part to the more universalist ideals present in Catholicsim at that time, which they saw as a threat. Since both branches are now radically universalist in outlook, traditionalists have more common ground. White auto-racism has made its way into Evangelical Protestantism and Catholicism alike. The adulterous apostate Martin Luther King is held up as an example of Christian virtue by numerous Evangelical and Catholic leaders. Traditionalists from both branches see the disasterous consequences of this imbalance and seek to restore the “salt” (cultural preservation) to its proper place within the church.
Where are all the papists around here to defend there church?
I say that if it is universalist creeds that have poisoned our culture, then it was the Christian creed, and not the specifically Catholic one, that did it. Paulccc seems to be arguing that only Catholics are universalists in their theology. This is not true.
I had not seen Carl’s comment. It said what I wanted to — only much better.
Mr. Auster’s point is underscored by Monday’s VDare article, “The Candelaria Kidnappings” by Jon. E. Dougherty — not in the political sphere, but in the here-and-now issue of security of Americans on our own soil.
When a squad of Mexican paramilitary police (or soldiers?) can cross our border with impunity and kidnap an entire family at gunpoint, when our govt. not only does nothing about it but tries to keep it hush-hush from the American public, when the govt. even tries to find out who ‘leaked’ the incident so they can bring retribution against him, someone has some real ‘splainin’ to do.
Where are the ‘conservatives’ on this? What have the Republicans to say? Where are those neo-cons who were so eager to send us to Iraq but don’t seem to care about what should have been an international incident on our own sacred soil?
Carl, as I see it, when the Roman church is discussed within this forum, it is always done so with the notion of “restoring” it to its true path. Howard Sutherland turns entire threads into the discussion of the subject, for example. If so, why can’t the same be said of the “Protestant” churches? My contention, however, is that at its origins the Roman church is most “catholic” in its political intent; it is hostile to the very notion of the nation state. At its core, of course, Protestantism operates precisely in the opposite, being the cornerstone of “national” churches and identifiable nations, whose people share common traditions and valuations.
Mr. LeFevre writes: “Mr. Auster’s point is underscored by Monday’s VDare article, “The Candelaria Kidnappings” by Jon. E. Dougherty — not in the political sphere, but in the here-and-now issue of security of Americans on our own soil.”
Alas, what do you do, when the Secretary of “Homeland Security” doesn’t care about what it means to hold citizenship? As represented in yesterday’s comments ( http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/miami/sfl-cridge10dec10,0,5230415.story?coll=sfla-news-miami ) the administration is on the verge of giving away the keys to the kingdom:
“Homeland security chief endorses legalizing undocumented immigrants
By Tanya Weinberg
Posted December 10 2003
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told a Miami audience Tuesday that the country should legalize millions of undocumented immigrants living in the country.
“The bottom line is, as a country we have to come to grips with the presence of 8 to 12 million illegals, afford them some kind of legal status some way, but also as a country decide what our immigration policy is and then enforce it,” Ridge said at a town hall meeting at Miami-Dade Community College… .”
It is impossible not to agree with Mr. Auster’s angry comments about the fecklessness of neocons like Kristol and Steyn, but I think that he overestimates the influence and importance of the neocons in general. They do not dominate the media, academia, or either great political party— the GOP is dominated by country club Republicans who are, if anything, even more feckless in their own way. Remember, the neocons originated as refugees from the Democrats. They failed there, and they have failed elsewhere, having some influence in Republican circles only because of the country club types lack of any ideas of their own. As for the anti-Catholic cracks made by some of the commentators above, it is certainly true that the American church has, among other faults, retained an immigrant-worshipping mentality, but that is true of many other groups.
And it should be remembered that the faithful comprise the vast bulk of the American Catholic Church and not the poor managers that are the Church hierarchy. I doubt the faithful are any more in favor of reckless Catholic immigration than the general public. Mass immigration began long before Catholic Hispanics became a huge voting block. Besides, about one-third of Mexicans are Protestant! I fail to see how pointing out the power of Protestantism helps the offensive arguments of paulcc; let’s not forget it took over 200 years for the Protestant majority in Congress to allow a priest to lead it in prayer, yet this same crowd of elites let all the immigrants in. But I suppose they were just mesmerized flunkies of those tricksy old popes. Scapegoating is a poor way to think.
In reply to Mr. Levine, it’s not that neoconservatives dominate the Republican party or that various other elements are not also pushing this disaster. But country club Republicans are not intellectually articulate in this country; country club Republicans never expressed concerns about multiculturalism and group rights. So the argument “they should have known better,” is less applicable in their case. The neocons did write about these things, massively. They shaped the “debate” (the scare quotes are justified) on immigration. And, as the chief articulators of these issues, with regard both to attacking multiculturalism and defending immigration, they have a particular responsibility for having shaped America’s intellectual and moral attitudes on these issues. As for the country club Republicans, they, like Episcopalians, would go along with whatever the prevailing “proper” attitudes are. I believe those attitudes were primarily set and reinforced by the neoconservatives. So just imagine if, instead of pushing immigration, the neocons had 10 or 15 years ago started to raise serious doubts about it.
In my righteous indignation, I failed to welcome paulcc to the site. Welcome paulcc.
I don’t know much about the subject, but I do know that before the Reformation, there were many countries in Europe mostly independent from Rome not to mention the Eastern Empire. Interdependence or relationship between Church and nation would be better words to use than hostile. The Church has traditionally supported the idea of nations. The seeming change in the latter part of the 20th Century is unpleasant and could collapse with a new pope. Hopefully Protestants will pray for a pope that will bring needed changes.
A traditionalist media would be a powerful force in pushing America rightward. Finally country club republicans could be a forward influence by having an opportunity to exercise their enormous profit/security motives in favor of traditionalism.
Movies, newspapers, TV-news, TV-programming, bookstores, Internet streaming, and commercial ADVERTISING in those media have a major influence on attitudes. We could delete from our remotes all, instead of merely most, of the trash we allow into our homes and allow negligently into our own subconscious. The media and advertising especially thrive on destructive messages of guilt, ENVY, greed, power, and pride, all of which are deep emotions that animate every single one of us.
To further our rightward march, we need a psychiatrist or psychologist commentator on this Website. I accept that philosophy is important because so many smart commonsensical people here think it is; but I think psychology is also important. An even better asset would be a psychiatrist/psychologist trained in philosophy. We could use someone that could give us insight into the deepest (besides religion), in my view, of all truths. However, I know writers often have psychological insights as our sponsor often displays.
The most memorable insight is the resentfulness of paleoconservatives from losing their culture (which I admit feeling) that seems (but not conclusively) to have caused a faction—the dear Pat Buchanan’s—to take the side of Muslim extremists.
1. I would like to re-iterate my differentiation between business interests, country-club Republicans, and neocons. Christie Whitman is a country clubber. Neocons have disapproved of almost everything she did after her first tax cut.
2. As much as I enjoy Fox News, a traditionalist conservative media source would be useful.
The NRA is getting around the McCain Fiengold BCR Act (now approved by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision!)by trying to purchase a TV channel. I suggest that traditionalist conservatives do the same.
How much money does Taki have?
Are there any rich traditionalists?
3. Christianity is a non-racial religion. “All are one in Christ” and all that. However, universalism was never an attribute until this century. It’s decent into universalism is due to a liberal hijaaking of theology.
Are the country club Republicans influenced by the positions articulated by the neocons, or is it a case of the neocons acting as sycophants for the very rich and influential CCR’s? After all, it’s the business owners who are the big boosters of imigration from the “conservative” side of the aisle. Ditto for affirmative action and the civil rights bill of 1991.
I remember being quite shocked back in ‘91 when it became apparent that this pernicious legislation (see note below) was being supported in a big way by the Fortune 500 crowd and their armies of lobbyists. From a strict bottom line pointof view, the support for AA made no sense. However, if a corporation is large enough and already has a diversity commisar and can afford to fund a number of unqualified employees to keep Jesse Jackson & Co. at bay, it makes sense as such onerous regulations and legal requirements have the effect of destroying their smaller up and coming competitors. The immigrants are a great way to drive wages down while having taxpayers foot the bills for healthcare, education, etc. Bush, Rove, et al are all accurately described as Country Club Republicans - and their policies fall right into line.
(A bit of background: The 1991 law was in response to a series of Supreme Court decisions from the mid-to-late 1980s that struck down a number of affirmative action arguments. The chief effect was to lower the standard of “proof” of discrimination to a head count. If there weren’t a proportional number of the preferred group in company X, company X is presumed to have discriminated in hiring. In other words, anyone so accused by the EEOC et al has to prove their innocence in effect.)
Carl wrote: “… it makes sense as such onerous regulations and legal requirements have the effect of destroying their smaller up and coming competitors.”
And add to that the fact that certain job groups, such as software design and support, and call center support, are being outsourced to other countries that aren’t faced with such regulations and hurdles. This puts the the larger established companies at an even bigger advantage over the little guy — and the big companies can take advantage of this outsourcing themselves.
Excellent points by Carl. It is certainly true that the big money is backing immigration for its own greedy ends.
Without Fox News, we would have never invaded Iraq. The relentless one-sided hammering by the remaining major media would have caused Bush’s support to falter like deer in headlights. Just look at the negative reporting by even Fox, which is locked in a ratings battle requiring it to repeat endlessly images of day old photos of car bombs and rocket attacks. Those are expected losses in war and should always be preceded or followed by such an explanation by the reporter; but the attacks are often not put into perspective, nor are the American successes reported enough.
America is gorged with rich people; therefore, there are plenty of rich traditionalists even if they don’t know what they are.
The CCR’s don’t have the time or the inclination to engage in intellectual debates with neocons. They are too busy with their jobs. The neocons are the guest preachers and the CCR’s the regular parishioners.
I was also disappointed in 1991. A long standing but little known related fact courtesy of our august Supreme Court: paper qualifications being equal, the “minority” wins.
How true and predictable it is that business/labor will do exactly what politics says it must do if politics says money will be made, not that business/labor will shrink from making even more money skirting political mandates. Business/labor ethics; probably there is not such a thing as moral business/labor ethics that are followed. There are moral businessmen and laborers, but most businessmen/laborers don’t follow moral ethics. This is why government is needed.
Government is not all bad. It can force ethics and, in my view, should force, for example, the reporting of American successes in Iraq. American is at war. Similarly, government can play a moral role in business by forcing fair competition. To expand the example, government could force the reporting of good news as it has forced out thousands of other harmful anticompetitive activities by business/labor.
The Pope, for his all of his political mistakes, is an exceedingly holy and great man worthy of my admiration and emulation as a Catholic. I have no doubt he would rush into a burning building to save the soul of someone of any faith; this is something I cannot claim.
“Are the country club Republicans influenced by the positions articulated by the neocons, or is it a case of the neocons acting as sycophants for the very rich and influential CCR’s?”
I suppose it’s possible the latter is right. The fact that it’s funding that keeps them all in their comfort, and the funding comes from business interests, and they are writing the things that please their funders. It is _possible_ that that is not just a factor, but the _leading_ factor.
However, while the theory might work vis à vis immigration, where the business interests and the neocons have been in sync, it doesn’t work vis à vis affirmative action. The business interests have supported it, but the neocons (until their post-Grutter surrender) have opposed it. And if they were taking the position they had on AA without regard to the big business interests, it’s possible their position on immigration is also essentially an independently reached position.
There is a need to know more about the inside politics and funding of the conservative/neoconservative establishment.
Ron writes, “Christianity is a non-racial religion. ‘All are one in Christ’ and all that. However, universalism was never an attribute until this century. It’s decent into universalism is due to a liberal hijaaking of theology.”
Without question, liberalism has infected Christianity will all manner of modernist heresies, including the pernicious socialist universalism so often castigated here, but I think that some of the universalist elements were there from the beginning.
And certainly they became prominent with St. Augustine and his towering historical vision of mankind as one tissue. His comparison of mankind to an individual, who passes through the distinct stages of youth, middle age, agedness and finally death, was a profound break with the particularist imagination of the ancients. The Augustinian philosophy of history provided the intellectual framework for the Christian civilization of the Middle Ages, where nationality was suppressed under the weight of feudal and chivalric ideas and forms within great, sprawling multi-national empires or smaller feudal holdings.
St. Augustine in _The City of God_ propounds a monumentally universal vision of Christianity across the ages: it’s awesome equality and applicablility to all times and all places and all people. And it is not without reason that men have called this great saint “the richest mind in Christendom.”
It shouldn’t be necessary to point this out, but my strong condemnation of the neoconservatives in the original entry and in my first comment following it should not be taken to mean that I am now somehow on board with the cult of neocon-haters at The American Conservative and lewrockwell.com. Just today lewrockwell had an article putting forth a ranting conspiracy-theory about how the neoconservative had manipulated conservative politics in some incredibly involved fashion, culminating in conscious betrayal of the evangelicals over the same-sex marriage issue. I have said, and I believe, nothing of that order to be true. I said the neocons take positions which they are not serious about, and which they then abandon with a shrug. I’ve said that their definition of America in purely universalist terms and their lack of feeling for America as a particular country leads them to pursue policies that are ultimately destructive of American nationhood. That is nothing like the convoluted Machiavellian betrayal (a betrayal of Christians on the marriage issue) charged in Christopher Manion’s almost unreadable article, an article that (following the standard line among the paleos and Buchananites) portrays the neoconservatives as sinister malevolent beings outside of and hostile to America. As is evident from thousands of words I’ve written on this subject, that’s kind of thing from which I totally dissociate myself.
It’s true that Manion falls for all of the Paleo cliches about neocons, who are looking more and more like shallow sycophants to me - mere mouthpieces to articluate the views held by the Republican leadership. Mr. Manion & Co. seem quite unaware that our only reliable ally in the Middle East, Israel, has been betrayed by the Bush administration also.
One of the central points of the article was that Evangelicals were about to be betrayed on the gay marriage issue, which appears to be a real possibility. What is it that is driving this seemingly irrational desire on the part of Bush and Rove to constantly stab a substantial group of their political base in the back? Is this just GWB’s sick vision for a liberal America? Is it the Country Club Republicans? Evangelicals are numerous in the rank and file of the Republican party. Why is it that they keep getting betrayed - and who is most responsible?
As Mr. Auster mentioned, another point about the neocons was the astonishing rapidity of their capitulation on the affirmative action issue. The lack of outrage over Grutter implies that they never really opposed AA on moral principles, but were trying to pander to what they perceived to be public opinion - or at least the majority opinion among their readers. Once Sandra Day O’Connor abolished the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, the neocons (for the most part) snapped into parroting the party line of the Bushites (Diversity is our strength) or something equally Marxist in outlook (Race doesn’t really exist anyway - George Will).
Carl wrote: “neocons … are looking more and more like shallow sycophants to me - mere mouthpieces to articluate the views held by the Republican leadership.”
I think there’s a lot of truth in this. The example of D’Souza pops into my mind. His most recent book on “one thousand reasons why I adore America” or whatever has exactly that quality of sycophancy toward … no, not exactly toward economic interests (though that may be what’s behind it—he does have a synecure at AEI after all), but toward whatever is. Whatever America is, we must worship it. The shallowness and meretriciousness of the book makes it almost laughable. (And this was someone who started his career as an author with the worthwhile Illiberal Education.) That quality of sycophancy toward Whatever America Is At This Moment is seen in Frum’s book on the ’70s, in Brooks’ book on the Bobos, and in other typical writings by the younger neocons. This sort of fits with another aspect of today’s conservatism, the cheerleading aspect. To an amazing degree, conservative opinion writing today consists of cheerleading for Bush and the war, with an remarkable absence of critical discussion of him and the war.
As for Bush and Rove’s amazing betrayals, I don’t know if we’ll ever know the truth about what makes them do what they do, but we must acknowledge that Bush’s tendency toward going in both directions at once is central to his political being, as shown by his slogan as a presidential candidate, “compassionate conservatism.” Deep-set duplicity co-exists in his character with his sincere Christian aura.
Thanks to Carl for mentioning Grutter because I have a further thought on that. Grutter fits, in yet another way, with the pattern that’s been described here. The neoconservatives opposed race preferences as long as race preferences seemed a _violation_ of or _threat_ to what America was supposed to be. But, when race preferences were placed in the Constitution, they ceased being seen as radical and disruptive, and now were now seen as accepted and normative. And so the neoconservatives, being small “c” conservatives, instantly shifted into the small “c” conservative mode of validating, or at least quiescently accepting, that which is broadly accepted and instituted in one’s society. Having made the shift, they will now view anyone who persists in principled opposition to racial preferences as a disruptive, radical force who threatens the peace of society.
The neocon’s sudden switch from fierce opposition to race preferences to acceptance of race preferences is like the Japanese’ changing attitudes toward the Americans at the end of the war. With the surrender, the Japs instantly switched from viewing the Americans as subhumans to be slaughtered to honored masters to be obeyed. This comes from the Japanese hierarchical culture in which you are always in a superior or inferior position vis a vis other people. Well, the neocons are not hierarchical, so what is it that explains the similarity? Let’s look at it further. For the Japanese, the way you behave toward another is strictly prescribed by that person’s hierarchical relationship to you. For neocons, the way you view political policies or social morés is strictly determined by HOW BROADLY ACCEPTED THEY ARE IN SOCIETY AT THIS MOMENT. What the two approaches have in common is that they are relativistic, not based on truth, but on situations.
Remember in this context the neoconservatives’ continual appeals to majority opinion as validating conservatism. It was Ronald Reagan’s smashing electoral success and his continuing popularity with the American people that proved conservatism right—or so the neocons continually, smugly asserted. Ok, but the other side of that is that if your political or moral views are rejected or even appear to be rejected in the public square, they are wrong and you must give them up.
Mr. Auster and Carl are really on to something here. The neoconservative attachment to public opinion is very strong indeed.
Perhaps readers will indulge the following excursion into my own intellectual development. When I first started reading G. K. Chesterton, I could not figure out why he exhibited such hostility toward the conservatives of his day. I was intoxicated with his writing and vision and brilliance, but his antipathy for the descendents of Burke struck me as inexplicable. I wonder now if he may have been experiencing something similar to what we have been decrying here: namely, a brittle, dreary sycophancy to the status quo, a kind of craven degeneration of the Burkean insistence of prudence.
This is further suggested by the fact that GKC showed real admiration for Burke the man, though he disagreed with him on many things. But what Chesterton directed his most concerted polemics against were the capitulations of the conservatives of his day on issues which almost seem quiant to us today: birth control, divorce, early feminism. He detested the spectacle of supposed protectors of Christian orthodoxy abandoning the barracades on these questions — all the more intensely because these protectors then turned around to consolidate the innovations. They revealed themselves as more concerned about a dull, mean, pedantic stability than about the shining ideals of Christian civilization.
A good parallel in our day might be made of the episode of that symposium in First Things concerning what the editors (rightly, in my view) called the “judicial usurpation of politics.” A whole host of neoconservatives exploded against this symposium, not on the merits of the arguments, but merely because the symposists hinted, very mildly, at more strindent methods of resisting the usurpation. The neoconservatives were horrifying by the prospect of any revolt, even if it was a Revolt of Orthodoxy or a Revolution of Sanity.
Isn’t Chesterton’s critique similar to our own? — in short that the neoconservatives have no “line in the sand,” no principles the violation of which call into question the legitimacy of our political settlement, no point at which they will declare with our ancestors, “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness”?
Mr. Auster wrote,
” […] And so the neoconservatives, being small ‘c’ conservatives, instantly shifted into the small ‘c’ conservative mode of validating, or at least quiescently accepting, that which is broadly accepted and instituted in one’s society. Having made the shift, they will now view anyone who persists in principled opposition to racial preferences as a disruptive, radical force who threatens the peace of society. […] For neocons, the way you view political policies or social morés is strictly determined by HOW BROADLY ACCEPTED THEY ARE IN SOCIETY AT THIS MOMENT. What the two approaches have in common is that they are relativistic, not based on truth, but on situations. Remember in this context the neoconservatives’ continual appeals to majority opinion as validating conservatism.”
A couple of days ago in a personal communication, Thrasy sent me this tidbit from Hayek:
“Regarding conservatives, I came across this quote from Hayek today: ‘Advocates of the Middle Way with no goal of their own, conservatives have been guided by the belief that the truth must lie somewhere between the extremes — with the result that they have shifted their position every time a more extreme movement appeared on either wing.’ From ‘Why I am not a Conservative.’ “
Auster and Hayek, thought not expressing exactly the same views here, are nevertheless describing parallel defects in what passes for “conservatism” today in the U.S.
In another thread (see link below) I quoted a Frank Meyer essay from the mid 1960s on conservatism. Another thing Meyer says about conservatism may help address the question raised by Mr. Cella. Meyer writes that conservatism (by which he means “a political, intellectual, or social movement,” not “a cast of mind or a temperamental inclination”) “arises historically when the unity and balance of a civilization are riven by revolutionary transformations of previously accepted norms of polity, society, and thought. Conservatism comes into being at such times as a movement of consciousness and action directed to recovering the tradition of the civilization.”
This is very interesting because conservatism is often thought of as the attempt merely to _preserve_ what now exists against forces that threaten to sweep it away. Such conservatism can easily become mere presentism, an automatic validation of whatever is, in the manner of the neoconservatives, and perhaps of the conservatives of Chesterton’s time. But Meyer defines conservatism in active terms as the recovery of a lost or damaged tradition. It is devoted to a specific concrete tradition, not just to whatever happens to prevail at this moment. (True, he also speaks of conservatism as protecting what is, but the core of his definition is the idea devotion to and the attempt to recover something that has been lost or is threatened.) I think this is a key insight to be used in contrasting true conservatism—which stands for transcendent truths and for our particular tradition which embodies those truths—against neoconservatism, which, as we now know, stands, ultimately, for nothing.