A reader’s thoughts on Conservative Swede

Jake F. writes:

Interesting bunch of rants by Conservative Swede at his website. I like him, but he still has some development to do. (I do as well, and I don’t mean to disparage him; someone else’s mote is always easier to see than your own beam.)

He’s looking for something called a “traditionalist conservative movement,” but unfortunately he’s acting like a liberal as he looks.

The conservative acknowledges particularities, and can make judgments based on those particularities even when things are fuzzy around the edges. That’s why conservatives can acknowledge categories such as race, sex, and nation.

The liberal discards particularity in favor of principle. He can’t properly recognize race because a mulatto can’t be considered either black or white, and thus black and white can’t exist; or he says that one black ancestor in a white man makes him black, even though he’s obviously white in every other way. And so on with the other examples.

The Swede should realize that any traditionalist conservative movement must be composed of people, not ideas. It’s probably unhelpful—perhaps impossible—to say, “here are the ideas that define the traditionalist conservative movement.”

Kalb likes to point out that a community survives and advances through a common understanding of its naturally worked-out values. (Or something like that.) That doesn’t mean that everyone in a community thinks exactly the same way; just that there is enough of a natural affinity among members to keep them bound together. You, Kalb, and even the Swede have natural affinities and, even though you differ, can reasonably be said to belong to the same movement. The Swede thinks differently from Kalb, but he’d be better off ascribing the difference to a flaw in a fellow traditionalist conservative rather than putting Kalb outside the movement.

Put another way: the strength of the movement will reside in its people as a particular community, not in its abstractions being worked out to the nth degree. You, Kalb, and the Swede are strong speakers for traditionalist conservatism; you are a strong community, despite your differences, and that’s true even if the Swede doesn’t think so right now. (But he’s smart, and I think he’ll come around.)

As an aside, I think the Swede’s flaw in his understanding of Kalb’s statements about Islam is that he (the Swede) seems to look at how Islam interacts with cultures around it, whereas Kalb is talking about Islam sustaining the lives of people in it. It is incontrovertible that Islam has proved capable of sustaining a civilization—composed of both Islam itself and the people who live under it—for 1400 years; but advanced liberalism, untethered from traditional moorings, has been around for only a very short time, and there’s no evidence that it will last. Paraphrasing another commenter, it’s unlikely that advanced liberalism will prove itself capable of sustaining both advanced liberalism and the Swedish people for even 100 years. In that sense, Islam may be like syphilis, which is a major problem because it sustains itself by acting on its hosts slowly enough and with insufficient misery to prevent people from doing things that will cause themselves to contract it; while liberalism is like ebola, which isn’t a common problem today because it consumes its victims quickly, wiping out everything in its path and causing people to shun anything that can lead to contracting it. We just haven’t seen liberalism run its course on one full victim yet.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 09, 2007 10:25 AM | Send

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