Have we lost?

Ron L., a long-time Republican activist, writes:

I don’t mean to be a downer, but we’ve lost. And I don’t mean the nomination. The popularity of Obama among all groups and the increased support for liberalism and Democrats, especially among the youth, portend disaster.

Even if conservatives were magically to retake the GOP, we are losing the country. Although individual conservative ideas are still popular, the American people want the nanny state to protect them, the government to provide or regulate health insurance at magically low cost, increased spending on all sorts of social programs, and pork.

The failure of “big government” in the late 1960s-1980 period is a distant memory and about one-fifth of voters either were not born then or immigrated since then. Meanwhile, during the “conservative ascendancy,” we have seen government grow along with debt.

We complain about 12 to 30 million illegals, but have not Americanized a greater number of legal immigrants and their children. (I am the exception, not the rule.) We have failed to teach our heritage to all American children. How many can sing “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” with a straight face, or would even want to?

The failure to assimilate even legal immigrants is creating a balkanized society with aggrieved groups estranged from America’s founding principles. Likewise, we have failed a generation of Americans by not passing on the mores, tradition, and heritage of this country.

Is it any surprise that the young and “New Americans” support Obama?

We Republicans and conservatives are playing to win individual elections. Meanwhile the left is transforming America, ensuring that they will win in the long term.

We either fight this battle or consign our children to being strangers in the land that should have been their birthright.

People blame neocons and Rockefeller Republicans for the leftward turn of the GOP. However, the GOP is only responding to the increasing liberalism of the American electorate, including that of self-proclaimed conservatives.

The GOP has not betrayed conservatives. Conservatives have failed America.

LA replies:

“We Republicans and conservatives are playing to win individual elections. Meanwhile the left is transforming America, ensuring that they will win in the long term.”

Welcome to paleoconservatism, Ron. Samuel Francis was saying this back in the 1980s.

LA writes:

Ron has posted a version of his comment at his website, NYC Right.

Dan McCulloch writes:

We haven’t “lost” in any absolute sense, as that question implies. We have been losing for a very long time. There are two major, albeit frightening, things on the horizon that portend the possibility of change in the right direction. The first is economic collapse. I hope the collapse won’t bring on starvation, but it may stop the incentive for the world to come here, and it would make foreign adventurism impossible for a while. We will have to be on guard against fascism during the recovery.

The second thing pending is some kind of major reorganisation of the right. The right is a complete ignorant mess right now. We need to find a way to make the distinction between neoconservatism and the traditional right common knowledge among the unwashed. My experience suggests that among all these people who call themselves conservatives it’s only a tiny minority that have ever heard the N-word, and even the ones that have heard it usually don’t know what it means. I think that out of the current confusion a stronger more unified rightist community will emerge. The people that read and write to VFR, and those that think similarly have a big role to play here. I’m looking forward to it. But, as ever, we must avoid the rightist tendency to form circular firing squads.

Rb writes:

While it may seem that an Obama presidency would spell disaster for Western Civilization, particularly in the United States, this might be more of an emotional reaction than anything else. What would an Obama presidency actually do but reinforce the “Traditionalist” polarity in American society that has not, up until this point, coalesced into anything other than a few internet magazines being born. With Obama we will not only be subjected to more racial political baiting from the Left, but we will actually get to see a genuine Right-Traditional movement emerge as this will be the only, legitimate opposing polarity left. This is a good thing. A McCain or Hillary presidency will only blur the lines even more and keep the “average” citizen, who may be very Traditional in his or her own private life, enthralled with the “status quo” that “looks” like them—“White.” Until the racial and political “look” swings toward the trajectory that American society is heading in a most visible way—Obama being quite visible in that respect—then there will be no “wake up call” coming or even an impetus that strikes the materially-focused, “average” citizen who judges things based on appearance.

To put it bluntly, as long as their is a white and visible head of the “system,” there will be no reason anyone really questions the direction of Western civilization as manifest in the United States. It may be painful to accept such a thing, but that is the reality and better now rather than later when, demographically speaking, there will be no hope for fixing the mess at all and we’ll all be talking migration rather than “fixing.”

Jim N. writes:

LA wrote: “Welcome to paleoconservatism, Ron. Samuel Francis was saying this back in the 1980s.”

You took the words right out of my mouth, Larry. And others were saying it before Sam. The Left’s been at their project for a long, long time . This is nothing new.

Ron wrote:

“People blame neocons and Rockefeller Republicans for the leftward turn of the GOP. However, the GOP is only responding to the increasing liberalism of the American electorate, including that of self-proclaimed conservatives.

“The GOP has not betrayed conservatives. Conservatives have failed America.”

The mistake Ron is making is presuming that all those self-proclaimed conservatives are, in fact, true conservatives. It’s not so much that Republicans are increasingly liberal; it’s that we’ve let a horde of already-liberal pretenders into the Big Tent who weren’t there before—mostly those alienated to one degree or another from the hardcore left who have sought refuge in the only other major party available to them. So yes, the GOP has, in fact, betrayed conservatives.

N. writes:

I agree with Dan McCulloch, and furthermore would argue that the small economic trouble we have had in the last year is already affecting the illegal alien population. We have seen articles in various newspapers, from Boston to North Carolina to Arizona, often with a surprised or bemused tone, to the effect that illegals from Brazil, Mexico, Central America, etc. are choosing to return home, because there is no work for them.

Given the number of illegals who were working in the construction industry, and the fact that housing is hugely overbuilt (there is a four YEAR supply of houses in Tampa Bay, for example) their jobs are gone. In fact, I argue that the reason unemployment remains low is due to so many illegals having been hired off the books in recent years.

I expect to see more, and stricter, enforcement of existing laws and quite possibly more laws along the line of those passed in Oklahoma and Arizona, because there will be less work to go around especially in the trades. Therefore, there will be more pressure on both political parties to preserve jobs in the U.S. for U.S. citizens and/or LEGAL immigrants.

But it is going to get worse, much worse. Housing bubbles take years to work off, and we have a national one no matter what Greenspan says. It is not at all impossible that the world is heading into another depression, and as McCulloch observed, “we have to be on guard against fascism.” The last depression strengthened government in many countries. Finally, I have been reading on the Book of Isaiah lately and meditating on the Remnant. Perhaps it is the duty of cultural conservatives at this time to be a remnant, and preserve things for some future date.

James W. writes:

Looking at the extraordinarily bizarre cluelessness of this entire election, instead of despairing, I’ve begun to smile. We are going to have a really bad President—no matter what—with a really bad Congress, and possibly a horrible Supreme Court. Surely it cannot be said we do not deserve this. I’m no optimist, but I think it is at this point that we are going to beat the bastards back. Whadayathinkathat? Even cowards can endure misfortune, but it takes courage to endure suspense. That is where we will beat them. History will not wait for their cowardly plans of surrender in everything to unfold.

I read this morning of Simone Weil, of whom I previously knew nothing, although I expect you are aware. From 1939:

“Let us not think that because we are less brutal, less violent, less inhuman than our opponents we will carry the day. Brutality, violence, and inhumanity have an immense prestige that schoolbooks hide from children, that grown men do not admit, but that everyone bows before. For the opposite virtues to have as much prestige, they must be actively and constantly put into practice. Anyone who is merely incapable of being as brutal, as violent, and as inhuman as someone else, but who does not practice the opposite virtues, is inferior to that person in both inner strength and prestige, and he will not hold out in such a confrontation.”

Cyril Connelly: “Those of us who were brought up Christians and have lost our faith have retained our sense of sin without the saving belief in redemption. This poisons our thought and paralyzes us in action.”

So you see, Lawrence, although knowledge, courage, and humor will be terribly important to the cause of liberty, it is also necessary that we stop playing nice with this growing disease within us when the excrement truly hits the fan. I assume that, more or less, your blog is coaching and evolving such individuals and principals.

LA replies:

That is a great quote from Simone Weil.

It’s possible I’ve said things like this before, but there is this feeling over the last week or so that we’ve passed some threshold, that we’ve decisively lost, or, rather, that the loss, which has been occurring for a long time, is becoming manifest. It seems to me that the primary thing must cease to be criticism and warning (something perhaps that I’ve been guilty of), because all the criticism and warning in the world will not stop Western suicide. The West is set on suicide, and nothing we say is going to stop that. We can’t stop it from happening. What we can do, or strive to do, is build up something within and among ourselves, build up a real alternative to the liberal insanity, and present it to the world, while constantly warning people where liberalism is leading. And then when the liberal system crashes, people will be looking for something else, and they will turn to this alternative. We cannot defeat or stop liberalism by direct assault. It’s too powerful, too ingrained. We can only wait for liberalism to destroy itself.

To paraphrase Simone Weil’s great comment, it’s not enough not to be crazy and self-destructive like the liberals and neoconservatives. We must practice the opposite virtues to their vices.

This is the work that true conservatives need to set for themselves. Do the actual conservatives who are alive today have the ability and knowledge to carry out such a project? I don’t know. Do we even know where to start? I don’t know.

But we must try.

Mark Jaws writes:

Good Lord, when I read your blog I am both impressed (there are people who think as I do)—but also let down. If Sir Lawrence does not know how to slay the liberal dragon, or even where to begin on how to slay him, we serfs are going to have a good portion of our village burned down. More than any other, your blog causes me to think, but I lack your expressive qualities and literary talent to do the intellectual heavy lifting required. At best, I can organize some rowdies to clear the hall and allow you to speak, but I myself am not the one to receive, formulate, and deliver the message. However, to spread traditionalist Western thought, we need a Survival Kit For The West to serve as our Manifesto. I know on multiple occasions you have mentioned those things which must come to pass, (e.g., cessation of Islamic immigration), but to have your main points placed in one book would be a big plus for our side.

LA writes:

When I said that I don’t know if we even know where to start, that was not a statement of helplessness or of throwing up my hands. It was a statement of the fact that we’re in a unprecedented situation and have to figure out what to do next. It’s no longer a matter of our being members of a civilization that has gone badly wrong, and our job is to identify where it’s gone wrong and articulate the right principles that the society needs to follow in order to correct itself, in the hope that more and more people will be persuaded and come to our side. That’s what all true conservatives do. We’ve done that in the past, and we have the ability to keep doing that. But that’s not going to be enough, because, while a small number of people may be persuaded away from their liberalism, liberal society as a whole is not going to get off its road to destruction. Liberal society is heading in the direction of those tens of thousands of students at the University of Wisconsin cheering Obama as he promised to turn America into an all-encompassing Provider State. Liberal society is heading in the direction of welcoming every alien culture and people and silencing its own members who protest.

So traditionalists need to do something we haven’t done before. Instead of merely being dissident members of our society opposing the society’s current course, we need (even as we continue doing the things we’re doing now, criticizing and trying to stop the advances of liberalism where we can) to start building the components of a new society—meaning an articulated belief system and the institutions to incarnate it: schools, communities, media outlets, cultural organizations, political parties, even collective self-defense. These institutions would grow up within the body of the larger liberal society yet stand apart from it. Then as the liberal society begins to crumble, which it will, there would be a capable and articulate alternative ready to take leadership.

I know this all sounds wildly grandiose. But my thoughts are drawn in this direction by the growing conviction that liberal society is not going to change its destructive course, at least not until it has brought unbearable suffering upon itself. And therefore being critics, dissidents, activists, and protesters is not enough. We need to become builders. And that’s what I meant when I questioned whether any of us knows where to start. Of course we don’t know where to start. We are going to have to figure it out.

Alan Roebuck writes:

At this time of conservative pessimism, I wanted to remind you that I had laid out some concrete suggestions for starting a movement of resistance near the end of my essay “Needed: a New Conservative Apologetics.”

And I am trying to get published a much longer essay, based on some of my VFR essays, that makes a stronger and clearer case. Let’s keep up our spirits by focusing on what can be done.

George writes:

“And therefore being critics and dissidents is not enough. We need to become builders. And that’s what I meant when I questioned whether any of us knows where to start. Of course we don’t know where to start. We are going to have to figure it out.”

The greatest weakness on the dissident right is that we are so fractured and intellectually diverse that we cannot even agree on common policies and principles. While cerebral diversity makes for stimulating debate online, this fracturing makes it impossible for the dissident right to speak in a single convincing voice to large masses of people. If we don’t speak with one voice, at least on some issues, we will be ignored by the middle class, which, as any successful political campaign manager will tell you, needs firm, concise, easy to understand ideas and slogans to rally around and grasp, not clouds of scholarly theorizing.

The paleo right—arguably the largest and most substantial wing of the dissident right—is different from the evolutionary conservative right, the race realist right is different from the Christian conservative right. These divisions prevent a common policy platform from being developed.

If the right-liberals are to be replaced by a truly conservative ideology, the various strands of the dissident right are going to have to unite in some way via one large organization or think tank to reach the white middle class.

In the age of the Internet, and with the neocon right discredited by the Iraq war, the dissident right has an opportunity to reach a sizable audience of disaffected Republicans. But, in order to persuade Americans, we need to come to an agreement on common, clear, specific, principles and clear, specific policies that we can advocate for.

Currently, the many strands of the dissident right keep going off in their own direction like a group of cats due to ideological differences and strong personalities. Furthermore, it seems that many dissident right thinkers are old men like Brimelow and Buchanan who seem as though they would prefer to sit on the sidelines and wait to say “I told you so” rather than present an optimistic vision of conservatism.

I think it is time to for us to stop complaining and try to advance a specific platform of cultural right policies that would appeal to ordinary Republicans rather than wallow in self pity. (Perhaps a common policy may not need to be explicitly racialist because many conservatives such as John Zmirak are still uncomfortable discussing race, though it must be strongly anti-immigration so that we can come to common positions more easily and get a project off the drawing board.)

Our policies should be designed to appeal to ordinary white Republicans and so infiltrate the currently ruined GOP and pull it a bit more in our direction as the party rebuilds from the ashes (I don’t see the point of a third party because a third party which via some miracle replaced the entrenched GOP would become corrupted by the DC lobbyist culture just as badly as the Republican and Democrat parties.)

Some common policy positions we could push for would be paying immigrants and their descendants who are on welfare or uneducated to renounce US citizenship and leave, decentralizing education via federalism so that local communities can teach a traditionalist, Christian curriculum without the Federal Government dropping the hammer on them, and revoking the jurisdiction of the federal courts over cultural issues via congressional legislation.

But none of these suggestions can move forward unless the dissident right starts speaking with one voice as opposed to the present cacophony of aging, protesting, intellectuals. Given how prickly, and sometimes despondent, the dissident right is (especially the ever grumpy paleocons), I wonder whether a unified organization/think tank can be built, but it should be attempted.

Vivek writes from India:

Dark clouds portending gloom? I think in such situations true believers have an edge, as it were, over non-believers.

Faith in the divine wisdom that Truth alone Triumphs; and God IS Truth makes us believe (know) that ultimately God-Truth alone shall triumph, however unlikely it may seem to us any day.

And we must also thank God for this gift of faith. God saves us in such trying times by instilling in us the necessary faith.

But then what do we do? Do we need to do something? Does God need our help? In my opinion, God does not need our help. It is we who need God’s help. God loves us and can win this war on the False without us and even in spite of us. But as true believers, since we too love God, we (each one of us) must do our bit for the love of God, for the joy of working for God. God can indeed work even without us; but experiencing God working through us is sheer joy too.

It may sound paradoxical or self-contradictory that “God can win even without us, and yet we must do our best for the love of God”. However, it seems to me that, under such adverse circumstances, faith combined with love would give us not only the strength of conviction that we need but also the unflinching resolve, not to succumb to despair, that we need even more.

May our faith, our resolve, and our efforts, be the prayer to God to win this war for us while God gives us the blissful experience of working through us.

What I have written here is largely from my understanding of Hindu (Sanatana Dharma) tradition. I am sure there would be similar writings in Christian tradition as well.

Charles M. writes:

We need to take a 2nd look at Russia, which went through the Collapse a century ago, and is now recovering its soul along the good old lines of Czar, Church and Army. Different labels, but the substance is there. That trinity isn’t in my traditions, but I’d take it any day to the brave new world of PC.

If the Russians were minded—and I devoutly hope they will be—to intervene in Kosovo on behalf of Serbia, they would be de facto the defenders of Christendom, to use an unfashionable term. In that case, this Paleocon would be as loyal to Moscow as the reddest Red was once to the Comintern. What can I say? Ve-ry strange times we live in.

LA replies:

“In that case, this Paleocon would be as loyal to Moscow as the reddest Red was once to the Comintern.”

I get your point, but aren’t you going a little overboard?

However, I should amend that. In a parallel thread, we discussed the likelihood that the U.S. would help the EU suppress any rebellion by the people of Europe against the EU tyranny. In such a case, a power that opposed the EU would be our ally.

Kevin V. writes:

“I know this all sounds wildly grandiose. But my thoughts are drawn in this direction by the growing conviction that liberal society is not going to change its destructive course, at least not until it has brought unbearable suffering upon itself. And therefore being critics, dissidents, activists, and protesters is not enough. We need to become builders. And that’s what I meant when I questioned whether any of us knows where to start. Of course we don’t know where to start. We are going to have to figure it out.”

Lawrence, I don’t know you. We’ve never met. We’ve led very different lives on the opposite side of the county. In any normal time, perhaps some day as I’m visiting the big city I’d pass you by in a crowd and never have known that had by some chance I had began talking and speaking to you we would find that we have many things in common. But this is not a normal time.

Again, you are almost a complete stranger to me, but given what I know to be true, and given what I know is very likely to happen to us and our children and grandchildren, and given that I can go weeks on end without hearing a single encouraging word here in Oregon or even seeing an encouraging sign, some little sign, that people have had enough, that the ideology ruling and ruining our lives has been exposed, I find myself talking solace in this new technology that allows me to connect—in however an imperfect manner—with people who see the same things I see, who feel the way I do.

It does sound grandiose, does it not? But that doesn’t stop the facts of the matter at hand from being any less true. We have been handed by duty a task that no sane person would willingly accept and for which our pains we will be called to worst of names, have to live through watching members of our own families curse us.

Reluctantly, sadly, we know what is in store for us.

Nevertheless, people like us could no more sit out this fight than a parent could ignore one of his children in danger’s path. Because we love what we are losing. You might as well tell that parent just to tend to his own happiness and ignore that child as tell us to tend our own gardens and drop out. We are just as incapable of it.

Someone has to say no. And someone has to be the first. Why not us?

Dan McCulloch writes:

Vivek wrote:

“[W]e (each one of us) must do our bit for the love of God, for the joy of working for God. God can indeed work even without us; but experiencing God working through us is sheer joy too.”

Our Hindu friend has spoken most truly. This is a perfect expression of the right attitude, and I thank him for the uplifting words. Anything else but a thorough reliance on God will result in despair.

I read through Prof. Roebuck’s essay which is linked above, and largely agree with his call for a new conservative apologetics. I want to submit though, my long held belief that the institutions through which we must work for the recovery of sanity, are really but one: all change must come through the church. Even if we mobilized ourselves to the point of creating a virtual sea of little 501(c)3 institutes all battling for the conservative cause, it would still not be enough; the churches already exist, they’re tax exempt (for the moment), the remnant hangs out there (as well as a great number of potential recruits), they’re our natural allies, and their corruption by liberalism is largely the reason for our current state.

The first step in our recovery is to make it clear that a liberal Christianity is a deeply corrupted Christianity. This is why conservative agitation in the church is not out of place, unlike liberal agitation. Contemporary Christians don’t understand that liberalism is an alternative and competing moral order, to that of their professed faith. These are the people whom we might expect to patronize our little institutions and their educational programs, but they will not come in their present state of corruption; we must meet them where they are, and where they are is right next to us in the pews. I am presently trying to discover how to pursue this in my own parish without being kicked out.

There is no more reason for discouragement now than there was when Bush was elected. What we lose sight of from time to time is that what we now call liberalism has been underway in the West for more than 800 years. It is woven-interwoven with the fabric of our society, and in the very air we breathe. The only crowd that can be expected to listen to radical critiques of it are those nominally designated Christians.

Consider: the critique begins with the claim that the principle of “liberty,” in which our nation is founded, opposes itself to faith in God, which is rather more like slavery, or at least indentured servitude. Radical servitude to an external referent, or authority, and obedience to that and the civil authority under which we have been placed is the complete opposite of radical liberty. In the liberal schema, equality or equivalence, is the reason or cause, and liberty is the end. It begins in materialistic skepticism, and proceeds through the triune interlocking evils of nominalism, empiricism and materialism, to rebellion, unbelief and radical individualism in reformation, and finally to liberty, equality and universalism (fraternite). Liberty rolls onward from here to ever greater evils; the traditional moral order is inverted and self, the lowest rung on the ladder, is raised up to Number 1, and now liberty means freedom from authority, hierarchy, natural law, tradition, obedience, and even decency. Because it opposes itself to God, nothing can stop the descent into humanistic hell. But how do we tell our fellow Americans that the gods of liberty and democracy, which they worship in place of God, are in fact anti-Christ? Liberty doesn’t begin historically seeking freedom from God, it begins by the piecemeal exaltation of the human, and with the promotion of smaller liberties, but liberty from God and faith is where it is always headed.

As liberalism begins in skepticism, conservatism begins in faith. Unlike liberalism, conservatism doesn’t roll on from its starting point; it stays right there. Faith is the absolute ground and standpoint from which to judge, of conservatism and rightist politics. The unchanging “values” of conservatism, for want of a better word, are faith, reason and tradition. Liberalism opposes liberty to faith in God, equality to reason, and universalism to tradition. It hardly needs to be said that “equality” is the antithesis of reason, experience, and sense. All of created nature is hierarchical—hierarchy and difference characterize it. Faith and reason go together and are inseparable, just as liberty and equality go together.

The modern American says in response, “But can’t we have a little liberty?”, to which I reply, can’t we have a little faith?

Laura W. writes:

There’s a lot of wisdom in the thread on this devastating outcome, this crossing of a new threshold.

Kevin V. expressed so well the impossibility of indifference. I was thinking about that this morning and asked myself, “Could I talk myself into caring less?” It would be easier to talk oneself into breathing a little bit less. “Could I at least feign indifference?” Nope, can’t even do that.

The beautiful words of Mordecai to Esther come to mind. Things were much worse for Mordecai and Esther than they are for us. All seemed lost for the Jews and Mordecai asked Esther to risk her life to intervene in the court of her husband, the Persian king, Ahasuerus.

Knowing she may very well be executed, Mordecai consoled Esther by saying, “Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Dimitri K. writes:

I agree with you that we probably did something incorrect. I don’t mean election tactics. I mean, something deeply wrong. I have come to this conclusion recently, by analysing liberals. I have some liberal correspondents, who write comments (mostly critical) to my Russian podcast (mostly conservative). And what I found, or what I seem to have found, is as follows. They are not active enemies of ours. On the surface they are aggressive and arrogant, but inside they are confused, mislead and frightened. We need to reach out (sorry for the word you used to laugh at) to them. They are actually almost asking for help. They may be our main source of men for future conflicts. But we must stop abusing and hating them. Maybe, their criticism is not always wrong, but is caused by our rigidity and hatred to them. We should talk to them, and try to reassure (another word you laugh at). Show them the right example, which they are desperately looking for. At least many of them.

LA replies:

Interesting. But expand on this further. What is it you’re saying that we (conservatives) did wrong?

Dimitri replies:

That’s a good question. Probably the current situation is not our fault, it may be the result of “material” changes. Technology does transform the world. But our fault is the inability to adequately respond to it. For example, what was the conservatives’ response to the appearance of computers? Forbid computer games or let them play as much as they want? There appeared lots of questions which we must take seriously.

Some paleoconservatives still speak like nobility, who used to possess everything for free and now want everything back without effort. We have to advertise our ideas and make them attractive to people, especially to the youth. That doesn’t mean giving up on principles—giving up on principles is the fastest way to discredit yourself and lose any support. We should talk to people, not insult them, and try to set the right example for them. After all, liberal ideology is false, because it contradicts life itself.

It seems to me that what drives many young liberals is their fear of life. Life has changed and they don’t know what to do, because they are missing the guidance. And conservatives are not always able or willing to provide them with a good advice. I believe that now, when our failure has become so obvious, we must start producing ideas. For years, new ideas were the monopoly of the Left. Now we should get involved into discussions and show our presence in the intellectual field. Which you has been doing for a long time, by the way.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 12, 2008 05:51 PM | Send

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