Against catacombs; for resistance
The remarks of Kristor and Alan Roebuck at the Orthosphere are very sensible and reasonable. They are exactly how I would expect law-abiding, gainfully employed, middle-class white Americans to react to the situation in which we find ourselves.
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They are also profoundly defeatist remarks. They are the words of people who are not merely politically but also spiritually broken, and thus simply wish to keep their heads down and live out their lives as best they can.
If Kristor’s and Mr. Roebuck’s remarks are representative of American traditionalism, then America is now the Land of the Dead just as Britain is the Isle of the Dead. You have repeatedly noted that people in Britain do not resist the crazed excesses of liberalism, they simply grumble about them. A land that can be ruled without resistance by those seeking its destruction deserves to be called dead, and at the Orthosphere, I see no real advocacy for resistance. A bold assertion that we should resist, and discussion of how best to do so, would at least show that traditionalism is not dead, but that is not what I see there.
Both Mr. Roebuck and Kristor advise that we should remain quiet to avoid the attention of the authorities. If traditionalists lack the courage even to speak their minds, then they are, I repeat, spiritually broken and utterly defeated. Good luck getting new recruits for a cause so obviously lacking in self-confidence. Furthermore, we know very well that the liberal state is unlikely to leave traditionalists alone even if they do nothing overt. Indeed, the greater the failures of liberalism, the more aggressively the Left will seek out the hidden enemies who are “really” to blame for frustrating the achievement of social justice. Thus, the Orthosphere program of withdrawal and passivity is unlikely to succeed in any event.
I was particularly bemused by Kristor’s call to retreat to the catacombs and monasteries. The Republican Party lost one Presidential election, and we should all crawl into a hole and hide? Since when did the fate of the West rest on the political fortunes of the Republican Party? This is the attitude of someone who wants the ugly truth to go away, not someone who wants to do anything about it. What traditionalists should be thinking about is not retreat to the monasteries, but waking up the hundreds of millions of Christians in the West whose beliefs are under attack. The only hope for traditionalism is a spiritual great awakening, and this cannot be achieved by hiding and being quiet. Bruce Charlton notes that the secular right in the West is casting about fruitlessly for a means with which to motivate resistance to Leftism. What he says about the secular right is precisely applicable to the ostensibly non-secular Orthosphere posts:
There is a great deal of analysis, plotting and scheming—but near-zero motivation is apparent. Many calls to fight, many assurances of victory: but nobody actually fights, because they lack motivation.
The lack of motivation is understandable. In America, as in Britain, we lead comfortable lives, and all have jobs, responsibilities, and a lot to lose. We have not yet been confronted with clearly intolerable oppression, and thus “keep quiet and endure” is a reasonable and attractive choice. I will note, however, that the past twenty years has seen developments that I would previously have regarded as unimaginable. Who knows what insanity the future holds? It was easy to mock the British for doing nothing every time the Leftist state rubbed their faces in a new pile of steaming excrement. Well, now it’s our turn, and it remains to be seen whether Americans have more spine than the cowed and supine British. So far I am not optimistic. Kristor holds out the Essenes as the model for how traditionalists should live now. I know very little about the Essenes. The community that immediately came to my mind when I read both essays, however, was not the Essenes but the Dhimmis—a group that meekly accepted servility, humiliation, and heavy taxation, not to mention the occasional massacre. Orthodox, devout religion will defeat Leftism. The only question is which religion will do so. Is it likely to be the faith that preaches the “practical wisdom” of appeasement, acquiescence, and accommodation of the Left, or the faith that makes brazen demands and has already forced the Left to appease and accommodate it?
Easy to prove that if they fought, then they would win; but the fact is they don’t fight. They are all waiting for somebody else to get started, to begin the job—then they intend to join-in, after things have gotten-going.
Alan Roebuck writes:
A preliminary response to James P.:
On one hand, I admire your spirit. On the other hand, you’re misreading us. We’re not a bunch of cowardly punks. We’re confronting a powerful force and we need to plan our resistance. There is more in the planning stages, not yet ready for public consumption. Stay tuned.
You speak as if the right thing to do is fairly clear, and we are foolishly and cowardly refusing to acknowledge it. But conservatives (broadly defined) have been opposing the left for many years, without success.
You quote Bruce Charlton:
Easy to prove that if they fought, then they would win; but the fact is they don’t fight.
He’s contrasting the secular right, which lacks the needed element, with traditional Christianity, which has it. And it’s not obvious to me that if they fought, they’d win. Exactly what is this obviously winning strategy? According to Dr. Charlton, I presume it is Christian evangelism. I agree with that, but by itself it won’t defeat the leftist juggernaut so much as outlast it.
Yes, if we could inspire millions to join us, we could win. So far it has not happened, so we need to plan for the worst. That does not make us defeatists.
You’re also leaving out a crucial element: It is clear to us that since liberalism is radically false, any society based on it will rapidly collapse. As ours is doing. This is not like dhimmitude, which has gone on for about 1,400 years because Islam has integrity and will not collapse on its own. The current liberal order will certainly pass away within 50 years, and so one part of a winning strategy is for us to preserve our way until the day when it can be practiced freely.
Also, preservation is not opposed to counterattack. If opportunities present themselves, we will counterattack. But so far, no counterattack has succeeded. If you know the obvious winning strategy, tell us.
As I said, I admire your spirit. And the subject is an emotional one, so I don’t begrudge your sharp words. We don’t need to be adversaries; we can be allies.
Ed H. writes:
I am standing with James P. The left is an emasculated force of opportunists, careerists, homosexuals, liars, media trash. Their idea of a battle is media lies, innuendoes, smear campaigns, voter fraud. They have never been really confronted. The time has come. But planning or motivation from our side may not be needed. Some outrage will begin the whole process. A white businessman whose business is confiscated for back taxes will go ballistic and start shooting, News at Eleven will show a white man in a business suit being gunned before his wife and children outside his suburban home by a SWAT team. Or some white fired the week before Christmas over Obamacare will “go postal” before killing himself and his family. Or unemployment checks will stop being issued. Or the Feds may use force to clamp down on secessionists who will be armed to the teeth and itching for a shoot-out. Something is going to happen. As the economic misery mounts people will get desperate, and these people are not rational, deliberative VFR readers. Obama’s entire life seems to have managed by the Devil himself as if Old Nick were keeping this clown around in order to unleash maximum mayhem. Obama has miraculously skated away from all accountability, and he has never stayed in one place for the costs of his incompetence to catch up with him. But this is now over. We are looking at four more years of a man who has no abilities, but who is facing national crises of a magnitude we haven’t seen since the Great Depression. Obama isn’t FDR and the multicultural nightmare of America in 2012 has none of the resourcefulness and stability of the all white America of 1932. We are sitting on a powder keg.
Terry Morris writes:
Great post by James P.! I have an anecdote that will illustrate one of his main points.
I was traveling with my family to a destination a few hundred miles away from our home. About midway along the trip we ran into a section of highway that was under construction, where the highway was narrowed to a single lane for traffic both ways. There was a lighting system installed at both ends of the site, which was only about a quarter-mile in distance, so that the other end was easily visible from our end.
When we got to the light (which was red), we were about the fourth vehicle back, and I was pulling a cargo trailer. Several vehicles were lined up behind us, and traffic was moving from the other direction, through the construction zone. When traffic stopped from the other direction (i.e., the light on their end had turned red), our light remained red and traffic through the construction zone ceased altogether, until, after the passing of a predetermined unit of time, the light on the other end turned green and traffic began moving from that direction once again.
Meanwhile, traffic continued to pile up on our end. After this happened twice (meaning the light was not cycling on our side), I finally determined to take action. At the risk of hitting the vehicle behind me,, I put my vehicle in reverse and began to ease backward, which caused the driver behind me to make room for me to back up enough to get my vehicle out (I knew he would do this; he didn’t want me to hit his vehicle, right?). Having now given myself enough room to get out, once traffic stopped at the other end, I pulled into the other lane and began driving toward the other end of the road construction, exclaiming as I pulled out, “Now, watch everyone follow the leader.” Which is precisely what happened.
Without someone willing to take the initiative to lead them out of that mess, I am convinced that the drivers in front of and behind me would have dutifully, and as good subjects, remained in their spots indefinitely, or until the light turned green, even though they could see that it must be broken.
James P. seems not to have read what I actually wrote over at Orthosphere; or, if he did, he seems to have read a lot more—or, rather, less—into it than was actually there. I was not counseling the establishment of traditionalist redoubts out of timorousness, but because I view the crisis of the West, with a concomitant general collapse, to be now inevitable. This does not mean we should retreat from politics, nor does it mean we should not speak and write forthrightly about the wickedness and falsehood of the liberal paradigm; indeed, such forthrightness was one of the first things I recommended, noting that such candor risks great danger. It means only that we must not expect such labors to rescue the West. We must expect them to fail, because our political system has demonstrated that the culture has now decisively shifted leftward. We should not expect that our current culture will ever even want to have a healthy economy, or fisc, ever again.
At the very best, I expect we will now suffer a slow motion train wreck, as in Greece. If so, traditionalists may have time to move to redoubts and establish workable lives there, so as to be able to wait out the implosion of the liberal system.
Our political activities should be aimed at slowing the train wreck as much as possible, so that we have more time to prepare for the collapse. Ed H. may of course be right that we have very little time before the powder keg explodes.
When the collapse finally ripens, and the Federal transfer payments stop, I expect there will be lots of fighting. Communities of all sorts will need to defend themselves. It is at that point that we will want to have viable communities in the first place, so that we are not taken out household by household, with no remainder left to carry on. There is of course no guarantee that a desert fastness will prove secure: Qumran was destroyed in the Jewish War, with signs of fire and devastation.
Herewith, some relevant passages from my responses to similarly zealous comments to the original thread at Orthosphere:
Solzhenitsyn was not a coward. Nor was Havel. Neither were Paul or Polycarp. Yet they risked death as much as any soldier. Christianity didn’t begin to conquer by the sword until the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. It got to that point, not by virtue of the martial courage of such undoubted Christian heroes as Constantine, Martel, and Juan of Austria, but by virtue of the rhetorical courage of preachers, and the spreading observance of the virtuous habits of Christian living. Both sorts of courage are needed. But they are not both equally appropriate as tactics at every time and place. It’s no good to fight a tank with a slingshot. But if you climb up on it and harangue the tankers, and more importantly the onlookers, why you might get somewhere.
In declaring forthrightly, calmly and relentlessly that the Emperor is Naked, and in betaking ourselves away from the moral rot of the West—after all, it’s their society now—and into something new, we will be demonstrating just exactly the sort of leadership that Terry Morris adduces with his story of the traffic jam at the construction site. It’s time to live toward something new.
I agree that liberalism is incredibly weak; I have made that point many times. Like any established totalitarian system, however, it is far more vulnerable to rhetorical challenge than to any military insurrection. If we just quietly, consistently speak the truth—especially to our friends and families, those whom we are most fearful of losing—we will create a devastating chink in the armor of the behemoth Moloch. All we have to do is say, over and over again, “but the Emperor is naked,” and people will begin to wake up.
Meanwhile, those who quietly speak these truths will have to risk, and often bear, ostracism, rejection, and impoverishment. Thus all my talk of working for oneself and joining a community of like-minded people. For those of us who speak the truth, it is going to get lonely, and dangerous. Why? Because to an established totalitarian regime, there is no greater danger than that the people will one day decide they are done with it.
How will speaking the truth be decisive? Well, in a civilization built upon a tissue of lies, I should think that there could hardly be anything more outrageous or efficacious. If we just went out and started shooting liberals (or something like that), they’d (rightly) characterize us as evil nutjobs (like Breivik) and rub us out, uncontroversially. Everyone, including our natural allies, would agree that we were a public menace. But if our comportment is such as to make it clear that we are *not* nutjobs, but instead totally sane and virtuous, indeed far more sane, virtuous, grounded—and so, happy, serene, brave, and prosperous—than the ordinary Joe, our words will be very hard to dismiss as ravings of lunatics.
[This is one reason why it is crucial that we abjure fighting words, and deeds, and make sure that we sound the voice of sweet reason.]
This is not in the final analysis about resurrecting the West. I view the West as finished. I’m grievously wounded by this turn of events, but I feel I must first admit the gravity of the situation, and face it honestly. At most, what we must now aim for will be to the West what the Carolingian Holy Roman Empire was to the Western Roman Empire. It will resurrect what was best in the West, with of course a deal of loss thereof, but within a new order, that is something different altogether.
We have to aim here, not for a mere regime change, but for a Kuhnian paradigm shift—a cultural phase change. We have to limn a wholly different way of living, and begin then to live it, and show that it is attractive.
What is that new order? I don’t know. Stay tuned here. We’re working on it.
Finally, in saying that I think the West is done with, I should emphasize also that I think that any effort to “reverse course … against a continuously growing and strengthening modern liberal non-white majority” is doomed. We shouldn’t try to go at them directly. Not sumo; they are too big for us to compete with them that way, they’ll just flatten us. Not sumo, not even karate or boxing, but aikido.
Their system is collapsing already, for lack of funds and proper coordination to reality. We should just … let it. We should focus on surviving so that we are around, in coherent, prosperous communities, to pick up the pieces afterwards. When things do collapse, there will be plenty of fighting to go round, in defending those communities. But if there are no communities to defend, why then the fight will all go their way. They’ll take us down the toilet with them.
An analogy occurred to me. Would we say of a medieval lord that his construction of a castle, and his raising upon its battlements of his standard, were acts motivated by defeatism?
James P. writes:
Everything in Kristor’s response supports my view that he is spiritually broken and profoundly defeatist. He has given up. I see no need to address his response in detail.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 25, 2012 03:36 PM | Send