I first came across Cameron Hilditch when I saw his recent article in National Review called The Conservative Case for Toppling Confederate Statues.
It goes without saying that the slippery slope has spiraled over the last week since George Washington was lynched, Ulysses S. Grant was torn down and Hans Christian Heg, an abolitionist who led the Wide Awakes militia against slave catchers in Wisconsin, was decapitated by the mob and throw into a lake. Rich Lowry is grumbling that it is the dumbest toppling yet. Talcum X has vowed that churches will be ransacked to destroy European images of Jesus Christ. The woke mob has also announced that Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Monument will be torn down this afternoon.
DO NOT DESPAIR!
The conservative governor of South Dakota has vowed to conserve Mount Rushmore. The line has to be drawn somewhere. If we are lucky, Mount Rushmore can be conserved for a few more years:
Conservative liberalism is crumbling on every front:
Sen. Mitch McConnell is giving speeches in the Senate about how law and order has collapsed in Democratic cities under his watch.
Chief Justice John Roberts recently saved DACA while Neil Gorsuch peered into the text of the the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and discovered it protected theories of gender identity which had not been invented yet. Those of us who laughed when conservative liberals failed to conserve the definition of marriage itself a few years ago were wrong to interpret that decision as the bottom.
These recent events all illustrate the divide between the mainstream Right and the “Far Right” in America.
“At what point does “right” become “far right,” or “left” “far left”? And where is the “center” from which distance is measured in one direction or the other? These questions are becoming increasingly difficult to answer objectively. The number of political and cultural touchstones shared by all Americans is falling, the siloing of news and media consumption is growing, and Americans are now unable to agree even on the nature and extent of their disagreements. For our MSNBC-viewing, Jacobin-reading friends, anyone to the right of Elizabeth Warren may as well be Genghis Khan, while the president’s courtiers and acolytes denounce conservatives such as Mitt Romney, John McCain, and John Bolton as deep-state globalist sell-outs. …
Since the French Revolution, mainstream conservatism has been rooted in certain assumptions about human nature that are said to be true of all people across time and space. These include the recognition that our nature is both fixed and flawed and that consequential knowledge about how societies function is necessarily diffuse among its members, together forming the conviction that excessive centralization should be avoided. Because these things are true of all people everywhere, conservatism in the American tradition holds that there is no basis for according different legal or political privileges to people based on their race, sex, or any other immutable characteristic. The capacity to reason and to make decisions is an individual trait shared by virtually everyone, and so conservatism has traditionally regarded the individual as the ultimate, final, and irreducible political unit. The preamble to the Declaration of Independence is a salient example of this kind of thinking.”
I don’t like the term “Far Right.”
Ideologically speaking, my views have always been more moderate or populist than those of conservative liberals, which is why I so strongly disagreed with them about the Iraq War and COVID-19. I’m “Far Right” in the sense of being somewhere in the middle of the electorate on most issues.
Still though, I agree there is an unbridgeable ideological divide between the “Far Right” and the mainstream Right. The philosophy of the mainstream Right is conservative liberalism which is opposed to the philosophy of the mainstream Left which is progressive liberalism. Neoliberalism and libertarianism are all mainstream and part of the liberal family. Those of us who reject liberalism and its economic application, free-market capitalism, entirely are branded “extremists” under the liberal order.
In our view, the history of liberalism – conservative, progressive, libertarian, neoliberal or otherwise – has revealed its principles to be absolutely incompatible with order, cohesion, continuity, stability, decency and normalcy. In essence, liberalism is best understood as a social disease that dissolves and unravels nations over the long term, which it celebrates as “progress.” It is a permanent state of social revolution. It atomizes and degenerates cultures and commoditizes everything and reduces the whole of society to market forces and the abstract ideas of liberty and equality. Conservative liberalism and natural conservatism are not the same thing. The ideas of conservative liberalism eventually push someone who has a natural conservative psychology to absolute alienation as all sense of order is lost.
From a conservative liberal point of view, this is a beautiful sight – the perfection of the principles of ’76 – and you are “transphobic” and “homophobic” for disagreeing:
What were the principles of the Revolution of ’61?
This essay from George Fitzhugh sums up the root of our disagreement: conservative liberals aka the mainstream Right follow John Locke in rejecting Aristotle and the Bible:
“It would have been well for us, if the seemingly pompous inanties of the Declaration of Independence, of the Virginia Bill of Rights and the Act of Religious Toleration had remained dead letters. But they had a strength, a vitality and a meaning in them, utterly uncomprehended by their charlatanic, half-learned, pedantic authors, which rendered them most potent engines of destruction. Our institutions, State and Federal, imported from England, where they had grown up naturally and imperceptibly, and adapted to our peculiar circumstances by like natural growth and accretion, might, and would, have lasted for very many ages, had not silly, thoughtless, half-informed, speculative charlatans, like Jefferson, succeeded in basing them on such inflammable and explosive materials as those to be found in the instruments which we have mentioned. The doctrines which they contain are borrowed, almost literally, from Locke’s Essays on Government – Locke distinguished himself in pure metaphysics – deceived and led astray the philosophic world, for two centuries, by a system of materialism and consequent infidelity, which he himself did not comprehend, or at least, the necessary deductions from which he did not foresee. A professing Christian himself, he is the father of all modern infidelity – infidelity in religion, in morals, in everything. Rousseau borrowed from him, and sowed his infidel and anarchical principles broadcast throughout Christendom. Locke’s metaphysics ignored all innate ideas, all instincts, all intuition and involuntary faiths, beliefs and opinions. Man, according to his doctrine, is a mere reasoning machine, and derives all his knowledge and all his judgments and opinions from impressions made upon his mind, through the medium of his senses, by external objects. It is not our business now to refute this theory nor to follow it out theoretically or historically, into its materialistic, infidel and anarchical consequences. We have only to do with him as a political pedagogue: as a presumptuous charlatan, who, as ignorant of the science and practice of government as any shoemaker or horse jockey, attempted to introduce his false and infidel metaphysics into the field of politics.
Aristotle had taught, and his teachings had been respected and heeded for two thousand years, that society or government, was natural to man; that he was born under government, born a member of society, and did not originate government and society; that men, like bees, and ants, and herds and flocks, were impelled into society by their natures, their wants, their instincts and intuitions; that, in fact, society and government, in their origin and grand outlines, were the works of God, and not of man. He taught, further, that in all societies some were formed by nature to command and others to obey; that inequality, not equality, was the necessary condition of men, bees, ants and all other social and gregarious animals: for society can only exist as a series of subordinations. Hence, he (Aristotle) begins his treatise on government with a dissertation on the family, and on slaves as a natural and appropriate part of the family. Human inequality and the natural, God-made organ of society and of government are the distinguishing features of his political doctrines.
Human equality, and the origination and entire construction of society and government by man, are the distinguishing, and only distinguishing features of the would be political philosophy of Locke. He teaches the doctrine of the social contract or compact, and distinctly explains it to mean, that men are not by nature social animals, but originally lived each adult separate, to himself, independent and self governing. That society is an institution which in time grew out of positive agreement or compact, and that only those who entered into this agreement were bound by it. This is all absurd enough; but he is not content with this glaring fatuity. He adds, that not only did men originally become members of society by positive agreement, but that even now no one becomes a subject of government or a member of society except by express agreement.
His metaphysics drove him to these momentous conclusions, for to admit that society was instinctive and not the result of reasoning from experience, was to admit the doctrine of innate ideas – the doctrine of Aristotle and the Peripatetics, which his philosophy was intended to refute.
“We now come to the Southern Revolution of 1861, which we maintain was reactionary and conservative – a rolling back of the excesses of the Reformation – of Reformation run mad – a solemn protest against the doctrines of natural liberty, human equality and the social contract, as taught by Locke and the American sages of 1776, and an equally solemn protest against the doctrines of Adam Smith, Franklin, Say, Tom Paine, and the rest of the infidel political economists, who maintain that the world is too much governed, “Pas trop gouvernor,” and should not be governed at all, but “Let Alone,” “Laissez nous faire.” …
The organism of society is more complex and inscrutable than that of the individuals who compose it, for it includes the peculiar organization and idiosyncrasies of all such individuals, and to live and work healthfully, must adapt itself to the wants, failings and peculiarities of all its members. It is more “fearfully and wonderfully formed” than man himself. It is the grandest, noblest work of God, for what a miserable, helpless wretch would man be, without society and government.
This doctrine of the natural growth and origin of society is the distinctive Tory doctrine of England, the very opposite to the theories of Locke and the Fathers of our late Republic. In adopting it, we begin a great conservative reaction. We attempt to rollback the Reformation in its political phases; for we saw everywhere in Europe and America reformation running to excess, a universal spirit of destructiveness, a profane attempt to pull down what God and Nature had built up, and to erect ephemeral Utopias in its place. Liberty was degenerating into licentiousness, and “anarchy, plus the street constable” stared us in the face. We lead off in a new reactionary Reformation, and Christendom must follow our lead, or soon be involved in social chaos and confusion.
Viewed in this aspect, and it is only true in one, which to view it, the Revolution of ’61 is the grandest, most momentous event since the days of Luther and of Calvin. The grandest in conception, and the grandest in action; for never did a people of the same numbers display such heroic courage and giant strength as the people of the South in this revolutionary struggle. “Deo duce vincemus.” For we fight “to vindicate the ways of God” against the profane doctrines and schemes of charlatanic man.”
As our ancestors had recognized by the 1860s, it is impossible to maintain a conservative social order based on deductions from “universal” liberal axioms. The social order cannot be based on nothing more than liberal “ideals” which are ideological dynamite. Unfortunately, they lost the Civil War and we have only slid further toward perdition since then with conservative liberalism playing its “mainstream” role by blessing and legitimizing each and every social revolution that has occurred since that time:
Cameron Hilditch sums up the divide this way:
“What separates the right from the far right is the conviction that the most important truths about human beings as political actors are shared equally and individually by everyone on the planet. Sedgwick’s book does a good job demonstrating how the great divorce between the right and the far-right hinges on this basic disagreement about anthropology. The book’s lesson for American conservatives is that the best way to head off the advance of the radical Right going forward is to make sure that Burkean particularism is always and everywhere balanced with a healthy dose of Jeffersonian universalism.”
What a load of nonsense!
As the riots of the last month have shown, Americans don’t even agree about these universal principles, much less the entire planet. It is also false that the “Far Right” lacks a universal anthropology. It has one that is completely opposed to conservative liberalism.
The “Far Right” agrees that man is a social being, not an individualist, and is inherently tribal in nature. We agree that human beings have innate ideas and instincts. We deny that man is a rational calculating machine. We deny the blank slate. We agree that society is the natural condition of man and argue that man is born into society. We deny that man is purely selfish or that it is desirable to base an economy on selfishness. We agree that government and authority is natural to man. We deny that liberty and equality are the highest goods at all times in all places and in all human cultures. We agree that children are immersed in particular cultures by their parents which are historically in flux. We agree that inequality, not equality, is the natural state of man. We deny that man is born “good” or “free” from society. We deny that it is society which has corrupted man who is born “good” and “free.” We deny that man exits the “state of nature” and forms a “compact” which is the basis of universal individual rights. Unlike liberalism, these things can be said to be true of all men at all times and in all places.
Conservative liberalism is based on a false universal anthropology. It is false in theory from top to bottom. It has proven to be incapable of basic governance or even basic social stability as law and order collapses into anarchy. It is blind to the existence of higher truths and any number of collective public goods. It has inexorably led to the deracination, demoralization and degeneration of American men. It has turned the whole world upside down: masters bow before slaves and cops kneel before criminals, ugliness is celebrated and beauty is denigrated, men defer to women, lies are exalted and truth is despised, the wisdom of man is said to be a higher law than the laws of both God and Nature.
In 2020, Rich Lowry and conservative liberals “stand athwart history,” whimpering, can you please not tear down statues of Abraham Lincoln and the Washington Monument? Can you please maybe not redefine “racist” to be synonymous with White American? Can you please not outright take over our cities? Can you please base Americanism on watching the NFL on your flatscreen television?
The only thing we can do is laugh at this pitiful farce. It is a farce in theory, practice and its ultimate consummation.