A Twitter friend (@KenGardner11) asserts that “traditional conservatism” has been largely abandoned by the GOP – especially by the MAGA crowd. And what is traditional conservatism? Here’s how Ken describes it:
Traditional conservatism — limited constitutional government, fiscal responsibility, free markets, free trade, a strong military, a proactive force for freedom in the world — might today be the minority position even within the GOP, much less the country at large.
I think that most of us here are ok with that sort of definition. It is what we by and large considered Conservatism to be. But were we correct? That is, for those of us, say, 45 and older, is what we called Conservatism for our adult lives really Conservatism?
Limited constitutional government is a great ideal. Love it! But is it something we can have while we also have a strong military and are being a proactive force for freedom in the world? If we have that strong military and we are being proactive out there, that means we’re under permanent threat of counter-attack from the pro-active forces of tyranny. This means we need a national security apparatus to protect ourselves from a Pearl Harbor. A national security apparatus will necessarily have to spy to some extent on Americans because we can’t be sure if any of us won’t turn traitor. And so our rights are curtailed by the government in order to maintain the strong military so we can be a proactive force for freedom in the world. See how it goes?
I’m pretty sure readers here know my opinions on free markets and free trade (so called): it is a blind. A false ideal. You can’t have a totally free market and you can’t engage in free trade. Human nature prohibits either thing. Because some people will try to cheat and grind the faces of the poor, there must be some controls on the market. Because some nations will cheat and seek to destroy economic competitors, you must have some controls on trade. But in addition to these concerns, there is the fact that free markets and free trade are not Conservative. They are Liberal. Traditional, 19th century Manchester School Liberalism. Even if an argument can be made that they are, on balance, better ideas than their alternatives, the fact remains they are Liberal ideals…if we Conserve them, then all we’ve done is Conserve Liberalism.
I’ve come to the conclusion that we’ve never tried Conservatism. Even someone like the great Ronald Reagan wasn’t so much trying to Conserve Conservative things but was, instead, trying to restore a Liberal status quo from, say, 1925. No fault to Reagan! He did great things and we can never repay the debt we owe him. But if we want to be Conservatives Conserving things, I think we’re going to have to rethink things a bit.
In my view, what needs to be done is to first define our ideal and then go about obtaining it. And while this ideal is Conservative, we will have to accept the fact that given what we live under now – a Liberal oligarchy – some revolution may be necessary to achieve the ideal. My ideal is a society of faith, family and property. I believe that such a society meets an actual definition of Conservatism because all experience shows that only a society of faith, family and property is sane, stable and free. In other words, whatever you might say you have, you have nothing good if the primary purpose of your society isn’t the fostering of faith, family and property.
Faith because while we can all argue endlessly about the nature of God and what our duties to Him are, we Conservatives know from human experience that a moral code which is not handed down from God cannot work. We also know that without hope of ultimate justice and peace the human species loses sanity and becomes narcissistic, greedy and slothful.
Family because the primary unit of society is the family. We know from human experience that the purpose of the family is the creation and rearing of children and that if this task is not properly carried out absolute disaster results. Such as we have now when we can see videos showing packs of feral young people looting stores and engaging in street brawls over nothing.
Property because, call it what you will, humanity only works to benefit itself. All of us wish others well, but our primary concern is that we and our families are taken care of. I very much want that family down the block to prosper in love and peace…but my main concern in life is to ensure my granddaughter prospers in love and peace. My best means of doing this is to build up sufficient property to ensure that she can have her material needs met…that she can strive and thrive without having to work for someone else just to obtain her daily bread.
All three of my ideals have been ruthlessly and maliciously destroyed by the Liberal oligarchy which has come to govern the whole planet to one degree or another. This oligarchy hates faith because it believes it can create heaven on Earth. It hates family because it believes that the primary human loyalty must be given to the group, led by the oligarchs. It hates property because property makes people independent of the ministrations of the oligarchy. To get them back – to even start to get my ideals back – I must overthrow the Liberal oligarchy. I cannot content myself with just trying to stop the Latest Thing…I must proactively overthrow what has been imposed.
Do keep in mind that such an effort does not preclude working within the current American system. Our Founders did create a very clever system which even now gives me leverage. I pray earnestly that I can effect the necessary changes by using the system. But at the end of the day, if I want what I believe in to survive, I must accept that I’ll have to do it by any means necessary. And if this means I’ll have to abolish corporations on one hand and confiscate oligarchic wealth on the other, then that is what will have to happen…and by so doing I will not be doing other than Conservatism.
It is time, the first time, to try Conservatism. To actually honor our knowledge and traditions by seeking to implement them on society. In my view, it is this way, or death. If all we ever try to do is support what Liberals imposed 40, 80 or 100 years ago, then we’re just helping cement a social order which we can see is leading us to total destruction. Perhaps most on the Right cannot see the line going from, say, Wilsonian Progressives and San Francisco Maoists…but I see it. The latter is the direct descendant of the former. And if we’re still trying to make the world safe for Democracy, I think we’ll find that all we’ve done is make the world safe for more Maoists. I’ll go back to Wilson and discard it; I’ll pick up the mantle of McKinley and Cleveland and reject the Liberal project. I’ll be Conservative…even if I’m burning the system to the ground.
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