What will become of America and the future of her governance? Moreover, what will be America, and what does that mean? Is it something to be conserved and forfended against by stewards of the public trust, being left to thrive in an organic and evolutionary manner? Or is it something to be enforced, being protected and curated towards desired ends?
A key element re America natura for conservatives is the recognition that America was not constructed from theory, but that theory was constructed from the extant American—and prior to that English—values, mores, customs, and folkways. Societies, in general, are evolutionary and some elements will be destructive to that society while some will be conducive towards its prosperity. America is a rare confluence of social conditions and values resulting in a freedom to choose concomitant with the wisdom to choose correctly, and that this historically rare confluence can not be dreamt up ex nihilo in vacuo to be imposed or conformed to by intelligent designers.
Thus, part and parcel of what makes America esse America is not certain social or governing policies imposed by an intelligent designer on the people, but the law of the land— rooted in those mores, customs, and folkways—whence good governing policies and a prosperous and stable society derives. In other words, the state and its governance in America is, or at least ought to be, organic rather than managerial. Implementation of a particular policy is ancillary and derivative of that, not the driving or originating source.
But there seems to be an accelerating drive to eschew all this and shift towards a more command and control view of government, albeit not in a Preußisch vein thankfully, where good policy ends and a healthy society derive not from the firm basis of our civic heritage, but by will to power.
Be it the rise of the Alt-Right, many of whom have happily claimed to not be conservative (“what did they ever conserve”), an antipathy against “the establishment” or the “deep state” be that real or perceived, or simply a fatigue with politics as usual combined with a desire to get ‘er done, there is an increasing desire amongst the right, broadly defined, to dispense with any restraint and enter into a Hobbesian bellum omnium contra omnes situation, albeit with a clear “us vs. them” battleline presumptively drawn.
Dispensing with the question of the Alt-Right, per se, since it is discussed elsewhere, let us examine those who wish to dispense with the limitations that a conservative view of governance brings, seeing that a playing by Marquess of Queensberry rules while the opposition fights MMA style, in order to combat and throw off the yoke of the Left in order to direct society preferentially thence.
Indeed, many on the right have embraced the tactics of the Left, including Alinksy’s “Rules for Radicals” under the notion that turnabout is fair play. Perhaps, but one should be careful not to dabble to long with the Nietzschean Abyss lest the opposition overshadows what is being defended.
In governance, even when combating those who would corrupt and destroy the essence of our civic heritage that stands as the foundation for America esse America, one should never sacrifice the forms and functions that serve, even if in a limited degree, to retard the advance of those on the Left that wish to destroy it.
Form and function matters. They provide the framework through which the destruction of American mores, customs, and folkways are blunted and even reversed. They remain as pathways to organically reclaim what lies dormant or forgotten. It is the optic that forces those who wish to fundamentally transform America to proceed in such a manner that their victories can be countered by a renewal of the fundamental principles of our civic heritage, and through which their tyranny and mutation of society can be reversed, thus conserving America esse America.
Does the Gramscian march of the Left prove otherwise? Does not acquiescence—nay—outright collaboration of the conservative intellegencia and politicians show that all forms and functions ought and need to be forsaken so that power can be taken from them and used for us?
Conservatism as a philosophy is not a prescriptive view but a descriptive view, and conservative governance is but an acknowledgement and desire to steward and protect via the law of the land and the idea of “the law coming up from the people, rather than down from the government” with said law being “not determined by the people in government” but rather by “common inheritance of the people.”
It is this concept of limiting power over people, ensuring people’s freedom, that must be guarded and protected. Without it, every election becomes the most important election ever, with each side taking, in turns, and assumption of power and imposition by will to power until the situation escalates to the point where the last in power fully annihilates the opposition, to rule amongst the remains of society.
Ace, of the Ace of Spades HQ, echoes the dispensation of limits to fight a more equal fight:
“I fully support using the regime of political intimidation and social bullying these monsters created against them. To do otherwise would be to affirm their status as our social superiors — that they make the rules, and the rest of us suffer those rules.”
Ace of Spades coblogger Warden echoes this and goes further:
“Further, I no longer have any investment in any particular political values, save one: The rules created by the left will be applied to the left as equally and punitively as they have applied them to the right. And when they beg for mercy, I’ll begin to reconsider. Or maybe not. Because fuck these people.
“This new philosophy has freed me of more emotional angst that I can describe. Literally nothing the left says or does matters to me anymore. I don’t care about their tantrums. I don’t care about their accusations. I don’t care if they say Trump is lying. I don’t care if Trump is lying.”
This creates a manichean division. On one side is the perceived establishment of overlords, consisting of Progressive true believers and accommodating conservatives and Republicans; on the other side are the devotees of Trump cum destroyer who shall smite the enemies of the betrodden who had hitherto conceded a de facto servile status by playing by rules the other side wasn’t.
It ceases to be about stopping what the other side is doing, nor about protecting anything the other side wishes to destroy. This can become pure emotional hate with revenge an end unto itself. Ace echoes this:
“To me this is the only question. I do not care nearly as much about anything else. I forgive Trump his heresies on policy because during a revolution you are not worried about what policies will be implemented after the revolution — the focus is on sweeping the old guard out.”
A revolution, in the old sense of the term, means a return to the beginning—a recourse to the fundamental principles. One ought to effect a revolution in order to effect a change, not merely in vengeance against the status quo. A mere destruction and subsequent dearth of demons will not elevate one to Heaven. Those social mores, customs, and folkways—those values and conditions—that comprise the American essence will not spontaneously arise when our civic heritage has been so willingly sacrificed upon the alter of destruction.
The Gramscian march through the institutions has given the Left momentum and left them well positioned not only in power, but in persuasion by societal presumptions. While some, if not many, who were considered Republican or part of the right have been “squishes” or simply Progressive-lite, there are many who know that to counter the momentum of the right they must tread lightly. One chooses selectively their fights and in the meantime builds a solid base from which to oppose the machinations of the Left. Success by this path can happen, with the rise of 2nd Amendment rights being affirmed in the court, and more importantly, with the rise in popular support by the people who have been won over.
‘Tis folly to think that it is best to just stand up and fight tooth and nail no matter the consequences of losing. Perhaps the right and Republicans have been overly cautious—history has certainly given plenty examples of why they ought to be—but such caution should not be conflated with being willing quislings.
By lumping everyone who does not desire an absolute and total sundering and scouring of institutions, if not forms and functions of governance—by declaring change per se to be the ultimate goal—one effectively declares that to save the baby, it must be thrown out with the bathwater.
This is not mere theoretical philosophizing. Even John Yoo, of “unitary executive” fame, is concerned by the potential lack of limits exercised by the chosen destructor. Embracing a purported strongman politician whereby said strongman politician becomes the vehicle to fulfill your desires, and more importantly it would seem, punishing your enemies, does not save America just because the particular imposed policies happen to be better than the ones replaced, but rather it serves to aid and abet in the destruction of America’s civic heritage of limited government and more importantly the limitation of not only government power, but the power of people in general to impose preferred policy positions without restraint.
This is why many Republicans and conservatives were wary of a Trump Presidency— not because they (necessarily) were crypto-supporters of Hillary Clinton or elitists out to crush the hoi polloi—but because they feared that by embracing the Leftist, and decidedly un-American, view and approach to government, we’d be left with two major political parties who believed in using government to advance their imposed “solution” to society that involves punishing some while rewarding others. It would be a choice between a Progressive Maternal Government, and a Trumpian Paternal Government; both are in opposition to the very concept of governance as an act of stewardship under the rule of law that is resistant to temporary pluralities, or even majorities.
Whether Trump substantiates these fears or demonstrates them to be eminently false is upon him. A reasonable and sane person would be willing to praise Trump when he does well, and also be willing to call him on anything he doesn’t. So far, as of writing, he has generally kept his word and done much to approve off, while not being an immanent or insurmountable threat to a framework of conservative governance. Nonetheless, the desire amongst some for a manichean desire for a venerable god of chaos to destroy a pernicious god of established order indicates that the concern may lie with Trump’s more fervent acolytes, rather than anything Trump himself may or may not do.
The concern then, is with open imploration amongst devotees of the acclaimed destructor for going full “f**k you, WAR“.
If one wants to dispense with any restrains and protections and go full “f**k you, WAR”, then one ought to be willing to show the will to achieve your ends and go full Keyser Söze. You must be willing to FINISH IT both quickly and decisively. It takes more than will to power ascribed to “the establishment”, it takes the planning, discipline, and disregard for any restraints that is being ascribed to the same.
Ace does concede that much of this has to do with perception:
“How far along the decline do you imagine we are? How close to the Point of No Return are we?
“Because I guarantee you, your answer to this question largely determines your answer to the Great Trump Question.”
Ace goes on to define a five tiered hierarchy of political needs, ranging from security from street criminals to “wonkish refinements of the big-picture gut level items.” Ace equates an increase in the level perceived threat with increased support for Donald Trump, and goes on to argue that we were at DEFCON 1.
However, another dimension must be added: Immediacy. It is possible to believe that we are at a high threat level, but that the immediacy of that threat is not manifest to the degree that “going nuclear”, so as to speak, becomes necessary or prudent. It is because we have the forms and functions that comprise the edifice and framework of a conservative governance to protect our civic heritage, that we have the resiliency to bide our time and make preparations. The Left is leading us towards the point where we’d have no choice except to abandon all restraint and sacrifice all for but one chance to escape fate; we are not there yet.
A better analogy than the “Flight 93 Election” would be the use of lethal force in self-defense. The threat must be both immanent and proportional before one can pull the trigger.
The actual maneuvering and fighting have been going on mainly sub rosa via proxy. One sees the Left slowly succeeding, but one doesn’t see the political sausage making going on behind the scenes to blunt this and set the stage for reversal. It is more than getting elected and then doing as one wasn’t based on an expected appeal to who one thinks the electorate is. Perhaps at times one gets lucky; most of the time one won’t. This is why forms and function are more than just empty and ineffective ritual; this is why the underlying values are so important to protect: They serve to protect you from them for all times you are not lucky.
Never aim to create a society and government you wouldn’t be willing to surrender power to. One can not rely on will to power, nor can fulfilling one’s revenge be an end goal. If forms and functions must be cast aside, then they must be done for the strict purpose of pruning the bush to allow for the American Beauty Rose to grow strong and healthy.
The actions taken against such threats to the very existence of our Republic, then, must not be based on vengeance or will to power, but upon conserving and protecting that civic heritage and American essence that serve as the roots and branches upon which the American Beauty Rose may grow. For then, one is willing to offer themselves to the mercy, or praise, of others.
If a threat is such that a suspension of the forms and function of our governance is necessary, then, in order to preserve what those forms and functions protect and thereby renew those very same forms and functions, one completely eliminates the actual threat—and not some boogie-man of political imperfection.
Thus, when one does make a decisive move, it must be swift, comprehensive, and ultimately self-terminating. Ancient Republican Rome, even with their disdain of kings, allowed for the elevation of dictators who held absolute power for a brief period of time to deal with the gravest of threats to the very survival of the Republic. But even then, the dictator was expected to step down and live under the same consequences of those dictatorial actions as any other Roman had to.
In other words, if you are going to “go Pinochet”, you go FULL Pinochet. While one may fairly criticize the particular methods used, particularly torture, the Pinochet junta provided an outline of just what it takes to remove a cancer and heal the patient. To wit: All elements of the Stand Alone Complex of the Gramscian march are negated and permanently removed from power and stripped of any capacity for influence; the fundamentals that are conducive towards the rule of law and of prosperity are fostered; and lastly, but most importantly, power is surrendered.
Our civic heritage and all the mores, folkways, customs, rights, and values that make America that “shining city on the hill” is the patient. The Left are the cancer. By all means remove the tumors fully, lest it grows again, but when doing so, make sure you do not kill the patient to stop the cancer.