At this point it has become stale trope to view anything other than an overt war with a strict demarcation of allies and enemies, must itself then be either an open enemy or a pernicious and subversive one. Much of this comes from a mistaken and inaccurate analogy that politics is war, when in reality it is oft more akin to spy-craft or other sub rosa machinations.
As Machiavelli put it, to succeed one must be both the lion and the fox. Alas, some are to ready to demend all lion all the time while demanding a purge of the foxes with a hatred only rivaled by members of the U.K.’s Tories…
Col. Kurt Schlichter, for example, seems to take this view in an essay presumptuously called “Conservatism Is Not A Suicide Pact“:
“The whiny wailing and rending of garments (mostly bow ties) by the True Cons over President Trump pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio brings to mind another president’s choice when a loyal supporter was the victim of a liberal witch hunt. President Bush was an honorable man, but the way he allowed Scooter Libby and the Libby family to be ruined and impoverished over what everyone knew was a skeevy liberal political vendetta before issuing a partial commutation is to W’s lasting shame. His excuse: the Rule of Law or something. “
Right off the bat, the good Colonel is tied up with his own unwavering principles and gentlemanly way of fighting. This is not per se a bad thing, for restraint in actual war is necessary. But again, war is not a good analogy for politics. These superficial niceties exist for a reason. They allow one to maneuver, strike more efficiently, form necessary temporary alliances, and otherwise cover for one’s own side’s weakness. Additionally there is a justifiable concern that if we abandon principles to win, then those principles will never be regained; this is not a declaration of surrender, but merely dissuasion from this particular mode of attack.
Assuredly, there are plenty Republicans who will happily sell-out, just as there are those who are honestly more moderate or even liberal at times. The Republican party is just a coalition of various interest groups and political philosophies. White the Left and their tool, the Democrat Party, have the benefit of orienting themselves not as a unified philosopher for one thing or another but of unifying against the perceived common enemy. In this way, Col. Schlichter’s and others’ call is not about being conservative, but about being strictly anti-Leftist.
“But, as anyone willing to see knows, today the Rule of Law is a unicorn and it has been for a long time. I like the Rule of Law, and I’ve been warning for years about what happens when it goes away. Yet we are where we are, whether we like it or not. We’re in a land where the law is only intermittently and selectively applicable. Allowing allies to suffer in an effort to pretend that all is well is not going to bring the Rule of Law back. Nostalgia for the Rule of Law no excuse for tolerating an injustice to an ally. Hell, undoing injustices is what the pardon power is for.
Therein lies another assumption: That the rule of law and all constraints area already gone with the other side acting however they please, meaning that those conservatives who call for restraint and the rule of law are merely preemptively surrendering in order to “loss like a gentleman”. This is demonstratively false as if it were true, Col. Schlichter would have already been sent to a Gulag or worse.
There are constraints and barriers. Even if they are hollowed out they nonetheless serve to not only constrain, or at least force the enemy to advance via pathways that are reverseable, but ultimately present a guide back to the rule of law that Col. Schlichter wants back.
The simplified concept of just fighing back using the Left’s overt tactics assumes that that is the actual fight. It also presumes an otherwise equal footing, or even having superior positioning. Both are questionable, at best, assumptions, and belies a superficial understanding.
“What will bring the Rule of Law back? How do we get to the Conserva-Eden we are expected to act like we already reside it? Perhaps another statement of principle? Maybe another post on some unread conservajournal? I know – how about more complaining about how frustrated conservatives are uncouth and should just sit there and take whatever fascist garbage the left dishes out?
As opposed to emoting and fulfilling that desire to scratch that itch to do something—anything–no matter how ineffective or even self-destructive it may be. Lashing out based on one’s feelz is not the most optimal strategy.
This aversion to overt emoting is not based on some suicidal desire to die like a gentleman, at least for most, but rather an understanding that it is the open hostility and clear demarcation of friend vs. foe which stands as the gentlemanly fighting with one hand behind the back, and may be less effective than someone with both hands behind their back concealing a dirk or garrote.
It is understandable why so many feel the need to have clear demarcations. Plenty of politicians have lied, sold-out, &c. But that is the nature of the beast, and the elected officials are not the core problem, they are the downstream result, and mere surface veneer of the true core problems. You can not win if you do not fight the core of the underlying problem, and to a large degree this means fighting sub rosa, and in a way that will not be emotionally satisfying or comforting to the scared and beleaguered.
“I always thought it was conservative to punish wrongdoers. The other side abandoned the Rule of Law, so I would think that they might – maybe – learn a lesson by experiencing the consequences of their bad choice. But apparently punishing wrongdoers is now off the table because some other principle, of which I was unaware during nearly four decades inside conservatism, requires we never ever retaliate. “
If we are going to engage in transformative politics (or counter the same) then we must eschew the oh-so-gentlmanly thinking of virtuously punishing the wicked. Conservative principles are what we are fighting for, and by extension our American heritage and values; these are what we seek to protect–to conserve if you will. How these battles are fought are by more Machiavellian means, provided of course that those means do not become destructive of the ends, for the means do not always justify the ends that you will get.
“My plan is to cause the left so much pain by applying their new rules to them that they give up trying to grind their Birkenstocks into our faces forever.
“See, I reject the notion we are ever somehow morally obligated by conservative principles to lose to liberals.”
By tossing out the “rules of law” then you will have aided and abetted the Left by removing the schackles that they could not have taken off themselves, at least not yet at any rate.
Col. Schlichter then asks:
“So, my finger-wagging True Con friends, what’s your plan? “
Well, by fist shaking angry-Con friend, let us examine some less histrionic alternatives!
First of all, let us remember the wisdom of Sun-Tzu to know both yourself and your enemy. Col. Schlichter, however, demands that we abandon this very necessary step when he demands we eshew anything but oh-so-gentlemanly and principled Marquess o Queensbury fighting.
Reading Burke is an excellent start, and following that up with some James FitzJames Stephen or some Daniel Hannan, is an excellent way to ground yourself so that you know your own strengths and vulnerabilities. This is something your humble author has long since endeavored.
Concomitant with this is understanding the enemy and their ways. How did they slowly advance their cause through þe olde Gramscian March, spreading their tyranny and mutation of society by using our own virtues against us when they were out of power, only to discard that justification when they are in power to ensure the bridge once crossed could not a vector back–which is another reason to not eliminate those very edifices that nonetheless constrains them and protects us.
With that understanding, we will be able to see that the Left has a very Manichean world view whereby they define themselves by what they are not, to wit, not the axiomatically declared enemy. We must use a combination of their strategy and our own principles/institutions to defeat them. To do this we must understand how they think and and the arguments and language that they use and turn it against them, and do it in such a way that the way they used our own principles against us can be used by us against them, not only in highlighting their own hypocrisy, but in rallying those who have not been fully converted to the dark side.
Admittedly, this is not a singular grand plan like Lee’s attempt to strike a fatal blow against the Union or some clever plan to knock America out in a single blow a la Pearl Harbor. It the higher level approach, the political equivalent of logistics and grand strategy combined, under which not one plan, but a myriad of plans can and will converge as a Stand Alone Complex.
By mutually understanding who we are and who the enemy is, different people, interest groups, &c. can each turn the Left’s intersectiona critical theory-style strategy against them. It allows for weaknesses to be limited, while successed can be borrowed and strengthened. By undermining their fundamental precepts and the fundamentals, as they have undermined ours, that have dictated the increasingly Leftist outcomes downstream therefrom (e.g. the media, elections, entertainment, the schools, &c.), and retruning those principles and values that we so cherish, we will be able to wisely and judicially build up support to the point where we won’t have to put up a fight, but rather just celebrate victory, as they have done. For they did not win by boldly and openly fighting for declared ends, but by changing the situation to where they had already won before any fighting has begun.
This is not to say that rear-guard and more immediate actions against clear and present dangers are not necissary–we still need to be the lion, aftr all–but even then those responses must include a measured analysis of how and why the other side is succeeding and in what manner or way they are best blunted.
Let us examine a couple of examples.
Your humble author has opined on transgender agenda and examine the why and how of their success so far, and have pointed out that this isn’t some new fight, but one that has long been prepared for, with their fundamental precepts replacing the old. In all immediacy there are several vectors by which to blunt this and begin returning to our own fundamentals. Recognizing that “gender” as the Left sees it, has nothing to do about biological sex, but is separate and distinct from it, we use that against those pushing that agenda. By recognizing it as an “identity” that people have grown protective of with the demand of “tolerance” (totalitarian acceptance, really), by giving it the same status as religion; in other words something someone believes in full faith that defines them and their relation with the universe. By such association we can make a distinction between one’s beliefs and some objective element like biological sex or, physically, one’s race. This then, allows a pushback against anti-discrimination laws that are based on immutable and objective aspects of a person, from subjective or faith-based ones. Additionally, this provides a restriction on the power of government being used to push this agenda in the same way that it can not be used to push any set of religious tenets. The fundamental de-transformation of the very concept can then by effected by renormalization of normality against this now toothless political beast. And yes, this will be effected by the stand alone complex in a way that no singlular grand plan could achieve.
Now, let us look at repealing Obamacare.
Yes, those who promised to repeal Obamacare, but ended up having second thoughts should be called out for their heel turn. But throwing a temper tantrum and calling anyone and everyone who fails one’s purity test is a sure fire way to continue to lose, particularly since it pushed people away from your preferred position. Looking at this realistically, the biggest probem is that people are worried about having their coverage lost or not being able to afford to help they and theirs in an emergencies. They are anxious and worried. Obamacare feels like a guaruntee that you will be safe and taken care of, even if in reality you will get worse care or no care at all. These fears must be assuaged. Though not perfect, a potentially viable approach, is listed below.
1st: Repeal Obamacare in whole. This will satisfy the many people, such as myself, who simply want to get rid of that disaster.
2nd: Enable and empower the free market, doctors, and non-profits to come up will real solutions. Giving people the freedom to come up with novel and perhaps revolutionary arrangements or healthcare alternatives by reducing regulatory burdens and requirements, allowing people to purchase insurance across state lines, making healthcare plans portable between jobs (such as by making healthcare costs an above the line deduction), &c., amongst a myriad of possibilities will give people choices and the opportunity for something better.
3rd: Phase out the Obamacare repeal over a suitable amount of time, so as to let the free market and empowered doctors and others develop alternatives and to give those alternatives time to work. This will assuage the concern many have of dealing with the unknown when it comes to affordability and availability of healthcare after Obamacare is repealed.
4th: Allow people on Obamacare plans to keep their plans by grandfathering them in. This is the perfect response to the lie that Obamacare would “let you keep your plan” if you liked it.
5th: Make it clear that issues not addressed by the free market before Obamacare is finally phased out will be addressed by appropriate legislation. Such legislation will be specifically targeted to address those issues without interrupting the good that the market can provide. Additionally, since this is based on future outcomes, no specific proposals can be made, so no potentially politically dangerous plans can even be offered.
6th: Medicare and Medicaid ought to be treated as a separate issue.
This will require getting people together and hammering out deals, or otherwise convincing them that it is in their best political interest to jump on board while demonstrating that fears people have wil be assuaged. This requires leadership, not belittling those who rant and rave with open (and gentlemanly/principled) attack on potential–even if temporary–allies in order to fecklessly emote.
To wit: A proper plan of action requires a mutual understanding of our values as well as the values and tactics of the other side; with this understanding, a Stand Alone Complex can arise and increased to provide þe olde “death by a thousand cuts”; such a Stand Alone Complex ought to be oriented to understand the Left’s logic and use it against them while concomitantly relying on our own virtues and values, and by opposing theirs, strengthen ours and thus effect a fundamental de-transformation of America such that there will be no actual debate or fighting when the question of policy and society are put up for discussion, but rather nothing more than a declaration of victory. Paramount to this, is to act in such a way that our fundamentals are strengthened while their side is dissuaded. In other words, do not set up rules that you would not be willing to live by when your enemy is in control, for if you do have to set those aside by making the consequences to horrible that no one would dare try again, then you had better not only achieve total victory, but hold on to power long enough to under all the damage, ad thereafter lay down power and live under the aegis of whomever; i.e. if you go Pinochet, go full Pinochet. ‘Tis best to avoid such an all-or-nothing approach when less overt avenues are still available to effect a Gramscian reversal upon the Gramscians.
If you want to emulate the tactics of the enemy without falling to the enemies goals by your own hands, look past the superficial veneer with a calm and measured mean to the core of who the enemy is, and figure out how to subvert that.