The Conservative Movement in America, particularly after the Second World War, was formed to stand in opposition to the Leftism, the core tenants of which were widely accepted, but did not seem a threat because the social mores and traditions of society served as an ablative barrier to insulate most people from the consequences thereof. Conservatism, in America, is and always was for the preservation and protection of those unique and marvelous elements and principles which made America, and its Anglopheric inheritance, both unique and good. But to a large degree those elements that make up uniquely America were never really critically examined, at least not in the 20th Century, and the Conservative Movement had to figure out where it stood before it could move forward or upon what basis to resist the monolithic Leftism that sought to fundamentally transform America into something else. To a large degree, the Conservative Movement went from a fringe ideology to mainstream acceptability, and has if not stopped or reversed Leftism as a whole, has slowed it down and even won reversals and victories. The idea of high taxes, rule by experts, and social guidance with a generous and benevolent state was formerly widely accepted because that ablative social armor protected people’s sense of “normalcy”; yet the Conservative Movement have, if not completely dismissed the such ideas, has succeeded in minimizing them into only being in contention, with at an increasingly poorer footing.
But that ablative armor is wearing thin, such that many people not involved in the broader Conservative Movement and ignorant of this (and those who do know better but find it useful to ignore) did not see the broader changes and counter-currents. Many only noticed that their sense of “normalcy” was suddenly threatened by said thinning ablating armor and either came to, or were convinced of, the conclusion that Conservatives didn’t conserve anything and were either ineffectual members of the “surrender caucus” or even part of some insidious plan as members of a “uniparty” or “swamp”.
Christopher DeMuth, for example, take umbrage against the conservatism of Buckley and Reagan as being complicit in the Progressive march through the institutions due to icky individualism and free markets at the expense of community concerns and civic virtue, with the seeming conclusion that only be diminishing the individual and empowering the state can stop the Progressives who seek to… diminish the individual and empower the state.
“Today we are in a new era of conservative discontent. The national conservatives are at the ramparts against the new status quo of woke progressivism in government, the military, business, education, culture and media. Many of them are also dismissive of the conservatism of Buckley & Co. and Ronald Reagan and their legacy of journals, think tanks and policy doctrines that became a settled Washington establishment by the 2000s and 2010s.
“In their view, that establishment was complicit in progressivism’s political ascent. American conservatism became unduly attached to libertarian individualism, unfettered markets and free trade as ends in themselves—which helped set the stage for anything-goes cultural corruption, the decline of community, family and religion, and the rise of global corporations and institutions that decimated the American heartland.”
That idea of community, family, and religion is their sense of “normalcy” and they decry anyone who didn’t put their personal sense of “normalcy” above dissent via government power are all equally evil. This false assumption can even be seen by the once veritable “Ace of Spades” who Kabooms himself by accuses “Baseball Crank” who writes for the National Review of being a minion of the Left with the “proof” being “Baseball Crank’s” surprise that the Left were being so open about their actual goals. That Ace “patrol[s] the right” here while complaining about “Baseball Crank” allegedly doing the same just goes to show that only the “GOPe” cares about not being hypocritic. A “rhetorical steamroller” that ain’t.
And in hopes of preserving their own sense of “normalcy” for themselves, have become willing to toss out many if not most of those very same American elements, or pillars, of society so that their own sense of superficial “normalcy” can be more easily imposed directly. Thus, they toss out the those things that led to, or allowed, their sense of “normalcy” to even exist, and instead try to create a superficial fundamental from their fundamental superficial “normalcy”. They see freedom as the freedom to do wrong and to take liberty with moral virtue, and thus to protect virtue liberty must be curtailed; that this new Post-Conservative Right assume concomitantly that the Left/Uniparty has power, and that eliminating protections against said power is the only thing that can destroy the Left/Uniparty, belies an assumption that their own sense of “normalcy” nearly universally felt when their only proof is that to them it is normal and any dissent must be a tiny minority that can be easily swept aside when the populist revolt is allowed to fight with both fists… as if this Left/Uniparty are but unarmed soyboys ready to collapse like Chinese infrastructure.
For they of the Post-Conservative Right (even those that call themselves “National Conservatives” or “Common Good Conservative”), liberty and virtue are dichotomies and you can not increase one without decreasing the other as if it were a zero-sum game. But it is possible to have the freedom to choose and the wisdom to choose wisely, and both are inseverably part and parcel of America. You can not diminish one without diminishing the other. But for that sake of superficial “normalcy”, they are willing to try.
They reject one of the great accomplishments of America and its Anglo-Saxon inheritance: Placing the rules above the rulers. That in America is is expected for the government to govern under the law rather than for rulers to rule arbitrarily and capriciously over us is seen not as a protection from government tyranny, but an obstacle for them to rule over others in order to prevent their sense of “normalcy” from being desturbed. Why, the “rule of law” is but a sneaky way for those outside normalcy to get away from being crushed which then allows them somehow to crush normalcy despite equal application of the law and the neutrality of the rules—which begs the question of just who the real “soy boys” are.
But still, they reject the rule of law as even being a possibility, and instead declare that some must always rule over others. While in parliamentary governance in the non-American Anglosphere this may be true (much to those countries detriment), it is not true here, no matter how much these new ideologues of the Post-Conservative Right insist that you must either be an Authoritarian or a “soy boy”.
It’s rule or be ruled bros pic.twitter.com/pfvI5MUa0w
— Pedro L. Gonzalez (@emeriticus) November 5, 2022
Some, at least, are admitting that they aren’t conservatives at all! Conservatism doesn’t mean the perpetual preservation of what someone at one point in time decides is “normal”. By that measure no one alive today has conserved anything from the age of the Founders. But some have called for a Post-Conservative idea of “Resorationist”… but are they calling for the “restoration” of Revolutionary Era America? Or are they just calling for a “restoration” of their childhood rose-tinted ideas of “normalcy”?
The otherwise sensible Jon Gabriel wrote that “we” are not longer Conservatives but Restorationists.
“We have conserved a few things — gun rights, red-state economic policies, religious liberty (for now)…
“The right isn’t conserving much but desperately trying to restore our freedom, our family, and our constitutional order.”
As noted above, America has conserved more than a “few thing”, and so far the Conservative Movement has helped to stop the extinguish of those principles and elements that make America… America.
But perhaps your humble author is being to harsh, for it seems that what many anti-Conservative so-called “Restorationists” want isn’t some “reactionary” step-back in time, but rather the conservative keeping of conservative principles.
“We seek not to conserve the role of tradition in our society but to restore tradition to its rightful place.
“Similarly, there are no national borders left to conserve; they must be restored.
“The family is shattered and we must reintroduce this cornerstone of civilization. (That includes gender norms promoted from the dawn of time.)
“Free speech must be placed back in the academy, workplace, and civil society.
“All of this is work. Hard work. As such, it requires all of us to join the effort; neighbors, business leaders, teachers, and our government.”
It’s not the goals, but the tone. “ExJon” assumes that these principles are dead and must be recreated ex nihilo in a so-called “restoration”. But he is wrong. They still exist, even if they are waning. Yes, those words, just as the words from those linked above, appeal to those who just noticed the thinning of America’s ablative moral armor… but know no further.
Some, however, are very explicit in their hatred for Conservatism. They declare it a failure and demand a “new political identity” based in “revolution”… that their revolution is more French based then American is telling. Case in point:
“But any honest appraisal of our situation today renders such a definition absurd. After all, what have conservatives succeeded in conserving? In just my lifetime, they have lost much: marriage as it has been understood for thousands of years, the First Amendment, any semblance of control over our borders, a fundamental distinction between men and women, and, especially of late, the basic rule of law.”
Spoiler: Europe is far more advanced in Leftism, and ignores the fundamental difference between America and Europe. Europe has largely embraced Leftist ideology far more than America has. Just look above to see that they have long rejected any semblance of First Amendment rights or even the rule of law beyond the law of the rulers.
“Calling oneself a conservative in today’s political climate would be like saying one is a conservative because one wants to preserve the medieval European traditions of arranged marriage and trial by combat. Whatever the merits of those practices, you cannot preserve or defend something that is dead. Perhaps you can retain a memory of it or knowledge of it. But that is not what conservatism was purportedly about. It was about maintaining traditions and preserving Western civilization as a living and vibrant thing.”
Ironic, then, since that sense of “normalcy” is exactly what motivated the believers in this schtick.
And yet again, these Post-Conservatives embrace statist power that they envision themselves holding—and never to be on the receiving end—to force businesses to bake the Post-Conservative cake while disengaging from the world to hide in their “safe space” of “normalcy”.
“To be sure, there has been plenty of talk on the right lately about what should be done differently now. Some, such as Sohrab Ahmari, Gladden Pappin, and Adrian Vermeule (along with a larger cohort of conservative Catholic thinkers), advocate a conservatism that is comfortable with big government and in fact sees it as necessary not only for the common good but to tame what Ahmari recently called the “private tyranny” of woke corporations empowered by unrestrained market forces. Conservative Catholics, he argues, should today claim ownership of a pro-worker, even pro-union political agenda that once belonged to the left, and which produced generations of Democrat-voting Catholic workers.
“Indeed, a willingness to embrace government power has been a topic of fruitful debate on the ‘New Right’ in recent years, as it should be. However uncomfortable traditional ‘small-government’ conservatives might be with Ahmari’s argument, it is more or less true.
“To stop Big Tech, for example, will require using antitrust powers to break up the largest Silicon Valley firms. To stop universities from spreading poisonous ideologies will require state legislatures to starve them of public funds. To stop the disintegration of the family might require reversing the travesty of no-fault divorce, combined with generous subsidies for families with small children. Conservatives need not shy away from making these arguments because they betray some cherished libertarian fantasy about free markets and small government. It is time to clear our minds of cant.”
There is that assumption that their “normalcy” is everyone else’s “normalcy”. They fantasize about abolishing no-fault divorce by force yet don’t question if they’d have the popular support to impose that! It is cerebral onanism of the most ridiculous kind. And by empowering government to impose such things, they empower government to impose on them when their enemies desire, for their enemies are in a position of power and influence while they are not. Actually getting power and influence is hard work and would take much time, something that these fantacists don’t seem to want to bother with because they want their “normalcy” now—and it’s easier to blame some small cabal of “Conservative Inc.” than to actually effect change.
“In a recent essay for Compact, Jon Askonas argues convincingly that the conservative project failed because ‘it didn’t take into account the revolutionary principle of technology, and its intrinsic connection to the telos of sheer profit.’ Conservatives, he says, were too obsessed with ‘left-wing revolutionary politics’ and missed the real threat, which was technological change so swift and powerful it fundamentally reordered society, swept tradition aside, and unleashed a moral relativism that rendered the conservative project obsolete.”
I’m sure the author would nod in agreement with Karl Marx, but in reality technology didn’t cause Marxist problems any more than them.
Perhaps most telling is the fact that some who claim to support America just drop on their knees in support of some European.
“Although in many countries around the world, liberal political views are dominant, some nations in Eastern Europe have notably resisted the left-wing ideology. One of the most criticized among the latter is Hungary.
“The Hungarian government stands for national sovereignty and conservative values among the world’s nations.”
What does one mean by “conservative values”?
If by “Hungarian Values”, then that might be worthy… but Hungarian, or any other European values aren’t very American… are they. It is as if they don’t even know what makes America unique and special compared to Europe—a rejection of that critical looks at America and instead focusing on making America Europe again.
If you believe in America, then shouldn’t at least a modicum of doubt against this European nonsense be employed?
Is not, then, the Post-Conservative Right in America just the Post-American Right?
At the least, do try to define your terms.