The newspapers shout a new style is growing. But it don’t know if it’s coming or going. There is fashion, there is fad. Some is good, some is bad. And the joke is rather sad. That it’s all just a little bit of history repeating!
– Alex Gifford (as performed by the Propellerheads and Shirley Bassey)
While it is true that the political landscape has changed drastically over the last 30 years, not every change has been for the better, a fact that many on the right are painfully aware of. Every generation births its own clutch of dreamers and philosophers, dedicating their lives pursuing their generation’s zeitgeist philosophy, flailing impotently under the crushing weight of reality, and finally fading into obscurity, overshadowed by the next generation’s philosophical Holy Grail.
Human history is rife with examples of these futile attempts to create a “perfect society” from the fetid clay of human frailty, causing entire civilizations to rise and fall chasing rainbows. If it sounds like we’re talking about Progressivism, we’re not, at least not specifically. Sure, Progressivism is just an overripe crackpot theory that, through an alchemy of taxation, spending, and social engineering, government can turn the brute stuff of humanity into purest gold. Anyone with half a brain understands that Progressivism is an ideological fool’s errand.
However, before some poor Progressive works himself into an aneurysm to argue a point that wasn’t made here, let’s be very clear that we’re actually not talking about Progressivism. No, today we’re talking about the dreadful state of the American right, because, at this point, it’s pretty clear to anyone without serious brain damage that something has gone fantastically wrong both culturally and politically on the right. If there’s any hope to rehabilitate Conservatism, then we have got to get back to basics.
“I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations in examples of justice and liberality.”
– George Washington
So let’s start with the most basic political question: what is the goal of our political philosophy? Isn’t it to establish a society that is good and not evil? It seems self evident that a majority of Americans, right or left, believe that the goal of government should be to establish a “good society“, whatever that may look like, so let’s accept the premise that the goal of our political philosophy (Conservatism) is establishing a good society. So the next obvious question is “What exactly does a good society look like?“
An answer developed from the classical American position looks like this: the good society is one that is simultaneously free (not coerced by society), egalitarian (individuals are treated as equals), and liberal (individual rights are enshrined by law). Hence, a society that is free and egalitarian but not liberal is unjust (not good), a society that is free and liberal but not egalitarian necessarily has underclasses (not good), and a society that is egalitarian and liberal but not free is tyrannical (not good).
It can be established beyond controversy that the Founding Fathers believed (albeit imperfectly) that the goal of the American experiment was to create a society that is simultaneously free, egalitarian, and liberal, so American conservatives, if they at all value the highest ideals of the Founding, cannot rationally argue for any other definition of what constitutes a good society. The only remaining question is who ought benefit from this good society?
As mankind become more liberal they will be more apt to allow, that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the Community are equally entitled to the protection of civil Government.
– George Washington
Sadly, there are many on the right questioning the inclusiveness of the good society paradigm. Nationalists argue the good society should apply only to Americans, not to foreigners. The establishment elite argue the good society should apply only to the wealthy, not the poor. There are even Evangelicals who argue the good society should apply only to other Christians but not to nonbelievers. And then there are the white racists who still argue the good society should apply only to “whites”, not minorities.
This, of course, isn’t to say that all of these various constituencies are homogeneous, and thus representative of a single political bloc, though there is a troubling amount of overlapping. They really are distinct political movements, even if they share members. What is concerning, however, is that all of these groups are openly advocating to exclude individuals from the good society, and there is a word for exactly such a political paradigm. It’s Evil.
There was a time when I believed, as did undoubtedly many of my readers, that the American right was “a good society for everyone“. Imperfect as they may have been, the Founding Fathers wrote and spoke extensively about the universality of freedom, of egalitarianism, and of liberalism, not simply as a construction of society, but as a human entitlement, reserved not just to Americans, but to all of humanity. This principle echoes throughout the Declaration of Independence, in the Constitution, and in their many letters and speeches.
I will deliver you into the hands of those who want to kill you, those you fear–Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the Babylonians.
– Jeremiah 22:25
The dividing line between a patriot and a Tory was drawn by the Founding Fathers. On one side were those who believed in a free, egalitarian, and liberal good society. On the other side were those who believed in a society that was free so long as the government said it was free, egalitarian in every way except for all the lords and the royalty, and liberal until one ran afoul of the aristocracy. Though the names have changed over the years, patriots still believe in a free, egalitarian, and liberal good society, and Conservatism is the preservation of that patriot ideal.
It is painfully clear that the American right, for reasons of fear, of spite, and of wrath, has abandoned the conservative patriot ideal of the good society. “That time“, they say, “is passed.” Really? The dividing line between the American left and the American right was once on the issue of the nature of the good society, and no patriot of true character who believes in the objective virtue of the good society can at the same time believe that that virtue is objective and, at the same time, past.
Those who would force their countrymen to bend a knee to the political establishment, to the corrupt president, to the politicized church, or to the white majority are no better than those who would force their countrymen to bend a knee to the nanny state. As a patriot I will bend my knee to no Earthly authority. As a patriot and as a conservative, I assert that these Earthly authorities have tried to usurp the freedom, equality, and liberties granted not by the State but by God, and, in doing so, they have transgressed on the Natural Order.
Betraying the Natural Order, these people have made themselves enemies of the God that died for the sins of ALL MANKIND, not only for the rich, not only for the powerful, not for the puritanical hypocrites, and not only for the European heathens. Everyone. Every American shall be judged along with the rest of the world on how well we pursued the good society. I shall never tire of pursuing the good society.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
– John 3:16
Liberty is For The Win!