Before I begin, I think I should warn you that my evaluation is not particularly encouraging. You may prefer to skip it.
There is a visible current of despair throughout traditionalist and reactionary thought, at least for the last half-century if not longer. I am not using the word “conservative” because there are too many different varieties of conservative, and many of the people who go by that name do not share the despair of more traditional conservatives. Rush Limbaugh assures his listeners that we can and will reclaim America and make it back the way it was, and points to the increasing absurdity of leftist behavior as evidence. I do respect Mr. Limbaugh a great deal, but he is missing the point. The Left is behaving and speaking so absurdly because they are powerful enough to get away with it. It is also, probably, a way of humiliating the ordinary Americans who must endure the consequences of the Left’s follies. I wouldn’t be surprised if the animal-liberation wing of the Left elected a horse to the Senate.
Similarly, a conservative friend of mine, a highly intelligent churchgoer and staunch Republican, replied to my outburst of despair at our most recent election by saying dismissively that “all” we have to do is elect another Reagan, who will fix everything. Now, I admire Reagan greatly. But domestically, he only had two substantive achievements: he renewed American optimism, and he somewhat rolled back the socialist measures of previous decades. Now those measures have regained the ground he cost them and claimed considerably more. Meanwhile, he was able to do nothing about abortion, no-fault divorce, drugs, excessive immigration, or judicial activism. Mainstream Republicans, who believe that we can rebuild the society progressives have destroyed via a ballot box, are simply naive, there is no way around it. The most they can achieve – and it is not to be sneezed at – is to slow down the Left’s rapacious progress with their stolid resistance. (In this, their naivete may even be useful.)
For the less sanguine among us, the theme comes up over and again in our magazines, blogs, and books: What in God’s name are we going to do?
The profferred answers are unsatisfying. Often they consist of “don’t let them shame you into keeping silent”. But in this era, saying what you think can get you expelled, fired, sued, and in Europe or Canada, imprisoned. Why do you think I’m posting as Cassandra Goldman instead of under my real name?
A couple of commenters in assorted blog threads I’ve followed have tried to find a silver lining in the current financial situation, hoping that with enough poverty, the regime will collapse and we can presumably start over with a conservative or libertarian government. But that wasn’t the result of economic disaster in Russia, Germany, or even America.
Whenever I hear my fellow reactionaries speculating about how we might turn back the tide of progressivism, I find myself thinking of Bertie Wooster’s Uncle Tom. “But he’s just had a demand from the income-tax people for an additional fifty-eight pounds, one and threepence, and all he’s been talking about since I got back has been ruin and the sinister trend of socialistic legislation and what will become of us all,” his wife, Bertie’s Aunt Dahlia, mourned. Later, when the gifted French chef gave notice, he hid “in the study with his face buried in his hands, muttering about civilization and melting pots.” In the delightful television version, when one of his guests crept downstairs for a midnight snack, he was certain it was the Bolsheviks come to murder the aristocracy in their beds and charged out of bed with his hunting rifle. (This especially lingers in my mind because I identify with it, except that I do not have a moustache, and I only have a pistol.)
Uncle Tom knew it was coming, as did many members of his class. They had the money and the power, but they were not able to prevent the social revolutions which led to their great-grandsons becoming tattooed drug users demonstrating against those who would stop the crimes of Muslim immigrants and their great-granddaughters becoming strumpets who dump their great-great-grandchildren in day care centers while they waste their days in offices with jobs they got through the threat of litigation.
We have been trying to stem the tide of progressivism since it began. We burned Lutherans at the stake, but their faith and its offshoots spread nonetheless and fundamentally changed the political and philosophical makeup of Europe, and subsequently of America. Protestantism has yielded many good things, but progressivism is its mutant spawn. (I do not know of any compact essay detailing how Protestant Christianity gave birth to this bastard, but if you keep reading Unqualified Reservations, you’ll start to see it. According to Brussels Journal, Hawthorne’s prophetic The Blithedale Romance shows an understanding of this, but I have not yet read the book.) We spent a whole century trying to beat back communism, even allying with fascists against it. The Evil Empire fell, but in America, income tax takes a third of everyone’s income. In Europe, the theft is even greater. Then there’s the ever-escalating amount of regulation we have to deal with. Many Americans have pointed out that our ancestors went to war in 1776 over a degree of government regulation which today would seem nonexistent. In short, the first socialist empire fell, but socialism is alive and well.
People opposed the New Deal. For that matter, people opposed the Square Deal. People opposed the social havoc now summarized as “the 60’s”. All to no avail.
Not once in history has progressivism ever been successfully turned back. At most, it can be delayed, buying a decent life for another decade or so.
If you read this blog, you probably follow most of the same websites that I do. If so, then news-wise, you are probably on the same page as I. And you will probably agree with me that we are just about out of delays.
Our civilization – Western civilization – is dying. It is highly unlikely that it will be revived. The cancer which is destroying it has weathered massive wars, revolutions, plagues, and depressions. It has only continued to spread.
But civilizations have come and gone before. Plato predicted our present situation with eerie accuracy. When this one is finished collapsing, another will rise.
Nonetheless, we have to continue pondering how to seize our civilization back.
Two reasons that we cannot simply resign ourselves to waiting for the next cycle, not that the next is likely to surface during the lifetimes of anyone currently alive.
One, with modern technology, specifically in the areas of spying and weaponry, a tyranny could conceivably last for a very long time. Even half a century ago, dissidents could at least flee to some faraway shore. In the age of the jet and the UN, there is, in effect, no such thing as a faraway shore.
Two, if we do not revive Western civilization, then the next civilization will not be a Western one. It will be Indian or Chinese or something. Call me provincial, but I value the unique attributes of Western civilization and think that the world will be a far poorer place without them.
In short, do not cease your trips to the drawing board. We must continue to strive to comprehend what has been done to our culture. We must strive to amass what financial and political clout we can. We must continue to look for a way to reclaim our countries.
Unfortunately, I suspect that the best we can hope for is to step up and offer strong moral guidance when things have truly fallen apart, as they did, for example, during the so-called Dark Ages of Europe. If that is so, then we must be prepared. Most of all, we ourselves must not forget what we stand for.