Tag Archives: conservatism

When Libertarians Attack!

The enemy of liberty has been found. Now it’s only a matter of exposing the monster for what it is, and it shall die from humiliation.

That monster is — conservatism.

It seems conservatism is an ideology, like communism or Nazism, that demands a powerful, centralized government, a police state, regulation over every aspect of an individual’s life, and a militaristic foreign policy.

Or so says libertarian author and blogger Tom Mullen. His book Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? claims to expose conservatism as the ugly and vicious love-child of those ancient apologists for despots, Thomas Hobbes and Edmund Burke.

Wait, what? Edmund Burke?

It takes only a cursory look at Mullen’s assertions to see just how sloppy and poorly researched they are. In doing so, I will let conservatives define conservatives, rather than libertarians. Seems only fair.

First, let’s consider how ludicrous it is to claim conservatism was co-founded by Thomas Hobbes and Edmund Burke. In fact, Hobbes belonged to a camp of political science that was directly opposed to Burke’s. Hobbes was a rationalist philosopher. Rationalists, as Michael Spicer explains in The Founders, The Constitution, and Public Administration: A Conflict in World Views, view human reason as sovereign. Reason, say the rationalists, is the ultimate authority on how humans should conduct themselves and organize society. Rationalists believe man can perfect himself and create utopia on earth. Because reason is the same everywhere, its principles apply to all peoples. Spicer observes that “rationalists distrust ideas derived from customs and traditions,” and therefore customs and traditions “are seen as impediments to obtaining true knowledge and must be swept aside.”

That’s why rationalist philosophers look to violence, whether by revolution or state-sanctioned force, to sweep out those musty old traditions that impede their programs.

Edmund Burke, on the other hand, was an anti-rationalist. As Spicer explains in his book, anti-rationalists do not believe human nature can be perfected. Instead, anti-rationalists “see the world, particularly the world of human affairs, as simply too complex and hence too unpredictable for any one mind, however wise, to comprehend and control.” For that reason, anti-rationalist philosophers look to established customs, traditions, and institutions as the most reliable guides to human conduct.

I cannot improve on this summary of Burke’s thought from the Edmund Burke Institute:

Burke is commonly regarded as the founder of modern conservatism. In his speeches and writings, he articulated the concept of an organic society: a social order that is sacred, natural, historical and traditional. He believed that social change was best achieved when eschewing abstract thought divorced from experience; instead, he favored renewal of the polity in harmony with a regard for individual liberty, respect for the accumulated wisdom within existing institutions and a concern for the greater good of the community. His political theory can best be summarized by his most famous phrase: “Society is a contract between the past, the present and those yet unborn.”

Traditional, organic society, then, is the foundation of order. Russell Kirk argued that traditional society is the only — the ONLY — source of our rules for mutual interaction — in other words, our rights:

Traditions are not abstractions; they are particular beliefs and customs closely related to private life and faith. The American Republic has its traditions, and so has the Cambodian Kingdom; but traditions are not created by political authority, and ought not to be debased into party slogans.

Only for the past century and a half has the word “tradition” been employed to signify “ancient customs” or “established habits of life in society.” Edmund Burke, for instance, writing in the last years of the eighteenth century, used the word “prescription” to convey these meanings, rather than the word “tradition.”

When we speak of tradition in America, then, generally we mean prescriptive social habits, prejudices, customs, and political usages which most people accept with little question, as an intellectual legacy from their ancestors.

The stable of rationalist philosophers includes Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Dewey, and Irving Kristol. Rationalists believe in the sovereign individual, whose chief concern is economic, and from that assumption, they derive their advocacy of the unitary, consolidated state; open borders; economic globalization; and the eradication of all traditional restraints on individual choice.

Among the notable anti-rationalists are David Hume, Adam Smith, and Joseph de Maistre. Anti-rationalists believe in the social nature of man, whose chief concern is the preservation and well-being of one’s culture, and from that foundation, they argue for small, culturally based political units; mediating institutions, such as families, churches, and voluntary associations to shelter and nurture the isolated individual; border security to insure demographic continuity; economic nationalism to protect jobs; and respect for traditional morality, which strengthens families and communities.

Mullen’s sloppiness is most apparent — and grating — in his conflation of neoconservatives and conservatives. Neoconservatives, despite their misleading name, are rationalists who view America as a “creedal nation” rather than a nation founded on Western traditions. Neocons base their ideology on Trotsky’s strategy of the “permanent revolution,” which called for supporting socialism in other countries to protect socialism in the USSR. So when Neocon handpuppet George W. Bush launched his US-led “global democratic revolution” beginning with Iraq, he argued that exporting democracy would help protect democracy in the US. When real conservatives, such as Pat Buchanan, Charley Reese, and Sam Francis aired their objections to Bush’s crusade, National Review’s David Frum denounced them as “unpatriotic conservatives.” Nevertheless, Mullen equates “militarism” as a defining conservative value.

There’s also an amusing aspect of Mullen’s intellectual confusion. On the basis of a few quotes, Mullen claims Edmund Burke fundamentally agreed with Thomas Hobbes, despite Burke’s radically different politics. While Burke believed in an organic society, Hobbes argued that man is not a social animal. Hobbes even went so far as to claim that society could not exist without a powerful government. The foundation of conservatism is that culture precedes government. Despite this breathtaking contradiction, Mullen frequently (obsessively?) uses Hobbes to discredit conservatism. Yet, Mullen applauds John Locke as one of the good guys, despite Locke’s frequent citation of Hobbes and partial agreement with him.

Why is this important? If we are to defend liberty, we have to understand where it came from, how it can be preserved, and what threatens it. Today we are faced with an out-of-control and self-serving central government that is busily importing a compliant Third-World population. Libertarians such as Mullen claim to defend liberty, but vocally support open borders and economic globalism, the same double-edged sword the ruling elite wields against us, its subjects. Without a Western majority, we cannot hope to preserve Western standards of behavior and governance.

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News Flash: We’ve Been Betrayed by Establishment Conservatives

As Paul Gottfried pointed out recently, “No one on the Left sounds as unhinged as ‘conservative’ journalists like Max Boot (Furling the Confederate flag is just the start). Or for that matter, Jeff Jacoby (The Confederate flag is anti-American).” And Gottfried is right – it’s not just Establishment Conservatives in the media who are attacking their own base – the most shrill, hysterical slander against Southern heritage has come from “conservative” Republicans in office. For example, here’s Gottfried again in a piece entitled “The NeoCons’ Confederate Problem.” And if you have the stomach for it, watch Republican Jenny Horne screech that the “symbol of hate” flying on the South Carolina capital grounds MUST be removed:

The mania against all things Southern has made a lot of folks realize they have no representation in government. Elected officials who claim to be conservatives actually represent no one but the powers that be. We’ve been stabbed in the back too many times, whether it’s been the issue of same-sex “marriage,” abortion, amnesty for illegal aliens, Muslim immigration to this country, citizen surveillance, you name it, and we, the people, are always on the losing end.

A little witticism has popped up online in response. Establishment Conservatives are ridiculed as “cuckservatives.” The term blends the word “cuckold,” a man who’s faithful to his unfaithful wife, with “conservative.” Like all good political jokes, it serves up the truth with a side dish of humor. “Cuckservatives” may claim to represent conservatism, but actually advance leftist and Establishment interests because they have embraced the leftist worldview.

Is the term fitting? Consider this: What do authoritarian leftists do when challenged? They do not debate, but attack, and their go-to position is that only a racist, white supremacist, neo-nazi would DARE question their noble agenda. The most extreme example would be the “anti-racist” thugs who physically attack those who fail to think correctly. The more “respectable” leftists do the same thing, only without the gutter language. For example, here’s Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center slamming Pat Buchanan. At 1:45 into this video, Beirich says: “Neocons for the most part in white-supremacist circles are identified as Jews. So it’s actually an expression of anti-Semitism when he has material like that about Neocons. It comes from his right-wing, crazy, anti-Semitic views.”

Compare that language to that used by the so-called “conservative” Ace of Spades: “The word “#cuckservative” is being used as a banner-of-convenience by a conglomeration of several types of people, who range from what I’d call mere nativists to actual, hard-core, Nazi-flag-in-their-twitter profile white supremacists.”

Robert Stacy McCain, another Establishment Conservative, uses the same terms in his slam against the #Cuckservative revolt: “Thus, also, you don’t necessarily have to like Jews or be pro-Israel to be my friend. But if you start making noises about “international bankers” or “neocons” or otherwise signaling to me that you have a paranoid hostility toward Jews — what I call conspiratorial anti-semitism — well, no, I can’t hang with that.” And just to rub a little more salt into the wound, McCain’s assistant blogger, Wombat-socho, bragged the next day that he’d banned several commenters on the McCain blog, in effect, repelling what he called a “flood of racist/white nationalist/Nazi idiots.”

As a recent Washington Post article on this growing movement has noted, “‘#Cuckservative’ is a full-scale revolt.” For those who have had enough betrayal, and are sick and tired of always losing because we trusted Republican politicians, the “#Cuckservative” meme is at least a start.

Hold Open The Gates!!

In last week’s Amconmag article “The Neoconservative Cursus Honorum, Phillip Giraldi reverse-engineers the system that the neoconservatives used to subvert the Right:

“If one looks at the careers of 30 well-known neoconservatives, one notes that there are a number of stops that pop up on many of the resumes, a progression that might well be described as something like a cursus honorum whereby the neoconservative aspirant is afforded status and credibility before stepping out onto the national or international stage.”

More specifically:

“…starting out in elite academia and then bouncing from position to position inside and outside the government, aided at every step by others in the movement. The neoconservatives benefit particularly from their ownership of a number of foundations and institutes, the aforementioned alphabet soup, that provide resting places between university and government positions, complete with salaries and important-sounding titles. Many also are provided with lucrative opportunities in the private sector that free them to subsequently concentrate on the true task at hand, which is shaping U.S. foreign policy.”

In a fascinating juxtaposition, Jim Antle last week wrote about the declining power of the few remaining foreign policy realists in his Amconmag blogpost “Is James Baker Too Realist for the Republican Party?”:

“The GOP’s most hawkish national-security hands want to maintain a monopoly on foreign-policy advice for Republican presidents and other elected officials. As the James Bakers age out of government service, they don’t want any younger realists trying to replace him in the GOP.”

Meanwhile, we Paleoconservatives have been almost completely exiled from all spheres of political power. Now that the same is happening to those in the “realist” camp, the neoconservatives have nearly completed their chain of impregnable ziggurats from which they can hatch their plots in safety and comfort.

A major theme expressed here in the Conservative Heritage Times has been the necessity of building a Paleoconservative “bench team”, and several posts have decried the lack of Paleoconservatives with “plausible resumes” who can lead our movement.

I have been back and forth on Rand Paul, but this is the pro-Rand line of reasoning I find most compelling. His victory, or even a strong showing, holds back the day we are irrevocably exiled from all power. Again, Jim Antle:

“The bigger the Paul vote is, the more likely a Republican candidate not named Paul will covet it. This is especially true since there was a large presidential vote for the Libertarian Party in 2012. There are a few GOP candidates whose foreign-policy views are largely unformed, with Scott Walker and John Kasich being two of the best examples. Mitt Romney is a known panderer not bound by past positions who got along well socially with Ron Paul.

It’s also necessary to diversify the set of foreign-policy advisers available to future Republican presidents. Even if a Walker or Kasich gets elected, the qualified professionals they’ll have to choose from when gaining national-security counsel will be almost uniformly hawkish. A Rand campaign can bring more realists and libertarians into party circles.”

In fact, one realistic and attainable goal is the possibility I heard the other day…. a strong Rand Paul showing, coupled with an early primary exit, sets the stage for a Walker/Paul ticket.

If that could mean the gates are held open for a few of our favorite Paleoconservatives to get White House experience- quietly building a bench team, building plausible resumes- then it is well worth pursuing.

How ‘bout a Little Bourbon with Your Philosophy?

Over at the Abbeville Review, John Devanny offers a highly readable and invaluable introduction to the South, the predominant attitudes and values that define it, and how it is changing. Underneath the various changes occurring before our eyes, says Devanny, we can still see the essence that makes the South what it is:

The Southerner was, and a number of them still are, philosophical realists (or as Flannery O’Connor might have said, “hillbilly Thomists”). That is why the natural world was so important to the Southern way of life. The world was real, not a play-ground for the abstractions of secular Puritans or neo-Platonic fantastics. The hillbilly Thomist conforms his mind to reality, seeks to improve what can be improved, ameliorate what can be ameliorated, and endure what cannot be changed. He embraces reality, not virtual reality. We need more hillbilly Thomists.

As Stark Young observed in I’ll Take My Stand, “That a change is now in course all over the South is plain; and it is as plain that the South changing must be the South still, remembering that for no thing can there be any completeness that is outside its own nature.” That was true in 1930 and it is true today. As our Southern grandparents would advise us, “Deal with it.”

This short and information-packed article is as encouraging as it is informative. Highly recommended.

The Conservative Versus the Universe

As a counterpunch to left-wing science fiction writer China Miéville’s list of Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels for socialists, Samuel Goldman of The American Conservative penned “10 Sci Fi and Fantasy Works Every Conservative Should Read.” As Goldman explained, “I’m not suggesting that these books express conservative views as such. But they do raise questions for conservatives or develop ideas from which conservatives can learn.”

Goldman listed Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories as number seven. Following close behind was H.P. Lovecraft, particularly the “Cthulhu cycle” of stories. Lovecraft, as Goldman reminded us in his article, was Howard’s friend and mentor “who believed society had to be defended from the eternal danger of barbarism.”

The questions these writers raised have never been more urgent for conservatives. Both Howard and Lovecraft saw civilization and order as not only fragile but necessarily short-lived. In the fictional worlds these imaginative writers created, the values and beliefs that made life possible had to be defended against forces of chaos that inevitably had the upper hand. What counted was the protagonist’s resolve and dedication.

Lovecraft was a literary and financial failure in life, though in the 1960s and 70s, both conservative and counter-culture fans rediscovered him. Jorge Luis Borges, Umberto Eco, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, and French novelist Michel Houellebecq have all credited Lovecraft as a decisive thematic and stylistic (if not philosophical) influence. Lovecraft was the late Sam Francis’ favorite author.

A bright and sensitive child whose parents died in the same insane asylum, Howard Lovecraft early on came to see the civilization around him as decadent and fated to give way to the forces of chaos. He agreed with Oswald Spengler that Western civilization was declining. On page 228 of Lovecraft’s Selected Letters he admitted:

It would be better if we could still be naive, beauty-loving, and ignorant — yet we cannot turn the clock back. Memphis and Nineveh, Babylon and Persepolis, Carthage and Ctesiphon, Athens and Lacedaemon, Rome and Alexandria, Antioch and Tyre — all these have had their day and their sunset; their grandeur and their fall. In the face of such a pageant of history it would be folly to expect anything else of the existing civilisation. This age in America corresponds quite startlingly to the luxurious and disillusioned age of Antonines in the Roman Empire — when Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Athens and New Carthage blazed in the sunset that was to mark the death of the ancient world.

Like Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard acquired his fatalistic view of the universe and civilization as a youngster. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian was a fierce but somewhat naive, and stubbornly principled outsider who had little patience with the soft and decadent city dwellers he often had to rescue. Conan’s attitude toward “civilization” and “progress” reflected Howard’s own views, formed by Howard’s childhood travels in the oil boomtowns his father served as a doctor in the half-wild Texas backcountry of the early 1900s. The saloons, oil wildcatters, and unscrupulous businessmen the young Howard encountered instilled in him the image of the city as a breeding ground of enervating luxury, corruption, and degeneracy.

Despite Lovecraft’s and Howard’s pessimism, both upheld personal codes of conduct they clearly believed as essential for their personal honor and sanity, as well as for the good of those they cared about. Conan was always quick to take up the cause of the weak and the unfortunate. A lady in distress would find not just a champion in the rough barbarian, but a hot-headed and passionate lover as well. To his comrades, Conan would remain fiercely loyal despite the perils. In Queen of the Black Coast, Conan lost his patience with a judge who demanded Conan testify against a comrade in arms:

“Well, last night in a tavern, a captain in the king’s guard offered violence to the sweetheart of a young soldier, who naturally ran him through. But it seems there is some cursed law against killing guardsmen, and the boy and his girl fled away. It was bruited about that I was seen with them, and so today I was haled into court, and a judge asked me where the lad had gone. I replied that since he was a friend of mine, I could not betray him. Then the court waxed wrath, and the judge talked a great deal about my duty to the state, and society, and other things I did not understand, and bade me tell where my friend had flown. By this time I was becoming wrathful myself, for I had explained my position.

“But I choked my ire and held my peace, and the judge squalled that I had shown contempt for the court, and that I should be hurled into a dungeon to rot until I betrayed my friend. So then, seeing they were all mad, I drew my sword and cleft the judge’s skull; then I cut my way out of the court, and seeing the high constable’s stallion tied near by, I rode for the wharfs, where I thought to find a ship bound for foreign parts.”

And thus began yet another adventure.

Similarly, Lovecraft’s protagonists confronted madness and evil as a result of what often began as misguided friendship, idle curiosity, or even scholarly pursuit. Their struggles, however, were always doomed from the start. In one of Howard’s best tales, The Shadow over Innsmouth, the intrepid and resourceful protagonist managed to evade an entire town of half-amphibian, half-human monsters, only to discover at the end of the tale that he was one of them. Again, the forces of darkness and chaos proved inescapable.

Despite his fatalistic view of life, Lovecraft, like Howard, believed that a man must uphold certain standards, for his own sake and for others. On page 111 of his Letters, Howard made this explicit:

Surely it is well that the happiness of the unfortunate be made as great as possible; and he who is kind, helpful, and patient, with his fellow-sufferers, adds as truly to the world’s combined fund of tranquility as he who, with greater endowments, promotes the birth of empires, or advances the knowledge and civilization of mankind. Thus no man of philosophical cast, however circumscribed by poverty or retarded by ailment, need feel himself superfluous so long as he holds the power to improve the spirits of others.

As Samuel Goldman cautioned in his list for conservatives, Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft may not have imparted conservative views in their highly readable and often disturbing fiction, but certainly raised issues every modern-day conservative must confront.

M. C. Tuggle is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina. His fantasy, sci-fi, and literary stories have been featured in Kzine, Bewildering Stories, Mystic Signals, Fabula Argentea, and Fiction 365. He has also published articles and opinion pieces in American Spectator, Taki’s Magazine, and Lew Rockwell. His latest novella, Aztec Midnight, has just been published by The Novel Fox