You are here

Practical politics

A proposal for Dar-ul-Isa

La Civilt� Cattolica, the semi-official Vatican magazine, has published an important article on Christians in Islamic Countries that points out a truth that recently has dared not speak its name: Islam is an aggressive religion that aims at the acquisition of universal dominion by force and oppresses Christians (and others) who live in Islamic lands.

Those who claim to know better object to such categorical statements on grounds of antiessentialism—there is no “Islam,” there are only many islams. If you take such objections seriously, general terms can never mean anything and discussion and thought become impossible. The practical effect, since ordinary reason is inapplicable, is that no one is allowed to think anything except what certified experts tell him to think. The effect of antiessentialism, like all current academic theories, is thus to strengthen the rule of the managerial liberal expertocracy by making it logically beyond attack.


Is conservatism winning or losing badly?

Conservatives can be divided into (1) pessimists, who think the trend is down, down, down, and (1) optimists, who think things aren’t so bad. The pessimists point to things like Grutter, Lawrence, and the business-as-usual attitude of most mainstream conservatives to those decisions. The optimists point to things like practical limitations on the power of government, the increasing availability of conservative outlets, and what they see as decisive victories on some issues.

To discuss the question in a more focused way requires an idea what would constitute success. Here’s a proposal I made to a conservative discussion group:


The cult of expertise

An oddity of modern life is that experts run everything, nothing they do works, and obvious repeated failure makes no difference. Education and liturgy are everyday examples. Students learn nothing and act badly, people abandon the mass and faith, but no matter how bad things get nothing can be done. After all, the responsible way to deal with problems is to consult the experts, and the experts certainly aren’t going to make themselves the issue, so nothing can happen. The problem touches on basic philosophical questions. Today people regard formal objectivity, and not loyalty, tradition or faith, as the proper final standard for thought and action. That may seem rational, but it means people are stuck with whatever the experts tell them, no matter how mindless, because formal institutional objectivity requires them to treat expertise as knowledge. What grounds could they have for doing otherwise?


The karate-chop approach to political discussion

As many have observed, liberalism creates a sort of inverted reality in which everything is the opposite of what is claimed:

  • “Celebrating cultures” means abolishing culture, since no culture is allowed the public authority it needs to exist.
  • “Avoidance of absolutes” means forbidding mention of anything liberalism can’t comfortably deal with, thereby making liberalism itself absolute.
  • “Diversity and tolerance” mean everyone has to toe the line on the thing liberals care most about—the decision as to what to allow into public life—and treat everything else as strictly a matter of private taste.

Quid sit neoconservatism?

“Neoconservatism” is a contentious term, but it’s useful as a description of a movement that attempts to moderate and so stabilize liberal modernity. In particular, neoconservatism accepts both the modern aspiration to reform all things and bring them in line with clear universal principles, and the liberal choice of freedom, equality and efficiency as the principles that are to be made authoritative.


The red and the blue

What’s the difference between the red and blue states? Here are some answers: Our Secularist Democratic Party (from The Public Interest), and The “morality gap” is becoming the key variable in American politics (from The Atlantic Monthly).


Why is the Left groovy?

I ran into a discussion of “why leftism” over at that was interesting because it dealt with the problem of the attractiveness of the Left. The discussion ended by proposing that the Right

“Claim art, claim food, claim pleasure, claim generosity.”

My response:

Good idea, but one that’s hard to carry out.

Universal radicalism

Signs that things are the same everywhere: Nude Performance Artist Shocks Conservative Chile and Japanese Activists Hail Ruling on Transgender Sacking. The news reports can’t be relied upon, of course, but it appears there is no serious, sustained and effective opposition to such things anywhere.


What is to be done II

What to do? There’s plenty for right-wingers to complain about but solutions are notoriously scarce. A couple of days ago I put up a piece with some suggestions. Here are some others that friends have put forward:

  • Live well yourself. Traditionalist conservatives claim they know about a way of life that’s better than what liberalism has to offer. So live it and the world will follow you. Reject the lie and the truth will triumph. Direct action lives!

What is to be done?

So what does a traditionalist conservative do when he becomes convinced that public life is proceeding on fundamentally bad principles? The usual resources of the extremist are unavailable to him, because traditionalism is adverse to dogmatism, conspiracy theories and cure-alls. On the other hand, he can no longer participate in what passes for the mainstream. The following, extracted from a longer piece I wrote, outlines one possiblity:


More on complaints about liberal tyranny

A liberal might object that my complaints about liberal intolerance and tyranny are really only complaints that liberalism is the political outlook on which Western institutions are now based. As such, it does what any dominant outlook does: it defines itself as truth and other outlooks as deceit, malice or ignorance, and then acts accordingly. What’s unusual about liberalism, he might continue, is not that it finds ways of suppressing other views but that the methods it uses are so gentle.

I suppose I’d respond to such an objection in two ways. My first point would be that there’s nothing unusually good about the ways in which liberalism maintains its dominance. The Spanish Inquisition is not the universal form of all other possibilities. For example, traditional understandings about sex and gender were on the whole maintained by a network of habits and understandings that controlled what people did without much direct reliance on physical force. It was possible to go to jail for sodomy, but in Europe it’s possible to go to jail for downplaying the importance of the Holocaust.



Subscribe to RSS - Practical politics