The Iron Law of Conservatism

The British journalist, and sometime National Review editor, John O’Sullivan stated that any organization or enterprise that is not expressly right wing will become left wing over time. This observation is conveniently named O’Sullivan’s Law and is based on the observation that non-liberals will hire liberals into their organization, while liberals apply ideological tests. The result is liberals eventually take over non-liberal organizations while ruthlessly defending their own turf.

What O’Sullivan was observing is the natural tendency toward entryism among members of mass movements. It is the corollary to proselytizing. The true believer seeks validation so they are always trying to recruit members to their cause. It’s why Mormons knock on doors offering to show you their magic underwear. This also manifests itself in the inclination toward undermining organizations seen as a challenge, often by infiltrating and co-opting them. When an institution flips to their ideological camp, it is seen as validation.

The irony here is that O’Sullivan and other Buckley Conservatives confused their temporary, ad hoc response to communism, with Anglo-Saxon conservatism. The former existed in the temporary space of the Cold War, while the latter is the baseline of Western Civilization. It’s why Buckley Conservatism is now just Progressivism with a blood lust for Arabs. Once the Cold War ended, their reason to exist ended with it. It turns out that Buckley Conservatism was not expressly right wing after all.

That raises the question of what it means to be expressly right wing and introduces this video from Alt-Lite provocateur, Gavin McInnes. The summary, for those uninterested in watching it, is McInnes putting up a board displaying the various figured on the Alt-Right and Alt-Lite. He has a line dividing the two camps. On one side are those who are Western chauvinist, rallying around a group of ideas. They are “inclusive” of anyone that embraces Western civilization and they are not hung up on race or heritage.

The other side mostly agrees with that, but adds in the fact that those ideas were invented by white people and that matters. The West is the result of white people so to preserve Western Civilization you have to preserve white people. There’s also the “JQ” issue, according to McInnes, where the Alt-Right places Jews outside the white camp and outside Western Civilization. He soft-sells it, but the point is that one side is pro-white and the other side is Pro-West, but both sides largely agree on the philosophical stuff.

That’s fine and maybe it is correct. To his credit, McInnes makes clear that it is more of a continuum, than two distinct sets, but he invests a lot of time talking about a vaguely defined line between the two camps. Richard Spencer is over on the side near the fringe Nazis and Paul Joseph Watson is over on the other side, closer to something McInness never bothers to address. The whole shtick is mostly about distinguishing himself from the bad guys on the Alt-Right so the Left is left unmentioned.

To be fair to McInness, he is still young enough to dream of having a big time job at a big time media operation. He got a taste of it at Fox News and he probably hopes that one day he gets a shot to host a show on some other mainstream cable platform. Frankly, they would be wise to dump one of the Jon Stewart Mini-Me shows they have and give a guy like a McInnes a shot to be the normie version of Stewart, but that’s a topic for another day. The point here is McInness is treading lightly.

The defect with the Alt-Lite is the same problem the Buckley Conservatives had a generation ago. They have no antibodies to resist entryism, because they lack a timeless definition of what it means to be Alt-Lite. Western Civilization, after all, includes Karl Marx and Hitler. Nazism is just as much a part of the West as John Locke. In fact, Hitler currently casts a longer shadow than any of the men of the Enlightenment. On what grounds can the Alt-Lite reject Hitler, but embrace the slave owning Jefferson?

The same is true of anti-racism and egalitarianism. How can these be rejected when they are inventions of the West? Of course, the Alt-Lite makes no attempt to reject these as that would get them in trouble with the Left. That’s what opens the door to, and requires them to accept, the defining feature of the dominant orthodoxy. That feature is the blank slate. As McInness goes to pains to point out, if a hotep brotha is on the Trump Train, he has a place at the table of the Alt-Lite, a cherished place.

That’s the fatal flaw that was the undoing of the Buckley Right. The Alt-Lite has no affirmative argument. Instead, it is a list of things it is not and most of those things are to their Right. That firewall they are building to their Right, just as Buckley did with Kirk and with the paleocons, comes at the expense of any defensible line of demarcation between themselves and the Left. That leaves them open to entryism, corruption and subversion, which is why the leading opponents of Trump are all Buckley Conservatives.

That brings us back to the beginning. O’Sullivan was mostly correct, but he left out the most important part of the rule. That’s the definition of Right Wing. What is it that forever separates the Right from the Left? What is the thing about which there can be no meeting in the middle, between Left and Right? The great divide that can never be crossed, is biology.The Left embraces the blank slate and rejects biological reality. The Right accepts biology, human diversity and all the truths about the human animal that arise from it.

The great chain of causality is Biology→Culture-→Politics-→Economics. It’s why Libertarianism, in its current form, not right wing. The Reason Magazine crowd are sure that all you have to do to fix Haiti, for example, is end the licensing of barbershops and other small businesses. And legalize weed, of course. In other words, they get things backward and end up rejecting the human condition. This is the crack in the foundation of all Left Wing movements. It’s what they share in common.

Therefore, any ideology or political movement that does not accept the great chain of causality will eventually be subverted and become left wing.

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72 Comments on "The Iron Law of Conservatism"

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Member
When reading someone like Friedrich Heer in his intellectual history of Europe you get hints of what Z is talking about. You have a developing Western Europe at times influenced by Eastern thought patterns, which are more abstract and less based on real things, like home and hearth, blood and soil, which mark western thought. According to the paradigm set up by Heer, Catholicism​ is western ,while protestantism and the heretical sects are under Eastern influence. The real dividing line is abstraction, which was the dividing line for Burke, when he set his face against the French Revolution. Burke was… Read more »
newrouter
Guest

Looks like a religious revival worldwide for the “truth”.

TomA
Guest
I think the root issue is more fundamental than the Conservative-Liberal spectrum, and specifically that evolution precedes biology. We are what we are because of the outcome of the evolutionary gauntlet that shaped us. We are descended from the survivors of a world of extreme existential hardship in which intelligence, resilience, and productivity traits were fitness selected. And this past journey was our natural destiny until the advent of memetic reprogramming allowed our species to distort natural evolutionary processes and override our natural instincts. We now live in a time of unparalleled affluence in which parasitism is rewarded by political… Read more »
Member
Brilliant post, full of insights. The only thing I have ever read close to it are Heinlein’s observations: “all correct moral laws — derive from the instinct to survive. Moral behavior is survival behavior above the individual level.” “Correct morality can only be derived from what man is — not from what do-gooders and well-meaning aunt Nellies would like him to be.” “moral behavior” [is] “behavior that tends toward survival.” I won’t argue with philosophers or theologians who choose to use the word “moral” to mean something else, but I do not think anyone can define “behavior that tends toward… Read more »
wordlywiseman
Guest

you sure it was heinlein? sounds more like ayn rand, deriving morals from selfishness. moral behavior is the exact opposite- see sermon on the mount

George Orwell
Guest

This post from Zman will be worth re-reading a dozen times. The pied piper song of the tabula rasa will eventually lead the West over a cliff. While teh racisms r bad, plz no racisms, nothing sins against Western post-modern culture more than the assertion that all men (womyn? genderfluid spiritkin?) are not created equal. They cannot be made equal. The central dogma of our declined Enlightenment deliberately denies reality.

WBigly
Guest

My observation is that a lot of so-called conservatism is just late to the table liberalism. The acceptance of homosexuality by “conservative” media being a case in point.

James Solbakken
Guest

I “accept” sodomy the way I accept the free speech of blithering idiots. I believe that blithering idiots tend to weaken the nation and the human race whenever they open their stupid mouths to blither, but, that doesn’t mean I think they must be killed on the spot for it. Just as the answer to stupid evil crazy speech is intelligent good sensible speech, the answer to perverted sex seems to me to be normal healthy sex to counteract it, as long as it remains a matter of verbal debate. Once it gets physically violent, then, that’s a different matter.

Karl Horst (Germany)
Guest
I think the real challenge is defining what these terms mean. As was pointed out in some of my previous comments, American “progressives” from the past century are in no way similar to what you consider progressives today. Are conservatives and liberals today also different from liberals and conservatives of the past? Was Jefferson a conservative, liberal or progressive? And by what standards do you measure him? Hitler certainly worked to conserve and promote Germany and what it was to be a true German. By this definition, he could be very much considered a conservative of his time. One could… Read more »
Member
I think the difference between the conservatism of the past fifty years and what we are seeing emerge today is the simple fact that slavery was and is a fact of life, and not something that can be reduced to a manipulable abstraction. What societies decide to do with it amongst themselves is no business of ours. I saw a video recently of a Somali maid falling from a window while being taped by her Arab owner. The Somali was first seen hanging by one hand from the window and then falling to her death some hundred feet down. How… Read more »
BillH
Guest

You mean like the H-1B serfs living eight to a room in San Francisco?

Karl Horst (Germany)
Guest
@ Teapartydoc – Agreed. Slavery has many forms, and not just the obvious one blacks scream about in America. Considering how slavery is well documented in modern cultures, I always find it interesting none of the African-American activists (e.g. Farrakhan, Jackson, Sharpton, etc.) are out helping to stamp out slavery currently practiced in other countries against blacks. But let’s be honest – it’s easier, and safer, to scream at white people who have never owned slaves in America than to risk actually going where the problems really exist. More and more Europeans are sick to the teeth with the idea… Read more »
Allan
Guest

Good points about American blacks, and all too true, as I can attest from close personal experience with them in Detroit and Chicago.

As for Europe’s immigration problem: I think that the best immigration policy will be an emmigration policy which encourages pests to leave. Since Caucasian leftists (including nationalists like the BNP) are the worst of all pests, I’d recommend that you focus your emmigration policy on them, first. Of course, you’ll never get the right such policy through a electoral process (and probably shouldn’t even try).

Member

“The Right accepts biology, human diversity and all the truths about the human animal that arise from it.”
Agree 100%. Human nature cannot be restructured.

Lorenzo
Guest

“Human nature cannot be restructured.”

That is one of the fundamental axioms of conservatism, whether attributed to biology or Original Sin.

Dutch
Guest
The biology argument, as stated by Mr. LePore, is the beginning and end of it. Most of the cultural artifacts of Western Civilization, and also the current cultural fetishes we are enduring now, exist because of the space provided by the dominance of the western, white, patriarchical culture which biology and evolution delivered. The combination of intellect, stubbornness, and tribalism of the white western male gave us the economic and geographic breathing room to both build the glories of western culture and to put up with the current cultural rot. The remnants of that biological selection process will be called… Read more »
Philhellenic
Guest

here is the question this brings to my mind: is the left’s rejection of biology/genetics a form of willful blindness, denial – the noble lie – and confusion of how to deal with the resulting inequalities associated with the facts of human biological diversity or is it a honest rejection of biology?

Ryan
Guest

It’s not an honest rejection of biology. It is true belief that in actual scientific fact biology does not determine behavior, at least at the group level.

Philhellenic
Guest

You may be right, Ryan, but how can this be? The science is clear. I’m not even a biologist and I understand the basic facts of genetics and human biodiversity. So I think that in some proportion, some dishonestly choose to perpetuate the noble lie while some are just ignorant of the science. Also, the distortion of the science by our leftist centered educational system contributes to the ignorance.

james wilson
Guest

Orwell wrote, humorously and accurately, of the significant differences in talent, inclinations, and even teeth between the various European tribes as if it were obvious, which of course it is. Observations drawn from the obvious may be funny, or they may be cruel. Observations which are forbidden become poisonous. The greatest cruelty is to assure a person without an ability that he has that ability. His failure becomes his fault.

dad29
Guest

The great chain of causality is Biology→Culture-→Politics-→Economics

Is there a reason that you do not place religion as first, and displace biology? Among other heavyweight thinkers who agree, Benedict XVI insisted that ‘cult precedes culture.’ Or, in effect, culture is downstream from cult.

One may argue about the liceity of the ‘cult’, of course; but it is impossible to exclude “cult” from the chain of causality.

Durandel Almiras
Guest

Religion is part of Culture in the chain of causality. Catholicism is not the same flavor everywhere you go. The liturgy may look the same, but Nigerian Catholicism is very different than American Catholicism in NYC.

Benedict 16 was kinda right. Religion influences culture and culture influences religion. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

Drake
Guest

Agree with the talk show. With Red Eye cancelled, I assume Greg Gutfeld will get a shot at a normie late night show.

Doug
Guest
The defining thing is no compromise on my liberty, compromise as Alt-Right, doesn’t exist. That is the zeitgeist. What most outside Alt-Right do not grok is the essential thing, as Alt-Right, Hard-Right, as Men of The West: BFYTW. It isn’t an argument. It is not a movement per say, it is non negotiable. It is manifest. Everything happening in the West is a validation event. You may not recognize it yet. The election, not Trump, but the election of him, is the cusp of the manifest actualization of the dirt people validating the essential things. The dirt people will come… Read more »
james wilson
Guest

No. All the Left has to do is wait for the rotten fruit of universal suffrage to fall into their hands. Not that they will wait, which the reason Trump was elected. But the fruit is still rotting.

Andy Texan
Guest

True that. First they let non-property owning white men vote. This opened the door for women and civilization slid right down the slope into the abyss. Next step is Hell.

Member

You’ve got your chain of causation somewhat off. It looks more like this:
Biology→Power→Culture→Economics

(Although to be fair, there are feedback loops among all of the items above. But the arrow indicates the stronger direction.)

Power is upstream of culture. This is why the average woman today supports penises in her bathroom, even though she doesn’t want that. She knows what is politically correct. (Politically correct.) More generally, power is the reason people can be induced to disbelieve their lyin’ eyes — about biology, economics, culture, and indeed power itself.

Durandel Almiras
Guest

eh, no. Critical theory is a load of BS. Women only can do what they do because of the Culture has created the Political climate for such nonsense.

Buckaroo Banzai
Guest
ZMan, congrats, this is a terrific piece. I only have one quibble. “Western Civilization, after all, includes Karl Marx” Nope. You unconsciously fell into the Alt-Light trap. Alt-Right orthodoxy asserts that Jews have been both passive parasites on, and active antagonists against, Western Civilization. The Alt-Right would thus disavow any Jewish contribution to Western Civilization, and since Karl Marx is a Jew, that would put his contributions outside the scope of Western Civilization. While we’re on the subject of Marx, it is an inarguable fact that the Communist vanguard has historically been majority-Jew, and during the 20th century Communism (and… Read more »
Andy Texan
Guest

Does ‘Western Civilization’ include the Bible? Jesus Christ? St Peter? Music? Science? Art? Literature? Just wondering. Hard to discount the Jooish contribution.

Buckaroo Banzai
Guest

The Jews who became Christians are ethnically and spiritually quite distinct from today’s Jews. The vast majority of Hebrews who did not become Christians were wiped out by the Romans a few decades after the Resurrection. Today’s remnant are Ashkenazic, Sephardic, Mizrahic, or Ethiopian.

John Derbyshire
Guest

I learned them back in the 1970s as Robert Conquest’s Three Laws http://tinyurl.com/jcmtole

1. Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.
2. Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.
3. The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.

John O’Sullivan just re-quoted them. I wish I could find the original source. John & I were both reading the same stuff in the 70s, so it’s in there somewhere — prob. the (London) Spectator.

Member

John,
I first heard it as Rusher’s Law, but them I’m certain that William Rusher also read the same materials, and was intimately connected to National Review.
Like so many other famous quotes of indeterminate origin, it traces beck either to Shakespeare or the Bible.
And like so many other quotes attributed to many, it remains in the public square because it is so indubitably true.

karl hungus
Guest
i like to think in terms of systems. the world is a system; the USA is a sub-system within it. the current world system is breaking down and will soon be replaced by a new system. same with the sub-sytem we call USGOV. so what forces are pressing on the current system, causing it to buckle? very simple, the osmotic pressure of 7+ billion third worlders on one side, and 1.5B first and second worlders on the other side. if you want to preserve what the first world has, you will need to resolve the 7B (either by relocating them… Read more »
Member
Z-man – I’ve been wondering about this divide you point to for awhile now (and had a bit of dust-up over at Vox Day’s site awhile back over this – I pointed to the slipperiness with respect to his conceptions of two of his sixteen principles of the alt-right, namely principles # 4 and #15 – and came away with the impression that Vox Day was offering intellectual dishonesty and obfuscation in response to my query). Your stated rationale for dismissing alt-lite in favor of alt-right (as defined) is: “The great chain of causality is Biology→Culture-→Politics-→Economics”. Not really though (by… Read more »
Dutch
Guest

If Western Civ is the sweet spot but there are few people there to represent it in the way that it should be represented any more, then does it really exist? Or is WC some sort of cultural artifact, like the Catholic/Protestant Christian church in Western Europe?

Member
Dutch – what i said was – “the European demographic is the sweetspot, correlation-wise, with western culture”. As such, I agree, in the medium term (which is as far a we can realistically look down the road, biologically speaking, anyway), that ensuring the ongoing maintenance of the European demographic is prudent, wise and virtuous (i.e. – let’s not prematurely accidentally kill gooses that lay golden eggs by way of making any premature false claims about what is what, about the necessary conditions for western culture). We are currently still in the process of sorting out these necessary conditions for western… Read more »
Dutch
Guest
At least from where I sit, Western Civ is positioned as the enemy of everything that so many in the West are working for. Interesting, to me anyway, is that China seems to still aspire to some form of Western ways, as many Chinese children are sent to the U.S. for their higher education. That is a grassroots commitment to Western ideals, sending their own kids to soak them up. I apologize for misunderstanding your point. It is one thing to live in the West and be neutral to the cultural heritage you benefit from. It is quite another to… Read more »
Member
Dutch – yes – there is alot of anti-west nonsense being promoted right now, within the west. All this Politically Correct crap. All this promotion of victim mentality. All this “white privilege” false blame game (false by way of half truth). Ultimately true west is about identifying with the existential conditions of personhood (i.e. – we all, rightfully so, value our own personal self-agency first and foremost), seeing some commonality on that front, and as such identifying more-so with humanity, the universal human condition we are all subject to, as individuals that have natural rights to self-agency and who therefore… Read more »
Al from da Nort
Guest
It seems that a main point of disagreement is whether it is actually possible for human *groups* of other than NW European ancestry to voluntarily adopt Western Civilization. IOW, is there a Magic Western Culture that we could send ‘there’ (wherever ‘there’ is)_? I think that recent history shows that you really can’t catch that ol’ Magic Culture from nothing but proximity (i.e. the Magic Dirt Theory doesn’t work on groups). However, recent history, indeed all history, shows that *individuals* from most/all human populations can and do adopt other cultures than the one they grew up in: If they want… Read more »
Wbigly
Guest
Another example of there likely being no such thing as “conservatism”, rather it being the group of souls late to the table of liberalism- how long ago did Orwell write 1984? With all its warnings about Socialists and their plans for Big Brother and government monitoring everyone’s closest communications ? Wiki Leaks and Snowden have demonstrated these programs now exist, but I’ve never heard any “conservative” organization opposing it. If anything, I’ve witnessed self proclaimed conservatives deride the only organization fighting this trend, the Electronic Frontier Foindation as ‘liberal’ and complaints of the monitoring programs as ‘liberal’. So modernly, given… Read more »
karl hungus
Guest

he wrote it in 1948

Member

Libertarian-ism is right wing. Just not directly, but rather, consequently. As Johnathan Bowden pointed out, while the policies advocated for by mainstream Libertarianism do not concern themselves with Biological inequality, they refuse any opposition to human inequality.

Libertarianism embraces social inequality. The ideology invariably lends itself–in practice–to an embrace of elitism, inequality, rule by the strong and the intelligent. Hierarchy. What Hoppe called “the natural elite”.

These all correlate with real biological factors, which must, behind the scene, drive the engine of any Libertarian society. In the long run, biological inequality triumphs.

Cloudswrest
Guest
Succinctly, the two propositions are: Left (prop A): “Race is a social construct” Alt-Right (prop B): “Society is a racial construct” For the Left prop “A” is a moral position. Those who oppose it are evil heretics, animated by “hate”. Curiously, people with other contrarian views like flat earthers or green cheese mooners aren’t considered to have this animus. For the Alt-Right “B” is simply a statement of a true natural fact, like the law of gravitation. It is obviously true both theoretically and empirically. For the the Alt-Right, the Left is evil, and “normies” who espouse prop “A” are… Read more »
Philhellenic
Guest

Nice Cloud. I like your succinctness.

““B” is simply a statement of a true natural fact, like the law of gravitation. It is obviously true both theoretically and empirically”

If this is so, then why doesn’t the left melt away? Dishonesty? Better to espouse a lie than to live with the consequences of overturning it?

Cloudswrest
Guest

“The great chain of causality is Biology→Culture-→Politics-→Economics.”

It’s not simply linear like this. There is feedback to biology at each stage, producing eusocial (i.e. civic domestication) selection pressures (over timescales of many generations). If the environment changes too fast we have an evolutionary shock, which can’t be readily adapted to. For example mass migration of aliens into one’s environment.

richard warren
Guest
Except, the laws of economics (of which we have admittedly imperfect knowledge) are just as real as the laws of biology (also imperfectly understood), and without appropriate economics (allocation and use of resources) there may not be any human biology to worry about (witness societies with managed economies that do not reproduce themselves). One very real aspect of human biology is a tendency for in group solidarity and support that can manifest itself as a collectivism at odds with the Anglo-Saxon traditions as modified by the great compromises of the 17h century that produced the things Burkes valued. Finally, modern… Read more »
dad29
Guest

without appropriate economics (allocation and use of resources) there may not be any human biology to worry about (witness societies with managed economies that do not reproduce themselves)

OK. Now explain how the USA–without a managed economy–is also NOT reproducing itself. Ever take a serious look at “white race” birthrate?

Wbigly
Guest

It’s managed. Watch the correlation between the stock market and federal budget. It’s just that no media outlets cover it that way. See what happens when it doesn’t pass as expected.

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[…] The Z Man wrote [quoted in the first post of the day today], writing on the left or if you like today – the neocon globalist: […]

Allan
Guest
Between liberal and illiberal there is nothing, not even “non-liberals”. Now, why would an informed person want to describe totalitarian, left wing collectivists as “liberal”? Are we just pandering to the prejudices of dullards who are accustomed to trusting Fox News and gun nut radio? Or have the leftists colonized your brain? It’s been a very long time since it was first pointed out that some leftists adopted “liberal” as a smokescreen and disguise for their character, mentality, and long-term objectives. So maybe we should give up the bad habit of repeating their propaganda for them as if it were… Read more »
Peter Farb
Guest
“The great divide that can never be crossed, is biology.The Left embraces the blank slate and rejects biological reality. The Right accepts biology, human diversity and all the truths about the human animal that arise from it.” For years I have used a simple question to determine left from right. That question is whether a person believes in the perfectibility of mankind. Leftists think they can change people, while the right knows mankind as a whole will always have good people and bad people. As a Christian this is very clear to me; if mankind could have been perfected, Christ… Read more »
Slumlord
Guest

At its most fundamental level to be “Right”, within the Western Tradition, meant the belief and duty towards the Truth operating within the metaphysical framework of Christian realism. Everything else is either error or Leftism.

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