One of the enduring mysteries, one that is rarely explored, is why all right-wing movements in America have failed to make a dent in Progressivism. The first iteration of conservatism in America was washed away by Progressive reformers in the first part of the 20th century. When political crisis struck, conservatives had no political solutions, just theoretical analysis. Progressives, meanwhile, had a program.
In response to the success of New Deal politics, the American Right reorganized in the middle of the last century around more practical items. Buckley-style conservatism was about winning elections and implementing policy. Like its predecessor, it failed to do much to stem the tide of Progressive innovation. In the end it was corrupted by the system it sought to reform, becoming just another node on the managerial state.
The reason for this long track record of futility is that American conservatism has always been dominated by bourgeois objectivism. Unlike Randian objectivism, bourgeois objectivism is the assumption that the world runs by a set of immutable laws and that the point of politics is to adapt to those laws. Discovering the right answer is the point of all political activity as once the answer is clear, everything falls into place.
In the realm of politics, it means that all political actors, individually and in groups, are acting from rational and discoverable motives. This naturally leads to a reductionist interpretation of Progressive politics. Whatever the Left proposes is feverishly analyzed by conservatives to discern “real motives”. Further, it is always assumed that the Left is driven by the same desires as the Right would be driven, if the roles were reversed.
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Societal decline is best imagined as a drunk man falling down a long flight of stairs, maybe a long spiral staircase. He begins at the top, the peak of the society, then carelessly makes the wrong steps and begins to tumble down the stairs. It is not a rapid or steady fall to the bottom. Instead, he hits a landing, rights himself for a bit, but regaining his confidence he makes another wrong step and takes another tumble.
Some of the landings are long and he is able to function at that level for a while, thinking he is still at the place he started. Maybe he takes a few tentative steps back to the old position higher up the stairs, but eventually it is another misstep, and he falls back down past that landing to another landing farther down. This is societal decline. It is periods of decline punctuated by periods in which it feels like the decline has been arrested.
This is useful to keep in mind as we watch the new regime come to grips with the new reality they face….link
If you were to round up a random collection of people and lock them up in a school gymnasium, you would have a bunch of people locked in a gymnasium. It would not be a society or a movement or a religion. The reason is those people would have nothing in common, other than the fact that they had been lured to the gymnasium and were now being held against their will.
Now, round up a random collection of people and put them on an island far enough away from land that they could not chance making a swim for it. Maybe they do not even know where the island is in relation to a large, populated landmass. Further, they have no indication that they will be rescued. They are there possibly forever. Unlike the people locked in the gymnasium, this group will begin to change in character….
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A dozen years ago, the neoconservative gadfly Jonah Goldberg wrote a book titled Liberal Fascism, in which he argued that it was the American left that had the love affair with fascism, rather than the right. Like everything that comes from neoconservatism, his tract was actually a left-wing polemic dressed up as a right-wing critique of the left, but it made a useful point.
That is, the American left has always been rhetorically opposed to fascism, hysterically so at times, but there has always been a great deal of overlap between Progressivism and fascism. The fascists a century ago borrowed from the American left. Over the past century, the American left has returned the favor. As a result, Progressivism has evolved into a strange hybrid form of fascism.
Of course, this does not mean that Progressives will be sporting arm bands and khaki outfits anytime soon. That cartoonish version of fascism that has been a staple of American pop culture for generations is not making a comeback. Even putting aside the absurd characterizations, early-20th-century fascism was a product of the industrial age and has no place in post-industrial, technological societies.
Instead, what we are seeing in America is a highly feminized, mutant form of fascism that is unconcerned with the practical aspects of governance and instead obsesses over the aesthetic and moral aspects or rule….Continue Reading