In response to my latest podcast, a listener asked why I was hostile to the “constitutional conservatives” given that I would prefer to live in a society that abides by something close to the old American constitution. After all, the tricorn hat crowd just wants to return to the old order as defined by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. That’s a fair question and it is certainly true that most people in dissident politics came from some form of official conservatism or libertarianism. As such, most everyone here prefers ordered liberty.
The first problem with self-identifying as “conservative” in any way is that the label has been thoroughly corrupted. When someone like Jonah Goldberg is considered the face of conservatism, the label no longer has meaning. Goldberg started out on the far Left working for Ben Wattenberg at PBS. His “journey” to the Right got him only as far neo-conservatism, which has always been a Progressive heresy. The fact these people are allowed to call themselves conservative says conservatism is a meaningless label.
Even if you want to tease out the neocons on the grounds that they are fifth columnists with loyalties that transcend American politics, what’s left is nothing more than 1960’s left-libertarianism and some ostentatious Bible waving. The self-styled “Bible believing Christians” are about as Christian as Hinduism. Their bespoke brand of religion is a product of the therapeutic culture, not Western civilization. Of course, Left-libertarianism has always been little more than the accounting department of Progressivism.
The point is that like the word “fascism” the word conservative carries with it baggage I have no interest in totting around. Any effort to “reclaim conservatism” is either a waste of time or doomed to subversion and corruption. Dissident politics is as much about rejecting the people who man the barricades of the prevailing orthodoxy as it is rejecting the orthodoxy. The problem with Buckley conservatism was never just about ideology. It was the sort of people who saw it as a useful vehicle that was always the problem.
As far as the argument in favor of “returning to our constitutional principles” is concerned, it is important to understand that one reason why we are where we are now is those constitutional principles. The men who wrote the document and assembled the political order at the founding, did so to lock in their positions in the elite. Winners not only write the history books, they write the constitutions. What those men of the 18th century did not contemplate and maybe could not contemplate, is the rise of American Progressivism.
A small child alive at the time of the Constitutional Convention, if he lived a long life, could have seen the birth and death of the American Republic. Within one generation, it was clear that the constitutional order created in 1789 was not going to hold together. The Hartford convention was in 1815. Of course, not long after the issue of slavery and the irreconcilable difference between the American South and Yankee New England made clear that the constitutional order was untenable. That order ended at Gettysburg.
The point here is while those “constitutional principles” sound appealing to our modern ears, the people who actually lived them did not like them very much. Interestingly, the romantics for the 18th century politics have the same problem as fascist romantics, in that they never wonder why their ideal was a complete failure. The fascist ideal can sound pretty good, until you look at the actual results. The same holds for the constitutional republic, as designed by the Founders. Whatever its merits, it collapsed in a lifetime.
Even if you can argue that with some modifications, the old order can be made to work, accounting for Progressive efforts to undermine order, the problem is the same one faced by libertarians. That is, short of a violent revolution followed by a good bit of genocide, there is no going back to the old system. The people in charge will never permit it. That’s why they are tolerant of constitutional conservatives. They merely function as the court jesters of the neoliberal state, keeping the people busy with pointless political activism.
Putting all of that aside, ask a constitutional conservative if he would like to bring back slavery. Ask him if he would like a return of freedom of association, where citizens are free to discriminate. The best you will ever get from these people is a willingness to limit the vote to tax payers or property holders. They can’t even talk honestly about the role of women. Most of what the Founders believed is now considered disqualifying racism, sexism and ethnocentrism and the conservatives would agree with the Left on it.
The simple truth is that conservatism has been utterly worthless in stopping the march of Progressivism through the institutions of America. If the Founders came alive today and gained power, the first people they would hang would be the conservatives on the grounds they collaborated with the enemy. For as long as I’ve been alive, the Left’s greatest weapon in the culture war has been the so-called constitutional conservatives. In every fight, it has been these people who have counseled surrender and accommodation.
Just as mobsters wrap a victim of a hit in a carpet and toss him in the nearest dumpster, the goal for us it to wrap the so-called conservatives in their constitution and dump them into the dustbin of history. If there is to be a society in North America where white parents can raise white children, white people have to stop thinking there is an orderly solution to a lawless society. The people in charge have no respect for the spirit of the laws, much less the letter of the laws. When enough white people figure this out, real change is possible.