One of the things people come to realize, when they make the journey to this side of the great divide, is that America lacks an authentic Right. In fact, it may have always lacked an authentic Right, as the country was formed by people who explicitly rejected the ideal of inherited rule and a hierarchical society. That’s certainly debatable, but what is not debatable is the fact that modern America lacks an authentic opposition to the prevailing orthodoxy, which is founded in radical egalitarianism and the blank slate.
Since Gettysburg, Progressivism has been ascendant, first controlling the federal state, then slowly and methodically taking total control of the culture and politics. It’s opponent, what Robert Louis Dabney called Northern Conservatism, what we just call conservatism, was never an authentic Right, but “merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition.” Instead of offering an alternative vision of society, the American right offers a series of tweaks and modifications to the Progressive vision.
The result is that the Left comes up with some new radical idea, conservatives throw their dresses over their heads and a make big deal out of opposing it. They rarely offer an alternative, in the case of a real public policy debate. If they do offer an alternative, it is one that accepts the morality that is driving the Left’s interest in the subject. The result is the “opposition” to every radical idea is just a different radical idea, that is rooted in the radical morality of the Left. The obvious example is homosexual marriage.
In this age of media saturation, the phenomenon described by Dabney a century ago can be seen playing out in compressed time on the internet. For example, the Left is in the process of stealing the Florida election, by use of wholesale fraud and rule breaking. The response from the so-called conservatives is ridiculous nonsense like this post at the American Spectator. To quote Dabney again, “The resisted novelty of yesterday is today one of the accepted principles of conservatism.”
The tone and content of the piece is so stunningly obtuse that it seems contrived, until you step back and think about how this has been the pattern for as long as anyone reading this has been alive. It is why the alt-right coined the term “cuck” and why it stung so-called conservatives. It perfectly describes the so-called opposition. Their first instinct is to come up with some way to explain away the latest Progressive outrage. Their obsequiousness to so repugnant, it suggests a total lack of the very essence of what defines a man.
Of course, there is the philosophical issue. An actual opposition would note that democracy has to result in the sort of circus we keep seeing in our elections. They would also note that a system designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator must always result in the worst possible answer. At the minimum, an authentic opposition would point out that the Left sees democracy as a bus they can ride to power. Once in power, their goal is corrupt and destroy it so there can be no legitimate challenge to their rule.
Another example of this instinct to grovel is from Joel Pollak at Breitbart. We now live in an age where the federal courts says the President cannot decide who gets a press pass into the White House, but the court is perfectly OK with big banks shutting people off from the financial system because they hold the wrong opinions. An authentic opposition would immediately point out the absurd contradictions of the dadaist legal system constructed by the Left. Instead, the response is to argue this latest outrage is a conservative principle.
The debate about where to place fascism on the modern political scale is mostly pointless, but it does underscore the problem of today. The people feverishly arguing that “the liberals are the real Nazis” do so by first accepting the Progressive moral framework. As a result, like someone trying to build a ship in a bottle, they are reduced to working within arbitrary confines in order to achieve something with only ornamental value. They don’t even notice that they are doing it, because that habit of mind has been institutionalized.
That said, the debate does open the mind to the idea of there being no authentic alternative, because it was killed off in the Enlightenment. As a result, the great debate, the great ideological competition, has all been within radicalism. Bolshevism, liberal democracy and fascism were all competing with one another. After a bloody century, liberal democracy came out as the unchallenged political philosophy. Because it evolved as a response and now lacks an authentic challenger, it is slowly spinning out of control.
In the mean time, we live in this between age, where liberal democracy is universal and unchallenged, but decaying into madness. It’s why the aesthetic resembles the inside of a mental ward and the players carry on doing the same thing over and over, but in an increasingly bizarre fashion. Perhaps Fukuyama was not completely wrong. Instead of it being the end of history, maybe it is just the end of liberal democracy. It was something that could only exist in opposition to the more depraved variations of Rousseauism.