The failures of conservatism are a popular topic on this side of the great divide, mostly because most on this side passed through conservatism. While it is true that an understanding of human nature leads to a traditionalist political outlook, it is also true that having a conservative inclination leads one to dissident politics. Russell Kirk was right that conservative politics is the end result that begins with a certain attitude, a perspective on society that naturally leads to right-wing politics.
This attitude begins with the understanding that all human societies have an identity, an instinctive answer to the question, “Who are you?” That is closely tied with the understanding that someone is always in charge. This is where modern conservatism goes off the rails. Modern conservatives are terrified to even think about identity, because they are terrified of being accused of having one. Identities are exclusive and that is the opposite of inclusive, the greatest thing ever.
This peaks through in this American Conservative post about the lack of diversity at the US State Department. The post is in response to this post in the far-left DC scandal sheet called Politico. The claim is that State has a systemic racism problem. The conservative response to that is always some form of the old internet meme, “Democrats are the Real Racists.” In this case, it is those well-bred white people popping out of elite colleges, who then go into the State Department.
The post is interesting in that it gives some insight into how the American foreign service operates, but it amplifies left-wing morality, because the writer comes at the topic from something other than a conservative attitude. A genuine man of the Right would say that the State Department is a vital ruling class institution. It represents to the world the interests of the American ruling class. The reason it is full of Jews and Protestants is that is who runs the country.
This attitudinal deficiency also leads to errors in tactics. When a left-wing site like Politico starts bellowing about the lack of diversity in the ruling class, it is intended to distract, not spawn a dialogue. Since thinking about who is really in charge of the country is anathema to the modern conservative mind, they are more than happy to chase the diversity stick tossed by the people in charge. The result is more mewing about the lack of diversity, as if anyone cares.
This is something that modern conservatives have never grasped about their role in this relationship with their alleged opponents. Their primary duty is to keep anyone from talking about who is in charge. This is a key part of the managerial state. From the outside it always looks like a committee composed of faceless bureaucrats. In a world where it is never clear who is in charge, it is near impossible for the people to pin the blame on the people who are actually responsible.
Further, when the question “who are we?” is only asked in secret, the answer is only uttered in secret. That AmCon post gently touches on this fact, but it should have been the focus of the post. Instead, it is only hinted at, while the writer does the old DR3 and championing diversity. It never seems to occur to him that the people running the State Department have an interest in running the system as they do. That maybe the people in charge know who they are and intend to remain in charge.
Note also the reliance on the fantasy of the meritocracy. There is the belief among conventional conservatives that the alternative to Progressive domination of the institutions is meritocracy. Like the market place, a meritocracy is a man made thing, which serves the interests of those who make it. It is not some magically occurring bit of nature that grows in the wild. A meritocracy is always a tool of the ruling class used to perpetuate their position at the top of the social hierarchy.
The elephant in the room, of course, is the question of diversity. Right after “who we are?” and “who is in charge?” comes the question, “What are the rules?” Those rules are inevitably aimed at maintaining the answer to the first two questions. The reason the ruling class is happy to see unlimited diversity outside their ranks, but no diversity inside their ranks, is they have to intention of stepping aside. The people outside the walls only matter when they cause a ruckus or make threatening noises.
In other words, the opportunity here was to point out that diversity is poison and serious people avoid it at all cost. The people running important institutions like the State Department, Wall Street or the media get this. The reason these institutions look the way they do at the top is the people in charge are serious. They know diversity of any kind, especially diversity of opinion, is bad for them, so they make sure to root out any diversity in their ranks. There is a lesson there for all of us.
20th century conservatism was a failure in large part because it either refused or was temperamentally unable to tackle the basic questions of human organization. That starts with understand who we are and what are our interests. Then it quickly moves to deciding what sort of people need to be in charge and what sort of rules must be in place in order to maintain the resulting society. Conservatism was always happy to leave the questions unasked, so they were always a leaf in the wind.
This is why any alternative to the current regime must first start with a sense of identity, a point around which people can rally. This is why communists focused so much attention of class identity. It is also why bourgeoise intellectuals were so enamored with communism, despite not being working class. The draw of identity is natural. People with no natural sense of identity envy those that have one. That is the power of group identity and why it must be the core of any political movement.
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