The late great Eric Hohher observed that a mass movement can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil. This is often misread, but what Hoffer had in mind was that the movement needs an enemy. It can live without a great cause, but it has to have an enemy. The struggle against evil allows the movement to create its own origin myth and justify its failures as sacrifices. It is why the Progressives have been so good at inventing new monsters to slay. Without monsters, they have no reason to exist.
The modern American Right, in contrast, was never good at inventing bogeymen, because it was always a Progressive heresy. By that I mean the Buckleyites eventually came to accept all the assumptions of the Progressives with regards to the human condition. The difference was they had a different devil to confront. Theirs was the Red Menace and the its Soviet sponsors. What kept movement conservatism moving was the fight against the commies, even when they ceded all the important philosophical turf to the Progressive.
An example to see this is the recent column by National Review editor Rich Lowry. National Review is the flagship publication of the American conservative movement. In theory, at least, they describe the boundaries of what is and what is not conservative, by defining the principles of modern conservatism.
President Barack Obama won’t explicitly say that Donald Trump is on the wrong side of history, but surely it is what he believes.
The president basically thinks anyone who gets in his way is transgressing the larger forces of history with a capital H. During the 2008 campaign, he declared that John McCain “is on the wrong side of history right now” (the “right now” was a generous touch — allowing for the possibility that McCain might get right with History at some future, undetermined date).
Obama has returned to this phrase and argument obsessively throughout his time in office. It is deeply embedded in his, and the larger progressive, mind — and indirectly contributed to the left’s catastrophic defeat on Nov. 8.
The notion that History takes sides ultimately traces back to the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel and borrows heavily from the (genuine and very hard-won) moral capital of the abolitionists and the civil rights movement. Obama is given to quoting Martin Luther King for the proposition that the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. Whoever is deemed to be on “the wrong side of history” by progressives is always loosely associated with the opprobrium directed toward the Southern Fire-Eaters and the defenders of Jim Crow.
Now, Lowry is no one’s idea of a deep thinker so he can be forgiven for not seeing the the ridiculousness of the highlighted section. If Progressives have all this moral capital from their past fights over race, then they are by definition on the right side of history. How could it be otherwise? That’s the logical end point of Lowry’s assertion that the Left was on the side of angels in the great moral crusades of the last two centuries. It would be bizarre for Progressives not to use such a thing as a weapon. They see it as an obligation.
There’s something else there. Lowry goes out of his way to kowtow to the Left on the issue of race. What he is doing, even if he does not know it, is signally his submissiveness to his moral superiors. These are the words of the loser letting his betters know he is not going to be any trouble. Lowry is letting his alleged adversaries know that he agrees with them on the big issues and that there is no need to question his belief in orthodoxy.
The orthodoxy is the New Religion with its three pillars of egalitarianism, multiculturalism and anti-racism. The only real quibble the Official Right has with the people in charge is how to go about turning the New Religion into public policy. It is probably why they are obsessed with restarting the Cold War and waging a Crusade against the Muslims. Official Conservatism™ needs a devil. Otherwise, it becomes just another school of thought among Progressives.
There’s always been a problem with the New Religion and that is it clams run head long into objective reality. The sort of spiritual egalitarianism preached by the intellectual forebears of Progressives was perfectly sustainable as it was impossible to disprove. The modern version of it is hilariously absurd. Boys are not the same as girls. Nature does not bestow her gifts equally and this scales up to group differences. People tend to notice that the NBA is all black and the best lawyers have a precious metal in their name.
This is the central issue of our age. Our betters insist that all men are equal, full stop. Filling up Cologne with Arabs changes nothing about Cologne because people are the same everywhere and culture is a myth. Everyone else recognizes this to be dangerous nonsense. Thousands of generations of evolution have resulted in a planet full of people with different skills, culture and attitudes. Sweden is the way it is because it is full of Swedes, instead of Arabs.
The determination of our rulers to stamp out large parts of observable reality is what is eroding their legitimacy. This is why Official Conservatism™ has failed. It has no response to the ongoing crisis that is the inevitable result of the New Religion. It has become a mass movement afraid of offending anyone, therefore it is left with gooey platitudes about principles and its role in public life. It’s why it is difficult to tell the Right from the Left these days. They believe all the same stuff now.
The great fight that is shaping up is between one side that insists, despite all the evidence, that all humans are equal in every way. it is only the differences in culture that result in differences in people. For our purposes, economics is in the culture bucket. The other side says man is naturally hierarchical and that groups of humans have unique attributes suited for where they evolved over thousands of generations. This means that different people will have different cultures, different gifts and different liabilities. This is why people naturally self-segregate.
Observable reality is on the side of the latter.