I’m Not Conservative

When I first got to the other site, it was a bit if a rude awakening. My view of what conservatism was was very different from the very moderate ideas of The Other Place. It has taken me some time to figure out what was so off, but I think I have enough for a broad sketch.

Modern Conservatism is very libertarian. It promotes the ideas 0f free markets and individualism to extremes that the founding philosophers of these ideas did not hold to. Their promotion of limited government is more in keeping with traditional conservatism, but there appears to be a very undefined blurring between federalist and anti-federalist in that small government thinking – and small seems to predominantly be limited to domestic governance, not foreign policy.

My concept of conservatism was some blend of latent nationalism and tradition that, from my limited exposure, sounds Burkean. It is borne of the Chesterton adage that we don’t remove fences without knowing why they are there in the first place. I’d like to add understand why they were necessary to that. It seems that as long as we know there’s a bull behind that fence, it’s ok to remove it, regardless of how destructive that bull is. Maybe he’s Ferdinand. Maybe he’s not. (This is how I view modern conservatism).

To me, the Old Testament principles given to Israel to preserve their nation are not just precepts meant to benefit Israel. Yes, God took special interest in her preservation to work out his will, but it is not obvious to me that other nations are excluded from following similar procedures in order to preserve their nations. The rules governing Israel to preserve her integrity, faith, cultural values, and independence ultimately defined my concept of nationalism and, ultimately, conservatism. In fact, whenever Israel strayed from these precepts, she suffered calamity. It was only God’s faithfulness to this nation that preserved her where others ultimately disappeared. His grace, not some special quality she possesses.

If I believed, then, in the historical significance of America as a Democratic Republic, constitutionally constrained government for the benefit of securing the rights of Americans and that she is worth preserving, then it only serves that following Isrsael’s rules for preserving her nation should be used to preserve ours.

That is, that citizenship should be constrained to only those who have demonstrated faithfulness to what America is, that she was defined as to be the inheritance to the descendants of the founding population, that we would promote cultural values and a common moral foundation that provide the necessary philosophy to preserve our constitution and governance, and that we would limit foreign entanglements so as to maintain our independence for the benefit of our own people.

Along side that overarching view is the anti-federalist side of it which seems to be far more in keeping with Locke than libertarianism’s radical individual and that is that, through free association, local governments very well may reflect the character of the people who have chosen that government. By keeping the federal government tightly defined and limited in scope, states and municipalities may be more broad in their governance as the people see fit.

I’ve been doing a bible study by a DC pastor, David Platt. He is the author of Radical and is an incredibly challenging pastor on what it means to be a Christian. He said something that surprised me, because I think nations and the church have suffered by failing to acknowledge such a simple, but hard, truth:

The church as a whole defines who is a member of the church. A member does not define themselves as a member. (Derived from 1 Corinthians 3. https://radical.net/sermon/defining-church/)

From this concept comes the preservation of identity as a group; the preservation of values, beliefs, and teachings; and from where the concept of church discipline springs.

If this idea were to be recaptured, the church and the western nations could revive.

In a nut shell, modern conservatism is thoroughly beholden to such a concept of individualism and free trade (which isn’t the same as free markets) that they have thoroughly convinced themselves that all else can be tolerated in service to that. This was demonstrated by the TPUSA demonstrations.

The reaction to that by myself and apparently quite a few others is the idea that conservatism used to include an awareness that there was a common culture, values, and mores that made limited government possible and that having a national identity creates the means by which you preserve those foundational values.

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79 thoughts on “I’m Not Conservative”

  1. I guess in all this noise I wonder just how you various people define “culture”, “society”, and “nation”. Seems since we are debating various aspects of these terms we all ought to agree on what we are talking about.

    ?What makes us (USA) unique. We have always been contentious. Look at all the noise generated in the founding times, by all sides. Look at all the opposition to the constitution. It seems we often look at the constitution as some “unifying” document when it was not.

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  2. drlorentz:

    Robert A. McReynolds:
    https://www.rt.com/usa/374870-california-exit-support-grows/

    Russian collusion!

    Robert A. McReynolds:
    As of 2017, approximately 30 percent of Californians supported the idea.

    There’s a big difference between the number of people who tell a pollster they favor an idea such as Calexit and the number who would actually vote for it in a serious referendum that had any chance whatsoever of passage. Most of the Trump-haters will tell the pollster they favor Calexit just because they hate Trump; it has nothing to do with the long-term future of the state. Also consider that your average low-information voter has no idea what Calexit entails. Again, if it ever were seriously discussed, lots of the folks who said yes would change their votes to no.

    Nobody serious takes this seriously. We’re along way off from this kind of civil-war-like situation. When Trump leaves office, Calexit will be soon forgotten. In the meantime, the haters will simply have to suck it up for another five  years.

    You are probably correct but until then these figures can’t and shouldn’t be discounted. They should be supported and encouraged.

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  3. So just muddle along and eventually the side with reverence for liberty, faith, etc will become dominant? I think the delusion is this type of thinking. How exactly does this type of thinking become dominant when it is not dominant in schools, pop culture, and increasingly places of worship? We, the people who cherish liberty and love God, are marinating in a wicked society that is dead set against us, actively recruits our own children against us, and wishes us dead. There is no “oomph” to look forward to.

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  4. Devereaux:
    I guess in all this noise I wonder just how you various people define “culture”, “society”, and “nation”. Seems since we are debating various aspects of these terms we all ought to agree on what we are talking about.

    ?What makes us (USA) unique. We have always been contentious. Look at all the noise generated in the founding times, by all sides. Look at all the opposition to the constitution. It seems we often look at the constitution as some “unifying” document when it was not.

    We used to have a genially Christian background.  The dominant religion was Protestant, and, within that, a high level of interest in tolerance and making allowances in order to avoid the sort of strife that had led to two centuries of European religious wars.

    Even the Deists among the Founders agreed that mankind was not as it ought to be.   While discarding our Lord Jesus as Savior, they believed that humanity was in a fallen state.   Likewise, they believed that this condition would be persistent; they denied the perfectability of man.  These ideas led to a robust system of checks and balances, so that the system had a natural process to prevent any small faction from seizing power.

    But no longer.  American civil religion has become Oprah-fied and sissyfied.  People are looking to self-help gurus for a path to perfection.  Democrats want to impose utopia on us all.

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  5. MJBubba:
    The best way to achieve a robust nation that can confidently move together with shared values would be to form a Christian nation. Of course, a multitude of questions come immediately to mind. Can we limit the theology to traditionalists? If not, the nation will be prone to the rot from within that the Left will import. Should we choose to be Protestant? That does not solve the problem; neither would a choice of Catholic.

    The commenters at ZBlog are pointing out that the assumption that whatever results being one nation are a pipe dream. We can work together, traditional protestants and Catholics, but the result would be two nations, not one, because protestants and Catholics are fundamentally different.

    My place to start is to push the boundaries of free association. Let them come for you. The people left behind you need to fight and argue for your freedom to freely associate. We need to visit each other in prison, help out each others families when one of us is lost a system. Fight in the courts to freely associate and support any and all through it.

    The more we successfully argue for the basic right of association and the state is used to punish us for it, the more people will see the problems and take issue with it.

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  6. Bryan G. Stephens:
    What is black pilled?

    You know red pilled, becoming aware of the right side of the social divide?  Black pilled is when it’s taken to an extreme and becomes despair, feeling that there’s no path forward except possibly some form of drastic revolution or social overthrow.  Think of Denothor, the guy in Lord of the Rings who had the crystal ball and set himself on fire… he saw things which were true, but chose the path of despair instead of hope.

    Likewise when we talked about the Oakland Pothole Vigilantes.  I thought it was splendid that individuals were taking things into their own hands and not waiting for the government to fix itself.

    Robert’s response rather surprised me, and defines being black pilled in thinking we won’t be able to pull out of  our current situation without widespread, total societal collapse.  When you’ve given up on society and are stocking up on ammo awaiting its collapse, you’ve been black pilled!

    These cities–Oakland, San Fran, Chicago, etc.–the need to fail hard. Think Escape from New York meets Taxi Driver meets Mad Max. In fact, if  you want my opinion, that is what the entire country needs, something much worse that the Great Depression. The only risk there is that you will have the narrative being, and the morons, uh, the people believing that it is “capitalism’s” fault.

    Look Dom–can I call you Dom?–just stock up on ammo and wait patiently. Make some friends with plenty of land and learn how to hunt deer.

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  7. Bryan G. Stephens:
    What is black pilled?

    Oh, and urban dictionary a good definition.  There’s a third paragraph with a funny example for people without the highest standards of language and morals.

    https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Black%20Pill

    Black Pill
    A catastrophic prophecy or spiritless prophesying for the future that is not necessarily grounded in reality. A red pill gone hopelessly bleak.
    John had swallowed too many red pills over the last few sleepless nights and tried to black pill me that the race war would be happening any day now.
    […]

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  8. Damocles:

    Bryan G. Stephens:
    What is black pilled?

    You know red pilled, becoming aware of the right side of the social divide?  Black pilled is when it’s taken to an extreme and becomes despair, feeling that there’s no path forward except possibly some form of drastic revolution or social overthrow.  Think of Denothor, the guy in Lord of the Rings who had the crystal ball and set himself on fire… he saw things which were true, but chose the path of despair instead of hope.

    Likewise when we talked about the Oakland Pothole Vigilantes.  I thought it was splendid that individuals were taking things into their own hands and not waiting for the government to fix itself.

    Robert’s response rather surprised me, and defines being black pilled in thinking we won’t be able to pull out of  our current situation without widespread, total societal collapse.  When you’ve given up on society and are stocking up on ammo awaiting its collapse, you’ve been black pilled!

    These cities–Oakland, San Fran, Chicago, etc.–the need to fail hard. Think Escape from New York meets Taxi Driver meets Mad Max. In fact, if  you want my opinion, that is what the entire country needs, something much worse that the Great Depression. The only risk there is that you will have the narrative being, and the morons, uh, the people believing that it is “capitalism’s” fault.

    Look Dom–can I call you Dom?–just stock up on ammo and wait patiently. Make some friends with plenty of land and learn how to hunt deer.

    Oh well in that regard, I suppose I have been black pilled then. I have never heard that term before so I just chalked it up to you not having any real substance to add to the conversation. But, as it stands now, there actually was something of substance, so I will address it.

    This of course deserves its own post, but in short, yes, societal collapse is precisely what is needed. The current situation has placed us in a position where we have not counter to the center, i.e., DC. “Conservatives” have long ago abandoned the States as a counter because they are so fearful of the dreaded “R” word that they pee themselves whenever anyone in their ranks raise the notion that the States have some role to play in our system. Since, there is no counter, the power has been sucked up by the bureaucracy in DC in terms of food, medicine, policing, and social norms. This is on top of the powers that were originally delegated to it by the Constitution, free trade among the States, foreign affairs, and war.

    “Conservatives” have voiced dismay in the dictates coming from DC regarding social norms and policing. What are the plans to roll these back? There is a huge disconnect between what the GOP is doing and what many of its constituents want done. I will give you an example. A few years back, when I was still at the other place, I was listening to GLOP. This was right about the time North Carolina’s state legislature passed that bathroom bill. J-Pod stated that the GOP should not be wasting its time with these types of issues because it only serves to piss the Left off. Okay, now, you and I both have heard from multiple “Conservatives” how utterly cookoo the whole transgender movement is and what it is doing to our society. In fact, we should be able to agree that many desire that there be something done at the political level. But here you have, an intellectual on the “Right” who has some sway–he has to be able to influence at least some people–saying that these types of issues should just be forgotten. And can you name for me one GOP politician not named TRUMP who is saying anything about this? It stands to reason that you are going to be disappointed if you are looking to elected GOP officials to do anything about this, especially once Trump is gone. Furthermore, the only glimmer of hope is the federal courts, which hanging your hopes there is only as good as the length of their lives on the bench. We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface.

    There is an entire list of things that “Conservatives” have said need to be done in DC in order to rescue society: disband the Dept. of Education, repeal Obamacare, balance a budget (just once), shrink or kill some government program (to his credit, Trump has help in some limited capacity in this regard), and decrease the government intervention into the economy. You might want to point to tax cuts and the regulations that Trump has erased, but that is merely a pittance compared to what really needs to be done. (You want to help manufacturing? How about abolish the federal minimum wage that artificially increases the price of labor to the point where it becomes cheaper for American companies to have their products manufactured overseas?)

    Without a sincere, viable opposition to the marching army of the Left at the political level, you can vote until Kingdom come and nothing will change for the better. The United States is on a path to destruction because of two things: a tepid GOP only interested in the wellbeing of bankers and militarists and a rabid Leftwing that does not have any real domestic opposition.

    Now your plan is to keep banging  your head against that wall and hope that “there is enough oomph” left in the US to maintain a society that still values liberty, private property, and tradition. These are not ideas that humans are inherently born with. They have to be learned. Where are the younger generations going to learn them? Oh sure, you can teach your kids these things, but you are competing with 8 hours of public school, non-stop pop-culture, and friends who likely are not getting the same type of education from their parents. During the really formative years of a child’s philosophical development, they are out of your immediate influence for just about 16 to 20 hours when you factor in you going to work, their going to school, and sleeping; and then two full days during the weekend.

    There is nothing gloomy about this outlook of mine; it’s just reality. Reality unless we seek a completely different course that does not involve maintaining a relationship with the Left or the dominant culture of the United States as it is now. Both are hard–which is probably why people downplay it so much, nobody really wants to work for freedom. Right now, despite the complete insanity of our culture, we are all generally comfortable. We have good jobs, nice homes, college football, a Washington National World Series champion team; life is good. But under the surface we have a boiling caldron of chaos that seems to be bubbling up faster each year. We have never ending debt, never ending monetary manipulation by the FED, and never ending war. At some point, these things are going to start having a terrible effect on other areas of society, not just the working poor. So yeah, I guess I have black pilled because there is no sign of morning in America.

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  9. Robert A. McReynolds:
    Oh well in that regard, I suppose I have been black pilled then. I have never heard that term before so I just chalked it up to you not having any real substance to add to the conversation.

    I occasionally say something of substance just to throw people off balance.

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  10. Stina:

    MJBubba:
    The best way to achieve a robust nation that can confidently move together with shared values would be to form a Christian nation. Of course, a multitude of questions come immediately to mind. Can we limit the theology to traditionalists? If not, the nation will be prone to the rot from within that the Left will import. Should we choose to be Protestant? That does not solve the problem; neither would a choice of Catholic.

    The commenters at ZBlog are pointing out that the assumption that whatever results being one nation are a pipe dream. We can work together, traditional protestants and Catholics, but the result would be two nations, not one, because protestants and Catholics are fundamentally different.

    My place to start is to push the boundaries of free association. Let them come for you. The people left behind you need to fight and argue for your freedom to freely associate. We need to visit each other in prison, help out each others families when one of us is lost a system. Fight in the courts to freely associate and support any and all through it.

    The more we successfully argue for the basic right of association and the state is used to punish us for it, the more people will see the problems and take issue with it.

    That is a good plan, civil disobedience, but it is only as good as the numbers behind it. “Conservative” are rather lazy people when it comes to liberty–of course your whole post is about not being one. However, when called to action when you really don’t believe things to be that bad, you tend to say, “nah, I’ll stay home and do X.” And then there is the added problem that many of us who claim to be part of the liberty movement don’t even agree on that means!!

    Yes, I think acting locally is the best (only?) way to fix things. I say go for it. Stir the pot in your area. Try to break things.

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  11. Hypatia:
    MJB is right: we need a “civic religion”. Deism did just fine. It’s ideal, really. It’s the specific revelations which cause all the sectarian violence .

    Agnostic as I am, I am a YUUUGE fan of the claim that our rights are granted by a creator and therefore inalienable *by Man*.  It’s the read-only memory bootstrap of this country.

    EDIT:  Found it:  Fourth paragraph of this post over at my long-term blog:

    Checks and Balances

    “I am myself agnostic, but from a process point of view, it is harder to come up with a cleaner definition of “not yours” than “God’s alone”, and that is whose power it is to alienate man from his inherent rights. Neither men nor governments of men may rightly usurp the rights of others; not because the Constitution says so, but because the rights are a gift from God like life itself.”

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  12. Damocles:
    If your kids had met my kids during the Civil War there’s a good chance they would have tried very hard to literally kill each other.

    On the other hand, if one of our kids had met another of our own kids, they may well have tried to kill each other.  I would argue that families are divided politically now in a way that has not been so within living memory.

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  13. Phil Turmel:
    I’m not conceding the conservative label just because some pointy-headed pundits have abused it.

    Yeah, well, the pointy-headed pundits have bills to pay and friends to pimp, so kiss the ring:

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  14. Haakon Dahl:

    Damocles:
    If your kids had met my kids during the Civil War there’s a good chance they would have tried very hard to literally kill each other.

    On the other hand, if one of our kids had met another of our own kids, they may well have tried to kill each other.  I would argue that families are divided politically now in a way that has not been so within living memory.

    Oh, I was just salivating at the prospect of my issue wiping out his line.    But to your  point: this is just another issue of prophecy come true!  Jesus said family members would turn against each other, and that He was “not come to bring peace, but the sword”….

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  15. Robert A. McReynolds:
    Yes, I think acting locally is the best (only?) way to fix things. I say go for it. Stir the pot in your area. Try to break things.

    Creative destruction is good. Also, forming political theories outside the current zeitgeist would be good, too.

    You and I agree that there isn’t much to be accomplished in the current system, but the political prisoners of yesterday usually become tomorrow’s heroes when the big bad political owner of government collapses society and is now a giant loser, it’s those who were pushing boundaries in the system who get the first shot at what comes next, for better or worse (hello, Marx).

    So, shaping future political thought is a worthwhile goal even if you think this USA is in its deathroes and we can’t save it.

    Where did we go wrong? 1787? 1860? When did the anti-federalists lose? Why did they lose? What could be done to make those ideas less fragile to power grabbing federalists? Why is smaller more cohesive groups a better form of government? Why is a loose coalition of those groups better for defense? How do you build both without succumbing to a centralized government? Is that even possible?

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  16. Stina:Where did we go wrong? 1787? 1860? When did the anti-federalists lose? Why did they lose? What could be done to make those ideas less fragile to power grabbing federalists? Why is smaller more cohesive groups a better form of government? Why is a loose coalition of those groups better for defense? How do you build both without succumbing to a centralized government? Is that even possible?

    Yes to all that. We certainly went wrong, from a limited government point of view, by ratifying the Constitution, but, if you look at the history of that period, the anti-federalists actually won the day. The nationalists in Philly wanted a national government with power to negate laws passed at the State level and that provision was defeated soundly every time it was brought up to a vote. The anti-feds boxed the nationalists into guaranteeing that the general government only had specific powers. And the anti-feds forced onto the nationalists a Bill of Rights. Where it was lost was, in 1791, when, at the behest of that bastard from Nevis, the general government sanctioned a national bank where it did not have the powers to do so and the States did nothing in response. Virginia and New York both should have seceded then and there, but instead, they staid and therefore gave sanction to the notion that the general government could act unconstitutionally so long as the violation only caused some minor harm. Shortly thereafter you have the invasion of a State (the Whiskey Rebellion) by a federal army without the consent of that State’s legislature or governor–another violation again at the hands of the Bastard. Simply put, the document was made void from day one.

    All of this illustrates one of the truths that Murray Rothbard stumbled upon during his journey to becoming an anarcho-capitalist, that once you cede the notion that government can intervene for something small, the logical conclusion is that government can intervene in all affairs of society. Government works best when it is small and localized because you generally like your neighbors and it is a lot harder to tyrannize someone you see and talk to on a daily basis than it is to tyrannize someone with whom you have no relationship.

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  17. I take your example of the National Bank as righteous but I’m not sure I agree with your concept of the putting down of the Whiskey Rebellion. National (Federal) government does have the power to put down rebellion. No state was seceeding so it wasn’t exactly a state vs fed issue. Local militia was used to put down the rebellion. Peace was restored, and all went home again.

    Where we went wrong, in a big way, was with the whole progressive movement, which began, I believe, in the 1880’s. It was shipped to Germany’s Academia to be given a veneer of acceptability (like eugenics) and then brought back by American students studying in Germany. But the ideas were American.

    Then there was Teddy. He was most likely the single instigator of progressive approach to government, and all those who followed (Wilson, FDR, Kennedy, Johnson, Obama) drew on his example. He subverted the Supreme Court with some of his early acts, and FDR just cemented it in place with Cardozo and his bandits. But Teddy with his buddy, Madison Grant, started it all off. No where in the constitution is there a power for the Federal government to take on colonies like the Philippines, American Samoa, Hawaii, and later Puerto Rico.

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