Was there ever an American conservative movement?

As we watch the mainstream Right sliding constantly Left, we often forget how already compromised they were to begin with.  Edward Feser’s post on Frank Meyer has got me wondering if there ever was a conservative movement in America, properly speaking.  It seems that even in the mainstream movements alleged heyday, the lead intellectuals were fatally corrupted by libertarianism, and the stupid “you can’t force virtue” argument is nothing new to Republicans.  Meyer was the principle proponent of “fusionism”, the combination of libertarianism as the state ideology and traditional morality for private life.  In truth, such a fusion is unworkable.  It implicitly favors libertinism and inevitably leads to libertinism’s triumph over both public and private spheres.  As Feser points out, we often can make virtue easier and vice harder by using laws to influence the communal environment in positive ways.  As I have said in several writings, the communal consensus is itself something that is worthy of defense and official promotion, because the “free marketplace of ideas” and “experiments in living” always mean a race to the bottom.  Finally, as Proph forcefully states, given our official ideology of non-discrimination, it will be impossible for social sanctions to long discourage behavior once the government accepts that behavior:

Five years after drugs get legalized, it will be illegal to discriminate against drug users for employment. Then it will be illegal to ask them to leave the building to use their drugs; employers will be required to set aside special rooms for users. Ten years later, drug users will qualify for Medicaid coverage. Fifteen years and they’ll be teaching kids how to use needles in sixth grade home ec class.

The notion that society will police drug use itself hinges on the notion that social conventions built up in the context of a pre-legalization society will persist post-legalization. They won’t. Drug use, even heavy and destructive drug use, will not only be legalized and tolerated, it will receiveexplicit legal and financial protections, including welfare, health care coverage for the inevitable tidal wave of public health problems that would result, some kind of disability insurance for those rendered useless and unemployable, etc.

Let Christian conservatives cleave to the doctrine of the social kingship of Christ as our great philosophically superior alternative to the self-destructive nihilistic individualism of our godless mainstream parties.

7 Responses

  1. [...] -Gibt es Konservative in den USA? [...]

  2. Great post as usual. The most frustrating aspect of being a reactionary today is arguing with “conservatives” who essentially push the liberalism of 200 years ago.

  3. It is discouraging that conservatism tends to lose out even among self-described conservatives. What I find especially frustrating is how the average person’s idea of a far-Right reactionary extremist is actually a kind of classical liberal–we’re not even on the radar.

  4. Spot on bonald. This is my thesis:

    Academia and media is so far-left that it believes liberal “conservatives” to be far-right.

    They just can’t shake of the belief that Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh or Palin aren’t “far-right”. We are truly not even on the radar. I believe most liberals would be shocked to find that a lot of figures they find as “extremists” we find them to be pretty liberal or liberal lite.

  5. As much as I am opposed to the legalization of currently illegal drugs, I think it is an enormous stretch to argue that their legalization inevitably leads to “employers…required to set aside special rooms for users”. Alcohol and tobacco are legal today, and my employer is under no legal pressure to set up a bar or smoke-shop on site.

  6. As an American, I,can confidently say that you are wrong. In fact, there is a massive conservative resurgence currently underway here in America. Something the entire world will see come 2012. And I’m not speaking only of the presidency, but of congress as well. The left-wing press and loggers don’t want to admit it, but the whole world will witness it come election time. Wait and see.

  7. Hello michael,

    I admire your enthusiasm and confidence, but I can’t share it. I can’t name one American politician off the top of my head who is not an ideological liberal (okay–maybe Pat Buchanan, but I think he’s settled into his commentator role, his chances of election being obviously nil). Even radical Republicans like Ron Paul are really libertarians rather than conservatives. It will be very hard to win elections without spokesmen or candidates.

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