I’ve expressed admiration before for John C. Wright’s series on saving science fiction from “strong female characters”. He’s made a lot of people angry for his public displays of sanity on sexual issues, and he may be the only adult man on the Right to share my enthusiasm for Disney Princess movies, so of course I like the guy, even though he’s overall more moderate than I am. Which means I’m taken aback when I read things like this
It is, namely, the visions of hell, of gulag, of death camps, which make the Leftists salivate like Pavlov’s dogs. The Left are not repelled by the Holocaust, by the purges of Stalin or the genocides (yes, I mean genocide in the plural) of Mao, but erotically stimulated, attracted and allured to it, and they dream night and day how to get enough power over their fellow man to commit such atrocities again. They do not want to make an omelet: their pleasure comes from smashing eggs. If you do not believe me, go into any modern art museum. There you will see concrete visual depictions of their internal emotional and moral nature, the invisible things made visible.
Surely he doesn’t believe this? In fact, it’s Wright’s very moderation that drives him to such outbursts. After all, he characterizes the difference between conservatives and progressives as follows:
In truth, so-called Conservatives are revolutionaries who believe in the principles of the American Revolution: that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, including the right to life, liberty and property; that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men; and when any government becomes destructive of those rights, it is the duty of patriots to rise up in arms and overthrow it, and create such institutions anew which will return their native rights to them.
They have faith in God.
The so-called Liberals or Radicals or Progressives or Morlocks or Whateverthefudge they are calling themselves this month are revolutionaries who believe in the principles of the French Revolution: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.
For those of you who do not speak French: Liberté means all men are slaves of the frenzied mob; Egalité means success is punished and failure rewarded until all outcomes are equal and all efforts are vain; Fraternité means all “comrade citizens” are wards of the Napoleon, the Fuhrer, the Lightworker, or whatever they are calling the Glorious Leader this month.
The problem with this (aside from the fact that we’re left without a word for the people who actually fought the Jacobins and generally did so in the name of throne and altar) is that the liberals/radicals/progressives will also claim to be standing for the principles of the American Revolution. They will say that deconstructing Christian morality (by government force if necessary) is a precondition to liberty, as is an equalized distribution of resources with which to design one’s life, that socialized health insurance and pacifism are the best guarantees of life, and so on. They can point out that the American Revolution’s theorists, Paine and Jefferson, approved of the French Revolution and that the Constitution’s official interpreters claim to have found in it the right to abortion. Of course, Wright doesn’t have to accept these liberal positions, but since he doesn’t he must argue either that the liberals are wrong or dishonest about the nature and genealogy of their own beliefs. They’re fighting over the same turf, so regardless of disposition he’s often forced onto the attack. I admire Wright for trying to stuff as much truth into the Founding treason as he can; in a way, it’s the pious and conservative thing to do, but ultimately one starts to wonder if it’s worth the effort.
This is, of course, a phenomenon seen in many conservative writers, with my example chosen from the small set of online writers that I enjoy reading enough to follow.
As a reactionary who rejects the Lockean ideology of the American Revolution, I can be more generous with my enemies. I think they’ve correctly discovered the logical endpoint of the Anglo-American “moderate” Enlightenment. (It’s basically the same as the endpoint of the Continental “radical” Enlightenment.) Their beliefs are surely monstrous: nihilistic, blasphemous, degrading, dehumanizing. And yet, they are only reasoning correctly from a set of principles that everybody in the modern world takes to be common sense. I myself grew up believing them, so I can hardly despise others who still do. I could therefore never share the hatred moderate conservatives often direct at liberal politicians like Bill or Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. (Wright himself doesn’t talk much about politicians, probably because he’s so much more extreme than the typical Republican!) I see in these three Democrats no malicious innovation. Are they not doing what every professor and editorialist they’ve encountered has told them is the only proper and moral course of action? The ideology is the enemy; the politicians are just tools. And yet there is in the heart of the Republican an anxiety that perhaps the Left really does hold the Founders’ mantle, and they respond with invective that can only perplex those resting in the serenity of pure Reaction.
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