Conservatives telling ourselves that we’re not alone

We counter-revolutionaries sometimes tell ourselves things to help fight off the feeling of isolation.

  1. Liberalism is just a fashion.  The weight of tradition is against it.  And the past persists in the present.  Institutions that have lasted a long time have deep roots.  Liberals betray their temporal provincialism when they demand everyone bow to these moral imperatives they just invented yesterday, as if traditions with thousands of years of experience and philosophical reflection are going to say “Gee, you’re right!  All these rules are just being mean to other people for no reason.  Why didn’t we think of that?”
  2. Liberalism is just a Western fashion, perhaps just an urban Western fashion.  There are other great civilizations, and none of them are buying this BS.
  3. Everybody is conservative about what they know best.  The elite may seem to be all on board with progressivism, but in the areas that involve work with the real world–e.g. engineering–there are probably a lot of people who don’t buy the grand-patriarchal-conspiracy nonsense but are just keeping their heads down to go about their work.

Unfortunately, whenever I’ve made a prediction from these comforting thoughts, it has turned out to be wrong.  Millennia-old traditions are pushed over in a day.  It’s not true that liberals have all the reasons and we have nothing but unexamined prejudices, but our priests’ manifest embarrassment of their official beliefs certainly makes it look true.  There are multiple distinct great civilizations, not all of whom have historically gotten along with each other and none of whom have historically organized themselves along secular egalitarian lines, but in their attitudes to the West, the liberals seem justified in thinking of them all as an undifferentiated mass of “people of color” boiling over with resentment toward the white oppressor-devil.   Nor should we put our hopes in STEM being a bastion of sanity.  It’s the demographics.  Most of the kids going into the sciences come from urban, liberal families and inherit their loyalties.

Weaker versions of these same consolations do work.  Traditions may fall, but the past itself is indestructible.  There will always have been a Christendom.  All the colors of the world may join together in screaming “racist!” at whites, but so long as each remains loyal to its own kind, the principle of particularism still lives.  While we will never see chemists, mathematicians, or electrical engineers come out against social justice, when they go about their technical work competently, they will be making little patches of the human world uncontaminated by the fundamental dishonesty of social justice.

4 Responses

  1. Good observation. Need to balance mutual reassurance with challenging scrutiny or else we won’t be the realists for much longer.

    “Everybody is conservative about what they know best” is my vote for the most dangerous of the three consolations. Conquest’s Third Law is at it’s best when treated as an aspect of the Gell-Mann Effect (that is, specifically about expertise and *knowledge*), but the formula is too elastic and ends up with “conservative” and “what they know best” twisted and distorted every which-way.

    >Most of the kids going into the sciences come from urban, liberal families and inherit their loyalties.

    I agree with you in the abstract that current trends could, in some possible world, continue to take STEM-academia leftward. I would even go further and say that there is no guarantee against permanent politicization and a decent into incompetence and scholasticism. But various features of the actual world we live in tell against this – in particular, copious genetic data (too late to put the genie back in the bottle) and a premature drive to squeeze whites and men out of STEM.

  2. All the colors of the world may join together in screaming “racist!” at whites

    Mostly by other whites, btw.

  3. Well, Bonald, you’re a religious man. Is Christ the King? Or isn’t he? What kind of king has no throne, no crown, and no subjects? Mark Steyn recently stated he had nothing to say about the intersection of Christianity and Muslim migrants because no Christian leaders had anything to say about it. As best I can tell, the last great theologian to write a theology of history (as opposed to a history of theology) was von Balthasar.

  4. Maybe this is a weird reaction but I wonder if we wouldn’t do better to just transmit the gospel. We spend a lot of time arguing and I’m a firm believer in apologetics but I think we underestimate the power of just directly presenting the gospel and letting God draw men to Himself.

    We assume the liberals are just immune, like how Jonah thought the Ninevites were immune. The gospel bypasses both emotional storm and rote liberal “pieties” masquerading as intellect and speaks directly to the mind. Who says we have to gradually warm people up to it?

    More directly related to your point but Christianity isn’t really unrepresented in STEM, just that it seems so in the “sexier” fields and quarters. Here in oil and gas country there are plenty of no joke engineers and chemists in the pews on Sunday.

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