I’ve just read an article lamenting the “rout” of traditionalist conservatives. By that, the author means the ideological tradition of Russell Kirk, Robert Nisbet, Richard Weaver, and others, has been forcefully turned back by modernity. It needs to be regained, he says.
Turn off talk radio. Turn off the cable. Quit buying books from flashy Republican Party publicists. Take up the old traditionalist masters—Kirk, Nisbet, Weaver, and their philosophical school—and read. One day, their wisdom may revive American conservatism from the sterility and sloganeering of Conservatism, Inc.
Unlike the author I have a different opinion about why “paleo-conservatism” was routed. The Alt. Right, still in its fledgling stage, is making the same mistake.
The old paleos, with the possible exception of Weaver, erred by removing the heart of Conservatism. They naively thought heartless ideological trappings would carry on through time. Not surprisingly, they haven’t. What is this mysterious missing heart? It’s the poetic vision of old Europe. And you can’t have that poetic vision without loving the people who held it – white Europeans.
The paleos, to this day, believe they can ply the vision of Nisbet over any people and have it work just as well. As if blacks could adhere to Kirk’s 10 conservative principles and develop a glowing civilization in the heart of Africa. Modern acolytes want to abstract the actions and secularized attitudes of the old paleos and apply them in today’s “multicultural” Babylon. It doesn’t matter to them the “skin color” of those who apply these principles. It’s the principles themselves they’re infatuated with.
But the people? The poetic vision of Europe? They (and it) can rot. The sooner the better. They don’t care for the divine meteor that crashed into Europe, tossing the sand in all directions, crystalizing it as it fell – a catastrophe that resulted in the glass castle of Christendom. They see its shattered pieces and lament the missing architecture, but never once thought to pick up a piece and look through it. Never wondered what the world looks like through that prism. (This all sounds a little arcane, I know, but it’s a metaphor I hope to develop in the future).
They’ll try and build their own glass castle. But I don’t want just any glass castle. I want *that* one – the one that was lost!
The Alt. Right has erred similarly, but in the opposite direction. They’ve grown up generations removed from the paleos and only know defeat and derision from that camp. Dedicated to white Europeans, the Alt. Right has seen the paleos “sell out” time and time again, in the name of abstract ideals. They associate the treason with the ideals themselves – even the good ones. To return to our metaphor, the Alt. Right hates the architecture of the glass castle, as well as the original. They hate the architecture of it because of the wimpy cowardice of those who promote it – they hate the original because they’ve been taught to hate it all their lives, just like every government school kid. To state it plainly (if more plainly than most in the Alt. Right would be willing to state it), they hate Christendom as well as the best ideals spawned from Christendom.
Instead, they want to rescue a statistically significant DNA pattern, and they want to wrap it in neo-pagan, modernist, garb. Swastikas and the like. Some, despising Christendom, are nevertheless manly enough to maintain a quaint nostalgia for its past symbols. So they fly the confederate flag or speak fondly of white heroes. But they’re either entirely ignorant of the poetic vision that inspired those symbols and heroes, or they outright despise it.
The paleos abandoned Christendom but tried to keep the form and function of it – the Alt. Right tries to keep the denizens of Christendom, while abandoning its forms and functions. Neither love the old crystal castle of Europe. And neither love the God who created it.
The few of us who do love it find ourselves lonely in both camps.
For my part, I’ve tried to associate with the Alt. Right but found, quickly, that direct explanations and attempts at polemics do little good (and likely, cause more harm). These attempts are more likely to cause them to hate old Christendom even more, or worse, to think of it as quaint, overly-romantic, and not to be taken seriously. So, time and again I find myself back to the drawing board, wondering how it was that I was brought to love old Europe.
…and while a great deal of it has to do with my upbringing, and poetic outlook, it really has been the blog Cambria Will Not Yield and its being ever present in my thought and analysis. And he says it’s best to reach around the intellect and shoot for the heart when doing apologetics. It worked for me and the more I associate with the Alt. Right, the more I’m beginning to realize, it’s the only thing for them.