Commenter Ollie writes:
I have no complaint against the assertion that men are given to sacrifice, and I also find no objection to the idea that when channeled properly, this tendency can be very beneficial. The ability and will to sacrifice is often one of the primary sources of a civilization’s achievements.
However, I would make the case that the dynamo of noble sacrifice is neither a first cause, nor an inexhaustible resource. Something must exist to spark it and maintain it. I would posit that this will to sacrifice is catalyzed by a precious few types of macro and micro-cultural phenomena, including beauty, kinship, tradition, identity, and trust.
Without the elements on that list, the inborn capacity for determination and sacrifice lies dormant. I suspect those pushing the buttons on the establishment conservative propaganda machine are cognizant of this, but refuse to acknowledge it because it would give away too much – namely that they are working with the establishment left to actively undermine those elements. Instead of managing and sustainably harnessing the capacity for sacrifice, they appear to wringing out what they can from what little remains. It’s like watching someone intentionally drive a car (into oblivion) while refusing to provide it necessary oil changes and other maintenance.
Moving to the next issue you pointed out, NRx may be an elitist movement at heart, but support from a significant part of the general population is an indispensable part of any political movement’s power and viability.
The Tea Party and Occupy movements, as many populist revolts do, suffered from a lack of ideological coherence, and were accordingly divided and dispersed because of this. Exactly as you have said, they didn’t like the New Right’s (NRx’s) suggestions of what to supplant the current power structure with, likely because they are both still wedded to the egalitarian mythos underpinning that current power structure. The problem for Tea Party and Occupy however, is that while they disliked NRx’s suggestions, they hadn’t truly formulated any workable plans of their own.
In retrospect, I should have rephrased the question at the end of my previous comment. Both the out of touch nature of TPTB and the decreasing trust of the masses are readily apparent and almost one in the same when you think about it.
The real question is one of: Just how receptive is at least a physically and electorally significant portion of the general population to the ideas of NRx?
With higher general discontent and lower trust in established institutions, that receptivity grows, but is it enough to establish a functional power base?
If there is not enough support, NRx must remain an ideological backwater, subtly nudging the next generation of conservative leaders toward its ideals. If there is enough support, NRx can push to the forefront of political debate. This puts it in a dangerous but potentially advantageous position, where it will have to clarify and possibly re-conceptualize its platform for wider consumption.
Certainly the failure of the Tea Party and Occupy movements cannot be chalked up to the issues that created them simply going away. That pool of popular resentment has definitely increased. Leaders who see the value in the NRx platform will have to find a way of harnessing that reservoir without destroying the functionality of NRx concepts in the process.
First, a slight correction: the European New Right is distinctly different from neoreaction. There are some similar tendencies, but I think that the publishers who cluster around the ‘New Right’ term would like to maintain the distinction.
I would say that a large portion of the population would have trouble comprehending the ideas. A large proportion would be amenable to a return to European cultural normalcy, but most don’t understand what it would require. Most people aren’t ideological, shouldn’t be ideological, and ideology is not what moves most people. I’m not even particularly ideological, although I know what it’s like to be an ideologue.
In terms of national electoral success, that would be unlikely, and shouldn’t be given much thought at all. Pursuing that strategy misunderstands the nature of the Federal government and its inability to reform. Instead of trying to win over a political structure that has no desire to be won over or reformed, you change the shape and composition of the country instead.
Assuming that debate will carry the day is a fundamental mistake.
There was no debating the Jacobins. They had their debating partners murdered or run out of the country. The mistake that those people made was that in assessing the growing conflict as a debate and not a civil war. They brought their oratory and some money besides on the part of the aristocracy to a gunfight. Bringing words to a gunfight is not a good idea. We know that it was a revolutionary civil war, but they didn’t know that, which is why they did not act more forcefully when it could have made a difference.
Similarly, it’s pointless to debate today’s Jacobins, or to assume that condition of internal war are not coming. Instead of wasting resources on debate, instead it’s better to make explicit and covert appeals to wavering elites and sub-elites who are concerned about the instability in the American government and the increasingly erratic and hazardous nature of the American culture. Debating them just wastes time and results in your party being shot on a riverbank somewhere or near a ditch.
To the extent that debate is useful is the extent to which it persuades a sufficient number of leadership caliber people to defect from the progressive stairway to Heaven, which is really upside-down, because it leads straight to Hell.
To the extent that there is a political goal, it is to bring about successful secession. If that can’t be achieved, then it is to organize an exile on good terms.
Americans tend to identify politics with electioneering, but that’s just a tiny aspect of political action which is by no means the most important one. Since it’d be sort of zany for anti-democrats to focus entirely on building democratic consensus for anti-democracy, it’s better to seek other areas and methods.
Being small and badly-funded, the strategic approach has to be to seek and use points of leverage to achieve out-sized results relative to the input. High end people provide high leverage. Ordinary people, as important as they are in the scheme of things, are unlikely to be able to provide leveraged results. That is, unless some decide to rise to the occasion as ordinary men sometimes do.
Seek unfair advantages and exploit them as hard as possible. Press strengths against weaknesses and maneuver weak points away from the strengths of the opposition.
Populist groups like the ‘Tea Party’ tend to match weakness to strength and strength to weakness, thinking that mimicking the strategy of the opposition is the way to success. They think that they can become strong by imitating the strength of the opponent (hence all the Tea Party types who quote Alinsky and seek to use his methods for conservative political ends).
That can’t possibly result in success. That would be like the Germans building a second, crappier imitation Maginot Line to defeat the French Maginot Line. The way the Germans defeated the Maginot Line was to send something at it that could not be anticipated using a method that was thought to be impossible.
That reservoir of resentment of which Ollie speaks can be used for various ends, both good and ill.
Populist movements were more politically effective when mass military action was more effective. Masses and mobs are now politically and militarily ineffective. Employing out-dated political means that confer no advantage is a sure way to defeat.
Instead of attempting to set up a symmetrical conflict, it’s much better to develop a set of asymmetrical advantages, and then push them as far as they’ll go. People tend to think excessively in ludic terms, but nature is an open field, and unequal contests which are over in an eyeblink are the rule. Equal conflicts have to be contrived.
There’s a tendency for American conservatives to try to assemble equal, fair conflicts — which they lose, each time — and then they complain that it was unfair, appealing to the rule-book, as if there’s a referee who will call a penalty.
The strength of the Right is recognizing (or, at least better recognizing) the reality of the human condition as passed along through tradition.
The weakness of the Left is its distance from reality.
However, through a combination of technology, propaganda, monetary policy, debt, and military force, the Left has completely obscured reality and insulated our day-to-day world from the horrendous consequences of our day-to-day actions.
The general course of action seems clear: Adhere to reality, anticipate collapse of unreality, and reap the rewards.
The question is, of course: “How long?”
How long can this go on?
We don’t know. Every time we reach a peak insanity, a peak separation from reality . . . well, then in a few months we’ve peaked again.
Will Kunstler prove prophetic, and will Gnon return us to reality through peak oil and diminishing technological returns?
Or have we stuffed Gnon so full of corn syrup, student loans, advanced technology, and entertaining distractions that even he is too fat to get up off the couch for a reality check?
And even the course of investing in reality — well, it’s tough. Invest in dying towns? Buy a farm? Go against the grain, against every bit of perceived wisdom, sacrifice your earning power? What if this keeps up for another 25 years? 50?
Something I’ve learned from watching people try to apply non-personalized advice is that general advice to a general population is damaging rather than useful.
Quality advice must be personalized to have the chance of being helpful at all.
There are lots of things that people can do without joining the (muy expensivo) prepper culture.
Mai La Dreapta says
Invest in having a responsible, chaste wife, and two or more children. Invest in living someplace where you have a significant amount of trust with your neighbors and others physically close to you. That’s general advice which will be applicable to nearly everyone, and will in the long run be more valuable than the more catastrophe-centered kinds of prepping. Having a good neighborhood and a good family will prepare you to weather almost anything short of a zombie apocalypse or world war.
Really? Responsible advice for a heroin addict? Someone who is underwater on their house and unable to avoid the fees for selling the house? How about for someone who weighs 400 pounds? The most important thing for that person would be to lose weight, but actually getting them to do it is a tall order.
There’s a lot more variation among people and conditions than you might think — advice can more easily cause damage than it can help.
Mai La Dreapta says
I implicitly meant “advice for someone likely to be reading NRx comment threads”, which includes very few heroin addicts, etc.
Sure, but being unmarried and childless myself, it’d be absurd for me to give such advice. I can only credibly provide advice on topics which I’m familiar with.
Many years ago, I tried a diet sold by a nationally recognized exercise guru. Long story very short, the diet was essentially that same as that recommended for a diabetic. With modest “specific” adjustments, such a diabetic diet is good for almost everybody – including heroin addicts and the morbidly obese. The guru couldn’t harm by recommending the diet, especially with cautionary advice addressing many common conditions and the ever-present referral: “Consult with your doctor.”
Such is the case with most wisdom. General applicability, with adjustments for terms and conditions, qualifies such advice as wisdom.
You’re really undercutting your self-help e-book market here.
I have learned a lot from hyper-specific internet courses and books.
I have never been lead in the right direction by someone offering general life advice, professional or amateur.
American conservative politics as the Maginot Line of civilization or culture is a great analogy, and one that ought to be developed and spread.
The #conservakin villagers are still on the line, desperately shorting up the fort with Quikrete and two-by-fours.
They don’t even notice that the garrison is involved in a nihilistic drunken orgy, and the Enemy is on the outskirts of the capital.
This is what I love best about NRx, and much of the alternative right in general. Rather than a create a bitter echo chamber endlessly complaining about the ascendancy the political left, authors like you pry deeper into the nature of the problem. Causes and solutions are examined in detail and scrutinized thoroughly. Conventional wisdom is challenged. I actually learn a thing or two, including what I’ve gotten wrong.
You’re right about both the uselessness of debate and the idea of electoral success being something unproductive to aspire to, given a fundamentally broken system. There is also something clearly absurd about an anti-democratic group fighting for control of a democratic system, but I would remind you that most of the real leaders on the Left are no more enthused with democracy than we are, despite their rhetoric to the contrary. They participate in the democratic system as a means to power, and I feel it would be a mistake for the Right to not resist them in this sphere.
You got me thinking about an error in how I usually conceptualize political power, though. That mistake of course, is that I am used to thinking about power primarily in terms of levels of popular support, which in turn is both easily and incorrectly conflated with electoral support.
Who has the bigger numbers? Who has the larger army?
It’s the same game the Right has been losing for years. Even now, when conservative pundits push the beloved idea of a “silent majority”, in a way, it is nothing more than clinging to the idea of politics as a simple numbers game. In reality, the picture is considerably more complicated than that, in ways that even the most perceptive among us are still struggling to fully comprehend. Politics is a multifaceted subject affected by matters of psychology, genetics, culture, and much more. To ignore these elements is to lose the game.
There’s a lot you’ve given me to think about, and now I am considering the idea of matching strength against weakness. Ignoring the ongoing debate about the value of co-opting the tactics of our adversaries, I wonder what methods naturally serve conservatives best. Offhand, I would argue that the tendency to comparative stability (financial, psychological, emotional, etc.) and projection of this image is a powerful conservative advantage, but it needs better articulation. What other methods would you say conservatism is concurrently more adept at and best served by?
White people with intact families tend to have more conservative beliefs, even if they aren’t ideological. That’s no longer the ‘silent majority,’ but it is much more financially hale and morally together than other dysfunctional segments of the economy. As an editor at Consumer Reports once told me over beer about why their magazine was still doing fine while all the others were hurting, their market is suburban married people with kids, and they have to buy a lot of expensive stuff like lawnmowers, minivans, and new faucets.
Complete households are more economically relevant to communities on an economic, cultural, and moral level. They’re the complex consumers that make a complex economy possible. They have to engage in long term planning, whereas singletons and dysfunctional family structures don’t.
That is sort of getting back to the numbers, but not in an electorally relevant way. The entire democratic way of thinking is to flood the country with junk people, turn good people into junk, and then to steal money from the good people to shower on the human trash. I think the general approach has to be less focused on attacking Washington, and more effort expended on isolating D.C. from the rest of the country. I think culturally, you want to shore up your support base — married white people with families — and sow contempt for the support base of the left, the institutions that the left controls, and the urbane elite which provides the left with so much financial and moral support.
D.C. survives and thrives because the responsible people in the US have the mistaken belief that shoring up the capitol is the right thing and the responsible thing to do. Changing that perception is what will help the people who settled this country hold on to some of the territory.
R. Wilbur says
An ongoing evaluation of the most important intermediary structures (intermediary between DC and the individual) to which Nrx influence could be best applied would be worthwhile.
Obviously we all understand the importance of family and immediate community, and this extending through a church, if one has faith.
But beyond that, a gray zone. Most people’s minds leap immediately to the state governments as the next logical sovereign step, and this may be true in certain cases. It won’t be true in every case.
SOBL1 has been making fits and starts at his blog about cobbling together communities below the state level.
But for more practical reaction to take place, we need to get our minds out of the thinking-ruts of democratic (local gov – state gov – national gov) power.
And we also need to get out of the ruts of 19th century fraternal societies that are often referenced. They may be a fine model, but they emerged from and were suited to the 19th and early 20th century, and for many reasons, are perhaps not the best use of time and energy now.
I am not sure the fraternal society rut ever got started apart from in a few places where there’s critical mass, and virtually.
There’s education, the press, multinational corporations, banks, insurers, and so on and so forth.
R. Wilbur says
The Indianapolis-based Liberty Fund (www.libertyfund.org) almost seems ripe for the Nrx picking — Red State based, extremely (almost abstractly) intellectual, publisher of long-forgotten books, and organizer of secret elite invite-only conferences, Burkean / Austrian-tinged, founded by an eccentric anti-communist industrialist . . .
And no conservakin-aesthetics to be found.